Planning your WordPress product roadmap

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The WP Minute
The WP Minute
Planning your WordPress product roadmap
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WP Product talk is back with co-hosts Matt Cromwell and Kim Coleman sitting down to discuss outlining a WordPress product roadmap. Nathalie Lussier joins the crew to chat about how she and her team plan the AccessAlly course software development.

Follow Matt & Kim on Twitter to participate in the weekly WP Product talk Spaces. Stay subscribed here to catch the edited recording!

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Transcript

[00:00:00] Matt: Everyone who is here, thanks so much for being here. WP Product Talk is where we’re at, and if you have questions at all for any of the co-host today, make sure to use the hashtag WP Product Talk and we’ll be paying attention and looking out over there. And today we are joined by Natalie Lu year and I’d love to go through and do some introductions. As my name is Matt Cromwell on the co-founders of Give wp.

[00:00:24] We are the number one donation platform for WordPress for going on seven years now. And We also have been acquired by Liquid Web and part of the stellar WP family of brands. And we are now also overseeing marketing and development for Ithe Cadence. WP on iconic wp as part of the Stellar Group.

[00:00:44] Kim: I’m Kim Coleman. I’m from Pav Memberships Pro. We’re an independent WordPress membership plugin. I work with my partner and we’ve been doing that for 12 years.

[00:00:52] This is actually the third Twitter space we’ve done for WP Product Talk. Looks like Natalie’s in today. We are talking about the product roadmap.

[00:01:00] Nathalie: Yeah, so I’m the founder of Excess Ally, which is a WordPress based solution for memberships, courses and communities, and also work with my husband who’s our lead develop.

[00:01:11] and I have a degree in software engineering, so this is kind of a culmination of, all of all of the years of work,

[00:01:17] Kim: who owns your product roadmap? Is it the developers, your marketing team, leadership, your customers? If you have questions, we’ll please invite you to use the WP Product Talk hashtag. And then I think we’ll get started with a brief intro. Natalie, if you wanna kick off and introduce yourself to our listeners.

[00:01:32] Nathalie: Yeah, thank you so much, Kimberly, for having me on. Such a great topic. I think we’re gonna have a great conversation here. So, I’m Natalie Luci. I’m the founder of Access Ally, which is the WordPress based membership and online course and community solution. And yeah, I’ve just been building this company since 2013.

[00:01:54] And yeah, we’ve learned a lot. I have a degree in software engineering. My husband is our lead developer, and I’ve learned kind of the theory of some of what we’re gonna be talking about today and also, the practice of doing it in a real company. So I think we’ll have a lot of cool

[00:02:07] Kim: stuff to talk about.

[00:02:08] I’m actually at Coba Press right now.

[00:02:09] So I’m out of the pool, out of those talks and here with you all in my room. Hopefully with a good enough internet to sustain this.

[00:02:16] Nathalie: Oh, that’s awesome, . I’m glad. I’m glad you’re enjoying Kalo Press and you’re able to kind of sneak away, but I hope you make the most of it to you. It sounds awesome.

[00:02:24] Kim: . It’s been good or it’s good to have a break because it kind of is an overload of business ideas. So, this is a cool space to be in.

[00:02:30] So the first kind of like. Talking point we wanna go through is why is this such a significant question, especially for WordPress products the discussion around the roadmap and, and whether it’s public or private and, and ownership of it.

[00:02:43] So, Natalie, do you have any thoughts on kind of the significance of roadmaps?

[00:02:47] Nathalie: Yeah. So I feel like when it comes to your roadmap, it’s always about kind of balancing what you as the product creator and what your customers want, and also kind of the vision [00:03:00] that you have for where you want it to go. And I think it’s so important to have a clear, plan for your product roadmap and whether it is something that you publish publicly or that you kind of keep internal.

[00:03:12] That really decides where your business is gonna go and where, whether you’re gonna get certain types of customers, whether you’re gonna be a good fit for say, like upmarket or beginners, or however you wanna categorize different types of customers who might be using your product. And I also feel like, especially for WordPress everyone has sort of different expectations.

[00:03:32] And so if you’re publishing that public, That can help establish those expectations. And people might have an idea of where your project’s going that you might not necessarily agree with. So this is where you can kind of set some boundaries a little bit around where you want to, to really build your product towards.

