Interview With Product Lead Tiffany Bridge Of Nexcess — Post Status Draft 137

In this episode, Tiffany Bridge joins Cory Miller to talk about the latest innovations she and her team at Nexcess have created for beginner online store owners, simplifying WordPress for users, and the ongoing battles between centralization and decentralization.

Estimated reading time: 41 minutes

Transcript

Tiffany Bridge has been working in WordPress almost since the beginning of WordPress. She is the Product Manager for WordPress eCommerce at Nexcess and talks with Cory Miller about their hosting services and products, specifically highlighting the benefits and capabilities of Store Builder. They dive into optimizing UX in WordPress, the benefits of open source, and more.

Top Takeaways:

  • WooCommerce Simplified with Store Builder. As you know, WordPress and WooCommerce love to hide settings in layers of menus. Nexcess saw the struggles people had in trying to set up eCommerce sites and created StoreBuilder as an easy tool to go from zero to having an online store. This removes the initial learning curve required to get started in Woo and sets up a DIY tool for merchants.
  • A Platform to Grow with You: One of the great things about setting people up on WordPress and Woo as they start businesses is the flexibility available for future growth. If their model totally shifts, they can just uninstall a plugin and add another to obtain the functionality they need to sustain their business growth without the hassle of migration or the increased fees of a platform.
  • Solving for What Users Shouldn’t Have to Know. Kadence and so many WordPress and WooCommerce plugins are designed for WordPress professionals. We are working to leverage the power of Kadence by creating a top-notch user experience for people who don’t know what things like a border radius or gutter are. These tools enhance and expand the power of WordPress, so creating solutions that lower the knowledge barrier to entry is the kind of work that moves WordPress forward.
  • You Can Own Your Own Platform. Often people aren’t aware that this is an option. From Etsy to Twitter, controversies tend to increase demand for alternatives. Bringing more awareness to individual ownership on the web-for blogs, stores, or anything else-empowers people to show up online and conduct business on their terms.

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Transcript

Cory Miller: [00:00:00] Hey everybody. Welcome to back to Post Status Draft. This is an interview in the series of product people that we’re doing with some of the great product companies in WordPress. And today I have my new friend Tiffany. Um, we get to talk a couple weeks back and I love her energy, her experience, her approach to WordPress overall. She’s very distinguished, uh, experienced person in WordPress having done some cool stuff that I’m gonna let her talk about. But we’re gonna be talking about Nexus and Store builder today I think So, um, Tiffany, welcome to Draft podcast. Thanks Corey. You tell us what you do, what, what you do in WordPress now, and where, where you got to this.

Tiffany Bridge: Okay. Well, so right now I am the product manager for WordPress e-commerce at Nexus, which is, uh, basically I kind of, uh, I have my hands in the entire experience [00:01:00] of using WordPress on our platform as a, as an e-commerce focused host. Um, that’s a pretty wide swim lane, so I do a lot, a lot of different things.

Um, the thing that I’ve been focusing on is our store builder. Um, before Nexus I was, uh, I was at Automatic for a while doing, uh, I was on their special projects team, um, which works with, um, you know, interesting people and organizations to try and make sure they have a great experience on WordPress. So I did a lot of, sort of very bespoke projects there.

Um, before that I freelanced. You know, was kind of doing what a lot of, uh, my colleagues are doing is just trying to, you know, help my clients have, um, you know, with by setting up like WordPress sites for them and things like that. And before that I was doing a lot of WordPress just kind of in personal projects.

I started teaching myself WordPress in 2004. So, um, I’ve been with WordPress almost as long as WordPress has been WordPress, which is, um, which is fun, like to see how far we’ve. As a, as a community and as a, and as a piece of software. Right?

Cory Miller: We’re gonna have to [00:02:00] talk about that later. I’m gonna come back to that cuz you, you predate me. I was just a blogger in 2006 on, on this cool thing called WordPress . Um, but you said this, uh, as part of you, I know you’re so, you’re so humble, but I want to act accentuate a part of this, like that special projects team you did at Automatic is known for doing. Big, glamorous, cool sites with potential big problems attached to them.

And I can’t remember what the code name for the team has called, but I knew about it for years. And then when we met a couple weeks ago, months ago, um, and you told me your background, I was like, you were on that team. Cuz it’s very, um, I, I would say like, You know, a celebrity status in my sense, because I know I’d go, I’d go to this blog site of this cool site and realize it was on WordPress, or somebody would say, now this is on WordPress, and you kind of dig into the details and you go, it’s that team at Automatic that was doing it, that you were a part of for such a long time.

Tiffany Bridge: Yeah, I was there for, uh, well, it was just like, [00:03:00] it was a couple of years and, um, yeah, I mean I worked on some very, very cool projects and it’s kind of like WordPress bootcamp, right? Like if you don’t, whatever you think you know about WordPress, you will know more after, after like six months on that team.

Um, because we solved like, Like every WordPress problem there is, right? Like you’re, sometimes you’re rescuing a site from a developer that maybe didn’t do a great job. Sometimes you’re converting a site that isn’t on WordPress to WordPress. Um, like a, a project that I worked on that is very close to my heart that I can talk about is, um, I worked on the conversion of a list part from Expression Engine to WordPress, which was just an incredible experience.

