The design table at WordCamp Europe Contributor Day 2018

On Thursday, June 14th, WordCamp Europe 2018 kicked off with contributor day in Belexpo Centar in Belgrade, Serbia. It was the first time @joshuawold and myself co-lead the design table on this scale. With over 30 people signing up for contributing to WordPress design, we were pretty excited to start the day!

Preparing for contributor day as table leads

So how do you prepare for contributor day as table leads? As Monique had some experience from leading a design table at smaller WordCamps and Joshua had none, we were looking to find a way to prepare and make contributor day for design succeed. We had a few pre-contributor day chats with @karmatosed, an experienced design table lead. She really helped us to get started, thanks again for this. Besides Tammie, Milana who was involved in organising WordCamp Europe reached out to us and provided us with answers to questions we had. Besides this, we reached out to other table leads to see if they would benefit from having a designer at their table during contributor day to work on specific questions.

But what exactly does the WordPress design team do?

Two questions often asked are:

  • But what exactly does the WordPress design team do?
  • How can I deliver something tangible regarding WordPress design?

As a new contributor (I’ve only been active for less than a year), these were questions I had as well. Working on WordPress design isn’t often as tangible as resolving tickets and fixing bugs. It’s often more about discussing stuff and giving feedback on issues from a designers eye perspective. Sometimes, issues are years and years old and may never be implemented at all. This can be discouraging and frustrating, so one thing we worked on was setting expectations.

With design not being one of the first choices of people attending contributor day, we were still pleased with the 20+ people who took the effort to join the design table.

So a big thank you to Volker, Michiel, Marius, Tim, Estela, Davide, Ivan, Jayman, Tsotne, Roberto, Vincenzo, Rich, Daijel, Giuseppe, Jasper, Vasilis, Ana and all the others whose names we didn’t get. We loved working with you and hope to see you around online or at other contributor days.

People working at contributor day wordcamp europe 2018

Contributors to the design table at WordCamp Europe Contributor Day discussing some ideas

New contributors and experienced contributors

To have a quick start for attendees who contributed before, we decided to split the group in two: while Joshua onboarded new people, Monique discussed some existing tickets with contributors with more experience. To save some time and make people more familiar with Slack, we asked the contributors to introduce themselves in our Slack channel. Unfortunately, the wifi broke, which sort of sabotaged our ideas. However, Joshua started a sketching excersise to get the new group going. In the meantime, Monique remembered a ticket that was discussed with the accessibility team online. Together with the accessibility experts present in Belgrade, Tim, Jayman, Vasilis, and new contributors Rich and Jasper worked on some suggestions for a new way to display update notifications in a more accessible way. Together with Davide and David Needham from the training team, Estela gained some new insights on the infographic she had already been working on online.

So instead, we went for a different approach: we broke the group into two smaller groups and asked them the following questions:

What’s your biggest WordPress frustration? 

This resulted in some overlap, from where we got smaller groups of people started discussions and working on some ideas to improve parts of the WordPress user experience and user interface:

Why do you love WordPress?

  • Easy to use, anyone can work on WordPress in less than a day, very easy to do whatever we want because it’s open source
  • Despite the inconsistency, lots of things the users can do in the admin
  • SEO optimization is easy
  • Translating
  • Easy to work with customers/writers

What do you need to contribute?

  • Looking for a library for Gutenberg designs to build stuff around it.
  • We would want the editor to look the same on the front as it does on the backend.
  • We’d like a sketch file with all the possible design elements possible in Sketch for Gutenberg (it’s here, please take a look at SketchPress)

After lunch, wifi still wasn’t back online, which was a bit of a problem, since we wanted to introduce people to giving feedback on WordPress tickets from a design perspective, as this is a big part of the work we do. However, we still got the group to work on 4 tickets and moved the following forward: #35554, #40218, #29875, #42649.

Lessons learned from leading contributor day design table

We gained some valuable insights during our first time as design table leads we’d like to share here.

  • The interest we had from those who joined our tables was really encouraging
  • The ways we were able to support new folks (onboarding) as well as folks who have been here before (working on tickets that don’t get enough TLC online because of time issues)
  • The ideas we had for improving WordPress
  • How well things worked even without Wifi, lessons learned for next time (print out some trac tickets to bring with us)
  • The mini sketch workshop we were able to do – this really helped to get the right mindset and would be valuable to start with on other contributor days (bring sharpies & paper!)
  • The enthusiasm in the room (and for Joshua this was my first time at a major WordCamp, so he loved being able to get involved)
  • The continued challenge with how to get involved in Design when you don’t know what to do.
  • “Design” wasn’t on the list of top things or secondary things anyone wanted to help in. We think it’s ambiguous what we do, how can we make that more clear?
  • For non-native English speakers, contributing can be a problem since people are insecure and the language barrier can lead to misunderstanding. We should keep this in mind.

Again, thanks to everyone who attended. If you have anything you’d like to add to this post, please feel free to add a comment.

 

 

#contributor-day, #wceu