Consider this …
The typical smartphone user is not a mobile application developer and doesn’t need technical knowledge or expertise of how mobile phone technology works in order to get results with 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 can 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.
In a similar kind of way, WordPress has also created a user-friendly framework that empowers and supports non-technical users.
- The WordPress Paradox
- If WordPress Is The Answer, What Is The Question?
- WordPress Paradox – The Proof
- How To Resolve The WordPress Paradox
- In Summary …
The WordPress Paradox
The increasing popularity of WordPress as a web platform and its dominant position as as global market leader for CMS-driven websites means that more and more web service business will be offering WordPress services in the future.
Because WordPress offers powerful features, is free, and easy to install and set up, we can expect, therefore, to see more web service businesses joining the ‘WordPress Economy’ with the aim of providing non-technical users expert technical assistance and services like WordPress website installation, WordPress maintenance, etc.
WordPress, however, is also evolving as a technology and becoming easier for non-techies to use without requiring knowledge of coding or web development or using technical service providers. More WordPress functions and features now use wizards, visual interfaces, plug-and-play, drag-and-drop, copy and paste, shortcodes, ‘one-click’ processes, etc.
With WordPress, anyone can start, manage, and grow a digital presence on their own without technical skills and they can do it all at minimal cost. In fact, as our WordPress tutorials for non-technical users show, you don’t even need to hire a web developer or learn how to code to do the following:
- Install WordPress
- Configure WordPress Settings
- Use WordPress
- Extend WordPress Functionality
- Maintain WordPress Updated
- Manage WordPress Sites
- Grow Your Business Using WordPress
WordPress, then, is continually evolving to make it easier for non-technical users to build, maintain, and expand their digital presence without employing the services of technical experts. Just like smartphone users, more non-technical WordPress users will be able to control all aspects of their digital presence without technical knowledge or skills and without hiring people with technical expertise to do things for them.
The paradox of WordPress, then, is that as more web service providers turn to WordPress and offer WordPress services to non-technical users, WordPress is also becoming easier for non-techies to use without employing technical web service providers.
The inevitable outcome of this paradox seems to be that more web service businesses will offer clients’ services they can easily perform themselves.
If WordPress Is The Answer, What Is The Question?
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 life 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 all of the machinery and technologies that keep the Eloi alive. Morlocks also depend on the Eloi to stay alive, but for a much darker reason …
(Is this the future of WordPress? Image: Britannica.com)
Is this the future of WordPress? A world where only those who understand technology can operate the machinery and those who don’t will become entirely dependent on those who do?
The evidence seems to point to the contrary.
While many web applications and web technologies require technically-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.
The problem, as you will soon see, is that WordPress is designed to benefit users who ultimately don’t really care about how the technology works and those who normally train users about WordPress don’t want them to learn how to use the technology to control their own web presence.
It’s like asking Morlocks to help the Eloi become self-empowered so they can look after their own needs when all the Eloi want to do is play in the sun and all the Morlocks want is for the Eloi to remain ignorant and dependent on the Morlocks.
As we explain in The Challenges Of Educating, Teaching, And Training New WordPress Users, even if website developers wanted to help their clients become self-empowered WordPress users, most lack an effective WordPress education and training system to do this.
The WordPress Paradox, however, poses a number of challenges for the ‘WordPress Economy,’ as it affects the WordPress services industry, WordPress users, and the future of WordPress itself.
To better understand this paradox and how to resolve it, let’s begin by asking 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 a fantastic platform for web developers and web service providers.
What about for 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 pay for services that you can easily do yourself?
In order 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 that comes to mind are the businesses who need a web presence.
In The Challenges Of Educating, Teaching, And Training New WordPress Users, we describe users like web developers as being technically inclined, and users who need help with technical areas like building and maintaining websites as being technically declined …
(A simplified categorization of WordPress users)
The WordPress Economy is made up of both technically ‘inclined’ and technically ‘declined’ users.
Ultimately, however, 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 web developers need non-technical prospects and clients to sell their services to. They need users who depend on using their web services to stay in business.
Non-techies, however, expect their web developers to train them how to use their websites to get better results online and show them how to be in complete control of their own web presence.
