Umbraco was built from a mission of wanting to democratize CMS. Back then, systems were either difficult to use or very expensive - usually both. I think it’s fair to say that the mission has been completed and I’m proud that Umbraco has played a big role in making CMS easier to use and accessible for more.
However, it doesn’t mean that we’ve outplayed our role, quite the contrary. To thrive as a business of any type or size, it’s never been more important to do digital business. Just like CMS was difficult and expensive twenty years ago, so is doing business online today. So what has motivated me the last couple of years is a new mission to democratize digital business.
Levelling up on “simpler”
When I started Umbraco almost twenty years ago, it was because I wanted it to be SIMPLER to make and manage websites. Simpler for those who developed them and easy for the non-developers to maintain.
Back then, websites had very different looks, yet were relatively basic in the technical requirements, so they were usually made from scratch by a web developer. That meant that as long as the tool didn’t get in the way of how your site should look and made it easy to update after it was built, the job was done.
Today, websites ironically look like each other but are increasingly complex in the way they’re built (ref: "Yes, websites really are starting to look more similar"). It also means that the journey from which Umbraco has been installed to the site is ready to maintain is longer than before.
That’s not simpler. That’s not Umbraco.
Let’s stop reinventing the wheel
As the importance of digital solutions and the requirements for websites has increased, there’s also been an unfortunate trend towards making things more complex. It’s doesn’t have to be a problem as long as efforts are made in reducing the complexity and especially making sure you don’t need to repeat the work over and over.
However, too often I believe that wheels get reinvented without validating that it makes sense for the customer. It means that a Umbraco solution gets too expensive, takes too long to bring to market, and becomes hard to maintain. It means that some customers are left with the impression that Umbraco is not for them.
But perhaps the worst thing is that it’s just dead wrong. We live in times with developer shortage and where digital is important for everyone. Umbraco should make it simpler to do digital business and that means that it should only require a developer if you need to do tasks that are beyond basics or you have custom needs.
The funny thing is that this is really where Umbraco excels. That we’ve always existed to make it easier to build and maintain your online presence. That we’ve always been designed to be able to customize both your appearance, editing experience, and extensions.
Now we need to take it a step further and democratize digital business for even more people
When we succeed with this, it’ll benefit us all - from the single Umbraco developer to the large agency. But more importantly, it’ll benefit the many people and organizations who need to succeed with digital business.
That’s where I want to take Umbraco and it makes it more meaningful to go to work than ever before.