The core purpose of the WordPress Governance Project is to illuminate existing and ad hoc governance models within the WordPress Open Source project and provide input on how to create an official governance platform for the project. A crucial component of this work is discovering and evaluating existing governance models both within the Open Source Software space and in other comparable organizations and communities. For this we need all hands on deck.
Any organization can function without governance, but that is not enough. You need to function and be a healthy environment for your organization, and its current and future members. In order to be healthy, you need clear structure, processes, and decisions. That is what governance means.
Rachel Cherry 2019
The task of coming up with a vision of WordPress governance can be overwhelming. It’s a lot of responsibility to imagine what an ideal experience can be, then render the governance documentation to achieve and support that experience.
We have broken this task into smaller components and by doing so a vision emerges from a series of smaller tactics. (interviews, usability observation, personas, scenarios, & journey maps).
Here’s how teams have worked through the UX tactics:
Identify Stakeholders and groups of Stakeholders
Observe & interview people as they use current conditions in the WordPress ecosystem to work through tasks
Note the order of steps use cases takes and measure each step frustrating or delightful
Create a journey map that shows the experience of each with a horizontal timeline and marker that represent each step
Measure frustration and delight on the map using a vertical timeline
Resulting maps shows the current experience for that scenario
Create different maps for each Stakeholder and look for patterns that emerge
This work, lead by UX Architect Cathi Bosco is a team effort by many contributing members of the WordPress community. The following documentation and research is for identifying specific evidence (pain points) and experiences useful for facilitating important conversations. This is a useful practice for the purpose of identifying problems in need of solutions.
A journey map is a diagram that visualizes the journey of stakeholders as they interact or accomplish tasks within the WordPress project.
How to read this document and journey maps:
Click through each map graphic to view and interact with the actual journey map at scale
Each journey map highlights frustrating experiences and delightful experiences along the course of a set of tasks per stakeholder
The pain points or frustrating experiences are highlighted in the red panels of the journey maps
Both the delightful and frustrating experiences are noted in the bullet points below each chart
Language, Geographical, and Culturally Diverse
Suresh owns a company that provides professional language learning services internationally. They use WordPress multisite installation for their platform. The company, their clients, and their students all depend on WordPress to work no matter what language or region they represent.
👍 Using WordPress multisite allows the administration staff to customize their own platform for their specific student base
👍 Plugin author can make requests within the WordPress channels for volunteer translators to help
⚠️ More translation support for plugins is needed
⚠️ Need to improve of the processes for adding translations for plugins in core
Individuals & Educators
Robin is the IT lead engineer at a state university in the USA and is tasked with setting up hosting and a website for the school. Their team needs specific functionality, to protect the privacy of the site guests, and must meet accessibility requirements for their work.
👍 WordPress web development can meet WCAG standards with some work
👍 Fallback on the Classic editor proves very useful
👍 Great resources are available through the plugin repository
👍 WordPress web development can be done in compliance with Privacy Laws
⚠️ Mapping illustrates the need for WCAG accessibility compliance
⚠️ Evidence that some plugins conflict with legislation about privacy tracking
⚠️ Illustrates that documentation is not easily available for the Gutenberg editor
⚠️ Need for standardized formatting for more successful migration of sites
⚠️ Themes and plugins can cause formatting & usability issues
Site Owners for Hobby & Pastime Websites
Sam is a member of a trail running community. They have a domain and are ready to set up hosting. They choose WordPress for their blog because their group is not technical and they love the ability to write essays with the visual editor. When asked why not just run a Facebook group for the trail running group, Sam replies, “because not everyone uses Facebook.”
👍 Easy to disseminate information from a WordPress blog
👍 Control and ownership of content
👍 Low cost to get started
👍 A lot of beautiful themes and useful plugins to choose from
⚠️ Confusion between .com and .org
⚠️ Maintenance of a website and managing plugin conflicts is challenging
⚠️ Struggles to find clear, non-technical documentation that is easily available in WordPress (maybe on dashboard)
Melissa is a naturopathic doctor who started using WordPress to help launch her new practice in her local community. After learning more about themes and customizing how her website looks, she began publishing information about natural remedies that have led to her to add phone consultations to her services.
👍 WordPress website can grow and add dynamic functionality to grow business and increase revenue channels for a business over time
👍 Adding ecommerce to a site can support business growth
👍 Consumer audiences can transcend local regions for larger reach
⚠️ Lacks the time and resources to build and manage the website without help
⚠️ Users struggle to find best practices in WordPress, as well as finding help (paid and free) when issues arise
⚠️ Support for both initial site setup/creation as well as support for the growth & maintenance of an evolving site as functionality is added and maintenance is required
Consumers or Audiences
Finley is searching for recipes on line. Ease of finding the information, products, or services they are looking for is important to Finley regardless of the device they are using or if they are traveling or connected to service in their house. Finley finds a beautiful website powered by WordPress.
