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We make our living from WordPress, so once in a while we take our head out of the sand and look around. As part of a different research that I was doing, I stumbled upon a big warning light.

Try it, to see what I’m talking about:
https://www.google.com/search?q=business+website

https://www.google.com/search?q=restaurant+website

https://www.google.com/search?q=website+for+my+hotel

Even though WordPress powers 25% of the Web, WordPress is nowhere to be seen in any of these results.

Today, clients find WordPress because Web agencies use and recommend it. But when clients already come to agencies with another platform in mind, this can quickly change. It’s happened before to other ex popular platforms.

The only way to reverse this trend and put WordPress back again in the mind of prospects is by getting together.

We’re trying to do our bit by launching a new WordPress Marketing podcast.

Are you interested in helping? Please leave your comments with your thoughts.

381 Responses to “Marketing In WordPress Sucks. Will You Help Fix It?”

  1. I am still rather confused about the email that was sent and what it is that you are trying to achieve here.

    Perhaps try providing a lot more details when you present a problem.

    A

  2. In my opinion this search just show what is most popular among the average users …. which it can be translated that before you need to hiring someone in order to have a website but now with all those new platform you can self building a decent website.

    returning what what I see on this search in the contemporary market no one self building platform (Wix … WEEBLE) help you to generate a professional and well done website or better the only one who really get closer is Square Space (only if you like modern a minimal good typography look) other then this nothing is very good and professional …

    To have a precise comparison is when yourself learning to do some photographs for your holiday rentals (interiors) or maybe portraits … if you don’t come from a good education background or even the better form the hard way you will never going to get a professional or decent photographs … maybe some will be ok some good but in the average job will not be professional …

    Conclusion

    I wouldn’t worry to much about those self-builder websites platforms for now, WordPress have shifted from the bounded free on templates to the builders … There are many interesting builder that are getting improved day by day on WP like DIVI … ELEMENTOR … and if someone need a professional website you can’t avoiding to go on this way … WordPress will be in the pro zone for long time …

    Those self-builder platform are still in the age 1.0 but yes I see them to take over in the next few years … But for them the best have yet to come … and who invest on a startup like this will be the next Mark Zuckerberg

  3. I’m the author of most of the Italian best-selling manuals about WordPress, and I’ve noticed a worrying curve about the interest for WordPress (both in Italy and internationally).
    Just take a look at the ‘curve’ that follows 2014’s peak in the Google search for ‘wordpress’:
    https://trends.google.it/trends/explore?date=all&q=wordpress
    Now compare it (closely) to the curve that followed Joomla!’s splitting in two versions and following decline:
    https://trends.google.it/trends/explore?date=all&q=wordpress,Joomla
    My worry is that the delay of WP 5 and the focus on side aspects like Gutenberg instead of more fundamental features like user-friendly security and management or similar, together with radical changes in plugins’ inteface and lower enthusiasm in users that approached WordPress for its user friendliness then leaved it when trying to create more complex websites, discouraged by themes’ and plugins’ configuration difficulties (learning curve).

  4. Niall, please take a look at my comment and Google Trends results, then if you like reply to it and let’s have a positive debate about the issue, I’m sure we can all come out with some useful hints to improve the situation.

  5. The amount of updates for a regular site is way too much. You almost have a daily job to check and perform updates/upgrades. This must be more streamlined to make it easier for the administrator to act on.

    Next to this the updates are often not aligned and the impact on other plugins often unknown. Even the famous Avada theme has many updates which don’t come together as a package. Here the upgrade policy of Microsoft should be followed, fixed dates in a month.

    And finally the testing of the plugins must be done more thoroughly before released, but as every 1 person developer can do what he/she wants there is no centralized control.

    WordPress should maintain a quality check on the plugins, more like Apple and Google.

  6. I’ve been using WordPress from the early beginning when it was yet another blogging system. However, I found it more usable and much, much more easier to write plugins for than, say, Joomla.

    It’s no surprise over the years WordPress grown so much and now is a general purpose content management system. That of course comes with some drawbacks – more possibilities means more effort will be required for maintenance, more care for updates and so much time to invest in selecting correct themes and plugins.

    When you extend your site it eventually ends up having tens of plugins, page builders tied to your themes (maybe Gutenberg will finally solve this?). Those plugins has their lifecycles and you must follow them – proven fact that if you miss, say, photo slider update or any other not major plugin new version you easily end up with your site hacked. And it’s not that WordPress is not secure at all – it’s all the attention that is put by hackers to dig any possible security breach. The same happens with Joomla, so WordPress is no exception – timely updates are critical.

