This project has been running for a year now. Not many interviews have been published even though lot of email has been written and interview sessions have been done. Few interviews are still waiting to get published, but to summarize: There isin’t that many bigger agencies for WordPress in Northern Europe – nor anywhere else in Europe for that matter.
Im writing this from Seville, Spain, where WordCamp Europe is being held. The big mass of participants seems to still come from small agencies that work with fairly small clients. Another big part of the community are those small agencies that build add-ons, themes and other services for those ‘man and dog’ -style of agencies.
That being said, Matt Mullenweg did have to answer a lot of difficult questions in Q&A regarding requirements coming from agencies that work with bigger clients. Mullenweg was grilled regarding multilanguage support, security issues and extensibility. Especially multilanguage issue seemed to irritate many people and the questions pushed Mullenweg to explain why WordPress does not support multilanguage in the core. So there definitely are agencies that are using WordPress to build also bigger websites, but that still isin’t very core thing for WordPress community.
Europe probably has hundreds, even thousands of small agencies that use WordPress – and they keep on shipping websites more and more. The market is growing fast and the ecosystem wants to serve those small agencies. Mullenweg also seems to understand this very well. He doesn’t want to pull WordPress community anywhere where it doesn’t want to go. And as long as the ‘small website market’ is growing, WordPress doesn’t really have to go attacking the enterprise market and those more complex problems.
This isin’t really good news for those dedicated, bigger agencies like Dekode (Norway), Wholegrain Digital (UK), Moove (UK), Frantic (Finland) and H1 (Finland). For bigger digital agencies, like Exove (Finland) or Peytz & Co (Denmark), that only use WordPress as one tool among others this fairly slow progress shouldn’t be that big problem.
Still, right now there probably is ample room for agencies serving bigger clients. All the bigger agencies complain about recruiting difficulties. Nobody complains about the sales tunnel being empty. This is easy to believe. CMS selections are not immune to trends and popularity. As long as WordPress is the ‘cool kid’ that powers almost 30% of the Web it will attract also bigger clients with bigger needs.
Also the plugin market for those more complex problems surely is getting traction. Automattic buying WooCommerce was a good example that winning a plugin war can be financially rewarding.
Instead of just pushing out themes, more agencies should focus to solving that multilanguage challenge, for example. And once that market starts to get traction, the community probably follows. But for now, bigger projects still seem to be a niche for WordPress.
More more! I finally found time to read this article and I deeply regret that I missed meeting you in Sevilla 😦 Very nice analysis indeed. The problem is known for a long time I think: WordPress doesn’t play by the enterprise rules. The market claims for signs that WordPress is indeed a professional solution suitable for enterprises (eg. certification, performance, multi-environment support…). Among those signs, the multilingual issue is incredibly important (and painful as it is not currently addressed IMHO). It means that classic big players of the IT services industry don’t adopt WordPress (and that’s why they adopt Drupal). It is a circle: more demand from IT services companies = more developers. I work with small companies who propose WordPress to their customers. They hire and train WordPress developers. And when they give back to the community, they provide professional plugins addressing enterprise problems. This is what 10UP does and I’d like to see more of these, particularly in Europe. Again, WordPress core should send a clear message to the corporate world. It would be enrichment rather than renunciation or a threat.