The WP Agency Journey with J.J. Toothman of Lone Rock Point


In this episode, Cory Miller interviews J.J. Toothman, owner of Lone Rock Point, a WordPress agency based in Sudbury, Massachusetts. J.J. shares his agency journey, discussing the growth of his agency and its remote-first approach.

Episode Highlights:

  • The Growth of Lone Rock Point [00:00:32] JJ discusses the growth of his agency, Lone Rock Point, from 4-5 people in spring 2020 to 16 people now.
  • Remote-first Approach [00:02:29] JJ talks about adopting a remote-first organizational structure from the beginning and how they didn’t miss a beat when the pandemic hit in 2020.
  • Focus on Public Sector and NASA [00:04:02] JJ explains his background in government contracting and how his agency focuses on working with the public sector, particularly in the federal level, including clients like NASA.
  • The federal government ecosystem [00:11:29] Discussion on the ecosystem and governance of federal government agencies, including guidance and policies.
  • Starting Lone Rock Point [00:13:39] JJ’s decision to start his own agency after exploring side hustles and feeling the desire to be more entrepreneurial.
  • Niching down to WordPress [00:18:25] The growth and success of Lone Rock Point after focusing on WordPress as their main service offering.
  • Topic 1: Using WordPress as a Content Management System [00:22:17] Discussion on using WordPress as a content management system and adapting WooCommerce for check payments.
  • Topic 2: WordPress and the Public Sector [00:22:58] Exploration of using WordPress in the public sector, particularly in government agencies like NASA, for managing and publishing content.
  • Topic 3: Web Modernization Project with NASA [00:28:26] Overview of a web modernization project with NASA, including evaluating different CMS options and deciding to invest in WordPress.
  • The SEO and Accessibility Tools in WordPress [00:32:35] Discusses the real-time analysis tools in WordPress for SEO and accessibility, such as Yoast, and how they differentiate it from other CMS platforms.
  • The Resources and Knowledge Sharing in the WordPress Community [00:34:57] Explains the abundance of resources, knowledge sharing, and community support available in the WordPress ecosystem compared to other CMS platforms.
  • The Importance of Open Source and User Experience in WordPress [00:37:11] Highlights the significance of open source adoption in the public sector and how WordPress’s user experience and inclusivity differentiate it from commercial solutions.

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Cory Miller (00:00:02) – Hey everybody. Welcome back to Post Status Draft. Got another great interview in our agency Journey series and I’m talking with JJ Toothman, a member of Post Status and JJ, Hey, thanks for coming on post this draft and talking about your agency journey story.

J.J. Toothman (00:00:18) – Hey, thanks for having me. Cory. It’s great to be here. Um, really appreciate everything you do for post status and for the community. So I’m happy to be, um, you know, a member of both. So.

Cory Miller (00:00:32) – Awesome. Well, we’ve gotten to get to know each other over the last, like, I’d say, what, eight months and hear about some of the work that your agency does. It’s super, super exciting. But can you tell me about the agency where it is now? Team clients kind of work. You kind of do.

J.J. Toothman (00:00:50) – There’s my dog and wife.

Cory Miller (00:00:54) – Great introduction.

J.J. Toothman (00:00:55) – Yeah. Um, so the. So my company is Lone Rock Point and I am located outside of Boston, Massachusetts, in a town called Sudbury.

J.J. Toothman (00:01:09) – Um, if you know the Revolutionary War history, you remember the Battle of Lexington and Concord and Sudbury borders. Concord. I live about five miles from where Paul Revere was captured at the end of his famous ride to tell everybody the British were coming. Oh, wow. Lone Rock Point. We have grown it to 16 people. You know, 12 of those people are full time. And there’s a handful of of, of part timers. Um, the were distributed all over the place. Uh, I’ve got, you know, some of us are in California, Texas. Uh, Michigan. There’s a few people in around Grand Rapids. There’s people in Florida, a few people around Asheville, North Carolina. And we definitely, you know, adopted a remote first, you know, virtual kind of organization, organizational structure from the very beginning. You know, when when the pandemic happened in 2020, we didn’t miss a beat. You know, our the people that we were working with, you know, just it just continued.

