Your guide to becoming a Happiness Engineer

Welcome to the Happiness Engineer blog! Chances are you’re here for a specific reason… you’re interested in joining us as a Happiness Engineer at Automattic.

This post was written by a group of WordPress.com Happiness Engineers on a team called Sparta. We were really inspired by this post our brilliant colleague Sandy made four years ago on how to become a Happiness Engineer. Since our team comes from varied backgrounds and experiences, we thought we’d share our favorite tips and updated resources that helped us prepare for applying for the Happiness Engineer position here at Automattic.

Here on Sparta, we have team members who come from backgrounds in the restaurant industry, education, stay-at-home parenting, trauma therapy, marketing, and more. We’re living proof that Happiness Engineers can (and do!) come from all sorts of backgrounds.

“Just apply!” you may hear. Well, not quite. We would love to have you join us! However, taking the time to set yourself up for success before you apply will certainly help you out in the long term. You’ll want to do as much as you can to both increase and showcase your skills, which our tips below can help you with. 

What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

At WordPress.com, we provide hosting, support, and tons of features for blogs. Our users have the option to purchase a variety of upgrades to customize the look and feel of their blog.

WordPress.org is software for self-hosted sites that is installed by hosting providers such as Pressable, and Bluehost. With WordPress.org, users are provided access to all backend files and can upload custom themes and plugins. Self-hosting allows you to add just about any type of functionality, but you are responsible for your own installation, maintenance, and security.

If you’d like to get more familiar with the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, you can read about them here.


Learn the basics of WordPress.com

If you don’t know WordPress well, our biggest suggestion would be to just play with it and set up a test site. You can head on over to WordPress.com and sign up for an account and site within a few minutes. You can start with our free plan which you can use to create a site or a blog. Here are some things you can do to practice and challenge yourself:

  • Choose a theme and set it up according to that theme’s support page (Exford, Hever, Seedlet and Alves are some popular ones to try out for variety.)
  • Create some pages and posts. Learn how to make a site that’s a blog, a website, or a website with a blog.
  • Play around with some of our popular blocks, such as Buttons, Cover, Form, HTML, Image, and Columns.
  • Create a category page. Discover the two ways to do this (using the powerful blog posts block or through adding them to the menu).
  • Use the Customizer to change your logo and site title.
  • Set up a menu for your site, including a social links menu to social media profiles.

To help you get started overall we cannot recommend our webinars and courses enough! Of our webinars, you may find Website Building 101 and Getting Started in WooCommerce especially helpful. Our Getting Started with WordPress.com is a great resource too!

Get to know the block editor

The foundation of any page or post is the block editor.  We have a guide that gives a great overview of the block editor.  We recommend starting a brand new site, or using one you already have, and following along with the guide! 

If you’re used to our classic editor, we would suggest using the Classic Block, which can be added to a page or post using the block editor. It has a similar toolbar to the classic editor. 

Try to build different pages.  Make a homepage that captures your attention, a Contact page with a contact form, or an About page that describes your site.

Learn how to troubleshoot WordPress

Since WordPress.com is a managed host, there are very few errors when it comes to updates compared to what you’d experience on a self-hosted WordPress website. Most of what we encounter in support involves showing people how WordPress.com features work and troubleshooting errors that they see while editing their site.

A big part of troubleshooting involves knowing to look in several places for the answers to a question. Both wordpress.com/support and Google searches are great places to start searching for answers. As questions pop up while you’re setting up your own site, practice using both resources to find answers to your questions. 

Learning basic HTML & CSS

When you want to learn HTML and CSS, there are multitudes of free resources you can find on the web. One option is to start with free coding resources, such as this course from FreecodeCamp. There are also terrific (and affordable) courses offered at udemy.com, and TeamTreehouse.com

WordPress.com has extensive documentation covering both basic and advanced coding topics, including HTML and CSS. Reading through our guides will provide insight into how HTML and CSS are used on a WordPress site.

Domains & DNS

Domains and DNS are some of the most technical things Happiness Engineers deal with and we spend quite a bit of time helping our users get their domains working properly. Make sure you have a good understanding of how these work!

SEO Basics

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) refers to best practices to ensure your site ranks high in the results of search engines such as Google and Bing. WordPress.com is search-engine-friendly by default. Here are some resources for SEO tips and best practices for WordPress.com sites:

Customer service & written communication skills

We offer world-class support to our customers. When providing support via email and live chat, clear written communication is crucial. We keep our responses to our customers clear, friendly, and easy to understand. We want our customers to feel like they’re speaking to a knowledgeable friend. 

Here is a great blog post on some elements that we incorporate into our emails and this post has helpful examples of bad responses and crafting good responses.

To boost your support skills and get a sense of the questions users commonly ask us, we recommend you make an effort to help others in the WordPress.com support forums.

We especially recommend this step if you don’t have previous Customer Support experience, as you’ll be able to respond to questions just like you would as a Happiness Engineer. You’ll see opportunities to point users to our helpful support documentation and guide them on how to be successful with their sites.

Characteristics of a successful Happiness Engineer

Our goal here has been to help you strengthen your technical skills, but that’s not all that is required to be an amazing Happiness Engineer!

There are certain characteristics that we look for in potential Happiness Engineers:

  • You love to learn! The Automattic Creed includes the line “I will never stop learning” and that is exactly what Happiness Engineers do on a daily basis!
  • You love to help people. As a Happiness Engineer, your primary role is to help people, whether it’s a user or one of your colleagues.
  • You are empathetic. Let’s face it. Technology can be frustrating! It’s likely you will sometimes deal with frustrated or stressed out users, so being able to see things from their perspective will show you want to help them find a resolution.
  • You pay attention to the details. Sites can be complex and so can our users. A little thing can make a big difference to the accuracy of an answer, so it’s important you can spot them while keeping track of the big picture.

We hope these tips have been helpful to you in learning more about the role, what we do, and where to get started, but if you have any questions please feel free to comment below!

Best of luck on your application!

Pssst! Here’s the link to apply for the Happiness Engineer job!

5 thoughts on “Your guide to becoming a Happiness Engineer

  1. This is an excellent resource!
    It’s also the first post I’ve read on the Happiness Everywhere blog.
    Thank you for your guidance. The thought of being a Happiness Engineer, makes me feel happy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for this great summary. I have been following what it is like to be a Happiness Engineer for a while and this is a great resource. I knew a lot of things already but I was still able to find some new info in this post. Thanks for putting this together!

    Like

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