WordPress through the Eyes of a New Blogger

word

It is somewhat embarrassing for me, a master student who studies digital media, to admit that I have never used WordPress or any other blogging service before. If I write something, I tend to keep it in my journal rather than on the web. But since we are required to publish our blogs in this course, I started to use WordPress last week. As a new blogger, I am quite amazed by its powerful platform and functionality which are well supported by its design patterns.

Design patterns of WordPress

According to Crumlish and Erin, design pattern are defined as “common, successful, interaction design components and design solutions for a known problem in a context.”[1] Based on this notion of design patterns, the structure of WordPress is divided into 3 parts, as shown in the chart below:

Categories

Subcategories Design Patterns

Construction of self

Engagement

sign-up, sign-in and sign-out

Identity

profile, hovercard and attribution

Reputation

stats and top X

 

 

 

Activity around objects

Collections

tags

Sharing

share this

Publishing

ownership, presentation, dashboard, mouse-over menu, posts, media, links, pages

Feedback

like, comments, polls, ratings, feedback

Relationships

find friends, follow

Based on my personal experience, I think the following design patterns of WordPress have a substantial effect on users’ social behaviour.

1)       Hovercard

QQ20130911-1The hovercard pops up when users move their mouse over a target’s display name or image. It displays a larger version of the user’s nickname and image, as well as a link of the profile which the user chooses to share. This allows the user to get to know and feel closer to other participants in the blog community, which may increase positive participation.  Hovercards affect how users portray themselves and what personal information they want to share with other people in the blog community apart from their profiles. This is important for online identity construction.

2)       The dashboard

The dashboard is what I love most in WordPress. It is accessible from the start menu under the ‘home’ sign. The dashboard presents a content summary, such as Right Now, Recent Comments, Your Stuff, What’s Hot, Quick Press, and Recent Drafts. Users can choose what  shows on screen and in what kind of layout. Among the various views of content summary, I believe the view below is the most important for users.

dashboard

The summary view is well-organized, including the number of posts, pages, categories, tags, comments, and so on. Although it seems very simple, it is very helpful for users to see what is happening on their blog. The dashboard can encourage users to do regular updates.

3)       Ownership

For WordPress, publishing is definitely the key function. Thus a related design pattern, ownership, is the most important in the structure of WordPress. Ownership provides the author rich tools to record his or her thoughts, commentary, interesting links, photos, videos on a regular basis. The tools (including tags, categories, poll, media, links, etc. ) are easy to use thus give the author a sense of control.

publish

WordPress excels in presenting functions that are powerful and neat at the same time. A good example is the mouse-over menu. When you hover mouse on an item, such as this post’s title, the menu “configure” appears. This is a clever way to hide unnecessary menu bars in order to simplify the presentation.

control

Make it simple but powerful. I believe this is the secret behind the success of WordPress.

2. Business model: the “freemium” model

As stated on the “about” page of WordPress.org, WordPress is a free and open source platform which users are “free to use it for anything from cat’s home page to Fortune 500 web sites without paying anyone a license fee and a number of other important freedoms.”[2] Then how does it make profits? WordPress has adopted a popular business model—the “freemium” model (also known as “free+premium” or “lite+pro”), which means that a percentage of users opt to pay to upgrade to a more fully featured and better supported premium version.

upgrades

According to statistics, about 60% of the revenue stems from add-ons for WordPress.com, for instance, custom domain names, premium design templates, larger storage space, etc.  “VIP clients, who pay $5,000 to $50,000 each month, are another 20%. The rest comes from advertising.”[3] From my point of view, this is a rather clever marketing strategy. Although WordPress may not profit that much at the beginning, it has gained a great reputation from its users. And it is certain that there will be a considerably large number of users  who are willing to contribute to its revenue.

After nearly two decades of development, the blog has become a relatively stable and mature social media technology compared to other recent platforms. Blogs remain popular despite the fact that they sometimes require more involvement with the background technology (for instance, if you want more control over the formatting of your blog, you may have to learn how to edit HTML).

Currently, WordPress is the most popular blogging system on the web powering over 60 million websites worldwide. [4] There is no doubt that, as an easy-to-use and multimedia-friendly blogging platform, WordPress will continue to attract more users to use, and to love it gradually, just like me.

References

  1. Crumlish C., E. Malone. (2009). Designing social interfaces: principles, patterns, and practices for improving the user experience. O’Reilly Media.
  2. WordPress. About us. URL: http://wordpress.org/about/ Accessed: 9.09.2013
  3. Colao. J.J. (2012). With 60 Million Websites, WordPress Rules The Web. So Where’s The Money?URL:http://www.forbes.com/sites/jjcolao/2012/09/05/the-internets-mother-tongue/ Accessed: 9.09.2013
  4. Ibid.
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