In this episode of WP Minute+, Matt Medeiros sits down with Mark Szymanski, the owner of FindIT Tech Agency, to discuss Mark’s journey into the WordPress space, his experience with page builders like Elementor and Bricks, and his thoughts on the future of WordPress.

Mark shares his background, starting his agency in 2019 and diving into the world of WordPress. He discusses his early experiences with themes and page builders, eventually settling on Elementor before discovering Bricks.

The conversation then shifts to the WordPress community and the challenges of catering to such a diverse group of users with varying needs and objectives. Matt and Mark discuss the importance of getting involved in the community, attending WordCamps, and contributing to the platform’s development.

They also touch on the sometimes contentious nature of page builder communities and the importance of focusing on providing value to clients, regardless of the tools used.

Throughout the episode, Mark offers his unique perspective as a relative newcomer to the WordPress space, while Matt provides insights from his years of experience in the community.

Key Takeaways:

  1. The WordPress community is diverse, with users ranging from DIYers to large agencies, each with their own unique needs and goals.
  2. Getting involved in the WordPress community through WordCamps and contributing to the platform’s development can help shape the future of WordPress.
  3. Page builder communities can sometimes become contentious, but the focus should always be on providing value to clients.
  4. As a WordPress professional, it’s essential to care about the customer and the product first, rather than just chasing quick profits.

Important Links:

  1. Mark Szymanski’s YouTube Channel:
  2. Mark Szymanski’s Website:
  3. FindIT Tech Agency


Matt: [00:00:00] It’s the WP Minute Plus, your home for long form discussions with WordPress professionals and industry experts covering our favorite topic, WordPress. Be sure to follow us. Search for WP Minute in your favorite podcast app. Follow this podcast and our five minute weekly edition. Or head to the WPMinute.

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Hey Mark, welcome to the 

Mark: program. Matt, thank you for having me man, I appreciate it. You 

Matt: came across my radar during this most recent, uh, Yeah, here’s how I’ll frame it. Bricks versus Gutenberg or Core WordPress. Uh, I’m sort of overstating it there for the, uh, for the clicks. Uh, but really saw a video, make sure I’ll link that up.

into, uh, [00:02:00] our show notes below from your YouTube channel discussing, are you sharing your perspective on Bricks and WordPress and the WordPress community? How does one fit in? We were just chatting before we hit record. You have started a WordPress or a digital agency back in 2019, started building WordPress 2018, maybe 2017.

When I saw your video, I was like, man, this is a great perspective because One of my predictions for 2024 is we’re going to get new folks into the WordPress community. And look, this, this is nothing against you and I’ll let you talk in a moment. This is nothing against you. Yeah, absolutely. A lot of us here, a lot of us listening have maybe been here for a decade plus, right?

Since the inception of WordPress. And. My take is, look, there’s going to be a lot of folks like Mark, as you’ll hear in a moment, who are coming into this in the last five or six years, right? COVID, right? Starting a business. Uh, the same thing we saw back in 2008 with the financial crisis. A lot of [00:03:00] people get into WordPress because they’re like, I need to start a side gig.

I need to start designing websites to make some cash. And that flourished into a big agency. We’re going to start having folks coming into the space who have learned. WordPress from these other tools that maybe we’re not all familiar with Elementor bricks, right? Coming into the space going, Hey, here’s how I learned WordPress, where a lot of us learned WordPress, smashing our keyboard, trying to get it to work because back then there were these tools didn’t exist.

And you know, we had to walk to school in five feet of snow, you know, when, when we were young in this space, both ways, uphill, both ways. That’s a long way of getting to, I enjoyed your fresh perspective. Let’s break it down. You’ve been running this agency now. First, let’s frame who you are, what you do. You run this agency.

What’s your core offering and is BRICS at the heart of all this stuff? 

Mark: Yeah, so my name is Mark Joe Szymanski, and I own a agency. I’m based out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, an agency called Finded Tech. Technically, it’s an [00:04:00] agency of one. I mean, we have some subcontractors and things like that. Hoping to build the team up a little bit more in 2024.

Started in 2019. With again, I was working, you know, I came out, I’m only 28 years old now. So like I was in, I was in college, I had an internship with a company. I learned a lot about like marketing and information. And I was working alongside people in the web dev space, building the website for that company and like ASP.

net and all sorts of other stuff. Ton of great mentors there. As I was doing that, I was getting more fluent in marketing and in the digital space, and I decided that, okay, I want to try to start building a little bit more. So I dabbled in, you know, again, like what I was. Uh, you know, next to ASP. NET and stuff, but ultimately ended up with WordPress, uh, once I figured it out.

And, uh, again, it’s very interesting that you, that you, that you frame it in that way because I actually feel like I’ve been in this space longer than just those five or six years because I’ve, I feel like I, I don’t know if it’s the way I process things or the way that I think about it. I’m very business like oriented.

I want to build this into a bigger, a bigger thing. Like that’s my, I’m [00:05:00] not here to just like do a freelance side gig or anything like that. And I’ve just recently got much more into the WordPress community itself. I like to say that the first three or so years, three or four years throughout COVID and everything like that, I was a little bit like I build websites and I was using Elementor and I was using different.

Things like that, but even before then, like when I first started, if we back up for a second, I was, I was right on that cusp, I feel like, of when there was a switch from picking a theme and having to like, either just plop things in, like text and, and images, how the themes were created, or, uh, code your own custom theme, I guess that was an option.

That just wasn’t where I was at at that time. Uh, but once I discovered Elementor, I was like, wow, this is amazing. I can just do whatever I want, wherever I want, and then I started to layer in things like and other dynamic content. And, um, that’s one of the big things that I try to preach on my channel now and the outlets that I talk to, talk to other, uh, developers and agency owners about is like, if you’re trying to be a better developer, you got to [00:06:00] be more dynamic with your content.

This isn’t just like, we’re not creating things like a graphic designer necessarily, where we’re only putting certain things in certain places. We’re designing for the web. That’s very different than designing on paper or a billboard or something. And just efficiency and maintainability, scalability, all those things are some, are things that I hold dear to me.

So, that’s kind of like a brief summary of where I’m at now, but kind of looking into the, into the cur very current thing with, you know, Bricks and Gutenberg, uh, to fast forward to there, I was using Elementor for all those years, and then I found, literally, Kevin Geary content, Dave Foy content, things like that, and I was like, hmm, this is an interesting situation, and the thing that actually sparked it was because I had experienced issues.

