Why this podcast now?
There’s a lot that goes into WordPress, and for anyone who isn’t involved full time (and sometimes even for those who are), it can be tough to see it all. There is more to WordPress’s success than the code within it or the open source freedoms behind it. To really understand what makes WordPress so unique, you would have to spend countless hours digging into its philosophy, the community that supports it, and the many years of learning that the software benefits from.
This podcast is for WordPress users, builders, and contributors of all levels. It’s designed to give you quick insights into the longstanding philosophies of the WordPress open source project. Each episode will include:
- An easy-to-digest overview of a cool WP philosophy
- A highlight of a community success story or a noteworthy contributor
- A small list of big things to know about (or do) in the coming weeks
And sometimes, when I just can’t do a topic justice, I’ll have a guest with me to talk through it together.
Have a question you’d like answered? You can submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org, either written or as a voice recording.
- Editor: Dustin Hartzler
- Logo: Beatriz Fialho
- Production: Marcus Kazmierczak
- Song: Fearless First by Kevin MacLeod
State of the Word and three trends in action
What to look out for in 2021
How to get involved
- Get started helping with testing at: make.wordpress.org/test
- Learn more about Full Site Editing (FSE) at core editor meetings
- Find or Submit Workshops and Lesson Plans at: learn.wordpress.org
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the WordPress briefing, the podcast where you can catch quick explanations of some of the ideas behind the WordPress open source project and the community around it, as well as get a small list of big things coming up in the next two weeks. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy. Here we go!
Before we get going, let’s talk a little bit about the purpose of this podcast. There is a lot that goes into WordPress. And for anyone who isn’t involved full time, it can be really hard to see. And even when you are really involved, sometimes you just aren’t trying to figure out any of the philosophical things that make WordPress unique. So you can think of this as a sort of WordPress appreciation for any level—and honestly, all levels of WordPress awareness. Bite-sized insights into what makes it all work.
So at the end of 2020, the project saw its first-ever virtual state of the word. There were many things in it that we look forward to seeing every year: we got a reminder of our roadmap and checked in on progress on things to date. And there was also a review of the releases that were shipped over the year.
This state of the word also included a few beautiful gems that you might miss if you don’t have all the context. Matt mentioned three trends in action. I want to share the context for those because without the context, you don’t really understand why they’re so important for the WordPress project in general, certainly important to share in that particular presentation. Those three things were content that connects, e-commerce that sustains, and skills that elevate; we’ll take them one at a time.
So content that connects refers directly to the WordPress project’s mission of democratizing publishing. Now, if you haven’t heard of democratizing publishing, it’s the idea that it should not be difficult for you to put your site online or to have an online presence. And especially, you should not be left out of any 21st-century opportunities because you don’t know how to code. Everyone has a story to tell, and every story has ears that need to hear it or eyes that need to read it depending on your medium. But in a time where social media is dire and doom scrolling is part of the daily routine, it’s nice to have a place where you can confidently own your voice and perspective. And more importantly, when we build a community, when we bring people around ideas and concepts and our passions, we feel more connected to the world around us. And I think that that’s always a good idea.
The second one was e-commerce that sustains, this to my mind, refers to the scads of success stories that we hear at WordPress events all across the globe. People come to those events to learn how to run a business online or how to build a site that supports their business, regardless of whether it’s online or not. But also, they come to build a network that supports their growth and success.
One of my favorite experiences at Word Camps is when you meet a first-time attendee, and they are there because they are starting a new business. And they just heard about this thing called WordPress, and they want to learn how to use it better to be a successful entrepreneur. And when I see those same attendees year after year at my local word camp, going from “I’m here just to learn how to do this and use this tool,” to “I did this great thing using this tool. This is the business that I have, this is the work that I do that WordPress site enables that;” that is such a compelling thing. And that is why I get passionate about WordPress and certainly why I continue to help make sure that all of our contributors can show up and keep WordPress running.
The third trend that Matt mentioned was skills that elevate, and this one probably is actually my favorite. I know it sounded like the second one was my favorite, but this one probably is my actual favorite. It refers to all of those who have done the hard work to learn how to use this software, set up e-commerce sites, and build websites for other people.
