346 – WonderSuite: simplifying the setup in WordPress for all users

Interview with Jason Cross and Nathan Wrigley.

On the podcast today we have Jason Cross.

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Jason is an experienced tech executive with a diverse background in the industry. Currently serving as the SVP of product at Bluehost / Newfold Digital, and he’s been there for over a year and a half. He is responsible for overseeing their WordPress, commerce, and proprietary products across multiple global brands. Before joining Bluehost / Newfold Digital, Jason worked for Facebook / Meta and gained valuable experience working for media companies, ad tech companies, and even started his own startups. With over 20 years of experience, he has specialised in serving small and medium businesses as well as agencies in the tech, SaaS, and ad tech sectors.

Jason shares his team’s mission to push WonderSuite out to the market. Gone are the days in which hosting companies could easily promote their offering in terms of hardware specifications, like speed and RAM. Today, customers seek streamlined platforms that allow them to quickly establish an online presence and build their businesses with confidence. We’re in a world in which WordPress competes against the likes of Squarespace and Wix.

Drawing from his experience at Meta, and encountering similar challenges to Facebook’s ad manager tool, Jason talks about how their team tackles these issues head-on. They have developed over a hundred pre-designed blocks, and are continuously adding more, to help users with a large set of design options.

Looking to the future, Jason shares plans to create even more robust blocks that may require unique plugins for enhanced functionality. Should a user lack a required plugin, the system will offer options to purchase it within the product or recognise its absence and provide suitable alternatives.

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As it’s 2023, we get into AI, and Jason talks about how his team are leveraging this technology in their WonderBlocks to generate real-time designs filled with content and imagery tailored to each user’s business. We get into the how WonderBlocks’ onboarding process tries to simplify essential tasks such as basic SEO setup, logo integration, and product selection.

We chat about how their customer support tool that utilises AI to provide immediate assistance and answers to frequently asked questions within the Bluehost environment the aim of which is to eliminate the need for customers to scour Google or watch videos for solutions to their issues.

The basic premise is this… WordPress website hosts experience quite a lot of customer churn, and so Bluehost are seeking to reduce this by delivering websites as efficiently as possible, aiming to keep users satisfied with their WordPress experience from the moment they first log in to their account. This endeavour is called WonderSuite, and later in the episode we unravel the wonders of WonderSuite (did you see what I did there!), a series of unique experiences curated to cater to the needs of agencies, professionals, and small business owners, irrespective of their WordPress familiarity.

From the initial onboarding process offered by WonderStart, to more advanced features of WonderTheme, WonderBlocks, WonderHelp, and WonderCart, Jason showcases how these components work together to help their customers at every stage of their website-building journey.

Have a listen…

If you’re more into bullet points, this is broadly how the podcast goes.

Note: The sequence of topics may have slight deviations based on the actual conversation flow in the podcast episode.

Challenges of Plugin Compatibility

  • Importance of ensuring commerce plugins work harmoniously together
  • Out-of-sync issues when stacking too many plugins
  • Yith partnership for building a reliable commerce experience

Simplifying Website Building

  • Increasing demand for simpler alternatives to building websites
  • Shift in customer preferences from hardware specifications to quick online presence
  • Comparison of Meta’s experience with Facebook’s ad manager tool

WonderBlocks and Pre-designed Blocks

  • Access to pre-designed blocks via Bluehost and the WonderBlock modal
  • Over a hundred pre-designed blocks continually being added
  • Future plans for robust blocks requiring unique plugins

AI and Unique Designs in WonderBlocks

  • Leveraging AI to create real-time unique designs with relevant content
  • Onboarding process includes basic SEO setup, logo addition, and product selection
  • Recommendation of WonderCart or Yoast for SEO based on user’s needs

AI Utilisation in Customer Support

  • Development of an AI tool to assist customer support teams
  • Addressing the need for quick and accessible support within the environment
  • Examples of customer inquiries and improvements over Google and videos

Expectations and Challenges with Website Building

  • Television adverts shaping expectations of easy website creation
  • Templating systems provided by platforms like Squarespace and Wix
  • Bluehost’s efforts to reduce churn by simplifying WordPress experience

Introduction to WonderSuite Experiences

  • Benefits of leveraging WordPress for efficiency and time-saving
  • WonderSuite experiences for small, novice, and intermediate customers
  • Gradual introduction of features based on customer’s progress and needs

Components of WonderSuite

  • Overview of WonderStart, WonderTheme, WonderBlocks, WonderHelp, and WonderCart
  • Unclear if the components can be used individually or are part of a package
  • Opportunity for existing Bluehost users to try out Wanda Suite components

Simplifying Initial Setup with WonderStart

  • Description of WonderStart as an onboarding wizard with AI prompts
  • Customised setup based on customer’s expertise and business type
  • Setting up WonderSuite environment, including integrations with PayPal and Stripe

Real-time Thumbnail Generation

  • Thumbnails in WonderBlock’s environment generated in real-time with user’s content
  • Generation process initiated during onboarding for seamless design experience

E-commerce Focus and Plugin Efficiency

  • Recognizing a gap in e-commerce capabilities in WordPress
  • Challenges of building e-commerce sales funnels for novices
  • Creation of Bluehost plugin combining multiple functions into one interface

Acquisition Trends in WordPress Industry

  • Growing trend of acquisitions in the WordPress space, particularly in hosting
  • Speculations about Yoast and Yith being involved in the offering
  • Aim to create a cohesive and comprehensive e-commerce experience

The Future of Website Setup

  • Projection of a similar setup flow becoming the norm for end users
  • Emphasising convenience and application of AI in product development
  • Florist example to illustrate the process

Jason Cross’s Background and Expertise

  • Background in SaaS, ad tech, marketing, and paid media
  • Understanding pain points when scaling, choosing plugins, and running campaigns
  • Experience with small business agencies and website conversions

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Transcript (if available)

These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.

