WordPress 5.0 is a significant step in this direction and the changes WordPress introduces with the new version will provide many benefits to non-techies and non-coders in the future.
This comprehensive guide, then, is aimed at helping non-technical users understand where WordPress is going, why WordPress has introduced these changes, and what these changes will mean to you. This section contains links to in-depth tutorials that will help you understand and apply these new changes to your website and the way you create content online.
WordPress 5.0 – Why
As discussed in ‘Non-Techies Are The Future Of WordPress: WordPress Gutenberg & The WordPress Paradox’ if you are a non-technical person working in a business where everyone else is also a non-techie, non-coder, non-web developer, or non-digital marketing expert and your business wants a web platform that can deliver better results, then your best option is to choose a technology platform where things are made so simple, automated and easy to use that you don’t even need to understand how the technology works to get the results you want.
As a non-technical user who has been observing the evolution of WordPress for over a decade, this seems to be the direction they are heading, and WordPress 5.0 is the first step toward this destination.
The introduction of the new WordPress content editor, called Gutenberg (after Johannes Gutenberg, who invented the printing press over 500 years ago) is part of a plan to transform WordPress into something bigger than just a website publishing and content management platform.
As the video presentation below recorded at a WordCamp held in Nashville, U.S.A. in 2017 (and its mission to democratize publishing) shows, WordPress is moving toward being a platform where non-technical users will be able to transform their web presence into just about anything they want using modular elements and components that will:
Provide users with all different types of functions
Integrate seamlessly with what you already have built
Be simple to configure, using methods like ‘point and click’, ‘drag and drop’, WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), selecting options from drop-down menus, etc.
(Gutenberg and the WordPress of Tomorrow)
While the decision to introduce a completely new content editor generated heated debates and strong reactions from many users, web developers, and members of the WordPress community, it seems that WordPress had to make a decision if it is to continue to grow and evolve.
WordPress 5.0 and the new Gutenberg editor, then, is just the first step toward the bigger picture.
WordPress 5.0 -What’s New
To learn what’s new in WordPress 5.0 and what you need to do if you haven’t upgraded yet, go here.
WordPress Gutenberg Tutorials
To learn more about using the new WordPress content editor, click on the links below:
Why spend hundreds of dollars on WordPress training courses? Learn how to train your staff to use WordPress with our FREE WordPress step-by-step tutorials …
Does your business website run on WordPress? Over a quarter of all websites worldwide are powered by WordPress, so yours is probably too!
If you employ staff and your digital presence matters to your business, then it’s important that everyone in your team be trained to use WordPress effectively.
As we explain in The WordPress Paradox, almost every aspect of WordPress can be managed by non-technical users.
This means that anyone in your team can contribute to the growth of your business and help save money on the cost of hiring experts to look after areas like digital management and digital marketing.
For example, if your staff knew how to use WordPress effectively, your business could easily get the following done without having to employ website developers, or hire web programmers, web coders, or web support services:
Publish content online to promote your business, drive more traffic, and generate more leads to your website.
Add new pages and posts, edit existing content (e.g. pages and product descriptions), upload PDF files, images, videos, etc.
Manage, maintain, and keep everything in your website up-to-date, fully backed-up and protected from hackers and malicious users without touching any code (most of this can even be automated). This includes the core software, files, database, plugins, themes, content, pages, uploads, users, etc.
Add new functionality to your website (e.g. add e-commerce, newsletter signup forms, advertising banners, a membership site or directory, contact forms, image or video galleries, etc.) with a few clicks of the mouse using free or inexpensive plugins.
Change your web design entirely with a few clicks of the mouse using free or inexpensive themes.
Rearrange, tweak or improve the layout of your website and reconfigure user navigation menus in your site’s header, footer, or sidebar areas to improve visitor and user experience with a few clicks of the mouse using drag and drop widgets.
Test, improve, and automate marketing processes (e.g. SEO, traffic generation, list-building, sales conversion, etc.) and generate useful business and website reports (e.g. analytics, social engagement, etc.) using plugins and services that integrate easily with WordPress.
Troubleshoot common website errors.
And a whole lot more!
Training your staff to use WordPress effectively also saves your business time and money in areas like outsourcing, web development, web design, and technical support and helps to improve business efficiency, get better results online, boost team productivity and increase your competitive advantage.
(The benefits of training your staff to use WordPress effectively)
Teaching and training people to use WordPress effectively, however, can be very challenging. As we explain in The Challenges Of Educating, Teaching, And Training New WordPress Users, although website developers are responsible for providing clients with training on how to use their new websites, they are often not the best people to train new WordPress users. Training is not their core business and they have no incentive to fully train and empower clients to manage their own websites.
As a result, many new WordPress users do not receive the kind of training that would help them get the most benefit from using WordPress and their websites end up being significantly underutilized or costing more money to maintain than it should.
You can spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars on WordPress courses and digital skills training for your staff … or use WPCompendium.org!
At WPCompendium.org, we have invested many years into building a comprehensive FREE WordPress training system focused on helping non-technical users and small businesses grow a successful digital presence using WordPress. We provide hundreds of detailed WordPress step-by-step tutorials that you can use to train your staff to build, grow, manage, and automate your digital presence with no technical skills required and we’ll show you how to do all this at minimal cost … for FREE!
