Giving birth as a WordPress developer

I’m about to get a little weird on you.

First, I’m not a developer so I’m telling this story like a man (which I am) describing birth (which I’ve never experienced) in some kind of crazy way to relate to developers (which I am not).

Second, we’re super excited to announce the birth of our little 376KB bundle of joy.

Over the last few months we’ve spent a lot of time building our first free theme released on WordPress.org. However, this post isn’t about features of the product but the experience of giving birth to it through the eyes of a product guy.

Much like a Dad (am not), I didn’t do any of the real work. I helped name it, thought about what it would be when it got older, and hopefully I’ll teach it how to throw a baseball.

The real applause should be directed to my team at Slocum Studio.

(Told you I was going to get all weird on you…)

Planning

We’ve been building WordPress solutions for some time now and releasing something into the wild has never been an issue.

Until now.

Minimize was going to be on display to the world. Free-o-charge, on the GitHub stage, in the repo and totally exposed to criticizing eye’s — yikes.

We didn’t want something that was trying to be an over achiever or just a replica of another theme.

We also didn’t want something that was underwhelming either. We were hoping for a theme that our team, our clients and our friends could use on a daily basis.

We looked back at a lot of the work we did in our portfolio and fused it with where we want to go as a team offering our own WordPress products.

But the long term plan wasn’t the problem.

The Go Bag & lessons learned

Look, I know nothing about REAL birth. All I know from my friend’s is a thing called a “Go Bag.”

I believe it has a bunch of “stuff” that’s needed for the crazy delivery day.

Looking back, I’d say we put too much “stuff” into our bag.

We spent a lot of time thinking about what we wanted versus actually making the decisions that we needed. In other words, the Trello board and to-do list got a little too cluttered along with decisions not being made in a timely manner.

Didn’t ship fast enough

This is where I say, “I know how you feel developers!””

Shipping code is not just a technical achievement but a mental win too.

You feel progression and accomplishment. On the technical side, you get feedback, you see what works and what doesn’t.

If you don’t realize this, it’s very important that you do.

We tell ourselves time and time again, especially with client work, to ship code. When it came to our own process, we failed countless times.

Why?

Uncertainty, fear and feature creep.

So my advice as a product guy, ship early and often.

“My kid is better than your kid”

I don’t get it…

You see those parents that are clearly holding up their kid like they are a direct descendant from Zeus. They already signed a major league baseball deal or won the stage on the finale of The Voice.

All at the ripe age of 3.

Sure we love our little theme, but we know it’s not the best one out there.

We’ve got high hopes for it, but we’re not saying it’s going to power WordPress 4.x.

We’re just trying to build something with great code, strong ideals and future growth. If it wants to hit homeruns for a living, that’s great. If it want’s to play the viola, also great.

As long as it’s doing good things, we’re happy.

Most importantly, we’re not trying to spoil it with tons of unnecessary features. It’s going to have to earn everything.

We’ll see your kid in the maxed out Air Jordan outfit at the playground.

Who Minimize will be when it grows up

I think one of the strongest points about the WordPress economy is the open yet collaborative competition.

I want our product to look up to the likes of 8bit, StudioPress with a twist of 10up.

That doesn’t mean we’re going to bend it in any one particular way but we’ll certainly take cues on it’s values, quality and engineering.

Baby steps. It’s not something we’ll take lightly.

Why I’m proud of our little 376KB

There’s something very rewarding when you launch a fresh WordPress setup and install your theme after a quick search and a couple of clicks.

After months of hard work and planning I’m proud to say our craft is available to anyone in the world. As of this writing nearly 3,000 downloads.

I also enjoy writing and publishing on Minimize.

Maybe I’m like the parent that looks at his kid picking dandelions in the outfield with visions of signing to the Red Sox?

Either way, it’s been a gratifying and humbling experience.

Can you watch our kid for a moment?

So umm, yeah, do you mind?

We haven’t had a break in a while and going to grab a couple of frosty’s would be great right about now.

You don’t even need to feed it, just watch it.

We’ll even let you pick it up anytime you want and drop it as soon as your sick of it! If you know someone else who’s up to the task, tell them, we’re always looking for new sitters.

Get Minimize on WordPress.org and babysit the sucker on Github

🙂

4 Comments

Matt:

I look forward to trying out your new theme for an upcoming client project.

Love your analogy to the baby-delivery-go-bag. While my kids are already in high school and college, I do remember the strange things packed in our “go bag” that seemed REALLY IMPORTANT at the time but in the end were impractical did not get used at all.

Thanks for your inspiring interviews on the Matt Report podcast too.

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