It's your fave WordPress weekly email, now at issue 154!

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Rebecca, hello!

Welcome back to MasterWP Weekly, your weekly newsletter for WordPress professionals 👋

Last week Ben added an events section to the website. It was inspired by a conversation on Twitter where it was asked why WordPress developers don’t go to other web dev conferences. The most common answer was that they didn’t know about these other events, so this is our attempt at a solution. Each week you will find a list of upcoming events somewhere in the content. Let us know if there’s any we should add!
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Hello from Alex!
I had an excellent week in Oxford with the Ellipsis team meetup last week. We’re remote so only meet in person a couple of times a year, and I’m always amazed how much we’re able to get done in a couple of days. We’re also expanding our network of freelance writers, so if you want to work with us check out the link.
Hello from Ben!
This week I’ve pushed some updates to Toolbelt (it now does footnotes, and has a few bug fixes), and I’m planning the next version of my animation app Brush Ninja. It’s always fun making new things!
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Strattic raises $6.5M to bring static WordPress to the masses

Second big funding news in as many weeks

Strattic, a static hosting provider for WordPress, has raised $6.5m to “bring static WordPress to the masses”. Static hosting has been getting a lot of attention recently, not least because Strattic co-founder Miriam Schwab has been talking about it at WordCamps.

The idea with “static hosting” is you use WordPress as a static site which is updated when needed. This makes it faster and more secure by default. I don’t have sufficient grasp of the technical detail to comment much further, but this is another instance of “new” WordPress hosting (Convesio are another good example) which can ensure WordPress remains a great choice for a wider group of people.

From the TechCrunch post it sounds like the team are planning on using the money to expand faster: “The team plans to use the new funding to build out its product team and start rolling out new features quickly. Currently, for example, there are still a few types of sites that don’t work with Strattic, including those that use the popular WooCommerce system.”

What is interesting here is the list of investors includes Automattic. Automattic were also early investors in WP Engine so there’s form here. The article also reports Strattic were looking to raise $2m but were oversubscribed, coming back with $6.5m. I’ve been hearing noises about “traditional” venture capital starting to “wake up” to the opportunities in the WordPress ecosystem, so this is another indicator of that.

We covered that Elementor, also based in Israel, raised $15m in last week’s newsletter. What I missed is the pretty funny farce surrounding the publication; the news was embargoed but Post Status, whose post we linked, were not party to the embargo. They thus broke the news (I gather it showed up on Tech Crunch’s investor database) but were asked to remove the story along with people who had tweeted about it. Post Status didn’t remove the story, instead amplified it, and I like the idea this was all a ploy to get more attention. I guess it worked?

That’s mostly besides the point: this is a lot of money coming into the WordPress ecosystem from traditional sources, and it’s going to let these two companies do some great work. $20m+ is simultaneously a lot of money and no money at all in the world of startups. I’ve said before that I think it’s pretty wild so much of WordPress that so much of the internet relies on is built and maintained by so few people. Better resourcing is good for WordPress, and hopefully we see more of this this year. - Alex.
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How to remove condescending language from documentation

Just do it, it’s easy!

I suspect a reasonable number of people reading this newsletter have their own WordPress businesses selling plugins and themes. There will also be a fair few who run agencies, or do freelance work. There will be even more people who help their relatives with computer problems.

But how much time do you spend thinking about how you communicate with your customers/ clients/ friends/ family?

When I started publishing WordPress themes documentation was an afterthought. As my themes got more popular I had to start doing more in-depth documentation. But I didn’t really start thinking about the actual words I use until I read Just by Brad Frost.

In this article Carolyn talks about how she has been trying to remove words like “simple”, and “easy”, and “just”, but I’m sure there’s other words and phrases too.

When we are writing for users we have to consider all skill levels and the fact that we don’t know who is reading the document. We have to be careful not to talk down to people. We have to respect them. They may not know how to import posts into WordPress but I’m sure there are plenty of things they know that we are equally poor at.

When I do customer support I am very careful not to suggest things are easy since I have no idea what the skill level of the customer is. In addition, I always link to relevant documentation or web pages. So rather than saying “install this plugin” I will say, “install this plugin, and here’s a link to the plugin, here’s how to install plugins, and here’s a link to the relevant docs to set up that feature you need”. This gives the user all the information they need, and doesn’t take much longer to type out. It also reduces the likelihood that they will send me follow up messages asking how to do the different steps.

A common thing that happens to me is I will talk about something on Twitter and someone will say, oh you can easily do that with Docker, or just use Webpack; and then I have to either smile and say “yeah I could” (imposter syndrome), or admit I don’t know how to do these things. It’s frustrating for me to admit and I’m more technical than the average WordPress blogger so they would need even more hand-holding. - Ben.
Upcoming Events
  • CityJS Conference 2020
    25th - 27th March 2020 London, UK
    CityJS Conference is a JavaScript festival across London, a joint event from the London's JavaScript meetups.
  • FrontCon 2020
    1st - 3rd April 2020 Riga, Latvia
    FrontCon is a two-day conference that focuses on front-end concepts and technologies.
  • Midwest PHP 2020
    2nd - 4th April 2020 Minneapolis, MN, USA
    PHP conference with free tickets that includes online versions of many of the presentations.
View more events >
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On MAGA Caps and WordCamps

Symbols of Hate at WordCamps

I’ve been anxious about covering this: it’s a US-centric discussion, I’m not American, and I’m also white and male. I follow US politics relatively closely but didn’t know “MAGA” was an acronym for “Make America Great Again” until last week. I’m thus not going to comment, because I don’t understand the issues. I felt it was important to link this in the newsletter, though, as it is a debate which is ongoing and I don’t want to ignore it from our platform. I’ve linked a WP Tavern story where you can get more information. - Alex.

Disrupting WordPress

“If WordPress does not self-disrupt, it will be disrupted by an external force.”

This is a fresh take on Gutenberg, WordPress’ market share, and how it all fits together. It’s a high-level take, and it’s interesting as it’s a take I haven’t seen before:

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” Software must evolve or it becomes archaic and dies.

Interesting read! - Alex.
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The boss who put everyone on 70K

Everyone should do this!

This is awesome. So much of the world these days seems to be focused on the rich becoming richer. You even get crazy people on Twitter arguing that Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk should be able to earn whatever they like - and screw the people they abuse to get their vast fortunes.

So it’s great to see a story about a tech CEO who took a pay cut from his million dollar a year job so that his employees don’t have to worry. The minimum salary is now $70k, so presumably there are people on more than this.

In the UK we have a national minimum wage, and a living wage, and these are still quite low compared to the cost of living. If employees were able to earn enough to not have to worry about where their next meal is coming from then of course they will work better. They won’t have to worry about the problems outside of the office and can focus on what they are being paid to do. - Ben

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MasterWP is a free weekly newsletter for WordPress professionals, written by Ben Gillbanks and Alex Denning. Thank you to our sponsor this week, MailPoet for sending the email, and the people who make it happen: Peta Armstrong formats the newsletter, and Barbara Saul, Monique Dubbelman, and Laura Nelson kindly copy-check for us.

You can get in touch with us – send us your thoughts, comments, or a story – by replying directly to this newsletter.

"There's a way to do it better—find it."

- Thomas Edison