In addition to our detailed guide on how to effectively train new WordPress users, we have also created the practical 7-step training program below that will teach you and your team how to use WordPress … completely FREE of charge!
Train Your Staff How To Use WordPress In 7 Days … For Free!
(Train your staff to use WordPress … for FREE!)
Business Owner/Manager – Please Read This First
This WordPress training course is entirely self-paced. It consists of 7 practical lessons that can be completed in the user’s own time and convenience. Just refer members of your staff to this page and ask them to complete the training program below.
After a staff member has completed the tutorials and the action steps in the training program, they will not only have the knowledge, skills, and competence to perform tasks in vital areas like digital content publishing, digital management, and digital marketing, they will also know where to come to find answers and to keep learning about more ways to help your business grow online.
Before you begin training your staff on how to use WordPress, please make sure to do the following:
Make sure that you have admin access to your WordPress site so your staff can perform all of the tasks included in the tutorials. For security purposes, we recommend creating new user accounts for training new members.
Ideally, your WordPress site would have been expertly configured to automate processes like backups, search engine indexing, social media marketing, etc. Not all website developers will do (or can do) this when they set up your website. An expertly configured WordPress site will automatically get your pages indexed on search engines and instantly syndicate your content on social media and other authority sites as soon as new content is published, and automatically perform other management and marketing tasks, like backups, add new subscribers to your list, etc.
Make a complete backup of your WordPress site before allowing anyone to access your site’s admin area. See this section if you need help automating WordPress backups, or install a plugin like Backup Creator to perform 1-click backups.
Optional: The businesses that get the best results online are those that are in complete control of their digital presence. To learn why most businesses are not in control of their digital presence and how to avoid this, we recommend downloading an e-book we have written specifically to help small businesses called The Small Business Digital Manager.
New WordPress Users – Begin Here
(Let’s learn how to use WordPress!)
Hello and welcome to our 7-part course on using WordPress. By completing the training below, you will gain valuable new digital skills and be able to better contribute to the growth and success of your team.
This course is easy to follow. Everything is explained using plain and simple language. No technical knowledge or coding skills are required. If you have basic computer skills and can click a mouse button or tap on a screen, you can master using WordPress with our training and our tutorials. All you need to do is go through the course below and complete all of the step-by-step tutorials and action steps. All the help and information you need is right here on WPCompendium.org. We’ve got hundreds of detailed step-by-step tutorials that you can refer to anytime you need help or want to know what to do next.
Are you ready to begin?
Great! Then let’s get started …
Lesson 1 – WordPress Overview
Goal: Learn about the benefits and advantages of using WordPress to manage and grow a business online.
The more you learn about WordPress and what you can achieve with it, the faster you will be able to help your business solve problems online, overcome challenges, and get better results like driving more traffic and generating more leads, more sales, more subscribers, etc.
WordPress is more than just a website or a blogging platform. It’s a digital vehicle that can take your business anywhere it wants to go. WordPress lets you build just about anything you can imagine online with no technical skills required … all you need to do is learn how to drive it!
(WordPress lets you drive your digital vehicle wherever you want to go!)
Just like learning how to drive a vehicle involves learning lots of little steps until everything becomes automatic, learning how to get from where you are to where you want to go online with WordPress also involves learning lots of little steps until it too becomes automatic.
The first step, then, is to learn more about WordPress and where all of the work gets done in your WordPress site.
Lesson 1 – Objectives
In this lesson, you will learn about the following:
How to use and navigate around WPCompendium.org.
Why businesses use WordPress.
The benefits of using the WordPress Content Management System (CMS).
How to log into WordPress.
The WordPress Dashboard.
Lesson 1 – Action Steps
Complete all of the tutorials listed below.
Log into WordPress and learn how to navigate and use the WordPress dashboard (ask your manager for your login details).
Congratulations! After completing Lesson 1, you should:
Know how to use this site to find answers about WordPress.
Have a better understanding of the benefits and advantages of using WordPress.
Know how to log in and out of WordPress.
Know how to navigate inside your WordPress dashboard.
Have installed the Chrome browser extension (if you use Google Chrome) so you can come back to these tutorials anytime with one click of a button.
Lesson 2 -Preparing Web Content For Publishing
Goal: To assemble the information you will need to publish content on your website.
In the Digital Information Age, content is not only ‘king,’ it’s also the global currency we use to communicate and transact online.
Businesses needs lots of digital content. Your business needs content for its website pages, blog, newsletters, product descriptions, post headlines, sales copy, social media, ads, articles, promotional pieces, news releases, customer training, FAQs, forum discussions, SEO meta descriptions, etc.
Great content helps your business:
Drive traffic to your website and social media pages
Keep your website relevant in the search engines
Educate prospects about your products and services
Convert visitors into new customers, sales, and subscribers
Keep readers, subscribers, clients, and users engaged
Train new clients, staff members, customers, subscribers, users, resellers, affiliates, etc.
Build trust, authority, and credibility online
Stay ahead of the competition
And a whole lot more!
Knowing how to create and produce good quality content, therefore, is one of the most valuable skills you can develop to grow your business online.