Because I was trying to build really complex membership sites and things like that with Elementor. And I, I just feel like the bloat got astronomically crazy. I actually, if you look back on my channel, you can see some of the documentation that I kind of made from it. I, I discovered NitroPak, the, another controversial plug in [00:07:00] and, and platform, I guess, in this industry.

And I didn’t know that at the time, and I was like, oh wow, that’s, that’s interesting. I didn’t realize that, that, that was controversial. You know, whether, I don’t know, I don’t want to speak necessarily to NitroPak. We could talk for days about it. But my point is, That I was trying to find ways to solve my problem of Elementor below speed optimization, things like that, and the client websites that I was building.

And then I found Bricks and I was like, wow, this is, I feel more like a developer in this platform. I feel like it’s more streamlined. I feel like there’s a lot more options here. So that’s the route that I’ve traveled here in the last four months and it’s been great because I’ve rebuilt my whole stack and I’m really enjoying the things that I’m doing there.

And I feel like more, I feel like I actually have educated myself way deeper and actually. Developing websites, which has been great. And then to get back to the point now with the preamble there, aside is that like bricks versus the future of Gutenberg, the future of WordPress core. And that is extremely interesting conversation that we can, you know, chat more about, however you want to, 

Matt: however you want to go.

Your YouTube channel is youtube. com [00:08:00] slash at Mark J. Zemanski. The video I’m referring to now has 703 views, posted it a month ago, four weeks ago. Who is the WordPress block editor, Gutenberg, actually for? Again, I’ll link that up. It’s 20, uh, almost 20 minutes of, uh, fascinating perspective. Is it fair to say that you don’t know a WordPress world with the classic editor or the original editor in there?

Have you always used Gutenberg since you started? 

Mark: I think, yeah, I think when I came in, the classic editor was maybe on its way out. I can’t really specifically remember. All I remember at that point, it might have some video content or something around it back then. I’m sure I can look up, like, archive videos from that, from that time.

But, yeah, I mean, my experience at first, and again, totally, I’m not, I want to paint this picture real quick though, because there’s maybe some listeners out there that think like I’m just like a page builder, you know, like, Oh, you, Ruha, you know, like, let’s only page builder, like, that’s not really who I am, um, And by the way, there’s, there’s, 

Matt: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

I don’t think [00:09:00] there’s anything wrong with folks who are building a business off of or building a website, but building their brand, building their business, using a page builder. I am not a developer. I love these tools, right? And they’re, they are much, much neat is why we have what we have with blocks.

Okay. Go ahead. 

Mark: Right. Well, yeah. So I appreciate that. Yeah. The thing that I would say a couple of core tenants, one, I’m a, I’m a big believer in competition though. I think that’s just going to push everybody to do better because if we had just like a monopoly on everything and if it was closed source, I mean, again, it’s a slight, it’s a, it’s definitely a tangent.

We don’t have to go into it, but like a web flow, that’s a big concept, right? Like just WordPress as a whole versus web flow. We have a lot of like. Debate in the inside, right? Of bricks versus Elementor versus quickly or whatever versus Gutenberg. But then we all, but then as soon as somebody says Webflow, we’re all like.

No, no, no, no, no. We’re not, we’re not going that way because it’s closed source. It’s a, you know, it’s a little, you know, sandboxy plan. And again, that’s a different, it’s very nuanced conversation. There’s no right or wrong answers to a lot of this stuff, but it’s another interesting one to have. So, back to the page [00:10:00] builder thing though, is like, I’m not, the distinction that I want to make before people cast judgment on like this, I don’t, I don’t care who wins.

Like, I’m just, again, first of all, kind of thinking for my business and what I like and my, honestly, my personality set too, the things, the way that I like to develop right now, and especially as I build a team out, like what I think would be best. But if Bricks, I love Bricks. I loved Elementor. I don’t even have too many bad things to say about Elementor.

I haven’t used Gutenberg enough to necessarily make that judgment as an as another comparison. But I would say that if Gutenberg was, if it was verifiably, like, I could jump in and use it as quickly as I could use Bricks and do the same things, then I would be all down for that. I honestly just haven’t, maybe this is just ignorance, I haven’t jumped in and done that yet.

But if you could snap your fingers Actually, I don’t know if I tweeted this or something. If you could snap your fingers in tomorrow, the core of WordPress could in, could do everything that every other page builder could do, like combined or something. Somehow, if we made that happen, I would absolutely switch in a heartbeat.

Like I genuinely kinda wanna use the best [00:11:00] tool for the job, best tool for me, which is a hard thing to answer, but I’m not like, it’s not like I don’t wanna do it or don’t only wanna use page builders, but that’s just what has worked for me so far to this 

Matt: point. Yeah, I think there are like some. The way that I see a lot of this stuff, uh, is generally how I try to evaluate most things in WordPress is WordPress, the software, and WordPress, the community.

And, and, by community in this sense, I mean just freaking everybody who, who’s touching WordPress. Users, Power users, agency people, uh, you know, developers, uh, you know, all of those types of folks. I think that as much as the case that people make, like you said, snap your fingers and all of a sudden core WordPress has, you know, I don’t know, I don’t know the development terms, Z end index and a million different sort of CSS options per block, you would alienate so many.

users [00:12:00] in the space. And I think that what we have is this amalgamation of software being developed. Every piece of software starts with a 1. 0 and it always sucks, right? The iPhone, everything all is, is slowly, always getting iterated. You don’t, I don’t know a thing that is just amazing out of the box. I mean, I guess you could have some unicorns there, but we always know as developers.

This thing launches, it’s got this feature set, and it’s gonna, it’s gonna change, man, it’s gonna get better, hopefully, and we’re gonna keep iterating on it over time, and it’s this democratic development process that makes things really slow, uh, but also there’s a massive benefit to the open source side, uh, of things.

So I think that Gutenberg needs to stay in its lane. I say Gutenberg, WordPress core needs to stay in its lane. Uh, so that millions and millions and millions of people can use it without blowing their brains out, you know, trying to use the software. And then for the hundreds of thousands of [00:13:00] advanced users across the world, or millions, you have these tools like an Elementor, like Bricks, Beaver Builder, Divi, and all this other stuff.

