Learning from the experience of others re growing ClassicPress

I just finished reading this:


While it’s an 8-month-old post, I think there are good points, major takeaways that the leadership here might want to consider in order to grow ClassicPress into the CMS that people flock to organically and that distinquishes it from the pack.

What are your takeaways when reading it – mile high salient elements?


I think it’s just “newbie frustration”.
That article was written by a non tech, clearly someone who just learned some basics but is not willing to learn more. Probably he was “obliged” to learn at his job place.
He basically says WP is crappy just because he doesn’t want to spend his time on it.
As concerns the dev refusing the job, and the last lines of the post…
The site was made by a dev, but they hire a new one just for updates, when he declines they throw the job to an intern employee? Seems to me they are trying to avoid spending money. Maybe the dev refused the task for he wasn’t paid enough?
My conclusion: CP can “lower” the learning curve. Can produce tutorials and resources to ease the learning frustration.
But remember: whatever system has to be learned. Learning takes effort…
…and among the plethora of CMSs existing in the web, WP/CP are the ones with the lowest learning curve.
Nobody can cure the not willingness to learn.


I agree with you regarding the OP. However, I was referring to the salient elements within the long thread of post comments. I have some reactions, but I will wait to share until I hear from others here.


Thanks for clarifying.
I have not gone through comments, I thought the culprit was the “rant”.
I am going to read them and see if they sparkle an opinion…

Ok, fast reader here. I got the vibe.
First, let’s point out a couple of things I think:

  • WP (CP) is a modular ecosystem. The core is made to accommodate themes and plugins. That’s its strength. As a CMS it is ADAPTABLE to any use.
  • to make the most of WP (CP) one has to know it’s ins and outs (this connects to the willingness to learn and the learning curve I spoke in my first answer)
    To the feeling I have about the plethora of comments:

WP marketed itself wrong in the early days (about 15 years ago).
Their USP was “web publishing for everyone in just 5 minutes” implying the idea everybody and the cat could whip up a site without any knowledge whatsoever.
The real truth is that, yes, it is possible to whip up a simple blog in 5 minutes without knowledge… But to really benefit from the ecosystem strength (adaptability) you need to speak some code (HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript…) and know your way around. (People who fell in their marketing trap learned those by doing. And discovered the Swiss knife. People who want it all, cheap and “Sofort” (German for immediatelly) didn’t, because they were more focused on “I don’t want to learn it, I just want to use it out of the box”).
From this… Comes my suggestion:

We can market CP the right way. We should avoid WP’s marketing trap. We should be clear.
Something like:
You can whip up a basic blog in 5 minutes (or less) but to really enjoy the platform strength you will need to embark on a learning journey, to reach where no human has ever been".

BTW, the core word is “enjoy”.

I felt all the commenters were to a certain extent “obliged” to use/learn WP. Like in “everybody wants it, it’s easy money, let’s say I am a dev and jump in” for the most part. But that’s not how it works…


Love it!

WP/CP are good choices for:

  • almost sites if you can code
  • many business sites if you can deal with code and basic CSS
  • simple sites if you spend some time to learn some basics
  • everyone’s very personal blog

This is not clear to everybody and the results are not-so-nice sites filled of plugins.
Even a great developer can build those not-so-nice sites if the customer starts with low budget and then wants everything in it.

As example I see many sites with really-simple-ssl + ssl-insecure-content-fixer when the same result can be achieved configuring the server in the right way and fixing some link.



My takeaway is that sites with lots of large plugins installed, and sloppy custom coding, are bad.

One small thing we can do about this is continue to encourage small, single-purpose plugins. Less code = less bugs and less performance issues.

This is partly a social thing - I know many members of our community already think about plugins this way. We can also do some technical things like including data about plugin size / # of lines of code in our plugin directory.


Thanks for the discussion, folks! In September’s TechCrunch, I read and still remember Matt’s direct quote: "What we want to do is to become the operating system for the open web,” said founder and CEO Matt Mullenweg. “We want every website, whether it’s e-commerce or anything to be powered by WordPress.”

That’s a rather goliath ambition but all the buts and nopes and other asides still leave me with a calm acceptance that that is his mission.

I want ClassicPress to succeed, even though I’m still mentally fussing with “What does success look like in five years?”

This particular /r thread led me again to ponder on defining the look of success and most important, imho, what can ClassicPress become eventually that will make the web better?

Matt’s approach is domination by dimishing the challenges in construction so that the least skilled can build in a more flexible environment than found in Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace. That’s my take; your view?

How will Matt’s path forward improve experiencing internet sites in the year 2030?

The plugin discussion is one aspect of many aspects, all of which should, again, imho, be informed by what is the adult to be once the child has matured.

I got more deeply into coding when I began looking at code inside plugins and themes, when noticing the impact on users of abandoned code and commercialized code and from watching what happens when people can easily click and add plugins from a library of more than 54,000. I have become attentive to the impact on readership from mobile growth, on humans’ ability to discover quality from more than 1 billion websites.

