How to Become a WordPress Contributor: A Comprehensive Guide

Did you know that anyone can contribute to WordPress — and that writing code isn’t a requirement? WordPress needs designers, user experience analysts, support forum volunteers, writers, and help from many other experts.

The WordPress community is robust and diversified, and it’s always looking for talented people just like you. This post will give you detailed tips — everything from how to get involved to the tools you need to get started — on how to become a WordPress contributor.

Why Contribute to WordPress?

Before we get into the details, let’s talk about why you should contribute to WordPress in the first place. There is no shame in asking, “What’s in it for me?”

The Power of Giving Back

The first benefit is simple and succinctly summed by WordPress expert and Bluehost developer Luke Cavanagh: “By being a WordPress contributor, you get to help improve WordPress and give back.”

WordPress has been built on the collective help of hundreds of industry experts. Each of these experts works hard to build developments that improve WordPress for all of its users. This set-up allows WordPress to continually innovate and provide a product that helps businesses thrive. It’s a win-win.

Establish Industry Authority and Build Your Résumé

It takes a lot to participate in any project for free, but money isn’t the only form of payment. When you become a WordPress contributor, you establish yourself as an expert in the community, and the benefits are three-fold.

  • Build your résumé — Would you rather hire a developer who contributes to WordPress or one who focuses his or her efforts elsewhere? The answer is pretty obvious. Being a consistent WordPress contributor can build your résumé.
  • Get business referrals — The WordPress community is tight-knit. Once you get your foot in the door, the community can open you up to several new business opportunities.
  • Grow into a professional — WordPress rewards those who stick with it. As you grow, you have the opportunity to become a WordPress Professional.

An Informal Education

WordPress is not only a great way to establish yourself as an industry expert, but it truly does give you the educational chops to prove it. In fact, lead WordPress developer Andrew Nacin recently explained how he learned more in his first three months of being a WordPress contributor than he did in his previous three years of being a web developer. The fact is you learn by doing.

Just ask Garth Mortensen, an expert WordPress developer at Bluehost. “I have been able to learn and grow as a developer,” he says. “The process of having patches reviewed and feedback given has forced me to think bigger and broader that I previously did. I’ve learned how to take leadership of something I’d like to see done and that the only thing between me and success is myself.”

If you’re looking to grow in your career, becoming a WordPress contributor is a step in the right direction.

How Can You Contribute to WordPress?

Now that we have covered the benefits, let’s talk about how to contribute. Like we talked about earlier, WordPress elicits help from several experts. Here are the top ways you can get involved with WordPress.

WordPress Core Developer

WordPress Core is for developers — the people who build the WordPress that everyone installs on their servers. The WordPress Core is made up of developers who use PHP, MySQL, Javascript, and more to make improvements to WordPress.

WordPress Core developers don’t only make innovative coding improvements, but they also work to fix bugs, test patches, release updates, report security vulnerabilities, work on bug gardening, and more.

Head over to the WordPress Core page to get started. If you get hung up on a project, WordPress also has a handbook for your reference.

Other ways to get involved include:

  • Participating in live IRC chats
  • Subscribing to trac notifications to get updates on every comment on every ticket
  • Writing blog posts and using the feedback in the comments to help refine your ideas

If all of that PHP/MySQL/bug gardening talk was Greek to you, don’t worry. There are still several other ways for you to get involved.

Designer of User Interface/UXer

Like to make things work better and look pretty? Then contributing as a designer/UXer is the way to go. WordPress designers primarily use CSS and Javascript to work on anything and everything related to user experience, including:

  • Graphic design
  • UX design
  • User testing
  • Front-end development
  • Quality assurance
  • Accessibility

If that sounds like your cup of tea, visit the WordPress design page. On this page, you’ll find several discussions about design, mock-ups, user testing, and more.

Additionally, you can also stop by the UI chat on Tuesdays at 19:00 UTC or visit the Make WordPress blog for insights and updates.