Lesson 2 – Objectives
In this lesson, you will learn how to prepare content to create a quality article or blog post to publish online with WordPress.
In this lesson’s tutorials, you will learn the following:
Why content marketing is important.
Tools that can help you organize your content ideas.
Tools that can help you write content more effectively.
How to never run out of content ideas for a website, blog, or social media.
Lesson 2 – Action Steps
Complete all of the tutorials listed below.
Research new content ideas.
Come up with an effective title (headline) for your article.
Create a 500 – 1,200 word article and save it as a text file.
Source media (e.g. images, videos, etc.) for your article.
You have created an article for publishing online. It doesn’t need to be formatted (i.e. plain text copy will do). If you have written your article using a word processor application (e.g. MS Word) that’s OK.
You have a title or headline for your new post or article (see Lesson 2 tutorials).
You have sourced images, videos, etc. for your article. If you don’t have any original images or videos, don’t worry. See the tutorial for sourcing free images and just find a video related to your topic on YouTube.
Click on the link above to access the WordPress User Guide and complete all of the tutorials highlighted in the sections below …
(Learn how to create and publish posts and pages in WordPress)
The tutorials in the above sections will take you step-by-step through the entire post creation and publishing process.
For this lesson, just focus on adding a text-based article or blog post to WordPress and learning how to publish it. In Lesson 4, we’ll go through the tutorials on editing your content and adding images and videos.
As stated in the introduction section, this training assumes that your business already has a WordPress site set up and professionally configured (you can learn how to do this yourself using our Free WordPress installation and WordPress configuration tutorials, but this is your website developer’s job).
If so, your site should already have the following SEO features installed and configured:
Permalinks – This creates SEO-friendly URLs for your posts and pages. If configured correctly, there’s nothing you need to do here. Your post will automatically publish with an SEO-friendly URL.
Post Categories – If post categories have been set up correctly for your site, all you need to do is select the category that best fits your post before publishing. If no category is available, see our tutorials to learn how to add a new post category to WordPress.
Post Tags – This a built-in feature of WordPress. All you need to do is add relevant tags to your post before publishing.
SEO Plugin – With an SEO plugin installed (e.g. Yoast SEO), you can ‘instruct’ sites like Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. how to display your content in their search results, post feeds, RSS feeds, etc.
Content Syndication – If your WordPress site has been expertly configured, your posts should automatically appear on your social pages (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) Note: not all website developers will set this up (you can learn how to do it yourself with these tutorials).
Congratulations! After completing Lesson 3, you should now know how to publish a new article or blog post on your WordPress site and how to optimize your post or page for search engines.
Lesson 4 – Using Media With WordPress
Goal: To learn how to edit content and add media to your posts and pages.
WordPress makes it easy to edit published content and add media elements like images, videos, audios, etc.
Lesson 4 – Objectives
In this lesson, you will learn about the following:
How to edit WordPress posts and pages.
How to add an image, video, or audio file to your content.
Lesson 4 – Action Steps
Complete all of the tutorials listed below.
Edit the WordPress post you’ve created in lesson 3.
Add an image, video, or audio file to your content, etc.
Save and republish your content.
Editing Content In WordPress
Revisit the tutorials on using WordPress posts covered during lesson 3 to learn how to edit your posts. These include the following:
Click on the link above to access the WordPress User Guide and complete all of the tutorials highlighted in the sections below …
(Learn how to use media with WordPress)
These tutorials explain how to upload media to WordPress using the WordPress media library. You can also store media on external or cloud storage solutions (e.g. Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.) and add these to your WordPress posts.
For more information on using media stored on external storage solutions with WordPress, see the tutorials below:
Before installing any plugins on your WordPress site always make a complete backup of your WordPress software, files, and database. This way, if anything should go wrong, you can easily restore your website.
Backing up your entire WordPress site only takes a few seconds. Whether you decide to install new plugins or not, you should have a website backup system and your website developer should already have set this up for you.
If not, you can learn more about setting up an automated WordPress backup system using the tutorials below:
In this lesson, we’ll install two FREE WordPress plugins …
TablePress– Click on the tutorial to learn how to install a plugin that lets you add tables to your WordPress posts and pages.
WPTrainMe WordPress User Tutorials Plugin – With the WPTrainMe plugin installed, you can access all of the tutorials on WPCompendium.org plus WordPress video tutorials from inside your WordPress dashboard.
(WPTrainMe – WordPress User Tutorials Plugin Free Edition)
Let’s install the FREE version of the WPTrainMe plugin, which gives you access to all of the tutorials in our How To Use WordPress training module, plus related video tutorials. You can upgrade later to the PRO version and get access to hundreds of video tutorials.
(WPTrainMe – WordPress User Tutorials Plugin)
To Install The WPTrainMe Plugin (Free Edition) From Your WordPress Dashboard:
In your dashboard, go to Plugins > Add New.
Enter wptrainme in the search box.
Click ‘Install’ then ‘Activate’.
You will need to authenticate the plugin in order to access and view the tutorials in the ‘Tutorials’ tab. Create a FREE WPTrainMe membership here to obtain your authentication (login) details: WPTrainMe Plugin Registration
Enter your membership login details in the ‘Settings’ tab of the plugin to authenticate and begin using the plugin.