[00:03:50] So that’s, to me, that’s kind of where it comes in. I’m sure there’s a lot more into it for, for different

[00:03:56] Kim: companies too. Yeah, I mean, for me it’s significant because we are open. A lot of WordPress products are. And that makes it a challenge because there’s if you’re using GitHub, let’s say there’s visibility into what your team is working on, what they’re developing people can request features, people can contribute code, and that all makes a pretty complex When you think about your roadmap how much are you able to involve a community in driving the direction of your product, and how much do you keep internal?

[00:04:23] To that. And I think also because WordPress products are open products, there is some inclination to share what you’re working on and be open about it. But with that comes some expectation of delivery dates and promises that are made. So, I think it’s unique in the WordPress space for those reasons.

[00:04:38] Which is separate of like, we don’t know what, we might know what Google’s working on. They might do like an annual report to investors, but it feels a little bit more closed door and private. So, for me, when I think about roadmaps, I think about visibility and access to them.

[00:04:52] Nathalie: That’s a really great point.

[00:04:53] So our product is, not, it is obviously like part of the, or press ecosystem, but the way that we do things is a little bit more behind closed doors. So we share our roadmap, but in a more generic way. So we, we have currently open like almost like 600 feature requests or different things that we could be working on.

[00:05:14] And what we realize is that if we publish that list of 600 things, people are kind of gonna. Crazy over all of, the potential things that we could be working on. So that’s why we chose to kind of, summarize some of the things that we’re working on so that it’s not so overwhelming for people and we don’t really have as many contributors to our plugin the way that we’ve set it up.

[00:05:33] But I think, yeah, this is cool to hear the different ways of doing it. I think that’s awesome.

[00:05:37] Matt: Part of why I wanted to make sure that we talk about this is in the WP space for a while now.

[00:05:44] I, I really have seen most products really be almost completely either founder or developer driven. A hundred percent. And over time I really feel like that that’s been a little bit of a disservice. . And so that’s a little bit of the way I wanted to [00:06:00] see things go. I mean, of course, founders they’re the ones who create the thing in the first place.

[00:06:03] They gotta be very much involved in the way that products are, are, are built out and the main features of of where they’re going. But they have a particular perspective that I often feel like is not. Necessarily representative of the customer particularly well. We all live inside of WordPress so often, and we easily can build blind spots to the way we build things out and say, Oh, settings always look like this.

[00:06:29] But a new user comes in and, and can’t quite navigate and figure out where things are at very well because they’re not as accustomed to the way things are built. And where presses we are. So, that’s a little bit of, was a little bit of my motivation behind this, this talk. I don’t know do you resonate with that much, Natalie?

[00:06:47] Nathalie: Yeah, I, I love that and I recently read a quote about how software should have an opinion because all software is pretty much just a database within an opinion, which I thought was really funny, but I think that’s what you’re getting to. Is that sometimes the founder has an opinion, but maybe it should also be a co-create opinion with the users and the people actually, making use of the software as opposed to completely a hundred percent based on the founder.

[00:07:16] And I think that that’s something that we try to do definitely in access that way.

[00:07:19] Kim: I’ll say what I said before all the drama with the thing, but basically for us in the WordPress space as open source product, as a product that’s available on GitHub, we get a lot of input from external people about what direction our product should take.

[00:07:32] The features that are most important to the noisiest voices that aren’t internal to our team. And I think some WordPress, other WordPress products could, could share that same problem that they face. And, and then within our team, there are lots of people that are listening to our customers. That are developing and interested in certain features of our product.

[00:07:50] So, for us it’s particularly important because it’s easy to drive your product in a different direction than maybe your leadership intends because of all those voices that can be

[00:07:59] Matt: involved. Absolutely. Natalie was echoing that a little bit, Natalie.

[00:08:03] Nathalie: Yeah, so for us, we have someone on our team that basically is our product manager.

[00:08:10] Her position is all about listening to our customers and figuring out what is that they want, and also seeing if that matches with, the direction we want our software to keep growing and kind of evolving in. And I think for us and in general for WordPress is it’s super important to set expectations about what you can do and where you’re headed so that you attract the right types of users or customers to your software because they feel.