Um, I learned so much, and the a list part team was super great. So, um, yeah, like that was a, that was an intense couple of years. Like there’s a lot, there’s a lot that goes into those projects and our job was to kind of make it, it was like, you know, like the metaphor of the duck, right? Like you’re, you’re swimming seren except underneath, you’re like furiously paddling

And like that’s, uh, [00:04:00] that’s the special projects team.

Cory Miller: Can you say this special code name for it? I wanna say stiff.

Tiffany Bridge: Um, the, so, I mean, every team at Automatic has like an internal nickname, right? Like the, the, the name. Because the names of teams at Automatic have historically not been, um, they have, there, there isn’t just like, oh, that’s accounts payable.

Like there’s, that’s not what any of the teams are called, right? They all have like clever names, , um, special projects team is, uh, the overarching team is called Team 51. There are a lot of, there are a lot of rumors about why that was chosen. Um, none of them are, all of them are more glamorous and interesting than the real reason it was chosen

Um, but now team 51 is actually, like, when I was there it was like 13 people, but it’s now like 40 some people and so there’s lots of subteams and those subteams all have names and things like that as well. So, but the overarching team internally is called Team 51.

Cory Miller: This is why I wanted to do these set of interviews cuz there’s people behind, oftentimes behind the scenes with these vast experie.[00:05:00]

Building the cool products that so many people use and why? I wanted to highlight your background. When we got to talk, I was like, oh, I’ve gotta share this, because I think it’s so compelling to see one, you’ve been doing WordPress for a very long time. Two, you did it for with this like, very, uh, interesting team doing some cool projects that really put a great face on WordPress.

Um, like a list apart. You know, so many people in our community know that like the back of their hands. Um, I wanna share that. Cause I think that that all formulates these compelling stories into today in your role at Nexus and what you’re doing and formulates all this background. Like I remember at I themes, there’s so many times we’re building cool stuff, but people don’t see inside the workshop, they don’t see all this stuff.

They don’t know all the history and background, the care and passion that goes into this. And so that’s one of the reasons I was doing this and why I wanted to like point it out, you know, , um, So, um, okay, so that brings us to [00:06:00] today, and now you’re at Nexus doing store builder of many things. But I really wanna talk about store builder because I think it’s really interesting.

I know you’ve been focusing on it, um, at Nexus and it, there’s a big problem that I think it solves for my own work. , I shouldn’t even say work, trying to use w this thing called WooCommerce, which is incredible. one I, I think I, I’ve said at least, and you correct me, kept, but I’m like WooCommerce is the default e-commerce software on the planet because it’s used so broadly.

I think it’s growing faster still than WordPress and for good reason, but you can do anything and everything with it. And that presents a lot of complexity. Absolutely. Absolutely. What is the problem you’re trying to solve with store builder?

Tiffany Bridge: Sure. Oh, well. So as you say, like the more flexible and powerful something is, the more complicated it is.

And you know, something that I learned, and this I think, especially I learned at, um, on special projects is that, [00:07:00] you know, setting up WordPress and WooCommerce, that’s a different set of skills than just using them day-to-day. And the problem is that people who, like once you, once the, the site is set up right, people can learn to use it.

It’s not, it’s not that hard to use, but getting to that point where you can just use it and run your business on it requires a ton of knowledge. And you know how WordPress. Is like, it likes to hide all of the settings, like in all of these different menus. And you have to, you have to kind of know what you’re looking for in order to find it.

Um, and that’s a real, that’s a real challenge for people. So the problem that we’re trying to solve with store builder is this idea of like, okay, there’s like five or six things you have to do in order to go from zero to a store. And we wanna like gather those all up in one place and just walk you through them in a very logical way.

So, okay, first we’re doing like what we call first time. Consider. You’re setting like the name and address of the store and the name of the site. And then we wanna do look and feel. Um, so let’s just get some pages into your site. Let’s get some content into your site that you can edit and make your own.[00:08:00]

Then we wanna, like, let’s add a domain. We’ve got this very cool, like we call it the Go Live wizard, where you just, um, where it like walks you through the process of, of connecting a domain right there from inside WP admin. And then we’ve got, okay, great. Now it’s time to add your products. Products we don’t have a wizard for.

We’re just sort of surfacing a lot of help content to just help people make good choices as they’re configuring their product, their products. And then it’s like, great. Now let’s connect your payment. Now let’s set up your shipping. Hey, congratulations, you have a store. Is there more work to do on the site?

Of course there is. There’s always more work to do. But now we have gotten to a point where you have products and you can take payment and you can ship them, and your site has a domain name and therefore an SSL certificate. So here you are, now you’re in business on the. And that’s the problem that we’re really trying to solve is just like, let’s just get p get all of these, like things that you have to configure in front of people so they don’t have to go hunting for.

Cory Miller: And that’s a huge problem I see that firsthand, um, is, you know, WordPress enabled me [00:09:00] to start a business, start a blog first, and then it evolved into a business. And that’s the beauty of it. And I see that with, with commerce. Nearly any, uh, nuance thing you want to do, you can probably do it with WooCommerce.

