Do you remember this scene from Crocodile Dundee? I couldn’t have been more than 10 when this movie came out, and I don’t remember any other scene from the movie except this one. Mike Dundee and Sue are walking out of a party when they’re approached by a few would-be robbers. One of them pulls out a switchblade. Dundee, not the least bit put off by this, pulls out his own knife and slices the leather jacket of one of the kids, much to the chagrin of the thieves, who promptly run away.
Earlier today, Mario Peshev wrote a very interesting post about how those who AREN’T actually developers shouldn’t call themselves developers. Fair enough, and at the most basic level, I agree with the point of the post. If you’re not able to build it from scratch, you’re not a developer. That’s exactly why I don’t call myself a WordPress developer. And, that’s why I also TELL people WHY I don’t call myself a developer. If you’ve heard me speak at WordCamp or our meetup, you’ve heard this ad nauseum.
This post of Mario’s is one of many addressing the state of WordPress roles, costs, education and salaries. He’s not the only one who has written about those things this year, either. In the WordPress community, this conversation in 2015 is what value pricing was in 2014. And, this conversation is absolutely relevant, considering that WordPress now powers 25% of the internet.
That’s a lot of expectation to manage.
That’s the thing, though. The titles of developer, programmer, designer are FILLED and DEFINED with the expectation of the person hiring them, NOT of the practitioner. To one customer, the “developer” they need and expect is a switchblade. To another, a switchblade wouldn’t work and so they need Dundee’s big-ass knife.
They’re BOTH knives. Both are sharp. Both cut things.
More importantly, the fact that they’re both knives is NOT the switchblade’s problem.
The fact that a switchblade exists in the world does nothing to keep Dundee’s huge blade from doing its job, and it probably didn’t set the price for Mike’s blade, either. Mike’s knife looks like it might have a custom handle on it, so it probably cost a pretty penny and isn’t so easily replaced.
For too long, developers have stared at low-cost WordPress solution providers, claiming they are the root of all of WordPress’s enterprise penetration problems. The fact that some implementers call themselves developers does NOT stop the best WordPress developers from finding and attracting enterprise clients.
WordPress developers are stopping themselves from attracting enterprise clients by not inserting themselves into the enterprise conversation.
Earlier I mentioned I’m not a developer. That’s totally true and so then, I can’t be a core contributor. But, I am a WordPress contributor in that for five years I’ve organized WordCamp Columbus, and helped to bring about the creation of several other camps and meetups in Ohio and Kentucky. Here is what I see, from that unique, non-developer-but-not-WordPress-stupid perspective.
Here in Columbus, we’ve got the largest university in the country . We know enterprise as it relates to .edu.
Outside of New York, San Francisco and Dallas/Houston, we’ve got more Fortune 500 companies than any other city in the country. Healthcare, banks and retail e-commerce top the lists of those companies. We’re no stranger to the ENTERPRISE here in Ohio.
Every year when WordCamp rolls around, I ask for developers to come share what they’re doing in the enterprise space.
But you know what? You don’t come to our camp to talk about the enterprise applications of WordPress. Every year, people from those sectors get in touch with me ( a NON-developer, mind you) asking what we’ll have for them at WordCamp Columbus, and every year I ask for you to come show off what WordPress can do outside of a few custom post types and fancy filters. And every year: nothing. Why? Is it because you’re too busy talking about what other people should be calling themselves and what other people should be charging instead of positioning yourselves as the enterprise experts?
I don’t know. I don’t know why other platforms (Google for God’s sake), roll into Columbus with elaborate marketing campaigns and workshops to woo enterprise clients, while WordPress does nothing. And by WordPress, I mean you: developers, community who make up this thing that is WordPress. I don’t mean ONLY Automattic, or 10up or the other VIP companies. I mean those of you who aspire to do amazing work with WordPress for enterprise clients.
Where and how are you inserting yourself into the existing enterprise conversations for which WordPress could be a solution?
Because I don’t see it. I don’t see it on your blogs. I don’t see it in events you’re attending and talking about. I don’t see it in your case studies. I don’t see it in your Twitter streams or LinkedIn profiles. I don’t see in even the most basic search engine returns for enterprise WordPress. I don’t see it in who you claim to be. What I do see is a lot of talk about how the switchblades are keeping the big knives from doing their jobs. What I want to see is you showing us WordPress is more than a switchblade; more than blog and more than a CMS in the right hands.
When WordPress promises to democratize publishing, it doesn’t just make that promise to the one who hits the blue Publish button. It makes that same promise to the one who enables the publisher. They get a shot at democratizing publishing just like you do, whether you like that or not. You don’t get to say to the not-truly-a-developer that they can’t or aren’t democratizing publishing. They truly are, but not in the same way you do. Not for the same people you do. Not at the same price point you will.
(I don’t have any great ending. That’s all).