WordPress as a Brand

by francine Hardaway on May 2, 2010

Yesterday I flew from Phoenix to San Francisco and back in a day to attend WordcampSF 2010, my fourth pilgrimage to the shrine of a piece of software.

This conference is a cross between a training session and a user community support group, and this year had over 600 attendees. (@technorin tells me 800.)Moreover, it is only one of 45 already scheduled to be held this year all over the world. Last year, there were 48 all year; they’ll pass that number this year for sure. People gather around WordPress
WordPress started about eight years ago as an open source geek tool to replace some other open source blogging software called B2. I had been blogging since 1995 and i didn’t know what B2 was, and hardly knew open source except for Eric Raymond and the Linux operating system.
But the blog world changed when baby-faced Matt Mullenweg dropped out of college, moved to San Francisco, and began blogging on B2. By 2003, the abandoned code from B2 had become WordPress.

It has taken a while, but WordPress has developed a brand. And now with the imminent release of 3.0, you can see they know that Automattic, the company Matt founded, is the manager of a powerful community brand. Because of the size of the community –there are 45 million installs of WordPress, 70 million plugins and themes downloaded, and 35 billion page views–the protection of the brand is now a kind of sacred trust.

So how do you keep the promise of a brand like WordPress, whose community is free to customize it all the time?
It appears to me (and I am far from an expert on WordPress, just a devotee of Matt) that while on the front end the next release will allow much greater customization capability, with custom menus and custom navigation– in addition to the forced retirement of the default Kubrick theme–on the dashboard side developers will be encouraged to use certain guidelines, such as
–making icons or plugins fit what is now the WP standard UI.
–putting things where ordinary users expect them to be
–having plug-in menus all in the same place

This is because WordPress users now typically have a content management system of 300 pages, and no time to mess around:-) Starting this summer, WordPress will release its e-commerce system, WP Commerce, with the release of WordPress 3.0 (Matt wouldn’t say when) and then people will be able to use WordPress to register for events and buy and sell products more easily. They have integrated the ecommerce into WordPress 3.0, because their goal is to have users feel like they are always running WordPress itself, and not a plug-in.

To this end, they plan to release written guidelines for plug in developers. This sounds suspiciously like brand guidelines, doesn’t it? I’ve written a bunch of those, and they go something like ” our logo is never to be displayed on the right, must always be in these two colors, and our typeface is Comic Sans.” [Joke] Sound restrictive? Maybe for the plug-in developer, but not really, because WordPress 3.0 for the end user will be LESS restrictive. It will allow
–Custom headers on every page
–Custom menus
–Custom post types
And, as I said before, for the truly lazy, the forced retirement of Kubrick, a theme I have always hated, and up to now the WordPress default. You should see the new 2010 default theme! By comparison to Kubrick, it’s stunning.

The truly cool thing about WordPress is that the code belongs to the community, and nobody “owns it.” It’s released under the GNU General Public License, a free, “copyleft” license for software and other kinds of works.
Under WordPress’s guidance, this community resource will remain
–Inclusive and, hopefully

Yeah, I drank the Kool-Aid yesterday. But there’s so little left to believe in these days.

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WordPress as a Brand | Stealthmode Blog | Wordpress Develop
January 14, 2011 at 7:47 pm

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Travis Merrick May 2, 2010 at 10:21 am

As a fellow Word Press Kool-Aid drinker, I agree. Its interesting that you are using the Thesis Theme for your blog/framework. This illustrates the current “but how do we make money” model. Kubrik is awful/painful. And Thesis costs $87 for the personal edition. Getting it done comes down to chronic pain vs. acute pain. Do we build a blog or do we write a check to someone to build a blog. You article is helpful and hopeful. I am grateful.

hardaway May 2, 2010 at 11:38 am

I use thesis because of design and social features. Many journalists
use it because it is quite customizable. And lets me use Scribe to
analyze my posts for SEO

Francine Hardaway, PH.d


richmc May 3, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Great post. Thanks for the info.

Anonymous May 4, 2010 at 6:22 am

Great post. Thanks for the info.

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