SXSWi panel: Interview with Matt Mullenweg

South by Southwest Interactive kicked off Friday with a bang!  On entering the Austin Convention Center, there was an excitement in the air that seemed to raise the hair on my arms.  Goose bumps!

It’s amazing to see so many people excited by their work and by meeting new people and being a part of innovation and technology.  I remember being incredibly inspired at SXSWi 2010, and after getting a taste today, I know I’ll walk away inspired again this year.

I was pretty disappointed by the first panel (at 2pm) — How not to Design Like  Developer (#betterdesign).  It was unfocused.  It didn’t inform me much.  I expected better.

But I was totally excited by the interview with Matt Mullenweg of Automattic/Wordpress (#sxswwp).  I’ve really moved into designing for WordPress over the last year.  And I’ve been using WordPress more and more as a CMS, rather than just a blog — which seems to be the way WordPress development is heading.

And Matt talked about that — when at it’s best, WordPress is invisible.  It’s a tool.

Currently, he says 12% of the Internet is using WordPress.  That’s pretty impressive, and for those people who say blogging is dead — it’s just not true, according to Mullenweg.  WordPress adds a new blog every 2 seconds.

I could tell that Mullenweg admires the power of Twitter and up-and-comer Tumblr.  Twitter — for taking mobile seriously — and Tumblr — for it’s simplicity and great design.

And while there was a lot of talk about WordPress’ business model and how it works, what I took away about the future of WordPress is that it will continue to be an open source platform that focuses on a user-centric model (offering products that users find valuable and want to pay for) rather than and advertiser-centric model (relaying on ads for revenue), although some ads are necessary.

WordPress 3.1 was just rolled out along with a couple of major products for .com and .org users, so work hasn’t yet begun on the next version.  But Mullenweg said his ideas for the future include slicker media embedding, a better writing experience in full-screen mode, an easier way to integrate podcasts, and making the mobile apps better.  he freely admitted they aren’t good and they should be.

I loved hearing from Mullenweg, and I’m excited about the future of WordPress, especially since I’m having so much fun designing and developing with it.  It’s definitely become my favorite platform to work with.

In the meantime, I’m soaking up as much as I can at SXSWi.  There’ so much to do and see!  I’ll be tweeting more than I blog, but I will be doing both on Saturday!

Follow me @cindybrummer.

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