I can’t believe I’m writing this article.

I truly cannot believe I am writing this article.

As what I guess you could call a long-time Cwicly user, I’ve experienced many emotions this week.

I’m shocked.

I’m sad.

I’m disappointed.

I’m mad.

Since I’ve been pretty vocal about using Cwicly, a lot of people have asked me about my thoughts on the whole situation.

I wanted to give it a few days to let things settle.

We’re a few days out now, so I’m going to try my best to make sense of what went down and why this is one of the worst things to happen in the WP community in a long time.

1. My background with Cwicly

First let’s start with some context so you know where I’m coming from.

I’ve been what I consider one of the core Cwicly users.

I’ve been using it since 2022, I have a Built With Cwicly notice on my website footer, I’ve visited the forum on 568 different days, I have read nine thousand posts, and it says my total read time is two days.

My Discourse stats

Two whole days of my life I’ve spent on the Cwicly forum.

I was basically a Cwicly posterboy at WordCamp US last year, chatting about components at 2am on the backyard patio, and I built my freakin’ wedding website with it.

So I think it’s safe to say – I was fully bought in.

2. What I thought of Cwicly

The reason I made the jump from Oxygen to Cwicly is because I loved how forward thinking it was.

Sure, it had its quirks, but it was perfectly aligned with where WordPress is heading.

It wasn’t fighting against Gutenberg. It was making it a usuable, enjoyable experience.

And if that wasn’t enough, it was pushing features that no other page builder has even dared to touch before.

Components and a Tailwind integration are both a Cwicly first.

They were built so well too.

It wasn’t a half baked alpha version. It had pretty much everything you could think of.

Which leads me to the next point – Louis.

Louis might’ve been the most talented developer I have ever seen in my life.

He had a bold vision, and executed on it like an absolute madman.

When I’d see how much he could get done in a month, it always made me question if he actually slept or not.

He was relentless.

But his positive traits didn’t just end on the technical side of things.

He was so good at listening to the community.

He was kind, and treated everyone with the highest level respect.

He provided highly detailed answers whenever someone had a question.

He was the kind of guy who if he called me up and said “hey do you wanna meet up and chat about stuff,” I would’ve booked a ticket to Spain and flown over there the next day.

I’m not even joking.

I couldn’t think any more highly of him and the rest of the Cwicly team.

3. The announcement

I was in absolute shock the first time I read it.

I was actually in my car about to drive home, and I stayed pulled over on the side of the road for half an hour to make sure it was real.

This announcement is so unfortunate in so many ways.

I’m really not a fan of speculation, but because communication has been so minimal and it’s all that we really have to go off of, we’re going to need to throw some what-ifs out there.

Unfortunately, one of the key components of this is “was Louis thinking with a clear mind?”

We don’t know what’s going on in his personal life, so I want to make it clear that a lot of my thoughts could change as more information eventually comes out.

My fiance is a therapist, and I’ve become very aware on how rational decision-making can become deeply influenced when you’re emotionally feeling a certain type of way.

But since saying “oh maybe he’s depressed about the situation and can’t think straight” is an assumption in itself, I want to just go off the facts we have available to us.

And given that the very first line of the announcement was:

“After much deliberation and soul-searching, I have made the difficult decision to discontinue the development of the Cwicly plugin.”

It gives the impression that this decision wasn’t made on a whim.

It goes on to say:

“This decision has been deeply influenced by recent events that have profoundly affected both me personally and the team.”

This to me is the most cryptic part of the announcement.

I feel like there is something we don’t know about.

I saw someone mention on Facebook that someone was attacking him and his family members.

I’m not sure where this occurred, but I later discovered that the only page missing from the website – aside from the homepage of course – is the About Us page.

Assuming that there was something that was said – there is no room for that kind of behaviour. It’s disgusting and sad, and should never be tolerated.

Then we get into the parts that feel a little more… eyebrow raising.

“Unfortunately, the relentless onslaught of destructive posts and comments by certain WordPress influencers has created an atmosphere that has made it increasingly challenging for us to continue with our vision for Cwicly.”

As someone who’s algorithm feeds him all of the Cwicly related topics, I can’t say I know what this is referring to.

Was it David’s article pondering why Cwicly hasn’t caught on faster?

Was it Kevin – who respectfully calls Cwicly the #2 page builder – debating whether Tailwind has a place in WordPress?

That doesn’t quite line up with me.

And in fact – I also found it quite hurtful.

I’ve seen many attacks thrown at Kevin in speculation that he was the cause of Cwicly’s demise.

Or David posting a thread about feeling bad – hoping the decision didn’t have to do with him.

That can’t be a great feeling.

And sometimes I hope it wasn’t any feedback that I gave as well.

“Since the launch of Cwicly, not only have we had to build our product but have suffered the constant undermining of our choice to embrace the WordPress vision in Gutenberg.”

I mean, yeah, but that’s moreso on Gutenberg than it is Cwicly.

