Issue #201
Happy Friday! It's February 16 and we're covering WordPress marketing, the 2023 WordPress Annual Survey results, the WordPress Foundation's 2023 Annual Report, and much more.

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Five big headlines

1. Noel Tock: "Learn marketing deeply"

Does WordPress have a marketing problem? Yes, according to two industry heavyweights who separately aired their views on how WordPress is perceived outside of the ecosystem this week.

On Do the Woo's Emerging Tech podcast, Noel Tock, co-founder of Human Made, one of the enterprise agencies behind the new NASA website, says he constantly struggles with enterprise clients and their outdated beliefs about WordPress' capabilities.

He says WordPress was a "powerful thing against whatever the competitor was" 10 years ago. But today, it doesn't hold up against niche competitors and their "excellent" product marketing—and the perception that WordPress "kind of sucks and it's old."

"People may lie to themselves and say we power 43% of the web. But when it comes down to the real deal and what's actually happening on the ground, I think you need a much realer take in terms of where does the market go?" Tock says in conversation with Dave Lockie. "The much more accurate value, if there would be one, is what percentage of page views do we power? What's the weighted page views that we power globally?"

Tock says WordPress' mission for the next two years should be to "learn marketing deeply." He says the WordPress community must come together to tackle this brand marketing problem, a sentiment Emilia Capital investor Marieke van de Rakt shares in her latest column for Post Status: WordPress – let's market together.

de Rakt argues the need for WordPress companies to work together to promote WordPress because "… if we don't set up a joint WordPress marketing front, it is well imaginable that Wix, Squarespace, or some other CMS will eventually take a large chunk of our market share. And that's bad for all of us."

Human Made was one of the five founding agencies that formed the Enterprise WordPress Agency Alliance last June. At the time, Tock posted that the alliance’s purpose was "to bridge the gap between what we as WP companies and the software are capable of, versus how the market perceives us."

Marketing has been a long-time problem for WordPress. In January 2019, de Rakt's husband and Yoast founder, Joost de Valk, was appointed Marketing and Communications Lead for the WordPress project, a role he stepped down from just five months later due to conflicting views about his role.

2. Open source CMS platforms unite to form new alliance

WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and TYPO3 have formally joined forces to form the Open Website Alliance. James Giroux has more at WP Tavern: EU Regulatory Success Prompts Open-Source CMS Leaders to Form Alliance.

(Giroux is the first of the seven people trialing for two jobs at WP Tavern to publish a story on the news website.)

As Matthew Garrepy writes for CMS Critic in Drupal, Joomla, TYPO3, and WordPress Join Forces in New Open Website Alliance, the alliance marks the first leadership-led coordination to establish a shared structure around common values in the open source space. The alliance's goals focus on supporting the advancement of free and open source software (FOSS) and leading with a “choose open source first” message.

Garrepy interviewed Mathias Bolt Lesniak, the project ambassador for TYPO3, about the alliance’s formation, values, and future plans, which include greater collaboration and the development of open source standards and best practices.

According to the Drupal Association, the alliance members are united in their shared values and their message to decision-makers to always choose open source software over proprietary systems. The WordPress Project posted the alliance's charter on X earlier this month.

The alliance comes after the group penned an open letter to the European Union last August regarding the proposed Cyber Resilience Act. The letter raised concerns about its potential impacts on open source content management systems and the definition of “unfinished software” and “commercial activity.” In December, the EU released an updated draft of the legislation, which looks to have resolved many of the key concerns raised by the alliance.

3. WordPress Annual Survey results reveal user and contributor frustrations

"2023 @WordPress Survey results are out, and it's... not great 😔" posted David Levine, Senior WordPress Engineer at rtCamp, this week. He links to the 2023 Annual Survey Results and Next Steps and highlights stats that he says were "glossed over in the results deck 🧐":
  • For 18.4% of the 3,922 people who completed the survey, the Classic Editor plugin is "essential when building WordPress sites.”
  • Gutenberg meets the needs of fewer than half of respondents (45%).
  • 60% of respondents have used Gutenberg, up from 54% in 2022.
  • WordPress' Net Promoter Score (NPS) dropped to 30.1, down from 38-41 in 2022.
  • 16% of respondents don't contribute more to WordPress because they "don't feel safe, welcome, and/or appreciated.”
In Post Status Slack, Luehrsen // Heinrich CEO Hendrik Luehrsen also unpacked the raw data, noting, "We are old. Of the respondents only about 23% are below 30 years old. The percentile over 50 years is actually larger with 29%." Referring to the significant drop in the NPS store, he adds: “Most for profit industries would have crisis meetings with such a score.”