They have taken all of those skills that they learned while creating content for themselves or putting together e-commerce sites that sustained their businesses or other people’s businesses. And they turned that into their career: they can create sites for others, they can design excellent things using all of the tools that WordPress provides to them, they can develop custom solutions, where in some cases, no one can tell that WordPress runs it. I think that’s so fascinating to see how people graduate from “I am here because I’m trying to enable my passions with this tool,” all the way out to, “I would like to help enable other people’s passions with this tool, I want to help enable other people’s journey and success and changing of their life stories.”It gives me chills to think about it every time.
So those are the three trends in action that were mentioned in the State of the Word. Again, I feel like, without that context, it’s hard to know why it was so important for everyone to know it. But now that you have it, I hope that it is helpful for you. And I hope that it gives you some interest in learning a bit more about what the WordPress project does.
Now that we’re in 2021, we’re all spending some time trying to get an idea of what the New Year holds for us; getting a handle on goals, getting a handle on what we think we can do and not do, habits to make and break as we go. And so I’ve been thinking about some of the things that I’m particularly interested in for the WordPress project in 2021. And the things I’m most excited about. I think that the things that I’m most excited about actually have to do with our necessary pivot to online learning and online events. 2020 will be etched in our memories forever as the year that made us grow and change and grapple with how we bring people together and teach 21st-century skills.
And the work that’s being done on learn.wordpress.org through the training team and the community team and docs – that whole collaborative effort over there is so exciting to me. The ability for us to meet current and future WordPress users where they are and where they have to be right now and engage in a new way of learning so that they can still have all of the skills required to create their web presence, without necessarily having to travel all the way to a Word Camp, and put their health at risk. Or even in normal times, when they have to travel to an event and pay for that with their actual money, they also have the opportunity cost for all of our entrepreneurs. And then the cost of just not having that time to dedicate to building your business. I’m excited about that training and learning and educational opportunity that we’re making available to more and more people in our community and elsewhere as we work our way through 2021.
So congratulations, you’ve made it through the biggest part of this podcast. This podcast, the WordPress Briefing, will always be pretty short and to the point. The first part will always have some really big questions, some good solid concepts to dig into about what makes WordPress run. I hope that I always make it easy to understand.
But also, if you have any questions, I hope that you take the time to follow-up because I want to hear from you! And I want to make sure that you have a concept of how we’re getting things done.
For the last part here, we’re going to have a community highlight, which will either be a contributor who has done some excellent work stewarding the WordPress project forward or a community submitted success story. Today, we have a success story that was sent to me via Twitter from Dave Lootz. He says: “15 years ago, I blindly decided to become a freelance web designer without any tech knowledge. Right now, I create awesome custom sites and shops, and I’m on a level where I have the freedom to choose my customers, my hours, my destiny, and that is the real power of WordPress.”
Now it’s time for our small list of big things. I have three things for you today, all of which come right from a post that I’ll share in the show notes with our big picture goals for the project for 2021.
The first one on there is Full Site Editing. We have a whole meeting dedicated to keeping the new block editor’s work moving forward, and we can always use your help there. If you are not a developer or a designer, but you still want to help, there is an opportunity for testing the Full Site Editor as it becomes more and more available in the plugin. I will share links to both of those things in the show notes.
The second thing that you can keep an eye on if you want to learn more about how we’re doing things is learn.wordpress.org. I mentioned it earlier, and it is a new initiative that is in its early stages. It aims to bring training about WordPress and the 21st-century skills required to use WordPress to you no matter where you are.
The third thing on our small list of big things is some general contributor experience-type work we’re doing this year. I am trying to help our contributors, especially when time and attention are at a premium. I’m trying to help support the tools that reclaim some of that manual effort that our contributors put in, that our volunteers worldwide have made available to us to make sure that WordPress succeeds in the long run. Ensuring that you all can continue to be happy and healthy and safe and contribute in the most meaningful way for you is high on my list all year every year. This year, we’re going to try to take care of that with some automation in a few of our contributor teams.
So that, my friends, is your small list of big things. Thank you for tuning in today for the WordPress Briefing. Again, I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy, and I’ll see you again in a couple of weeks.