J.J. Toothman (00:02:29) – It’s weird to look back on that time and think about the, you know, ways that we were able to grow during that time in a period where so many small businesses were were, you know, struggling. But, you know, look back on that time and think about like we, you know, we were, you know, going remote, being virtual. That wasn’t a problem for us. We were ready to do that for the very beginning. And the people we were worked with, like just we just kept working on it, kept asking for more from us. It was actually a period of growth for us. We probably went from, you know, at the beginning of. You know, spring 2020, we were around four people and 4 or 5, and now we’re 16. We became a WordPress agency approximately 15, 16 months ago. Um, and we joined WordPress is kind of a continuation of our work with the public sector when I started my company in 2016. Um, you know that we can talk about the genesis of that, but it was, you know, I was had come from a federal government contracting world and I’ve been working for big companies like Raytheon, um, Perot Systems, Dell and, you know, decided that, you know, I wanted to start my own company, you know, had this, you know, the proverbial entrepreneurial itch that most entrepreneurs feel and just kind of wanted to try that out.

J.J. Toothman (00:04:02) – So I started to serve this company and wanted to start working. There were two customers that I wanted to work with from the very beginning, and one of those was NASA, which is it’s hard for me to talk about my own journey and the work that we’re doing without connecting to the long history I have working with with NASA. So I use that relationship and that relationship capital that I’ve built, you know, from starting working with them back in as early as 2001. Well, one of my first clients and then one of my second clients, big clients was Automattic. Some people over there that had built relationships over the years came to me and said, Hey, you know a lot about, you know, this public sector world, you know, federal government contracting. Can you help us, you know, with kind of get into that vertical and so help them with some some business strategy around that? I helped them with some security compliance, things they needed to be aware of. And then that relation, you know, that work kind of matured a little bit and kind of ran its course a little bit.

J.J. Toothman (00:05:15) – And then, you know, as they as WordPress VIP, you know, kind of solidified its it’s standing and it’s got themselves into what’s called the Fedramp marketplace. You know, they came to me and said, Hey, you should, you know, your company, you should we should continue working together. You should join the WordPress Agency partnership program. And that’s something I did, you know, specifically because of our shared interest in working together on public sector opportunities. And, um, you know, that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s really what my company is doing right now is, you know, Lone Rock Point. We are, we’re definitely exploring that intersection of WordPress and public SpaC, public sector, predominantly the federal level of that. You know, there’s a lot of state and municipal stuff opportunities there as well. Um, but we’re, you know, the, the kind of the, when you think of like WordPress and public sector, what I want people to come out of that connection with is is Lone Rock point and so that’s you know that’s work we’re doing with and and work we’re doing with NASA and it’s going we’ve been working on some projects from NASA for the past few years.

J.J. Toothman (00:06:31) – And it’s it’s really rewarding work. It’s good to feel like you’re contributing to. You know, we’re not civil servants, but we’re definitely kind of contributing to. You know, putting the taxpayer dollars to work, being good stewards of taxpayer money. And we think WordPress has a a role in that.

Cory Miller (00:06:54) – Excellent. Well, there’s a lot here I want to unpack, but it’s so compelling. Congratulations on your success. Congratulations on what you’ve done in the public sector to take WordPress there. I love hearing stories like yours and our other members doing good work in our world. And I get to I think I’ve told you, I get to brag, Hey, I know the people working on these projects, you know, which is pretty fantastic, and taking WordPress to the Enterprise, but Public sector Spaces is really fantastic as WordPress grows. So okay, I want to I want to thank you for telling us kind of what Lone Lone Rock Point does today. So I heard in there 2016. So I, I had assumed, as we had talked for because of the kind of work you’re doing, you had been doing this particular agency type work for a long time.

