Here at Beaver Builder, we've been closely following and participating in WordPress' new editor project, Gutenberg. One of the challenges of building software is you want people using and testing it as early as possible, but the earlier you release something the further away it is from the end vision.
I think Gutenberg has suffered a lot from this problem. I love the term, “skating to where the puck is going,” and I think a lot of the criticisms of Gutenberg come from a misunderstanding of the vision of where the future of the web (i.e., the puck) might be heading.
I had the opportunity to do a presentation on Gutenberg for a local meetup. In my research, I read and watched a lot of content about Gutenberg from folks a lot smarter than I am. Folks like Chris Lema, Morten Rand-Hendriksen, and even Mr. Matt Mullenweg himself. This is a “standing on the shoulders of giants” post and my attempt to translate some of their cognitive wizardries in a way that us normal folks can grok.
MySpace and the Web 2.0 Revolution
You didn't need to be a computer geek to publish things on the web. MySpace thrived. Online forums and message boards thrived. YouTube and Facebook were born. WordPress thrived!
I see WordPress today looking a lot like MySpace circa ~2004. On MySpace, you could create a page. You could upload images to that page. You could customize and add content and create posts on your page. Then, you could head over to your friend's page and see their pictures, posts, and content. It was static. On the frontend, your
WordPress website MySpace page looked the same to you as it did to everyone else.
Facebook is Blocks & Views!
How does this all tie into Facebook and Gutenberg? Gutenberg is introducing a new concept called blocks. “Everything will be a block,” right? All of the content on your site will be encapsulated and live independently of everything else in this new idea of a “block.” If you listen to our friend Morten, he explains these blocks will eventually be presented in “views.”
Let's look at Facebook now. What happens when you go on Facebook and you want to share pictures from your vacation or write a review about the restaurant you checked out last night? You make a post. All your posts are encapsulated pieces of content that you can customize independently from all the other posts you've ever created.
It sounds a bit familiar, right? Facebook posts are blocks!
Now, when one pulls up their newsfeed on Facebook, what do they see? They see an auto-generated, personalized view of blocks from all of their friends, family, people, and brands, they want to follow. Unlike MySpace, or anyone's WordPress site today, the content you see on Facebook is totally personalized by machine-learning tuned algorithms just for you. Facebook is ridiculously good at this. They're almost too good. They show you the content that they “think”—well, that their AI thinks—will keep you on the site for the longest amount of time.
Facebook isn't the only one doing this. Amazon is incredible at personalizing the content you see when you visit their site. If you buy a roll of paper towels, a few weeks later they'll ask if you want to buy another. If you buy yourself a drone for Christmas, they'll ask if you want to buy accessories like a case or an extra battery (and, yes, I may know this from personal experience 😄). Twitter, Instagram, Netflix, and all the big players are doing it—even the ones you only visit through incognito browsers.
Is Web 3.0 Around the Corner?
The reason the big companies are doing this is that it works! It works really well. A user is far more likely to spend time on your site or purchase from your store if the content presented to them is personalized.
Chris Lema writes and talks extensively about the idea of segmentation. How understanding your customer segments, and speaking directly to those segments in a language they understand, can boost the chances of users achieving the goals you set out for them.
When we started Beaver Builder, we didn't have any idea who our customers were. We didn't know if they were small businesses that wanted a website without having to pay a professional. Or, if they were web professionals themselves that build lots of websites for clients. Or, maybe they were hobbyists who wanted to share the love and knowledge of whatever their passion was with the world.
Through lots of work, conversations with customers, polls, etc, we learned that most of the customers fall into the “web professional” category. People that have a solid working understanding of web technologies, but they want to use an extensible and stable page builder to save time. Most of our users could build out pages by hand, but they choose to build them with Beaver Builder because it saves time and empowers their clients to take control of the websites when they're finished.
Wrap it Up
Okay, I am getting sidetracked here. At one point, PHP and server-side technologies were not available to the general web user. They were complicated, expensive, and only leveraged by BIG companies with BIG working budgets. I think AI, machine learning, and content personalization are the next revolutionary technologies that are currently only available to BIG companies with BIG budgets.
Over the next one, five, ten years(?), this technology is going to get more and more accessible to the general web user and builder. Just like TinyMCE and PHP set WordPress up to be the goto CMS of the Web 2.0 era, Gutenberg and the new block/view paradigm sets WordPress up to be the go-to CMS for the next 10+ years. Gutenberg is bigger than just competing with Shopify or Medium. Much Bigger.
As AI, machine learning, and personalization technologies get simplified and move downstream, the block and view model positions WordPress in a perfect spot to leverage these technologies and bring powerful personalization tools to folks like you and me.#Gutenberg is bigger than just competing with Shopify and Medium. The new block/view paradigm, combined with personalization, positions #WordPress to the go-to CMS for the next 10 years of the web. Click To Tweet
What do you think? How long will it take for personalization tech like AI and machine learning to become readily available? Does working on these futuristic ideas sound interesting to you? If so, you should check out our job listing for a developer…