[00:08:36] There are so many different options out there, and every tool is not for every application. So if you can be as clear in your roadmap, then you’re going to have people who are gonna stick with you long term. And I think that is kind of how we built our business, is kind of managing people and what they want and what the marketplace wants, but also with, where we want to kind of continue to grow.

[00:08:56] Matt: Hmm. Yeah. Excellent. . Cool. [00:09:00] So one other thing there is, what, what would you say, like, I think there’s a lot of folks who kind of approached this question in different ways. I kind of wrote down some notes in our, in our show notes. Like we could talk, talk about it as dev centric, marketing centric, customer centric, founder centric, or some sort of mix.

[00:09:18] I think we all would like. To say that we are very mixed in our approach, but if you had to pick one of ’em, Natalie, which one do you think that you are currently at? Is it a very dev centric product roadmap? It sounds to me like you’re very more customer centric.

[00:09:32] Nathalie: Yeah, I, I would say mixed, but I think for sure customer centric is our like top one.

[00:09:37] Like I mentioned earlier, we have like 600 feature requests that we could potentially. Be working on. But what we do is we do a lot of clarity calls. We do surveys, we do a bunch of things, on our tune up calls to kind of figure out, where people are stuck, where we can improve, like what we already have.

[00:09:55] But also where they do want us to add more features and things like that too. We kind of use that data to inform our priorities.

[00:10:02] Kim: For sure.

[00:10:02] Matt: Kim, what’s your take? What would

[00:10:04] Kim: you choose for. For us it, I think when you say mixed, you might, or in my mind, mix means founder centric to a degree. Synthesizing those other three groups, the development, the marketing needs, and then those customers needs.

[00:10:17] Maybe the marketing needs are someone informed by competition and just kind of landscape out there. Development needs might be, more focused on health of the platform, health of the code base new. APIs that you have to integrate with and choices like that, that developers push for, modern code modernization of, of your code refactoring of things.

[00:10:35] And then I think when you think founder centric, you’re looking at what I like my short term, what’s my one year, what’s my 10 year goal for this business and for this product, And how do we keep a roadmap that continues to steer our ship in that direction year over year while still synthesizing every need that we have today to remain competi.

[00:10:52] To serve our customers needs and then to stay current with our code based soda that doesn’t

[00:10:56] Matt: get aged. Mm-hmm. , are there other ways you would classify or cla or like describe the way your product roadmap is, is influenced besides these ones?

[00:11:07] Kim: I, I assume that competitive landscape falls within a marketing type level, kind of a how do we stand up against other people who are doing this in our industry? But I, I think you could mistakenly drive a roadmap on feature parody with people you, you see, to be like the industry leader. And I, I do think that’s a mistake, but I think it’s something early on that people have to do, especially if you’re entering in a saturated market with a product that.

[00:11:32] Similar things. You’re gonna spend a lot of your time of your roadmap, reaching parody until you can begin some of the more innovative pieces, in my

[00:11:40] Matt: opinion. No, that’s a really good point for sure. And I think that’s definitely an element of marketing centric. I think sometimes it’s also driven by, how can we get the word out the best about, about this feature release or about this, this next this next product we wanna launch.

[00:11:56] How are we gonna be able to reach the most amount of eyeballs out in the, [00:12:00] in the marketplace? It can be. And, and sometimes that ends up meaning like you’re driving towards a solution that maybe no customers are asking for or you’re driving towards a solution that is maybe a lot harder to develop than, than than it might seem, and it’s putting overdue burden on the developers.

[00:12:18] So I think there’s, there’s different ways in which being any one of these two, two harshly ends up being outta whack or outta balance. But I definitely think that, I think another word that came to my mind as you were talking, Kim, for founder centric might even be just like business centric.

[00:12:35] Like what makes the most business sense to, to building out these products. We’d like to believe that we know what that answer is all the time, but we might not always. I always say I’m not my own. That’s kind of always a personal check that I do to say like, is this assumption I’m making about this feature really based on me?

[00:12:54] Or is it based on what our customers actually want? Natalie, does that resonate with you too?

[00:12:58] Nathalie: Yeah, a hundred percent. And I think there’s something to be said where sometimes you make a strategic decision where you might have a lot of people asking for a specific feature and you know it’s gonna take a long time to build out.

