It’s Hard to COPE Without a WordPress Lite

It's still far from simple to do well — let alone do better — what was first possible in the Web 1.0 era, even before WordPress was born. Thoughts on “WordPress Lite” and “Create Once, Publish Everywhere.”

One thing hasn't changed much in 20 years for a really common type of CMS-based site build. Whether it's for an individual, an SMB, or a large organization they all need to COPE: “Create Once, Publish Everywhere.” Typically that has meant at least a basic integration of a CMS with an email newsletter — the common person's Digital Experience Platform.

In essence, it's Substack. Social media integration is icing on the cake. This is a system that lets you build any business or organization around writing — and better yet, storytelling — which has always been (and always will be) the primary and most effective tool for deeply influential human communication.

🎙️ In the latest episode of Post Status Comments, Bob Dunn , Jess Frick , and Eric Karkovack joined David to dream BIG — about a smaller, leaner WordPress. This is my take on that subject, and I hope the conversation about it deepens. Let us know what you think on Slack, Twitter, or in the comments below. —Dan

If you need to end up (or start) with your content in Adobe InDesign for print, that's never been easy or inexpensive — nor well-supported for long. Small newspapers and company newsletters still need that integration. For building their own back-end workflows and much else, the PublishPress suite of plugins is unmatched for these kinds of sites. But strong email and desktop publishing integration?

🦗 🦗 🦗

If I'm missing a strong solution, I'd love to know.

Imagine a better-than-Substack blueprint for WordPress.

Back in the olden days…

Once upon a time before RSS-hating Google acquired and killed it, Feedburner offered a great (and generally free) solution (via RSS) from any publishing platform. What Intuit will do with Mailchimp remains to be seen, but it hasn't changed in what seems like an age in its limited integrations, use of RSS, and its templates.

I've made good use of Postmatic in some instances in the past. It generates newsletters from posts that are a bit more customizable than Jetpack Subscriptions and its counterpart features in, but neither lets you build a true newsletter with unique and arbitrary insertions outside normal post-type content.

It can be done…

You could build the basic features of a Substack site pretty easily in as of 2021. By following mostly the same path, you can roll your own elsewhere too. With Newsletter Glue or MailPoet, you'll get those customizable newsletters.

We do a poor job of communicating why the DIY extra mile matters, why open source matters, and why the Open Web and the WordPress community matter — and are rewarding and fun.

For easy publishing (and scheduling) to social media channels, Jetpack's Publicize module — once a standalone plugin and now usable all by itself again — has reemerged with some newly acquired capabilities (like social image generation) as Jetpack Social. Even before it lived in Jetpack, its precursor probably had the best-integrated interface with the publish meta box and the least friction to slow you down.

It could be easier, faster, better…

Imagine a better-than-Substack blueprint for WordPress.

Imagine a blog (or P2 microblog) with email-subscribable and replyable comments plus a well-integrated newsletter that could grab any content, including comments. Some of us have been imagining it for a long time!


Today, all these parts need to be put together with great care by people with significant WordPress knowledge and experience — or the time and will to learn. Most people wanting the end result will never realize a DIY or bespoke option exists, but if they do, they're unlikely to see the value as opposed to going to a Medium or Substack.

First — not last — of the independents

We do a poor job of communicating why the DIY extra mile matters, why open source matters, and why the Open Web and the WordPress community matter — and are rewarding and fun.

Kim Coleman nailed all that on her blog recently, but her message can't be restated enough. The pain points she notes can't be reduced enough — and the onramps to onboarding new users and contributors smoothed out and celebrated enough.

Whether WordPress becomes simpler or not, we should do more to help people learn how to use it for many of the most common use cases at each level of expertise. Getting involved in the project should be an easier process too — and I don't see why we wouldn't want to make it that way.

Dan Knauss

Dan Knauss is the Editor at Post Status. He's a writer and editor, sometimes a teacher, and occasionally still an open-source web developer and consultant.

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