In Roger Montti's report WordPress User Survey Indicates Rising Frustration for Search Engine Journal, he highlights that 37% of survey respondents didn't agree with the statement that "WordPress is as good as, or better than, other site builders and CMSs."

"That response must surely be a disappointment to the core development team because the 2023 version of Gutenberg is actually more intuitive to use than it has ever been the WordPress performance scores are also at all-time highs," writes Montti.

According to Automattic-sponsored marketing contributor Dan Soschin, who posted the survey results this week, they highlight "the possibility of survey burnout within the WordPress community and some declining overall satisfaction among contributors."

Soschin adds, "There is an opportunity to increase awareness regarding critical initiatives such as WordCamps and other resources for WordPress users and contributors alike and to increase messaging on improvements made within the project to the CMS."

4. WordCamps making a slow comeback post-pandemic, yet to return to pre-COVID numbers

The number of WordCamps held globally is slowly bouncing back following the pandemic, according to the WordPress Foundation's 2023 Annual Report. But despite a tripling in events from 27 in 2022 to 76 last year, it's still half as many WordCamps as were held in 2019.

The annual report, released this week, shows 24,335 people attended 76 WordCamps in 34 countries last year, up from 11,460 attendees and 27 WordCamps in 2022. There was also a big jump in meetups, with 748 groups meeting in 2023 (up 72 since 2022) for 3,869 events (up 765 since 2022).

The report boasts that WordPress community programs enjoyed a "banner year in 2023", with significant growth after the slowdown caused by COVID-19 in previous years. However, further significant growth is needed to get WordCamps back to pre-pandemic numbers. The foundation's financial reports show that over the past 11 years, the number of conferences held globally peaked in 2018 and 2019—and 2023 numbers haven't yet caught up to 2015:

Ticket sales (USD)

On a positive note, the annual and financial reports show a healthy increase in ticket sales. In 2023, ticket sales totalled $565,970 after falling to just $6,843 in 2021 from a peak of $928,448 in 2019.

The foundation reports on its programs, including WordCamps and the WordPress meetup chapter program, both supported by the foundation's subsidiary, WordPress Community Support, PBC. While the organization has shared its financials every year since 2013, the 2023 annual report is its first since 2017. A spokesperson for the foundation said the foundation's 2023 financial report would be published later this year.

The Repository also put questions to the WordPress Foundation about its efforts to revive WordCamps and the financial impact of the pandemic but didn't receive a response before deadline. We'll follow up the story in next week's newsletter.

5. Tim Ferriss joins WordCamp Asia speaker line-up

Renowned author, entrepreneur and podcast host Tim Ferriss will share lessons learned from his 20 years of blogging and 10 years podcasting at next month’s WordCamp Asia.

Ferriss is best known for his five #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books, including The 4-Hour Workweek. His podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, was the first business/interview series to surpass 100 million downloads and has now exceeded 900 million. Matt Mullenweg recently joined the show to talk about AI, tips for life's darkest hours and the art of sabbaticals.

So far, WordCamp Asia has announced five speakers as part of its invited speaker program. Other invited speakers include Human Made co-founder Noel Tock, WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy, OSS Capital founder Joseph Jacks, and Mullenweg.

WordCamp Asia organizers also announced this week that this year’s sessions have been organized into four categories: surround, future, beyond and growth.

Asia’s flagship WordCamp will be held in Taipei, Taiwan, from March 8-9.

The Repository is a proud media sponsor of WordCamp Asia 2024.
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In other news

WordPress project

> WordPress 6.5 Beta 1 dropped on Valentine's Day and is ready to download and test. This year's first major release will feature the new Font Library, an upgrade to synced patterns, the ability to connect blocks and custom fields or other dynamic content, style revisions, more design tools, Site Editor updates, new data views in the Site Editor, performance gains, and the Interactivity API is being merged into core. WordPress 6.5 is scheduled for release on March 26 ( News)

> Gutenberg 17.7 was released this week and is packed with enhancements and bug fixes ahead of the next WordPress 6.5 release, according to release lead Maggie Cabrera. This version brings shadow support for more blocks, enhancements to data views, refinements to the Link Control UI, and further improvements to the Font Library (Make WordPress Core)