There’s so many extensions, plug ons and addons and stuff. It from my experience, it seems like, you know, you get in and, and e-commerce just set aside from e-commerce is just complex because, okay, well you’re selling in Europe and you need that and you need invoices or something like that. You’re selling, you know, a digital good with a physical product and you want a free trial.

I was just talking to somebody about that yesterday. The whole thing on e-commerce. And then you get to WooCommerce, great tool, awesome ecosystem and stuff. And I see this problem that you’re trying to tackle over and over, uh, and I think it provides a huge need for those trying to build stores on the web.

Um, tell me about who the product is really for. [00:10:00]

Tiffany Bridge: So you know, this product is really for that sort of like merchant who is either setting up the site themselves or maybe they’re working with somebody to set up, but they’re not like hiring an agency to build them a site, right? Like they might have, they might have a buddy who’s good with computers, or they might even have paid a freelancer, but it’s really meant to be kind of, Right at that like level of the person who is actually gonna be running the business should be able to set up the store.

That’s always the goal that we’re after, right? Is if you decide, if you’re like knitting hats and selling them on Etsy and you decide you wanna get off of Etsy, like you should be able to do this. So it’s, it’s meant for people whose skill is whatever it is that their business is. Not building websites, and that’s who we’re really targeting with this.

Now, that is a very complicated problem and there’s a lot of layers to it. And so we are always in the process of trying to solve for that use case. I think, um, I don’t know if you can ever be, you can never say. We’ve solved it, right? Like there’s always gonna be more to do. [00:11:00] Um, and that’s what we’re doing with Store Builder right now, but that’s who, that’s for.

Like a lot of our other products, like we host, we have Manageable commerce hosting, manage WordPress hosting. What we like to say about those products is that we’re the hosts that you graduate to, right? If you’re coming to us, you’ve probably already been somewhere else. Um, but with Store Builder, we’re really focusing on people who probably don’t already have a website, and that’s, uh, that’s who the product’s for.

Cory Miller: That’s unique with Nexus, but I know Nexus is a brand company, has extensive experience with e-commerce too. And this offering is really interesting because one, you’re tackling a big problem. Um, but two, you’ve got a lot of experience on your team and the company that has really dealt with this, um, the e-commerce question for a long time.

So.

Tiffany Bridge: Yeah well, and it’s such a privilege to be able to work with people who like really think about e-commerce, right? Like Nexus got its start doing Magento. And so like we have a lot of like all of our, you know, engineering and our operations, like, they understand like what an e-commerce site [00:12:00] needs. And so it’s, it’s been great to watch them kind of apply that knowledge to WordPress and w as well.

Cory Miller: Excuse me. And I think this is. It’s one thing to have a blog, you don’t wanna have blog. Mm-hmm. , I didn’t worry too much about downtime. Sure. When you have downtime or something happens and you can’t get things done with your story, you’re probably likely losing money. So Absolutely. I think that experience is, is key to highlight Mato Gun back to the, the days, you know, this big, big behemoth of an e-commerce platform that switched hands and

.

hear that background. Next is, So you, you said this, uh, just a second ago, but you talked about some of the things, like what you’re trying to do, and you mentioned some, some key things in the last year or so, as you’ve b led this project. Um, what are some of the things that, that stand out that you’re, um, excited about, proud about that uh, you can share.

Tiffany Bridge: You know, I think in terms of like actual product features, you know, I’m so proud of that Go Live Wizard. Um, because like, [00:13:00] you know, what’s this saying? Like it’s always d n s, right? D n s is hard and that’s. and that’s such, and there’s no way to talk about it in a way that isn’t like technical, right? How do you connect a, a domain name to your site?

Well, you’ve gotta go change your name servers. Well, what’s a name server? What’s a cname? What’s an a record? Um, people shouldn’t have to know that, right? Like people shouldn’t have to know that in order to get online, I think. Um, so it’s been really fun to kind of build this cool tool that just walks people kind of through a decision tree.

The first thing it asks you is, , do you have a domain name or do you need one? If you need one, it’ll send you out to the Nexus checkout, or we’re working on this feature where it’ll send you out to the, the Nexus checkout. We’re working on the feature where it brings you back, back into your store. Like right now, we can, we can send you out to our domain registration, but we, we have to rely on you to come back.

We’re working on a feature where we can move you out and then just bring you right back to where you left off. But you know, so that’s the first question. And then like once you have it, it like it will actually validate whether your domain is ready to connect, right? It’ll do all the queries to see like, [00:14:00] are your name servers set or do you have the C name set up?

And it’ll tell you. If not, it’ll tell you what it is that you need to do. Um, And then, you know, you, as you proceed with it, it’ll like set up the DNS zone in your portal and it will like do the, um, the find and replace on your database to make sure that like WordPress knows what domain it’s supposed to be using and that all of your internal links are now referring to the correct domain.