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[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Hello there and welcome once again to the WP Builds podcast. You've reached episode number 346 ientitled, WonderSuite simplifying the setup in WordPress for all users. It was published on Thursday the 19th of October. 2023. My name's Nathan Wrigley, and before we begin the podcast with Jason Cross. First, a few bits of housekeeping.

The first thing to mention is that we have our Black Friday deals page going on, it's at WP Builds.com forward slash black. How easy is that to remember? WP Builds.com forward slash black. It's easier to remember if I say it twice. Over there you'll find a growing list of WordPress deals. So that's things like plugins, themes, blocks, all of that kind of thing, hosting and whatnot. And it's all being submitted by product owners. So if you have a deal, and you would like it on there for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Halloween, it doesn't matter which head over to that page, and there is a add a deal button. If you click that, there's a form and you can fill out your deal.

If you're interested in appearing in a pride of place, spot on that page, you can see that there are some black boxes at the top. And if you want to add yourself to that, they are sponsored slots. Please click the button in one of those spare black slots, and you will be able to get in touch with us, and hopefully get you on that page, which is looked at, I keep saying it in air quotes quite a lot during the run up to black Friday.

If having listened to this episode, you want to leave a comment? Please do that on the website. Go to WP Builds.com, search for episode 3 4 6, and leave us a comment there. WordPress after all has a fabulous commenting system, and it really does help. Us at the podcast. If the comments are all siloed over there.

A couple of other things to mention where you have some new content coming out. Over the next few weeks, I'm going to be doing some episodes. I'm going to call them webinars, but basically it's some live episodes. This is in addition to This Week in WordPress show. I'm starting a series with Leo, from Gato GraphQL, a plugin which enables you to, well do almost anything. It's incredibly complicated the things that you can do. And so we're diving into a five-part webinar series. That's going to be on Wednesday, the 18th of October at 3:00 PM UK time.

But also I'm starting a show with Sabrina's Zeidan called Speed It Up. And the idea is that user submitted sites will be included, and Sabrina will take them apart and give some tips and tricks for the things that might be slowing the site down, so you can speed it up. If you go to the WP Builds.com homepage, you'll see there are some little boxes, you have to scroll down a little bit, and it gives you some calendar options to put those into your calendar. The other thing that you can do, if you want to submit a site to Sabrina's show is go to WP Builds.com forward slash speed. And if you want her to take a look gratis, for free, how good is that? Then submit that form.

The WP Builds podcast is brought to you today by GoDaddy Pro. GoDaddy Pro the home of managed WordPress hosting that includes free domain, SSL and 24 7 support. Bundle that with The Hub by GoDaddy Pro to unlock more free benefits to manage multiple sites in one place, invoice clients, and get 30% off new purchases. You can find out more by heading to go.me forward slash WP Builds. Once more, go.me forward slash WP Builds. And sincere thanks to GoDaddy Pro. For their ongoing support of the WP Builds podcast.

So let's talk about what's actually happening today. Well, today I'm chatting to Jason Cross. Jason is from Bluehost, Newfold Digital, they're kind of one and the same thing, but he's the senior vice president of product at Bluehost slash Newfold Digital. And he's here today to talk about WonderSuite. Obviously Bluehost is a host of a WordPress. And one of the big problems that hosting companies face is churn. Lots of people come, have a look at WordPress and then decide it's not for them because, well, let's be honest, things can be a little bit more confusing than over on the SaaS side. So WonderSuite is a whole bunch of different things that you can do, and the endeavor really is to make it so that there's less churn, make it easier. And it's made up of several different parts WonderStart, which is an onboarding process, WonderTheme, a versatile theme developed by Yith WonderBlocks, a suite of blocks. WonderHelp, AI powered help. And WonderCart, an e-commerce feature designed to empower online sales. And so Jason talks through how all of this is now part of the Bluehost offering. I hope. That you enjoy it.

I am joined on the podcast today by Jason Cross. Hello, Jason.

[00:05:26] Jason Cross: Hi, Nathan. Thanks for having me.

[00:05:28] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, you're so welcome. Jason's joining us today because the company that he works for Bluehost has a really interesting product, which I think might well be of interest to you if you're a freelancer. But also, I guess if you're an agency owner and you just want to speed up the process of creating sites.

That I think is really what we're talking about. It's called WonderSuite. And we're going to get into the bits and the pieces of it. Before that though, Jason, I wonder if you wouldn't mind just spending a moment, introduce yourself, tell us about your journey in tech, in WordPress and how you ended up being on a podcast today.

[00:06:04] Jason Cross: Yeah. Thank you. So yeah, I've been at Bluehost or Newfold Digital for a little over a year and a half. I'm the SVP of product. I oversee their WordPress, commerce, and some of their proprietary products across many of their global brands. And prior to joining Newfold and Bluehost, I work for Facebook or Meta.

And had a background working for media companies, ad tech companies, and a few of my own startups. So I've been in tech, SaaS, ad tech, all really focused on small, medium businesses and agencies for the better part of 20 years.

[00:06:41] Nathan Wrigley: Did you have a background in open source software and in particular WordPress, or was it just a, the job came up and your suitability, your credentials match that job. And so WordPress came along for the ride.

[00:06:55] Jason Cross: My, my background in WordPress was when I ran, worked for an ad tech company and many of the customers that we ran their marketing paid media for used WordPress. And so I became very familiar of the pros and cons of our customers dealing with the open environment and all that comes with that for WordPress.

And so I had a really good understanding of the pain points that some customers had as they started to scale. And as they had to pick and choose which plugins to work with and we, the company I worked for, we had to fix and update and maintain many of them as our paid conversion rates really, we needed those websites to perform perfectly in order for us to continue to maintain strong ROAS.

