Arguably, the evolution of WordPress as a CMS has been about increased integrations with other services.
Instead of generating user logins across multiple services we are now able to provide access to analytics, newsletters, content editing, workflow management, user management and other key web presence management tools within one dashboard and behind one login screen.
Clients (especially big businesses) marvel at being able to avoid multiple logins and are thrilled at the benefits of keeping data all together just waiting to be transformed into business intelligence. Given the cumbersome login and authentication systems still in use with many archaic systems can you really blame them?
There’s no doubt that WordPress serves as one of the best CMSs available today. The question is how it will handle evolutions in content consumption behaviours and keep leading the field in integration possibilities. How it handles changes in consumer behaviours will likely define how it maintains its position as a platform of choice.
The Future of Content Consumption
Services like Facebook have allowed us to centralize our friends’ news and updates and keep in touch without needing to resort to emails and phone calls back-and-forth.
Personally, I struggle to manage an ever expanding network of friends and colleagues and my use of Facebook has become a necessary efficiency. I’m sure many of you are the same.
It’s this drive for efficiency in consumption that today threatens the traditional model of the ‘content’ website. I rarely, if ever, visit my favourite news websites these days. Instead, I’ll pull up their feeds on Pulse or some other app and flick through the latest news articles occasionally pulling up an article I think looks interesting.
The trend seems to be to create our own ‘websites’ which function as constantly updated feeds of news and instead of visiting our favourite news sources we are bypassing them in favour of a consumption experience we can tailor.
There are a number of issues with this.
Maintaining the Connection
Firstly, we miss out on the comments and ‘social’ aspect of the content consumption experience. While we might be able to share an article we can’t engage in a directed conversation with other readers through the commenting and discussion functions available on the main site. I’m sure this is in the works (who knows, one of the apps may already offer it!) but, even so, if it’s not integrated with the commenting and discussion functionalities deployed by the content creator it could very well leave them out of the conversation.
Secondly, the content creator is unable to contribute meaningfully to the user’s experience. Instead of related articles on their website, the user is being fed related articles on a competitor’s website. Some might argue this reflects a more effective means of indexing useful content (indeed, some sites like CNN already offer links to related sites on their news pages) but it denies an effective engagement mechanism.
Lastly, it reflects a fundamental change in the way businesses manage customers. Websites are increasingly operating solely as ‘capture’ mechanisms for generating new leads. Once a customer is converted the way they interact with the business rests largely on their choice of ‘integration’.
Consumers are choosing to consume content on their devices through personalized ‘websites’ or feeds and their ongoing engagement with a given business’ content is depending more and more on the quality of content as well as on the ease of integration.
Where Does Integration Fit In?
WordPress, in my view, is the King of Integrations. More and more services are pushing out plugins for WordPress first and other CMSs second. This is understandable and reflects the power of the platform.
At the beginning of this article I noted how WordPress has evolved to become ever more powerful through its ability to centralize content and data previously available across multiple services. Today, WordPress’ power seemingly rests on its ability to integrate well with so many products and services.
The issue is where WordPress fits in as the user begins to design the website and WordPress increasingly feeds others instead of being fed itself.
The opportunities are endless but content creators and businesses choosing to use WordPress will increasingly need to assess how they can best adjust to a new business paradigm where the user is designing the window through which they consume content.
Maintaining business intelligence and keeping in touch with a customer base will seemingly get harder but with innovation and hard work WordPress may just keep the connection and ultimately deliver integration innovations tomorrow we can’t even imagine today.