Verticals, and less WordPress for the sake of WordPress


At WordCamp Phoenix a couple of weeks ago I presented a talk on WordPress and journalism. Specifically, I talked about how WordPress can empower those in the field of journalism. I’ll have the slides up soon, but the specifics of the presentation aren’t necessary at the moment.

My presentation was a part of the “My WP” track, a track that featured presentations on WordPress in various verticals. One talk focused on how creative people use WordPress, another focused on real estate, and another on non-profits and government. I don’t mean to say that Phoenix is the only camp to organize presentations on these kinds of topics, but walking away from the event, particularly after speaking within that track, I find myself excited about the possibilities that WordPress verticals bring.

a group of similar businesses and customers that engage in trade based on specific and specialized needs (source)

As someone studying and writing a good deal about this particular industry, it is difficult to find inspiration sometimes. I think it happens, at least to me, when I spend a little too much time reading and absorbing the talk within the community itself. WordPress professionals talking to other WordPress professionals is a lot of fun, but it’s also a bit of insider talk. It’s not representative of the full influence that WordPress has on the world.

I don’t think I fully grasp the possibilities yet, but it’s exciting me, and I want to chase that feeling.

At the event I spoke a good deal about verticals with Adam Warner, who I first met in person at 2011’s WordCamp Phoenix. I told him what I’m about to tell you, which is that one of my many weaknesses is putting myself in the shoes of WordPress users, particularly users focusing on accomplishing a specific task using WordPress. I’m decent at making things that I find interesting and exciting, and things that I enjoy reading (who isn’t?), but I struggle with that other side of the coin.

I think if we were all honest, this is a fairly common struggle.

And I don’t think this is just me jumping on a blog and being bloggy about my feelings. WordCamps, on a long enough timeline, will be less and less about us. And by us, I mean people interested in WordPress for the sake of WordPress. To be honest, that makes us pretty weird. I enjoy it, but it’s also not the future of WordCamps. What Phoenix put together in its “My WP” track is a bit closer to this future, I think.

I’m not particularly comfortable using a word like “vertical”. I prefer to think of them, at least in the context of WPCandy, as “audiences”. I’ve been thinking about how to best approach these various audiences since Phoenix, and I’ll be trying out some of these ideas in the coming months. My hope is that, in the long run, this will lead not only to better writing for you folks to read, but targeted work that will introduce new audiences to WPCandy and the greater WordPress community.

I don’t think I fully grasp the possibilities yet, but it’s exciting to me, and I want to chase that feeling.

Pardon my brain dump

Usually I have a bit more of a call-to-action when I write editorials. Now I’m just excited, and wanted to share a little bit of that excitement with you. I’m sure I’m not the first person to come away from a WordCamp with an extra dose of inspiration, right?

It’s also worth mentioning a great example of WordPress in a specific vertical: Noel Tock’s recently launched happytables project. He wrote about the decision-making process and how he focused in on a specific vertical when launching his startup in issue #1 of The WPCandy Quarterly.

6 thoughts on “Verticals, and less WordPress for the sake of WordPress

  1. I couldn’t agree more Ryan. I am just as excited. When i saw Noel Tocks Happy Tables it made me so happy to see his idea so well executed.

    I see 2012 being a big year where niches are seeing more customized solutions with WordPress. We’ve already started it with our Mojoness network as it is a big part of our plans this year. We’re building and already relaesed some more niche focused WordPress products and the response has been amazing.

  2. Hi Ryan,

    I think you’re spot on. I think there will be more and more articles and WordCamp talks etc, focused on verticals and that this will lead to vertical specific communities and meetups, etc.

    I know a bit about the ‘government vertical’ – that’s my day job, I talked about it at WordCamp Gold Coast and have a 8500 word post on Government and WordPress. I keep seeing more posts, WordCamp talks (even magazine articles) being written on this topic. In the UK, they even held Word Up Whitehall, which was for government employees only.

    I think we’ll be seeing more and more vertical specific things happening in future.

  3. It’s absolutely amazed to see what folks are doing with WordPress.

    At WordCamp Mid-Atlantic two years ago I sat next to a gentleman who was using WordPress in a way that I had never conceived (and won’t reveal here). It was not for publishing content on a website.

    I have also been working lately with a really cool client stretching and pushing at the boundaries of what WordPress can do. Like you Ryan, I think talking shop with industry folks is really great, but for me, the coolest ideas now are coming from uninitiated clients who don’t know what WordPress is “supposed” to do.

  4. Hey Ryan, thanks for the mention. As always it was a real pleasure talking with you:)

    I agree that the future of WordCamps (and WordPress Meetups) will be to focus on specific uses of the platform for different audiences…at least it should be or maybe this line of thinking could spark another instance of a camp or meetup.

    That’s exactly one of the reasons why I’m such a fanboy of WordPress. The applications are truly limitless.

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