Justin Tadlock

It's the little things that matter

I consider myself a decent PHP developer, and I know enough about design to ruin a beautiful image in Photoshop. I’ve made quite a few plugins and themes over the past few years for WordPress as well.

When I’m asked how I got to the point I’m at in the WordPress community by upcoming developers, the best response I can give them is: It’s the little things that matter. If you’re not taking care of them, then the big, grand things you’re doing will only get you so far.

What are the little things?

The little things are usually things that WordPress does that slightly irritate me. They don’t irritate me enough to switch platforms, but they are things that I wish were different.

I’ll show you an example of just what I mean with two pictures of the same comment using different themes. See if you can find the major difference (i.e., the little thing) between the two.

The first is from the default WordPress theme:

Default theme pingback

The second is from the development version of my Hybrid theme:

Hybrid theme pingback

Notice the difference?

The default theme displays the title text of the edit link for a pingback as “Edit comment,” which is standard for WordPress. The Hybrid theme displays “Edit pingback” instead.

Why make these little changes?

At this point, you may simply think I’m crazy for changing “comment” to “pingback,” but the example is hardly the point.

What’s more important is that I would’ve likely had a user come along one day and ask, “How can I change ‘Edit comment’ to ‘Edit pingback’ for the pingback comment type?” Rather than having to explain how to do this or even coming across the question at all, it’s already done.

An equally valid reason for doing so is that this is simply how I want things done on my personal blog. And, when I code something that benefits me, it’s easy to give that back to the community.

Those little things do matter

While you may not take things as insanely far as I have in my example, it’s important to recognize how these seemingly insignificant things can help you and your users. For example, this can translate into fewer support questions or become marketing points for your plugins/themes.

Attention to detail is the extra thing you should bring to the table, and end users always appreciate it when the details are covered.