You’ve launched your product. Customers are purchasing and everything is going really well. You’ve reached the point where your product contains all of the features you feel are necessary in the core offering, yet you want to expand. Today, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on how to expand once having reached this perceived plateau.
All too often we are faced with roadblocks, hurdles and limitations within everything we do. Whether it’s in our personal, work or digital lives, there are often items which stand in the way of us achieving our goals. Success, however, comes flooding through when we remove or refactor these limiting beliefs.
Today, I’d like to share the story of how I removed a limitation, and submitted my first patch to WordPress core in the process.
When working with open source software, the project is largely driven by passion and volunteers within the community surrounding the project. With WordPress powering an ever-increasing percentage of today’s websites, the project has fostered a large community of dedicated and passionate users and developers.
While contributing to WordPress can take many forms (even using WordPress to build websites for clients can be seen as a contribution), many folks simply don’t know where to start when it comes to contributing to the community and project in a way which may involve code or a deeper dive into the community such as event organisation.
As WordPress Cape Town, we elected to host an event where we held workshops about how to contribute to various areas of the WordPress project. I was fortunate enough to run the WordPress plugin development introduction. Below are the slides from my workshop.
As you all know, I love listening to podcasts and being creative. Listening to the myriad of podcasts that I do, I find concepts from one podcast often apply to the field discussed in one of the others. While listening to a podcast on trading card game design, the topic of communications theory and game design came up. I followed up by reading the related article by the podcast host, which sparked off an interesting thought process for me, around how communications theory helps to plug holes within product design. Here’s how I feel this applies.
During my career as a senior developer, and as the head of a team of engineers and product managers, I’ve had to make only a few new hires. Fewer than one may think, in fact. Since 2007, I’ve been in charge of hiring perhaps 6-8 new staff members, which is unheard of, given I’ve only ever worked with fast-growing young tech companies. This small hiring pool got me thinking about the core need for why one needs to hire new engineers and subsequently the cultural reason why my team at WooThemes grows differently to other non-engineering teams within the same ecosystem. Here’s why I reckon this is the case.
WooCommerce has, at the time of writing, passed over 6 million downloads (and several million active installations) on WordPress.org. What many aren’t aware of is, WooCommerce reached the 5 million download mark with only 3 engineers officially working full time on the project (while working on several other projects as well).
Throughout this process, we took away many learnings which we can apply to all future projects. I was fortunate enough to present these findings and learnings to the group at ScaleConf 2015, a popular tech conference here in Cape Town, South Africa.
The previous time I spoke on this stage at Kirstenbosch was at WordCamp Cape Town 2012, my fist large-scale public speaking endeavour. It felt great to be back on this stage!
At Woo, we recently picked up on the next steps of a StrengthsFinder assessment we conducted within our leadership team towards the end of 2013. This assessment aims to identify your top 5 strengths and assist you in harnessing them, while creating a better understanding of the strengths others possess and how best to relate to those you work with daily. The follow up steps of this assessment included a call with a leadership coach, where in we discuss our strengths, answer a few questions and better understand how to create the next steps in our strengths finding journey.
During my call with Horace (our coach), he mentioned the following, which stuck with me; “If you can explain to someone how you perform a particular task, that task is a learned behaviour. If you can’t explain the exact steps, that task is an inherent strength”. For me, this task was product architecture and analysis.
As I’ve mentioned before, I really enjoy listening to podcasts. I listen to a wide variety of different topics, and attempt to glean value from each, and apply that value in different contexts. One of those topics relates to creativity.
When setting up a service or product-based business, there is a concept referred to as “lock in”, where the customer buys in to your ecosystem and, as they add products to their purchase history, it becomes increasingly more difficult to switch away to a competitor.
While corresponding over an email chain with friends this morning, we started talking about software licenses and how to interface between clients and purchasing software licenses for use on client projects (in particular, referring to licenses for WordPress plugins and themes). The topic of multi-site licenses came up, with the idea that the license can be purchased once and re-sold to several clients who can each cover a portion of the maintenance code. On the surface, this looks like a great idea, as each customer gets to pay a bit less than the overall fee, and doesn’t have any responsibility to maintain the license and pay the renewal fee each year.
Here’s why I disagree with this approach.
In the comments of my post on custom rewrite rules in WordPress, I received a query regarding creating author profile URLs using a rewrite convention of “/profile“.
The WordPress author archives are a great way to create profiles for each author on your WordPress-powered website (in fact, it’s done for you by default). The author archives also make use of the “author.php” template file, if it exists in the theme, allowing for easy additions of custom information about the author, custom content from various areas of your website or links to their social media profiles. The question is, how can we leverage this and still have “/profile” as a part of the URL to each author’s archive screen?
So… you think you know WordPress, huh? 😉 Well, why not test your skills and see where you rank on the world’s stage? Presenting… the WordPress test!
I blogged the other day about using Smarterer and Code School for online education. As a starting point, take the test below and see how you stack up. You never know… the results may just surprise you. 🙂
Once you’ve done taking the test, sign up over at Smarterer and take a few other tests to verify and enhance your skills set.