WordPress.com Launches New Website Building Service

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WordPress.com has launched a new website building service. The service rolled out on January 4, 2021, with prices starting at $4,900. Automattic began to beta test the service in the last quarter of 2020.

Although the product announcement asks customers to let WordPress.com’s professional team “translate your vision into a compelling and modern website,” it doesn’t define pricing structures for more custom-made sites.

While some people in the WordPress freelance and developer community see it as a good thing, others perceive it as a threat to small businesses and WordPress consultants. Their reason is that a product from WordPress.com comes with the validation and full weight of the official WordPress brand.

A WordPress developer, Chris Wiegman, said that regardless of the success or failure of the new service, many customers have “a sick stomach today because of it.” 

Automattic CEO’s Response

Reacting to the community concerns, Automattic CEO, Matt Mullenweg, said the product is for users who find it challenging to get started with WordPress. Matt said that he would be “extremely surprised” the move impacted anybody’s consulting business.

He added that if users got negative feedback from their clients, they should inform him promptly as “it should be all new-to-WP users who wouldn’t have been successful getting started.” 

Mullenweg also confirmed that they set up the new service for “referring business out” while referencing a 2018 experiment where WordPress.com partnered with Upwork to refer clients for custom website development.

Notably, the WordPress community was surprised that Automattic stepped into the $5,000 website market, after years of staying true to the enterprise space with its WordPress.com VIP service. 

Others saw it as an “interesting move” because the company seemed overwhelmed when it came to preserving plugins used by VIP clients in 2019, even though the head of VIP, Nick Gernert claimed that they saw “demand for WordPress in the enterprise market like never before.”

What The New Service Looks Like

Automattic maintains that launching this product helps WordPress beginners who can’t get started with the service to come on board. The move will stop beginners from turning to competitors. This development hints that WordPress still has a lot of work to do before it becomes the go-to tool for beginners embarking on their first site-building experience.

Additionally, Automattic is yet to publish a pricing structure for the features included in an essential $4,900 website. However, based on images on the landing page, the sites don’t seem extensively customized beyond what existing themes offer.

It appears more like a website setup service and doesn’t promise custom development directly. When asked how agencies can apply for referrals from WordPress.com’s new service, Mullenweg suggested that the product is still in its exploratory stage.

Are You Thinking of Building a WordPress Website?

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About WordPress.com

WordPress.com is a popular self-publishing and blogging platform. It is owned by Automattic, Inc. and runs on a modified version of the WordPress CMS. WordPress.com offers its registered users free blog hosting and gets financial support from paid upgrades, VIP services, and advertising.

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Article by Nicholas Godwin

Nicholas Godwin tells profitable brand stories that tech buyers and businesses love. He is a digital marketing consultant and technology researcher and regularly works on projects for Fortune 500 companies, global tech corporations, and top consulting firms, from Bloomberg Beta, Accenture, PwC, and Deloitte to HP, Shell, and AT&T. Catch him on Twitter @Donglitzie
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