As we also explain in the challenges of educating, teaching, and training new WordPress users, however, providing new WordPress users with effective training is not easy for a number of reasons, including the inherent conflict of interest that exists between WordPress service providers and their clients.
WordPress Service Providers Vs WordPress Users: A Conflict Of Interest
For most non-technical users, their main source of accessing information, help, and advice regarding their websites is their website developer.
If a website developer builds a website for a client, they are also responsible for training their client how to use it. When clients pay for a website, most expect to be shown how to manage and control their own web presence.
If, like mobile phone users, WordPress users can learn how to easily build, manage, and do just about anything they need on their own websites with no technical skills required or outsourcing to experts, there is no reason why non-technical WordPress users can’t learn how to do it all themselves.
Empowering prospects and clients to run their own web presence, however, presents a conflict of interest for anyone trying to build a business based on providing basic WordPress services like WordPress installation, website building, web maintenance, etc. These businesses need clients to remain dependent on using their services.
This conflict of interest over providing WordPress education and training to non-technical users also leads to a paradox.
(Website developers need dependent clients, while clients expect control and self-empowerment)
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?
Technical-minded users don’t need to 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 the many free WordPress resources and tutorials that are available online.
Most techie WordPress users are, in fact, self-taught DIYselfers. Many who learn WordPress also start businesses selling services to non-technical users …
(Many technically inclined DIY WordPress users sell WordPress services)
Non-technical people, on the other hand, typically hire website developers because they are averse to learning technical stuff and believe that building and managing websites requires technical skills.
Hence, we can safely assume that most non-technical WordPress users will get 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 depend on their clients for financial security and who control their clients’ access to information want their clients to control and manage their own web presence?
Why, then, would businesses that depend on selling WordPress services want their prospects or clients to know that WordPress:
- Is 100% FREE,
- Can be used to build and run professional websites for no more than the cost of a domain name and web hosting (i.e. less than $10 per month)
- Can be installed in minutes,
- 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 and configure,
- Can be expanded to provide virtually unlimited functionality using FREE or inexpensive plugins that are easy to install and configure,
- 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 kept up-to-date and easily maintained using inexpensive automation tools,
- Can easily automate their web marketing, SEO, and traffic generation using inexpensive plugins, free services, and SaaS tools,
- And that all of the above can be done easily in minutes … with just a few clicks and some basic computer skills?
As we explain in our WordPress Digital Business Blueprint, most small businesses can build a very successful online presence using WordPress without spending much money to start with and only bring in technical experts if their business has reached a point where they need customized solutions or outsourcing. Isn’t it in their best interest to know this?
Why would web service providers, however, inform their prospects and clients that they don’t actually need their services to start, manage, or grow their own websites? That they can easily do it all themselves?
Many service providers feel (understandably) threatened by the idea of empowering their prospects and clients, as they feel (understandably) this could put them out of business.
Technically declined users, however, don’t know this because they “don’t know what they don’t know” about WordPress. Most non-technical users believe that technical skills are required to build and run a website and website developers have no reason to change their belief.
If web service providers believe they have nothing to gain and everything to lose by empowering their clients to have complete control of their own sites, they will (understandably) only teach their clients what they think their clients should know, which is really not in the client’s best interest.
The Paradoxical ‘Blind Spot’ Of WordPress
Q: Many website developers promise clients websites that they will be able to “manage themselves,” but do they actually show clients how to fully manage their own websites?
As we explain in The Challenges Of Educating, Teaching, And Training New WordPress Users, many web service providers believe that non-technical users should best leave things related to their websites to technical experts. Some even argue that users will most likely “stuff things up” if given a chance to manage their own sites …
(Many web developers believe clients will “stuff things up” if they manage their own sites!)
Because no one really takes the time to educate non-technical users otherwise, most non-techies also believe that anything to do with building and managing websites is best left to technical experts. This creates a paradoxical “blind spot” that prevents most non-technical users from learning how to control and manage their own web presence and keeps them dependent on using their service providers.
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 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 updating software and making site backups.
This site attracts thousands of users from all around the world using a default WordPress theme and mostly free or very inexpensive plugins.
Every part of this website has been built by 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?”