Cory Miller (00:07:49) – But wow, that’s why I say congrats one, Congratulations on your success. But like it’s pretty fast timeline to be able to get to doing an agency to doing this kind of work, I think. But can you take me back like before 2016, you said you were doing enterprise or. Yeah, public sector government, government contracting work. What were you doing before the agency?

J.J. Toothman (00:08:10) – Before. Before I founded my agency. Yeah. Yeah. So I was, I was a software developer, web application developer. I got hired by Raytheon to work on a contract they had with NASA Ames Research Center. And back in 2001, actually, the thing that the opportunity that kind of brought me into that world was that’s when they first started thinking about like, what do they have to do about website accessibility? So they brought me in there to kind of help, you know, help, you know, mature what they were doing around all that kind of stuff. And it’s been interesting to see what the what where was thinking about this over the last couple of weeks.

J.J. Toothman (00:08:57) – You know, when I first started working at NASA Ames and started talking about website accessibility and looking at all the various websites and web applications that was that were running at Ames Research Center, which is one of the, you know, field centers that’s part of the the NASA enterprise. Um, there was people were really just they were really resistant to it. They were trying to. They were trying to check the box on it quite a bit. You know, they were just like, What’s the minimum I have to do to, like, just check the box on this and so I can move on. Like it really the the optics of how important that was and just it just being the generally the right thing to do, forget the whole legal requirements of it all that really just wasn’t cemented. And here we are, you know, 20 plus years later where, you know, that’s that’s kind of like at the core of what is happening definitely in the public sector, but in the web in general, just like this, this strong emphasis on making it accessible and available to everybody.

J.J. Toothman (00:10:00) – You know, I saw how that started, you know, 20 years ago. And it’s it was not the same temperature, both from various from developers, designers, project managers, you know, that whole thing is shifted in very positive ways over the last couple of decades. So I was a software developer there working on various, um, you know, web applications, internal business process type applications, looking at accessibility improvements. Um, and then just kind of grew things over the years, you know, you know, started, you know, started rising the ranks a little bit, like getting opportunities to understand how government projects actually work, how it works, which is a pretty thing. I started participating in proposals that big companies like Dell were doing and responding to government RFPs, which are massive undertakings unto themselves, um, understanding compliance and security regulations that exist in government, in government, and really just kind of understanding how these governments, these government agencies and, you know, as individual as they kind of have their own ecosystems unto themselves, that’s probably not, you know, unique to all various massive, you know, corporate enterprises.

J.J. Toothman (00:11:29) – You know, we talk a little bit about the WordPress ecosystem now, but these these federal government agencies, they all have their own ecosystems around it. And then they’re also operating in this big federal thing where there’s kind of like this. Um, Jennifer Palka just wrote this great book called Recoding America, and she calls this term friendly fire. So where there’s like things where like the Office of Management, the OMB and General Services Administrations and other offices and agencies within the executive branch and other parts of government are putting together governance and policy around it and how the web should work. Um, and it creates all this types of, you know, these, this guidance and guardrails that you have to adhere to. So that becomes like kind of a larger ecosystem unto itself. So, you know, starting to understand how to work within that type of, um, you know, those types of scenarios and guardrails and boundaries and knowing how to interoperate it all just became, you know, something that started gaining more experience with and more exposure to with and, you know, think it’s been a big, you know, that knowledge is a big part of like why, you know, my company’s positioned and why we’ve achieved some success.

J.J. Toothman (00:12:44) – You know, working and and gaining some credibility in parts of the public sector and procuring our relationship with with WordPress VIP and, you know, expanding our own opportunities within itself. Yeah, it’s exciting. It’s challenging. Exhausting at times, but it’s also exciting and rewarding.

Cory Miller (00:13:04) – Yeah. Yeah. I can’t imagine. So just just for clarity. So you’re working full time at Raytheon or were you contract as a software?