WordPress community

> WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg talks about his sabbatical, CEOing, worgs, WP Tavern, and the beauty of freely contributing to WordPress no matter who you are on the WP Constellations podcast (StellarWP)

> Still getting your head around GatherPress? Mike Auteri (founder and engineering lead for GatherPress), Mervin Hernandez (Director of Client Solutions in the US for rtCamp), and Patricia Brun Torre (WordPress contributor and WordCamp organizer) discuss the development and future of the project, which one day soon might replace as a solution for organizing WordPress events (Do the Woo - The WordPress Way)

> Sunita Rai, a content marketer from a remote village in the hills of Nepal, shares how WordPress has been a part of her academic and professional success journey. For Rai, "Translating WordPress to Nepali means empowering my people to access the freedom that WordPress provides." (WordPress News)

Business, enterprise & acquisitions

> Automattic has invested in Liquid AI, an MIT spinoff co-founded by robotics luminary Daniela Rus. Liquid AI aims to build general-purpose AI systems powered by a relatively new type of AI model called a liquid neural network (TechCrunch)

> Last year, Rodolfo Melogli posted that his 10-year-old business experienced a 37% drop in WooCommerce client work compared to the same period in 2022. He tells Matt Medeiros that "we're in a sort of a recession in regard to WooCommerce" (The WP Minute)

> WP Fusion's 2023 year in review doesn't hold back, unpacking the company's usage, revenue, Black Friday, and support data, as per the company's history of sharing transparency reports. Creator Jack Arturo also shares his frustration with the block editor, concluding that "WordPress is getting harder to develop for": "It won't be practical to maintain integrations with 120+ plugins and innumerable blocks… So we're working on updating our integrations so that they can be managed centrally, instead of inside the existing interfaces." (WP Fusion)

> OptinMonster has acquired Beacon, a drag-and-drop lead magnet platform that simplifies the creation process and features blog post recycling. On X, General Manager Angie Meeker says she has "big plans" for Beacon, including a direct integration with OptinMonster (OptinMonster)

> InstaWP has expanded its offering to include InstaWP Live, a managed WordPress hosting service integrated with InstaWP's cloud platform (InstaWP)

Plugins & themes

> Kim Coleman (co-founder of Paid Memberships Pro) and Tammie Lister (fractional product lead) are working on a new open source block theme called CashFlow to help creators who are building Paid Memberships Pro-powered site (CashFlow)

Conferences, events & awards

> WP Publisher Success Week kicks off on February 26. The four-day virtual event is aimed at digital publishing professionals and will cover optimization, AI automation, workflow efficiency and revenue strategies through expert-led sessions. Registration is free (State of Digital Publishing)

> Nominations for Plugin Madness 2024 are now open. The bracket-style competition pits 64 plugins against each other through weekly rounds of voting. Categories include marketing, optimization, maintenance, and ecommerce. Voting begins on March 4 (Torque)


> Delicious Brains is urging users of seven of its products, including Better Search Replace and Better Search Replace Pro, to update to the latest versions after Wordfence and Patchstack discovered PHP Object Injection vulnerabilities related to the use of unserialized() (Delicious Brains)

> A Remote Code Execution vulnerability has been patched in the latest version of the Bricks theme builder plugin. According to Snicco security expert Calvin Alkan, who discovered the vulnerability, the Bricks team showed "exceptional cooperation," patching the vulnerability in one working day (Snicco)

This week at The WP Minute

YouTube →
New in WordPress 6.5: Synced Pattern Overrides
The WP Minute showcases a much anticipated WordPress 6.5 feature: Synced Pattern Overrides. Matt Medeiros demonstrates how a user can duplicate a pattern, set the sync status, and assign certain blocks with the override option.
A man sits at a microphone next to the words 'synced patterns' and an image of a website.


🚀 Jamie Marsland recreated the NASA homepage in 30 minutes using Twenty Twenty-Four.

🤖 Jamie also challenged his daughters to build a website with AI in 10 minutes.

💅🏼 Gravity Wiz has a new look for the first time in 10 years.

🤑 WPMU DEV has launched its domain reseller program and is giving away $1 million in hosting credits.

🔍 Bud Krauss gets into the nitty gritty of the Twenty Twenty-Four theme.

🎙️ Aurooba Ahmed and Mike Davey joined Press This to discuss GatherPress, Dodge, WordCamps and #wpdrama on Reddit.

🙃 Mika Epstein explains via an amusing and vulgar example of a ban why developers are asked to use the forums to support their plugins.

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