Communicating and designing out in the open is scary. If you take the leap and make it part of your workflow, it will help not only yourself but you’ll inspire others. Whether it’s using a product that has a piece of something you’ve designed in it or when someone contributes to a product you have designed, the feeling is amazing. Sharing is caring!
I’ve learned so much about Open Source after seeing its principles applied at Automattic over the last two years. It just makes sense. The code you write, like the words you write, has exponentially more influence when it is made available to the largest number of people possible.
Making and designing is awesome, but the biggest satisfaction comes from being able to see your creations used, shared and improved by others. Open exchange and collaboration creates synergy, and a unique opportunity to prosper and give back for both individuals and businesses. As a company we benefit immensely from synergy brought by incorporating different perspectives and voices in our design and development process. As individuals we learn and grow thanks to freely shared ideas and knowledge. WordPress would never have powered 26% of the web, had it been developed behind closed doors.
Open source is so valuable because it encourages a community with an idea to evolve that idea naturally through experimentation and peer review. The benefits of that evolved idea then get spread back around to the community which in turn, fosters more evolution on the idea. To me, it’s what separates incremental growth and exponential growth in a cooperative way that parallels democracy in its truest form.
As we’ve seen, open source is undeniably a key factor in WordPress’s success. I think it’s essential to how we as Automatticians want to live in the world—sharing and collaborating to create better designs to make the world a better place.
I think many of us became designers to help improve the world somehow—to make things better for our users, the businesses we work with, our families, and ourselves. Open Source provides each of us with this opportunity and stands as an example of how designing more openly and more transparently, can give a voice to anyone in the world, while remaining completely voluntary— “freedom” in every sense.
The open source nature of WordPress plays a significant role in why it’s gotten the traction that it has. We’ve seen beautifully-designed proprietary competitors come and go, unable to reach the critical mass they need to sustain themselves. If usage is oxygen for ideas, open source is one of the most effective ways to breathe life into a young project.