It’s not to say that people. Can’t use them. Millions and millions of people can’t use them, but most of the people who are developing those sites are going to be the power user, the web master of the days who had built it and then set it up in a way that, okay, here go client or here you go organization.

You know, you go ahead and play with it. It’s not an, I don’t think there’s an easy. Path to any of this stuff, we’re all sort of vying for that market share, uh, and WordPress core is the elephant, you know, in the room, right? It can kind of push people out, uh, these other products out of the way because of blocks and full site editor.

And then the user goes, man, templates, should I use these templates? Should I use these templates and bricks? This guy built me this site in bricks and left me with this. I don’t know. I’m in this template screen here. There’s a template screen there. What do I do? Um. It’s a challenging world but I think they both serve a certain set of [00:14:00] users and everyone does get passionate about it.

That’s the community side. Everyone gets passionate about the tools and the ways they, that they build WordPress. 

Mark: Yeah, I think um, obviously a lot of great points there. The, the one thing that I would say, and we could dive into maybe like the specifics there or however we want to go, but the, but the one thing that I would say is, I don’t, again I don’t know if I made a piece of content on this or not, can’t remember, but I’ll say it here because I, I still believe it to be true, is The one thing that I have noticed, I’ve consumed a ton of content, like a ton of different WordPress creator content and just everything online.

Like, I mean, I’ve been subscribed to these guys, you know, for many years, uh, and I’ve started to pay a lot more attention recently now because I’m creating content as well. And I want to kind of like, see like, you know, what is, what is this guy doing in this case? Or what is, you know, so and so doing here and all that.

Um, and how do they think? How do they, how do they, what, what decisions are they making? What’s the process that they’re going through when they’re, when they’re thinking about these things? The one thing that, uh, I don’t, I truly don’t think it’s talked about enough stemming directly from that, the, the piece [00:15:00] you just gave there is there are so many, the, the beauty of having 40, 50 percent of the internet on WordPress is that there’s so many websites and so many installs of WordPress and so many different people using it.

I think that’s fantastic. I think WordPress should continue to be as. Be kind of like whatever it wants to be in that sense. I think the one thing that we have to say though, because I don’t think any, any one way is right. I think the, the, the prequalifier in this conversation that I probably didn’t even say in that video very well.

I probably didn’t say it as well as I could have, cause I was just trying to answer that question or ask the question, who is, who is it built for? I would love for every time, you know, creators in our space have this conference, this, this discussion to say. I am my business or my goal is to do business for X or build, build websites for X or Y or Z because in my mind, my offer, a lot of the decisions that I make and a lot of things that I say are based off of the way that I’m building my [00:16:00] business, but I’m not saying like, do this.

I’m saying I am doing this because I am trying to reach these people, or I’m trying to go after these people, X, Y, Z. I had a conversation with a very recently with a two hour conversation with a, an agency in, in, uh, in the area that does like 5 million a year. And I was talking to the CEO and he was like, a lot of the things we do, I’m like, I’m, I’m, I’m wondering like all these weird, like little nuanced questions, like, do you hand, do you hand the sites off to clients?

Do you have somebody managed the WooCommerce? Like, what about custom fields? Like, do you let them change anything? Do you let them in the builder? Do you let them in, you know, WordPress core? What is that? And he’s like, he’s given me all these nuanced things and it’s like. Everything that he’s saying is related to a 50, 000, 100, 000, 150, 000 project.

And it’s like a team of people that he’s handing it off to, and they’re like big e com brands or whatever. And it’s like, the point is that we are, the beauty of having so many people is there’s so many different perspectives. The trouble is it’s very difficult to talk to everyone at one time, because everybody has different goals [00:17:00] and everybody’s on a different path.

And that is the thing that I feel like You know, it’s a blessing and a curse and it’s very difficult. I try to try to tow that line and be like, this is why I’m doing it. But listen, maybe you’re trying to sell smaller websites. Maybe you’re trying to sell marketing brochure websites. Totally. Okay. Do whatever you want.

I’m not, and I’m, and I’m not saying like, Oh, use bricks for this. Or use, use core for that. It doesn’t even, I’m not even talking about the tools. I’m just talking about where your goals are. And I feel like that is a prequalifier that doesn’t get really talked about enough, and then it gets. It’s hard to say that every single time obviously, but like if we try to keep that in our mind I feel like that will just that that’ll put the conversation in a totally new light and I’ll be like Oh, we’re just not speaking the same language.

Like we’re literally not trying to reach the same people So there’s no way our decision making process is gonna be the same So I hope that was you know kind of made sense there But that’s where I come from on a lot of the stuff that I the 

Matt: way that I think yeah So I would say that we are an underrepresented customer [00:18:00] avatar in the WordPress market to a degree.

What we have is, cause I’ve been saying this, you know, now for 20 years that the, the power users, the agency owners, we’re not the ones that WordPress The community and WordPress, the software is trying to solve for. Although we are the biggest, again, in my opinion, the biggest cheerleaders, right? I’m responsible for thousands of WordPress sites that customers and friends and people have launched because I either sold them the service, uh, when I ran my agency for 10 years, or I encouraged them through my YouTube channels, or they were friends, or in my startup, the startup incubator I used to, uh, mentor at.

Same thing with you. You’re probably responsible for hundreds, if not thousands of websites now with your clients across the board. But the challenge is when you zoom out that the WordPress community, the ones that collectively make the decisions for WordPress, [00:19:00] yeah, there’s, there’s maybe a few agencies in there, right?

A few, uh, boutique agencies, larger agencies, web dev, 10 up, um, you know, all of these bigger agencies that are out there. There’s a lot of people who are building the software who have never sold a website in their lives, right? They’ve never had a customer interaction before. And this is the particular challenge when it comes to the, the strife and the passion, uh, in this space.

You know, there are people who just work at Bluehost, uh, and they’re core committers, uh, and they are the ones making big decisions on WordPress, not to pick Bluehost out. They are a lovely sponsor of the, of the WP minute, but they have a team of people that they pay to contribute to core and they’re not in the agency mindset, they’re in the mindset of.

WordPress is this massive piece of software for the world, and I’m trying to solve complex problems inside WordPress to [00:20:00] launch this for WordPress, not for Matt and Mark who are selling, uh, websites for people, right, maybe not even the end user who’s, she has a little blog that she’s trying, they’re, they’re trying to solve engineering issues, scale issues, right, so you have those types of, of people, developers, right, building the software.

