WordPress is a content management system that you put on your website to use. The WordPress talked about here is WordPress.org which you install on your own website. We’ve posted a ton about it here on our website. WordPress isn’t made by a big company with their resources dedicated to it. While there are some people who get paid to work on it, it’s mostly worked on by volunteers who volunteer in many different areas.
What do volunteers help with?
Volunteers can help with many aspects of WordPress. While many think coders are needed, there are many other volunteers needed. Some help out with the code of WordPress, some help out with the design. Helping out with the Apple and Android apps, there are people who help with accessibility. Other’s translate WordPress into their own language (or a language they know very well), some help people who use WordPress. Help writing documentation to let people help themselves when they get stuck, people create or review themes and plugins. People organize a meetup or WordCamp. Helping to test to make sure WordPress works well on every device, creating training, marketing WordPress, and much more. No matter what you help out with, no matter how small a contribution you make, it’s still helping.
I’m going to explain what each of these section of volunteers do in a way that most people will understand. Hopefully it will help you see where you can help.
Coders help to create WordPress, it may be a new feature, or fixing a bug, to changing fonts that are used, or much more. When you go into the section to help with coding you will notice there is a ton. It will be overwhelming for someone who is brand new to helping with WordPress. That is why there is tickets meant for those who are new to contributing to WordPress. If you prefer to test, then things that need testing is a good place to go. You can also find a bug and report it there.
Their current focuses (as of the time of writing) are: the block directory which is a listing of Gutenberg blocks and is like the plugin listing. Block patterns which are many pre-made patterns to create layouts for anyone’s content. Full site editing which is helping with bring Gutenberg and it’s blocks to the entire site (instead of just being able to edit the content). And global styles which is like full site editing but also is helping to bring more customization to Gutenberg and WordPress. It’s allowing a user to customize a page or post how they want. Make WordPress Design is the place for you to go for more on this.
If you like seeing how something looks, or have ideas on how something visually should be changed then talk to the design team.
Building and testing Apple and Android apps
WordPress is being used on many devices that can access the internet. There is also Apple and Android apps for those that want to be able to use it on the go. Before an version of the app makes it way to the app store, it needs to be made, tested, then put on the app store.
Have you ever used an app and went to do something but the app crashed on you and brought you back to your home screen? That is called a crash and WordPress is hoping to avoid that as much as they can by doing testing.
If you have experience building an mobile app, can help design it, or test it then get involved. Or if you want to help get rid of all the crashes then help out. If you’re interested in any of these then look at Make WordPress Mobile for details.
Accessibility is important on every website. The WordPress accessibility team helps to ensure everything in WordPress is accessible. They say the code must comfort with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines at level AA. It may seem like excess to some, but those guidelines are so more people can use WordPress.
What can you do if you want to help the accessibility team? As of the time of writing, there are many ways you can help out. If you use any sort of assistive technology then you can help with testing.
Good research and resources, general documentation and good code examples in the handbook are missing. Why is this needed? It allows someone reading it to know the best practices for accessibility are. As well as help those who may not know or are beginners. It also allows someone to see what the accessibility team is working on. As well as the general tasks of the accessibility team.
When a theme says it is accessible ready, there is someone to test that, as well any default themes that go to all WordPress sites. The Make WordPress Accessible page has more details on this and who to contact if you wish to get involved in this.
If fixing accessibility bugs is your thing, there are many tickets available. Even if you can’t code, or don’t use accessibility technology you can still help discuss possible solutions.
Gutenberg / the block editor, at the time of writing isn’t completely accessible. When it first came out many people said it wasn’t at all accessible. WPCampus in October 2018 was seeking a company to do an accessibility audit on what was known back then as “Gutenberg”. In May 2019, the results of that audit was made public and it announced 90 issues that were “medium or high severity”. The user experience of the block editor was described at the time as, at best, poor to ok. Which meant there was a ton of work to be done.
Many people wrote their own thoughts and opinions on the results of the audit, with Andy Bell writing “A responsible … in this position would probably write an incredibly apologetic statement that addressed the massive oversights. … At the very least, they wouldn’t force the new editor on every single WordPress user.“
Even talking about about accessibility and WordPress helps with this. In what ways can WordPress be made more accessible?
English is the largest language by number of speakers. Third largest language by the number of native speakers. English isn’t the only language that exists and used. Translations that aren’t English help to ensure everyone in the world can use, edit, or develop WordPress.
The WordPress software is written in English, so that needs translations. That way everyone can know how to add posts, add images and so on. Some parts of the world also read right to left, which means everything needs to be edited to that. Themes and plugins also need to be available in all the languages possible, so that everyone can use them.
