in Design & Dev & WordPress News

How many web designers will WordPress’ growth take out of business?

On the WordPress.com front, Automattic sucked in roughly 30 million more users this week with Microsoft’s announcement that it was migrating its Windows Live Spaces users to wp.com.

Automattic CEO Matt Mullenwegg made it clear after the announcement that his team is not messing around. “Now only Blogger remains, and is firmly in our sights,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, on the self-hosted WordPress front, Jeffro over at WP Tavern has an excellent Q&A published detailing how one web designer’s business has suffered in light of WordPress 3’s popularity (now at more than 15.5 million downloads).

AOL in the 90s

AOL.com in the 90s

It makes sense. For very little money, anyone can get hosting, install WordPress for free, find a theme that fits their needs and get going. They can even add advanced functionality to their sites with a plethora of plugins. More advanced users might create their own theme or invest in a premium theme they can easily modify with customer support standing by. While many WordPress users are individuals and the results will usually not be professional-grade, it suits them fine—especially the price tag. But enterprises are also embracing open-source platforms like WordPress for projects and will either handle it in house or hire proven WordPress consultants.

With WordPress encroaching all over the market with themes for all sorts of purposes, will there be room for mom and pop web design outfits like Paul Mycroft’s, the designer interviewed by WP Tavern? Unless these outfits gain skills with some popular software like WordPress, the answer is no. There’s no room anymore for designers who make 100 percent hand-coded static websites that are technologically and aesthetically stuck in the 90s. And that’s a good thing for the Internet, users and businesses.

Mycroft says he is one designer that wants to catch up to the market:

The WP3 (as a CMS and blog) commercial theme industry is opening up new avenues for both clients and me, which I need to develop and become proficient in.

Even then, though, WP Candy asks a great question: Is there a profit ceiling to the WordPress premium theme market? Economics 101—no barriers to entry mean no big profits—says yes there is.

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