So like it does all of those like little things that, like on special projects, we have a whole checklist for, to make sure that a human does them well. Now we’ve got like a. Um, so that, that does that, and that’s, I actually tease my former coworkers sometimes and I’m like, Hey, I’m over here trying to replace special projects with a series of onboarding wizards.

And they’re like, yeah, good luck with that . I’m like, Hey, look, I never said I like small problems. Right? . So, um, but so that, like, that feature is something that I’m really, really proud of and, um, and excited about. And I’m always telling people it’s like the best single piece of store builder

Cory Miller: is, is this different [00:15:00] from the wizard?

You mentioned a bit ago.

Tiffany Bridge: It’s the same one. Okay. I mean, it’s like the, like that’s the, that’s the one that I’m most excited about. And, and I think it’s the reason that I may, that we’re able to do that one so beautifully is because you don’t have to, like, there isn’t like a third party that we’re having to connect with.

Um, you know, when you start getting into like payments and shipping, like suddenly you’re dealing with other people’s APIs and so there’s a limit to what you can do. Um, but like where we’re able to kind of control the experience, we’re able to make it like really beautiful and functional.

Cory Miller: I know I’ve, I’ve helped people.

You know how it is, I’m sure you get this too. It’s like if they know you do WordPress or websites, you know, everybody has some kind of idea. And, um, there’s platforms out there, but again, the power of WooCommerce and, and WordPress particularly to, to grow your business. But there’s complexity that happens that, that I know you’re wiring in as you think about and build, continue to build the.

For that experience. Um, it’s kind of [00:16:00] going back for a second. I know Nexus does. Okay. You graduate to us. Uh, store builder specifically, I think is for a different kind of, um, problem. And you might have said this, but I want to come back to it cause I, I think I might have missed sharing this part of it. So, store builder, if you, you know, want to start a store and here are, you know, 15 options.

This is the option if you want to, um, start a store and grow it.

Tiffany Bridge: Is that right? Yeah, I think so. I mean, I think there’s a no better platform than WordPress and Woo for something that’s gonna grow with your business and be flexible to your business. Like maybe you get farther down the road and you decide, you know what?

I don’t actually want to sell merchandise anymore. What I would rather do is do courses or events. I mean, all right, well just install another plugin. You can uninstall WooCommerce. , off you go. Um, and so, you know, having that option always available to people as well is really important. Like you can, [00:17:00] because as you know, it’s so flexible and you can just swap in the pieces you need and take out the pieces you don’t.

Um, I think it’s, it’s really great to just get people, like, just, just get on the platform that’s going to grow with you at the beginning instead of having. Migrate later, right? Like, nobody likes migrations, nobody likes, you know, having to convert their data and carry their, carry their orders from like their Shopify store and their commerce.

Just start with WooCommerce. It’s fine.

Cory Miller: I know. Um, so we talked about in that experience, like really making that initial experience where you’re like, I’ve got something I want to sell. Um, you mentioned when we were talking before this too, like particularly you’re on another platform, like an Etsy or some other platform.

This is when, um, you’re ready to go and there’s this, there’s this learning curve with WordPress WooCommerce that you’re trying to sort out. Um, I think you said it when we were, um, prepping for this like idea to selling [00:18:00] is, is kind of that key, which I think is so awesome because I know from experience.

People, you know, non-word, pressure related. Go, I’m ready to do this. Lindsay and I, my wife have a, a partner, great founder who does physical products. And, and that was the question I was like, okay, well you have a couple of options. , they all have pros and cons, they have some things. Um, but having an experience like this, I think is so key because of that initial learning curve going live online.

But there, I know there’s other things too. Nexus happens to be in the family of LiquidWeb, which is Own, has a number of WordPress specific company outside of the Nexus brand of families that you all, um, leverage within the platform too.

Tiffany Bridge: Yes, absolutely. Um, the biggest, uh, so you know, the liquid web family of brands is large and growing, right?

And, and, and as our post status friends know, there are quite a lot of like WordPress plug-in businesses that are now part of the family of brands. And the one that we are leveraging most right now in store builder is [00:19:00] cadence. And cadence. For those who don’t know, is this really great? I don’t wanna call.

I mean, it’s a theme, but it’s like so much more than a theme, right? Um, it, it is a theme. It is blocks, it is starter templates. It’s this whole package and it’s really geared around people who are like web designers, but just need a great, um, like way to build and customize a site that doesn’t necessarily rely on like a third party page builder.

Right? Something I appreciate about Cadence is the way it sort of embraces. Extends the WordPress Block editor rather than trying to replace it. Um, cadence is there, there’s so much great stuff, right? Like right now, store Builder really leverages this Cadence starter template. So you pick one of the starter templates around, uh, around e-commerce, and we import a site for you, basically.

Um, and then you just have to edit it and make it your own. Replace the images, replace the text. But, you know, the, the feedback that we’re getting from our customers is that that’s still a lot of work and it. Their feedback is that because it is, they are correct. [00:20:00] That is still a lot of work to do. And so something that we’re kind of, the next problem we’re trying to tackle in store builder is this idea of editing all the not store parts of your site, making sure that you have a homepage and an about page and you know, all of your policy pages and things like that.

