While the intention is to make WordPress better, more secure, faster and more accessible, when WordPress businesses and agencies focus all of their attention on giving back, they don’t always stop to consider the bigger picture. To make WordPress stronger, you must invest in its future.
How can it be that WordPress is still the number one Content Management System, or CMS, to get hacked? No matter how well-intentioned WordPress contributors (and the brands backing them) are, there are technical vulnerabilities that need to be resolved and these aren’t getting fixed at Contributor Days.
WordPress can be vulnerable, slow and bloated. Badly written plugins cause problems for speed and security. Many businesses, agencies and freelance developers use low-quality hosts that don’t care about WordPress or its future. To solve these problems, as an industry, we should be investing in research and development (R&D).
Now is the time to level up, but the amount of money in R&D for WordPress is far lower than it should be, particularly when you consider that WordPress powers 37% of the web. Despite such an impressive feat, in many ways, WordPress is still treading water instead of making waves.
Managing a fragmented ecosystem
There are currently 57,519 plugins that can, as WordPress.org puts it, “extend your WordPress experience” in the plugin directory, not to mention other plugins that aren’t listed in there.
This number gives a snapshot of the power of this ecosystem, revealing the enormous range of tools that enables anyone to create their own website.
However, while this is no doubt an enviable number from the perspective of CMS competitors, more is not always better. What is also created with such a plethora of plugins is a fragmented product ecosystem, instead of an industry working towards the same goals.
From a user’s perspective, choosing the right plugins from thousands of options is difficult. Some of these plugins will be old, slow or no longer maintained, which creates a serious security vulnerability for any website that uses them.
This fragmentation of WordPress products also creates industry-wide weaknesses. Imagine the marketing potential for WordPress as a whole if the ecosystem was better connected and stimulated to drive towards unified goals.
By maintaining that sense of unity and considering the bigger picture after the doors have closed on a WordCamp Contributor Day, there are growth opportunities. Until then, the problem of research and development resources being under-funded or under-utilised, which ultimately stifles progress across the board, may continue.
The problem: Low-cost, low-quality technology doesn’t benefit the future of WordPress
When you invest in low-cost technology, it may also be of low quality. That’s a compromise that many businesses accept, but what they often fail to explore is the wider implications that can have for an industry.
Take cPanel as an example; it’s the cheapest hosting technology available, but spending your money on a technology that has no loyalty to WordPress does not help build up the WordPress industry or community.
cPanel is used as the default dashboard by many hosting companies, and yet it typically leaves website owners high-and-dry to face websites that suffer poor speed and security.
As with cPanel, using VPS hosts, choosing low-quality hosts that don’t care about the future of WordPress, or opting for shared hosting all cause problems for the wider ecosystem.
Ask yourself this: Instead of choosing the cheapest option every time, how can your business select technologies that will help strengthen and develop the WordPress space now and in the future?
A great deal of WordPress product companies do genuinely innovative work and they deserve to be given a chance to demonstrate that. You invest your money in these companies simply by purchasing their products or services. By doing so, you give them a critical opportunity to grow, enabling them to continue putting resources back into R&D.
Your purchasing decisions can become a critical point in a cycle of innovation, development, growth, and reinvestment for the cycle to start again.