They’re not thinking about you and I all the time, right? And then you have the, the ideology, uh, leadership of, of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg, Josepha. These are massive visionary blanket statements that happen in direction and that’s bringing WordPress into, you know, the future and trying to shape it from a massive global perspective.

We’re not included in that either. It’s about. freedom of speech and the democratic way of developing software. There are so many channels and so many directions that WordPress is being led in that you can only get your, you can only get your 1 percent you can [00:21:00] only get your little time to shine, to influence this stuff.

And that is, again, a great thing about WordPress because there is all of this momentum. Uh, but. Everybody can’t have their their piece of it. Uh, and you’re always vying for oiling the squeaky wheel To a degree, you know to get our piece and this is why these products are born Elementor, Bricks, Divi, Beaver Builder This is why this stuff is born because someone in the market said wordpress isn’t doing this We need to do this for agencies.

And then agencies started buying, right? And then as the world turned, Wix and Squarespace were also getting better in attracting agencies. And we realized, oh, the way people need to interact to build websites is more visual. It’s blocks, it’s templates, it’s moving this stuff around like Legos on a page.

And we’re just. You know, the ball’s still rolling, the earth is still turning, and I think we’ll get [00:22:00] there to a soon ish, but that’s the, that’s the, the conundrum we’re all in, uh, love it or hate it. That’s, this is, um, this is what we got. I feel like an answer I would give to somebody that was like interview, interviewing me, but the point is there’s just a lot of perspectives in the WordPress space and I think it would do well if we zoomed out.

And here’s a perfect, uh, segue into that question that I didn’t want to forget. What I don’t want to see, and I don’t know Geary at all, um, love to have him on the podcast if he, if he ever wanted to come on, but what I don’t like to see is people who either root for the foundation to, to crumble, or to just not give back to this open source software.

And what I mean by that is to just come out on on Twitter and just really go hard at WordPress [00:23:00] and say, this is atrocious. This is terrible. Can’t believe they’re making these decisions. You have to zoom out and say, this is our, we’re all on this land without WordPress. There is no Bricks, right? Without WordPress, there is no Elementor.

There is no market for, for, for Geary and team to sell automatic CSS or whatever it’s called, right? There, that doesn’t exist. So, you wouldn’t just walk out in front of your house, you know, into the city street and just be like, I’m gonna dump my trash right here, right? And then it is, that’s it. I walk right back into my house.

I don’t care who left that trash there. No, this is, this is all ours, right? We all have to take care of it. You might have your opinions, might have a better product or a different product, but you also have to respect the people in the process that got us here or else none of us continue to thrive in this WordPress space.

Yeah, I’m not sure if you had a specific question around that, but like, I mean, yeah, just, but yeah, I mean, uh, yeah, yeah, [00:24:00] 

Mark: I, I, like I said, I, I welcome all opinions. I love that. Um, to address the two things, one, rooting for, I, I tend to look at things, I try to look at things more objectively and logically rather than emotionally.

So that’s the first thing that I do. So if, if you think about this, regardless of if you are an agency with 150 sites under management, or you’re a DIYer that built one site for your, for your shop or whatever, but both of those are WordPress based, right? The agency and the DIYer, if you root for the, the, the crumbling of WordPress core, that seems illogical to me, just straight up illogical.

And regardless of if you like it or don’t like it, it just doesn’t make any sense. So I start to like, be like, okay, that I look at something like that. I’m like, that, that just doesn’t make any sense. I’m almost, I almost. Maybe I’ll try to reason with somebody, but like, if you have that belief, that just, to me, literally makes no sense.

So, at some point, it’s just like, okay, you do whatever you want, because that, that, that’s, you’re literally, by proxy, you’re hoping for your own demise. In either of those circumstances, right? Um, so that’s the first thing. The [00:25:00] second thing is, the idea of giving back and everything like that, 100%, like, do agree.

I think that There would be, we would probably have to have like an hour long, two hour long conversation to kind of really like dive into that. But like specifically my, my question or my thought would be like kind of in what way, but to hit on the specific point that you had, not like, you know, kind of just being like, Hey, this sucks.

This is whatever, dah, dah, dah, dah. I do think that what I see as more of like an agnostic kind of like observer at this point is that people are like, there, there’s this weird thing in the WordPress community where like, there, there, that creates. The idea of some people are business minded and agency minded and some people are just, I don’t want to say DIY er, but like, they’re, they’re, they’re just more, like, platform oriented.

Again, neither are bad, but it does create some like harsh lines of like, I’m literally thinking of this as a business decision. Like I’m not necessarily there, but I see some people as [00:26:00] like, I am using WordPress because it’s the best thing to fuel my business. If Webflow was better than WordPress, I would switch to Webflow and I would be out of the WordPress space.

I don’t hold that belief. But I’m saying that like some people definitely process it like that, you know, I mean, it’s not just, it’s, it goes beyond core versus quickly versus bricks. It goes, WordPress is one platform that has a bunch of different options, open source, so many pieces of value. I can’t really see Webflow overtaking WordPress, but I do think that, you know, again, you bring up Kevin Geary, like a lot of times, like I’ve listened to a lot of his stuff, try to analyze the way that he thinks.

I don’t agree with everything he says, but. Nor do I agree with everything everybody says, like, because I’m an individual, but I’m saying that one of the things that I’ve heard him and other people talk about is like web flow. Like it’s almost like a, it’s almost like we care so much about WordPress. We don’t want to see it be taken over by like another leader.

Like we have such an incredible lead on everybody else as far as like market share of WordPress, which is [00:27:00] good for everybody in the community. And then if, if, if we kind of. Pivot to a weird direction or take our foot off the gas and again it, it’s super subjective so I’m not giving much objectivity here with this.

But I’m saying that’s I think where it’s coming from if I’m taking like a psychological look at this. If we As a community of WordPress leaders, whatever, if the, if the platform goes in a direction that like Webflow can easily come in and steal market share or become the next big thing, then maybe over time WordPress falls and it isn’t as big as that.

I can’t, again, it’s hard to envision a world like that. You’ve been in this space way longer than I have. So you’ve seen it come up. I just don’t, I just don’t think everything is always. You know, that’s too big to fail type thing. I don’t necessarily know if that’s always the case. I’m not, I’m just giving you examples here.