And so had a background in that and. Lots of, time focused on SaaS builders small businesses getting online and running marketing. And my time at Metta really taught me the, even more of the complexities of small business agencies. using their websites to drive traffic and conversions.

And so that led me to join New Fold and Bluehost to try to, like up level, modernize and innovate. And I guess that's what led me to you today. So

[00:08:22] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, that's great. Yeah, thank you. That's brilliant. Newfold is the parent company of a whole bunch of WordPress companies now. For example, although it's not a WordPress company, there is a strong association between Bluehost and WordPress. But also there's other things like Yth and Yoast, and maybe we'll get into some of that.

But okay, thank you for that. The enterprise today really is to talk about WonderSuite and before we get into that, I'm curious as to why would Bluehost go to the great lengths to create what we're going to find out is a fairly Complicated, not complicated to use, but probably complicated to engineer.

Complicated a product to more or less on board customers. Now, the people that listen to this podcast, I would imagine a high proportion of them are using WordPress day in, day out. Everything is straightforward. Any wrinkles that there were in the UI or selection of plugins, all of that probably got stripped away a long time ago.

But I think it's fair to say that if you are a complete novice to building a website, although we love WordPress, I think it's fair to say that it is a little bit intimidating. There's a lot that can go wrong. There's a lot of blind alleys that you can go down. And so my guess is that WonderSuite is Bluehost's endeavor to make it so that you go wrong less at the beginning, right?

[00:09:47] Jason Cross: yeah, that's where the journey is starting. We support many pros, many agencies, but the volume of customers that come into our WordPress ecosystem are. novice to intermediate single entrepreneurs, small business owners, hobbyists, and they, in the past, they would come in and the feedback that we would get, they would have no idea what to do.

They didn't know what to do first, next. They didn't know how to publish something. They didn't know the nomenclature of WordPress. So go get plugins. What's that?

[00:10:29] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah.


[00:10:32] Jason Cross: Yeah They would come in and quickly realize this is more effort, more work than I have the appetite and time. I'm going to go try something else that's simpler because all I really need is a, a simple site for bookings and class scheduling and I can't figure this out.

And so I think the days of the past were hosting companies sold, hosting. WordPress plans where you're selling like hardware, like speed and RAM and all of that doesn't resonate with the customer base who are coming to build websites today. They're looking at how do I get online quickly?

How do I feel like this platform? Is something that I can see myself building a business around that I'm competent and able to do it. And at my time at Metta, we had the same problem. If you've ever used Facebook's ad manager tool,

[00:11:35] Nathan Wrigley: Oh boy. Yeah.

[00:11:38] Jason Cross: I good luck. It's very robust very complicated and technical.

And we had to find ways to get a small business to feel like they were capable to. Actually be the owner of that environment and feel like they could move forward. Otherwise, again, they would come in and turn out almost immediately. And again, these are customers that don't really have the money yet to go hire an agency because they're really just at the beginning of their journey.

And that is what we're trying to just now start with is to put up some guardrails, some bumpers and some guidance to help them initially and then during the mid journey of their development and growth.

[00:12:32] Nathan Wrigley: Curiously, there's one piece that stuck out from what you were saying there and it sounds like almost the WordPress market from a hosting company's point of view has been turned upon its head a little bit over the last, let's say it's five, four, three years, something like that, in that in the past when I was looking at hosting prior to those four.

Three, five years, whatever. Literally, I was looking at specs. I wanted to know how much RAM and all of that kind of stuff. And that was it. And I figured out, okay there's some kind of control panel. There's all of the bits and pieces that I know I need to make a WordPress site run. There's something like Apache and what have you.

But now it feels like the television adverts and what have you from Squarespace and Wix and all of these other platforms have shifted that to the point where now almost anybody. Quite realistically has the expectation that they will be able to go put down some money per month, per year, whatever it may be.

And they'll go through some kind of onboarding process, go through a templating system and within a matter of hours, they'll have something which it may not be perfect, but it is it's got them from nothing to a significant way to something in a very short space of time. And is it true to say that Bluehost I guess hosting more broadly, has there been quite a lot of churn around the WordPress space?

And so this endeavor is to just lessen that churn so that when people show up within an hour, two hours, half an hour, whatever it may be, whatever your target is there, to get people so that they've got something so that they continue to stay with you, not just, ah, WordPress, I don't get it, I'm off.

[00:14:13] Jason Cross: Yeah. I think if you look at WordPress in general, the, it's still obviously the lion's share of WordPress sites and market share, but it has slowed down. And to your point the SaaS companies are very aggressive in marketing and they're marketing ease of use, reduction of friction. Like you are able to build your dream and they aren't talking about anything that is speed specs, customers act yeah, it's going to be secure.

It's going to be safe. It's going to be fast. They just assume that's part of what they're buying everywhere. And so we. We have to follow suit in a way that's not what people are looking to buy. Some people are, a local coffee shop, flower shop, yoga studio, they don't even know.

Those are the questions they need to ask. They're just assuming this is a trusted brand, it's gonna be safe, secure, and at Bluehost, we've spent a lot of time also speeding up the performance and security of the underlying infrastructure to. Make it snappy because you definitely still need a fast website as you grow.

But we're focusing more on the experience. And so WonderSuite really is like an experience layer that interacts with WordPress. Everything is interoperable with one another, but it leverages all of native goodness. From WordPress. We're never going to put somebody in a corner that they always have to use this wonders product.

No, the WonderSuite product works in tandem with WordPress and Gutenberg and blocks. And so that's our strategy is to not build something that's like a. But to build an experience layer and some bumpers and guidance to help you take almost take the benefits of WordPress, we're going to bubble them up to you, make it easier and better understood to move forward.

