My portfolio site was on WordPress for years. I was really proud of not just the content of the website, but also the site itself. With it’s custom-designed theme, it was exactly what I wanted.
After a good many years of ease and beauty, you’d probably think I’d feel grateful and complacent. I was for a time, but eventually grew curious: Is WordPress still the best solution for me? How do other website builders function nowadays? Could it get any better than this?
I acted on my curiosity and I made a version of my portfolio site on another platform.
Since then, I’ve changed jobs and currently get paid for my work on WordPress.com. Yet, even after starting at Automattic and focusing my expertise on a specific website builder, I continue to create versions of my portfolio on other platforms. I have one main site and dozens of secret sites.
Call me a traitor. Call me uncommitted. Accuse me of having too much time on my hands. I’ll admit, I’ve been doing an unpopular thing that takes a good deal of time and energy.
The thing is, I don’t do it because it’s fun or easy. I certainly don’t do it because I need more copies of my portfolio site. At this point, I continue because this ongoing exploration to find the differences between platforms has helped me with my work.
Start from curiosity. Welcome and seek out difference.
An Automattic Design Principle
While it started out of personal curiosity, these explorations provide personal insight that I can triangulate with other data to improve the WordPress.com customer experience and contribute to our differentiation strategy as it develops. It takes not only a deep personal knowledge of our own brands and products, but also that of our competitors and analogous offerings, to help us provide solutions that are distinct from others in the market.
Reading about a difference is one thing. Experiencing a difference is another.
My secret sites have helped me learn which platforms have the competitive advantage of an easy account creation and payment process. Which lose customers due to a steep learning curve and limited support infrastructure. Which are gaining advantage by integrating high-demand marketing technologies, becoming much more than website builders.
If we want WordPress.com — or any of our offerings and services — to do well, we need to embrace and strengthen what makes us different or unique. And to do that, we need to understand it and those around us. We need to start from curiosity and seek out difference.