Joining Ad Hoc

I’m excited to share that I’ve joined Ad Hoc as a Senior UX Designer, focused on accessibility.

If you don’t know, Ad Hoc builds digital services for the U.S. government. The company’s founders helped rescue Healthcare.gov after its turbulent launch. The talented team has since launched Vets.gov among other notable projects.

I enjoyed working in this space before, as a contractor for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use accessibility as a lever to improve government digital experiences. The more I’ve explored accessibility, the more passionate I’ve become about it. It also helps that for me, the work has a deep, personal meaning. It was time to give it my full attention.

What attracted me most to the position at Ad Hoc was that it was part of the design team. Along with my colleagues, I can advocate for accessibility early during the design process. It won’t just be about testing before launch. I started last week, and the first few days have been lots of fun. I’m diving into all sorts of different tech stacks, tools and challenges.

This new gig lacks something I’ve had in past jobs though: a focus on WordPress. While that means I won’t work with WordPress day to day, I imagine I’ll still be around the community. I’m so thankful for WordPress and the people I’ve met both in the community and at Automattic. Both have made me better in countless ways.

Onward!

The Future of Underscores

A few days ago, I published a post on ThemeShaper about the future of Underscores. I loved seeing coverage on WP Tavern about it, and even better, I went on the WordPress Weekly podcast to talk about it, and the future of theming.

Related: Underscores was my first open source code contribution, so I’m as excited as anyone to see it continue to be something the WordPress community relies on. 🙂

Update: I wrote some more about retiring products, specifically Components.

The Future of Accessibility Weekly

After the new year, I started Accessibility Weekly back up.

It feels good to be writing and curating again. Since starting back up on January 10, I’ve only missed one issue due to travel.

Keeping a newsletter going on a regular basis turned out harder than I thought. It takes time to convert the excitement of a new project into an everyday reflex. I’ve hit that point though, and am thinking about the future of the newsletter.

Right now, Accessibility Weekly has 872 subscribers, a 56 percent open rate and a 22 percent click-through rate. It’s not bad, but the subscriber base remains small. They seem engaged though, and I’ve received good feedback thus far.

I’m thinking about a few goals for the rest of the year:

Think through changes in format, if necessary. Lately, I haven’t included many news links because those have been harder to come by. Plus, I’m more interested in resources, tools and tutorial links. They center on teaching and learning, which is one of the reasons why I started this in the first place.

Explore advertising and revenue possibilities. I’m not looking to make money from the newsletter. I would like to cover costs though. Especially when I eventually will need to start paying for Mailchimp once I hit a certain number of subscribers. I don’t really want to traditional ads, so I’m thinking either:

  1. Monthly sponsorships. Just one featured sponsor section in the newsletter, running monthly.
  2. Patreon. Since I don’t need a ton of money to cover the costs of Mailchimp and any other miscellaneous expenses, a donation platform might work.

Setting up a site to catalog the resources. I thought about publishing the resources on a site initially, and integrating with Mailchimp’s automated RSS publishing feature. I decided not to do it because it wasn’t the minimum viable product. I wanted a way to let people into the world of accessibility and educate. A newsletter did all that. Plus, sites like WebAIM, A11y Project and A11y Buzz do a good job of educating via a site. But lately, I wish I had a more reliable way to know exactly what I’ve featured before without searching individually through issues. I’m undecided here.

Running a survey. I’d like to know more about what my readers want. So I’m considering a short survey to help answer the above questions.

I’ve loved watching the newsletter grow organically. I get a rush when I see people subscribing with domain names I recognize, like IBM, Google, Microsoft and others. And It’s always thrilling when people you admire recommend your work. Mostly, I’m looking forward into making this thing a continued go-to resource for diving into accessibility!

Dear Twenty Seventeen Contributors

We shipped! Twenty Seventeen, along with WordPress 4.7, hit the Web yesterday. We shipped not just any default theme, but one that gives users a home page like no other default theme. We made something amazing that literally millions of people will use and learn from.