[00:16:15] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, that's really interesting. I feel that services like this are really making great use of things like the block editor and probably full site editing as was now, site editing, all of that kind of stuff, because you've got this interface. Which comes with WordPress by default, if we'd have gone prior to WordPress 5, 4.

anything, 3. anything. You really wouldn't have been able to pull something like this off, I don't think. But the fact that you've got this kind of drag and drop editor, you can inject your own blocks into that, you can inject your own templates into that, and it's consistent across all of those different installs of WordPress.

Yeah, this is a really interesting product. So who's it aimed at? Who is your kind of target market here? Are you aiming this at... At agencies, people who are dealing with clients, or is this really the, would you be putting like an advert in the Superbowl, so that you can just more or less get anybody that you like, inexperienced users.

Where's the ideal market? It may be everybody. I don't know.

[00:17:19] Jason Cross: Yeah, I think the benefit of our approach by leveraging WordPress.

is that this WonderSuite is a series of unique experiences that can help businesses from the agencies to the pros to be more efficient because time is money. They can help small, novice, intermediate customers that have really never used WordPress follow guidance, check some boxes, make some selections.

And have a website and it can across all both novice and advanced partner on along their journey to, provide powerful new tools to use when the time is right. Because we also have ways that we're going to look at what you're doing, the stage of your journey, and then introduce just in time, like it looks like now is the time for you to take advantage of SEO.

Let's take advantage of Yoast, do these next things. And so we're trying to not inundate customers with all of the things all at one time, but to slowly move them to success. And then the next step, like now these are the next things to take advantage of. The wonder start onboarding great for novice, the wonder cart, which is a very unique in the industry solutions that take advantage of e comm cross sell upsell and promotion all in one simple and easy to use interface good for everybody.

Cause if you're a pro and you're trying to drive conversions. Maximize your return on ad spend. Wonder cart will be a very simple tool to, really pull together. And I'm like a cross sell up, sell frequently bought together, all of those things that in the past you'd have to have many plugins, sometimes from different developers, we have it all in one simple interface.

[00:19:20] Nathan Wrigley: So the Wanda Suite, which we've been talking about, is broken up currently, we're recording this in August 2023, maybe there'll be more bits and pieces added to this over time, but at this moment we've got, as you just said, there's Wanda Start to get you started Wanda Theme, that kind of speaks for itself Wanda Blocks, again, speaks for itself, but we'll delve into it, Wanda Help, that's really curious, I want to get into that, and Wanda Cart, so there's this five pronged Is it fair to say that if you're an existing Bluehost user and you've never used any of this before, you can just dabble, for example, if you just want a fresh start with your website, you're tired of looking at the same old interface, can you invoke Wonderstart, which is like an onboarding wizard with loads of Prompts to get your webpage built from the ground up with, I'm guessing a bit of AI.

We'll get into that as well. Can you invoke that whenever you like? In other words, is this a bit a la carte? You can pick these bits and pieces and use them when you like, or are you locked into a cycle? Okay. New customer, use Wonderstart. If you're an existing customer, we're not going to offer you that.

[00:20:26] Jason Cross: I love what you're thinking about. Cause that's exactly where we're heading. So initially right now, the onboarding is for new customers. And within the next month we're going to have, when you log into our Bluehost environment in WP admin, you will have. What we're calling chapters. And so in the onboarding, we're bifurcating like sections of them.

Some of them are like experience business type. Some of them are, setting up your SEO. Some of them are design and style selections. Some of them are more like, I need these products. I'm trying to sell subscriptions or things. And it helps us determine what you'll need. And so we're going to be able to allow all of the customers that we currently have choose at any point in time.

You know what? I really want a new design. So I'm going to go through the design chapter or I'm looking for some new products that I know I have access to. I'm going to go through the product chapter. And we'll be able to put people in and out of those at any point in time. Which would be really helpful for people versus just, Hey, I went through that.

It was really helpful, but now I can't go do it again.

[00:21:43] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. It's interesting as well, isn't it? Because anybody that's going to be invoking Wonderstart a little bit later, there's a real, there's a, there's a. There's a little data point there, isn't there? They're not satisfied. Something is up. The current website is not what they want. For you, that's a good bit of telemetry because you get to have an indication of, okay, that's fascinating, this particular customer over here wants a little bit of help yeah.

Let's go through, let's go through them one at a time and pick them to pieces. Some of them I feel will be shorter than others. Wonderstar, that's the one we seem to have landed on. Talking about this is the process of it almost like a, an onboarding wizard, but it's got some real interesting goodness in there.

We're on a podcast. We've not got visuals. I think at some point we're going to probably start like a webinar series so that we can actually show this on the screen. But for now, we're going to have to use words to try and describe this. Just run us through what we might see if we were to click that little button saying, okay, let's begin.

Wanda start. What's it all about? How does it work? What do we look at?

[00:22:47] Jason Cross: Yeah. The goal of wonder start for us is to try to think through what are the initial answers that we really need to set up some of the things in WordPress that would be more challenging for a customer to go do if we just dropped them into WP admin, so you're going to tell us like, Hey, I'm an expert.

I don't need any help. Are I'm an intermediate or novice that helps us determine. Like the next set of questions or how many questions we're going to ask you and then we're going to get in to be like, what's your business type? i'm i'm a flower shop I'm and do you want to sell things?

Yes. No, how many products do you think you'll sell one to ten ten to a hundred? Helps us Understand the setup behind the scenes, do you need to do shipping tax? You're going to answer a handful of these questions, and then we're setting up our WonderSuite environment. Because we have PayPal, Stripe, Shippo integrations, if that's, a customer needs those to make it easier.

Your selection on, hey, I'm a flower shop, I'm looking to do, have people select flowers and order online. That then feeds into Wonder Blocks. And so where we think about how we've leveraged AI is that the Wonder Blocks then, in real time, paginate and build a unique design from the patterns that we have and fill in content and imagery related to your business.