And it’s par for the course any time a new product comes in and tries to change the way things are done.

“In addition, personal attacks on both myself and team members have been made and openly tolerated throughout.”

Again, this part is not up for debate. It should never be tolerated.

“The negativity and hostility directed towards Cwicly, especially in comparison to other page builders, have taken a significant toll on our morale and motivation.”

And the next bit goes on to talk about how they’ve lost motivation to work on the project.

As an outsider, this feels questionable.

Was there some critical feedback? Yeah, sure.

But it wasn’t anything abnormal. I’ve seen WordPress, Gutenberg, Elementor and other page builders get it far worse.

It was at least like 90% positive, 10% critical from what I saw.

That being said, everyone perceives feedback differently.

It reminds me of a story with my barber.

As a web guy – obviously one day I was evaluating her Google My Business profile.

I told her “wow, I didn’t know you had some many reviews.”

She said “oh really? I don’t check them.”

“What do you mean you don’t check them? You literally have 154 five star reviews.”

“One time someone gave me a one star because I missed some hair around his ear. I didn’t sleep that entire night. So now I don’t check them anymore.”

That feels like it has a lot of similarity to what probably happened here.

Even though feedback can be wildly positive as a whole, any negative factors slowly build up, and sometimes you just get the one that makes you snap.

That is honestly what I think happened here.

After a slow buildup, something snapped.

That’s it. It’s over.

If you look at the forum, they were responding to posts two days before the announcement talking about exciting plans for the future.

Recent Cwicly reply

Literally just the week before, they published an A+ new navigator panel.

Cwicly new navigator

Usually when you lose motivation, it fades over time.

You don’t publish for a week. Then it’s two weeks.

Then you’re officially burnt out.

Something caused them to snap.

Was it about the money?

I’ve seen some people pretty certain that Cwicly died because they likely weren’t making a ton of cash.

Personally, I don’t feel that this was the case.

It may have been one of the negative pressures, but I don’t think it was a significant one.

Here’s why.

For one, money was never really the focus of discussion.

In my nine thousand posts read, they never talked about needing to make more money.

It felt like their vision was set on building a great product that will grow alongside the growth of Gutenberg.

Another point here is that last year, Cwicly actually planned on releasing a free version to attract more users.

I had asked about this in a recent livestream, and Louis said something along the lines of “we’ve actually been seeing a good amount of new users, so we’re scrapping the idea of a free version for now.”

From an outside perspective, you might do the math and say “oh they weren’t making much money.”

But I think the were fine with where they were at.

Or at least it wasn’t the reason they pulled the plug on the whole thing.

Lastly, if it were about the money – would you just spend years working on a product, and then suddenly just end it?

No! You’d sell the damn thing.

Would you spend months developing a Tailwind integration, and then close shop before users really even got a chance to build sites with it?


I don’t think it was about the money.

4. The impact on the Cwicly community

The announcement says:

“I want to express my sincere gratitude to our loyal users who have supported us throughout this journey. Your unwavering support has meant everything to us, and it deeply saddens me to have to make this decision.”

“It is with a heavy heart that we have reached this conclusion, especially considering the innovative features we had planned for the future. However, given the circumstances, we believe it is the best course of action for all parties involved.”

This is the part of the article I hate writing.

This is the part where I turn sour.

“We believe it is the best course of action for all parties involved.”

This is the best course of action for all parties involved??

Let’s look:

Cwicly: dead.

Customers: screwed.

Trust in any of Louis’ future projects: decimated.

Trust in other indie makers: threatened.

Trolls: moving on to the next one.

This is the worst course of action for all parties involved.

In response to a minority of haters, you completely decimate your most loyal followers.

The people who have been supporting you, and providing you their constructive feedback, and creating bug reports, and sharing your product.

Done. Fried.

‘You’ve spent months building sites with our product? Cool, they’re worthless now.

I hope you enjoy months of rebuilding them for free.’

This is the worst course of action for all parties involved.

The sunk cost isn’t the cost of the subscription.

So many human hours went to waste it’s hardly fathomable.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars down the drain.

And to make things worse, they shut down all main communication lines with their customers.

The Discourse forum – closed. The Facebook group – closed.

I’ve reached out to Louis through Messenger and email – haven’t heard a peep back.

They completely left us in the dumps.

It feels like a betrayal.

I’ve been so frustrated by the events, I’ve had thoughts about leaving web design altogether.

Obviously, that’s a little bit radical, but I mean, I hate logging into my website right now.

How am I supposed to get excited about building something that might just screw me again?

5. The impact on the WordPress community

Sadly, it’s not just the Cwicly customers who got screwed.

When I’m thinking about moving things over to a new builder, you think I’m feeling pretty confident rebuilding everything with another niche tool like Greenshift? Or Builderius? Or Pinegrow? Or Bricks? Or whatever else.

Whether you want to admit it or not, this announcement has shattered the confidence of using niche products.

