The October Shapers meeting is now in the books and it was yet another productive gathering of the global Shapers membership group. We’re so pleased that this monthly meeting has taken off and that we have the opportunity to invest in the future of Genesis while sharing new developments with you.
We have some exciting plans on the horizon, and this forum will continue to serve as a great place for us to keep anyone and everyone who’s interested in Genesis up to date.
Before diving into the details of October’s meeting, here are recaps from the previous Shapers meetings if you’d like to catch up:
With that, here’s the Genesis Shapers meeting recap for October.
Our tenth meeting of the year took place on October 8th. As usual, we had awesome attendance from the Shapers, who came ready to offer their thoughts and opinions on a litany of topics.
As a reminder, the Genesis Shapers are a global, hand-selected, and diverse group of people representing companies from across the community who share a representative voice for the strategic direction of Genesis, which is combined with the feedback we receive directly from customers across social channels, and through Genesis WP on Slack.
The Genesis Shapers as of the date of this meeting, included Bill Erickson, Carrie Dils, David Decker, Gary Jones, Greg Boser, Jennifer Bourn, Jon Brown, Jonathan Jeter, Lauren Gaige, Lee Anthony, Mike Hemberger, Nahuai Badiola, Sara Dunn, Remkus de Vries, Robin Cornett, Sara Dunn, and Sridhar Katakam.
The first order of business for the Shapers’ October meeting was discussing the possibility of expanding the Shapers group to include new and interesting perspectives. We asked the question…
A few people have inquired about opportunities to join the Shapers in the past. We’re wondering what points-of-view would you like to see more of in the Shapers group? What are we missing?
Carrie Dils, who wasn’t able to attend live, had emailed thoughts in advance supporting the notion of adding member(s) who spend much of their time supporting customers directly.
Chiming in with agreement, Jon Brown commented, “I agree… I think someone heavily or purely focused on end user support would be good. Someone without a background in code/development/etc.”
Sara Dunn added, “Let’s see, we have theme creators, devs, how else would everyone categorize themselves? I’m inclined to agree with Carrie that another small agency owner that uses Genesis for client sites makes sense.”
Nathan Rice (co-creator of Genesis) shared his view on the types of people who use Genesis that we should consider having representation from. His stated, “I think of Genesis as serving three different groups—agency (or in-house) developers, freelancers serving clients (or themselves), and DIY users, looking to spin up a web presence for themselves or friends.”
To add to this train of thought, I commented on the fact that, “We don’t have any in-house folks who use Genesis to build sites.” In fact, all the Shapers either work for or own a theme company or agency/freelancer businesses. This seems like a big hole and one we aspire to fill in the future.
After this discussion (and some follow-up conversations after the meeting), we unanimously agreed to invite Anita Carter of The Cre8tive Diva to join the Shapers and she accepted!
Anita has been a long time Genesis community leader, freelance business owner, and is often found in the StudioPress forums and Genesis WordPress group on Facebook, helping tons of folks with Genesis and WordPress questions. Her perspective from the frontlines is incredibly valuable to the Shapers and we could not be more thrilled that she agreed to join the Shapers and help us shape the future of WordPress!
We plan to build on this discussion and have a few other folks in mind for the Shapers, whose perspectives we think would be uniquely valuable. Stay tuned for more on this topic!
The next item on the agenda was guidance from the Shapers around SCSS in Genesis. We asked the question…
We want to modernize Genesis by continuing to add useful tools. What are your thoughts on SCSS in Genesis? Are there additional things we should consider?
For those that don’t know, SCSS provides abilities on top of CSS, particularly focused on workflow optimization.
Jon Brown jumped in first, simply stating “ROTFLOL… YES!!!!”.
While Jon was busy rolling on the floor with excitement, Mike Hemberger chimed in and said, “I think if StudioPress maintained an SCSS version of Sample it would be well received. But I don’t think any of that belongs in Genesis core, personally.”
This response garnered a lot of support, with Robin Cornett adding “I think G core currently has an empty style.css? So yes to Sample.”
On that note, Nathan added, “This is a specifically non-core question … what tooling and processing needs could we add to our offerings that would delight people, especially agencies, in-house developers, and freelancers. We’re aware that tooling is largely irrelevant to DIY folks, could even be a roadblock for them.”
To which David Decker replied, “Exactly, so it all needs to be well-balanced and especially, it needs to be optional, if that is possible.”
Nathan replied, “It could be something like an advanced Sample theme. Run the build tooling and it spits out the standard Sample Theme, basically.”