Congratulations! After completing Lesson 5, you should now know how to enhance, expand, and extend the functionality of your WordPress site using plugins.
Lesson 6 – WordPress Widgets, Shortcodes & Menus
Goal: To learn how to rearrange the layout of your WordPress site using widgets, shortcodes, and menus
Widgets, shortcodes, and custom menus give you control of your WordPress site’s layout and functionality without requiring any technical knowledge or coding skills.
Widgets let you redesign areas of your site’s templates like the header, footer, or sidebars using drag and drop. Shortcodes let you easily insert complex elements like scripts into your content by simply typing in special words into your content inside square brackets (eg. [shortcode]). Custom menus let you improve your site navigation by adding (or excluding) selected pages, posts, URLs, etc.
Lesson 6 – Objectives
In this lesson, you will learn about the following:
What a WordPress widget is and what it does.
How to use and configure WordPress widgets.
How to rearrange the layout of your WordPress sidebar, header, footer, etc. using widgets.
What shortcodes are and how they work.
How to use shortcodes to add functionality and other elements to your WordPress posts and pages.
How to use and edit WordPress menus.
Lesson 6 – Action Steps
Complete all of the tutorials listed below.
Add some useful sections to your website using widgets.
Add a table to your article or blog post using shortcodes.
Add a new item to a header, footer, or sidebar menu
Congratulations! After completing Lesson 6, you should now know:
How to use and configure widgets in your WordPress site’s sidebars, header, and footer areas.
How to add shortcodes to content in your WordPress posts and pages.
How to customize, add, and edit links in your WordPress menus.
Lesson 7 – WordPress Maintenance
Goal: To learn how to perform basic WordPress site maintenance on a regular basis.
All websites require maintenance for security and improved performance. WordPress is no different.
Learning how to keep your WordPress site maintained, fully backed up and updated on a regular basis will not only save your business money on support costs, it is also essential for the peace of mind and security of any business with an active web presence.
Lesson 7 – Objectives
Today, you will learn about the following:
The importance of keeping your WordPress site maintained, fully backed up, updated and secure.
How to perform a simple WordPress maintenance routine in 5-10 minutes.
The importance of keeping your WordPress site optimized.
Issues that affect WordPress security.
How to troubleshoot common WordPress errors.
Lesson 7 – Action Steps
Complete all of the tutorials listed below.
Learn how to perform a complete WordPress maintenance routine.
Learn how to test your WordPress site’s mobile friendliness.
Learn how to perform a basic WordPress security audit.
Congratulations! After completing Lesson 7, you should know:
How to perform a complete WordPress site maintenance routine
How to keep your WordPress site secure, backed up, and up-to-date
How to troubleshoot common WordPress issues and errors
Where to get additional WordPress help and support if needed.
WordPress Training – Next Steps
Congratulations on completing our WordPress training program! We hope that you have learned a lot. Hopefully, now you have a better idea of just how powerful WordPress really is and how much you can do without having any technical knowledge or coding/web programming skills.
Once you master the basics of using WordPress, there is no limit to what you can do! We provide hundreds of FREE WordPress step-by-step tutorials for non-techies, including tutorials on how to drive more traffic, generate more leads, get more subscribers, monetize your site, and grow your sales online in our WordPress Business Strategies training module, which is also 100% FREE!
We encourage you to keep learning all you can about using WordPress to help your business grow online and come back to WPCompendium.org whenever you have any questions or want to learn more about WordPress.
WordPress is becoming easier for non-techies to build, run, and manage their own websites without requiring technical web services like web development, web design, website building, website maintenance, etc. This is the paradox of WordPress …
Consider this …
Give any teenager a brand new mobile phone and within minutes, they will have fully customized it, configured its settings and downloaded the apps they need to chat with their friends and play games.
The typical smartphone user is not a mobile application developer and doesn’t need technical knowledge or expertise of how mobile phone technologies work to get results using their mobile device.
The typical smartphone user can easily learn how:
Send and receive calls, video chats, and text messages,
Configure their phone’s settings,
Customize their phone with skins, screensavers, wallpapers, and other accessories,
Change the layout of their user interface by rearranging icons and folders on their screen top,
Enhance the functionality of their device by downloading and installing apps,
Update their software and apps automatically,
Backup all of their phone’s data and preferences,
Run a business from their phone,
And more … all without technical expertise or outsourcing the above tasks to mobile phone experts!
(Smartphone users don’t need technical expertise to use their phones. Source: Pixabay)
We could argue, then, that smartphone users have complete control of their mobile presence without requiring technical skills or hiring technical experts because smartphone manufacturers and mobile software and app developers have created a user-friendly framework that supports and empowers non-technical users to engage with mobile devices.
In a similar kind of way, WordPress has also created a user-friendly framework that can support and empower non-technical users to engage with their website.
The problem, is that most non-techie WordPress users have not been empowered to take control of their digital presence and end up becoming hostages of technical service providers like website developers and digital marketers. This is explained in more detail in The Small Business Digital Manager.