I sometimes dream of a tool that eliminates the need for all plugins. What I do believe, on a more practical level, is that boasting a plethora of plugins is not a good path. Small, single use plugins may be the best. Are we sure? Is there anything we can learn from the AI experiments in web building? What about from code automation, generators or …?

And what about the wealth of knowledge at the Internet Society? (e.g. What Will the Internet Look Like in Ten Years? ) Does that inform us in any way about what the adult CMS should or could look like?

Is security such a pressing issue, per the Internet Society and common sense, that CP could bloom by growing into the most secure CMS on the planet? IDK.

I don’t have answers. I have miles of questions. I am still feeling a need for sizzle. I am feeling a need for something beyond ClassicPress is the Business CMS…something that causes heads to take notice, for the cream of the crop in programmers to join the excellent programmers here because this is going to be really awesome if we can pull it off…

Enough. It’s hard enough for this aging woman to have all of these thoughts in my mind and now I find myself trying to express them in a way that interests you. I pace and I think. And I think more. I think of Gates and his decision to not build just another piece of software. I think of Jobs and his hunger for innovation. I think of ClassicPress’s seedling stage and what the adult will be. Maybe you can add to my head.

Or just ignore me – as another loony human who made it onto the web. :slight_smile: Thanks for your time. I appreciate that it is a nonrenewable resource!


I totally understand where you’re coming from @easternwawoman and I don’t have the insight that you’re looking for unfortunately.

All I can say is that there are basically two routes to success. You can either try to crush the competition or you can make your product/service better than the competition.

WP appears to be taking the former approach and is content to push stuff onto users that they don’t want. CP is the complete opposite and is very much based on what the community wants.

So, if you’ve any thoughts as to how CP should look or any feature requests, create a petition or two. Or three. Or four…

As things stand, I am well and truly routed in the CP camp and I intend to stay here and help shape CP into something much better than WP ever was or ever will be.

My tuppence worth.


Yes; we’re not starting from a good place, but we’re making a good start.

“Security” in the abstract sense doesn’t really work that way - what people want is often impossible and what people need is often inconvenient.


I was largely referring to the different approaches adopted by WordPress and ClassicPress in terms of defining success.

While WP seems content with merely trying to wipe out the competition and thus gain market share, ClassicPress chooses to try and make its product better and take on board the considerations of its community. WP’s focus is on dominating the internet, which is never a good thing for anyone.


I started my career as a journalist-turned-PR professional who then ran an agency and taught at a local university, before moving into coding – front-end, mainly. As a result, my head can’t escape the drill of “what are the aspects that innovatively differentiates this service/product from others?” It’s part of my DNA.

So my writings are meant for one purpose only: to get beers around a virtual table and discussion going like crazy fun on what’s that thing… that magic thing that make others turn their head and say, “I’m going there for that ride… that’s where I want to be.”

Maybe it’s a mission that is aimed for the impossible high-in-the-sky effort of being the most damn secure CMS on the planet, the one where you can rest at night without some gunk mucking up your day and consuming your time. Maybe it can’t be done in code completely but could be complimented with a fast swarming team of humans that can swoop in and be fixers. IDK.

What I do know is that innovation requires day-dreaming of the impossible and then figuring out how to provide it – and going beyond what is out there now. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I use Desktop Server. One of the reasons is these guys are support phenomenons. I’ve never grumbled even once, which is rather amazing in the support world. Instead I always feel “oh wow… oh wow.” Now that’s a marketing feature. I gladly pay for a subscription. Just one hiccup and whoosh, I’m fixed. Awesomeness.

So that’s the point. Security seems to me to be a huge thing and a growing one. Maybe that should be the tasty thing that should be talked about and talked about until an amazing way is determined.

Or maybe it should be something else.

I just think that now that CP is a year-old, got a group, got a bit of traction that the conversation needs to move from “This is a business CMS without guttenberg” to something really, really charismatic… so charismatic that a huge group of humans take notice organically and wanna run over here. Promotion then becomes easy! You’re communicating something that a decent chunk of people are going to be drawn to without having to fuss over marketing language. It’ll naturally come.

It’s amazing what can happen with just one thing. Hell, they sold pet rocks to millions long ago and they were nothing but rocks. CP is far more interesting than a rock but we gotta have something innovative – and to think of code as well as beyond code. We can do that!!! I believe that!

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My own view is that CP already has excellent USPs (no Gutenberg, good community) and a potentially massive user base (millions of disgruntled WP users). The main problems are a) awareness and b) having the confidence to jump ship. It took me a good while to do the latter. The more people that do move to CP, the more people will follow so it is a bit of a chicken and egg situation.

I agree CP does, in time, need to offer more than “WP without Gutenberg” and although a year is a nice milestone, it’s still only a very short space of time.

I also agree that security is incredibly important - but it doesn’t “sell” and, also, nothing can ever be said to be 100% secure.