[00:13:10] And if you do that one big feature, , it’s gonna mean something else has to slide. And potentially that could be an important business type of thing. So for example, we had like a Stripe Connect integration. And for us, like that was a business decision. It wasn’t something our customers were asking for, but.

[00:13:27] It made sense to prioritize that for the long term kind of growth of the business, for example. And so, yeah, I feel like sometimes you do have to balance, the things you know your customers are asking for and that do make sense but also trying to do the things that will basically keep the business going in the right direction too.

[00:13:44] And I think, Kim mention. A lot of that dev centric stuff as well because sometimes you need to make sure that the code is still like, super optimized or efficient or whatever it is that that needs to happen to keep it really competitive and, and working well.

[00:13:58] Kim: Yeah, there’s definitely been times for us that I don’t, I don’t know if somebody cut out okay.

[00:14:02] Times for us where we’ve made a business decision. We were like, we just need cash right now. What can we develop? How can we develop features in our product? Contribute cash. And those times come and go and it’s not the general way that the business has to operate, but knowing that you can pull that lever and you have a back pocket list of things that are revenue generating features it’s pretty cool.

[00:14:22] Matt: Yeah. Nice. Well, one thing I always like to do in these episodes is do story time. Go around the horn and talk about kind of your own journey with this question. How has your product road mapping approach changed over time? And very importantly, why has it changed over time? Does anybody wanna lead on that one?

[00:14:42] Kim, Natalie?

[00:14:43] Nathalie: Can go first. Yeah, so I feel like it has changed over time just as the company has grown and as we’ve had more customers asking for more things. So I think in the beginning it was very much, we had our core small group and it just made sense to, to build, [00:15:00] again, customer centric, focused on what their needs are and, keep them happy, keep them staying with us long term and.

[00:15:06] As our company has grown, it kind of ballooned into like way too many feature requests that we can actually handle. And so that’s when we brought in our product manager. And so now we have more touchpoints, but also more data around, what are the things we should be prioritizing? And we have like a little formula that we use.

[00:15:23] So number of people who requested it is, is one number that goes into the formula. How easy is it to implement? And also Like long term, like does this fit with, with where we wanna go product wise on the company side? So those are all things that we kind of use to assess a specific feature request, for example, and then the way that we also communicate it.

[00:15:46] So we definitely thought about just publishing, our whole list of things and having people vote on features. But we realized for us it just made sense to kind of summarize the big efforts that we have and just show those as what’s coming up for our. . And also I think it, it just kind of takes the overwhelm out for people who would potentially read our roadmap and be like, Oh my God.

[00:16:06] Like how is this all gonna happen? Or mm-hmm. , is this too overwhelming? As we, as our customers maybe want to use these new features, I think it might be a little bit too much. So for them to know kind of the big things on the horizon has, has helped them a lot too. And we do definitely have people who are like, Hey, when is this coming out?

[00:16:22] Like, we’re excited, We’re wait. And so it’s also kind of just setting expectations around like how often we make releases and how often we’re able to release those bigger features as opposed to like the small updates and stuff like that.

[00:16:33] Kim: Nice. Natalie, that’s cool. Do you keep that more public? Do you, is it available?

[00:16:38] Like I could go to your website and, and view kind of the things on the horizon.

[00:16:42] Nathalie: Yeah, so we have our latest releases and then in each release we’ll have the upcoming roadmap kind of update in there.

[00:16:49] Kim: That’s something we’ve always shied away from, so it’s super interesting to see brands that have that in

[00:16:54] place.

[00:16:54] Matt: Go ahead. No, I, I was just echoing that we also, I, we, in the very early days, we were trying to show like, this is what we’re gonna work on next. And it would end up being sometimes where we had the best intentions but not the best execution.

[00:17:10] And so folks were like, Hey, when’s this coming out? You said you were doing this. And we were like, Ah, we did say we were doing that, but we didn’t do it . So we started backing off of that. But I mean that’s a, i I I might merge right into my story time a little bit. That’s, that’s kind of the way that we’ve evolved too, is that in, in the early days, I would definitely say it was very founder centric.

[00:17:30] Devin and I would look at our product and be like, What do people need next? And we would just decide what people needed next from give wp and sometimes we’d even decide kind of. Despite what people were saying, like very early on we released a Google Analytics add on, and at that time we really had nobody asking for it at all.

