One of the projects I got to work on within the editing experience of WordPress after the initial release, was global styles – allowing anyone to create styling without having to know code.
The trouble with styling
Styling is a difficult problem to solve. How much or how little freedom should you give? How can this be extended? WordPress has further complications, those of themes and plugins – how do those work with whatever styling comes in? How do you truly create an open source, fully extendable styling solution that works out of the box, doesn’t overwhelm?
Due to the complexity of the stack made by themes and plugins, mixed with extending – the experience flow was critical. The hierarchy of styling and impact had to be considered. What could or couldn’t be done, what would be expected when – all was critical.
To communicate this new methodology to people various visual concepts were also worked on and charts. The WordPress way was going against the natural way of CSS, that had to change.
Old problems are new
WordPress had been there before with a feature called ‘Customiser’. There were lessons to be learnt. However, this was also an opportunity to truly think wide. Early explorations embraced going wide and really dreamt ‘what if’.
Focus on what matters
Through iterations the focus grew more narrow. As a project, WordPress embraces a regular release cycle and iteration. Global styles could also take this ‘cupcake’ approach to release. What was the smallest, most delicious release?
This feature continues to be iterated on from this starting point and grows to be an essential part of site editing in WordPress.