Issue #383

Is Wordpress Going Extinct?

A couple days ago, an old friend of mine (Justin Brooke, from AdSkills.com) said on this Facebook profile…

“Here’s why Wordpress is dead (to me).”

Needless to say, I was intrigued. 🧐

He went on to say he thinks Wordpress is dying. He called it “old web” and based on dying technology. Past it’s prime. And he said the competitors are outflanking Wordpress, based on a better architecture. He compared it to Nokia, while the newer platforms are the iPhone. And, get this… 

He thinks you should explore moving on from Wordpress in the next 24 months in order to stay relevant.

Justin and his team have re-built the AdSkills website. And needless to say, they decided not to use Wordpress anymore.

He says Wordpress is being outflanked by tools such as SquareSpace, Shopify, Hubspot and WebFlow. WebFlow is an interesting one because it is billed as a “no code” platform. Apparently, you can build fully dynamic sites with a lot of the bells and whistles, but do it without any developers or coding.

Many of these tools are based on a newer tech stack, too. Wordpress is built in PHP and runs on a MySQL database. Tools like WebFlow run on something called Node.JS. Essentially, it is a Javascript runtime environment that works great for web applications. See, PHP is ALL server-side. And anything that runs in the browser is done using javascript. Whereas with Node.JS, it is a Javascript-based tech that can run both server-side and client-side using one language. The app will just FEEL faster that way. More like a desktop app.

That’s all well and good, but in the end… I think Justin is being overly optimistic in his timelines and overstating the likelihood of Wordpress’s obsolescence.

I think tools like WebFlow are alternatives. They are choices that some people will make. In some ways, they are better than Wordpress. But, Wordpress going extinct? Wordpress now made “old-school” because of the presence of tools like WebFlow or Squarespace? Not even remotely.

Each of the tools Justin mentioned are fully-hosted, centralized, proprietary platforms. They are controlled by one single company and you pay them a monthly fee to use it. The capability that you have with your website is whatever that company builds for you to use. This is a major, MAJOR difference over a site built with Wordpress that is portable and you can host it anywhere you please.

Not only that, the fact that Wordpress is OPEN SOURCE means that there is a massive community of developers creating plugins, themes and integrations for Wordpress. You can essentially make Wordpress do anything you want and integrate with anything you want. Contrast that to a centralized, proprietary platform where you HOPE they offer an integration, but if they don’t, you have to put in a feature request and then sit there and wait for them to hopefully build it.

Some may say that, well…. WebFlow allows you to export and self-host your site. Great. Thing is, you need a PAID plan to be able to do that. Plus, it only works for static sites. If you want anything remotely like Wordpress, you need to host with WebFlow and keep paying them. That’s not control.

One can’t overestimate the power that comes with open source… especially one with the scale of Wordpress. Justin, in one comment, said “yes you do lose the opensource aspect, but you gain a customer support department.” That’s cool. But, again, that makes it a CHOICE for some that makes sense, but not something that is inherently going to render Wordpress obsolete.

Now, Justin is right about one thing. The general movement toward faster, more Javascript-focused apps is real. It is why we have so many web-based apps that perform as quickly as desktop applications. That’s legit. And, there ARE some platforms out there that take this route while still respecting the open source ethos and ability to self-host and control everything. For instance, Strapi.io is billed as a “headless CMS” and would permit you to build all kinds of things and still control it all. Still a ways to go for something like that to be friendly to a non-developer, but things change.

There is a solid argument to be made that the current architecture of Wordpress is aging. Since it is ALL server-side, it doesn’t have the speed and capability of a more modern web app. Can something with the inertia of Wordpress evolve? We shall see.

But….

Is Wordpress going to be rendered obsolete by hosted, proprietary platforms? No.

The entire internet is in the beginning phases of Web3. The trend is toward decentralization… not centralization. And in that environment, I don’t think the majority of website builders are going to end up in the hands of a bunch of paid, proprietary platforms where your data is spread out across a bunch of other paid, proprietary platforms and everything just talks via API.

People want more control over their data than that. Most do, anyway.

That doesn’t mean that we’re not in a transition. The tech is changing and Justin is right that the tech that Wordpress is currently built on is rather outmoded.

Could we see user-friendly platforms come up that use these newer technologies, but are NOT proprietary? Yeah, it is likely. I can easily see that happening.

But, until then, Wordpress has little to worry about.

I will say, though… that the Wordpess developer community needs to keep an eye out and think ahead. Things are indeed changing. And just because Wordpress is the #1 content management system on the internet doesn’t mean it always will be.

After all, Wordpress did decline just a bit in market share, and the community is busy discussion why that is. The general consensus is that it is suffering from performance issues and complexity. And let’s be real…

They’re not wrong.

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