    In my case I write my blog for fun and tend to try out things. Like Toolset I bought entirely just to play around with custom post types which as well is a good proof WordPress is now so much more than just a blogging platform.

  7. I think it’s been hard for WordPress to tag along the more recent developments that have been on the forefront of the public’s view of web and tech. On the more high-end, there’s a rise of complex and dynamic data-driven applications that are written in Python and require a very different environment to run than your run-of-the-mill WP install; on the more low-end, there’s the rise of no-fuss-no-miss click-and-deploy SaaS models like Squarespace chipping away at the underside of the market.

    And you’ve got the server-side where DevOps is slowly fading into NoOps/Serverless, and the general decline of PHP (I’ve spoken to so many devs that are now snobbishly turning their nose up at traditional LAMP stacks); and on the client-side there’s all these Javascript applications, although several big theme developers have picked up that side quite well.

    I also don’t feel like WordPress is really leveraging its REST API as well as WordPress.com does in order to really level-up the CMS experience, and the fact that the environment is inundated in outdated underdeveloped and poorly mantained plugins that pose an increasing security risk for websites running them also gives many potential adopters pause.

    It’s hard to satisfy all sides of this equation, I do realize that, and I have no concrete solutions at hand right now. But these are my 2 cents: if WordPress is to turn back to growth again, it needs to address at least (any) two of the aforementioned issues.

  8. Hi Amir ,
    I’m a casual developer manager of WP sites – I no longer have to do this for a living, thus some different viewpoint,
    1. The examples are classic as a huge budget is needed to dominate main key words. A small hotel will never feature in the top 3 pages of G these days on generic key words.
    2. The more niche, the more specialized a business or site may become if the basic process for on line is not simplified respectively streamlined.

    I do pick up developments that have run into the “mainstrem” wall and or have realised that you get what you pay for (not much).

    One of the issues is diversity. WP on its own is nothing but a base, WPML allows for globalisation & Woo does the e-com. That is 3 systems, 3 supports, 3 different approaches.

    The cherry pickers have simply used this and combined it into a unique approach and smoothed out the stepping stones.

    This could be an indication for the three W’s (and or others) to maybe want to look at a combined standardised entry and management.

    This would be with the caveat of “ring fencing or walled garden”. By this technique (successful at the A company) limiting exposure to risks, failures and admin overhead.

    At present I have admin for WP, WPML,Woo and some other stuff, all more or less different.

    The good old 80/20 still applies these days and the plethora of plugin’s, themes etc dilute the core messages of the W’s simplicity, stability and ease of management.
    From where I sit the most important plug-in is the one that prevents loading of unused plug-ins.

    Here is an idea which may already exist somewhere:
    I do this manually as I have no time to write a script, but a simple multiple choice db driven front end that spews out a standardized install with a clean standardized admin and a single combined config, than running automatic security updates could in my opinion put a spanner in the works of the “cherry-pickers” and allow a brighter way forward by combining strength of diverse packs.

    And yes if this is something worth following count me in.

    And here is an example of a 3 W site that easily outperforms others (I do sit in Spain)
    Textiles Naturales – BUT it also shows the problem of drifting out of sync over time as the overall admin is too complicated for “normal” users.

    Saludos
    Martin GJ

  9. I agree that WordPress.com is not doing nearly enough marketing compared to some of the competition. SquareSpace seems to sponsor just about every podcast I listen to, not to mention the network television ads. WP is also falling behind technology-wise, so I’m one of the people who welcome the necessary “disruption” of Gutenberg. The platform as a whole needs to modernize quickly. As for marketing responsibility, I believe this falls squarely on WP.com’s shoulders since they are the actual competitors in the all-in-one website solution market.

    As a developer who works in an agency with primarily medium to enterprise level clients, we have no problem persuading our clients to use WP. The all-in-one services like SS or Wix are for people and companies who don’t have and don’t want a dev team, but need a domain, a pretty website, and a hosting solution with minimal fuss. Companies with the budget and needs for a 100% customized website that meets their demands will always be a better fit with WP (or Drupal, or other such CMS).

    As WP developers, we do have a responsibility to educate and inform people about why WP is still the superior choice. The large community, the wide availability of plugins and integrations, and the speed and security of WP when it’s done right and hosted with a proper web host. Show clients a list of big brands and news outlets that trust and use WP. It’s important to break the assumption that WP is some old software only run by bloggers on budget hosting.

  10. WordPress plugins are like apps on your phone. They’re living and breathing, but they need updating far too often. Customers don’t want to download packets of code that will be abandoned in 3 months. It’s too hard to maintain. Most paid themes are just free and paid plugins with some paint on the front. Many aren’t worth the yearly licenses. These days, I’d rather develop in Angular, React, or Vue. They’re more secure and I have complete control over the CMS if I build it from scratch. I’d recommend taking WPML to the streets. Diversify. Adobe and Sitecore are leading the way in enterprise. Wix and Squarespace are coming on strong into SMB.

