If you don’t put your business priority first but you put the user priority first, the business will win almost every time.
Scott Jones is the Founder and CEO of Illustrate Digital, a leader in WordPress development and user experience design agency specializing in fintech and enterprise. It’s the 14th fastest growing company in Wales.
Jones is a regular speaker on the WordPress circuit. He is also a board member of Fintech Wales, which champions Financial Service sectors throughout the UK.
In this episode of Velocitize Talks, Scott Jones shares his thoughts on CMS (content management system) platforms, WordPress and headless architecture.
Why not WordPress?
You can go proprietary, get yourself locked in. You can cause yourself a whole raft of challenges and license fees or you can go open source and use the most popular, most well supported platform.
During last year’s WP Engine Summit, Scott Jones was asked a seemingly simple question: Why WordPress? And his response was, why not WordPress? As Jones notes, WordPress is ultimately a simple framework—something that’s easy to forget considering its expansive offerings and numerous benefits.
“There’s so much stuff out there in the marketplace around WordPress,” Jones says. “It is the most used CMS in the world and that’s what makes it versatile, that’s what makes it flexible.”
In fact, by the end of 2025, WP Engine predicts that WordPress will power half of the internet. The ever-widening WordPress ecosystem is also unique in its community of developers and content creators. This loyal community fosters collaboration in developing new plugins, themes, and design features, available to all.
I think we’ve overcomplicated headless. That’s what it comes down to.
“People are seeing headless as this big scary thing, particularly using Atlas, and the way that WP Engine has gone about it has made it a lot easier,” Jones says.
Headless technology is a clear asset for developers as it provides additional flexibility and streamlined channel delivery. WP Engine’s new headless platform, Atlas, can increase page load speed by as much as 10 times faster than with WordPress alone. Perhaps most importantly, the use of headless architecture can have a significant impact on go-to-market speed.
Illustrate Digital created their own headless framework that works in concert with WP Engine’s Atlas platform. Based on its client’s needs, Illustrate first explores the best front-end framework and how to integrate that with the back-end.
“You might have a bank that has an app and a website,” Jones says. “They publish blog content on their website and the app doesn’t have any of that but they’d like it to. It’s that simple. Use WordPress to integrate with the app, push the content through and, as a developer, it’s really easy to achieve.”
It’s not like they haven’t got anything in there they would normally need as a marketer to do their job well but it’s also making sure that there are not unnecessary extra things in there.
Illustrate Digital partnered with top UK law firm Foot Anstey to redesign its user interface (UI) in order to create a more user-friendly and intuitive customer experience. The right UI design, paired with performance improvements and content delivery, can play a huge role in the firm’s digital success.
For example, there’s a legal index in the UK that ranks sites by speed across the entire legal industry on a weekly basis. Illustrate Digital elevated Foot Anstey from a sub-20 position to the number one rated law firm in the UK, leading to higher SEO (search engine optimization) rankings.
In addition, Illustrate designed a search tool for Foot Anstey which delivered quick results to the best and most relevant content. Site search may be more important than you think. A survey conducted by Bloomreach found that consumers, by a 2-to-1 margin, are frustrated that websites don’t provide the same comprehensive search experience as the big search engines.
Put Your Money Where Your Brand Is
Really good research informs really good experiences which drives really good outcomes.
According to Jones, user research is the best place to invest your marketing dollars right now in order to accelerate a brand’s overall digital presence. Personalizing the user experience can make customers feel more attached to your brand.
“Doing user research well informs the wider business model,” Jones says. “It’s not just a benefit to the UX of the site. It’s a benefit to the whole customer experience.”
Indeed UX is often overlooked even though that’s where brands should start. Users should feel like individuals, even if it’s something as simple as including their name in your communications.
“If you don’t put your business first but you put the user first, the business will win almost every time,” Jones says.