While WordPress is written primarily in English, it should be readable to everyone. No matter if English is their second language, or if there is another language that they primarily use. The translation team does their best to translate everything related to WordPress into as many languages as they can.
If you are fluent in another language consider helping the translation team.
Answering questions and helping someone with a WordPress issue
WordPress is intimidating to some, and when someone looks for help they want to get answers. Volunteers help out to answer those questions. There are two primary official places to get this help, either on the support forums, or on the IRC channel.
If you want to help someone out with a WordPress issue, you don’t have to know everything. Be willing to help and be friendly. There is a detailed handbook to help guide you.
Can you explain something to someone in a way they can understand? Can you find the right words to use at the right time? You may want to consider helping out with the WordPress documentation.
The developer resources are to help developers make something for WordPress. Such as a theme, or plugin. This means that these are more technical in writing.
The WordPress support is to help the average person using WordPress. From an overview of WordPress, to moving their website to a new website host, along with custom fields (and post types).
At the time of writing, the main project is to move all the developer documents over to the current place on Devhub. If you are interesting in helping out with that or anything else related to documentation, you can read more and get started today.
A theme is the basis of how a WordPress website looks. There are many different themes and you can choose to create one that is just right for you and your needs.
One place to post the finished theme is on the WordPress themes site. Before it appears to everyone there is a review and approval process. This doesn’t involve solely the visual or code, but also from a license and security stand point.
Many theme creators ask when their theme will be public, and the answer is, it depends.
If you are interested in seeing new themes before they come on, and are able to help out on any of this process then become a reviewer.
Community / Outreach
How did you hear about WordPress? Someone told you about it? You found out about it online? That is part of what this team does.
One of the major outreach ways is through conferences. One major conference run by volunteers is WordCamp. Which focuses on everything related to WordPress, from total beginners to experts. Volunteers run WordCamp, with WordPress (the non-profit organization) providing guidance. This isn’t meant to be an expensive conference, it’s meant to be a low-key, affordable conference. A 2-day ticket price usually runs around $40 in the local currency. It’s all in the local currency (of where the WordCamp is being held) so nobody has to worry about high exchange rates. You may be wondering how WordCamp’s can charge so little, this is because there are so many volunteers. From the organizers, to speakers, they are all volunteers. WordCamp’s don’t try to make money, they want to cover their costs. With any remaining money it’s given to the local WordPress community, or donated to the WordPress Foundation. If you are trying to find a local WordCamp then see WordCamp.org.
If you have experience leading a WordCamp, you can help others plan a WordCamp by being a mentor. Not only are you asked to help mentor those who want to start a WordCamp. But also help to make WordCamps easier to organize and better for everyone who attends. This does mean if you have helped to organize many WordCamps you will have more experience to bring.
Speaking of the local WordPress community, WordPress events may be in your area. There are events from beginners to experts, and some can help you fix your site. There are also events that do a talk around a certain subject, or do a social event. If you want to know if there is an WordPress event near to you then see the WordPress Meetup page. There is always a need for more organizers and you can read more details on applying if you wanting to run a local WordPress event.
WordPress is trying to make their community more inclusive and diverse. Which is something that everything on the internet needs. There are many initiatives to help with this if you want to help in this area.
The community group also helps with ways to grow the WordPress community. As well as such things as contributor outreach.
Do you want to learn more about WordPress, or teach WordPress to others? This is what the Learn WordPress team does.
If you want to get hands-on, or level up your WordPress skills there are many workshops for you.
You can also teach others how to use WordPress by using the lesson plans, or you can help to create them. These range from beginners to advanced experience level so you can pick what is best for the audience.
If you don’t want to teach someone using one of the lessons, you can create one yourself. There are also people who revise the lessons. Then there is the editing and reviewing of lessons to ensure it is accurate and all makes sense.
When a lesson plan is complete someone needs to test it in front of people to ensure everything is covered. When testing you can make changes as you see fit, and can report back about what changes you made and the lesson plan may be edited.
There are also many other roles that someone can help out with. You can always read more about how you can contribute to the training team if you want.
If you love to test things, want to try and break it, and are able to write the steps needed to break it again then this is for you. It doesn’t mean you can go in and go and break everything you can. There are steps for you to follow, what broke and the steps taken so the fix can happen.
How do you get to testing? There are specific things that need to be tested. There are specific steps and requirements needed for each test. And feedback is welcome at all stages of the testing process. There is a set end date for each test so don’t worry if you can’t help with every test.
WordPress.tv is the place where WordPress and WordCamp videos are made public. They aren’t made public right away, there is a list of things to get done before it’s public.
