New ‘radically simplified’ WordPress is on the way

Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress and Automattic (see disclosure) says that the service is preparing for a significant change of direction — by releasing a much simpler version designed to work on mobile.

Speaking at the paidContent 2012 event on Wednesday, Mullenweg said that he had been hard at work coming up with a new interface that will eradicate some of the complexity that WordPress is usually associated with.

“One of the things I’ve been working on for the past few months is a radical simplification of the interface,” he told interviewer Anil Dash. “WordPress it’s a complex tool, it’s like the back of a digital SLR… but that doesn’t work on a phone.”

That complexity has become one of the reasons it is used by a wide range of different people, from tiny bloggers to The New York Times, and is now reported to be the system behind one in eight sites on the web. But Mullenweg admitted it would be tough to move the company in a completely new direction, given the scale and takeup that WordPress already has.

“We’re doing that, but at the same time we’ve got tens of millions of users who love the other thing,” he said. “WordPress is really on its third or fourth major pivot. It’s easy to pivot if things are going badly, but when it’s going well you have the weight of all your existing users.”

However, he dismissed the idea that the core business of blogging was something that had been undermined by the rise of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other services.

“Blogging has been declared at least five times,” he said. “But that’s like saying creativity is dead, or personal expresion is dead. Ultimately some percentage of the people who get a taste for it through Facebook and Twitter want their own space. And for the most part, that’s a blog.”

Keep up with the discussion at paidContent 2012 via livestream (registration required) and #pc2012 on Twitter.

Disclosure: Automattic, the maker of, is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.

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