This is kind of like my personal list of rules or guidelines. Maybe it’s a code of sorts. I don’t know. But, maybe there’s something insightful or helpful here.

I. Users and Products

  • You are not your user. Neither is your team lead. Nope, your division lead isn’t either. Kelly, Pablo? Definitely not. Uh uh, not even Matt. Find real users and get to know them as people.
  • You’re not building features, or screens, or discrete flows; You’re building experiences across a vast array of people, products, and scenarios. You should always understand who’s coming from where, why they’re there, and where they go next.
  • Our products are more than just web sites with pages and flows; Emails, mobile apps, advertising, blog posts, and more are all critical parts of our product experience.
  • We are all temporarily abled. Accessible design is a requirement of your job.

II. The Craft of Design

  • Make a mess, and then clean it up. Do this over and over again. This is design.
  • Fight for the details. They matter more than most think.
  • Get out of Figma. Its great, but there’s more to our work than drawing pretty pictures or creating complex prototypes and components that are NOT real.
  • The code is always the “source of truth.” Learn where it lives and how to search it.
  • Learn to write and merge code.
  • You should probably know how to use WordPress better than most other people in the world. Follow the Make P2s, find WP people on your favorite social networks, and try to keep track of the major happenings in the community. Build a theme, launch a web store, write a blog. Use our software regularly and learn it’s intricacies.

III. Communication and Collaboration

  • Communication is oxygen, but too much can kill you. Don’t ever feel guilty about missing a meeting, having unread emails, or turning off Slack. Find time to turn everything off and focus on the work.
  • Turn off all notifications for everything for a few weeks. Then, only turn on notifications you really need. Do this once or twice a year.
  • Default to asynchronous communication, but always be available for realtime connections. Sometimes that means adjusting your routine and hours.
  • Never work on something for more than a few days without sharing it with others. That could be in Slack, on a P2, on Github, or even on your personal blog.
  • Find your people. Create a network of coworkers who you trust, and whom trust you. This takes time. Meetups are great for this, as our watercooler channels.
  • Get to know the people writing and merging the code. They are the most important people to know.
  • Always critique the work, never the person.
  • Feedback is a gift; Constructive, unconstructive, critical, harsh — it’s all worthy of reading. But you don’t always need to act on any of it.

IV. Continuous Learning

  • Ask questions. Even the ones you (think you) know the answers to, or the ones you feel stupid asking. Especially the ones that are uncomfortable to ask — everyone’s probably thinking it already anyways.
  • You don’t know half of what you think you know.
  • Spend a day every few weeks to just play with new software. Buy a bunch of random apps, play some new video games, venture around Best Buy and gawk at all the interfaces.
  • Ask the same question to different people, one on one. You’ll be surprised how often you’ll get different answers.
  • Nurture your passion for design in anyways that works for you. Doodle, paint, read, watch, attend. Without that passion, this job can pull you down.
  • This is not brain surgery. You can make mistakes. And when you do, own your mistakes. Loudly and proudly.

V. Productivity

  • Keep your head in the clouds, but your feet in the mud. You need to be able to see 100 days away, while you’re working on the current day’s tasks.
  • If you see something broken, fix it. If you can’t fix it yourself, tell someone who can.
  • Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re going in circles. This is normal. Make sure you learn from each revolution, even if that learning is simply reaffirming a previous decision.
  • Be bold, but compassionate. Praise is always nice to hear, but “real talk” is more valuable for growing and improving.
  • Never back down, but learn to disagree and commit.
  • You can’t always get what you want.
  • Being clever is often not very helpful. This is true for communications, feedback, and our software.
  • Work from your phone. Work from your tablet. Work from you laptop. Mix it up.
  • Have a routine. Respect it. Don’t let others ruin it.
  • Take breaks. Lots of ’em. Walk and drink more water than you think you should. Then drink some more.
  • Write less words, more often.
  • Have others review your writing.

VI. Tools and Resources

  • Use whatever tools you need. Don’t feel restricted to Figma or Github or even P2.
  • Act like your the boss, and make Automattic work for you.
  • The Field Guide and MGS are your new best friends. You can ask them anything, and they’ll usually have an answer. If they don’t, find the answer and add it somewhere for the next person to find.
  • Automattchers make it easy to track keywords across all p2s. They can be powerful. They can be annoying. Find what works for you.
  • Don’t know how to do something? Can’t find the thing you’re looking for? Ask someone. Anyone. Make use of the big, all-company Slack channels, or just ping someone on a team that seems relevant to your query.