WordPress News: Week in Review

WordPress News Headlines, Sept. 26 – Oct. 3

Some weeks are easy to forget; they pass by without notice and slip into the next. You could say that about most weeks, I’m sure. But here at Nimbus and in the WordPress community, there have been some pretty substantial events taking place. Things a-brewin’. Something simmering in the cauldron (welcome, October!). Read on for more…

This week at Nimbus, we released a huge round of updates for our Simple Business theme, giving it new life via a facelift, bug fixes, and updating the feature set.

Simple, Modern WordPress Themes

We also welcomed a new designer to our team this week. You may see Ashley blogging about WordPress, design, and her fav themes in the near future!

Here’s what’s happening in WordPress news:

New Additions to the WP Theme Review Team

If you develop free WordPress themes, you will be excited to hear that the Theme Review Team just added 27 new reviewers – great news, in light of the fact that the review process has become a rather lengthy one given the Theme Review Incentive Program restructure that took place earlier this year. Welcome new team members, the community is excited to have you on board!

Personally, I think removing the theme review incentives was a great choice on the part of the review team – the Featured Themes section was promoting the themes of those contributors with the most number of reviews, not necessarily those themes that would inherently be at the top of that list. I would now be proud to have one of our themes featured on this list and know that the theme deserved it.

The drawback of cutting out this incentivized program is you not only give up the incredible efficiency with which the review queue was handled, you give up the inherent acknowledgment of these hard working volunteers who have outperformed their cohorts in theme reviews. Often, the top reviewers are a part of companies who contribute to WordPress.org via free themes as well, offering premium upsells from those themes – they’re essentially paying their employees to do volunteer work. What happens when there is no more incentive to theme reviews? How do you recognize and show appreciation to volunteers, and how to retain volunteers unaffiliated with theme shops?

Matt Mullenweg’s 5% Plan

Some very interesting news came out of WordCamp Europe, and the blog world is chattering up a storm about it.

Matt Mullenweg calls for companies to contribute 5% back to WordPress. The concept is that companies who are directly involved with WordPress should give 5% of their manpower/time to furthering WordPress and its core functions, development, security, theme reviews, documentation, etc. Think of what WordPress would look like if every company contributed!

It’s important to note that this is a suggested goal, not a command. Of Automattic’s 277 employees, 14 of them (5%) are not dedicated full-time to working for WordPress.org, as Matt notes. It’s a work in progress.

This presents the question: If Automattic, the for-profit company behind the non-profit WordPress.org (and valued at $1.16 billion – that’s right, billion – as of May 2014), isn’t able to contribute 5% of its employees to work on the WordPress.org core, how does a small business do it?

It’s hard enough keeping afloat in today’s hyper-competitive design/dev industry, so how does your average 2-3 person WordPress company deal with Mullenweg’s statement? Small businesses and freelancers account for a large percentage of this industry, and with all the hats these guys are wearing throughout the day to develop products, work for clients, and play admin/marketer/bookkeeper/sales guy, it just doesn’t seem possible to add another 5% to the 150% effort they’re putting into their job.

That said, 5% in terms of man-hours is only 24 minutes of an 8-hr work day. So maybe you can find some time to squeeze in a little theme review session as well or hop on a forum. And if the major industry players who have the most at stake in WordPress take heed to Mullenweg’s suggestion and find ways to involve their employees, they are setting a precedent for everyone else in the industry to step up and provide further thought leadership, manpower and expertise.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means Nimbus Themes may receive compensation if you make a purchase using these links.

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About the Author

Kendall is the co-founder of Nimbus Themes and Shea Media, a web production company. She loves design, WordPress, dabbling in code, and typography. Her guilty pleasures are late-night fiction, drawing, and Netflix.

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