I’m not even saying that I believe any of this stuff. I’m just, I’m just trying to take what you said and kind of reverse engineer why people might hold those opinions and why they say the things that they do and why they hold the opinions they do. And that’s just, again, I don’t even cast in, I’m just kind of observing.

Matt: I’m [00:28:00] not even. A hundred percent. And when I came into, um, you know, and I’ll fully admit when I came into the space, so I started My agency, it’s a tail end of 20, 2007 and when I first got started with this, it was the same thing. It was, and I’m not saying you’re doing this, but I know a lot of people look at it through this lens is business software.

Is this tool working for me? Is it, is it back then it was WordPress versus Drupal and WordPress back then was leaps ahead usability wise of Drupal. So that’s why, uh, we went forward with it. And then when I started to discover the community. Uh, and I’ll be honest, the, uh, uh, the prospects that were out there, I mean, back then people were switching to WordPress because it was just way better than any system on the web in 2007.

So I mean, clients, it was just a very easy sell, right? It was just like, yeah, give me this WordPress thing. You can build that for me for that cost. That’s amazing. I’ll take it. Um, so the fish were kind of jumping into the boat back then. And [00:29:00] I too had that same perspective of, well, this is crazy. Why are they doing it this way?

They should be. And it was very just business product, business product. And then once you start to spend time in, you know, the community, if you care, like number one, you have to care about open source, I think from at least just the data portability perspective, right? I am not locked in to Microsoft Adobe, uh, Webflow.

I can do, I can move this around. Yes, it might be a challenge to do something that I, that my customer wants to do or that I want to do, but I can do it and not be locked into it, right? So there’s that. But once I started to explore the community, there are, there are people who contribute to WordPress. I don’t know what the number was for the last, uh, WordPress, WordPress 6.

4 that was released. Maybe 400 ish people. That’s not even all developers and designers, developers, designers, document writers, people who are just bug checking. [00:30:00] Of a quilt of, of people, uh, of patterns stitched together from so many backgrounds. And I know it doesn’t mean anything to anyone’s business. But it is amazing to see people come together to launch a piece of software from many, many backgrounds.

And I too get frustrated when my needs aren’t being solved. That’s why I started a podcast. When my needs aren’t getting solved with WordPress. But it is fantastic to see this thing come together, uh, by so many people, so many backgrounds across the globe. That no other critical piece of software on the planet allows me to do, unless maybe the Linux kernel, if I went back to my real, uh, roots of open source days when I was a server admin, and it’s just fantastic, uh, and, you know, those are the things that are, are the benefits, aside from just the product, totally agree with you, all these product things, uh, Webflow could take over WordPress, But there is such a [00:31:00] deep foundation of humans that back WordPress, at least for now, uh, that it is, uh, hard, it’s a hard sell to, to move to something else, you know, because of the advantages WordPress has on that, in that category, I think.

And I’m curious to get your thoughts on this. One of the things that people should do is with WordPress 6. 5 coming up, do you have a slack account on the official wordpress. org channel? I do not 

Mark: yet. It’s 

Matt: on my list. 100%. And this is a challenge. And we’ll talk about this in a second. Get a, get a, a free wordpress.

org slack account. Uh, join the slack on launch day. It is. a work of art to watch. 

Mark: I think you said this in a recent episode. Yeah. It’s fantastic. 

Matt: It’s amazing. You know, to see all these things and this is the process. And then you really, just that moment, just spend that half an hour of the day or it’s actually all day, but you, you’ll see it all accruing pretty quickly.[00:32:00] 

You spend some time in there just watching people talk and all the spot checks and the check. It’s freaking amazing. And then the software launches and you’re like, wow, there’s a lot of people. There’s a lot of things I don’t see. And it’s that perspective that we miss. On Twitter and in our business lives.

Um, because we’re not behind the scenes and that is the particular challenge with the wordpress community. We have people talking in wordpress. org slack. We have people talking on social media. We have people talking in wordpress github. We have people talking on, in comments on make. wordpress. org. And then we have meetings that happen at big wordcamp events.

And all of this stuff is everywhere. And there’s not this one central place, which is a particular human challenge, not just a software challenge. So, getting involved in the community can be tough, because you just don’t know where to begin. Um, my perspective, start with the slack, and just watch people talk.

Watch these meetings unfold. And then go to a WordCamp. That’s probably the best [00:33:00] way to, to prime yourself, to get a feeling. Not that you’re not primed, I’m just saying, like, anyone’s listening. 

Mark: Definitely. No, those are, those are fantastic recommendations. I remember, yeah, like I said, you, I think, I think it was a recent episode, I don’t know if it was with you.

The most recent one with, uh, was it Corey? Corey Miller? I don’t, I don’t know which one you said that on, but yeah, definitely. That was a, that was crazy. Cause I was thinking, wow, you can kind of see how the sausage is made sort of in a sense, right? You could see like the actual whole thing there. I mean, I had some thoughts there.

I don’t know how deep you wanted to get into that specifically, but, um, it’s, it’s just interesting to me because I don’t, I’d love to see that and I’m going to, to hop in there and then, you know, like you said, Slack and WordCamp definitely need to make it out to some WordCamps, um, missed the last one.

Just wasn’t deeply ingrained enough. But like Portland, I know is coming up. So it might, it might make it out there. Uh, there’s a lot of great people in the community. Like literally every, I would say every single person in the community is great because they’re doing work no matter what capacity, if their product, if they’re, uh, you know, involved in WordPress core, um, [00:34:00] the only, like the question that I would have though, is like, We could, we could go in there and we can look at everything that’s happening on launch day.

Are you saying though, that you feel that that is. unique to WordPress? I mean, it’s unique in the way that it works and it’s unique in and it’s, there’s a certain appreciation you have to have for all these different people communicating all these different things and there’s all these people talking.

But the question would be just like, it is, like you said, it’s a human problem. It’s almost like just a baseline efficiency problem, which is just the state of it. But I don’t really know if I have like a question per se, but I just don’t know. I mean, do you have like a, do you think it needs, it’s a problem that needs to be solved?

Is it something that would be better if it’s solved? Is it something that Just the way that it is, is the way that it is, and that’s what makes it like beautiful and makes it really good. 

Matt: Yeah, it’s the challenge of, it’s You zoom out. There’s just, like you said earlier in the interview, so many people with so many objectives who use WordPress.