And making it as easy as possible for people. Because you know, cadence was kind of designed around people who are already web designers and that isn’t who our audience is. So we’ve been working very closely with the ca cadence team on, you know, what’s a, how can we leverage cadence and the power and the, the, the experience that they have, but create like a really great experience for, um, people who aren’t.

Who aren’t already savvy with web design, right? Who don’t know, like, what is a gutter, what’s a border radius like, you know, no one should have to know that. Um, so we’re, that’s the next problem that we’re trying to solve and um, and it’s been a real privilege to work with my colleagues over on that side of the house on that.

Cory Miller: I, That’s you just kind of like [00:21:00] highlighted one of, one of the benefits why we, our partner and, and the founder of that physical products company. Like why not just to use, let’s say a Shopify site or something is like mm-hmm. , the stuff you said that the non-store stuff is so awesome and attractive.

Mm-hmm. and helpful for store owners where you can blog and. NCO and different things like that. And I happen to have some inside knowledge as far as . Um, having been at Lake Web a couple years ago, sold, sold our themes to, uh, lake Web, that there’s a suite of tools That’s awesome. And to see, you know, post status by the way, also runs cadence and such a powerful framework, whatever we call it, you know, word critical.

Tiffany Bridge: Yeah. It’s a, it’s a sweet a package. I don’t know, it’s like, it’s a theme. It’s a lot. It’s a lot of stuff. Um, and it’s, it’s just great. And, um, I’ve been really, it’s been really nice to be able to, to work with, um, something that both kind of embraces kind of the WordPress way of doing things, but also really [00:22:00] enhances and expands it.

Cory Miller: Okay. So help me complete this sentence. As for product lead for this, this particular. Um, there’s probably all these things that your, your team knows in sudden and out cuz you built them and you built them based on these customer, this journey of these problems with obstacles people ran into. I wish people knew or did about what?

As part of store builder. Is there things from like, you know, your team just goes, gosh, they’re not taking advantage of the school teacher. They’re not doing this one thing that would make their life easier, the business would grow better. What are, what are some of those things, part of the platform that’s come to mind?

Tiffany Bridge: Oh, that’s a hard one. I mean, I think the thing that I find is that the thing that I always want customers to know is usually it’s bec, usually they don’t know it cuz I haven’t adequately conveyed it to them. So it seems a little bit almost self-serving. Right. To be like, oh, I wish [00:23:00] they knew. Like, one thing that I always find myself wishing that people knew is that e-commerce is really complicated.

Right. Um, cuz I think sometimes we get people who come to. To store builder and expect us to solve all of the complexity of the e-commerce when what we’re really able to solve is like the complexity of the website part. Like I read our, um, One of the things I do as a product manager is I read all of our cancellation reasons.

Um, so like anytime somebody has left the product and they wanna tell me why it’s hard reading, sometimes , it’s very bad for the ego, but it’s very good for the product. And somebody once said, well, I, I can’t believe how many things I have to log into to use this. Like, okay. Well if you’re talking about like our Nexus portal, like I agree with you.

I would love to reduce the need for people to have to log into a web hosting portal. Right? But if you’re talking about payments shipping, like was there ever a future where you weren’t gonna need a Stripe account? I know some people are [00:24:00] tackling that by like building their own payments, but then I feel like that’s another form of lock-in that I don’t love.

Right. Um, so, you know, so a thing that I, I want people to know is that, um, the system ha the, this, we’re trying to, we’re trying to balance like that like. Opinionated versus like freedom thing, right? Like, can we be very opinionated? Like, look, you’re just gonna use, this is the payment system you’re gonna use.

Just, just, you know, while also still giving people that freedom of w of, of WooCommerce, um, I think that’s always like when I’m reading stuff, that’s always what I’m wishing people knew. And so now it’s just a question of like, well, how do I then, like how do I teach ’em that it’s not their fault? They don’t know that I know that they don’t know that.

I think about e-commerce all day. You don’t, you, all you wanna do is just get online and like sell this thing you made,

Cory Miller: sell your stuff. Absolutely. Well, and, and there’s platforms out there like Shopify for instance, and it, it’s super fast gets [00:25:00] something going, but the complexity exists of some of these things.

Like, you gotta think through, are you selling to Europe? What do you, you know, that’s just one that comes to mind for me. Exactly. Um, but I totally get it. Um, the space that you all are in, what the product you’re trying to provide, um, that, that is kind of like a pro and con of the beauty of the. , you can with store builder, with WordPress, with WooCommerce, get a store up and going mm-hmm.

Um, so you can do it. And that’s a great freedom that we have and enjoy for sure. But that, uh, I know from having done had, obviously businesses that run e-commerce rely on e-commerce or website was our front door to our store, but it was down. We didn’t make money. Um, and then trying to help navigate some of those complexities is, is a pretty tough job.

Anything else that kind of comes out to. About what I wish people knew. Yeah.

Tiffany Bridge: Oh gosh. So many things. All the [00:26:00] things. Um, , they need anything, I guess they wouldn’t need store builder

Cory Miller: anything about the product that we haven’t. Mentioned that, that you want to share too? I

Tiffany Bridge: mean, I think, like, I think we’ve covered all the things that I’m like most passionate about.

