WordPress.com now offers website development

The business arm of WordPress (WordPress.com) has announced its entry into the website building business. The announcement was generally not well received by the WordPress web development community. But many softened their response and saw the opportunity as more information became available.

WordPress Company

People think of WordPress as the company that develops the open source content management system (CMS) called WordPress. But WordPress is more than the open source development community hosted at WordPress.org.

There is also a for-profit site hosted on the WordPress.com domain that offers website hosting and domain name registration, among other related services.

The WordPress.com business is part of a larger collection of WordPress-related businesses that are under the Automattic umbrella.

Sister sites run by Automattic include WooCommerce, Gravatar, Jetpack, and Akismet, among other companies.

Automattic’s slogan is:

“We don’t make software for free, we make it for freedom.”

Built by WordPress.com

The WordPress ecosystem has flourished because web developers and programmers have helped build and test the open source WordPress CMS and in return they have great software to offer web design services, plugins and themes.

But now the WordPress brand is being used to sell web development, which goes beyond offering plugins or hosting.

The service is called Built by WordPress.com.

According to the official webpage:

“Whether you need a fast and efficient e-commerce store for your products and/or services, a polished website for your professional services business, or an educational website for your online courses, our experts can create it for you at WordPress.com…”

Website Building Plans

The Built By WordPress.com site offers three types of “website building plans” that focus on three types of sites.

  • Online stores
  • Educational sites
  • Professional services

This covers e-commerce, online courses, educational sites, and professional services websites. This last category, professional services websites, can be local physical sites like a yoga studio or a moving company.

The landing page states that a “Head of Recruitment” is assigned to the website creation project which serves as a point of contact.

The cost of websites starts at $4,900. But curiously, the offer is offered at limited capacity.

According to the site:

“Custom websites start at $4,900, but space is currently limited as we launch this new service.”

The web development community responds

A significant issue raised in the community is the perception that the web development community helped create WordPress. For WordPress, turning around and starting to compete with them is like using their own work against them.

One person tweeted:

“Seeing Automattic’s business model has changed. Feel for the developers this will affect. While WordPress built wordpress[dot]com and run the project is the community of unpaid developers who created it and gave it the reputation they market and capitalize on.

Someone else compared Automattic and WordPress to Amazon and how Amazon created its own products to compete with retailers selling on its platform.

The other issue is the perception that the goodwill of the WordPress.org open source project domain name is exploited by Automattic through the use of the WordPress brand, which may confuse consumers who might not know that WordPress. com is different from WordPress.org.

Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress, said the product is intended to compete with companies like Squarespace, which people new to building an online business might turn to.

The goal then is to keep new businesses in the WordPress ecosystem rather than buying from the Wix and Squarespace marketplaces where there is no marketplace at all for WordPress developers.

Others were looking on the bright side of the announcement to see if WordPress.com would open the program to white label work by trusted agencies. Matt indicated he was open to that.

The whole community was not against the development. Some have pointed out that this doesn’t represent head-on competition with the WordPress development community, as it’s more about competing with companies like Wix and retaining a bigger share of the internet in the WordPress ecosystem.


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