So when you're going through the design chapters of onboarding, you'll actually see a unique set of pages and designs. that have content imagery related to your business to like really feel closer to something you're looking to build. And then once you get through that entire onboarding process, including setting up some of your basic SEO, like meta description, page title adding a logo and then selecting some of the products you might need yes, I'm going to sell things.

So that helps us understand you'll need wonder cart or. I plan on taking advantage of SEO. We have Yoast, things of that nature. And then when we drop you right into Wonderbox. You'll have a pretty solid five page site built. That's a flower shop with flower content imagery. It gives you a stronger starting point than a very big Lauren Epson theme that you now have to try to like, what do I do?

What I start?

[00:25:28] Nathan Wrigley: yeah, it feels I expect this to become the normal in the near future. There, there isn't going to be a scenario really in which typical end users, and I don't mean expert WordPress users. Somebody who's just rocking up and setting up their site for the very first time in which they don't go through some kind of flow like this, because it's just makes so much more sense, doesn't it?

Get something within a few moments. You answer some basic questions, which really set the flavor of the website. And then you mentioned the word AI. I feel like some product like this literally couldn't have existed three or four years ago, probably even two years ago. But here we are on the dawn of this amazing revolution with AI.

So you are creating, so let's say that I'm a florist, as you said. You are going to be injecting patterns with pre written content. So the AI at some point is going to be writing floristry kind of comment, and it's going to be either using floristry images from the free open internet, or it's creating AI generated images.

You can clear that up. But the premise is that I will get a site. I'll get a variety of pages, or is it just. A homepage? Do I get like a, I don't know, an about us page? A what have you? Does it do more than one thing? And do I get a chance to say, actually, do you know what? Can we just start again?

None of that worked for me. I wasn't really keen on the colours and the text was a bit wrong. I don't know on what level that's going to be possible.

[00:27:03] Jason Cross: Yeah. Great question. So yeah, I agree. Not, none of this really could have been possible a few years ago. But yes, we, so the content is completely unique to your business type and all of the things that we glean from onboarding help like refine that, including even if we have a testimonial block pattern put in your template, even those testimonials are going to be about flowers.

So every little small detail of that site. Really does feel like, Hey, somebody actually interviewed me, understands my business and got me closer to now. I feel like I can actually know how to edit and refine this. And the images we don't yet use like Dolly or some of these AI image generations, we do pull them from open source libraries.


[00:27:58] Nathan Wrigley: At least you don't get the mangled hand, which is...

[00:28:02] Jason Cross: They're still not great. And and then right now, once you can make any changes to the look and feel in onboarding, including like topography, your style themes. But once you've finished and you get put into the WordPress block and editor environment right now, you're now you need to change it.

Using the WordPress environment. But like I mentioned before, soon we'll have those chapters set up. So you could go, you know what, this is a little more challenging to do this. I'm going to drop back into the design chapter and infinite and update my. Icons or update like my fonts and styles and then jump back in.

[00:28:50] Nathan Wrigley: It. Yeah. So the roadmap is to be able to iterate over and over again. Should you be dissatisfied? But right now, once you've gone through the process and you click the, yeah, let's do it button, then we're into, then we're into the block editor. So you are using patterns. We all know what they are, but you've also got wonder blocks, which is your library of patterns and page templates.

Is it a library of your own unique? Blocks as well, because in the text, I see the word patterns and I see the word template. So do you have wonder blocks as in your blocks or are you leveraging core blocks or a mixture of both? I'm


[00:29:28] Jason Cross: yeah all of the ones in our wonder in our environment, once you onboard through Bluehost and you'll have access to the wonder block modal that pops up in the editor. All of those are our pre designed blocks. We have a little over a hundred and we were still. Every sprint adding and building more, we're heading down a path in the future.

We'll be able to build more robust blocks where you might see a one that's really dynamic and amazing and you go to drag it in and it's getting to need to be powered by some unique plugin. And at that point, we're going to identify that you don't have that plugin. We're going to either offer to sell it to you right then and there with a click to buy in the product.

No need to leave the environment or will recognize that. You know what? This is already something that is entitled to you based on the plan that you have a Bluehost. Will activate it and take advantage of it right there. So our goal is to not have to move people to move them in and out of WP admin or move them, but to keep them where they are.

And do the work behind the scenes so they can take action, move forward.

[00:30:43] Nathan Wrigley: curious about the AI bit here as well. So the, so let's say again, I'm a florist. I go through the whole process. It's spat out my website and I've got these patterns and they're using the wonder blocks and what have you. Are the patterns It's created on the fly by the AI, or is it just selecting a best fit?

So it understands in some way that floristry is a thing. We've predetermined that these 5, 6, 7, whatever patterns that we've had designed for this process are to be used, or is it literally making some design decisions on the fly?

[00:31:21] Jason Cross: Yeah. It's during onboarding, once you hit the design stage, what you'll notice is in our onboarding those thumbnails that we show you that are like homepage designs about us, FAQ, et cetera, those are not. Pre designed those are, there's a little moment where you're waiting a second, because those are rendered real time with the content and your logo.

Everything is like rendered real time in onboarding. So you. You actually see the thumbnail that was generated with your data, your images, even your logo. And then once you get into the wonder block environment, it's had time to spin them up because you're, it's already working behind the scenes during your onboarding.

And then all of those patterns are built and updated and ready to go.

[00:32:15] Nathan Wrigley: Fascinating, isn't it? So we've got a handle on what Wanda started. It's the onboarding process to get you beginning. It then leverages Wanda blocks, which I think we've probably explained fairly well. There's a third one here, Wanda theme. Now this is interesting. It says on the blog page, which I'm looking at, it's the promotional blog page from Bluehost.

I will link to it in the show notes so that you can check out what we're both looking at. It says that it's a versatile WordPress theme developed by Yith. Now, Yith in my head is a. It's an acquisition of yours, I know, but also it's a, it feels to me like a, it's a plug in house for extending WooCommerce.

