Automattic moving down the supply chain

Being a WordPress Agency.

Last week the owners of WordPress, Automattic, acquired UK’s “Code For The People” to bolster it’s WordPress VIP Enterprise Business.

The outright purchase of a UK WordPress agency is a sign that WordPress agencies are very much in demand, but should WordPress clients be worried? Or heartened?

At the last count, there are over 20 established national WordPress Agencies in the UK and countless other regional and local agencies so there’s no shortage of choice, yet. But the costs billed from the new breed of WordPress agency are changing.

Many local agencies started out charging £50 an hour for standard WordPress work as the competition primarily came from WordPress freelancers and part-timers. What we’ve seen over the last couple of years is that average cost per hour climb past the £100 per hour mark.

With the slowing of traditional web development, the costs for old-style development is sliding and is now in many cases at a lower cost per hour than the new WordPress development agencies. Usefully, designing, building and deploying WordPress is substantially less (75% +) traditional hand-cut web development.

The efficiency of WordPress deployment, and the absence of larger, more capable, agencies is driving the WordPress agency market into a sellers-market – and we’re seeing this first-hand with the increasing number of potential clients approaching us and being vetted-out. So, choose you WordPress agency carefully and plan on a long-term relationship – as they are likely to become more choosey as time goes on.

The WordPress agency marketplace is evolving very quickly at the moment, and that’s not likely to stop until the end of the decade. We expect a dramatic market consolidation from 2015 onwards, with smaller players edged out and the larger agencies becoming predatory. Usefully, swapping from one WordPress agency to another is quick and not complicated.

Will the WordPress Freelancer survive? Our view is “Yes, and prosper”, the profile of their clients is going to switch from small owner-operated customers to agencies-type companies. Some freelancers will opt to jump back into the job market and work again for agencies – the better ones will command higher rates and have more say in what they do and how they work. It’s an exciting time to be involved in WordPress.