[00:17:49] But we just, we just knew that like you, if you’re a nonprofit and you’re accepting donations online, you need to be using some sort of analytics tool. And so let’s give it to you now. . And over [00:18:00] time of course, it did become a very popular add-on but in the early days nobody was asking for it. So there were some times when we were definitely right, other times when we just built stuff because we felt like it was important.

[00:18:10] But over time as, as things evolved, we got more and more requests all the time. And I think the hardest thing was being able to balance customer requests with what actually is gonna make a lot of business sense for us. So, how things have evolved I think is really, I would call it what we do now, mixed in the sense that we have a product team meeting where the needs from the support team and the development team, marketing team and the founders.

[00:18:37] Are all together in one room and we talk about what’s going on currently. And we also do have a public feedback board. We use a system called Can can.io which is a feedback system and folks can go there anytime they want and up vote things and make comments on why they need it. And we can tie GitHub issues to those posts as well.

[00:18:56] And it’s publicly available on feedback dot give wp.com. And that is very influential in the way we do things. . Now there’s one really good example of how it’s a little bit complicated is in that for example, one feature that folks have asked for, for a long time is what we would call split donations.

[00:19:12] And what we found over time is that no two people agree on what that means in terms of functionality. And so balancing customer. Concerns or customer asks with what’s feasible from the payment gateways and what’s feasible development wise and what they’re actually needing has been a bit challenging.

[00:19:31] So we actually haven’t been able to build that feature out quite yet. Cuz it’s it’s, it’s pretty challenging and it’s hard to define clearly what that means. But I do like the way that we, in which we’ve balanced everything now between having a project management, meaning weekly, that’s checking in on, on the current needs and wants and current issues and pain points across all the teams and listening carefully to the feedback board and being active on that feedback board.

[00:19:56] I feel like it’s resulted in pretty robust releases overall. Kim, you want do story time?

[00:20:00] Kim: Yeah, for sure. I will. I will. Story tell and then we can kind of share all of what we think of each other’s thoughts. But for us, starting on very customer centric, we would build something that one person would ask for.

[00:20:12] Like, let’s build an add-on for that. How exciting. And I think it came back to bite us. In the end. We have over 70 add-ons at this point, and now we’re looking at it and saying, what can we bring into the core product? The core product a hundred percent open source and free. There’s no, upgraded version or unlocked professional version.

[00:20:27] It is in.org and we’re actually looking at a lot of our add-ons that are revenue drivers for us in our premium plans and realizing that they belong in the core product. So we’re looking at kind of undoing some of this ways that we’ve built in like revenue streams and bringing them into the core product because at the founder level are setting some goals to be.

[00:20:49] The most open source option, the most free option, and reach some huge growth targets in 10 years. And when you look at that, you think, okay, that means we have to take down the barrier. Of getting the core [00:21:00] features people need, like multiple memberships per user like special rules about expirations and renewals based on certain dates and, and things like that.

[00:21:08] So, we’re kind of at a point now where those high level business founder goals are influencing the way that we roadmap. We’ve kind of also settled into having on GitHub kind of a next version release that’s for kind of bug fixes and then the. Major version release, so like the 3.0 version and slating things that have been in development for some time to go into that.

[00:21:30] So we’re kind of managing two versions at one time. What’s gonna go out next to just bug squash and, and fix some compatibility and add a few enhancements. And then what is the next big thing that’s adding new features or consolidating some of those add-ons.

[00:21:44] Matt: Hmm. That’s an interesting approach. I like that.

[00:21:47] One thing that really stood out to me Natalie, in your approach is I really like your tactic on customer clarity calls. It seems like, it’s customer centric to the point of making sure that you clearly understand them. , can you tell can you dig in on that a little bit? Like how do you make those happen and, and how do they go?

[00:22:06] Are they useful? Like, are they valuable?

[00:22:09] Nathalie: Absolutely. Yeah. So it’s something we started doing, I don’t wanna say like, maybe not a full year ago, but something close to that. And basically what we do is we just reach out to our customers and we try to do at least two per month. So we have kind of a, a wide range of different types of, users of the software.

[00:22:27] And basically we asked them all kinds of questions like, what made them choose access all. What do they use it for? What are the hard things? What are the easy things that they love? Like we kind of just talk all , all of the different, possible angles of how they’re using the software.

