Closing The WordPress Support Gap

WordPress (and any kind of open source project, really) is a wonderful way to make a living. Not only do you have a community you can rely on, information is easily accessible.

You have an entire library worth of information at your fingertips in the WordPress Codex. There are hundreds of thousands of blogs on every subject imaginable.

While I’m not saying that (good) development is easy, but I am saying that the information is there for you to pick it up.

Understanding code is a privilege

You, a likely tech-savvy person, and I understand that having an online presence – such as having an email address or website – is a must in this day and age.

What you might not have thought about is that you have a leg up on a large majority of the world. Not everyone:

  1. Has easy access to the internet (and thus all the coding information)
  2. Grew up with computers
  3. Is equally talented when it comes to code

With WordPress being so readily available (hosts offering to install it for you, for example), the people who fall in the above categories are able to create their own websites without needing a lot of knowledge.

And this is when issues occur: while the setup of a WordPress website is easily done, the maintenance of a website is not always the same. As soon as anything breaks, these users require help.

This is the WordPress support gap

A common misconception among developers is that if your code is good (with inline comments and everything), your users will understand it.

This is only true up to a certain point. Sure, your product needs to be intuitive, and your code needs to be commented properly. But that alone will not bridge the gap between a dev and a non-techie.

Another misconception is that you do not need to offer support on your product in the WordPress.org forums. That it’s somehow optional, and that other people will take care of it for you.

If you’ve ever said: “If they want support, they will have to pay for it”, then I am now talking directly to you.

Contributing to WordPress doesn’t just mean: add code to Core. A healthy, sustainable WordPress also means that we offer support on what we have created.

Closing the gap

So, how do we close this gap? What can you, the developer, do to help WordPress grow at a sustainable rate?

Here is a list of things you can do today. Some of them might seem obvious. Others might take more time than you’d like. But they’re needed. It’s not just about you, it’s about us as a community.

  • Document your plugin. Track what users search for in your helpdesk, and write your docs accordingly.
  • Put in some time in your support channel at WordPress.org. Use predefined responses if you have to. Great free support does increase your revenue.
  • Get acquainted with the people behind the Support Team . In case of trouble on your .org forum, they can help you.
  • If you have too little time to put into offering your customers proper support, think about hiring someone. No, really. I know it’s scary, but it’ll be the best thing you’ve ever done. I’ll be writing more about this soon.

Thoughts?

I want to hear what your experiences with WordPress support have been, regardless of whether you’re a developer or a user.

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