The WordPress Paradox
Imagine giving a teenager a brand new phone and then telling them that they can’t use their phone unless they hire technical experts and pay them a monthly fee to customize the look and feel of their phone and to download and manage their apps or look after their text messaging.
They would look at you like you have just asked them to eat spiders for lunch.
Yet, this is exactly what most website owners do with WordPress. They hire website developers to build them a website they could easily build and configure themselves with no coding skills required and then pay them a monthly fee to manage and maintain sites that could be easily managed and maintained with a few mouse clicks or automation.
The paradox of WordPress is that WordPress is becoming easier for non-techies to build, run, and manage their own websites without requiring technical web services like web development, web design, website building, website maintenance, etc.
Pressure from market-driven economies and global competition demand that technologies become increasingly more user-friendly and evolve from being complex and complicated to simpler and easier to use.
Non-techies are the end users of the WordPress CMS platform. They are the target audience of tens of thousands of WordPress developers and web service providers and the reason why WordPress exists.
Like all technologies designed to service non-technical end users, therefore, it is inevitable that if WordPress wants to remain competitive and maintain its global dominance as the leading web platform used by millions of websites worldwide, it will have to keep evolving and become simpler and easier for non-techies to use without requiring coding knowledge or advanced technical skills.
As we explain in Keep Calm And Use WordPress, WordPress puts non-techies in complete control of their digital presence with customizable themes, fully configurable plugins, and integrated features and functions like wizards, visual interfaces, plug-and-play, drag-and-drop, copy and paste, shortcodes, widgets, ‘one-click’ updates and installations, and more.
With WordPress, anyone can build, manage, and grow a website without technical skills required and they can do this all at minimal cost. In fact, as our WordPress tutorials for non-technical users show, you don’t need to hire a web developer or learn how to code to do the following:
The WordPress paradox has another side. As WordPress is becoming easier for non-techies to build, run, and manage their own websites without requiring technical people to provide web services like web development, web design, website building, website maintenance, etc., more technical web service providers are offering these very same WordPress services to non-technical users.
Because WordPress is 100% free to use, modify, and distribute, and completely configurable and fully customizable thanks to thousands of inexpensive plugins and themes, it creates an attractive opportunity for web service providers to build a profitable business selling high perceived value web services that can be assembled and delivered really quickly at a very low cost.
The increasing popularity and dominance of WordPress means that more businesses offering WordPress services will be started in the future.
The inevitable outcome of this paradox, then, seems to point to more businesses offering clients’ services they can easily perform themselves.
If WordPress Is The Answer, What Is The Question?
Just like teenage smartphone users, non-technical WordPress users can control all areas of their digital presence without having to become technical experts themselves or having to hire technical experts to get things done.
If WordPress is continually evolving to make it easier for non-technical users to build, run, and manage their digital presence without employing technical experts, why aren’t most website owners doing this?
The Self-Building Website
As stated earlier, pressure from the market and global competition demand that technologies become increasingly more user-friendly and evolve from complexity to simplicity.
Just like the process of building a home is becoming simpler and easier for home owners to access (see video below) …
(Technologies are getting simpler and easier for non-techies to use)
… so will the process of building websites and online businesses become simpler and easier for non-techie business owners.
Consider this analogy …
Imagine an app that is free to download and use and can instantly scan and repair all problems with your motor vehicle.
You download the app for free, click one button and in seconds, all your vehicle’s issues and problems are instantly and automatically repaired. Your car’s fuel, oil, water, brake, and transmission fluids are topped up, your tyres are perfectly inflated, your engine purrs like a kitten, all electronic and mechanical components work as new … even the car’s interior and exterior have been detailed and thoroughly cleaned. All you have to do is get in and drive (watch the video below – coming soon!).
Wouldn’t this be fantastic?
Now, here is the thing. If we apply the principles of the WordPress Paradox to this analogy, then:
Every car owner in the world would now be able to keep their vehicles fully maintained and repaired for free with no automotive repair knowledge or mechanical skills, simply by downloading this wonderful app and clicking a button, yet, simultaneously …
Thousands of new businesses would be started by both experienced motor vehicle repairers and entrepreneurial sales and marketing people offering motor vehicle repair and maintenance services to ‘non-mechanical’ car owners.
Now … you might be thinking “why wouldn’t every car owner just download this free app and repair their own vehicle?”
As a quick aside, this is exactly what someone who truly understands the power of WordPress thinks when they see a website owner putting their website developer in charge of their website.
Back to our car repair app analogy, here are the only possible reasons why car owners wouldn’t download the app and repair their own vehicles at the click of a button:
They don’t know the app exists,
They know the app exists but they don’t understand what it does or how it works,
They know the app exists and understand what it does and how it works, but they are either just “too lazy” or reluctant to do it themselves and are happy to pay someone else to do it for them,
They know the app exists and understand what it does and how it works but they would rather drive a car with problems than repair their vehicle.
They have been told by experts that it’s better to ‘leave it to the experts’ in case they ‘stuff things up’ and put their lives and the lives of their family at risk trying to do things themselves.
Interestingly enough, these are the same reasons why most businesses don’t build, run, and manage their own websites and rely instead on outsourced technical service providers like website developers. This is also addressed in The Small Business Digital Manager.
