Automattic is changing everything WordPress, or not.
If you use WordPress to manage your content online, you’re smart and far from alone. Stats say that somewhere around 28% of the web we use is running on WordPress right now. The thing is, many of you have no idea you are looking at it when a master developer builds a site.
The secret sauce of WordPress is that the content, the stuff that brings visitors to your site, is in a database and separate from the presentation- the theme, the way it all displays. This is what makes things super easy to manage and maintain, and to format the output for any size screen and device. The part that makes Google search such a big fan is that the content is organized nicely using the four main tools: Posts, Pages, Categories and Tags. If you’ve taken our Websitetology seminar, you fully understand why most of your site should be using posts- in really well organized and thought out categories. If you haven’t taken our seminar- you should sign up.
However, there are a few big changes coming on the horizon to the World of WordPress- both from the top, the people who built and maintain this open source tour de force- Automattic (named for Matt Mullenweg, the guy who proved you can get rich giving something away that you don’t own).
First up is the subscription service JetPack, which builds upon a suite of plugin tools that were and still are free- but always required a wordpress.com account to tie you back to the “mothership.” In that form- JetPack did some cool stuff-
Keep any WordPress site secure, increase traffic, and engage your readers.
Traffic and SEO Tools
Traffic is the lifeblood of any website. Jetpack includes:
- [free] Site stats and analytics
- [free] Automatic sharing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Reddit, and WhatsApp
- [free] Related posts
- [paid] Search engine optimization tools for Google, Bing, Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress.com
- [paid] Advertising program that includes the best of AdSense, Facebook Ads, AOL, Amazon, Google AdX, and Yahoo
Security and Backup Services
Stop worrying about data loss, downtime, and hacking. Jetpack provides:
- [free] Brute force attack protection
- [free] Downtime and uptime monitoring
- [free] Secured logins and two-factor authentication
- [paid] Malware scanning, code scanning, and threat resolution
- [paid] Site backups, restores, and migrations
Add rich, beautifully-presented media — no graphic design expertise necessary:
- [free] A high-speed CDN for your images
- [free] Carousels, slideshows, and tiled galleries
- [free] Simple embeds from YouTube, Google Documents, Spotify and more
- [free] Sidebar customization including Facebook, Twitter, and RSS feeds
- [free] Extra sidebar widgets including blog stats, calendar, and author widgets
- [paid] High-speed, ad-free, and high-definition video hosting
Discussion and Community
Create a connection with your readers and keep them coming back to your site with:
- [free] Email subscriptions
- [free] Comment login with Facebook, Twitter, and Google
- [free] Fully-customizable contact forms
- [free] Infinite scroll for your posts
So, you say- there are only a few pieces that are paid- I’ll jump in. However, that’s the beginning down the slippery slope to letting someone else control how your site works and see everything you do. We’ve avoided it for years- instead using tools from third parties.
The newest release of Jetpack gets its own site- Jetpack.com and looking at the business side (since we do WordPress for business as our bread and butter) you start seeing that it’s almost as if you are buying hosting from Automattic too- which isn’t a bad thing, until things go wrong in a big way, and the support just can’t deal with their scale. Automattic has been doing their VIP hosting for a long time, so they probably are pretty solid at this now, but, we’re still a little wary, and frankly, the price is pretty steep. You don’t need access to hundreds of premium themes- you just need one good one.
No matter what, the push into hosting smaller business sites and offering their own sets of tools, could be seen as direct competition with the entire ecosystem that has been built around WordPress. One of the key reasons WordPress has been so successful is the thousands of businesses that have been built on the platform- from theme and plugin developers to hosting firms and web developers.
And, as if that isn’t enough… here comes “Guttenberg”
What? Moveable type presses? Nope, a new way of editing text outside the standard text block editor that is the default. In other words, a builder- much like many of the builders that come with premium themes. There are plenty out there- we’ve gravitated to using Divi from Elegant Themes– which is both plugin and visual site builder/theme- but there are plenty of others.
What does the coming of Guttenberg mean for some of us? We’re not entirely sure. The Customizer was the first Automattic attempt to provide an interim WYSWIG interface to WordPress- and it didn’t change anything. What we are seeing is Automattic reacting to competition like SquareSpace/WIX/Weebly – all of which are WordPress with training wheels for those who can’t be bothered with doing a website right.
Guttenberg is still in beta and not ready for prime time. We’re waiting to see if it is in WP 4.9 or part of the major 5.0 release. In the meantime, you should be aware of the impending changes.