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Summary:

Matt Mullenweg, the founder of Wordpress and Automattic, said at paidContent 2012 that the service is preparing for a significant change of direction — by releasing a much simpler version designed to work on mobile.

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Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress and Automattic (see disclosure) says that the service is preparing for a significant change of direction — by releasing a much simpler version designed to work on mobile.

Speaking at the paidContent 2012 event on Wednesday, Mullenweg said that he had been hard at work coming up with a new interface that will eradicate some of the complexity that WordPress is usually associated with.

“One of the things I’ve been working on for the past few months is a radical simplification of the interface,” he told interviewer Anil Dash. “WordPress it’s a complex tool, it’s like the back of a digital SLR… but that doesn’t work on a phone.”

That complexity has become one of the reasons it is used by a wide range of different people, from tiny bloggers to The New York Times, and is now reported to be the system behind one in eight sites on the web. But Mullenweg admitted it would be tough to move the company in a completely new direction, given the scale and takeup that WordPress already has.

“We’re doing that, but at the same time we’ve got tens of millions of users who love the other thing,” he said. “WordPress is really on its third or fourth major pivot. It’s easy to pivot if things are going badly, but when it’s going well you have the weight of all your existing users.”

However, he dismissed the idea that the core business of blogging was something that had been undermined by the rise of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other services.

“Blogging has been declared dead at least five times,” he said. “But that’s like saying creativity is dead, or personal expresion is dead. Ultimately some percentage of the people who get a taste for it through Facebook and Twitter want their own space. And for the most part, that’s a blog.”

Disclosure: Automattic, the maker of WordPress.com, is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.

Check out the rest of our coverage of paidContent 2012. Full archived video on livestream (registration required).

  1. Very smart move. Look forward to it.

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  2. Bobbie, thanks for covering this. I’ve written a follow-up post that expands on the idea of a radically simplified WordPress a bit:

    http://ma.tt/2012/05/simpler/

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    1. Sean 'Wordpress Guy' Vosler Thursday, May 24, 2012

      I like the idea of a simple interface on mobile, having built in tools that work directly with your phone/tablet similar to Facebook would be fantastic (ex; ‘facebook camera’). Get the technology out of the way and let the content do the talking. I’m curious to see how this translates to the .org version vs. the .com version

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  3. One key ‘dead’ missing after first ‘declared.’

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    1. Thanks @grin, that’s fixed.

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  4. Agree wholeheartedly with you Matt. Without blogging, the internet would simply contain no content! Blogging forever!

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    1. I agree bloggers provide a lot of great content, but I don’t think they account for all of the content. Let’s not discount the 1,000’s of newspaper websites around the world, in small and large communities, contributing information about local news, sports, crime, politics and other information.

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  5. It had to be of course – I wonder just how they’ll decide which elements to “radically” simplify.

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  6. I hope one of the damn improvements is a “Place All” button for photos. Placing photos one by one — some of my posts have over 100! — manually is a PITA. Isn’t that what COMPUTERS and SOFTWARE are supposed to do? This request, by the way, got me BLOCKED by dear Matt on Twitter.

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    1. Kevin Stumpadelic Thursday, May 24, 2012

      have you tried using [gallery] ?

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      1. That is not what I want. people like to scroll through photos, not deal with a buggy slideshow or the like.

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  7. I think some simplification is in order. I have been trying to get my site going on a WordPress theme for over a year and have run into lots of people who have dumped WordPress in favor of something they could figure out. Seems like the only people who can get it to work are people who create web sites for a living. I used to program in COBOL and that was easier to learn than WordPress! In 25 years of using countless computer programs, it’s the first thing that has totally stumped me!

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  8. A WordPress that is ready for the mobile phone?

    if i can somehow update my site via some wordpress app, i would actually buy that app. and it would be the first one i bought ever.

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  9. I’m glad to hear WordPress is working on a new interface to make content creation easier, but I hope they won’t sacrifice power and end up shedding the “weight of existing users.” That’s a telling phrase. Mike Cane’s “Place All” photos button is a example of exactly how they could make a powerful feature simpler, by the way.

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  10. Explainafide Friday, May 25, 2012

    I’m really looking forward to the new developments. It will be nice if the framework is simple & easy to use and then developers can add things to aid people that want complexity.

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