  11. As a developer i dislike the hacky ways of extending the administration as well as the lack of templating. Using something like Timber fills in one gap, but causes conflicts with WPML as they use different versions of twig, ultimately making my life a living hell when developing something a bit more complex. Also how WP handles ajax requests makes even Oracle jealous of how complex and stupid it is.

    So to sum up my thoughts, as long as WordPress lacks all the things that make modern development possible, and the plugin-development community doesn’t make a good enough effort to fill in the gap, WordPress will not be a solid foundation for complex (call it business) websites and web apps.

    I hope we all find ways to better ourselves, this community and the web world in general.

  12. Hey, thanks for making me think about the future of WordPress this morning. Today, competitive web projects need to be responsive, should support high-resolution displays, while remaining lightweight for a growing mobile market and of course you want to optimize pages and its media for search engines to stick out of the vast amount of sites on the market. So, why does it have to be such an extreme effort for web designers and developers to get these basic features up and running in WordPress?

    WordPress and its two audiences
    WordPress, as a free and open-source PHP based CMS, always tried to be as minimal and simple as possible while offering all the basics needed to stay or become attractive to the masses. Therefore, the core system is clearly designed to enable a non-professional to built a small blog or website on his or her own. When WordPress is used for more advanced projects it often needs to be extended in an unhealthy amount. Getting WordPress to match the basic needs of professional projects requires an expert and still many hours of hard work. We all sometimes forget: WordPress was never built to be used by agencies to built corporate websites. Only the effort of many people working without financial revenue made it possible to abuse a CMS created for bloggers to kind of suit the needs of businesses – and I am fine with this, as long as it works. But to be honest: The development process of a commercial WordPress website never felt as native and smooth as it should feel. In my opinion, this conflict between being a simple blog CMS and a feature-rich business CMS is what could lead to confusion which will have a negative impact on the popularity of the project.

    A possible way for the future
    So stocking up core features for professional users is not an option because the system is already considered to be too complex for John Smith. Solving all the present and upcoming challenges a web project has to face with even more plugins won’t lead to less pain while creating or more stable systems. Making fundamental changes to WordPress’s is impossible because of the number of resources. This is why WordPress as a CMS feels to me like one simple system trying to deliver to two different audiences. In my opinion, the existing WordPress project should become even more simple and easy to use as it is right now – just the perfect tool for everyone to build a simple site. And a second and new project, let’s call it “WordPress Pro” would out of the box deliver professional features needed to build a commercially competitive website while keeping the ideas behind WordPress alive. These two versions of WordPress would perfectly coexist and deliver to two different kinds of users.

    Basic features
    Basic requirements like multilingualism, high-resolution media management (including vector data) or SEO would already be implemented into the core system. Every enterprise website needs these features and only a very small amount of people will be in need to choose from different solutions for these tasks. When it comes to translation, the developer would be able to choose between creating fully editable copies of the content for other languages (while accepting the pain of having multiple layouts to maintain but having the benefit of creating different content for different languages) or keep one single site to be able to only translate text elements or media content (while accepting the pain of having to translate the whole project but having the benefit of only one single layout for all languages).

    Open-source development and licensing
    A second WordPress system aiming for more professional users should also be developed by a core team which actually benefit from their work. Of course, it would remain open-source, but I can imagine crowdfunding for an early version and implementing ridiculously low license fees like 1$ for an installed copy. The users of WordPress Pro would differ in terms of their willingness to pay for a CMS extremely from the user of a more simple WordPress version. Introducing a very low price for the Pro version wouldn’t stand against the ethics of WordPress being free and all that – ridiculously low prices would just be the suitable commercial version of beeing for free. The entire project would benefit extremely from a structure like that.

    The plugin market for the Pro version would be separate from but close to the existing platform, the code would be monitored more closely for security reasons, plugin developers would also have professional support themselves, and developers of existing advanced plugins would be invited to create a version of their plugin for WordPress Pro. Plugins would also be licensed and charged with extremely low prices – that’s why developers of currently free advanced plugins would most likely be interested to participate. There would be one central login a WordPress or WordPress Pro user would need to register and manage WordPress installs and corresponding plugin licenses. The user could send money to an account which will then be eaten up by the used licenses. The billed amount per project could also be depending on how many licenses a user already collected – the more you own the cheaper they get.

