A few days ago, Jane Wells put out a call to all WordPress-loving Icon Designers over at to design the icons for the new WordPress admin screen.

Now, it’s no secret that I work primarily with Movable Type, but I’ve tried to make Plasticmind Design less about the tool and more about helping users succeed. I’ve worked with everything from Blogger to WordPress to Zen Cart in an effort to maximize user efficiency and experience (all tools fail in those areas at times). I’ve been critical of both platforms on my blog when their flaws justified it.

I saw this call as an opportunity to participate in the WordPress community, so I sent over this email:

I’d be very interested in designing the icons. I’ve done a lot of interface work with Movable Type and would love to branch out.

You can see my portfolio over at

Jesse Gardner

The post made it clear that “to be taken seriously, you’ll need to show a background in icon design” and that “someone with experience (and possibly existing work they can leverage) is going to be the best candidate.” I’ve done fairly extensive icon work (having designed icons for several Movable Type plugins) so I thought it would be a good fit.

Earlier today I received this email:

Hi Jesse. Thanks for your interest, but the main goal of opening up the icon design to the community instead of just hiring someone was to give designers in the WordPress community a chance to contribute. From your blog it looks like you’re more of a Movable Type guy, which is cool (I was on MT for years myself), but would defeat the purpose. About a dozen hardcore WP users volunteered for the icon design, so we’ll most likely wind up using one of them.

Thanks for volunteering, though!

Now, I’m not naive. I did realize when writing this email that getting chosen would be a stretch given the title of the post. I was just hoping that we could set our partisanship aside and focus on the issues (a better UI experience for WordPress users).

Update: I just got this email from Jane:

Hi Jesse. I was talking to Matt last night and pointed toward your post, and he agreed with your position. I think he’s also a pre-existing fan of your work. Anyway, if you’re still interested, you are welcome to participate.

The icon design project has basically been turned into a contest/competition. Since over a dozen professional icon designers from the WP community responded, rather than make a choice and put all our eggs in one basket, we decided to give everyone with a good portfolio a chance. About half a dozen designers were still interested after hearing the following plan.

Each designer is making two icons (posts and links) to show the style they would propose for their icon set. We’ll review them and give feedback to those that seem at least relatively on track, and will let anyone who’s super far off brand know that their icons aren’t really what we had in mind. The ones who move forward will create a full set, which we’ll then review. As long as the completed set still feels in brand, we’ll include it in the community vote for default icon set. The final decision rests with the lead developers, but the community vote will carry weight in that decision.

I’m actually really excited to be able to participate in this. It’s easy to start playing favorites based on platform, but it ultimately comes down helping more people get online, finding the right tool for their situation and making the current tools even better. That’s how we’re all going to succeed.