We’ve been thinking about making the WordPress.com experience more attractive to small business owners for a while. But recently we’ve been learning things that made us question some of the ideas we had about how to do it, and helped us come up with some new ones.
We started talking to actual small business owners. They weren’t our customers, and we didn’t talk to them about WordPress very much. We mostly talked about their life and about their business. They answered our questions at length and with great enthusiasm.
What they told us is that their online presence is often the least of their concerns. They worry about growing their business, they worry about the mundane work involved in maintaining it, they worry about making the best of their time, they worry about staying ahead and not falling behind.
As we talked to people about what they like to do and what a common day in their lives looks like, we started to realize that what they seem to want most of all is some support. A friend, a partner, an assistant. Some help with figuring out what the right thing to do is, or some reassurance and encouragement about the things that they are doing right already.
We always knew that a website is not a goal in itself. The business owners we met helped us put into focus the goals that matter to them: building a better business, in order to build a better life.
There’s a greater opportunity for us than just building a better website. We can be better friends to them when they use our product by speaking their language and keeping them from getting stuck or lost; We can be better partners when they need the insight to understand how their business is working and how to improve it; And we can better assistants when they are doing work that can be simplified, automated, or outsourced.