I have been dealing with WordPress for years now. I have developed and maintained my own site; built a number of experiments and Proofs-of-Concept and managed blogging platforms for others. Each context has taught me something new, but one of the aspects that keeps me hooked into this environment is the vibrant community that WordPress has.
The amount of plugins, themes, and solutions that get built on top of it is astonishing. WordPress is estimated to run to 33% of all websites and 60% of the ones with a known CMS. There is certainly a virtuous cycle behind this success … but that is a topic for another post 😉
With so many options, comes complexity and some kind of disutility. There are many choices for doing the same thing; components that get abandoned after some period of time; components with serious quality problems despite being “beautiful”; components that do not respect privacy or local regulation; components that are insecure or contain malware; components that do not get properly supported; components that are not compatible with each other; etc.
All this raises the need for filtering and curation. Unfortunately, we are let alone doing this task. You could try searching the web looking for articles that share some recipes. And, some of them can help you discover useful ingredients for your solution. However, extracting the set of criteria that teach you how to do your own selection and maintain it over time is a different thing.
That is why I've decided to share the ones that I use myself hoping that it can also be useful to you.
Dimensions to consider
There are a number of aspects that that help us ensure that we are fully addressing our concerns and also support us turning our check-list into a more actionable one. These are:
- Risks and concerns addressed by each criterion.
- Metrics and indicators that we can use to compare components.
- Rating/Ranking/Priority that can help us weight situations created by conflicting criteria. I like the MoSCoW method, but you can use any other system or combine them in such a way that better fits your needs.
I have also found that including a description for each item and providing some room to provide notes and remarks is quite helpful. This is especially true when other teams must interact with that list on their own.
You can also consider including the rationale for each criterion. However, most of the times, this is implicitly covered by the list of risks and concerns. My take up until now has been to include it only when my stakeholders lack some key domain expertise that would help them understand that implicit rationale. This way, I make sure that the outcome is less redundant and more pragmatic.
With all this in mind, here you have the architecture artifact that I regularly use myself:
The WordPress ecosystem is great. It provides plenty of opportunities to minimize efforts in coding and maintenance thanks to the consumption and integration of features delivered by existing components. However, selecting them requires work and discipline to separate wheat from straw.
The table above is, by no means, a definitive one. I wouldn't be surprised if you have to tailor it to fulfill your specific needs. What matters, in my opinion, is to be driven by a check-list like this. That way you will always be sure that your key concerns will be addressed properly at the earliest stage of the life cycle. Other platforms also share the same type of problems. As a result, this approach might also be helpful there.
Of course, this is my point of view and the strategy I follow to address this curation problem. My question to you is, how do you do it? Do you miss some criteria? Which other concerns do you take into consideration?