👍 The top search results are from recipe sites built with WordPress
👍 Taxonomies provide an efficient and immersive browsing experience
👍 Easy to share sites and site content with friends to engage with
⚠️ Poor performance, privacy, and consent concerns on some sites
⚠️ Lack of accessibility standards lead to negative impacts on the diverse use cases who browse and engage with WordPress websites (perhaps unknowingly) everyday
⚠️ Highlights the importance of considering the end-user and web standards implications the ecosystem creates
BWH is a large, enterprise scale company and the CEO is very accomplished technically. They dedicate a lot of their professional time to the WordPress project. A large percentage of their business depends on WordPress to be successful. The CEO was asked to take on a leadership role in the Project.
👍 Large companies invest a lot of resources and make many very important contributions to the WordPress project
👍 Sponsoring contributors is another support system that they bring
👍 Sponsoring WordCamps and infrastructure are celebrated
👍 Influencers of continued increased adoption of WordPress across the world
👍 Support features aimed at improving the reliability, security and stability of WordPress
⚠️ Leadership and team roles need to be clearly defined
⚠️ The WordPress Project is served best by being supported by a more diverse and a broad variety of individuals from a variety of large companies
⚠️ Communication channels around strategy, vision, and roadmaps need to be opened up
⚠️ As WordPress grows so does their role in the governance of the open web and a more collaborative and functional community is deemed necessary and the responsible choice
Freelance Developers and Designers
Yih-Woei, an independent developer and small business owner attends a local MeetUp. The organizer of the MeetUp learns that Yih-Woei has specialization with accessibility and invites Yih-Woei to begins speaking publicly and sharing knowledge.
👍 WordPress is a strong and extremely welcoming community
👍 Developers find WordPress has great extensibility – easy to add and create plugins and themes
👍 Open Source is rewarding as we can contribute and make it do whatever we want
👍 It is possible to be sponsored to give presentations at WordCamps
⚠️ Confusion about paid/sponsored speakers vs unpaid/unsponsored speakers at a WordCamp – how the payment/remuneration affects the direction of their talk
⚠️ How a sponsorship can change the message in a presentation or project for WordPress
Makers and Entrepreneurs
Patricia, a developer opens a WordPress plugin shop. They have 3 plugins in the repo that have over 600,000 installs specializing in SEO and Social Media integrations. As a company they do a lot of work contributing to WordPress core and are known for creating custom applications as well.
👍 A growing company that grows with WordPress produces job opportunities and financial security for successful teams
👍 As companies and teams gain traction they often generously contribute back to the WordPress project
👍 Volunteers within the project are incredibly skilled and dedicated to their work and responsibilities giving extreme care to be thoughtful and sincere in their communications
⚠️ The workload on volunteers and team leads (a team of 2) all plugin reviews fall on the shoulders of a small team
⚠️ There is no known code of conduct for the WordPress Project (unlike the WordCamps) and the plugin review team often experience a lot of pressure and abuse
⚠️ A lack of ongoing UX usability testing
⚠️ A lack of productive channels for expression of frustration, concerns, and dissenting opinions
Past, Present, and Future Innovators
Jay is a WordPress software engineer working for a larger publishing company. Jay is hired because of their WordPress expertise and after their new platform is completed is is well received among early adopters! They sell subscriptions and business grows.
👍 WordPress software engineers, developers, and designers are in demand as the popularity of the platform grows and delivers reliable experiences
👍 Multiple authors are able to contribute within the platform
👍 As the community evolves and grows troubleshooting issues becomes less daunting for teams
⚠️ Improve communication and decision making to minimize the disruption experienced when a big change to WordPress occurs
⚠️ Before a big release is shipped, plugin and theme developers need an adequate amount of time to develop and test their products to ensure readiness
⚠️ Need for open communications and timeline decision making for the future
The WordPress Project: Some Paid and Some Volunteer
From the collection of volunteers, builders, administrators, and users who support and use WordPress, Sasha is a sponsored team lead for the Accessibility team. WordPress teams are currently building the new block editor called Gutenberg.
👍 The community works hard together and takes on extremely difficult challenges together
👍 Ambitious work on projects or initiatives often takes months and years of teamwork to achieve set goals and to secure forward momentum for the project
👍 WordPress teams often take proactive measures towards identifying deficiencies and beginning to work on solutions
👍 The project provides for backward compatibility through the fluid nature of the technology
👍 WordPress project leader sets up “Office Hours to Gutenberg and 5.0 Listening Office Hours” to create opportunities to open up the lines of communication and continues to promote transparency and improved communication moving forward
⚠️ The is tension between paid and unpaid volunteers
⚠️ Prioritization of suggestions & contributions by unpaid team members
⚠️ Projects for governments and higher ed (USA) must meet accessibility regulations and WordPress could therefore give equal weight to this priority
⚠️ Need for improved communications, transparency and inclusion for road-mapping the future of WordPress
⚠️ Improve processes, consensus, and rules as well as a role in the process for standards, inclusivity, and accessibility teams
⚠️ Consider how to organize and represent our community across the wider web and how to contribute to improving the state of the web
WordPress Community Supporters
Terry, leads a monthly MeetUp in South Africa and volunteers to coordinate a larger WordCamp held annually in Cape Town. Terry decides to start a new WordCamp with a group of co-organizers. They regularly give back to the community, create and share their learning, and build networks of support so that people can help themselves. WordCamps help launch careers, build meaningful connections and help to move the web forward.