J.J. Toothman (00:13:12) – So a contract means you’re you’re you’re like you’re kind of embedded, so you’re a full time employee and you’re your government contractor working on a contract that, you know, a company like Raytheon or Dell or Booz Allen or Lockheed Martin has with the federal government to deliver services abilities that are part of their requirements.

Cory Miller (00:13:39) – Okay. Okay. That totally makes sense. So what was that catalytic moment when you’re like, Hey, I’m gonna do this for myself, I’m gonna start my agency?

J.J. Toothman (00:13:46) – Yeah.

Cory Miller (00:13:47) – So prompted that. Um.

J.J. Toothman (00:13:50) – A couple of things. So I left NASA for a while and I went and worked for a company, a music ticketing startup called Ticket Fly.

J.J. Toothman (00:13:58) – I helped them, like, basically create a network of websites for small independent music venues, um, and help those music venues talk about, you know, what shows were coming, how to buy tickets, you know, when the on sale dates were and all the other, you know, all that content that is basically all about converting into ticket sales. And so I was with was, you know, with them when they were really small. And, you know, it was definitely the startup world and that was really exciting. It was also a bad time for my life. I just had like my my second child and like my work life balance was it was it was pretty bad. Um, you know, working at a small startup like that. So ended up going back to NASA. Um, you know, and just trying to, like, find my footing a little bit. I also wanted to leave California and move relocate back to the East Coast. And I knew that was, you know, being in a place, a large organization like that would offer some flexibility like that.

J.J. Toothman (00:15:05) – Um, but then, you know, I would say around a decade, you know, ten years ago. I started having this, you know, I started having that entrepreneurial itch again. I started thinking about, like, how fun it was to, you know, move fast at ticket fly and wanted that that feeling again. And so I started, you know, I explored a couple of like side hustles, you know, some small little independent web projects. One of them was like a newsletter to help families spend more time outdoors. And they didn’t really take off. They didn’t really get get some traction. And what I mean by that, it wasn’t necessarily traction from a, you know, where we’re making revenue or gaining customers. We were just like just the balance of of, you know, trying to do do that type of initiative while, you know, having a full time job and also like, you know, having a growing family and all that kind of stuff. And then in but was it was clear that.

J.J. Toothman (00:16:06) – You know, I was exploring something. And, you know, again, that desire to to like be in more, you know, control of of of my destiny, so to speak, and be entrepreneurial is something I just couldn’t I couldn’t get rid of completely. And it wasn’t happening within big companies like Dell in the way that I wanted to know. I really wanted to be, you know, in control of a lot of decisions that wasn’t in control of, um, and, you know, that’s why people start their own things and, you know, be founders of companies. And, you know, I had dinner with a friend of mine who was also in the government contracting space. He’s like, you know, you’ve been thinking about. And he told me he’s like, You’ve been thinking about all these little product ideas, these digital product ideas, like, you know, just just start a services business, you know, like and that will satisfy your need or the desire. You have to be entrepreneurial and, you know, like, you know, look at balance sheets and think about marketing and, you know, attracting talent and retaining talent and stuff like that.

J.J. Toothman (00:17:12) – And he was right. He was like, You know what? That’s a really good idea. And within 120 days, I’d like set the wheels in motion to, you know, start Lone Rock Point. Um, and, you know, we, we went from there. So it started in the fall of I started the company in the fall of 2016. It was just me for, you know, a year. And then it was like me and a virtual assistant for like another year. And I, you know, I started under this like this umbrella of like, digital transformation consulting. At the time, I was doing a lot of work with the public sector around cloud transformations. So people were were operating applications and on premise data centers and starting to make that migration into things like Amazon Web Services. And so working out a lot of change management type type projects associated with that. And it all kind of just fit under this like big umbrella of digital and cloud transformation, which, to be totally honest with you, is, is is too vague and too broad and borderline meaningless.

