Let Open Source Encourage Diversity

One of the things that constantly amazes me at my job is the number of ways that people use WooCommerce. There's over 200 extensions available for WooCommerce on the WooThemes.com site and there's demand for thousands more. So what does WooThemes do? Do we go on a massive hiring spree and build thousands of plugins?

I'm sure we could do that but why? No matter how many extensions we create there's just no way to cover every single use case one of our users come up with. There's also no way we can be experts in every single market. There's thousands of substandard services out there that we don't want to integrate, and there will be problems finding the right extension if we offer thousands. The trick here is to encourage other experts to work with you so that you can create an exceptional product for 90% of your audience and other developers can cover the last 10%. Let your open source project encourage diversity.

Encourage Experts to Work With You

We're can't possibly be experts in every single market. Even if we had hundreds of employees we couldn't be experts in every market.

If there's very useful service or plugin like Gravity Forms then we'll become familiar with the code base and build it ourselves. But what about other plugins that say 3% of our users need? We can't possibly be educated enough to build the best real-estate plugin for WooCommerce, nor are we likely to understand the intricacies of dog betting, before/after tattoo removal, selling medical marijuana, or some other niche market. If the plugin is only useful to a small subset of our users then we welcome other experts to create their own extension and sell it on their own site.

Keep Your Marketplace Clean

If you do let others to work with you then one of the advantages is that you can keep you market place clean. On WooThemes.com we have a handful of shipping extensions. I'm sure there are hundreds of shipping extensions across other sites but we don't want to show all of those extensions. Our handful of shipping extensions probably cover 95% of our users.

This makes it really easy for our users to find what they want. If they have unique use cases then that's when you encourage them to look at other markets or to have it custom made.

Remove Substandard Services

We already have a Gravity Forms extension. Should we create an extension for each form building plugin? Contact Form 7? Jetpack's Contact Form? Probably not. Those are very limited solutions. If you want to have a customizable form we strongly recommend Gravity Forms. We're not going to build solutions for substandard services. If someone needs this functionality they're free to look elsewhere. This gives flexibility to every user and keeps the experience fast and clean for the average user.

Focus on the Average User Not on the Niche

Really what all of this comes down to is to focus on what most of your users need and want. The benefit of being open source is that people can use your product with even if they have some pretty niche requirements. Don't focus on the niche – let other developers do that for you.

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