For years I was a big proponent of self-hosted WordPress.org blogs, but recently I made the switch to WordPress.com. For those who are unfamiliar with the difference, one version of WordPress can be hosted on your own server, there are no limitations and the other is proprietary, managed by Automattic.
In the early days of WordPress.com, there were a lot of restrictions that made the open-sourced version of WordPress.org more desirable. Being able to install plugins for free on self-hosted, open-sourced WordPress installs added more functionality, not cost. Where the proprietary version charged for basic features like changing a theme’s colors.
At the time, the choice was clear — go with the open-sourced version. Today, however, I have a different opinion. While the open-sourced version offered greater flexibility, it also came with more problems.
For example, the free plugins poorly written code could make your website vulnerable to malware. After losing your site a few times to hackers, you’ll recognize the need for backups. Backups cost. It’s an extra step. Before long, you’ll realize that the maintenance tasks are taking energy away from producing content. Instead of time and money on firewalls and backups to just keep your website up, WordPress.com frees you to focus on your content.
Now that I am no longer concerned about my website being hacked, I can focus on my content — which I believe is why most people have one in the first place. Sure, I loved tinkering with Cpanel and iPage’s beta of Vdeck back in the day, but now I’m about publishing content, not maintenance.
Web administration doesn’t have to be hard. I used to be one of those PC geeks who loved defragmenting my hard drive. It was part of my identity. Those tasks will eventually be automated. Continuing to choose the hard road while an easier path is available is foolish. I understand the economic incentives for choosing a particular product for clients – you can’t sell them Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress. Or can you?
There will be customers who don’t want to fiddle with their website. Just like there are people who don’t want to mow their lawn. It’s not a mystery. All it takes is a lawn mower and some time to push it all over the yard. But, some people don’t want to bother with it. Web administration is becoming less of a mystery. Yes, there are some challenging aspects, but now there are apps that make launching a web page easy.
As a videographer, I’m embracing that my hard earned skills as a video editor are diminishing in status. Facebook’s live stream capabilities eliminate the need for Digital Media Coordinators to shoot edit videos with expensive software. There was a time before mine that video was edited on rolls of film with scissors and paste. I’m watching as my championed skills from 2012 are being diluted by anyone with an iPhone.
Now I understand why a web developer in 2009 was envious of me when I made a website with iWeb. He had spent a long time learning how to code from scratch and I used a simple program to throw up a website in less than an hour. Now it’s even easier than that. He was my mentor, he mentored me while I was in college. Toward the end of the semester, he confessed how it made him feel that these new technologies had enabled me to create better websites with ease. Now I’m getting a taste of a similar medicine.
Technology is rapidly evolving, obsoleting the past. It’s best to embrace it. Embrace a future of Chromebooks. Computers that don’t need anti-virus software and websites launched with Content Management Systems (CMS) that are essentially what automatic transmissions were the automobile. There will always be those who love driving stick, tinkering with code and shooting photos with manual settings. Hats off to them, they have a more in-depth understanding, but for the average person — automatic is the future.