J.J. Toothman (00:18:25) – You know, if you ask ten different people what digital transformation is, you’re probably going to get ten different definitions of it. Yeah. And so it’s really hard to like, you know, grow a services business out that way is really just like me being a consultant at that point. Um, and it wasn’t until like started niching down into, you know what, like let’s just do this WordPress thing, you know, was I was delivering, um, you know, whitepapers and providing analysis of like how what people should do with like their, their inventory of web applications and advising them on what is and what platforms they should be using. And a lot of times ended up started like you know, making recommendations around WordPress oriented applications, sometimes just building WordPress sites, sometimes using WordPress as an application framework. Um, in over the, in the time I’ve been with NASA. I’ve used WordPress with them and a lot of different ways. We’ve done it in a WordPress network multi-site kind of way for allowing smaller NASA missions and programs and projects to, you know, have their own websites where they all communicate what they’re up to and what their findings are and share what they learned with, you know, with, with interested stakeholders and visitors to their sites.

J.J. Toothman (00:19:55) – Um, there, there’s been some internal things where needed to like communicate various services as it had to various corners of the agency. So we did like a WooCommerce thing where people can go to a web application, a website and just pick what, what services they want. Like I need, I need some Amazon cloud storage or processing or, you know, EC2 units. And they could apply, they could add all those things to a cart and then say, check out and, you know, check, you know, do a checkout with that and just start getting services provided to them that way. So um, and then, you know, over time it just became clear that like, this is, I keep recommending this, like there’s growth opportunity for me here and then, you know, niching down to being like, we’re going to be a WordPress, a more traditional WordPress agency is really when, you know, the growth started happening and the opportunity started becoming a little bit. And it isn’t just like strategic consulting, it became the execution part of it as well.

J.J. Toothman (00:21:00) – And the tactics part of it too, and the tactics and execution. We’re all oriented for the most of the time.

Cory Miller (00:21:06) – Yeah, I’d love to hear these stories because you got, you know, a big career in enterprise and public sector, you know, with your Raytheon and NASA days and then entrepreneurial hit. Okay, want to do this and then seeing you know when you say NASA and WordPress, it just seems like those things should always go together, you know, and that’s what really compelling to me is seeing WordPress more on the public sector enterprise. And now there’s really big institutions in in the US federal government anyway, probably around the world too, but that are starting to use WordPress more and more and leverage it and see that opportunity. Um, so I love kind of how those intersection of things happen. So that lone rock point would kind of exist and grow and then you hit your I was going to ask the question when the WordPress come into play, but you pretty much answered it. So like your 2 or 3 or so, it seems like, hey, we’re going to drill down.

Cory Miller (00:22:04) – And then when you mention WooCommerce that like that use case for an internal tool within a big organization like that to procure and get resources and things, that’s so compelling. You know, most of my.

J.J. Toothman (00:22:17) – Career that like, people just wanted that checkout expert, They wanted that. They wanted that experience of like, I want X, Y and Z, I want to add it to the cart and I want to tell you that I want it. And we just, you know, WooCommerce has that option to, you know, just do check payments, right? Which removes the credit card processing out of it. And so we kind of adapted that to, all right, we’re going to send this order to somebody who can fulfill that order via this WooCommerce WordPress system. Um, and, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s, you know, it’s using the WordPress ecosystem at its best, like using it almost kind of as Legos and want this part of it. I want that part of it. I want to, I want to glue them together in this way.

J.J. Toothman (00:22:58) – And it’s, you know, kind of a no code kind of way around WordPress to solve some, you know, some very simple, narrow use cases. But, you know, my, my journey with WordPress, you know, starts way back in 2007 at my first stint with at Ames Research Center. Um, you know, I was working with all these various scientists and researchers and they just like need a place to like publish my, my research findings and publish my data and, and they, they all one, they all had the same, um. You know, requirements and needs. At the highest level, it’s like I just need a place to put it. And I want to I want to be able to manage it myself in a way. And I don’t know. I don’t know how to don’t know how to code. I don’t know. I don’t have anybody on my team who knows HTML. And so that, you know, that basically introduced the concept of like content management systems into all this back in 2007.

