A few weeks ago, Matt Medeiros published a post on the Matt Report that is still making some waves in the comment section on his blog, as well as over on Hacker News. The tl;dr version of the post is that WordPress isn’t easy, in fact very little on the web is, but WordPress confuses the issue by seeming so easy.

On Hacker News, the argument, not surprisingly, is different. In front of a more technical audience, WordPress, and the professional services market that taps into  the software, is quickly the source of derision for any number of reasons:

  • Outdated technology stack
  • Slow (see above)
  • Prone to security issues
  • Spaghetti code programmers
  • Etc., etc., etc. (read the entire thread if you’re interested, but some of the comments are downright silly, so I’m not going to rehash them here)

Let’s just ignore WordPress for a moment. There’s a lot of baggage there for technically inclined people, and there’s no point in arguing those points because they’re mostly subjective especially as WordPress matures and adds the capability to do just about anything with just about anything.

The “problem” is that doing anything on the web isn’t easy.

Sure, I can go start a blog on WordPress.com. Or go over the Squarespace and set up a site. There are tools that make initial steps quite simple, but branch outside of the safe, walled garden of these products and suddenly you’re in the wild west. Don’t know your way around cPanel? Go fish. Don’t know how to work with an FTP client or deploy code using Beanstalk, Travis, or Jenkins? Go fish. What’s version control? Go fish. AWSGoDaddy? Cloudflare? Azure? DNS? Ugh. Go fish.

And on top of all this, if you want some functionality that isn’t provided by the CMS or the CMS’s community extensions…. well…. shit.

Working on the web is a game of swimming in the unknown and being perfectly comfortable with the notion that you’ll find your way. If you’re a web professional, not only are you okay with this, but you get paid to find out how to manage the things that you don’t know. If you happen to have another job, and aren’t interested in finding the solutions to the problems that plague your local web developer on a daily basis then you should probably look into hiring someone to do the work for you.

The issue that Matt covered quite well, and a few others in the Combinator thread pointed out as well, was that nothing on the internet is easy, but it’s in the interests of larger companies to make it seem that way. Unfortunately, for those outside the warm comforting walls of these behemoths, this means that by the time someone is knocking on your door, they’ve heard all about how easy this “web” thing is.

Instead of being frustrated with this, it’s our job to educate.

Sure, this is all “easy”, but so is a “routine” surgery. That doesn’t mean I want just anyone cutting me open.