I didn't realize they were into themes. That's probably just me being ignorant.

[00:32:56] Jason Cross: Yeah. So yes, is a wonderful company. Such. Such talented employees there. And we took advantage of their expertise in commerce to build a block theme that was going to be the foundation of wonder blocks. And so this wonder theme architecture becomes our. Infrastructure that we start with. And then during your onboarding, we are literally dynamically building your version of wonder theme.

And so the yet the team is really helping lead us into ensure that what we're doing, at least specifically in the commerce space and with. All of the plugins that everything works harmoniously together, right? So a customer will never have an issue with a feature, a function not working when all of these things start working together, which is what we're trying to avoid.

Where you start stacking up many plugin features, some of them start to, get out of sync with one another. And since we do own Yith, a lot of the technology behind the scenes where you see commerce functionality is Yith partnering with us to just build this unique experience that we know will work all the time.

[00:34:20] Nathan Wrigley: So whether you've invoked, yes, I want e commerce or no, I don't want e commerce, the theme that's underlying it... It is built by the guys over at Yith. And the intention is that your blocks will work, that the whole onboarding will work, it will build the patterns, which work and so on and so forth.

I got it. But that probably leads us quite nicely to we'll come to wonder help at the end, let's go to wonder cart because that I'm imagining we've talked a little bit about e commerce there. There might be some connection here. Presumably in the WandaStart onboarding process, I have the option of, do you want to sell things?

I think you said as much. If that's the case, what is WandaCard? Is it like a, is it a derivative of WooCommerce? Does it build on top of WooCommerce? Is it a completely unique, bespoke Bluehost thing?

[00:35:06] Jason Cross: Yeah, this is, coming from like the SaaS world, when I came here and started looking at. Commerce capabilities. This is something that stood out to me as a really gap in the market because to build like an e com sales funnel and WordPress, especially if you're a novice, you really have to understand what that means and then you have to know I have to, how do I find all the plugins that will look this look similar function, similar and be easy to use, right?

So how do I do frequently bought together upsell models, bogos. Free shipping, upsells on the thank you page, gift products in the checkout cart, cart discounts, all of that, all of the things, right? And if you look at many other companies like Shopify and others, they have SaaS, plugins or SaaS companies that it's just one environment that allows a customer to easily manage their, their sales commerce, like their commerce upsell, cross sells and things of that nature.

Really what this is we took the power of many YIFF plugins. And started to identify what does a customer really need. And we built a unique plugin that's more or less just an experience that you can take advantage of in Bluehost to, in one UI, take advantage of, I need Frequently Bought Together, I want free shipping, I have a BOGO, I need this gift product and cart, you can easily add, launch, and manage.

In one place, and everything will look, feel, operate cohesively, and like really help you harmonize your conversions. I haven't seen anything like it in WordPress, and we give this, it's free and included in our commerce plans at Bluehost.

[00:37:02] Nathan Wrigley: So it is, because it's Yth, it is based on top of WooCommerce, so if you did have a real bespoke plugin that you needed, you would still be able to bring that to bear here. But you're offering some, fairly common use cases, the ones that you described, the ones that I'm looking at are things like Frequently Bought Together, OpCell, BuyX, GetY.

Quantity discount, you imagine, free shipping, all of that kind of thing. So you invoke a modal pops up, full screen modal, more or less. And you just say, I want this, but not this. And it's like, there's just one plugin which does all of that functionality and it's seamless.

[00:37:45] Jason Cross: That's right. And it works perfectly with WooCommerce.

[00:37:48] Nathan Wrigley: and so are these built off, I know it's the same team and everything, but are these built off the back of current Yith plugins? In other words, if I was a current Yith customer, would I be able to fairly sensibly match things that I'm currently using to things that you're currently offering?

Or has the team gone and built brand new workflows that are only available here?

[00:38:11] Jason Cross: Yeah, this is a completely rebuilt, unique solution that is only available here. It's much, much different than a, yes, standalone plugin.

[00:38:22] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, it's really interesting. We've been talking for ages about acquisition in the WordPress space and hosting companies in particular, like your own they have been buying up things left, right and center and everybody's been imagining that this is the direction of travel. And now we see it, don't we?

We see that you've got a, an S O really the credible, the one that everybody talks about the SEO plugin, which is. Yoast, I'm presuming that all of that is in some way, shape or form bound into this offering as well. But also, Yith and that whole e commerce side, you've got that, so you can throw that in.

So all of a sudden the whole experience starts to feel a bit more cohesive and exactly. Where we thought we were going. Let's touch on the final one. Because this is curious. And honestly, if you'd have said to me, Create WonderSuite, I probably would have come up with Wonderstart. I probably would have come up with a suite of blocks.

And I probably would have come up with some kind of cart solution. But I definitely wouldn't have come up with Wonderhelp. This is fascinating. What is it?

[00:39:26] Jason Cross: It is actually fascinating now that we have it because we can see the questions that people are asking where they are and really, so what this is our customer support team, as you can imagine, just gets thousands of calls a day, right? And there, many of them to us would be just very easy.

Like, how does that, why can't somebody figure that out? But for imagine, one of these novice customers coming to this environment for the very first time, there's going to be a lot of questions that they have. And what we would get from our customer inbound and research is Hey, I have to Google every I'm like Googling and watching hours and hours of videos.

And I just don't have time for this. And so we thought let's just try to build a tool that we can have in the environment that can always be there. Follow you around. And we'll leverage AI to help answer the questions and we'll use our team to help train and continue to refine it. And so customers will ask things like, how do I add a user?