The conversation continued to flow with a lot of additional great feedback, although there was an overarching consensus that SCSS and potentially other tooling would be beneficial if added to the Genesis Sample theme vs. directly in Genesis #Core. This is something the Genesis engineering team will explore as we look at future releases now that they’re armed with the incredible insights provided by the Shapers..
Our next question was a continuation of previous discussions around how we could make new releases of Genesis easier to adopt for the community…
How has your Genesis 3.2 beta testing going for you, your customers, and the community?
Genesis 3.2 is currently in beta and is introducing Open Graph data to make social posts look better when someone is sharing a link to your website, lazy loading in Chrome, and a handful of other useful features.
While some of the Shapers said they had yet to test the Genesis 3.2 beta, Robin Cornett said“ I have not encountered issues, but I think the changes in this one are less obtrusive, maybe. I have played with lazy loading, but I think my current theme doesn’t tinker with post info/meta.”
Others shared that sentiment, so I then asked, “I know in the past that testing is often a drag that takes time to keep up with. I’m curious. How do you run a test when a release comes out? Do you maintain WP instances for this and manually test? Any VRT or automated tests? Part of a CI/CD flow?”
Robin Cornett added, “My “testing” is usually just me using it as I’m building, nothing automated.”
Bill Erickson also added, “I usually test on whatever site I’m actively building right now.”
With those responses, I asked the group,“If we hosted a batch of sites for automated VRT testing on updates, would you have sites you’d like to submit?”
Jon Brown replied, “That’s really interesting… Yes, it’d be awesome to have theme demo sites for themes like Jessica there. I can’t imagine managing putting copies of clients’ sites there though.”
To which I responded, “Exactly. It would have to be representative, but I could see an agency use a similar approach for clients for all kinds of reasons outside of Genesis.”
After feedback from prior Shapers meetings, the Genesis engineering team has put a lot of effort into Genesis 3.2 to help ensure backwards compatibility and an extended beta period to help folks have more time to test. The feedback we received from the Shapers seemed to indicate that version 3.2 was stable and not causing problems and that there is more we can do to ensure success across the Genesis community.
All that being said, lazy loading in Chrome is fairly new, so we wanted to dig just a bit deeper…
What are your thoughts on the new lazy loading feature in 3.2? This is currently only supported natively in Chrome, but it should noticeably improve the performance of the page.
Jon Brown kicked off the responses, saying
“I haven’t had a chance to try it… love the idea… but also use WP Rocket across 90% of sites and it still doesn’t support it… anyway, looking forward to it.”
Nahuai Badiola replied with an interesting note, “I like the idea but I think there is an open ticket on WordPress to add optional lazy-loading to the WP core, so I was waiting for that to happen.”
To which Nathan Rice replied, “If WP adds it, we will, of course, remove ours…we can offer this a little earlier for people using Genesis, which is cool.”
We hope you all enjoy the additional speed benefits of lazy loading for visitors using Chrome and we’ll keep an eye on future WordPress core releases to make sure you don’t cover the same base twice!
This led us to our final question…If you could recommend one thing to help grow the community, what would that be?
Nahuai Badiola started off, saying, “I’d say Genesis related events.”
Which generated lots of supportive responses, to which I mentioned that there had been some recent thought around revamping Genesis Camp in some way.
Sara Dunn added, “The Genesis meetup at WCUS a couple of years ago was a great experience.”
Lauren Gaige seconded that motion, saying, “I agree with more events!!”
Jon Brown summed up other responses endorsing more events, saying, “I got a TON out or WCUS last year… Shapers was a huge part of it, but a more ‘social’ event for Genesis folk would have been awesome.”
The response to have in person events was overwhelming. Luckily we have lots of opportunities planned for the Genesis community to connect at WordCamp US 2019 in St. Louis from November 1st – 3rd. Nahuai Badiola will also be hosting the world’s first Spanish-focused Genesis conference #GenesisBCN in Spain on 23 November. If you’re able to make any of these events, we’d love to see you there!
We’ll be thinking of more ways for everyone to connect in the future as well, as these opportunities aren’t just a favorite of the Shapers, but also from everyone on the Genesis team.
Thanks everyone for reading our recap of the October 2019 Genesis Shapers meeting. I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at WordCamp US, engaging on Slack, or just running across you around the way.
We got a ton of great feedback from this Shapers meeting and we’re excited to use this feedback to continue to make an even more powerful framework for you and even more open and helpful community!