There are hundreds of different ways you could go about building a website. WordPress offers one of those hundreds of ways, and in our eyes, it’s one of the best. This website wouldn’t exist if we didn’t believe that, and you wouldn’t be here reading this article if WordPress didn’t exist. The ubiquitous, versatile platform isn’t for everybody, though, and some people make their dislike of WordPress known more than others. As a business that offers an alternative platform, Wix is one of the loudest of the dissenting voices. Within the past few days, we’ve seen that dissenting voice grow even louder.
The people behind Wix would love it if millions of WordPress users left WordPress behind and started building websites with them instead. In the hope of encouraging users to do precisely that, Wix has recently launched a brand new marketing campaign. Rather than touting the benefits and virtues of using Wix, though, they’ve decided to focus on the perceived negatives of WordPress instead. Tech industry experts are already calling this approach ‘bizarre,’ and have warned that it’s unlikely to be attractive to potential customers. Nevertheless, the adverts are still in circulation as of the time of writing.
The tagline of the Wix campaign is “you deserve better,” and its message is being delivered through unusual means. Wix appears to have acquired a large collection of Bose noise-cancelling headphones and mailed them to a carefully chosen list of WordPress users and pro-WordPress social media influencers. The packaging for the headphones has a QR code printed on it. Once scanned, that QR code takes the user directly to a video in which WordPress is “represented” by a dull-looking man wearing a blazer. The approach immediately calls to mind Apple’s “I’m a PC” adverts from years ago – which is probably a deliberate association on Wix’s part. They want to be seen as the trendier, more forward-thinking company as opposed to the long-tenured and well-established WordPress.
Here’s where the “bizarre” part comes in. In the video, the blazer-wearing man says that Wix is about to trash WordPress in the media, but the viewer should disregard the campaign as “fake news.” The note that comes with the box says “yours, WP” which gives the impression that this is a genuine communication from WordPress warning users that Wix is about to launch an attack. WordPress has confirmed that the campaign has nothing to do with them, and it’s since been verified that the packages came from Wix. The intention might have been to get people talking about Wix before the “real” campaign started, but the approach has caused more than a little confusion – not least because the users and influencers who received the packages didn’t solicit them.
Since the packages were sent, a further six videos have appeared online. All of them take aim at a different WordPress “problem.” The legendary “white screen of death” is (unsurprisingly) targeted, as is the perceived lack of customer support and the issues caused by clashing plugins. The videos are presented in the format of a therapy session, with a therapist gently reassuring the “WordPress customer” that things don’t have to be like this, and better options are available.
Companies almost never take direct aim at each other in the press like this, and it appears to have caught WordPress off-guard. Now they’ve had an opportunity to watch the videos and respond, and they’re unimpressed. Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress, has issued a personal response on his blog. While we won’t reprint it word for word, he says that he feels bad for the actors who had to work on the videos. In a barbed attack, he went on to say that Wix coming for WordPress is like “Encyclopedia Britannica attacking Wikipedia.” He points out that WordPress is open-source, run by volunteers, and has a global community of hundreds of thousands of people. His intention is clearly to belittle Wix, and, to a degree, it works. Some will feel that the most dignified thing to do in the face of Wix’s attack would be to remain silent, but on a human level, it’s not hard to understand why the platform’s owner would feel compelled to defend himself.
Wix’s decision to attack WordPress is a strange one. In terms of market share, the companies are now rivals. WordPress is too far ahead for that to be the case. According to statistics released in 2020, WordPress’ market share is an astonishing 62.1% of all the websites on the entire internet. Wix, by comparison, holds a market share of just 2.3%. It would make more sense for Wix to go toe to toe with Squarespace, which is marginally ahead of them with 2.7%. Shopify would be next in line with 3.4%, although the services provided by Wix and Shopify aren’t directly comparable. It’s equivalent to a small, regional information technology company launching a media campaign against Microsoft. The tech firm would be left looking petty, and Microsoft would be entirely unaffected.
Even with that in mind, Wix needs to try something if it’s to peg back WordPress, which has increased its market share every year for the past five years. WordPress seems to break through into a new industry every year, with online slots websites being the latest area of growth. A combination of security, good payment tools and attractive templates has seen hundreds of brand new online slots websites built with WordPress during the past 24 months. Slots websites like Rose Slots for Ireland are growing bigger and making more money all the time, and some of that money is finding its way to WordPress. As the online casino industry is worth more than sixty billion dollars per year, there are obvious benefits to any platform that hosts its websites. WordPress is currently winning that battle.
It’s unlikely this new Wix campaign will persuade anyone to move from WordPress to Wix. It’s possible that it might catch a few dissatisfied WordPress customers at the perfect time to make them think again about where their websites are hosted, but not to the extent that it will make a difference of even a tenth of one per cent in the market share stakes. All Wix is likely to achieve is hooking a few people up with great headphones which, ironically, is great PR for Bose. The bigger WordPress gets, though, the more attacks like this will happen – so we’ll probably see more of these campaigns in the future.