Like I just, yeah. You know, well, we were, you remember that controversy several months ago about Etsy and like Etsy’s increase in fees and people were sh closing down their Etsy stores. And, um, like I just, like, I want people to know that it doesn’t have to be that. . Like, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Like you can own the plat, like you can own your platform. We’re seeing this now with Twitter, right? The implosion of Twitter. People are like, what are we gonna do? Where are we gonna go? And I’m like, you should have a blog is what you should do. Um, you know, I think I, it just, I want people to know that it doesn’t have to be that way.

We don’t have. Like our presences on the web, which is an increasingly important way of way, way that we conduct business, the way we conduct our relationships, the way we meet new people. Like we don’t have to, it doesn’t have to be that way, right? You [00:27:00] can own your home on the web, whether that home is a store or just a blog.

Or just a blog or, um, or anything else. Like it. Just like, it doesn’t have to be this way. It can be. There are many of us who would love to help you with it. And like, I’m not saying that just as a person who wants to sell store builders, I wanna sell store builders, but I want to sell, like the reason that I care about store builder is because what it allows people to do.

Cory Miller: Mm-hmm. Absolutely. You backed into my question I was gonna ask you next was to, you’ve been a workforce a long time and you know when we prop. Uh, examples, like, I don’t want to just poo poo Shopify, but use Shopify software is a service. There’s benefits to having a SaaS Absolutely. Solution for what you’re doing, but there’s also,

Tiffany Bridge: there’s a reason they’re successful.

Cory Miller: Absolutely. There’s also downside, and you mentioned earlier it’s like WooCommerce, WordPress, and even store builder and Nexus grows with you. Um, but I want you to share a little bit more about that. You know, Shopify, what I was telling our partner, I said, you know, [00:28:00] Shopify’s the glamorous thing people look at.

And I see, I see why. But I said, you’re gonna trade some problems for a new set of problems. And one of those you’ve mentioned a couple times is lock in. And the beauty of, I want you to share a little bit about the, what your thoughts are around WordPress, WooCommerce, and open.

Tiffany Bridge: Yeah, I mean, I think, I mean, the number one, biggest one is that you can own it and you can go, you know, wherever you want, and you can decide the experience that you wanna have.

Um, I think that’s something that a lot of us are spending a lot of time thinking about right now as like various social media platforms or like the, the downsides of like, for example, kind of lock in, uh, in social media pro. Platforms is becoming apparent, right? So that’s like one thing that I think is really important.

Um, another thing that’s important is that, you know, the thing about, like, there are lots of companies in WordPress and Yes, here we all are trying to sell you our solution, right? We’re all trying to make money. We’re all trying to, you know, everybody, we, we live in capitalism. We’re all trying to make money here.

[00:29:00] But at the same time, like there is no reason. That you have to have any of that, right? Like the only thing that, that you have to pay for to use WordPress is someplace to. Right. You can download it, you can use it, it’s all free, and that you can decide what you need and then you know what’s worth paying for versus what’s worth not paying.

Like you can, it’s such a like a choose your own adventure kind of platform. And I feel like, you know, we’ve had so much centralization and so much, um, You know, like it’s just so much centralization, so, so much like merging and like this company buys this company that we kind of forget that like we don’t have to be that way.

And I think it’s, it’s really important. Uh, I think open source is really important to like individual autonomy in that way. Like we’re starting to get a little of like philosophical here, but I think, you know, just knowing that. If nothing else, you can just go download WordPress and learn to use it. Like I started downloading WordPress and learning to use it because, um, [00:30:00] movable type was going to a pay a for pay model and it was more money than I could pay at that time to indulge my like personal blog habit.

And everybody was talking about this new system, WordPress that was open source and free. And I was like, free is good cuz I am broke. And I downloaded it and I started teaching myself to use it and it completely changed my. And I know I’m not the only one. Right. I have talked to other people who are like, great.

WordPress was free for me to learn to use, so I learned to use it. Word camp was $20 for me to go, so I slept on somebody’s couch and went to a Word camp. Something that I think is, is so important is, is that kind of low financial barrier to entry. I would love to see us have a lower like knowledge barrier to.

and I think we’re all working on that every day. Um, but um, that, that’s just like, that barrier to entry I think is always really close to my heart because I really believe that, you know, these are things that can change people’s lives if they just have what they need in order to take advantage of them.

Um, and I think that the community really [00:31:00] does care about that. And that’s something that’s like, makes me very proud to be involved in WordPress.

Cory Miller: Well, you, you just, there’s a practical side to this too, and I love the philosophical because it has practical implications as well. It’s like Absolutely. You get locked into a platform, like you’re talking about, whether it’s an Etsy or a Twitter or a Shopify.

Mm-hmm. , you’re at kind of the whims of. What they’re doing. That’s a little bit different in word control,

Tiffany Bridge: like company gets bought by somebody who then does all kinds of questionable things with it, and then here you are, like, I’ve been on Twitter for 15 years, right? Like I’ve been on Twitter since, yeah, 2007.

