…in the great state of Texas, a software company offered unto its’ subjects a Feature Request Site where they could submit their feedback about the products it worked so diligently to create and support. This site was launched in October 2012 to great fanfare and fingers flew across keyboards from across all the lands as requests were submitted. Each person was allotted votes they could use to make their greatest wishes for cPanel known, and our Community Team was born. It was a shining moment of collaboration that has borne many ripe fruits over the years, while others remained stunted and withered on the vine due to lack of traction among the community, or lack of feasibility for the developers, but still we press forward to continue that spirit of collaboration.
In our little fairy tale above, we introduced you to our Feature Request Site, and I’d like to take a moment to talk about what the site is, what it isn’t, and how, as a part of the massive cPanel community, you can make it work for you.
What the Feature Request Site Is
- A place to make suggestions to the cPanel & WHM developers about what new features you’d like to see added to our products
- A place to find out what features are being suggested by other members of the community, and how they might work for you
- A place to make your voice heard by using the voting system to support ideas that you would like to see implemented
What the Feature Request Site Is Not
- A place to get support with your cPanel, WHM or website
- A place to advertise your services or applications
- A place for off-topic complaints, personal attacks, or trolling
Telling your story
The goal of the Feature Request site is to provide a bridge between cPanel’s development team and cPanel’s user community for communicating what features are needed to improve cPanel, how useful those features would be, and which features are in development for implementation. The first step in this process is making the Feature Request, and we do this in the format of the User Story. A User Story is a simple, straightforward statement of what you (the user) want to be added to the product (the feature) and why (the benefit) so that other users and our development team can easily understand the request and consider whether they want to spend a vote on that feature.
Before you create your Feature Request’s User Story:
- Make sure that what you need is an added feature, and not support with an existing feature. Are you asking for something to restore functionality that was lost or reporting a bug? If so, this would be better as a Technical Support Request.
- Make sure that your idea doesn’t already exist under another name. Before you submit a feature request, try searching for similar ideas. If your request uses technical terms, try searching for broader ideas in the same vein and vice versa. Your idea may already exist, and you can cast your vote for the existing idea instead of using your vote to create a duplicate.
- Make sure we haven’t already addressed your concern in another way. cPanel is a product full of solutions to problems. Before you submit your request, review documentation, ask in the forums, Reddit, Slack, Discord, or talk to your account manager and see if a solution already exists.
Crafting the User Story for your Feature Request
- Keep it short and simple! We have customers in almost every country around the world. For many, English is not their first language, and they use translation services to better understand text online. Focus on keeping your request clear and concise to improve machine translation for it. You can also use apps like Hemingway App and Grammarly to improve your writing. Shoot for 8th grade level for your Feature Request. Since this isn’t a personal note, please leave off greetings and closings to help keep things tidy. To keep the feature request site uniform, we may edit to fix typos or improve the formatting of your post. We do this to ensure everyone has a good experience with the site.
- The WHY is important! When you’re writing your user story, one important thing to remember is that it should be about the problem you’re experiencing, not about offering a specific solution to the problem that you’ve already got in mind. Our best solutions are found when we are able to deeply understand the problems our customers face. We are more likely to act on a feature request when we understand WHY it’s needed. For example, one of the most common Feature Requests that we see happens when someone asks for an update to a piece of software we ship within the product, but the request doesn’t explain why the update is useful. If the most recent public release of the software solves a problem, let us know what problem it solves. Many other users may be facing the same problem and cast their votes for your request.
- Submit one idea per request! We want to keep things short and clear. If you have more than one idea, make multiple requests, even if they are related. By keeping your submission focused on just one idea, you help others stay focused and collaborate. A good way to know if you’re including more than one idea in your request is to ask if you’re solving more than one problem. If the answer is yes, consider separating your ideas into more than one submission.
- Protect your privacy! The feature request site is a public forum available to users all over the world. Posting your personal information or security information on public sites is never a good idea, and you’ll have a bad time if you do.
- Watch your inbox! Many times, if a Feature Request has an incomplete User Story, we will send you an email asking for more information. If we don’t hear from you within 7 days, we will update your Feature Request using the user story we crafted based on your submission, but we’d rather have your feedback before we post it.
The Three Parts of the User Story
Who’s asking for this feature? Who does it benefit the most?
- System Administrator
- cPanel User
- Web-Hosting Provider
What is the user requesting? What is the thing they’d like to see added to the product?
- UI modifications
- additional software plugins
- expanded capability for existing software
What benefit does the feature requested provide? Why do you want it?
- To make my life easier
- to simplify administration
- to add functionality to the software
As a System Administrator, I would like a ClueByFour added to the interface so I can whack wayward users with it when they get out of line.
And last but not least, a note from your Community team. We encourage you to take responsibility for your idea AND the way you present it to show it in the best possible light so others in the community will want to support it, and by proxy, you! When you submit a feature request, it goes to real live humans on our team who have to moderate every submission and comment that comes through the site. Just like in all collaborative projects, working with people who advocate for their ideas constructively is going to have a better result than dealing with someone negative or angry.
Once we’ve received your request, our team will review it and if we need clarification or the request isn’t in the user story format, we’ll send you an email with suggested changes. You’ll have a week to respond with any revisions you’d like, and then your request will go live on the site for other users to vote on.
By keeping these guidelines in mind when you submit your Feature Requests, you help your cPanel Community management team and the user community to identify what we should work on next, and help us to work better together.