Crowdsourcing WordPress experiences for “healthier” WordPress installations
A spotlight on HealthyWP, a 2018 Global Sprint project
Apostolos Kritikos (@akritiko) is the Co-founder & CTO of Social Mind, a digital marketing and web development agency, and PhD candidate with the Computer Science Dept., Aristotle University of Thessaloniki specializing in Open Source Software. Apostolos was selected to join our current round of Mozilla Open Leaders with his project, HealthyWP.
I interviewed Apostolos to learn more about HealthyWP and how you can help at the Mozilla’s Global Sprint 2018.
What is HealthyWP?
HealthyWP (a.k.ak WordPress Plugin Observatory) aims to become a platform for crowdsourcing good and bad experiences on using or combining plugins in WordPress installations. The analysis of those experiences will be available openly via a user friendly portal, enabling them to build more effective and secure WordPress websites.
On a second level we intend on extending the platform to make use of state of the art software evaluation metrics to provide further information about the source code of the plugins themselves. This way we will help the authors of the plug-ins focus on usability, security and effectiveness as they extend or maintain them.
Why did you start HealthyWP?
I have been a software engineer for more than 10 years now. Most of my work has been in the fields of Web Development and e-Commerce. At my company, Social Mind , we have helped more than 100 professionals and companies to build websites and e-shops using WordPress along with WooCommerce and a variety of WordPress and WooCommerce plugins.
But as these technologies evolve, we are frequently facing issues with the functionality of websites, most of the times due to one of the following reasons:
- A plug-in stops being maintained or it is not being updated as fast as it should and is not compatible with the latest versions of WordPress.
- A plugin conflicts with another plug-in and the website is down or malfunctioning.
- A plugin’s design flaws are hurting the speed, effectiveness or security of the website.
Since we are dealing with open source projects the aforementioned phenomena are normal. Most of the time, the solutions to such problems are being posted to stack overflow, forums or facebook groups’ threads.
We started this project to provide a platform where this information can be aggregated, curated by its community and be easily and openly available to the WordPress community.
How will this work lead to faster and more secure websites?
On a user level, Healthy WP can assist the user to choose plug-ins that play well with each other right from the beginning of the WordPress installation. On a developer level, WordPress plugin vendors will have a way to receive feedback and or bug reports specifically for how their plugins integrate with WordPress and other plugins.
Future features of the platform include but are not limited to the following:
- A requirement driven, recommendation system for WordPress plugins (i.e. SEO, translation, analytics, specific plugins).
- Bundles of plugins that evidently combine effectively and tackle specific needs.
We envision a community of beta testers that continuously test and report plugin combination as they evolve along with WordPress. Thoroughly tested software leads to more secure websites :)
What challenges have you faced working on this project?
The main challenge of this project is that it targets both non tech savvy, end-users and developers. The needs of these two groups are completely different so we had to design an experience for HealthyWP that will effectively assist both of these groups to building and maintaining healthy WordPress installations.
In order to tackle this challenge we decided to ask the WordPress community itself to help us. At first we presented HealthyWP to the local, Thessaloniki WordPress meetup and got first feedback. Then we teamed up with the UX Thessaloniki meetup group and applied UX tools and methodologies, during a hands on workshop, in order to conceptualize this feedback in the best possible way, UX wise. The results, although still under development, were amazing.
What kind of skills do I need to help you?
HealthyWP is an Open Source Software project, therefore, it will be difficult not to find a role that suits your skill set.
If you have experience in back-end development, WordPress plugin development or web development in general, you could provide invaluable help. Likewise, non-tech contributors are equally valuable for an open source project since they can help with a great deal of things. If you are a graphic designer, a UI/UX expert, a marketer, a translator, a lawyer, a WordPress advocate or user, please consider joining us. You can really make a difference to our project’s evolution.
How can others join your project at #mozsprint 2018?
We will also be happy to pitch the project to anyone interested during #mozsprint 2018. Finally if anyone needs more specific answers and or wants to provide feedback in person they can always contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What meme or gif best represents your project?
(we thought it couldn’t happen, yet we were wrong!)