Everyone has a particular thing that they’re going after. [00:35:00] Um, WordPress can’t the WordPress, the software and WordPress community can’t solve it all for us, right? We’d love more business tracks at word. Word camps, but it’s kind of shied upon. Um, I think there was something in the works where we’re introducing more, uh, business talks again for folks like you and I, who are really into that kind of thing.

Uh, but people obviously on the flip side, you’ll have like this big commercial presence that tries to like push in and muscle their way into a word camp and then it just becomes a big sales pitch for people. No one wants that. So I totally get it. Um, but understanding that we all can’t get, you know, our little sliver of WordPress, uh, but solving how to get people into this community, like folks like you, you’ve been invested in it now for five or six years.

You care. Otherwise you wouldn’t be chatting about this stuff right now. You wouldn’t be making videos about it. Um. And how to get you in, in the mix. So you could say, you know what? The next thing that I’ll contribute to WordPress. So I’m not just the [00:36:00] guy who is, this is harsh because I’ve been accused of this too, is just profiting off of WordPress.

You know, just the guy who’s profiting off of WordPress is to. Contribute back. Maybe I’ll, you know, read one of the support docs and, and make some changes or whatever little thing I can do to commit to WordPress core, the smallest thing, and I’ll get my name up there. That might be a fantastic thing that encourages a lot of people to care more about WordPress, the community and, and WordPress, the software.

What I think is, I don’t think it’s a particular problem. I, it’s just a challenge to get all of this stuff across 40,000 people who are in that slack. into one communication channel. So for instance, right now, where do you go, like, I want to, WordPress admin change is coming, and the media gallery is coming.

I want to go and make my comments, because you could do that right now. You could go into the Figma file, or the [00:37:00] make blog post, and say, you know, this button shouldn’t be blue. It should be black, right? Here’s my thoughts. This is why it should be that way. And you can post that. And you could actually get that committed into it, into, into WordPress core.

If your thoughts were poignant and it made sense that everyone said, yes, Mark, that is fantastic. Let’s do it. I think that is unlike any other piece of software. That would help power my business. I’m not doing that at Zapier, I’m not doing that at, uh, you know, HubSpot, I’m not doing that at anywhere else of any other piece of software that would help my, my business.

Um, Yeah. And that’s important to 

Mark: me. Can I, can I comment on that real quick? Yeah. Yeah. Like, um, so I would say one thing though is that generally I feel like if you’re paying for a product, they will kind of, like, they will take your feedback into consideration. They should at least, because you’re paying for their product.

You mentioned like a Zapier or like a Webflow or something like that. I don’t [00:38:00] know. I mean, I’ve, I’ve brought up, you know, things to like Google before, and obviously Google doesn’t really care, but, you know, but like, you know, like, but, but things like that, so that’s, that’s one, you know, nuance I would say there, but you’re, but, you know, by and large, they’re completely correct.

My, my only other thing is like, that is amazing. You’re educating me on the fact that I didn’t realize that I could literally see all of, like, you’re basically saying like, you know, like the Figma file or whatever, like, this is how the, uh, you know, new media gallery is gonna look, uh, media library is gonna look, and I can like go in there and change that.

I. Is that, is that on the slack? Yeah, when 

Matt: they were developing 2024, the new core theme, and this, but the challenge with this is where do you get that information? Like right now, I would have to know, I would have to go into GitHub, I would have to search for it, I would have to have it bookmarked, so for a busy person like me who’s not living in it every day, even I am like, oh shit, I gotta go to the GitHub, I gotta find it, oh there it is, there’s the link, there’s no one central like tool where I’m going to go to and just immediately find that.

And that’s what I think really needs to get solved. But yeah, when they were developing 2024, [00:39:00] man, they Rich Tabor, everybody on Twitter was posting, here’s the Figma files. You could see them designing it live. And I was just like, and you can leave a comment. Like, I don’t like this. And if you, what I don’t want is people to get these things in their hands.

Like when they launched 6. 5, a new default theme, like you had your chance to say something you didn’t. And here we are. I got you. 

Mark: Right. Okay. No, perfect. Love that. Um, I think that that you’re, I’m a hundred percent with you on the fact that that needs to be more accessible and more like notice. Cause I have been in the, like I said, I’ve been building more WordPress websites since 2018 or whatever.

And I’ve just now dove into the community a little bit more. Like I’ve been making videos, but like it’s, it’s way more now in the last, like we’ll say six to 12 months, just building connections with people like yourself and things like that. So that is definitely a good piece of advice. And I, and I agree with that as well.

You know, complain about it after it’s already been released, like talk about it, you know, Like try to be involved in the process totally get that my only thing and this is total speculation This is just a question that I would have and i’ll and i’ll [00:40:00] do this because i’m actually going to do that myself And I and i’m going to encourage everybody else to do that.

The only thing that I would question without even experiencing that yet is based on all of the other discussion that we had prior to this and everything else that you hear. If you have people talking online and on the internet, everything like that, obviously there’s a lot of noise in a lot of different places.

But if I go into that Figma file with the mindset that I have that is probably different than the mindset that everybody else has, I, I, I am skeptical at how much that’s actually going to help. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to do it, doesn’t mean I wouldn’t. Encourage people to do it. I’m just saying that I feel like that is still that solves the communication issue to a good degree and the collaboration, but I don’t know if it if it if it actually is going to change anything as far as like how the perspective is could be completely wrong there.

I’m just like I said, this is just me thinking about what that would be like. Yeah, 

Matt: you have to want to make a difference with the expectations that Look, it’s like [00:41:00] voting. I’m not going to get, I don’t want to get like political, but you know, rock the vote, man. You don’t like what’s happening. And listen, when I say that I’m talking like local politics, right?

Because usually that’s the one that you can impact the most. And I see this all the time. Why is this person on the city council again? Did you vote? No. Who, if I don’t, you know, what’s my, what’s my vote going to do? It could change it. Right. Like if you showed up, it could change it. Right. And that’s the thing for me anyway, like, and I know everybody doesn’t share this and they don’t need to share this open source and voice is or voice my voice sharing other’s voices.