👍 Community supporters have made some excellent professional relationships as well as some life long friends for themselves and for others
👍 The WordPress community builds networks of support so that people can help themselves through community events like WordCamps
👍 Meet others that share the same passion — WordPress
👍 Budget provided by Central covers the venue, swag, food, and beverages
👍 The price to attend and learn at a WordCamp is affordable and inclusive
👍 The “5 For The Future” initiative supports some of Terry’s team for some of their volunteer time working at this camp
⚠️ People travel from long distances to contribute to and to learn more about working with WordPress
⚠️ Challenges experienced by unpaid volunteers who create & execute a WordCamp in their city or territory
⚠️ Improve communication and support needed by these organizers and their unpaid contributions, challenges, and sacrifices
Grouping of Stakeholders
WPGovernance MindMap | Stakeholders – complete in progress – living documentation
Props: Pat Lockley, Morten Rand-Hendriksen, Rachel Cherry
Summarize events and discussions at WCEU (Morten Rand-Hendriksen)
Overview of next steps for the project
Morten summarized WCEU (WordCamp Europe)
Two notable things took place:
The Governance Project had a surprise table at Contributor Day
Had two WP Cafe Sessions:
One on internal governance
One on representing WordPress in the political arena
Governance project table at Contributor Day:
Roughly 10 people sat down to talk about governance and do some work on communication team structure
About 20-30 people stopped by the table to voice their support for the project. Attendance less as people had committed to join other tables announced beforehand. There was also a common sentiment that sitting down at the table would somehow be harmful
Discussed the need for the project to work on marketing to make sure people understand that the project is not a coup or some sort of rebellion
Will there be a Governance Project table at WCUS Contributor Day?
Right now, no, not unless something major changes.
The Governance Project lives outside the official WordPress project and therefore doesn’t “belong” at CD.
WP Cafe Sessions:
WC Cafe sessions were announced well in advance, and were quite successful.
Blog post about Team Drive action put back a week due to time commitments.
Morten thanked Cathi for her work with others on the stakeholder document.
Pat brought up the form doc being migrated and whether the related blog post needed changing, but it seems “ok”.
Point 4 – WCEU and publication strategy
Morten confirmed Alex noting the Governance Project does not have a slot on the WCEU schedule.
Morten confirmed it was never an official goal to announce at an event (and subsequent discussion has occurred in #general and #group-communication).
Discussion occurred on how to best release and distribute the data.
Discussion to continue at next general meeting.
Morten moved to open floor
Remkus suggested he may be able to do stuff at WCEU – contributor day was mentioned. Remkus will check.
Pat raised issues over raising agenda items and suggested tweets (as discussed previously) as possible slack channels. Morten created two new channels: #suggested-agenda and #suggested-tweets.
Discussion over an outreach team
Discussion over meeting time changes. European members want the meeting moved to one hour earlier. Discussion around the meeting time being North America / Western Europe friendly possibly excluding contributors from other regions.
Add discussion of publication strategy surrounding WCEU on the agenda for next meeting.
Remkus to explore options for WCEU.
Add discussion of meeting times to agenda for next meeting.
As the weekend approaches, here’s my challenge to the WordPress community and other interested parties:
If you got to decide, what would WordPress’ governance structure look like?
As work progresses in the WordPress Governance Project, several people have reached out with suggestions and opinions about what WordPress governance should look like. This is a good thought experiment to get the conversation going about both what is and what can be. It is also a good platform to build a Governance Hypothesis, effectively a starting point from which further research can be conducted.
We are looking for all opinions here, short ones, long ones, new ideas, tried-and-tested models from other projects, general concepts, and fully fleshed out governance proposals. This is your opportunity to think big and approach the governance of 33.4% of the web as a design problem.
Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below or in blog posts (and link them in the comments below) and take part in the development of a Governance Hypothesis for WordPress.
I know you have opinions on this. Even if the opinion is “I want everything to stay exactly as it is today,” we want to hear it. So, avoid disappointment and future regret. Act now!
We’d like to take this opportunity to request input from the wider WordPress community as we continue the work of identifying the Stakeholders of WordPress. We are further identifying 3 unique Stakeholders, Publishers, Enterprise, and Freelance Developers/Designers. Please review the entire document and make any comments or suggestions as we go through another editing phase. – Thank you