J.J. Toothman (00:24:03) – And, you know, we were looking at things like wikis at the time and, and then discovered WordPress and around that and just the user experience of someone just, you know, managing their content with that type of, you know, WordPress, CMS, this is like version 2.0 of WordPress, you know, back when they added pages in addition to posts was the real thing. That’s like, oh, this is what this satisfies what everyone’s looking for. They want an easy place just to log into. And you know, they all some of them wanted to start blogging. Some of them wanted to start blogging without knowing that they wanted to start blogging. They just want to share what they know and tell their stories. Um, and then back in 2007, I created this is also the Web 2.0 era where, you know, your blogging was, was kind of heavy in the lexicon back then. And I was I did one of NASA’s first official public blogs on WordPress and, and kind of grew with WordPress, you know, from there that led to the ticket fly work.

J.J. Toothman (00:25:13) – And so WordPress was kind of always in my DNA, even when wasn’t, you know, it wasn’t like a defined part of what I was, you know, of my, my role description. But my role was in some cases to be strategic and provide advice and provide some roadmaps. And, you know, how do we do things? Give us some give us some guidance here. And a lot of times just said like, well, you don’t have to create a custom bespoke application for this. Just use a content management system like WordPress, you know, teach your users how to how to how to manage using WordPress themselves. And and you go from there. So and the WordPress ecosystem is what makes all that happen mean there’s all these different, you know, there’s all these different plugins and themes and you just kind of integrate it all together, um, you know, in a unique way. And you have a great solution architecture, depending on how you put it together.

Cory Miller (00:26:08) – What you’re talking kind of way back.

Cory Miller (00:26:11) – But you know, remember a lot of the solutions that we have now didn’t exist. So, you know, big organizations were having to do like the the internal resourcing that you’re talking about. They’d have to custom code those things or build them because they didn’t exist off the shelf. Then you fast forward and you go, you could take WooCommerce save. I can’t even imagine how much time to kind of do git to feature like, you know, par with that and then take that open source solution and then utilize it and just customize with a with a great agency like you all to figure out what their exact needs are. So it’s it’s great to see how everything has fast forward to. Well, we touched on this. I know we’re going to have more conversations down the road. And and I want to talk more about the public sector and enterprise. And I know we’re talking and we’re going to have some great conversations in the next couple of months about this, because I know you’re passionate about it, about the public sector and bringing WordPress to the public sector, but we’ll save that for another time.

Cory Miller (00:27:07) – I don’t want to spoil too much of that, but I appreciate so much the journey and what you’re doing. So thank you for telling us that. That’s, that’s that’s incredible. Um, okay. What are you excited about today? What are you excited about today and the future going forward and what you’re doing with the agency and your team and the work you’re doing?

J.J. Toothman (00:27:27) – Yeah. So a few years ago, the government, Pervez passed a Congress passed an act called the Integrated Digital Experience Act. And within that act is basically it tells all these federal agencies how to modernize their website. So, you know. Obvious things like improve accessibility. They have to be accessible. They have to work on mobile. They. They. You have to have like good search. They should. People should be able to find content there. They also need to be based on user research and user needs. So they’re all logical things within. You know, public sector and it’s all so I’m really excited about that. Be something that initiates or triggers a lot of the work that I’ve been doing for the last couple of years.

J.J. Toothman (00:28:26) – And so for the last few years I’ve been working on a web modernization project with NASA. It exists for a couple of reasons. It exists. One, because of that idea act. It also exists because NASA has a couple of thousand websites and they don’t want there to be a couple of thousand websites. They want all that information in one website. So we’ve been doing a lot of work with them. You know, that started back in kind of mid 2000, late 2000, and it started with, hey, what should be using for its main, you know, web source, major web properties. And so I spent a year taking a look at the landscape of you know, of all the available CMS’s that are out there, you know, Drupal source site, Adobe Experience manager and then some new newer ones like Wagtail. And then there’s even we even took a look at, you know, some of the software as a service type solutions like Contentful and just trying to understand the pros and cons of Elda.