[00:22:44] And a lot of times what surfaces is they came for a specific feature or they came for a specific integration or something like that. And then we kind of dig in a little bit deeper and kind of figure out like, is that working the way that they expected? Is there a mismatch with our marketing or with our other expectation setting?

[00:23:02] Is there a way that we can improve that for them? If it’s more of like a learning curve thing, like how can we make those types of improvements? Cuz sometimes it’s not just like a new feature, but it’s making our existing features easier to use. So, almost two years ago we released like a brand new interface for Access Ally.

[00:23:19] And that again was one of those things like you can roadmap it and no one’s asking for it, but we know it needs to be worked on because we knew. The way things were set up initially with our interface. It worked at the time, but things had gotten more complicated over time as we added more functionality.

[00:23:34] So we had to kind of retrofit things to, to work better for people. So yeah, a lot of that can come up from those clarity calls and you kind of have to read between the lines a little bit and it’s not always exactly what they say, but sometimes we do also have the ability to show them something we’re working on.

[00:23:51] For example, we have this enrollment limit feature that we’ve been working on for a couple of months now. And so we’re going to, we had people on Clarity calls and they [00:24:00] talked about like, Oh, I wanna do cohorts for my courses. And so we can say, Oh, well we actually have something we’re working on.

[00:24:06] I can kind of show you a quick demo and then see if that would actually solve your your problem. Your problems are kind of the things you’re trying to accomplish with, with your enrollment. So, yeah, sometimes we. Bust out something that we’re working on that we can kind of demo on those calls. But a lot of times it’s just listening and taking a lot of notes.

[00:24:21] We record them and then we actually have like, a meeting with the whole team to just kind of bring back the, the findings so everyone on the team is in the loop on, on all of those. I love

[00:24:31] Kim: that. I love that you When you’re listening, you’re not thinking only development or only marketing.

[00:24:36] You’re using that to kind of influence all of it. How has our support been performing for this person? How has our, our marketing been clearly communicating how to use our tool properly? And then of course, how can we better develop our tool to meet people’s needs and, and make it more simple for them to access what they’re looking to do?

[00:24:52] I love that. Mm-hmm.

[00:24:54] Matt: absolutely. What would you I’ll suggest for, let’s, let’s think of like a relatively small WordPress product that’s just getting off the ground. They’re, they’re, they’re freemium in one way or another free product with some sort of paid edition in, in one form or another. And they’re definitely of course, founder centric at the moment.

[00:25:15] They want to start getting more customer input and customer feedback in their roadmap. What would you say is the very first thing they should do?

[00:25:24] I feel

[00:25:24] Kim: like

[00:25:25] Nathalie: in this case it, it would help be super helpful to jump on calls with people. I know sometimes it’s a little bit harder when you don’t have a ton of users, or maybe they’re not, super communicative yet. But I feel like even offering like, I don’t know, just like a little bit of advice or consulting as like a thank you for them in whatever capacity, depending on what kind of product you.

[00:25:44] Or some other type of incentive, like, I don’t know, Starbucks gift card or something like that to just get people to say yes and get on a call with you. Those are the types of things, like you’ll get so many insights from actually talking to a human being as opposed to like running a survey or that kind of thing.

[00:25:58] So that would be how I approach it. And maybe Kim, you have another, another approach or other.

[00:26:03] Kim: Yeah, I definitely, I support the talking to customers early launching something, even if it’s not what you think your total complete product will be, knowing that you can add on later. But it’s very, very hard to take away a feature that you’re unsure about after it’s been released.

[00:26:17] To sunset or to remove an aspect of a product is a super challenging thing. You have to do it with a lot of. I would add, use the product yourself and become your own customer. And however you can imagine doing that. Mm-hmm. , it’s, it’s helpful to you as a, as a product to whether it’s a family member who you can convince to launch a business or, have a use case for your product or other people close to you, or you yourself as your business.

[00:26:41] Because I think that, that you’re sharing your customer’s experience in a way that you can’t when you’re not using your product. And then I think also look closely at support, the flavor of support tickets. Where people are getting stuck. If Justin Fairman who exited Learn you might know that he’s coming out with a product called Gap Scout, and it’s going to specifically look at all of the [00:27:00] support tickets you’re receiving, maybe across channels.

