Contributor Day Design Table Recap

On December 3rd at WCUS several designers and design-lovers gathered at the design table to share, learn, and build.

The people included were:
Monique (@boemedia), Sara (@saracannon), Yoni Luksenberg, Ben, Catherine Zarabanda, Kevin (@kevinwhoffman), Mason Guttery, Sandhya, John (@johnmaeda), Jacob, Fuyuko (@fuyuko), Maria (@mariawoothemescom), Lance (@lancewillett), Gregory, Moira Ashleigh, Michele (@mizejewski), Christina (@christinablust), Jessica Yaeger, Jennifer Swisher, Cathi Bosco, Taylor (@taylorgorman), Leslie Bernal, Sonja (@sonjaleix), Betsy Cohen, and Mark (@mapk)
(If I missed anyone, please make note in the comments.)

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As it was my first time leading the Design Table with the wonderful help of @saracannon, I wanted to try a few things differently this time around. We quickly broke out into a circle of chairs, and I began passing out post-its and pens while I drew a line from 0% to 100% on the backs of recycled signs previously used for this event. I asked the question, “What percentage does our livelihood depend on WordPress?” Everyone jotted down their answer and came up to place it on the line. After that I asked, “What percentage of our time is spent contributing back to WordPress?” Everyone posted their answers. The results are pictured below:

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We all realized that although much of our livelihood relied on WordPress, we weren’t contributing back as much as we’d like. I then asked if we’re comfortable with other people making decisions about the future of a software upon which we rely so heavily? To help focus our efforts, I talked about how Matt Mullenweg is looking for WordPress to be more design-lead. We’re designers, or design-lovers, and we have a great opportunity right now to help contribute and push this open source project forward.

From here I asked what people thought about in regards to “design” and how designers might contribute to WordPress. A common pattern revealed that we tended to focus on Core with many of our examples. This became a perfect opportunity to share the various ways in which designers can help.

Our discussions continued along these lines with many people sharing their experiences and hopes for WordPress. Some felt our communication channels were too many, others felt that we needed a liaison to share WordPress with the world in an engaging way, and some struggled with where to begin in the community. A few in the group also expressed interest about how to contribute immediately during the day. Gauging for this, I spent some time walking around to the other teams in the morning asking if they would like any design help on their projects. A few responded with a definite, “yes!”

John Maeda also joined us and asked a question around everyone’s personal interest in WordPress. “What are the selfish reasons why you’re a part of the community?” These answers were also shared anonymously and they expressed our own personal journey with WordPress. It was a great practice and we all shared with each other.

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After lunch, the designers split up to begin engaging other teams with their design needs. Documentation, Marketing, Gutenberg user-test videos, and some others all needed help. In addition to this, those who needed a bit more direction for contributing stuck around with @saracannon and I to learn a bit more about the process. Sara was a great help as she gave some demos on how to navigate Trac. Maria and Betsy got together to start reviewing the Gutenberg videos. @kevinwhoffman began feeling out the ability for a WordPress liaison between the teams and how this might engage the public at large.

The day went by fast. There were lots of great questions and a lot of excitement and interest. I, and other designers, will be pinging everyone as time goes along and encouraging their involvement in the slack channels.

Thanks to everyone who made this day a special one!