Okay, no problem. We'll do it. Here's the four steps. 1, 2, 3, 4. And as you navigate around, it stays persistent. So you can just go follow the four steps. It will stay persistent until you, you close it out. And so our goal now is to continue to like refine. And enhanced to eventually you can imagine where in that environment, someone's like, how do I add a new user?

How many users are you looking to add

[00:41:13] Nathan Wrigley: Oh, I see.

[00:41:15] Jason Cross: And you just told me what access do you want them to have done? We just added them,

[00:41:22] Nathan Wrigley: Oh, that's cool. That's nice.

[00:41:26] Jason Cross: So, That's likely where we need to head because why make someone go through six steps that they still need to. Where is this button? It's on the nav, which it's still clunky. We're just going to solve it for him in the future.

[00:41:41] Nathan Wrigley: So does it have, does it, is it reminiscent of, let's say like a chat bot at the moment? So you've got like an icon bottom right. Typically, the sort of intercom thing that you see everywhere and you plug in a question and it gives you an AI generated answer. And if it can't quite match an answer, it gives you some knowledge base articles.

Is that kind of where you're at the moment? But the North star here is to be able to respond with not just a sensible answer, but a sensible suggestion of actually, do you want me to take that on for you? I will create the users or yeah, sure. I'll create a new about us page for you. You then just need to pick some patterns, that kind of thing.

[00:42:20] Jason Cross: Yeah, you're right. Where it is now, it's an open chat bot. When you first open it, we'll have a series of questions that are trending. So you might be like, Oh, actually, that's why, that's what I'm looking for. And you click it and it doesn't need to call AI because we've already refined it. It's a trending topic and it loads instantaneously.

And so what we ended up doing is we have a massive database now of questions and answers that we save in cache and refine the answers, including links to parts of the experience where you can just click the links instead of follow the steps. But when you and

bespoke that we don't have yet. We hit our AI. We pull it, refine it, feed it, and then as these keep going we save these to make the calls and the time and the speed to which you get the answer to be more real time. So we're blending a little bit of AI is helping build the database and the repo refinement, and then we cash as much as we can.

So users aren't waiting for. Sometimes you do have to wait a few seconds and people are impatient.

[00:43:39] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. yeah. We're WordPress. We're open source. So on the one hand, there's all this fantastic delight that I'm experiencing at the minute about, oh, wow, it can do this. And that's such a nice process to go through. But then there's bound to be people listening to this who thinks, hang on, the more we get into this, the more we step away from From WordPress.

And so I'm wondering about the commitments around there. So as an example, where does this all sit? Do you try to take over the WordPress UI? Do you have a dashboard which sits inside of WordPress or do you dominate the interface? What does it actually look like when I'm in WonderSuite?

[00:44:16] Jason Cross: Yeah. So we really are taking the path where we don't want to overtake WordPress. We want to harmonize and take the, all of the goodness that WordPress has and try to elevate it at a level. That makes it useful for people that just don't know how to go find the things that are buried. Like a lot of the features and functionality in the block editor are buried in other places.

And all we're really doing is this is bringing it to light. And so yes, we do have our own environment, like our own homepage, our own little navigation to get you in and out, but we're sending you in and out of WordPress. And all of the features and functionality that we're building work natively with WordPress.

Nothing is walled, gardened off that's unique. So if you chose to leave Bluehost. And go somewhere else. Your site still works great. You just might lose some of this unique experience that you have, but nothing, you don't have to go buy anything or download anything for it to work. It will still work natively.

And you can go on. And so that's we want to work with and harmonize with WordPress and not really build something different

[00:45:39] Nathan Wrigley: I'm looking at a picture of the UI of the control panel, the WonderSuite control panel for want of a better word. There's probably there's probably a more accurate word for that. And I can see front and center, there's the admin bar on the top that we're all familiar with. And there's all the menus, add new posts and all of that.

It's all there. So you've got your own interface, but it's sitting within WordPress. Curiously, this is weird. The the images for Wrigley's. I don't know if that's by design or just a bit of serendipity, but that's hilarious. That's brilliant. Okay. So the next thing I want to ask around this is how do we, okay. A couple of questions. First one, how, what's the position in terms of lock in? So if we have been using Wanda blocks and we've been using all of your patterns, how transportable is that suite of blocks if we go elsewhere?

So I don't know, let's say that in a year's time I moved to a different host and I just want to zip up that whole site, take it with me. Is that a simple process? Because it feels like the blocks, there might be a bit of tie in there.

[00:46:50] Jason Cross: No, yep. Zip it up, take it with you. Um,

[00:46:53] Nathan Wrigley: And all the blocks will work without the Wonder Block subscription through Bluehost.

[00:46:58] Jason Cross: That's right.

[00:46:59] Nathan Wrigley: Oh, nice. Good answer.

[00:47:01] Jason Cross: You just you just, if you've left us, went somewhere else and we're used to having that wonder block experience, you would just not have that anymore. But your site would work and load and you can edit the blocks and Continue to move your business forward.

[00:47:17] Nathan Wrigley: But would the styling stay the same? Is there any sort of proclivities around the blocks the way that, I don't know, it's just, do you know what I mean? 'cause in the past, if you've moved from a block suite and you wanna install that block plugin for want of a better word, then your whole site just looks entirely different.

[00:47:33] Jason Cross: Nope. It would all, it's all portable that it basically creates like a unique theme file for you and off you go. Take

[00:47:41] Nathan Wrigley: Got it. Got it. Yeah, got it. And the very last one that I've got is around ownership of the AI stuff, really. In the future, when... At the moment, it's pulling in images from all over the web. It's pulling in text, which is AI generated. But let's also imagine a scenario where the AI is creating the images, and who knows, maybe video and all sorts, and maybe music and anything in the future.

Do I have ownership of that? Or is there some kind of... Aspect of the contract which means it belongs to Bluehouse who's in control of the whole site ultimately

[00:48:15] Jason Cross: Yep. The customer will be in control of the site. I don't see us ever heading down a path where something we create, generate for you becomes proprietary or IP to us. We will want to make sure that we use, content assets, whatever we pull in where it's. Like it's open and ready to use.