Letting people know that they can impact this, that is core to my being, whether that’s, again, in local politics, or in WordPress, or in podcasting, where these same things happen at a much smaller scale, right? There’s an open source movement in podcasting that helps to make the RSS feed a lot [00:42:00] better and a lot more advanced as much as they can with that technology, versus the big players like YouTube and Spotify and Apple.

who really just want to keep you on their platforms. And a lot of people will go, well, what am I going to do? If I, if I make a commitment to this RSS thing, what’s the big deal? These other places are going to win. Will they, you know, will they Joe Rogan just came back to open RSS, whether you like his platform or not.

Spotify said, ah, yeah, keeping him just on Spotify. This ain’t working. We, I guess we need to go back to that old thing called the RSS feed. Yes. Because people realize it’s open and everyone can have access to it. So I always say is you don’t give up on. trying. At least that’s, that’s me. Um, and you know, a lot of people are just in this to get to the means to the end.

Totally fine. But I’m just saying for those who are out there, yeah, you can commit. If you show up to those launch meetings and expect to make a change then that’s the wrong time. Uh, certainly, certainly like in the beginning, uh, you know, [00:43:00] commenting on, on the, the track tickets that open up, uh, or I’d track to get hub, uh, I don’t even know if they use track anymore.

Uh, GitHub, the, uh, Figma files. Yeah. They make blogs. Those are the times, you know, to, to really chime in and yeah, maybe people don’t. And maybe your thing doesn’t get adopted, but you get recognition, at least people start to know your name and you know, if you’re the branded marketing type, like that’s how you kind of make yourself known a little bit.

And then when you go to WordCamp, one of the lead devs, Oh, you’re Mark, you’re the guy who said this. And yeah, I kind of agree with you, but here’s why. Then you start working it out in person because yeah, chatting online sucks. Right. And trying to find that common ground. Oh yeah. I guess you weren’t really mad when you said it should be black and not blue.

Um, you know, and, and it fantastic things happen. But again, that’s more, if you care about, you know, the community and WordPress and open source, but some folks show up and they’re just like, yeah, man, just trying to pump out these websites. And that’s what I want to get into as we sort of close out. Let’s talk about some more drama [00:44:00] Yeah, love it.

This is what I don’t understand and this again when I go into these page builder groups, man I don’t know if you spend any time there I I can’t and if you do I don’t know how you do because people ask a question and it’s just What a stupid question that was, you know, and it’s just, and then I just don’t see anything thriving there when I go into these page builder communities.

Um, I’ll say communities, but groups that I go into on Facebook just to get my knowledge, I’m trying to dip into all these areas so I can understand the perspective of people coming into WordPress and it’s just, wow, I don’t even want to. Go back in there, because I’m afraid whatever pixel they’re tracking is going to associate me with, you know, whatever’s happening here.

Um, and I, as much as WordPress has those challenges in the community, I don’t ever find it as bad as, Yeah, I don’t know how to do this thing, and Bricks, read the freaking manual! [00:45:00] It’s like, okay man, just one person asking a nice question. Um, your thoughts on like, the temperament of these other communities outside of WordPress?

For sure. 

Mark: Um, definitely a, definitely a topic. Um, I, as I was, as I was like saying, uh, earlier, I was, you know, in the Elementor space for a while and truthfully, I was never in really too many like Elementor groups per se on Facebook. I, I, a couple of them, but it was more for like, just like kind of design help and things.

The big groups that I’m, that I’m currently a part of off the top of my head on Facebook are CrocoBlock. Which is fantastic community because like, it’s also a specific plugin and it’s like dynamic content. So people are normally asking questions that are like. I don’t even know how to do that. You know, I got to think about it.

Right. So that’s, that’s one thing to think about one nuance of it. Bricks is a, is a fun one. I actually posted in there and it got like a hundred reactions. Like I was like, wow, I’m so glad I switched to bricks from Elementor. This group is so much fun. And it was, it was purely because of the things that [00:46:00] you’ve probably seen and you’ve, and you’ve probably heard about and talked about it.

Cause like, there was just people like. All the time, like huge comment threads of like people talking things back and forth and everything like that and, and let me stop, I am not condoning hostility or disrespect or anything like that whatsoever, like, don’t, don’t get it twisted. Occasionally, I will laugh at the concept that, like you’re saying, people are doing that in these groups.

I don’t think it’s ever warranted and, and I hope that people can see by the content if they check out any of my stuff that like, I’m always trying to help, I’m always more than happy to help. Like people if they have questions, I don’t like look at somebody coming into the space And being like, Hey, how do I add a heading or something, or what’s a section or what’s a container or whatever.

There’s people that are on all different playing, you know, playing fields as far as like where they’re at, like beginners versus, you know, intermediate professional, whatever. I think the only thing that I think the thing that actually drives a lot is that people have opinions. This is what I’ve seen.

Maybe you disagree. People have [00:47:00] opinions and those opinions are firm, normally, normally relatively fair to a, to a degree. But they’re firm opinions based off of lived experience that XYZ person has a different lived experience of or a different experience just in general and then person A states opinion firmly, person B doesn’t agree with that and that’s where we get to this like almost emotional debate whether Bricks is better than Core or XYZ or if you should do this in Bricks or you know, this way or this way and it’s like, There are some people that are wired to do things what they feel is like the best practice in the best way possible.

And it is very difficult, myself kind of included there, and it’s very difficult to kind of get out of that frame of mind when somebody is asking you, can I do it this way or should I do it this way? If somebody asks me, should I use custom post types or should I not for I don’t know, like a bunch of services on a website or something, [00:48:00] whatever, you know, XYZ resources.

I’m going to tell them the way to do it is, is, is custom post types. Like it’s the best practice, best thing we got, whatever. And if they say, okay, I don’t want to do it that way, then at that point it’s like, well, I don’t feel like you’re doing this the right way. So I don’t really know how to help you. I can give you the second best option, but it’s not going to make your life any better.

It’s actually going to make your life way worse in three months. You know what I mean? So I feel like that’s. Especially when you have those conversations a lot. If you’re in those groups, they can’t, they can get toxic like that if they’re not moderated well and da da da whatever. But if you have those conversations a lot, it’s like it is just frustrating because it’s like Hey, I’m trying to tell you how to do this the best way.

I, as a professional in this space, regardless of how many websites I make, I’m trying to do things the best way that I know how to do them, based on my experience. I don’t know how to do everything right, right now, but in the future, I hope to be better than I am. And if, if other people don’t have that same mindset, I think that is really what causes a lot of those, we’ll just call them like conflicts or different disagreements, because that’s, I feel like, where a lot of it stems from.

