Tom Moor

How to Build Company Transparency and Reduce Email Using WordPress P2

Wordpress P2

At Sqwiggle we’ve been using the P2 WordPress theme for over a month now for a large chunk of our asynchronous internal discussions and I thought it would be interesting to pull apart our time with it a little.

What is P2

For those that might not have heard of P2 before - It is a theme based on Prologue which changes the flow and interface of WordPress to move composition inline. This makes creating posts as easy as Tumblr or Twitter for example, changing the dynamic to that of an internal social network.

In the last month three of us have posted 170 times with 50 different tags, and commented on those posts over 260 times, presuming we would have had these conversations over email we might have saved our individual inboxes of around ~430 emails each and that’s not even counting other interactions such as ‘liking’ a post!

What is it good for

Asynchronous discussions

P2 works like an internal tumblr, you can quickly create different types of posts such as status, link, quote or a more formal blog-style post. Others can comment and comments can be nested leading to good discussions.

Encouraging transparency

With email it is easy to accidentally forget to CC team-mates or not realise that others might have great input on a seemingly unrelated issue. Stripe fights this by having all internal email open, P2 can help you to reduce or cutout email altogether.

Extensibility

Of course WordPress is open-source so in theory it would be possible to make any customisations you like to any part of the theme. There are already some ’must have’ plugins for P2 such as likes, @mentions and more that need to be installed to get the full benefits.

Search and archiving

Of course WordPress comes with tagging, categories and a pretty decent search. Finding that discussion you had on a particular topic is easy with a combination of these (Of course we only have a months worth of content - so only time will tell here!)

Cost

As WordPress is free software the only cost in hosting, we have our P2 installation hosted on a cheap VPS and the cost is negligable. You could use a hosting service like WPEngine if you preferred not to take care of this yourself.

What is it bad for

Realtime discussions

Although not ‘bad’ per-say, we prefer to keep real time discussions to our Sqwiggle workroom - If everyone is online, then it’s just much quicker and easier to make decisions this way.

Items posted in P2 don’t necessarily need a reply straight away, or ever in a lot of cases.

Aesthetics

The out-of-the-box experience with P2 isn’t incredible, the styling is rough around the edges, as are many of the plugins. We spent a couple of hours customising the theme to match our internal admin tools a little better, but nothing too fanciful.

If you want a finely polished experience then this probably isn’t the tool for you unless you like customising your software!

Where next?

I’m really excited to see the development of Inc from the Kippt team as it seems they are tackling this space in a great-looking and easy to use package.

I don’t think we could go back to not having a tool like this in our arsenal here at Sqwiggle. An internal social network is a must-have for any distributed team, whether it be a tumblr, twitter or a reddit clone!

If you don’t have an avenue for casual, rich, asynchronous communication in you company then you might just be missing out.