I should probably add a little context before we jump into this one and talk “our hopes and fears for WordPress 4.8.” This article is not exactly what it looks like.
Everything started back in December when I and the rest of the team traveled to Philadelphia to take part in 2016’s WordCamp US. Getting there was a big deal for us so we wanted to make the most out of the whole experience. One of the ideas was to meet some of the WordPress people who we only knew online, and do speed interviews with them.
This was a success and a failure both at the same time.
Let’s start with the success. First off, I want to thank everybody who took part and was kind enough to push their shyness away and talk with me in front of the camera. Yes, we filmed the interviews, professional and all, with separate tracks for video and audio. It was supposed to come out right after the conference, and … this is where the failure part comes into play.
As it turned out, the SD card that held the audio track was corrupted, and there was nothing that could be done about it. And we tried … we even contacted two separate data recovery firms. Both said the card was doomed.
Regret and helplessness was what I felt seeing that all that effort and work was gone. We really couldn’t release any of the videos because the sound was horrific. However, trying to listen to what the people were saying in the videos, I realized that we can still transcribe the answers and recover at least parts of the experience.
Out of all the questions that we asked during those speed interviews, I decided to just focus on one aspect of it for this post. Specifically, it was very interesting to see what people wish for the future of WordPress and what their fears are.
Since I was dealing with the audio that was picked up by the camera (and not by the pro mic that we had), the transcripts couldn’t be 100% accurate. Sometimes there were other people fooling around in the background, as they do on WordCamp premises, and I couldn’t understand everything the interviewees were saying. Sorry about that. (By the way, if I’ve misheard your answer, please reach out and let me know. I’ll fix it right away!)
My hopes are the same since the very first day, which is for WordPress to get easier and easier and easier to use, so more people can join, more people can take advantage of the opportunities that the open web can give to them.
More stuff with the Customizer would be nice, more controls that we can tap into to make it easier. I know ever since Divi 2.4 last year, we did a lot of customizing for it and it was a bit difficult. It got a lot better, a lot of performance issues have been fixed […], but making it easier to add different kinds of controls in the Customizer would be great.
For the community, my real hope is for WordCamp Asia to happen. Maybe in 2018, or as early as possible. For the software, to be really regarded as a real application framework after the REST API is fully merged. People should regard WordPress not only as a CMS. Just as its transition from a blogging platform to a CMS, now we’re moving from a CMS to an application framework. So I hope we really get there as fast as we can.
I don’t have fears. I have a lot of trust in people who develop core and all the ecosystem. However, if I need to look into something that I am a little scared of, even though we have a community that is very welcoming, sometimes we might be falling to behaviors that are not fully encouraging new people to join. So we need to be careful with that.
I guess my biggest fear for WordPress is increasing complexity, so anytime we add new features we risk scaring away new users. So I guess that is always my biggest fear, making it too complex for the users. I think WordPress is gonna be increasingly battling against Squarespace, Wix, these kinds of really simple editors. Going back, another thing to focus on is the onboarding experience. So my biggest fear would be not improving the onboarding experience by adding features and making it harder to use WordPress.
If there’s any fear, I think it might be that we are huge and we simply do not have enough people helping. So if there’s any fear it’s that we might be too big, and then people get upset about waiting and things like that. So for that to not become a real thing, everyone should help with WordPress, no matter how small.
Like anything, focus could be lost over time, and I hope that, as a community, we appreciate and maintain true to its inclusivity and its sense of belonging, and realizing that democratizing publishing really does mean including everybody in the decisions about the community.