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  • Writer's pictureEmmanuel G Escobar

WordPress is changing. Is this the end to blogging?

A few days ago, I noticed that WordPress had simplified their pricing plans. Suddenly, and without warning, all the websites I managed became Legacy plans. I only discovered this as my renewal date was approaching and wanted to downgrade to a Premium plan for better value. This gave me almost all features available on the Business plan, without SEO integration and mediocre storage allowance down from 200 GB to 13 GB. Back in 2019, the Business plan met our company goal to offer online classes; it offered using plugins, custom CSS, accepting payments, removing WordPress branding and run APIs (JavaScript). But, we want our services to reflect our customer demand, and without demand for any of the premium features, the Business plan, at £20 per month, offered low value to me.  

WordPress legacy plans offered for my accounts (only upgrades), which are no longer available to new users.

Blogging has been at the centre of WordPress for decades, and having several content centric websites, WordPress is the first choice for myself and many other hobbyist bloggers. However, the proposed changes ruin the fundamental choice of using WordPress as my hosting site. New plans come in two tiers, 1) a free plan, which lacks all features including a custom domain and 2) a Pro paid plan at £15 per month, which is basically the same as the now legacy Business plan. If we take these two plans out of context and compare them, the value of features included in the paid plan is fair, if there were only these two choices. But in itself, it offers to me no reason why to choose WordPress, the value gap between Free and Pro is far too great to fit into the requirements of a blogging website and with competitive pricing to that of other hosts, I am more likely to go and search the market for the option that meets my minimum requirements at best value. Compared to other hosting websites, however, £15 is pushing it with cost, and very likely competing with Squarespace. And yet, it is not, because at £10 Squarespace starts offering SEO integration. So, let’s then assume that WordPress carries a premium cost of £5 to any other service at this standard, features that is not upselling like professional email (of which is only 3 months free) or any kind of marketing vouchers that Squarespace or Wix offers in paid plans. Instead, it may be that the WordPress engine is enough for its increased value to its competitors. It is an assertion that WordPress alone offers the better capabilities for managing written content.

And this is true having managed a site on Squarespace, it is very difficult to think of it as a medium to share written content. In my mind, Squarespace serves a different customer, one that wants to put a store front and sell items. Additionally, there’s Wix, which offers somewhat of a middle ground between WordPress and Squarespace, and yet the user interface is not made to create from blank ideas. It is also more fairly priced for starters covering somewhere what legacy WordPress plans used to offer. And that being said, WordPress then did not consider itself as having an advantage towards written content nor adding a price hike for that matter; in fact, pricing plans were lower than that offered by Wix. By no means am I a design wizard, but to begin creating webpages on WordPress was always easier than creating webpages on Wix or Squarespace. Both these websites feel like they sell content whereas WordPress always felt like it shared content. 

Current WordPress plans.

Compared to what WordPress is now calling “legacy” plans, the new plans offer very poor value in my opinion, if you have been a customer blogging on WordPress before the changes. Without an in between option, hobbyists like myself are finding it difficult to choose between staying on WordPress legacy plans until they end (we don’t know how long we can stay on legacy plans) or upgrading to the paid Pro plan. There is also switching to another host, but that may not be the best option to those who have spent years adding content to their WordPress sites. Now, I think most people’s choice will be heavily based on value and available finances, but even if individuals have money to spend on their hobby, the choice to make these changes without any form of communication has struck badly with several people. One particular point of interest is the reduction of storage allowance on the free plan (originally 3 GB), which became 500 MB then 1 GB after receiving backslash. On forums, WordPress promises to follow up the plans with community feedback, but they didn’t ask for feedback until users started complaining. This to me shows that they weren’t thinking about existing users when they made those changes. In fact, official language regarding the matter suggest the changes were made to make the WordPress product more accessible to people globally, which suggests again their attention has turned to customer acquisition rather than customer satisfaction. 

Ads still running offer plans that no longer exist. Has WordPress rushed into a decision?

Personally, without an official statement sent to my inbox before the changes were applied is a failure in policy. Secondly, while the Pro plan is good value on its own solely based on features (maybe except for the storage allowance), it is not for my business accounts; and in fact, for £5 less per month, I forfeit 75% of storage allowance. Speaking to a customer support member, they recommended I buy a Pro plan because I use plugins. But these plugins are the ones included with the Business plan! Talk about understanding the customer. For personal plans were I spend £2.50 or £5.50 per month, for the power to write content using a custom domain, there is very little value to me using a plan that starts at more than twice the amount of the latter per month. And a free option is way too limited for my use case, which essentially locks me out of any new plans and features that would help build a brand. WordPress has hinted a being able to purchase features a la carte, but I can only imagine an invoicing nightmare for this. Finally, it’s a matter of service. I have noticed Javascript that has stopped working on my company website and mobile site optimisation is simply terrible. For me, WordPress has struggled to fit into the modern day of content creation; perhaps its new plans reflect that and its drive towards more commerce websites.

The new plans have ruined the experience for me, and now I have to think about the future of Pressure Ink. Maybe it’s time again to move to a new home. What do you think? Are these new plans fair? 



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