Consider this analogy:
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 not only easily learn how to send and receive calls and text messages without having to outsource this task to technical experts, they can also learn how to:
- 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 phones,
- And more … all without technical expertise!
(Smartphone users don’t need to be technical experts to learn how to use their phones! Source: Pixabay)
One can argue, then, that smartphone users can control their mobile presence without having technical skills and without hiring technical experts because smartphone manufacturers and mobile software and app developers have created a user-friendly framework and environment that empowers non-technical users.
In a similar kind of way, WordPress has also created a user-friendly framework and environment to empower both technical and non-technical users.
- 1 The WordPress Paradox
- 1.1 If WordPress Is The Answer, What Is The Question?
- 1.2 WordPress Paradox – The Proof
- 1.3 How To Resolve The WordPress Paradox
- 1.4 In Summary …
The WordPress Paradox
WordPress allows anyone to start, manage, and grow a web presence of their own with no technical skills required.
WordPress is also continually evolving and its powerful features are continually being improved to make it even easier for users to build, maintain, and expand their digital presence without getting technical experts involved.
However, because WordPress is so powerful, free, and easy to install and set up, every year we see more web services businesses joining the ‘WordPress Economy’ to provide expert technical assistance and sell services like WordPress website installation and maintenance.
As WordPress continues to grow and dominate the global market for website-building technologies, so will the number of businesses selling WordPress-related services grow.
Like most smartphone users, however, as WordPress continues to evolve, more users will be able to control all aspects of their digital presence and get the results they want without requiring technical knowledge or hiring people with technical expertise.
The paradox of WordPress, then, is that more web service businesses are selling WordPress services to clients who could easily perform these services 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 life of leisure 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 how the technology works can operate the machinery and those who don’t are held ‘hostage’ in order to access it?
I don’t think so and I hope not!
While many web applications and web technologies cannot be installed or run unless users are technically inclined, 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 improvements are often made by allowing the end users themselves to contribute suggestions, feedback, and observations from their own experience.
The problem, as will be elaborated below, is that WordPress is ultimately meant to benefit end users who don’t really care to understand how the technology works and the only ones who can teach them believe they will get no benefit from doing so.
It’s like asking Morlocks to help the Eloi become self-empowered so they can learn to share the technology and look after their own needs when all Morlocks actually want is for the Eloi to remain ignorant and dependent so Morlocks can survive and prosper.
Also, 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, they lack an effective WordPress education and training system to do so.
The WordPress Paradox poses significant 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, we’ll assume that WordPress is the answer and begin by asking questions:
Continued 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 WordPress users?
Most WordPress Users Are Technically Declined
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 businesses who need a web presence.
In The Challenges Of Educating, Teaching, And Training New WordPress Users, we describe people like web developers as being technically inclined, and people who need help with technical areas like building and maintaining websites as being technically declined users …
(Are You Technically Inclined Or Technically Declined?)
The WordPress Economy is made up of technically ‘inclined’ and technically ‘declined’ users.
Technically declined users typically comprise of businesses who 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, setup, and maintenance.
(Technically inclined users need technically declined users to sell services to!)
Technically inclined people like web developers need technically declined people like prospects and clients to sell their services to. They need users who depend on using their web services to stay in business.
Technically declined users, on the other hand, expect ‘self-empowerment’. They expect web developers to build them websites and then train them how to use their websites, so that they can get the results they want and be in control of their own web presence.
It takes a great deal of education and training, however, to help new WordPress users become self-empowered and the process also involves many challenges.
WordPress Developers Vs WordPress Users: A Conflict Of Interest
If you build websites for clients, then you are also responsible for educating and training your clients how to use their websites.
Since WordPress allows anyone to build, manage, and do most anything they need to their own websites with no technical skills required, there is no reason why businesses that build WordPress-driven websites cannot help their clients become self-empowered WordPress users, capable of running their web presence mostly by themselves.
Empowering clients how to run their own web presence, however, creates a conflict of interest for anyone whose business is providing basic WordPress services for clients, like WordPress installation, site maintenance, etc.
These businesses need clients to remain dependent on using their services to stay in business, while clients expect self-empowerment from their website developers so they can learn how to manage and run their own web presence.
(There is a conflict of interest between the needs of website developers for dependency and their clients’ expectations of 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?
Technically inclined people don’t have to pay web developers for basic WordPress services. They can easily learn to install, configure, manage, and maintain a WordPress site themselves. They can learn about WordPress from the official WordPress Codex and from many free resources and tutorials online.
Most technically inclined WordPress users are, in fact, self-taught DIYselfers. Many learn WordPress to start or run a business building and maintaining websites for technically declined users.
(Many technically inclined DIY WordPress users sell WordPress services)
Technically declined people, on the other hand, hire website developers because they believe that building and managing websites is “too technical” and they are averse to learning technical stuff.
Hence, we can safely assume that most technically declined users only learn about WordPress from people like website developers …
(Most technically declined users learn about WordPress from website developers)
- Website developers are the gatekeepers through which information about WordPress gets passed on to technically declined users, and
- People like website developers depend on technically declined users to keep their businesses going,
- Why would people who control their clients’ access and flow of information and who depend on clients for their financial security want to help their clients become self-empowered WordPress users capable of controlling and managing their own web presence?