In “The Time Machine,” H. G. Wells’ classic sci-fi novel about time travel, humans have evolved into two separate species: the Eloi and the Morlocks.
The Eloi live on the surface and enjoy a leisurely existence playing and basking in the sun. They have no understanding of technology, as everything they need is provided for them by the Morlocks.
Morlocks live underground. They build, operate, and maintain the machinery and technologies that keep the Eloi alive. Morlocks also depend on the Eloi to survive, but for a much darker reason …
Is this the future of WordPress, then? A world where only those who understand technology can operate the machinery and those who don’t are destined to end up becoming entirely dependent on those who are tech-savvy?
The evidence seems to point to the contrary.
While many web applications and web technologies require tech-savvy users to install, manage, and run, this is not the case with WordPress. In fact, one can even argue that this goes against the greater implications of WordPress’ own mission to democratize publishing.
If publishing is to be truly democratized, then all who participate in the process must be able to understand it. Technological progress is often made when the end users themselves are allowed to participate in its improvement by contributing suggestions, feedback, and observations from their own user experience.
One of the problems as highlighted by the WordPress paradox, is that WordPress is designed to benefit users who don’t really care about how the technology works.
Simultaneously, the people who typically end up being responsible for training and educating users about WordPress don’t necessarily want users to become fully empowered to control their own web presence.
It’s like asking Morlocks to teach the Eloi how to look after their own needs when all the Eloi want to do is play in the sun and have things done for them. Morlocks need the Eloi to remain ignorant and dependent on the Morlocks to survive.
They are divergent species, much like technical and non-technical users.
There is no point trying to get non-techies to do ‘techie’ things like learn to code or modify CSS or php code in their web templates to create custom functions. Non-techies just can’t get interested or excited about stuff like that. They are interested in getting results, not learning about all the machinery that goes into making their technology work.
On the other hand, techies aren’t interested in spending time showing non-techies how to use technology to be in complete control of their digital processes so they can get consistent results like drive more traffic, get more leads, and grow more sales in their business. Techies are too busy working and tinkering with machinery to focus on training, educating, and empowering users.
The WordPress Paradox, then, poses a number of challenges for the ‘WordPress Economy’ and affects not only the WordPress services industry and WordPress users, but the future of WordPress itself.
To better understand this, let’s begin by asking some simple questions:
Growth & Dominance Of The WordPress Platform
Q: Can WordPress continue supporting a growing services industry?
(WordPress is the world’s most popular web building platform. Source: W3Techs.com)
WordPress is currently used by over a quarter of all websites around the world. It is also the world’s leading CMS platform. WordPress’ ease of use has contributed to a growing web services industry where tens of thousands of website, plugin, and theme developers continually help WordPress evolve and expand to make WordPress even easier to use.
Many industry experts and WordPress pundits predict that WordPress will continue to grow its current market share and eventually will power the majority of the web. This is not surprising, as many web developers and web designers love working with WordPress. They love the almost unlimited power and flexibility of its open source platform, its support community, its scalability, extensive plugin and theme libraries, and support for integrations with other technology platforms.
The significant increase in new website development businesses and agencies offering WordPress services is also fuelled by the fact that WordPress allows service providers to build professional and expensive looking sites with very low costs of production, high profit margins, and fast turnaround times.
WordPress, then, is without a doubt a fantastic platform for web developers and web service providers.
But … what about WordPress users?
Most WordPress Users Are Non-Techies
Q: Why aren’t more WordPress users starting, managing, and growing their own digital presence themselves? Why are they paying for services that they can easily do themselves?
For the WordPress services industry to remain viable and continue growing it needs end users who are willing to pay for web services. The obvious group of end users who are willing to pay for web services are businesses that need a web presence.
(A very simplistic way to classify WordPress users)
The WordPress Economy, then, is made up of both technically ‘inclined’ and technically ‘declined’ users.
Ultimately, non-techies make up the larger group of WordPress users. They are also the reason for keeping the WordPress Economy alive and growing.
Non-techies comprise of users like businesses that need a web presence and who are averse to learning ‘technical’ stuff like coding and web programming languages. They are end users who keep web developers in business by paying for WordPress services like website installation, WordPress setup, and WordPress maintenance.
(Technically inclined users need technically declined users to sell services to!)
Technical people like website developers need non-technical prospects and clients to sell their services to. They need users who depend on their web services to stay in business.
Non-techies, however, also expect their website developers to train them how to use their websites. Additionally, and for better or worse, clients of website developers also expect to be shown how to get better results online with their websites and have complete control of their web presence.
WordPress Service Providers Vs WordPress Users: A Conflict Of Interest
For most non-technical users, their website developer is their main source of accessing information, help, and advice regarding their websites. After all, they are the ones who typically have helped them plan and build their website.
If a website developer builds clients a website, they are also responsible for training clients how to use it. When clients pay for a website, most expect to be shown how to use, manage and have control of their website.
Just like teenagers with mobile phones, if WordPress users can easily build, run, manage, and do just about anything they want with their websites without needing technical skills or outsourcing to technical experts, then there is no reason why non-technical users can’t learn how to do everything themselves with WordPress.