Small teams, involved with their community, building great products.

Our brains are wired to avoid making the same mistake twice.

Cwicly closing up shop like this sends the signal to our brain “we can’t trust these kinds of products anymore.”

It’s unfair.

It’s damaging to the community.

This is the worst course of action for all parties involved.

6. Mishandling of responsibility

I’ve seen people mention:

“Maybe they just weren’t cut out for entrepreneurship. And that’s ok.”

No, that’s not ok.

Imagine a friend asks you to come over and baby sit their two year old child.

Half way through, the baby is kicking and screaming and throwing their food everywhere.

You can’t just say “you know what, I’m just not cut out for this” and peace out.

You need to see it through.

It is your responsibility.

You don’t need to babysit again, but you need to either make it to the end or get someone else to help you.

When you are creating a tool that people base their entire professional career around, you’re inheriting this kind of responsibility.

Obviously not the same level as babysitting a two year old, but you are providing the foundation that sites and businesses are built on.

7. How it should’ve been handled

I want to make this 100% clear.

It’s totally fine for people to feel de-motivated, stressed out, burnt out, and not want to work on their product anymore.

Their happiness and mental health is always above any business venture.

And they have every right to exit.

All that we ask for – as customers – is a path of continuity.

You want out of your business? Totally cool.

Please just don’t screw us over.

There were a few ways for this to happen:

Hire/partner with a new developer to take things over.

This is essentially what happened with Oxygen – which of course was well publicized.

The original developer Louis, decided he wanted to build a more beginner-friendly page builder.

He handed things off to Elijah to manage, and they’ve basically just been maintaining the builder on auto-pilot since then.

Of course, most die hard users weren’t super happy with that.

It meant that Oxygen wouldn’t ever become the builder people envisioned.

But at least the builder is still very much usable.

I still have some sites on Oxygen, and I’ve had no issue with them.

I was joking with a friend the other day, but this Cwicly situation is far worse than the Oxygen fiasco.

This one feels worse because it’s like a full breakup.

Website gone, forum is read only, FB group read only, can’t login to account etc.

Oxygen was like “you can call me and we can still hang out, but I’m seeing another guy.”

Sell the company.

This is sometimes easier said than done, but I know for a fact that there are companies that would’ve loved to get their hands on Cwicly.

Hell, even I would’ve tried to put something together.

The product is just too good to be taken to the grave.

Open source the software.

There’s no guarantee this would work, and getting a leadership team organized & acquainted would be tricky.

But you know what it does? It presents options.

There’s a possible path forward to maintain the project.

And it at least shows intent to keep the project alive.

8. What to do next

Honestly… I’m not even sure.

There is no direct comparable to Cwicly.

That’s what made it so special.

Bricks is a fantastic builder and is probably what I’m leaning towards at the moment, but it’s a philosophical shift from using the block editor.

I’m not sure there’s another builder for Gutenberg that matches the power & flexibility you had with Cwicly.

For now, I’m deciding to hang tight.

I’m definitely going to wait until closer to the end of the year before I start thinking about rebuilding any finished sites.

For any new sites, I’ll likely go with Bricks or GenerateBlocks while I figure things out.

Sometimes I need to remind myself that not every single site needs to be built with the same tool.

Even if it’s not what I feel will be more long term solution, I’ll more than survive having some sites built with Bricks.

9. To Louis and the Cwicly team

If you’re reading this…

First of all, from the bottom of my heart, I really hope you’re doing ok.

No one has enjoyed what’s taken place the last week.

Second… it’s not too late to fix things.

Despite a loud minority, there are thousands of us who loved Cwicly and everything you guys stood for.

We would love nothing more than for you to to come back and continue on with what you started.

We’d have to put in some safeguards to rebuild some of that trust, but it’s still on the table.

If you’ve decided that you for sure need to move on, all we ask for is a clear next step.

Some way to keep the builder alive, so that we don’t need to redo the last 1-2 years of our lives.

And lastly, we’d love to hear from you.

Communication goes a long way to restoring the peace.

Final thoughts

I was a little nervous to write this article, because there are so many variables at play.

We have such little information available, that we need to make assumptions.

Something could come out tomorrow that makes me say “oh, well that makes more sense.”

And if they weren’t thinking with a clear mind – I can respect that and have the time of day to better understand the situation.

I know deep down that Louis and the entire Cwicly team are great people who care about others.

Which is what made this entire situation so shocking.

It’s completely out of character.

There’s very likely something we’re not aware of.

But if there’s anything positive to come out of this, I hope it at least sets the precedent that something like this can never happen again.

Users – think twice before you say something mean. Just because you’re behind a screen, doesn’t mean it won’t deeply impact the other person.

Founders – Make a worst-case scenario playbook if you don’t already have one. Be encouraged to share it transparently with your users.

Because protecting users, clients, creators, and other product builders is best course of action for all parties involved.

That’s all for this one.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below.

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Thanks for reading.