WordPress started from humble beginnings. It was a user-friendly blogging package that allowed anyone, located anywhere to create an online identity and publish content.
Individuals could write about their kids, their dogs, or their hobbies. They could discuss their political beliefs and they could use the platform to drive an online movement. Social media only fueled this by expanding their reach and connecting more and more people to their written words.
What started as an avenue for self-expression quickly migrated into a revenue stream. For savvy bloggers, WordPress created a way to make money with little investment. Write a blog post, throw in an ad or affiliate link, and wait for the money to roll in. For some it was really that easy.
As the WordPress community grew, more and more contributors came online and the blogging software was periodically upgraded with new features and options. The core developers added just enough features to allow for increased adoption, while still keeping the software easy enough for the every day blogger.
WordPress matured, but at a steady and controlled rate.
Blogging Evolved Into Business
The movement continued and the community migrated from bloggers to business. Small businesses began to realize the value of a content management system and that this blogging software could do more than just publish blog posts. WordPress would allow them to control their own website.
More and more business websites started to adapt WordPress and use it as a true CMS. The user demographic flipped from bloggers to businesses. The WordPress community listened and it began to mature.
Smart WordPress developers began focusing on premium themes and plugins. While most bloggers ignored these fee-based products, the business world embraced them by eagerly buying these goodies.
Business Became Smarter
Small business became smarter and began demanding more customized themes and plugins. They had ideas for more advanced websites and they knew a customized WordPress theme or plugin could make it happen.
This shift opened up a larger revenue stream for higher end developers and design firms. While doing so, the price point navigated north and the skill-level of the community advanced. The community added business based events like PressNomics to their technical focused WordCamps and Meet Ups. In doing so, we became more cohesive and less fragmented.
As I sat at PressNomics this year I realized the WordPress community has grown a lot over the last year. By growth I mean we advanced in technology and mindset. We grew by numbers, but this was not nearly as important as the fact that we matured.
Evolution is Inevitable
Our open source community of flip flop wearing coders now includes marketers and successful serial entrepreneurs. The year of 2013 brought mergers and acquisitions. New players emerged to inspire us. Experienced players rocked the community by shifting from a pursuit of growth to one of sustainability.
Some WordPress producers moved quickly to keep pace with the growth of adoption and the shift to mid-market business and enterprise level users.
As I sat back and looked around the PressNomics conference, I was inspired by the those around me and I was a bit fearful of our growth ahead.
WordPress is already used by 20% of online properties, but our community is making a more significant shift. Our user base is expanding upwards into mid-market and the enterprise. It is being embraced by international, publicly held organizations.
Enterprise once feared CMS and open source, yet now views it as an opportunity. The WordPress ecosystem is evolving and doing so at an alarming fast rate.
Are We Really Ready for WordPress in the Enterprise?
In my opinion the overall community is not yet ready for enterprise. We have only a dozen or so developments firms that are capable of executing projects of scale. There are some, but they are the exception and not the rule.
We have brilliant minds who think PHP, CSS and HTML5, but we don’t quite have the infrastructure to facilitate the change that needs to occur for sustainable enterprise adoption. We have not yet migrated enough from passion into process.
We Will Rise to the Occasion
While I am a realist, I am also an optimist. This makes me confident in our ability to mature further and to adapt quickly. In time we, the WordPress community, will be ready for enterprise because we will rise to the occasion.
We are too smart to stagnate. We are too passionate to allow for failure.
We will evolve and we will continue to elevate a package that started as blogging software into a marketing solution for big business.
Some of us will shine and some of us will stumble. As with any community, it is simply natural selection. The strong will become stronger and the others will focus on the blogger, entry-level user, or will simply depart for a new community in which they are more suited. And this will be ok.
In the end our ecosystem will be better and our community be stronger.