[00:27:02] How people are reviewing your product and the terms and phrases they’re using when they give positive reviews and negative reviews. And I think gonna try to consolidate that all into actions you can take to market better or document better and of course develop better.

[00:27:18] Matt: Mm-hmm. ,

[00:27:18] Kim: that’s awesome. I wanna throw a question out there.

[00:27:21] And how does WordPress itself, the macro WordPress development and growth and change, how do you consider that into product road mapping? By either of you have a opinion?

[00:27:31] Matt: You mean in terms of like the way WordPress has a software is heading, like both by editing all that? Yeah, Uhhuh. Exactly. It’s a good one. In many ways, Right now, in the moment, we are building what we’ve been calling the next gen donation form builder which is a Gutenberg powered donation form builder.

[00:27:51] And we’re really excited about it. We think it’s the future for sure, for Give WP at least. And the way we’re doing it is kind of unique. It’s, it’s not like. It, it, there’s a lot that goes into it, but essentially Gutenberg is basically a, a big framework that can be used in a lot of different ways.

[00:28:07] You don’t have to use the whole entire thing in order to build off of it. And we’re basically making like a custom editor with the Gutenberg framework. The reason why we started doing that was. Because of how mature goberg has become and how that when it comes to editing content in WordPress more and more folks are expecting a visual builder and give.

[00:28:30] Today is really just a big form of a bunch of settings. And you don’t know what your form is gonna look like until you hit published and take a look at it. Or preview. And so we really felt like, as WordPress is evolving to be so much more visual in the editing experience we don’t want to get left behind.

[00:28:47] So that definitely heavily influenced our, our desire to, to go in this direction. But it only got confirmed once our development team really dug in and saw that good work really does have a lot of the tools in order to do this where. Two years ago or three years ago, it really didn’t, It we, it wasn’t ripe and ready at that stage.

[00:29:07] So I think that’s a big practical way that I would answer that personally. Natalie, do you have something on, on your mind? Yeah.

[00:29:15] Kim: It’s funny

[00:29:15] Nathalie: because I feel like we don’t take much of it into account. I know it sounds terrible, but I feel like we’re so head down on our future requests and the things people are asking for.

[00:29:26] We do look a lot at how we integrate, especially with visual things. So our customers really care about their design, so you know, how we integrate with other themes or builders and things like that. And so definitely, guttenberg, definitely influence how we do things, but I feel like beyond that we kind of just keep up and make sure it still works together, but it doesn’t really influence a ton how we’re gonna change so far at least.

[00:29:52] Hmm.

[00:29:52] Kim: I definitely I like the pace at which you’ve talked about Matt, like waiting to watch Gutenberg mature some. [00:30:00] It was really challenging, years ago, a few years ago now to have come on board with some of the features that, that Gutenberg has now. You would’ve been always changing directions for your product.

[00:30:09] So I think watching WordPress and the new things coming. Product that you have a large user base supporting keeping it in mind, but not letting it, the next shiny thing that you have to be fully supporting in those moments. Just let WordPress itself kind of mature. Let that component mature and then figure out if it’s here to stay, how does it best work for our product and for our customer base.

[00:30:28] Mm-hmm. ,

[00:30:29] Matt: it’s a really good question. I mean, it is a unique thing for. Products like ours that fit in the WordPress space. How kind of beholden we are to where this platform is taking us. I mean, I think it would be similar for folks who are building on Shopify in particular, or anyone who maybe is doing like, mobile games that are on the Play store or the, or the Apple store.

[00:30:53] They also have certain kind of limitations they have to consider. Considering the environment that they’re building in. But that I do think in many ways that comes that in does have a bit of a development focus in some ways but also I think it’s also very customer centric in the case of WordPress at the moment, just simply because the way in which WordPress has radically altered the whole admin interface over the last few years.

[00:31:19] That’s fascinating.

[00:31:20] Kim: I know we started a bit late, but if either of you have like a last point that you wanna bring up or a question to ask we can go a little longer. We usually try to keep these to 40 minutes, but our, our kickoff was a little awkward.

[00:31:31] Matt: I defer to Natalie first.