Personally, other than continuing to develop the core, I think the two most important things we need to focus on right now are:

  • raising awareness / increasing user base
  • increasing the number of plugins that work specifically with CP

but that is not to say we don’t need to think beyond that and I think it’s great you’re already looking ahead.

We do already have the roadmap but maybe something a little more visionary (but still realistic) wouldn’t be a bad thing? Something that outlines how we see CP evolving over the next 5 years perhaps? If nothing else, it shows that we’re planning on being around for a good while yet.


I agree that our focus needs to be on raising awareness and increasing the number of ClassicPress plugins – particularly in preparation for a ClassicPress Plugin Directory.

Lacking confidence to jump ship is definitely a barrier; dependence on functionality that is no longer supported (or is soon to be no longer supported) pre-Gutenberg is also a barrier.

Ideally, I’d like to see further definition of our target market and how best to serve them.
Then, I’d like to see a 2020 implementation plan of how we’re going to reach them; raising awareness and winning new users.
Then comes the ongoing task of actually executing the plan consistently over the next year.

I like the idea of a “more visionary yet realistic” outline but that could be complicated, since we are a community-driven project. Without votes from the community, we don’t know yet how we’re going to evolve, which I think is why the roadmap is worded the way it is.

Perhaps this discussion is better moved to #team-discussions:marketing-forum?


Thanks for the response. I better understand what the promotional thinking level and interest is now and will no longer participate in this discussion.

As I leave, I’ll simply say that I do disagree deeply. That is not an opinion-based “feeling.” It comes from some thirty years of experience both in the field, with clients ranging from Ciba Geigy to Purina to Science Diet, to teaching many university students and launching an Innovation Assessment Center at a research university, funded by the EDC, not to mention SBA contracts to assist with turnarounds. If you have heard of Service Animals, my firm was the agency that put that on the map, and helped write the federal law. I say that not to pound my proverbial chest but to communicate that my thoughts are built on a strong foundation of what results in the charisma that draws people into word-of-mouth marketing, the gold standard. Promotion is not the issue, imho. Word-of-mouth is. Case in point; my son is a software developer in SF. He got a bite of excitement when he build Streamus. It grew to about 100,000 in a few months, organically, and after the message was clear / aligned with ravenous desires. That rapid growth attracted Google, which after privately offering him a buy-out, proceeded to publicly squash the project quickly when they got a “no thank you.” The /r forum is still up for anyone interested. He grew up in a marketing household. I was and remain proud of my kid. He absorbed the lessons well by observing and listening, unbeknownst to me at the time.

I’m disappointed but not bothered. I have far too much to do elsewhere. Thanks for the opp to discuss this.

I wish you all the greatest of not just luck but bona fide outcomes.

Make some new memories this weekend. Ciao…


Medium quality expensive pet food.
While Colgate-Palmolive (Science diet) sometimes appear in a random “unethic companies list by xyz consumer association” Nestlé (purina) is always there!

I don’t feel this is CP’s style :slightly_smiling_face:

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I’m sorry to see this. I’m not clear on exactly what you disagree with here. I think we all want the same thing (more happy ClassicPress users).

You’ve offered some ideas of what that might look like in a few years, but so far I haven’t seen a realistic way to get from where we are today to your ideal vision:

  1. stable product with a roadmap that will allow us to continue laying the foundation for the next few years
  2. an “adult” CMS that organically generates huge amounts of word-of-mouth by providing “sizzle” and “best-in-class” features

This is a better next step, I think. For me this would be “as a user, you have a real say in how ClassicPress is developed and run”.

If we are talking specific technical things then those decisions must be practical and actionable, not made on a marketing basis alone.


I’m also sorry to see this, and I’m not sure what generated this response, right after I suggested moving the topic to Marketing for further discussion.

I think one of the basic misunderstandings here is what ClassicPress Version 1 was all about. It was never about creating huge differentiators right out of the gate; it was about establishing a firm foundation from which a solid Version 2 (and beyond) could be established.

Not only did we fork a massive and complex platform, but we established an entirely new organizational structure and community. In some ways, creating the org structure was almost more important than anything else – because we understand that to create trust with our users, we must not make the same mistakes that others have made.

We have been in existence a little over a year, and in that time have grown our user base and released several updates to our original Version 1 release to maintain security and stability for our users. I’m very proud of our community and all they’ve accomplished in such a short time.

Do we have some important differentiators in Version 1? Yes – we are “Guten-free” and we are Community Driven. Those things have sizzle for a select group, but we understand that not everyone will jump on the bandwagon right away.

People need to see that we mean it when we say we are community-driven. They need to see that we’re committed for the long haul. They need to see that we can sustain ourselves as an organization. We need to earn their trust, particularly because they’ve been burned elsewhere.

I am still open for further productive discussion that leads to a 2020 implementation plan to raise awareness and win new users. I also welcome anyone wanting to help in executing that plan. As evidenced by what you’ve shared, you bring a great deal of marketing expertise to the table. I’d be very happy to hear what your strategy and implementation plan would be, if care to share it. Please feel free to DM me if you prefer – and sincerely, thanks for your input.