J.J. Toothman (00:29:38) – And so we spent a year taking a look at the CMS landscape and acquiring data for it, acquiring evidence of it. And while in my heart, you know, being a WordPress guy, I knew like, you know, WordPress makes a lot of sense here. You know, we it’s still there was a lot of benefit for me to kind of like take a look at like what, you know, all the driving factors for making a decision like that were, um, and you know at the end of it WordPress like was the, the solution, the CMS that NASA wanted to invest in for the future. And that’s what we’ve been working on for the last couple of years. So for the last couple of years we’ve been working on a couple of big. Uh, NASA WordPress projects. And a lot of, you know, I talked a lot about how I’ve been using WordPress and a no code kind of way. This is not a no code kind of way. There was a lot of Gutenberg custom development here.

J.J. Toothman (00:30:34) – It’s the, it’s, it’s the project that has everything like, you know, an emphasis on SEO, an emphasis on accessibility. There’s a new atomic design system that was created for this. And so the seeing the marriage of an atomic design system and Gutenberg, you know, come to bring all that stuff to life has been really, really exciting. And I’m excited to like for, for, you know, people, you know, interested in what NASA is up to and people interested in WordPress to see the fruits of all this labor that we’ve been working on for the last couple of years and it’s all coming in the next few months. And yeah, so I’m really excited to share that with you and share that with other people in the community.

Cory Miller (00:31:19) – Yeah, that’s excellent. So I want to take just a minute in sidebar because you did this whole year, you know, one of seeing what’s out there, seeing what the options are. And I love that you’ve done some deep, deep research for big organizations trying to make a big, important decision on it.

Cory Miller (00:31:36) – Um, I’m just curious what we’re couple takeaways. As you just surveyed the landscape. You know, we love WordPress. We understand, you know, we, we support WordPress, but, but we know that there’s a lot of stuff out there. Um, but I’m curious, what, what did the landscape look like? Where were some of the things you saw when you looked at the other platforms you mentioned like Wagtail? I hadn’t heard that one before. I’ve heard of Contentful for instance, and of course Drupal. But what, what were a couple of the takeaways on that year of investigation out there?

J.J. Toothman (00:32:08) – So the I, I would say that there are two major, maybe three major differentiators that separated WordPress from the rest from the rest of the pack. If you will. Um, you know, there’s a lot of great content management systems out there. You know, they all do the same thing or try to do people the same. They try to make it easy for people to publish information onto the web and make it easy for others to consume it.

J.J. Toothman (00:32:35) – But the differentiators from WordPress versus the other CMS that we were looking at were number one. A lot of again, it had a lot of it had to do with the ecosystem. WordPress was the only CMS that had real time analysis tools around SEO. So and accessibility to kind of try to improve those situations before the point of publishing. So Yoast is the obvious example. So Yoast, you know, we’ve all been exposed to Yoast. Yoast allows you to allows the content creator user to be authoring and editing content and getting some real time analysis about how friendly or compatible, whatever the term you want to use it is before the point of publish. There’s accessibility tools out there that do the same things that are kind of integrated within the WordPress Admin WordPress dashboard that allow that content creator user to like, you know, when it’s in draft format to analyze. Do I have accessibly accessible content that I’m about to publish in here and make live other CMS didn’t have that baked in. You know, there’s WordPress plugins that do these things.