- “How far can we grow this site without requiring technical skills or expensive solutions?”
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 to do themselves.
For example, our step-by-step WordPress tutorials can show anyone how to do the following:
- Install a professional website for business or personal use on their own domain that is completely customizable, flexible, scalable and fully configurable using one-click WordPress installation software and a web hosting server with cPanel management software installed.
- Add any type of content they want to their web pages (text, images, videos, audio podcasts, webinars, etc.) using a familiar and intuitive WYSIWYG editor, built-in publishing tools, and powerful features like shortcodes,
- Easily manage all of their content using a powerful content management system (CMS) that works right out of the box,
- Instantly add any type of functionality they need or can imagine to their site using WordPress plugins,
- Instantly change the entire look and feel of their site’s web design using WordPress themes, or change the layout of their site using widgets,
- Automatically deliver web content optimized for mobile device users (using mobile-responsive WordPress themes)
- Add various ways to interact, engage and communicate online directly with site visitors (using plugins),
- Instantly improve their site’s SEO,
- Test, split-test, compare and tweak different website elements and measure results of these changes to improve site conversions (using plugins and advanced features built into many WordPress themes),
- Automate sales and marketing strategies, e.g. add lead generation, e-commerce sales and payment processing, membership site registration, newsletter subscriptions, etc. (using various plugins),
- 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,
- Manage and maintain all aspects of their website,
- Optimize their site’s speed and improve site performance,
- Secure and protect their site’s data and files,
- Easily restore site files and data if required,
- Troubleshoot common WordPress errors and problems,
- Run various online marketing strategies to increase traffic and get more sales, leads, and subscribers,
- And so much more!
How To Resolve The WordPress Paradox
Q: If users can easily install, configure, and maintain their own 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 and maintenance?
There are really no simple answers, but part of the reason is that non-technical users don’t know that they can do it all themselves and their website developers don’t want them to.
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 everyone who participates in the WordPress Economy if we fail to educate users about all of the benefits and advantages WordPress has to offer and hold back from teaching them 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 cost them thousands of dollars. If we help users truly understand how to use WordPress and all the ways WordPress can help their business grow, 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 do not help their clients become self-empowered will eventually lose clients to those who do. Promoting abundance, growth, and expansion leads to success for businesses and their clients, while acting on scarcity and fear of loss ultimately 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 to others.
The difference is that by empowering users with knowledge, training, and education, the user would know that they have a choice.
Currently, most non-technical users are not given this choice. Decisions are made for them by businesses acting out of self-interest. This means that important decisions and choices affecting the businesses of many WordPress users are being made on their behalf by people who are not part of their business and who ultimately have no vested interest in their success.
These decisions, choices, and assumptions are not the website developer’s to make. They are the user’s. After all, who are they building a website for?
Paradoxically, by empowering WordPress users and giving them the choice of doing things themselves or outsourcing the work, many 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, you 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 to you if they are too busy to do it or don’t want to do things themselves.
Empowering new WordPress users, however, is also very challenging. We address many of these challenges here: The Challenges Of Educating, Teaching, And Training New WordPress Users
In Summary …
The popularity, power, flexibility, and open source nature of WordPress means that more users can start and grow businesses selling WordPress services.
As WordPress continues to evolve, it is also becoming easier for non-technical users to build, manage, and grow a digital presence themselves without having to hire technical experts to do it for them.
This leads to the WordPress Paradox, where more web service businesses will try to sell WordPress services to clients who could easily perform these services themselves. It also creates a conflict of interest between web service providers and their clients, where users expect to be empowered to manage and grow their own web presence, but service providers want clients to remain dependent on using their services.
The only way to resolve the WordPress Paradox and create ‘win-win’ outcomes for everyone involved in the WordPress Economy, then, is for WordPress service providers to find better ways to educate and train their prospects and clients to become empowered WordPress users.
The empowerment of non-technical WordPress users, then, could be the key to helping millions of new WordPress users build more successful business online, which would ensure the success of WordPress service providers, the WordPress developer community, and ultimately the success of WordPress itself.
"This is an awesome training series. I have a pretty good understanding of WordPress already, but this is helping me to move somewhere from intermediate to advanced user!" - Kim Lednum
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