WordPress Workshop @ Seattle Givecamp 2013

This weekend I have the honor of returning to Seattle Givecamp for a second year to give a WordPress workshop to the 22+ Non-Profit Organizations and 180+ volunteers participating.  If you’re not familiar with Givecamp, 10up published a great post on the event, or you can learn more on seattlegivecamp.org.

For those of you attending and interested in the workshop, I’ve published the Workshop schedule so you can plan ahead! Looking forward to seeing you all there.

Any questions you’d like me to address at the workshop?

DSC_0583

Mount St. Helens Summit

Wednesday September 18th I summited Mount St. Helens with my Dad and a few of his buddies. It was a grueling climb, but amazingly beautiful. I can’t say I’d do it again, however I’m glad we stuck it out and made it to the top. A great story, and some awesome photos, see below: Continue Reading →

WordCamp Portland 2013 Plugin Repo Chat

Jake Goldman of 10up led an unconference session at WordCamp Portland today discussing the current state of the WordPress.org plugin repository. Presented as a follow up to the unconference session he and Shane Pearlman led 1 year ago at WordCamp Portland 2012, below are the major topics discussed in the session…

  • Advanced search filter for searching plugins w/ in WordPress admin, filter by stars, filter by version compat, other meta?
  • Rate plugins further than simple star rating… plugin quality? plugin UI?
  • Elastic search from WordPress.com? -Alex Mills
  • Plugin preview? Similar to theme preview. See if it throws any errors before installing. See how much marginal load time it adds, store that as meta?
  • Trusted reviews on repo. Maybe rate plugin authors, let their reviews become the authority.
  • iOS like “review this plugin” notice in the WP Admin to remind people to go actually review plugins.
  • Quick Survey: No one in the room actually lets their clients search and install plugins. Yikes.
  • Maybe we need an additional “Cathedral” plugin repo (redhat like?). A repo that’s closed and highly reviewed. Might seem like a club? Healthy for the community?
  • Would a cathedral even guarantee stability? Is it possible?
  • Create groups on .org that can share reviews and trusted plugins among that group. Maybe even be sub repos that lock in certain version of plugin and WP as  trusted.
  • Observation: Room keeps coming back to trust. People just want to trust an author or a plugin. Is 100% level of trust possible? How can we simply raise trust.
  • Following Amazon’s lead, perhaps bring to surface real people’s profiles. Use real names, meta about that person as they review things, stack exchange-esq
  • Related plugins? Or plugins that are also installed often with the current plugin?

Feel free to leave comments below, ping Jake on twitter, or follow the official Portland hashtag for more plugin repo conversations!

Joining 10up

I’m very excited to be joining the incredible team over at 10up, a well recognized design and development agency within the WordPress Community. As a Senior Web Strategist at 10up I’ll get the chance to collaborate with a top class team of engineers and designers working on some cutting edge web publishing projects.

I’ve written up a quick announcement over on the 10up blog: http://10up.com/blog/grant-landram-joins-10up/

2013 Seattle RocknRoll Half Marathon Recap

It couldn’t have been a better day for a race. Sunny, not too hot, and barely a cloud in the sky. The weather made for excellent running conditions, and amazing views of Seattle throughout the course.

My running partner started having shooting knee pains around the 10 mile mark (my guess is from slight swelling in the knee), so we ran the last 2-3 miles much slower than our goal pace (10m/mi), but overall we both ran a great race, and had a lot of fun.

The Seattle RocknRoll is a very “large production” race, drawing over 20,000 runners in Seattle each year. A lot of money goes into the event, and they do a great job of course support and runner amenities. While entry fees are a bit high ($150+), you get what you pay for in road closures, water/first-aid support, and first class views of Seattle. If you’re considering your first big race, there’s no better one to enroll in.

Looking ahead, I’ll be running the Tacoma Narrows Half Marathon in less than 6 weeks. I’m looking forward to a great race, and will be aiming for a PR.

 

Splits

Screen Shot 2013-06-23 at 11.44.34 AM

See You at WordCamp San Francisco

I was blown away to be included in the first announcement of speakers for this year’s WordCamp San Francisco. I wasn’t sure I was going to submit, but ended up proposing a talk on communication with non-technical stakeholders.

I’m so honored to be included in such an amazing lineup of speakers, and am really looking forward to meeting so many talented folks. Tickets are still on sale, so grab a ticket if you haven’t already, and I’ll see you there!

 

Race Preview: 2013 Seattle RocknRoll Half Marathon

I’m really excited to be running The 2013 Seattle RocknRoll Half Marathon this Saturday. This course is special because a year ago it was my very first marathon. After only a year and a half of running, with 2 marathons and 2 half marathons under my belt,  I’m really happy to be back running the half here in Seattle.

I’m not trying to PR, just enjoy a really fun race on a beautiful course. The RocknRoll is a unique race series because it has a live band/DJ every 2 miles of the race. Mostly local bands, but always a great variety of acts that bring high energy. Nothing like live music to keep you motivated and happy while your body slowly shuts down on you.

Here’s a quick race preview. I’ll post my stats and a recap post next week.

200+ foot climb at mile 9. Ouch.

200+ foot climb at mile 9. Ouch.

Map

Beautiful race course taking us along Lake Washington and along the Viaduct with sweeping views of the city and the bay.

Beautiful race course taking us along Lake Washington and along the Viaduct with sweeping views of the city and the bay.

Rethinking the WordPress Admin Top Right Corner

The top menu in any cms/dashboard is arguably some of the most valuable real estate there is, and despite the heavy value the WordPress Admin puts on the left side menu, the top menu has long been a junk drawer of hot links and akward drop down menus.

The top right corner itself (apologies I don’t have a better name for it) is no exception, and in my experience it currently offers little to no value in functionality or aesthetics. In it’s current state I’d rather have it removed than keep it around and have it distract the eye (or unexperienced user) away from more important options.