[00:31:32] Nathalie: Yeah, I think a good question probably to wrap up or kind of a, a last point I think would. Just kind of remembering what it’s all for, Right. So I think all of us, we kind of start these businesses with a certain intention or a certain reasoning behind them. We kind of started because we built it for ourselves first, and then other people were asking, Hey, what are you using?

[00:31:54] And then we made it into like a full on product and business. And so just kind of remembering those roots and also that further vision I think will help everyone who’s trying to decide like, how do I run my roadmap and how should. Publish or not publish or really, organize it and make sure that it’s doable.

[00:32:10] And I think the other side of it too is just, what are your resources, both development time, hiring all of these things, talent on your team and just kind of remembering that we all have constraints and that we all need to not burn out . So that’s kind of another big part of, of a roadmap sometimes is.

[00:32:28] We wanna promise everything to everyone. But being realistic with what we can actually accomplish within a certain time period, I think is better for expectations of, of people who are using it as well. So, we’ve had big intentions in the past where we’re like, yes, we’re gonna like release this great, great new version, 4.0 or whatnot, and it’s taking us like six months longer than we thought, and that’s okay too.

[00:32:51] So yeah, those are kind of just some closing thoughts I would say.

[00:32:54] Matt: Mm-hmm. , that’s a good one. I think my biggest closing thought is [00:33:00] I, I have really found overall, Getting our various teams and leaders within our, our, our, our team involved in the product roadmap has just really elevated their job satisfaction and their morale.

[00:33:13] Like when they feel like they are personally invested in the product and they have a say and a voice and how it gets shaped and where it’s going. Their, their, their loyalty to the company and to the team just really gets amplified a ton. So, I think I would just encourage everyone to really think of new and different and creative ways to get your team very much.

[00:33:34] Actively involved in how your product is shaped and where it’s going. I mean, they are the boots on the ground, the ones that are out there listening to your customers all the time and doing the, the outward work all the time. And they ha they love the product, ideally and and they have great insights.

[00:33:52] That’s why you hired them. So, use your team as much as you.

[00:33:54] Kim: I’m gonna extend on that, Matt, and with, my final thought being sometimes you can throw the product roadmap aside and allow your team to do some exploratory work. So it could be for a new product you’re exploring, it could be for your core product.

[00:34:09] We use Shape Up, so we have kind of on cycle, off cycle time, and that off cycle time is when we. The team members who have kind of a passion PET project or something, they just wanna spend a week or two days just trying. And whether that’s growing their development skills, growing their writing skills, helping us explore like kind of a really wire framed, scrapped together version of something that could be a feature later.

[00:34:30] It, it helps you build your roadmap because you’ve kind of learned a lot through that, trial process.

[00:34:36] That’s awesome. A little hold for a couple of days and dig in.

[00:34:40] Matt: That’s excellent. Cool. Cool. Well, I think we have hit more than our 40 minutes, but this has been a great talk, Natalie. So glad to have you on board today. And everyone, if you can do us a favor and just retweet Kim’s tweet with this with this Twitter space.

[00:34:57] With the hashtag WP product Talk and tell us, tell the world what your takeaway is from today. One little thing that you learned, one little thing that you liked, one little thing you thought was obnoxious, . Any and all of the above I think are helpful. Also wanna give a quick shout out to the WP Minute.

[00:35:13] Thanks for redistributing these talks over all the podcast things. If you’re a podcaster, you can catch it on all. Podcast platforms through the WP Minute. Feel free to subscribe over there like stuff over there. Thanks everybody so much. Natalie Kim, and next week, what, who do we have next week?

[00:35:30] Kim? Next

[00:35:31] Kim: week we. Interesting topic. We’re gonna be focused on how to sunset a product that’s limping. And limping is kind of awkward, I guess of a word, but a product that you’re just not, seeing fit with the market, but it exists out there. And how in and do you go about removing

[00:35:47] Matt: it from the world?

[00:35:48] Absolutely. And our guest os is actually my business partner, Devin. So I’m excited about that. Devin and I have sunset a few products in our day. So , we’re, this is gonna be a fun and [00:36:00] uncomfortable conversation, . Cool. Thank you everybody so much.

[00:36:03] Nathalie: Thank you. This was awesome. Have

[00:36:05] Kim: a great day everyone.

[00:36:06] Absolutely. You too. Thanks. Thank you.

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