Rob Howard built the MasterWP merch store as quickly as possible with WooCommerce, and then he assessed the relative difficulty of building with Woo rather than Shopify. His conclusion?
A high-end WP developer [i.e., Rob] needed half a day to do something that could have been accomplished in a matter of minutes on Shopify… and if I am being honest, I still think it would look and feel a little nicer if I’d built the site with Shopify instead of Woo.
Once you get into bigger and more complex sites, Woo’s flexibility makes it the hands-down winner. But for simple e-commerce sites – which I assume makes up most of the market in terms of quantity of installations – Woo is just not there yet.
Personally, I’m not sure why anyone is surprised at this — or why the WordPress community has allowed it to become such an issue it might threaten WordPress’s growth and market share.
Over ten years ago, I wondered why we had a glut of tutorials but very few that actually explained how to build out a site “the WordPress way” for a seamless user experience and decent performance at a moderate scale. You’d think some of the big plugin vendors would provide that information, but at best you have to wade through forums and really just deal with a lot of dev stuff and really get into the culture of WordPress development.
This sort of “expert knowledge” (how to make a user experience that doesn’t suck) has always remained a kind of trade secret among those who make it their trade. That’s understandable, but it’s Drupal behavior in a WordPress world. Not to be deterred from making WordPress fast, cheap, and simple, the market gave us the likes of Divi and a raft of site builders ahead of Gutenberg. A lack of imagination, myopia, and a lack of business pragmatism that goes along with “The WordPress way” made that happen.
Today I wonder why it’s still the case that nobody — especially managed WordPress hosts catering to agencies and freelancers — has built a business around creating, selling, and maintaining a dozen flavors of pre-rolled WordPress sites that are ready to customize. This would involve basically a distribution of WordPress with a “blueprint” of the type WP Engine’s “Local” dev environment can create. (ServerPress’s Desktop Server had a similar feature. At its core, it’s just a file manifest, the files, and an SQL dump.)
Why not offer customers an up-to-date basic store, membership site, or Substack clone that provides the best possible, functionally least opinionated foundation? Plenty of freelancers and agencies keep their own “starters” like this, but maintaining many of them at a high level with support for their users could be a ton of work. It could also be good work to open up to those who want to learn. Maybe some hosting companies will consider this after they get their SaaS versions of Woo (etc.) to off the ground and maturing. Digital Ocean after its Cloudways acquisition or SpinupWP are logical homes for a product or feature like this.
It feels like an opportunity for someone.
This article was published at Post Status — the community for WordPress professionals.
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