    The future of good old WordPress as a brand
    It is easy to say: Websites will be built by artificial intelligence controlled by humans quite soon and PHP based CMS has no future in general. But honestly, I don’t see this future anywhere close to reality right now, especially when it comes to custom-made professional web projects. Developing WordPress back into a simple and easy-to-use blog and basic website CMS while developing a second more complex tool for more advanced users could get WordPress as a brand back up again.

    The coexistence of two WordPress systems
    Some people might think, creating a competitor like a second more advanced WordPress system in the own house would kill the good old basic WordPress system over time. I personally don’t think that would happen, as long as the basic WordPress system is developed into the simple website development kit it always should have been, but never succeeded to be, because people were trying to grow it into a more complex and professional tool.

    I am aware that you as the developer of a multilingual plugin wouldn’t like to see WordPress to support multilingual sites out of the box … at first – but you could be part of the future by joining the WordPress Pro core team and make a living from that.

    • I think it’s a wonderful idea, Oliver!
      leaving WP open source, but still professional is the way I would choose, too.
      thanks for the inspiration.

  13. Sorry to see your livelihood go, but in this day and age I don’t see any compelling reasons to use WordPress. I recently created a site using DjangoCMS and it was a dream to work with. The customer was very happy, and more importantly I was happy. There are other good CMS solutions out there as well, like Enonic XP.

    Let’s be honest – WordPress is okay if you just want a site, but it’s bloated, and the architecture makes it hard not to break custom stuff when upgrading. Custom stuff is also hard and complicated, and it all runs on PHP, which, well, thanks to lots of crappy PHP devs has gotten a bad reputation. Personally I don’t like the language. The syntax, the attempt at doing OO because that’s what was hip, the documentation (I’m looking at you foo and bar), the namespacing, etc.

    People ran PHP and WordPress because if you wanted cheap webserving and didn’t have the opportunity to run your own server – that’s what you could get. The modern alternatives are so much better that when I received the spammy e-mail about putting in a collective effort to help push wordpress I actually couldn’t just discard it, but I was compelled to come and write this comment.

    I’m very happy that there now are CMS solutions where multilingual sites are the default, and isn’t something that the customer have to pay extra for, and that makes updating to newer versions extra hard.

    So, yeah, sorry / not sorry.

    Magnus

    • That’s OK. Our livelihood isn’t going anywhere. A lot of folks here are interested and we’ll move the scales back to where we want them to be.

      WordPress isn’t the only CMS on the market. We use WordPress where it makes sense (like, to build wpml.org) but we use other tools where they are a better fit.

      We do our very best to make our products better. Our products are not perfect and neither are we. We’re in very close contact with WordPress core team and I can testify that they’re doing the same.

      That’s the best that we can do. I’m sure that there are smarter people out there who can build better products.

  14. Wix is definitely dominating WP in terms of organic search rankings. Honestly, this is more of an Automattic marketing problem than anything else. WordPress is the clear choice among web professionals and coders who know what they’re doing. But, for the small business owner who is looking for an easy and quick fix, they see Wix thanks to their Google search. Automattic/WordPress.com/WordPress.org (pick one..) needs to up their SEO game, stat.

    • This is the thinking that I’d like to change. Automattic is a company which runs commercial services for WordPress. It doesn’t own the WordPress project. It benefits from it, just like we all do (including WPML and including most of our clients).

      This is why I think that we should see ourselves as more responsible for the success of the project. To make this happen, we also need to contribute to its marketing.

      WordPress.org is not part of Automattic. This is where I’d like us to focus our efforts.

      We received a huge amount of valuable information in these comments. I’m compiling it now into a plan for action and I’ll share it (for feedback) with people like you who expressed interest.

  15. Agreed. If WordPress keeps losing popularity the whole community is in trouble. Developers, agencies, themes and plugins. WordPress needs to work harder on issues like security. But, more importantly, WordPress needs to be able to market itself as others do. Example Wix, as seen on the searches above. Count on me to be a part of any iniciative to posotively create group pressure so WordPress keeps growing.

  16. YES! We need more visibility on this, and to get ahead of the security/etc misinformation — always, literally on *every* job, we have to re-educate clients on WordPress vs what their perception is (hackable, painful, etc). We at least need to counter that narrative with some proper information marketing or white paper support.

    Let us know how we can help.

  17. Honestly, the biggest issue of WordPress is the difficulty of the admin panel when it’s well equipped. This especially relates to WPML, as it’s just really not obvious for clients, how to translate their content. Same goes for sliders and other advanced plugins.

    While we understand why WPML and other plugins need to be how they are, you and other plugin developers should strive to make things even easier. The best solution would be a simplified admin interface, not showing any of the “Content Post Type translation”, “slug translation”, “post formats”, “SEO for post types” etc. functions. It’s just too bloated for non-tech people.