There are two main ways to help with this team, by editing videos, and by editing subtitles.
At most WordCamps there is a volunteer who records each session and may be the same person who edits it after the event. It doesn’t have to be, and someone on the TV team can edit it. There is a handbook for anyone to follow. If the person editing doesn’t have any editing software they use then there are some that are free for you to use. The one that the TV team currently recommends is Shotcut.
A video isn’t done when editing is complete, subtitles need to be made. Subtitling assumes the viewer doesn’t understand the language in which the speaker is speaking. So that no matter what language you speak you can understand the content. WordPress.tv (at the time of writing) uses Amara.org to help you subtitle a video.
If get you stuck at any point during the process there are people who can help you or point you in the right direction.
You most likely know about WordPress because you are reading this post about the volunteers. However, there are people who don’t know about WordPress so there is a marketing team to promote WordPress.
This team also sees how WordPress is being perceived in the community. As well as what the community wants improvements on.
While WordPress is used on many websites that use a content management system. Everything always needs marketing or else people forget about it.
The marketing team also helps with anything related to WordPress that requires copy. You can think of copy as, the wording but written professionally and in a way everyone can understand.
Any new WordPress.org pages also need the marketing team to create the SEO to go on that page so it can be better found on search engines.
There may be certain places around the world that don’t know about WordPress. There are people on the marketing team that are trying to market to those places. This isn’t easy, and those people have to find out where these places look for marketing and market there.
Automated tests against plugins and themes
Every plugin and theme that is uploaded to WordPress.org is checked for any errors or warnings. The tide team wants these errors and warnings to be on the public page for that plugin or theme. This is so if someone downloads it, they know of anything that isn’t compatible or that they should be aware of.
Since this is an early project, there is plenty of work to get to where this team wants. This is a project that many want to see succeed which will create real change. Not just for plugin and theme creators, but for people who have a WordPress website.
If you want to create a theme, right now you will have to know how to code or pay someone to code a theme for you. As of the time of writing, most themes are being created to work with the block editor. Yet some themes only work with the classic editor. There are also themes that work well with page builders. Whichever way you choose, make sure it stays updated.
If you want to create your own theme, or play around with a theme of your own. You can start by looking at the recent theme that WordPress.org puts out. They are all under open-source license, meaning you can customize it to make it your own.
A theme can also work with the classic editor. If you want to create of those then you can find tutorials online. You will most likely want to look for tutorials from before December 2018 (as that is when the block editor was used in public WordPress sites).
If a theme wants to work well with a page builder, then that theme should follow the considerations set forth by the page builder.
Plugins extend what a WordPress site can do. WordPress is very limited without any plugins.
If there is a plugin that you want and it doesn’t exist, you can create it.
When complete, there are many ways you could continue. You could keep it for your own use. You could publish it online as open-source and free. You could make it a subscription plugin (like charging for license keys), or sell it(on places like CodeCanyon, Codester, CodeGrape, Codntheme to name a few). How you continue after completion is up to you.
How is Automattic involved?
One of the co-founders of WordPress (Matt Mullenweg) founded Automattic. Automattic had the trademark to WordPress (so they could go after others who are using the same name). But it’s been transferred the WordPress Foundation in September 2010.
Automattic does create WordPress themes and plugins. The staff also contribute in various ways, depending on if they get paid to do so or if they are volunteering. Some of the Automattic staff do get hired to work on WordPress full-time.
Do people get paid to help with WordPress?
There are people who get paid to help with WordPress. They may be Automattic employees, an employee from another company, or another relationship.
These payment relationship are usually setup between the employer and employee. Each relationship determines their time to spend on WordPress and what the employee is to work on. There are some companies that hire someone to work on WordPress full-time like Awesome Motive.
WordPress is encouraging companies who use WordPress to contribute 5% of their resources. This is to keep WordPress development going.
If you work for a company that uses WordPress and can afford to pay someone to work on WordPress then do it. As that will continue to make WordPress better and in turn help your company understand WordPress better and get some recognition within the WordPress community.
How can you help with WordPress?
As you have read, there are many ways to help and they don’t all involve coding. Some teams will require more of your time, and some you can help every once in a while. Answering one question, or helping explain something can seem small or simple but it can help someone in a big way.
If you can’t afford to give with your time you can give financially by giving to the WordPress foundation. Or another non-profit which helps to sponsor someone to work on WordPress. If you are a decision maker within your company, or have a financial say consider sponsoring a WordPress-related event, such as WordCamp.
WordPress depends on people willing to help, to make it better. No matter if you give of your time, financially, paying someone you know to work on WordPress, or simply telling others about WordPress, you are helping it to become better.