There could be other things as well, but at the core of it, I don’t think you’re ever gonna get, it’s harder to get rid of that stuff. The disrespect and anything like that that’s out [00:49:00] there or whatever, that’s, That, that shouldn’t be tolerated, you know, down at whatever. But those things are like the little meta things that I’ve picked up on, that I feel like are much more, like, understandable, but at the same time do cause issues.

So, that’s just, that’s my 

Matt: take on it. Yeah, I mean, I think the, the fundamental issue is A lot of these groups, you, first of all, you have, you have software like Elementor and Bricks who are trying to create a GUI wrapper on code, right? How do you do this the right way? You open up notepad plus plus and you start coding.

That’s how you do it. Oh, you can’t do that. Oh, okay. So then you start with WordPress. Oh, you don’t know how to edit WordPress files and commit HTML, PHP, JavaScript, CSS to the server. Oh, okay. You get Elementor and Bricks and you layer on top of that. Oh, you don’t know how to use that? Okay. Now you have to like read the manual and learn how to use these tools.

Um, and I think what we’ve found is, cultivated [00:50:00] online, is the get rich quick scheme. Right? Where a lot of people see this as I can make 500 bucks if I sold this website to somebody, let me just go copy paste all these things together, wrap it up. Here you go. Customer 500 bucks. Give it to me. I bought that for 50 and I just made 450 in a weekend and everybody feels great.

And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that profitability and that mindset, in my opinion, so long as you actually. Care about the customer, the value you’re providing and, and the business, not even WordPress. Just you care. Like I built something good for the customer. They pay me what I’m worth and I’ll support the customer.

And I’ll, you know, I’ll continue to think about this, but if you’re just doing it, like I just made 500 bucks and I’m out. Like, I feel like a lot of these people do, then that’s the issue that I have. I think people, when they go into business with that mindset, especially in web, cause I’ve seen this with folks in my space when I was running my agency, doing the same [00:51:00] thing.

We had a full agency. The guys that worked for me are now at Bluehost committing to WordPress core, are at Jetpack developing Jetpack and WordPress. com functionality. We had a solid team building really big projects. And I had guys coming to me who, my age back then, which was your age now, going, Hey man, I sold this website to this guy, it’s an e commerce store, he’s selling stuff out of his warehouse, he’s got like 10, 000 products and I put it on a 5 a month server and it keeps blowing up.

What can you do for me? What can I do for you? How much did you charge him? Ah, like 1500 bucks. 1, 500 bucks. Like if you bring that in here, it’s 50, 000 right to start. And like the concept just couldn’t. Why? Because there’s so much to think about so much to think about. Not even the website. Like there’s so much other things to think about, um, and, and to develop and scale.

And you know, that get high, I don’t want to call it get rich quick, but that quick money mindset, [00:52:00] uh, is not, is unhealthy when you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. I think a fantastic idea is to launch a website in a day for 500 bucks for somebody, so long as the guidelines are there and they come in and it’s answered me these three questions.

I’ll build a website for you. Thank you very much. 500 bucks. Here’s how you access it. Here’s a little tutorial doc on your way out. I made 500 bucks. Cool. Love that idea should happen more often. It’s when they try to just take advantage of people, uh, is, is what we get. And I feel like that is just so rampant amongst these, uh, page builder tools, because they see it as a quick way to do it, unfortunately.

Um, and I encourage people to just care more about the customer and the product first. We’ll talk about WordPress later, but just care about what you’re doing now. Uh, and then maybe you’ll care about WordPress in the future. 

Mark: Yeah, I don’t know if there’s a way to, uh, really police for that in any way. I mean, it’s just, the tools make it so easy.

Like you said, you know, you used to have to open up Notepad code the thing, you know. I mean, I started there, honestly, like in college. Like, I mean, you know, so it’s, [00:53:00] I understand the core of it. I respect the core of it because I don’t think the web is ever going to change from HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Uh, I think if you’re, if you’re kind of professionally minded in that way, you have to at least respect that.

I’m not saying you have to know every, you know, command and everything like that and all that, but, uh, That’s, you know, I don’t know, that’s a whole discussion for a different time. Um, you know, maybe, like, it’s just, that’s a whole separate thing. It’s like the level of, I don’t want to say the level of professionalism, because I feel like everybody that’s doing this for money should, you know, does have that.

But at the same time, it’s like, how much, how deep do you want to go? How deep are you comfortable going? And I think that goes back to the other question I asked, is who are you trying to build for? And that’s ultimately, you know, in a way, what I was asking with that video is like, Who is this for? Who is this targeted at?

Who are you as a business? And a lot of my content is not just going to be technical stuff. It’s like also talking about those types of things. You got to care about your customer. Your processes have to be good. You have to manage expectations easily. The biggest thing that I’ve learned in this industry, regardless of who you’re building for, what it is like, if you, if you bill, [00:54:00] if you say you’re going to build this for this amount of money, do not deviate from that.

Because that’s. How everything gets screwed up, uh, from an agency level, business level, I don’t care if you’re doing it for a friend, it’s a nightmare. Like, so, all the things that you said, you know, I agree with there, um, and, you know, just depends on how, like, what you want to do, who you’re building for, and, and kind of all that, like I said, bigger topic, but, um.

Definitely, definitely 

Matt: agree there. Mark, it’s been a fantastic conversation. We went really long today. Really appreciate it. We’ll, we’ll, uh, mark the calendars. We’ll have you back. We’ll continue this, uh, web agency discussion. You can find Mark’s YouTube channel, youtube. com. You can find Mark’s YouTube channel at youtube.

com at Mark J. Zemanski. Search for him. I’ll link it up in the show notes. Same thing with your website, markjosephzemanski. com. Check him out. He’s in Pittsburgh. You know Joe Casabona? He’s in Pittsburgh as well, I feel like. It’s such a small state. I’ll 

Mark: have to, I’ll have to check him out. You 

Matt: don’t. Name sounds familiar.

He’s a former, he’s a former WordPress celebrity. He gave up. Oh, [00:55:00] okay. I’ll say it. Joe, if you’re listening, you gave up on WordPress a few years ago. Good on you for getting out of the rat race. I’ll link up Mark’s stuff in the show notes below. Thanks everybody for listening. That’s it for today’s episode.

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