WordPress is more than a blogging tool. It’s evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry used by some of the most well-known brands worldwide, whilst directly, and indirectly supporting hundreds of thousands of industry jobs.
And while plugins have evolved to be more sophisticated the user experience is still less than desirable across our ecosystem.
Platforms as a Plugin
All platform plugins do one thing and do it well but imagine being a new user trying to set up a platform plugin for the first time. It can be totally overwhelming from the WordPress UI, the options and the customizability.
In the platform plugin space you can already see improvements in user experience through the introduction of things like WooCommerce Payments (making payments easier than ever for users), wizards and cloud based hosted versions like LearnDash Cloud.
The problem is for someone to pick your plugin over a SaaS solution the ease of use doesn’t have to be “I can build this in a day”.
It has to be “I can understand and get started in minutes or hours”. Can you do that with WordPress? No. Yes you can start with the core platform and learn it to a basic degree in minutes or hours but not WordPress.
As a new user to WordPress you’re presented with bewildering options:
- Setting up a menu.
- Choosing your permalink structure.
- Every plugin uses different UIs and ways of managing their admin side menu items.
- Setting up user registration.
- Trying to figure out why emails don’t send (hint: use an SMTP plugin and don’t use PHPMail)
- Managed hosting vs self hosted vs WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
- Americanisms like “Howdy” which you’d be surprised how many people want to change/modify that I see day-to-day.
- Translation issues.
- SEO and how to do it and what to choose.
And… well I’ve barely scratched the surface, that list could be 100 items long and one of those listicles that makes you fall asleep of 100 things to consider when setting up a WordPress site.
As a community, as an ecosystem we still haven’t solved this. And it’s not an easy one to solve, there’s multiple large corporations involved and everyone wants to do things their own way rightly or wrongly.
Yet I do believe we can improve the general experience for users and we can see how that can take shape partly in the themes world with importable demo content, customization wizards and block patterns. Tools to help users get started and understand what they’re doing.
Is it them or you?
Next time you have a new customer write in and think it’s them not understanding you or your product. Take a step back. Look at your product, can you really say the UX is perfect? Probably not.
There’s a lot to do in product land but passing over UX is a sure fire way to churn customers.
And don’t think UX is only development. UX is customer support, UX is documentation. It’s the whole ecosystem of your product. Not a singular aspect.
To Solve Together or Individually?
I’m a believer that what we need to solve is the impression of WordPress at a base level in our products.
Most customers don’t know, understand or care about WordPress. They use WordPress to use our products to build their business.
It’s on us as companies, Product Experts, Customer support specialists, documentation writers, technical writers, copy writers, design leads, QA managers to solve the problem for our customers.
So that as an ecosystem people can recommend both our products and WordPress through their initial experience.
It’s time we step outside of our core products, and build an experience. Build a platform and above all create a product that’s delightful to use.