Empowering prospects and clients to build, run, and manage their own web presence, however, is a conflict of interest for businesses that provide WordPress services like WordPress installation, website building, web maintenance, etc. After all, these businesses need clients who depend on their services to stay in business.
Who in the WordPress Economy, then, is providing non-technical users with truly self-empowering WordPress education and training that will help them have complete control of their digital presence?
(Technical service providers need dependent non-technical clients, but non-technical clients expect their service providers to empower them!)
WordPress Service Providers Need Dependent Clients
Q: How do people who aren’t interested in ‘technical stuff’ like coding and building web sites become self-empowered WordPress users?
Techie WordPress users generally don’t need to hire other techie WordPress users and pay for basic WordPress services. They can easily learn how to install, configure, manage, maintain, optimize, and protect their own WordPress sites by visiting the official WordPress Codex or using many free WordPress resources and tutorials that are available online.
Most techie WordPress users are, in fact, self-taught DIYselfers.
If the WordPress Paradox is true (and judging by the number of emails I get from people trying to sell me website development services it seems to be true), then we can deduce that a significant number of these technical users will start or are running businesses selling WordPress services to non-technical users …
(Many techie WordPress users will start or are running businesses selling WordPress services)
If the WordPress Paradox is true, then we can also deduce that the first ‘port of call’ for non-technical users who want to start or build a business online is to hire a website developer, becaue they are averse to learning technical stuff, and believe that building and managing websites requires technical skills and expertise.
Hence, we can safely assume that most non-technical WordPress users will get most or all their WordPress education and training from their website developers …
(Most non-techies learn about WordPress from their website developers)
Website developers are the gatekeepers through which information about WordPress gets passed on to non-technical users, and
People like website developers depend on non-technical users to keep their businesses going,
Why would service providers who (1) depend on clients to stay in business and (2) control access to information about WordPress want their clients to be able to fully control and manage their own web presence without service providers being involved?
What incentive do businesses that depend on selling WordPress services have to inform their prospects or clients that WordPress:
Is 100% FREE,
Can be used to build and run professional websites for little more than the cost of a domain name and web hosting (i.e. less than $10 per month)
Can be installed in minutes with a couple of clicks on any hosting account with cPanel,
Works pretty much right out of the box,
Can make any site look professional and amazing using FREE or inexpensive themes that are easy to install, configure, and update,
Can be expanded to provide virtually unlimited functionality using FREE or inexpensive plugins that are easy to install, configure, and update,
Can add any type of media, including scripts into their content using a WYSIWYG editor, shortcodes, copy and paste, etc.
Can be easily customized using one-click tools, wizards, widgets, drag and drop, etc.
Can be easily kept up-to-date, backed up and maintained either automatically or using inexpensive automation tools,
Can easily automate and integrate services and processes that generate business results like online marketing, SEO, and traffic generation using many inexpensive plugins, free services, and SaaS tools,
And that all of the above can be done easily in minutes … with no technical skills required and at minimal cost in just a few clicks and with basic computer skills?
As explained in our WordPress Digital Business Blueprint, most small businesses can build a successful online presence using WordPress without spending much money to start with and only bring in technical experts when their business has reached a point where they either truly need customized solutions or when outsourcing makes sense.
Isn’t teaching non-technical WordPress users all this in their best interest?
The Paradoxical ‘Blind Spot’ Of WordPress
Q: Many website developers promise clients websites that they will be able to fully “manage themselves,” but do they actually show clients how to fully manage their websites?
(Many web developers believe clients will “stuff things up” if they managed their own sites!)
Because no one is really taking the time to educate non-technical users otherwise, most non-technical users also believe that building and managing websites is best left to technical experts. This creates a paradoxical “blind spot” that prevents many non-techie WordPress users from learning how to manage and control their own web presence. It also keeps them dependent on using technical service providers to look after areas they could easily take care of on their own.
WordPress Paradox – The Proof
Q: How can we prove that non-technical WordPress users can be in complete control of their own web presence without requiring technical skills or the services of technical experts?
Just as we now know that dark matter exists despite the lack of visible evidence because of the effect it has on visible objects, we can also “see” the paradoxical ‘blind spot’ of WordPress by looking for sites that have been entirely built and configured, and are being maintained, managed, and marketed successfully by WordPress users who have no technical skills and who don’t require technical experts to manage their own websites.
No … you’re looking at one of these sites right now!
WPCompendium.org is entirely built, configured, maintained, managed, and marketed successfully by a non-techie WordPress user who has no coding skills and no need to pay for basic WordPress maintenance and management services like installing and configuring themes and plugins, updating software, making site backups, etc.
This site attracts thousands of users from all around the world using a default WordPress theme and mostly free or very inexpensive plugins.
Everything here has been built by constantly asking questions like:
“Can a non-technical user do this?”
“Can a non-techie duplicate this process and achieve similar results if they follow these steps?”
“Is there a way to add XYZ to this site to create better results without touching code?”
“How can we implement this method or strategy without ending up as a hostage of technical service providers?”
“How far can this site grow without requiring technical skills, technical experts or investing in expensive solutions?”
WPCompendium.org, then, is proof of the WordPress Paradox.