J.J. Toothman (00:33:51) – Um, we could even, we even have the ability to prevent publishing until certain excessively thresholds and SEO optimization thresholds are met. That was really, really attractive. All the most of the majority of the other solutions are you publish it first it’s live and then you can go back and check it and then you kind of have to retrofit it. I’ve been working in enterprises enough to know that that doesn’t happen once it’s published, Once it’s out there, people are generally going to move on. They’re not going to do the analysis of like, All right, how do I go back and improve this thing? So you really got to you really got to catch those things early and often. Um, you know, up front in the, in the content publishing lifecycle. So that was one of the big differentiators was that and that again, that’s all a product of the WordPress ecosystem and the innovation that comes out of that ecosystem. The other one was just kind of like the resources around this. So we all, you know, you can take for a grain of salt like, you know, the the whole thing about, you know, WordPress powers, 40% of the web, you know, that kind of stuff.

J.J. Toothman (00:34:57) – But there is some byproduct of that. And that is there’s a lot of people using it. There’s a lot of people building it. There’s a lot of people developing on it. There’s a lot of people extending on. There’s a lot of knowledge being shared around that. One of the things I did was I went in the stack overflow and compared WordPress with other CMS’s and just being like, How many conversations are happening around this thing, you know, that we’re looking at? And it was, you know, what you expected, the ability for, you know, to be able to. Try to solve a problem by getting by by, you know, interfacing or sponging up knowledge that was already contributed back in some way, you know, via via StackOverflow or, you know, other places on the Web, other groups, Slack channels, etcetera, that exists in WordPress in a way that it doesn’t exist in these other, you know, CMS products. You know, the if you want to if you want to get developer knowledge around Adobe Experience Manager, you for for the most part there are some Adobe experience manager specialists out there, but for the most part you got to go to Adobe for it.

J.J. Toothman (00:36:02) – Um. Uh, you know, same thing with sorts. There’s not there’s not a huge community of sort site developers out there. So for a place like NASA, you know, resource acquisition becomes a problem. Like, where are they going to find talent for that? Yeah. And you know, again, WordPress, you know, kind of is head and shoulders above the rest in that area. Um, and then, you know, this whole concept of WordPress is for everyone to like that. That rang true in all this research too. Like it’s more than just developer community. There’s user communities out there that are also sharing their knowledge here. Um, you know, there’s all these kinds of like, there’s, there’s solutions for learning WordPress that are provided by the communities and multiple companies with the community that add a lot of value within the equals. So it’s not just like the software ecosystem, but it’s like, you know, the kind of service ecosystem to that exist within WordPress. Um, and then honestly, like, you know, portability matters to, um, you know, there’s, for the most part, like I really just wanted public sector to adopt open source.

J.J. Toothman (00:37:11) – You know, that’s the first decision I want, I want them to do is just, just, you know, make an open source decision. And then you’ve done that. You know, you’re in a good you’re in a better place than picking a commercial, you know, bespoke solution. You know, And then, you know, once you get past that hurdle now, you know, the obvious open source can cannot exist. And you know, the user experience of WordPress and that whole concept of WordPress being for everyone and being considering everyone, depending on who you are, really rings true and is a differentiator as well.

Cory Miller (00:37:50) – Well, that’s excellent. And that rings true. You know, I’m curious because as I talked to more enterprise agencies, all of you out there in the world interfacing with clients, with their needs, what they actually are trying to get done. That’s really, really great to hear and it’s reflective of the community. I think sometimes they’ve been in the community like you as long as we have.

Cory Miller (00:38:10) – I take some of those things for granted. So I think that’s that’s excellent. Well, JJ, thanks so much for the time today. I know you just got back from a big trip and you’ve got work to pile out, but I appreciate you coming on the podcast and sharing your agency journey, and I look forward to our next conversation, sharing the good work you’re doing with WordPress in our world. That too.

J.J. Toothman (00:38:31) – Corey Thanks for having me.

Cory Miller (00:38:34) – All right. Thanks, everybody, for being here today. And we’ll talk to you. We’ll see. We’ll talk to you. We’ll hear from you. They’ll listen to us soon.

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

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