You could take it with you. I do not see us heading in a place where if you leave us, you lose access to this content, images, assets, videos that would defeat the purpose of. WordPress and the mantra that we're all supporting.

[00:48:55] Nathan Wrigley: yeah. Nice. Thank you. Great. Okay. I've come up with some more questions whilst you've been saying that. The first one is around pricing. This is a live product, so presumably there's live pricing. I don't know if that's something you want to get into, but if you do give us some idea of how much this costs per site, per agency, whatever the model is.

[00:49:15] Jason Cross: Yeah. When you go to bluehost. com and you pick any WordPress hostings plan today you will get the wonder start, you will have access to wonder blocks, you will have access to wonder help. part of it. And if you are signed up for any of our commerce plans, then you will also get access to wonder cart.

And all of our customers get Yoast, the free installed with an easy upgrade path to premium at a discount. And so we're not looking to nickel and dime. We're looking to uplevel the experience to improve time to value and ultimately retention. And so these are included in our plans.

[00:50:04] Nathan Wrigley: Perfect. Thank you. As I said, I'll link to the piece, which probably explains everything that we've just talked about really well. Also keep your eye out. Should Bluehost and WP Builds combine our efforts to put together one of our little demo webinar series. Maybe that'll happen in the near future.

We're having discussions about that, but very last question. You may have an answer for this. There may be no answer. Do you want to. Talk about the roadmap. And you've mentioned a few things which you're thinking of AI images and all that kind of stuff, but I don't know if there's anything we missed there in terms of blue sky thinking that you want to bring about apart from the things that you've already mentioned,

[00:50:40] Jason Cross: Yeah. I think a lot of what this is doing is laying the foundation to get a customer who's looking to take advantage of WordPress to build their website for the first time, this will give them the confidence to get through that process after that, the mid journey becomes complicated again.

And our roadmap looks like leveraging AI. And in a much greater way to a simple prompt to manipulate all of what you would expect on the site. So you say, I'm Jason Cross. I'm a dog walker in Menlo Park, California. I specialize in these dogs, these breeds, whatever your site's completely generated.

You're like I like this to be a little bit more creative and I like blue and white. Done. You like this? Yep. Move on. So I think we're going to. We'll be heading down a path to use AI to remove even more of the friction of choice and, really help what you would hope, where a customer feels the magic, a little bit of delight.

And that's what we want people to feel versus the angst of, and the weight of learning something new to build something they know they need. I think you'll see some of that coming from us here in the next, six

[00:52:08] Nathan Wrigley: I

[00:52:09] Jason Cross: months.

[00:52:09] Nathan Wrigley: I have this feeling that in three or four years time, I'm going to be talking to my website, the whole. The whole chatbot thing will just be like, Oh, that's a frustration. It'll be just no, not that cat. A different cat. A cat that's got a collar on. And the button that's red, make that blue.

No, not that blue. Try a different, yeah, that blue. And then move it down a bit. Not that much back up, just like this, it could be a really fun enterprise suddenly talking to your website and getting it to do things on the fly, who knows, maybe that's the future that we're going to envisage.

Jason Cross, thank you so much for coming on the podcast today and talking to me about WonderSuite. As I said, links going to be in the show notes. If people want to contact you directly. Obviously we can send them to bluehouse. com and there's all sorts of ways of contacting Bluehouse, but. You in particular, if you're open to that, if you have a social handle or web

[00:53:04] Jason Cross: Yeah.

[00:53:04] Nathan Wrigley: Operate independently,

[00:53:06] Jason Cross: I'm mainly, if you can look me up on LinkedIn, that's probably the best place to find me. I always answer to messages. So if you have a question, message me on LinkedIn.

[00:53:17] Nathan Wrigley: Jason Cross. Thank you so much for chatting to me on the podcast today. I really appreciate it.

[00:53:22] Jason Cross: Thank you. Great to be here.

[00:53:24] Nathan Wrigley: Okay. I hope that you enjoyed that show. Very nice chatting to Jason Cross. It really is interesting in the WordPress space, especially in the hosting space, all of the different new products that are coming out to make it easier, more SaaS like if you like. So that there's onboarding and all sorts of different things that will enable you to stick around and enjoy your WordPress experience.

If you have any thoughts on that head over to WP Builds.com Like I said on the show would be very nice if you left us a comment there. It's episode number 346.

Also, don't forget that we've got our Black Friday page WP Builds.com forward slash black. Bookmark that if you want to search for deals, but also remember you can add your own deals and sponsor that page.

And then finally, don't forget that we've got a couple of shows coming up this week. The first one it's all about Gato GraphQL with Leo. And then Sabrina is coming up the following day. That's going to be on the 19th of October. And hopefully you'll be able to join us for those live. WP Builds.com forward slash live, as always.

The WP Builds podcast is brought to you today by GoDaddy Pro. GoDaddy Pro the home of managed WordPress hosting that includes free domain, SSL and 24 7 support. Bundle that with The Hub by GoDaddy Pro to unlock more free benefits to manage multiple sites in one place, invoice clients, and get 30% off new purchases. You can find out more by heading to go.me forward slash WP Builds. Once more, go.me forward slash WP Builds. And sincere thanks to GoDaddy Pro. For their ongoing support of the WP Builds podcast.

Okay, that's the end of this particular episode. Usually I fade in some cheesy music and that cheesy music is downloaded from a cheesy music repository. However, this week, and maybe in some weeks to come, I've decided to create some AI cheesy music. So with my tool of choice, I've created, by clicking a button, some AI cheesy music, and really it's dire. So I hope that you enjoy it. Have a good week, stay safe. Bye-bye for now.

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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