WordPress currently needs more help from experts interested in mobile. You can find information on how to get involved on the Make WordPress Mobile website or by visiting the WordPress Mobile IRC Chat at 16:00 UTC on freenode, #wordpress-mobile.

Translator

One of the best things about WordPress is that it’s available everywhere! However, it can be difficult to generate expert translations that match the quality of WordPress’ innovations.

If you are fluent in more than one language, this is where you can help. When you join the Translate WordPress group, you help open the doors of WordPress to users around the world. As a WordPress translator, you can expect to:

  • Work on translations of core, plugins, and more
  • Use an open source translation platform called GlotPress
  • Request an additional language if it’s not listed here in this guide

To get started with translation, get in touch with the team who speaks your language of fluency. Then log on to the WordPress translation platform.

Many of the smart WordPress downloads have not yet been translated into English yet. If you are a native English speaker with fluency in any other language, or vice versa, WordPress needs help translating these helpful downloads into English as well.

WordPress Support Team

It’s safe to say that not everyone knows every answer to every question. However, if you put a lot of heads together, you can answer most questions as a team. And that’s how Make WordPress Support does it.

Make WordPress Support volunteers handle the following:

  • WordPress.org support forums — People request information from the support forum, and volunteers log in and answer questions. You don’t have to answer every question; just answer the questions you know how to. WordPress needs volunteers of varying experience and expertise.
  • IRC Chatroom — Many people use the IRC chatroom to pose questions and volunteers respond.
  • WordPress Stack Exchange — If you know how to answer more technical questions, get involved on the WordPress Stack Exchange.

To get started, simply create an account and start answering questions.

If you are looking to delve a little deeper, you can also:

WordPress understands the value of customer support and could use your help making sure everyone can find answers to their questions.

Theme Review Team

What’s not to love about WordPress themes? They are easy to use, simple to install, and follow basic rules. This makes it easy for users to switch themes, create several websites, and not have to relearn all the paths of navigation.

The theme review team makes that possible. It reviews and approves every theme that is submitted to WordPress to make sure it meets certain standards.

Here’s how it works: a developer submits a theme using the Theme Author’s link. If the theme meets general qualifications, WordPress sends it for human review. The ticket will go to the queue, and the reviewer will check code quality, theme files, theme unit test data, and run front-end tests. If it passes all the tests, it gets approved.

If this is something you would enjoy doing, you will need to sign up, get a mentor, and be approved to start reviewing. The Theme Review Team page has comprehensive directions on the process.

Writer

Are you a talented writer? If you are a budding Shakespeare — or at least well-versed in forming complete sentences — then the Make WordPress Documentation Team is the place for you.

WordPress writers help with all tasks related to documentation including the Codex, admin help, inline docs, handbooks, developer.wordpress.org, and any other copywriting across WordPress.

Getting started is a cinch. All you have to do is login to the Codex with your WordPress.org user name, click “Edit” at the the top of the right sidebar, you’re officially ready to start rolling.

For additional help getting started, visit the WordPress Documentation blog.

Community & Event Organizer

WordPress isn’t just for people who like to sit behind a computer; the community also needs social butterflies.

The WordPress Community Outreach team oversees official events like WordCamps and meetups. These events help people learn, ask questions, and build lasting relationships.

If you are looking to attend one of these events before you start volunteering, visit the Team Projects page to learn more. To dive right in and start planning events, submit a contact form to volunteer.

Finding Other Opportunities

As you can see, there are several ways to become a WordPress contributor. The only real qualification needed is the desire to help and the determination to find something to do. And don’t worry: someone will always be there to give you direction when you need it.

For more ideas on how to contribute, visit the Make WordPress page. There many additional details on the contribution teams already listed, as well as information on how to get started with the following other important teams:

Regardless of your skills or expertise in the industry, there is a place for you at WordPress.Remember, as you contribute to WordPress, you’ll grow your résumé, build your network, and, most importantly, give back to the community. Learn more about Bluehost and WordPress here.

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