As we continue our dive into WordPress, you’ll likely come across the term “The Community”. As much as it sounds like a sci-fi totalitarian regime, it really is not. It’s a group of developers, designers, and WordPress users who are just trying to make WordPress work for their particular business or personal needs. Let’s break down who makes up the community in a way that everyone is familiar. Lunch room tables!
Let’s find where you sit within the WordPress cafeteria, but don’t worry you’ll likely sit at many tables in your time with WordPress.
The Starters (General Users)
When you walk into the cafeteria with your rectangle pizza and juice box, the first set of tables you’ll come across are the general WordPress users. You’ll find all sorts of interesting people at these tables. This includes people that have got a WordPress site and a theme that they’re using to blog or run a pretty basic, no-frills site. These people are content creators that are using WordPress as a way of getting their content on the internet for all to see.
Some General Users:
People using only the core functionality of WordPress. You may find someone like Sally at this table. Sally runs a blog posting pictures of her cats doing cat things (napping and being a jerk) to share with her family and friends.
The Power Users
As you continue to explore the WordPress cafeteria you’ll come across the next set of tables. The Power Users.
These are WordPress users that use the WordPress.org software to run more complicated setups.
Let’s say Sally from the General Users group above has a post of her cat pushing things off a table go viral and she wants to capitalize on it by selling merchandise. She may install WooCommerce and some other plugins to turn her simple blog into a fully-fledged ecommerce store. She may need to get a new, more advanced theme setup too.
Suddenly Sally is doing a lot more with WordPress and has turned her small photo-blog into a business. She’s become a WordPress Power User. The problem is she may not know how to do a lot of that herself, and may be looking to hire some help.
The next set of tables you’ll come to are The Makers. These are the people who use WordPress to build solutions for their clients. They can be designers, developers, content creators, or all of the above. They can also vary in size from a freelancer putting in a couple of hours at night, to fully-fledged development companies with staffs and building WordPress sites for many clients.
This group uses WordPress as a tool to meet client needs in a more efficient manner. By building off of WordPress, The Customizers can create completely unique WordPress builds that don’t function like an out of the box WordPress site at all, or they could be brought in to make modifications to an existing theme or plugin. The Customizers are those that customize WordPress to fit their specific needs.
Finally as you get to the center of the room you’ll come across another group of tables. This group is The Contributors, and it can be broken down into a couple smaller groups.
First you’ve got your plugin and theme authors. These are the people that build the tools that can be used to extend WordPress and push it from a blogging platform to a full content management system.
They do so by building plugins and themes that can be installed on your WordPress site to add extra functionality. Things like ecommerce, extended security, portfolios, galleries, sliders, SEO, and the list goes on and on. These users create products that are both free and paid. Chances are if you have an idea for something you’d like to do on your site, you can find a plugin or theme that already supports it.
The Core Contributors
Then right in the middle of the cafeteria you’ve got the Core Contributors. These are the users who spend their time solving bugs and adding features to the open-source WordPress software. They’re not even paid to do it!
Every time you see that little orange dot with a “1” in it on your Updates page, that’s the core contributors making WordPress faster, safer, and more feature rich for you. Every tool you use when you download WordPress is the result of countless hours spent by the Core Contributors to make WordPress great. So if you see one give them a hug, or a coffee because they’ve probably been up all night trying to solve a bug.
Outside the Cafeteria
You may be wondering how you can get involved with the WordPress community outside of our hypothetical cafeteria (which is actually pretty real at WordCamps). The good news is the WordPress community is one of the biggest friendliest web communities. Outside of a few bad apples here and there everyone in the WordPress community is willing to lend a helping hand whenever they can. Here’s a few venues where you can dip your toes into the community.
Local WordPress Meet Ups
Find your local WordPress meet up on Meetup.com. There’s a good chance that if you live anywhere near other people there is a WordPress meet up within driving distance of your home. These are typically groups that come together weekly or monthly to chat about WordPress and share their knowledge with presentations or open discussion.
WordCamp can be one of the best introductions to WordPress. These weekend long conferences are often less than $40 to attend and typically get you two days of speakers and lunches. Plus tons of swag. This is probably the best return on investment you can get as far as conferences go.
Speakers often come to WordCamp’s from across the nation and world. Check the upcoming WordCamps list to find one near you.
Not so keen on attending right off the bat? Some WordCamp’s offer live-streaming tickets of their lectures now too. But you’ll miss out on the hallway track. Where a lot of the best learning happens.
Slack is the new hotness among messenger apps, and it has proven to be very useful for giving communities a place to chat. If you’re interested at all in contributing to WordPress the Make WordPress Slack channel is a must. Even if you just creep in the background for a few months on the Wednesday core meetings (me).
I’ve also been a fan of the Post Status Slack channel. There’s a lot great WordPress people in there, and it’s very active throughout the day. It does require a subscription to Post Status, which is totally worth it if you’re a WordPress power user.
Finally, the St. Louis WordPress community has it’s own Slack channel that’s open to the public. We’re just growing it at this point, but hoping to get a wider audience. There may be other local meet ups with their own Slack channels as well. Contact the organizers to find out.
Now that you’re familiar with the roles of the WordPress community we can start delving deeper into how WordPress works.
For more resources and who to follow check out my Resources page. It’s coming along. Slowly.