So I’ve been on Twitter like 15 years and here I am. Like with my like 15 year old, like at Tiffany Twitter handle, because that’s how long I’ve been on it. I got my first name and now somebody’s over here like running it into the ground, making all kinds of questionable decisions, messing up the experience I have.

And then I’m like, well, now what? Like half the people I know I met here, like now what do I do? And like here I am like. I got locked in. I said I wasn’t gonna get [00:32:00] locked in, but here I am, locked in. Um, so yeah, I mean that has like very practical considerations. There’s people that I’m struggling to stay in touch with because I only knew them on Twitter and like, how do I find them now?

Cory Miller: Well, and you know, just a real direct one-to-one is, um, Shopify and Etsy platform versus this. And you, you look at a lot of entrepreneurs, e-commerce merchants start something, it blows. It. It starts to really grow and that lock in down the stream really comes into play For sure. Like you start getting taxed on your success in a sense where you, like you said, to that own and locked in feature where you go now.

Exactly. With WordPress, we built a tool to, I themes that stellar brand that you can move websites very easily with. Exactly. Including at Nexus Brands.

Tiffany Bridge: Exactly. And you know, like you, you build something, you go viral, you’re like, suddenly your Etsy store’s [00:33:00] going crazy. Now you have like, you know, transaction fees at Etsy.

So the bigger you are, like the more your fees grow at ets, you know, at Etsy. And um, so you have that problem, but also like maybe you never bought a domain name. So now everybody only knows where to find you on Etsy instead of getting a domain name. So now you’ve gotta like figure out how to teach people to go somewhere else.

Like if you wanna move, like it’s, yeah, it’s a real. . I see this a lot of times too with like content creators and like Instagram. They’re like, oh my gosh. If, I mean, Instagram’s how I reach my audience, how are people gonna find me? If inst, if Instagram goes down, y’all, that is a problem. Like you need a website and, and it just like, it makes me nuts, like a thing that is, it just makes me like pound the table cuz I get so annoyed about it.

Is so you don’t have like, People, you can only have like one link on Instagram, right? It’s in your bio link in bio. And so people will like pay money for a link in bio service and then like link to their website and a link in bio. And I’m like, what if I told you that you could just put a page on your website with the list of all your [00:34:00] links and then put that link in your bio.

Um, and then you wouldn’t be locked into yet another service, right? You don’t have to get locked into the, like, there’s the lock into Instagram and then there’s the lock into the, the thing that you did to like work around the limitations of Instagram. Just have websites. Y’all just have websites.

Cory Miller: It’s well in this, this partner of our same thing, built a great, huge audience on Instagram.

Mm-hmm. that you gotta have an gotta have a website, gotta have an email list that you’re trying, you know, things have, things have evolved. There’s other marketing opportunities. But I go for me, website, email list that you can contact them that you quote own. So if something shifts, but you know, Tiffany, I’m interested too.

You see all this, you know, looking, looking around Instagram for instance. Some of the people that have got huge audiences, and I click those links and I think, okay, well maybe they’re what, you know, at some point, how do they monetize that? And I go and I wanna get your thoughts on this and this whole creator [00:35:00] economy and what, I think probably 10 years ago we thought it’s like bloggers and , you know, we have a new name for it now, but the creator economy, where they used the platform to get some initial buzz, but then, Okay.

What’s the path to Monet monetization. I mean, we’re all passionate about what we do, but at some point you also need to, you know, keep the lights on and pay the pay the bills kind of thing. Absolutely. But I’m curious too, like seeing that you’ve been at WordPress a long time, seen in the web, a long time, been a technologist, but like, you know, what’s your thoughts on that creator economy?

Just like you said, okay, hey, here’s a good point. Build your audience here. Hey, maybe not just a link tree or whatever it’s called, but like, here’s your website and all that. But what kind of trends and, and themes are you seeing in, in the foreseeable future, uh, that you know, you have thoughts on and ideas for as the creator economy builds?

Tiffany Bridge: I mean, I’m seeing, I’m seeing a lot of people kind of fall back to newsletters, which is very cool in like retro, right? Like this idea of [00:36:00] like email, like we’ve all got email. We neglected our email boxes for a while, but now it’s back email’s back, baby. Um, I think that’s really interesting. And, and you know, and we’re still seeing like some consolidation there, right?

Because then now it’s like, oh, let’s, let’s have a CK and like, okay, but now you’re like locked into ck, right? Yeah. Um, which, which is a little bit of a concern, but you can at least like export. Subscribers out from ck, like if nothing else, like you can take your list with you, which I think is really great.

CK has put together like a really easy to use stack of things that you need to run a four page newsletter. And, um, and so they’re, they’re popular for a reason, even if I still think people should have websites mm-hmm. , um, you know, but, but we are seeing that and even within sub, I’m starting to see people like branch out into.

Having websites like ghosts, which is another open source project. I’m seeing people do that instead. Um, I think it’s, it’s really interesting right now because we ha we’re in this moment where like the, the platform, the [00:37:00] social media platforms are really starting to show the seams and, and it’s starting to feel like maybe we’re on the edge of something.

