WordPress End-User Training – The Invisible Elephant In The Room
WordPress powers over 43% of the web, yet it struggles to manage its own documentation and its end-user training documentation is virtually non-existent. In this article, we discuss why training end-users to use their WordPress websites effectively is the invisible elephant in the room.
If you provide WordPress services like website building, your clients will most likely be non-technical end-users. Non-technical end-users make up the largest segment of the WordPress industry’s global market.
Training your clients to use their WordPress websites effectively, then, is not only important for the success of their businesses and your business but also for ensuring the continued growth and sustainability of the WordPress economy.
WordPress is a complex software that is continually evolving. Keeping up with WordPress changes and creating and maintaining comprehensive and effective step-by-step user training with detailed documentation regularly updated requires a significant amount of time and resources.
As discussed below, even WordPress itself struggles to address these challenges successfully.
In addition, WordPress not only delegates the responsibility (and the challenges) of training end-users to members of the WordPress community (who have less time, resources, or the financial incentive to create effective training content and documentation for end-users) but most of its official training and documentation (and most WordPress tutorials on the web) are geared toward technical users and require technical knowledge and coding skills.
Given the scale and market domination of WordPress worldwide, the growing number of businesses with non-technical end-users that depend on WordPress websites, and the lack of effective training content and documentation for non-technical end-users, there is clearly an elephant-sized problem in the room that needs to be addressed.
Let’s see why addressing this problem is very challenging and why ignoring it is only going to make it bigger.
We’ll begin from the very top, by looking at WordPress’s own vision and mission.
The Word From The Top
WordPress has a mission to democratize publishing.
As the WordPress.org website states:
WordPress is software designed for everyone, emphasizing accessibility, performance, security, and ease of use. We believe great software should work with minimum set up, so you can focus on sharing your story, product, or services freely. The basic WordPress software is simple and predictable so you can easily get started. It also offers powerful features for growth and success.
The above statement implies that everyone should be able to use WordPress to publish and share content online to promote their story, products, or services, and to grow their business…including users who have NO technical knowledge or coding or skills (and no interest in learning or acquiring these).
In his annual State of The Word 2021 presentation, Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder of WordPress, mentions the WordPress initiative to help more people learn how to use WordPress and “teach them how to fish.” This includes providing lesson plans and workshops that teachers, college professors, and elementary school teachers can avail themselves of to teach their students.
Matt concludes this section of his presentation by stating that the Learn WordPress section of WordPress.org “is one of the biggest opportunities to expand the knowledge of what WordPress is”.
You can hear Matt discussing this in the video below (around the 46-minute mark):
Despite the vision Matt describes in the video above, if you visit the Learn WordPress section of the official WordPress website, you will see that there is hardly any training content there, and whatever content there is, is mostly aimed at technical users (e.g. website developers).
The training also seems to lack organization and structure.
This problem is compounded by the fact that WordPress.org lacks the resources to keep its training content and documentation updated.
In a recent podcast from PostStatus (a membership community for WordPress professionals who grow and sustain the WordPress economy), the host David Bisset interviews Milana Cap, a member of the WordPress Documentation Team about the stark reality of the near-overwhelming workload they face trying to manage documentation for WordPress, the software that powers over 43% of the web.
In the podcast, we find out that there are currently only about four sponsored volunteers and fewer than 10 volunteers in total that make up the WordPress documentation team.
According to Milana, it is “impossible to keep up with Gutenberg developments” as they just “haven’t got enough people” working on the documentation team. Milana goes on to say that the team’s strategy for keeping official WordPress documentation updated is one of “reacting to complaints,” so if someone reports an issue with documentation being out of date they then try to fix and update things as there is a lack of time and resources to address things in a more systematic and organized manner.
Around the 16-minute mark, David, the podcast host sums up the problem as “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” and “raise enough stink and somebody will come to you,” implying that if someone complains loudly enough, someone in the documentation team will look at it and hopefully address the issue. David then goes on to highlight the obvious fact that WordPress documentation just doesn’t get enough attention as a whole and asks Milana why she thinks that’s the case.
Milana guesses at several reasons, such as WordPress growing too quickly, lack of an effective transition from community-based involvement to only selected people being able to edit the documentation (to prevent spam, self-promotion, and false information being added to the content), and a general lack of adequate tools to ensure that users can participate and help the documentation team keep up and adapt to rapid changes.
From the above podcast, it is clear that the WordPress documentation team, which comprises only a handful of mostly volunteers, struggles to keep up with documentation, prioritizes WordPress developers who complain the loudest, and lacks the structure and the resources to address the needs of non-technical end-users.
The Invisible Elephant In The Room
If the official WordPress team can’t help non-technical end-users learn how to use their WordPress websites effectively…then, who can?
Currently, WordPress delegates this responsibility to its global community and to the World Wide Web.
Essentially, this makes website developers responsible for:
- Training their clients to use WordPress effectively
- Planning and creating effective training content (e.g. tutorials, courses, guides, etc.), and
- Keeping all their training content and documentation up-to-date.
This is not an effective solution for WordPress developers or their clients.
Not only is planning, creating, and maintaining training content and documentation for end-users updated time-consuming and resource-intensive, it is NOT the focus of a website developer’s business. Many (if not most) website developers lack the time, resources, and/or financial incentive to properly plan, create, and deliver comprehensive, detailed, practical, relevant, and up-to-date client training content and documentation. Look around the web and you’ll also see that most of the WordPress tutorials, guides, courses, etc. that web developers create are too technical for non-technical users to follow.
Even if WordPress end-users outsourced everything to their WordPress service providers, the current lack of effective and empowering WordPress end-user training and education will ultimately threaten the growth and sustainability of the WordPress economy.
If WordPress itself (a platform backed by a billion-dollar company) struggles to provide effective training and up-to-date documentation to its global customer base, how can we expect individual service providers like website developers to create and deliver better training content and up-to-date documentation to their clients (who make up WordPress’s global customer base)?
Comprehensive, detailed, and regularly updated step-by-step training content and documentation for non-technical WordPress end-users is practically non-existent on a worldwide scale.
From the top of the WordPress industry down, then, it seems that almost no one is willing to assume the responsibility for properly training and empowering non-technical WordPress end-users.
Effective WordPress Training For Non-Technical End-Users
As stated earlier, there are many challenges when it comes to providing non-technical WordPress end-users with comprehensive, detailed, practical, and regularly updated step-by-step training and documentation.
Ignoring these challenges will only make the problem bigger and trying to address it requires a significant investment of time and money.
At WPTrainingManual.com, we have invested 10+ years into developing an effective training solution designed to address the challenges of training and empowering their clients to use their WordPress websites more effectively and improve their results using their websites.
Our Rebrandable WordPress User Manual product allows WordPress service providers to deliver clients a complete “hands-free” WordPress training solution.
Everything you need to train your clients to use their WordPress websites effectively is included in our training products.
We have created these separate articles covering the benefits of our WordPress training, what’s included, pricing, etc.
- See everything included in the Rebrandable WordPress User Manual
- Learn about the benefits of using our WordPress client training solution
- Learn ways to profit with our WordPress client training
- Learn how to grow your WordPress business using our “hands-free” WordPress client training solution
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Updated: February 19th, 2022