    Also, there’s a lot of people that just want a great website for $50, which the WP community can’t help them with. It’s either we do it right, or we do it cheap and badly.

    Hope that helps. Keep making WPML easier for the end users please 🙂 We developers thumbs up your work as it is now though!

    • Do you think that these difficulties are what’s causing other platforms to appear ahead of WordPress when potential clients are looking for how to create websites for their businesses?

  18. Here’s the thing (and all i’m about to write here have been overly discussed topics with my clients or with people online), wordpress has a huge problem (which is at the same time, its greatest strenght) it’s widely accessible to everybody. as a result there are poorly written plugins, people who don’t know a thing about programming building their own websites and then even building OTHER people’s websites. that is fine, really, but as a result we get poor performance on a lot of sites, very poor sites and clients angry.

    The thing is that most of the times clients think WORDPRESS is the problem, because it’s easy to blame it on a platform than on the “developer” who built the site on that platform. everybody has its own preferred CMS, and they would do anything in order to sign a client (we’re all hustling in this world, i suppose) but people talk shit about wordpress because they only use as an example poorly written themes, plugins or people who don’t know how to properly build a website (i.e: no optimization, no best practices, nothing).

    Now, i’m not a saint, i’ve sinned in the past and i am forced to do that when deadlines are too tight but i at least let my clients know about it and if they don’t like it, well, there are hundreds of thousands of developers to choose from. some people don’t. a lot of people just find wordpress a fine way to get an extra income, but they don’t know a thing about web designing and there are DIY people who want everything extremely easy and they get frustrated when they find an error or bug (i once helped a guy that was extremely angry with wordpress because “it didn’t work and was a shitty CMS” and turned out that HE didn’t even know how to install a theme)

    Yeah, wordpress is not working as hard as wix or suqarespace (and they should) and i would gladly chip in in whatever way i can. i’ve seen wordpress evolve and i took the time to learn how to use and develop in it, so i KNOW how valuable and how much potential does this CMS STILL HAS!

  19. In my world all problems are opportunities and as such, I would like to offer an approach that might not fix all the concerns and may even bother some but it at least offers action. For a short BIO, I have been involved in IT for 48 years and have been involved in projects around the world. I am currently putting my skills to work helping create sustainable businesses in Africa, Philippines and India to name a few locations.

    I work with many organizations, governments and individuals around the world who try to follow our ethics and business model which supports the communities that we work in first.

    I would like to offer the opportunity to those like-minded people to transform how WP is used in developing countries that not only benefits the person involved but their communities and those linked around the world.

    No one system is perfect, nor will it last forever, but some continue to live on generation after generation (look at COBOL and my favorite ASSEMBLER). Where there is an opportunity to transition over time is to get involved in projects/programs that are not IT focused but rather community focused and IT just happens to be a tool.

    WP is good but it also does lack many things and as some have stated is boated in some ways. I personally feel that there is no reason why some of the core reasons for this can’t be resolved.

    If you are interested in transforming how WP is used and being part of a group that leads a project to:
    a)develop WP skills in country
    b)standardizes how WP is implemented across thousands of potential sites.
    c)provide proposals to governments that result in jobs for youth
    d)provide a critical view of WP and look at how best to use it going forward
    e)be part of a blockchain initiative that resolves numerous security/validation issues.
    f)give back to humanity while at the same time benefiting.oneself.
    Then please contact me at gmarsh@bykagroup.org

    Those working with my organization mostly believe in giving back to humanity and for those who have not seen the light, we impose strict rules to ensure that those who get greedy are removed.

    We are not a charity, though we often act like one if you were wondering. BYKA spans all religions, cultures, and beliefs with the focus that the only real problem is greed.

    Right now there is an opportunity to define a program that could start small in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, Nepal, Philippines, India, DRC, Mexico, Argentina, The Gambia, Guinea and many other countries.

    Our projects/programs are large and very small spanning:
    a) agriculture
    b) forestry
    c) fisheries
    d) power
    e) pollution (all types)
    f) education
    g) entertainment
    h) health
    i) water
    j) drones
    ….. much more.

    We use and have access to some of the most advanced technologies in the world and each one of the top advisors to BYKA has more than 20 years experience in their respective fields.
    Mine just happens to be IT.

    For those who can read this, are passionate about helping others, who look at coding as a career and not a job, and are willing to invest their time and energy first please contact me.

    I am not looking to hire people – I have access to thousands of programmers around the world having run large projects for banks and many other organizations….

    When you read this you will know right away if you are a fit.

    Have an amazing day!