And I was just talking about this with a friend of mine the other day, and cuz he was saying like, Man, like Google Reader died and it kind of killed R Ss, right? Like, and nobody’s figured that problem out since then. I’m like, well, no, because everybody just started aggregating through Twitter. Twitter’s the new, your new Google reader, except now like Twitter is twittering.

And, um, because then we all, you know, we, and, and that, and again, that’s like that problem of consolidation. Like even Google Reader, which was aggregating sources, it was like the dominant r s s reader. And I don’t know, I don’t know how to solve that problem. decent, uh, of centralization. Right. But I think it’s very interesting that we’re seeing people kind of move to newsletters because then they at least know that they can contact you.

Mm-hmm. , and, and you can, um, and you, and you can have more control of your audience that way. Well, and then I’m watching people like try out, like mastered on and that’s interesting. [00:38:00] I don’t, I don’t know how that’s gonna go cuz I feel like Mastodon is still. It’s too difficult from like an administrative perspective.

Like it’s too difficult to start an instance right. Still. Um, I was talking about this actually in post status Slack the other day. I feel like a big reason that I ever got as far as I did with WordPress is cuz they had that five minute install so early on. Yeah. Like even in 2004, it was easy enough to install that I could figure it out myself and that like, I tried to set up ma on like ju like just like on a Nexus test account and like, , we don’t have a way to run that particular form of like, of SQL that it uses of S SQL L and so like, like I would immediately stop and like, well, I.

Like this, this thing doesn’t even, like, it has dependencies that aren’t necessarily available everywhere. And um, and then you have to, like, there’s all this stuff that you have to do to set it up. And I’m like, and you all have to, and it all has to be done from the command line. Um, so I feel like, you [00:39:00] know, these kind of like federated platforms where you run under an instance are gonna have to put a lot of attention into installation and onboarding if they want to, if they really wanna take off.

I think that’s gonna be a big thing.

Cory Miller: What I take from this too is really going back to if you’re thinking about building a business, even if you’re dancing for passion, all of a sudden you’re back in. You go, oh my gosh, I’m a business owner. The thought process here to me is make sure you understand. What you own and what you’re renting or borrowing for a time.

Yeah, and just like you said, like I think so much from the we, I think we so much, by the way, benefit from de decentralization, AK WordPress, . You can, yes, you can copy it, you can for it and do whatever you want with WordPress. And there’s power in that. And that shift of power where another platform has the rules.

and regulations and policies that they change like Instagram, changing from more focus on [00:40:00] video to compete what’s, let’s say a TikTok and you go mm-hmm. Well, and, and I’m not looking at my analytics all the time, but I look at likes, right? And I go, well, my likes went down quite a bit. Well, because I don’t do video, I don’t want to do video.

Right. And right. Then you go, there’s a way to build, it seems like build some initial audience, but make sure you have these off-ramps into something, even like an email list, you said, much less complex to export your subscriber list and go to another platform than e-commerce, but be really choosy and picky about what you’re doing because.

When your business does continue to grow, you want to be able to grow with it in the right platform to do that.

Tiffany Bridge: Absolutely. Absolutely. And also, you know, as like the thing about decentralization is that there are a lot of problems that we are accustomed to having platforms solved for us. That now we have to solve on our own a decentralized situation.

And so those of us who’ve been working in open source a long time and and who work in tech, kind of like we already understand that like moderation is a problem and you have to think [00:41:00] about it. But you’ve got all these, like for example, new MA on instance, admins who’ve never really thought about moderation is like a problem.

They have to solve , , and, and, and you’d better. Right? And so, and that’s like a, I think that’s gonna be a real adjustment for people to make as we kind of like, if we’re, if we’re really gonna see like the beginning of a decentralization here, like there’s gonna be a lot of like lessons that have to get relearned.

Cory Miller: Yes. And when you said that about the five minute install, raise my hand because I go, that’s why I loved WordPress. I didn’t have to, what’s a command line? What’s the, you know, how do I. Upload, install, extract, set up my databases. Like that kind of simple. I’ve seen so many tools over the years that promise some decentralization.

But it’s great for the developers that know all those things. But for the everyday person, once that gets figured out, that five minute or click, click install, I, I think we’re gonna see some shifts in power.

Tiffany Bridge: Yeah, I think so too. I think, um, I think if they pay a lot of, at pay more attention to that, I think you’ll start to see a lot more.

Cory Miller: [00:42:00] Tiffany, thanks so much for being on, um, post draft today and sharing some of your background and obviously your vision values, and then, um, what you’re doing over at Nexus with store Builder and the other products. Um, tell, tell people where they can find you.

Tiffany Bridge: Well, um, my slightly less neglected these days.

Personal blog is tiff.is so, https://tiff.is/, you can find me there as long as there’s still a Twitter. You can find me on Twitter at Tiffany. And, uh, you can find me on Mastodon at, uh, Tiffany@theinternet.social social.

Cory Miller: Awesome. Thanks so much, Tiffany.

Tiffany Bridge: All right. Thank you.

This article was published at Post Status — the community for WordPress professionals.

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