Tom McFarlin has published a piece I found more than worth reading today: We’re Ignoring the WordPress Philosophy: Decisions, Not Options. Instead of spamming Tom’s comment section with a double-digit number of paragraphs, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the topic in a quick post myself.
So where does “Decisions, not options” even come from? Quick context:
The line “Decisions, not options” is part of the WordPress Philosophy, and thereby part of what people who make WordPress presumably have in mind when they are working on making WordPress better. Whether it makes sense to you or not, it might be worth reading and spending a bit of thinking on.
What does it actually say? As Tom excellently puts it (regarding themes here, but his article applies to plugins as well):
It means that we consider the average user, what they hope to achieve using the particular theme they’ve purchased, and we make decisions that help solve those problems without the user needing the interfere.
“Where’s the .exe??”
My friend Robert has told me lately, a couple of years ago that question “Where’s the .exe?”—asked via e-mail by a person he didn’t know—was the moment he realized WordPress had gotten really big.
Because from that question on it hasn’t been about the fine club of tech-savvy users and developers anymore who are so used to edit code all the time and OOP the heck out of you.
WordPress has reached the screens of (so to speak) “normal” computer users. Windows — need to install anything? Look for an .exe!
That’s where we’re at today. That’s the pair of moccasins we’ve got to put on if we’re going to walk with the average users and create products for them—themes or plugins or services, whatever niche, whatever market.
Make it simple, not stupid.
For my part, I am absolutely convinced there is no way to simplify a hammer, or a screwdriver. Those are basic tools. Yet people need help and teaching and guidance when they’re going to use those tools for the first time.
That’s why in my world, making a good WordPress product doesn’t end with making decisions instead of options. Yes, it is key to make decisions, and make them good. Yet there’s always going to be the teaching part.
Product support will not go anywhere just because we make better products. It is always going to be a requirement. But guess what?
Once we’ve made good decisions for our product to be exactly the tool our users need, once we’ve created a hammer and a screwdriver—not a screw-driving hammer with a big moustache and lametta on each ends!—our product support might become very easy.
So, instead of trying to get non-techie users to open files and rip apart what we had built for them:
Let’s all make more hammers!
Because we might end up showing people how to really nail what they need to achieve with the tools we’ve built for them.
P.S.: While you’re at it, why not go reading Tom’s other post on “Design for the Majority”? I sure will!