Think about it …
Why would businesses that sell WordPress services want their prospective 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 a site look professional and amazing with FREE or inexpensive themes that are easy to install and configure,
- Can be expanded to provide virtually unlimited functionality with FREE or inexpensive plugins that are easy to install and configure,
- Can add any type of media, including scripts to their content using a WYSIWYG editor, shortcodes,
- Can be customized using drag and drop,
- Can be kept up-to-date and maintained with automation tools,
- Can automate their web marketing, SEO, and traffic generation,
- And that all of the above can be done in minutes … with just a few clicks and basic computer skills?
Why would website developers 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 website developers would feel (understandably) threatened by the idea of helping their prospects and clients become self-empowered WordPress users, as they could (understandably) 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 technically declined users believe they need technical skills and knowledge to build and run a website and website developers have no reason to correct this erroneous belief.
Website developers, then, must understandably feel that they have nothing to gain and everything to lose by helping clients become self-empowered WordPress users and that it’s better, easier, and far more profitable to teach clients only what they think they need to know, and keep them dependent on using their services for the things they don’t need to know.
The Paradoxical ‘Blind Spot’ Of WordPress
Q: Many website developers promise clients websites that they “can 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 website developers believe that building, configuring, and maintaining websites is best left to technically inclined experts. Some will even argue that users would “stuff things up” if left to manage their own sites …
(Many web developers believe clients will “stuff things up” if they were to manage their own sites!)
Like web developers, most technically declined users also believe that building and managing websites is best left to people with technical skills and expertise. This paradoxical “blind spot” prevents technically declined users from learning how to control and manage their own web presence.
Empowering users, then, can be seen as “bad for business” by businesses that profit from user dependency.
In fact, WordPress training and education is not even the focus of most website developers’ businesses, as their focus and core business is building websites and selling technical services.
So, if …
- Managing your own website requires becoming a self-empowered WordPress user, but
- Teaching WordPress users to be self-empowered is “bad” for business and not even the focus or priority of those who sell “websites that clients can “manage themselves,”
- What exactly are the owners of these websites being taught to manage by their website developers?
We address this in more detail in here: The Challenges Of Educating, Teaching, And Training New WordPress Users
WordPress Paradox – The Proof
Q: How can we prove that technically declined WordPress users can build and maintain websites on their own without technical skills and without requiring 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, configured, maintained, and marketed successfully by technically declined WordPress users with no technical knowledge or coding skills, and without using the paid services of technical experts.
No … you’re looking at one of these sites right now!
WPCompendium.org is entirely built, configured, maintained, and marketed successfully by a technically declined WordPress user with no technical knowledge or coding skills and without paying website developers for technical services.
Every part of this site has been built by asking questions like: “Can a technically declined user do this? Can they duplicate this process and achieve the same results if they follow these steps? If not, are there other methods, solutions, or alternatives they can use to get the same results?”
The entire process has also been fully documented over many years and turned into hundreds of detailed step-by-step tutorials specifically aimed at helping technically declined WordPress users become self-empowered, take control of their own digital presence, and get the results they want.
If you are a technically declined WordPress users, our step-by-step tutorials show you how to:
- Install a professional website for business or personal use on your 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 you want to your 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 your content using a powerful content management system (CMS) that works right out of the box,
- Instantly add any type of functionality you need or can imagine to your site using WordPress plugins,
- Instantly change the entire look and feel of your website’s design using WordPress themes, or change the layout of your 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 your 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 all your 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 your 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 your site,
- Optimize your site’s speed and improve site performance,
- Secure and protect your 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 technically declined users don’t know that they can do it all themselves and website developers don’t want them to.
Most WordPress users want ‘self-empowerment’. They don’t want to feel that they are being “held hostage” by their web service providers. Service providers, however, need ‘dependency’. Dependency is good for their business. 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 all who participate 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 it can help their business grow, they 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 new 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 do all of this themselves with no technical skills, most would still probably choose to outsource the work to others.
The difference is that through self-empowerment, the user would know that they have a choice.
Currently, most technically declined users are not given this choice. Decisions are made for them by businesses who have an ulterior motive to keep them dependent on using their services in order to stay in business.
This means that important decisions and choices affecting many technically declined WordPress users get made on their behalf by people who are not a 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 …
As WordPress continually develops and evolves, it is becoming easier for technically declined users to build, manage, and grow a digital presence themselves without having to hire technical experts to do it for them.
As WordPress continually develops and evolves, it is also becoming easier for technically inclined users to start and grow businesses selling WordPress services.
This creates the WordPress Paradox, where more web service businesses are selling 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, because users expect to be empowered to manage and grow their own web presence, but service providers need their 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, train, and teach their prospects and clients how to become self-empowered WordPress users.
The self-empowerment of technically declined WordPress users, then, could be the key to helping millions of WordPress users become more successful, which would then 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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