2010 is the year Wordpress is going to dive into open source design. Here’s what you need to know if you want to get involved.
A list for all seasons: WordPress developers have the wp-hackers mailing list to discuss core and plugin code. Sometimes UI/UX stuff comes up and gets discussed there, but there is a whole universe of discussion around navigation labels, gradients, button styling, templates, alignment, design in general and more. Designers need a list to call their own, and now we have one. You can sign up for the wp-ui list to discuss ways to improve the interface or user experience of WordPress, and to discuss progress on design-related projects for the open source project, like the design challenges we’re going to have.
Design Challenges: We learned a lot from the icon design in the past, and we want to do these kind of open design challenges on a regular basis. If we could do one contest per month, that would be ideal. As each challenge is posted, people can use the list to bounce ideas off each other and work toward optimal solutions. I’m hoping the design challenges will evolve to be less contest and more collaboration. We’ll announce the first one before the end of January, so if you’re interested, please sign up for the list!
Distributed Usability Testing: We started to try this out last year, and several dozen usability professionals volunteered to help get the program going, but a combination of scheduling and infrastructure issues combined to stall the progress. Having the “UI/UX contributor team” infrastructure in place, starting with the mailing list, will make it much easier to get this project going again.
Chit-chat: The weekly developer chats in IRC at #wordpress-dev have been very productive. We’ve created an IRC room at #wordpress-ui on irc.freenode.net so that we can have the same kind of “water cooler” for UI/UX contributors as for core code contributors. In addition to being a place where you can drop in and discuss core UI/UX (note: this room will not be a place to discuss the design of blog themes, it’s to discuss the design of the WordPress application itself), we’ll set up a weekly chat. Choosing a day and time for the chats will probably be the first discussion on the mailing list.
A blog of our own: Once again, taking a page from the code contributor infrastructure, we’ll set up a blog for UI/UX updates, announcements, progress reports and more. This will be located on WordPress.org, and will be announced to the mailing list when it is live.
So, if you want to become a contributor to core WordPress by using your design skills and talent, join the wp-ui mailing list and get ready for a fun year!