Birgit Pauli-Haack on Serving Nonprofit & Community

Matt Medeiros continues Season 8 with his interview with Birgit Pauli-Haack. Birgit is a web developer in Naples, Florida and started as a freelancer in 2002. She became a developer because there was not enough software to do what she wanted to on the web. She uses WordPress and Cold Fusion on a few sites in her agency. In addition to working with non-profits, small business and government agencies, she is very instrumental in the WordPress Community.

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WordPress – The Non-profit space 

Matt – The world of non-profits has changed. There initially was not a lot of money in non-profits but they have developed over the years. (4:00)

Birgit – There are a lot of donations being taken online so websites need to be able to handle that. Non-profits that adopted technology are the ones that are hiring consultants.  If the leadership of the non-profit sees the perceived value of having a strong website you will be more successful building and maintaining sites for them. If you are working with a non-profit, you must be able to present before the board and be able to manage many people that represent that board. (4:37)

Changes in WordPress

Matt – Page builders have changed the adoption and price point for non-profits.  Page builders have become a good entry point for web developers. (9:41)

Birgit – The release of page builder software has changed the conversation with the client, as they can now see what the software can do. WordPress was still difficult to understand for a non-technical person that needed to create content or newsletters. Birgit is a supporter of Gutenberg and the transition that it is allowing the non-profit client to create content.  Once Gutenberg was released as a plugin in 2017, she wanted to learn as much as possible about it. (10:40)

Matt – We need something in the core of WordPress that users can just use without a huge learning curve. Many new brick and mortar stores are just going to Squarespace or WIX because of the ease of it. (14:41)

Birgit – The page builder business is going to be a very interesting transition, especially with hotels or restaurants.  There will be layout standards that start to come through for different businesses. When innovation is adopted by a community the early adopters push the boundaries (as is the case with Gutenberg). The innovators are typically 15% of the user base. The rest of the community comes along later with different levels of participation. (16:33)

Matt – Reviewed the 2019 core theme that comes with core WordPress 5.0. He waited before he weighed in on the theme.  There were still some struggles to create core things and move blocks around. (21:46)

Birgit – With early releases of the plugin, there were things that did not work or “broke”. If your agency or business has many websites that you maintain, keep the Classic Editor because there are many things that are not ready in core. It takes time to teach clients how to use Gutenberg if they are heavy editing users. (22:41)

Matt – The decision making to release Gutenberg into core upset some of the WordPress community. There was not great communication and there was a lack of clarity about where WordPress is going. (28:23)

Birgit – There did not seem to be a strategy around the communication from Matt Mullenweg. Gutenberg Times was an attempt to get out in front of the software changes. There is not mainstream communication for the open source software but it looks like it is being worked on. Communication can always be better especially when change is occurring. (33:57)

Matt – This Gutenberg editor release is being treated as a product within a product. It might be helpful to have a product person to communicate what is happening. (34:17)

Birgit – it seems as though the Gutenberg editor is not being adopted by the enterprise yet. (35:50)

It is important to remember that there are people behind the changes and it is wise to remember that when posting something publically. WordPress leadership has much to deal with while keeping the focus of the team. (39:30)

Episode Resources:
Gutenberg Times
Jeff Chandler of WPTavern
Morten Rand-Hendrikson
Gutenberg Times YouTube
Rachel M. Smith Gutenberg nested blocks
Join the Gutenberg times mailing list

To Keep in Touch:
Birgit on Twitter
Gutenberg Times

To Stay in Touch with Matt:

Watch the panel discussion on Matt’s YouTube channel.

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