Using WordPress allows non-techies to build, run, and manage their own websites without requiring technical web services like web development, web design, website building, website maintenance, etc.
The entire process used to build this site has been fully documented over many years and turned into hundreds of detailed step-by-step tutorials specifically aimed at helping non-technical WordPress users take control of their own digital presence and get better results online without learning how to code or depending on technical experts for help with things that they can easily learn and do themselves.
For example, our step-by-step WordPress tutorials can show anyone how to do the following:
Automate management and maintenance of their site’s files and data, including updating all software components, scheduling backups, etc. (using backup plugins),
Immediately get newly-published content picked up by search engines and shared across all major social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, etc.) and dozens of authoritative online directories and web information outlets,
Integrate their site with third-party business software applications (e.g. to allow visitors to calculate quotes, make bookings or reservations, register and pay for courses or events, or invoice clients, generate reports, etc.) using plugins and solutions designed to interface seamlessly with WordPress,
Q: If users can easily install, configure, manage, maintain, and expand their websites without requiring technical skills or expertise just by clicking a couple of buttons, why do they need to hire people for services like website building, web design, website maintenance, etc.?
There are no simple answers here. Part of the reason is that non-technical users don’t know what they don’t know. They don’t know that they can do it all themselves.
Another part of the reason is that website developers don’t want their clients to know this and have no incentive to inform, educate, teach, train, or empower non-technical users to have complete control of their digital presence.
Most WordPress users want ‘self-empowerment.’ They don’t want to be “held hostage” by their web service providers. Service providers, however, need clients who depend on their services. Many service providers believe that dependency is good for their business and that empowerment is not.
Empowerment Through Better WordPress Education And Training Is The Key
The key to resolving the WordPress Paradox is to empower users through better WordPress education and training.
We do a huge disservice to anyone and everyone who participates in the WordPress Economy if we fail to educate users about all the benefits and advantages WordPress has to offer and hold back from teaching people all the ways they can use WordPress to work more efficiently and improve their results and/or their bottom line.
A Disservice To WordPress Users
Keeping WordPress users ‘hostage’ and ignorant of all the ways they can benefit with WordPress can end up costing them thousands of dollars. If we truly help users understand all the ways WordPress can help their business grow and show them how to do this, users can then choose to do things themselves and save money, or outsource the work to others and save time.
A Disservice To WordPress Service Providers
WordPress service providers that don’t empower their clients will eventually lose them to those that do. Promoting abundance, growth, and expansion helps create success, while acting on scarcity and fear of loss typically leads to failure.
A Disservice To WordPress Itself
The WordPress community is continually developing new features, plugins, themes, and solutions designed to make things easier and more intuitive for technically declined users. The more we help people learn about WordPress and all it can do, the more WordPress products and services they will want to use.
(The more you empower people to use WordPress, the more WordPress products & services they will want to use!)
It’s All About Giving Users A Choice
Ultimately, it’s all about giving all WordPress users a choice!
If users are given the choice between learning how to build, configure, maintain, and market their own websites and then shown that they can actually do all of this themselves without technical skills and at minimal cost, most users would still probably choose to outsource the work.
The difference is that by empowering users with the knowledge, training, and education that they can do it themselves, users would know that they have a choice.
Many non-technical users dont know they have this choice. Not having a choice can lead to many important decisions that affect their business being made for them by people acting out of self-interest who are not part of their business and who ultimately have no vested interest in their success.
Online business decisions, choices, and assumptions are not a website developer’s to make. They are the user’s. After all, who are website developers building a website for?
Paradoxically, by truly empowering WordPress users and giving them the choice of doing things themselves or outsourcing the work, WordPress service providers will actually create more trust and loyalty with clients and sell more services.
As we explain in our guide on how to effectively train new WordPress users, service providers can empower users by educating and training them how to use WordPress, then giving them the choice of saving money by doing things themselves or saving time by outsourcing the work if they are too busy or don’t want to do things themselves.
WordPress is becoming easier for non-techies to build, run, and manage their own websites without requiring technical web service providers.
The popularity, power, flexibility, scalibility, low cost, and open source nature of WordPress, however, means that more users can now also run businesses selling WordPress web services.
The paradox of WordPress, then, is that as pressure from the market and global competition are making WordPress easier for non-technical users to build, run, and manage their own websites and perform services like website building, web design, and website maintenance on their own without getting technical experts involved, more businesses are selling WordPress web services to clients who could easily perform these services themselves.
This also creates an inherent conflict of interest between clients that expect to become empowered to run and manage their websites and businesses online with full control of their digital presence and web service providers who need clients to remain disempowered and dependent on their services to stay in business.
One way to resolve the WordPress Paradox and create ‘win-win’ outcomes in the WordPress Economy, then, is for WordPress service providers to inform, educate, teach, train, and empower new WordPress users.
The empowerment of non-technical WordPress users is the key to helping millions of new WordPress users build more successful business online, which will ensure the success of WordPress service providers, the WordPress developer community, and ultimately the success of WordPress itself.
"Wow! I never knew there's so much to learn about WordPress! I bought one of the WordPress for Dummies three years ago, such authors need to be on this course!" - Rich Law, Create A Blog Now