At times, I’d go to bed worried about how to tackle a problem, but then I’d wake up and you all had it solved. Every day, you taught me something new and demanded my best. I can’t thank you enough.

It was an honor to work on Twenty Seventeen with you. I’m proud of it, and can’t wait to see what people do with it. Let’s keep improving WordPress, themes and customization together – there’s much more work to be done.

Thank you to from the bottom of my heart to the 102 contributors who helped get Twenty Seventeen created and launched:

aaroncampbell, acmethemes, adammacias, afercia, ahortin, akshayvinchurkar, alex27, allancole, anilbasnet, b-07, binarymoon, bradyvercher, brainstormforce, caspie, celloexpressions, claudiosanches, clorith, davidmosterd, delawski, dimadin, dineshc, doughamlin, electricfeet, enodekciw, fencer04, for, grapplerulrich, hardeepasrani, helen, hiddenpearls, idealien, imnok, implenton, implenton, initial, iv, joefusco, joemcgill, johnpgreen, jordesign, joshcummingsdesign, joyously, juanfra, karmatosed, laurelfulford, leobaiano, littlebigthing, lukecavanagh, mageshp, mahesh901122, manishsongirkar36, mapk, mattwiebe, mbelchev, melchoyce, metodiew, mor10, mrahmadawais, netweb, nikschavan, nnaimov, noplanman, nukaga, ocean90, odysseygate, patch, patilvikasj, peterwilsoncc, pratikchaskar, pressionate, presskopp, rabmalin, ranh, rianrietveld, ryelle, sami, samikeijonen, sandesh055, sgr33n, sirbrillig, sixhours, smyoon315, snacking, soean, sstoqnov, swapnild, swisspidy, swissspidy, taggon, tg29359, themeshaper, transl8or, tsl143, tywayne, valeriutihai, voldemortensen, vrundakansara, westonruter, williampatton, yoavf, yogasukma, zodiac1978.

Love,
DK

Twenty Seventeen in Trunk

Screenshot showing the initial commit of Twenty Seventeen

Last night, I made my first commit to WordPress!

It’s exciting!

Twenty Seventeen, the next default theme for WordPress, is now in trunk – the latest development version of WordPress. It’s been a busy week after a flurry of work from an amazing 59 contributors so far on the theme. 59! As one of the leads for the theme, that’s a number that I’m most proud of, and want to see grow.

You can read more about Twenty Seventeen in its merge proposal on the Make WordPress Core blog. Please continue to test the theme so it can be its best when it ships to the world. And thank you to all the contributors so far! This wouldn’t happen without you.

Hello Twenty Seventeen

After years of contributing to WordPress and its default themes, I get to help lead one – Twenty Seventeen! To say I’m excited and honored would be the understatement of both 2016 and 2017. 🙂

I’m looking forward to bringing a new theme to WordPress, and with the help of the WordPress community, making it the best it can be. I’ll be working with Mel Choyce, who designed Twenty Seventeen, and Laurel Fulford, who will help me give the theme life. Sure, Mel has designed some of the most beautiful themes out there and Laurel can code up anything, but that’s not what has me the most excited.

What I love most about open source, and the WordPress community, is the people. All artful creations carry inspiration from other sources, and I believe you can’t create anything worthwhile alone. That’s why Twenty Seventeen needs all the help it can get from as many people as possible.

If you’ve ever wanted to find a way to contribute WordPress, to take part in something that millions of people will touch every day, now is the time. Drop a comment on this post if you want to help. Let’s do this!

Introducing Theme User Experience Requirements

At Automattic this year, we’ve focused heavily on improving people’s experience using themes on WordPress.com. It’s one reason we introduced the TUX List, a set of theme user experience requirements. Putting these best practices into your themes on WordPress.org and elsewhere means anyone using them will have an easier time getting to what they really want to do: publish their site. Not fiddle with theme setup and options. Making themes easier is a job for everyone, so let’s keep working at it!