Aside

If we tell people that they don’t need to be expert developers to review themes, and that this is a good way to learn better coding practices, why don’t we do the same with design? Good design is just as subjective as code standards (in that the basics aren’t, but people like to argue about it anyway).

The quality of code in the theme repo is improved by the review process, so we should encourage design reviews to increase the quality of design, too.

Some suggestions: fill out the design guidelines in the theme review handbook (maybe with a “how to give feedback” section), then encourage designers to review themes, without worrying about doing the full code review – not all designers are or want to be developers. Publicize that this is something people can do, and it’s still contributing. Encourage people who might not be comfortable with giving design feedback to “self-report” a usability test- write out what they were thinking while activating & setting up a theme.

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More theme statistics from wordpress.org

[Part One: Funny observations from the themes on wordpress.org]

Last time, I was trying to find some metric to give me “good” themes, and ended up looking at downloads vs ratings. That didn’t really give me anything I wanted— with no way of knowing when a theme was uploaded, I couldn’t really average out the downloads, and the older themes outweighed the new ones. So this time, I decided to play with comparisons.

Above is a pie chart of downloads by theme author (I excluded wordpressdotorg themes, focusing just on community themes). Automattic leads, percentage-wise, as the theme author with the most downloads, followed by CyberChimps. I’m really impressed with how much the top 6ish shops command. Part of this has to do with how prolific some authors are, but I think theme age (since this is all-time downloads) inflates the number a bit.

The top 50 themes make up just over 1/3rd of all downloads. You can see how these stack up against all themes on this graph, but the names are really hard to read, so I’ve omitted “Other” from the following charts.

This one is all-time downloads. It mostly matches up with the theme authors, and again the older themes take the lead. To avoid this, I worked up a script to pull down the last 90 days of downloads, and sum those up.

I should make it clear that this chart is not the top themes in the last 90 days. With the method I’m using now, I can only get the last 90 days’ data for a given set of themes. Regardless, it is interesting to see that my guesses about theme age affecting the downloaded rank are correct.

I’m not sure I’ll find anything super-cool in the data I’ve pulled, but it’s interesting to try. Any suggestions for what I should try to figure out next?

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Surprise Cameras!

Last weekend I attended “Hack MS”, a hackathon aimed at reducing stress for people with Multiple Sclerosis. My mom has MS, so I decided to finally attend a “proper” hackathon (as opposed to hack days, givecamp, etc). I’m happy with the product I ended up with, and extra happy that my teammate was OK with releasing it open source… but overall I don’t think I want to do this again.

As soon as I got there, I was immediately asked to sign a video/photo release form, and it was pretty clear that there was no way to say “I’m not okay with this”. There was no explanation what the video was going to be used for, and everything screamed “marketing.” (I was too flustered to ask that night, but I did ask the next morning, and yes, it was for marketing- but I’m still not sure if it’s marketing for Biogen Idec or Hack 2.0)

I don’t particularly like to be on camera. I never know what I should be doing, I become immediately over-conscious of every movement I make, and I can’t focus on what I was just doing*. Not a great mindset when I’m trying to create a functional product in a day.

There are of course other reasons someone might not want to be on camera (detailed at Geek Feminism Wiki), and when it came down to it the photographer and videographer were definitely professional (I wasn’t followed around or anything). But it still made me uncomfortable, because in addition to how anxious it made me, I was also wondering how much focus I’d get as one of the few women at the event. Since I have no insight into how the organizers chose photos to use, I can only guess, but my photo did in fact end up on the website.

In the end, I left some comments and links in their post-event survey, so maybe cameras will be less prominent at the next event, or there will be a clear way to opt out.


* The only exception to this is when I’m giving a presentation, like at a WordCamp (or even the project presentations at the end of the weekend). There I’m already in the mindset for people watching me, and it doesn’t put me on edge the same way.