Current state of the top right hand corner

Current state of the top right corner

In MP6, the currently-in-progress update to the WordPress admin, it gets flattened, but isn’t addressed further than that.

MP6 take on the top right corner

MP6 flattens out the top bar


So, I thought I’d take a crack at rethinking it. Keeping in mind the lessons I’ve learned customizing the WordPress admin for clients, as well as the vision communicated through MP6, I set out with the following goals:

  • Create a cleaner, more visually desirable top right corner
  • Try to create a corner that has more value for users
  • Work within reasonable constraints of the current admin design and vision communicated in MP6 (avoid total redesign)

Clean Up

First, “howdy, username {image}” seems a little verbose, and isn’t adding as much value as it is distracting. Does a user need to be greeted each and every time they load a new admin page? I don’t think so. I’d also like to simplify to using a dashicon instead of the user’s gravatar, but I’d be curious to know if there’s any data on users responding well to their gravatar.

Cleaner top right corner, less distracting, not much value though

Cleaner top right corner

It’s already looking a bit cleaner and less distracting, but let’s take it a step further.


Adding Value

Next, let’s add a few things that might be valuable to us.

First up, I’ve always wanted a “quick reference” menu with the last 3-5 admin pages I’ve been to. I’m always toggling between a few pages (say a specific post I’m authoring, the widget page, and a settings page), and with a quick reference list I can quickly toggle back and forth without searching through the flyout menus.

"Quick Reference" dropdown with the last 3-5 admin pages visited

“Quick Reference” dropdown with the last 3-5 admin pages visited


Next, let’s add in an easily identifiable link to get to the home page of the site. I know we’re stealing from the top left corner, but I’ve found users struggle with using the blog name dropdown link. This way is much more elegant.

top-right-corner-full


Beyond these, I think you could make a case for continuing to steal items from the crowded top left corner. I’ll offer a few examples I think would work well:

Comments
I really enjoy the color treatment that MP6 has added to the Installed Plugins admin page. A lot of other CMSs use color to communicate status, which I’ve found helps new users quickly digest what things need more attention.

border-left colored lines indicate the status of a plugin. Red if it needed updating, blue if it's up to date.

border-left colored lines indicate the status of a plugin. Red if it needed updating, blue if it’s up to date.

Applying this same treatment to the top admin menu, you could add comments into the top right menu with an indicator on whether or not comments need some attention.

Steal comments from the top left menu, using a color treatment to indicate status

Steal comments from the top left menu, using a color treatment to indicate status

Updates
Updates would also work great with a bit of color treatment.

Steal updates from the top left corner, use similar color treatment to indicate updates are needed

Steal updates from the top left corner, use similar color treatment to indicate updates are needed


Conclusion

In no way is this a comprehensive look at the top admin bar, rather a quick take on how the top right hand corner could improve a bit. I’m very excited for MP6 to make it’s way in to Core (3.7 anyone?), and I’m looking forward to more discussions around how we can help make the admin more efficient and usable for all users.

What do you think? I’d love your feedback on these ideas.

#BeachPress Recap

A couple weeks back I had the pleasure of being an attendee of the first (and hopefully annual) BeachPress event. The concept was beautiful in it’s simplicity:

Beach House + WordPress + Co-working awesome dev sauce.

A group of ~16 WordPress devs (BeachPressers?) got together for 72 hours of co-working… No expectations, no schedule, no rules. No surprise, I learned a few things…

WordPress is an unexplainably powerful thing.

3 guys flew in on their own dime. ~7 guys made 5+ hour drives to get there, and 1 with an infant child no less. Pretty sure most paid their way on their own dime… and all this effort with no promise of more clients, exposure, or even productivity.

Barriers create trust.

BeachPress was a completely open, pay-what-you-want, non-exclusive invite (kudos to Justin for pulling that off). Even so, the barriers to entry were significant: time, money, schedule flexibility, and perhaps the most important, the desire to spend 72 hours in a house with 15 other developers. I felt these barriers created an implicit trust… even though I didn’t know each BeachPresser extremely well, I trusted them. I trusted their intentions were similar to mine of learning and sharing in a respectful way (I mean come on, why else would they agree to this crazy trip).

beachpress-scotch

Connect privately when appropriate.

These days it seems like we have an overwhelming amount of opportunities to network, but fewer and fewer ways to connect with others privately, one-on-one, or in a setting that promotes personal sharing over generalizing small talk. The size and barriers of BeachPress created an almost immediate opportunity for connecting privately for those that had the interest. Within the first hour I had already talked through some of the bigger issues I’ve faced with my business over the past year, and listened to similar ideas from others. That kind of connection spurs growth and insight far more than any generalized socializing, no matter the involved parties.

Try not to be the smartest guy in the room.

I was WAY out of my league at BeachPress. I’m a mediocre front end designer/developer, and among the group at BeachPress were core contributors, awesome agency devs, and some of the most trusted, experienced, and well known WordPress devs in the country. Most of the code being thrown around I’m familiar with, but will probably never be able to write or fully understand. Even so, the amount I was able to learn, extrapolate, and contribute, was significant. Being honest about your own abilities, offering what you can, and just sitting back and listening can be a really powerful way of improving.

Organizing is tough.

Putting together an event as simple as BeachPress is anything but simple. It was humbling to see Justin pull it off so smoothly. A big hat tip to Justin Sainton for having the idea, the courage take it on, and the fortitude to pull it off. For those of you who are a part of an event-having community of any kind, take a minute to give thanks to your organizers, or ask how you can help.


I feel lucky to have been a part of the first BeachPress, and I hope anyone reading this has a chance to participate in this great event, or another like it in their own community.

-G