For so long, WordPress.com (and, in some ways, WordPress itself) has been very focused on blogging. But we’ve known for a while (perhaps since the introduction of Pages all those years back) that WordPress can do more than blogs. WordPress is being used by businesses all over the world to help them sell their products and services.

Not long ago, I participated in a research study with my colleagues here at Automattic. We set out with the goal of better understanding business owners. My role in the study was as both a listener and a moderator. I talked to a number of small business owners from all over the United States—both rural and urban areas. In total, our team talked to 35 people over the course of a week or so. For each hour conversation, we would spent an additional 30 minutes discussing our learnings. As you can imagine, this was a significant investment of time (and money!), but it was totally worth it.

For me, the biggest takeaway from our research was the fact that many small business owners—whether they’re just starting out, or have been in business for a decade—don’t know how to use the internet to grow their business. Things that seems somewhat obvious to me, for example collecting email addresses for future marketing campaigns, are not at all obvious to business owners outside of the internet/tech industry. And most of the people are simply unaware of the options available to them. And since they’re unaware of these options, they can’t even search the internet, or speak with mentors about these topics. And, if they are aware of their options for using the internet to market and grow their business, they rarely have the time (or ambition) to pursue them.

We’ve been working under a lot of assumptions about business owners, and their use of technology. We’ve been biased with our blogging roots, ignoring the problems and needs of these business owners. Our research study is a great start for us to challenge our assumptions and bias, and rethink the way we present our products and solutions.

Posted by Shaun Andrews

I'm a web and mobile interface designer with Automattic, working on all things WordPress.

One Comment

  1. Yesterday I addressed a gathering of high school students in Detroit across socioeconomic backgrounds. To make a point about their generation, I pulled my smartphone out of my pocket and asked, “How many of you carry one of these around?” — expecting them to all raise their hands. Half of them raised their hands. It reminded me of how the technology divide is a real thing — and it affects people of all ages.

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