Q. How did you come into your current field? Share a bit of the background?
Ans: When I was 12 years old, I discovered some software called Dreamweaver. I was amazed with the possibilities and attempted to build my first website. I didn’t progress very far but later in college I revisited Dreamweaver when building a website for a record label I was launching. The time-consuming nature of updating websites in Dreamweaver pushed me to look for alternatives – I found WordPress and have never looked back. While I was at university, I started learning about marketing and eventually built my own niche sites. This experience landed me a job at a marketing agency where I ended up becoming operations manager and heading up SEO & WordPress web development projects.
Q. What’s the most interesting project you have done to date in WordPress?
Ans: Most of my WordPress projects have been pretty similar. Since I left my marketing agency role, I focused on my own websites 100%. And they are mainly content publishing websites. I wouldn’t say any stand out as being overly interesting, but there are two in particular that I’m most proud of:
1) The first website I built with WordPress for my old record label – we shut this down years ago but our releases ended up with close to 3 million digital downloads with the help of a WordPress website + some niche communities.
2) BloggingWizard.com – I launched this website in December 2012 as a platform to share what I was learning during my day job working at a marketing agency. It’s been through constant iterations and I’ve pivoted my focus a few times. Despite juggling a lot of other personal projects, I’ve grown it to over 200K monthly visitors..
Q. Have you ever been to any WordPress meetups or WordCamps? If yes did you learn anything useful?
Ans: None so far but I’d love to attend one in the future.
Q. What does your workstation look like?
Ans: My other passion is music and my home office doubles as a recording studio.
Q. What kind of tools/software do you currently use for your creations?
Ans: I’m mostly focused on growing Blogging Wizard and a few of my smaller websites right now so I don’t build many websites these days. Most of what I create these days includes new content, landing pages, and opt-in forms. Growth and CRO is a core focus. For content creation, I like to keep things simple with Google Docs. Notion.so helps keep me and my editor organized. Depending on the website, I’ll build landing pages with Leadpages, Thrive Architect or OptimizePress 3.
And for opt-in forms I use either ConvertBox, Thrive Leads or ConvertPro. Every so often I’ll rebuild one of my websites from scratch. I usually like to stick with a lightweight theme such as GeneratePress or Astra. I try to avoid using page builders for building websites where possible. But I’ve been testing Thrive Theme Builder and I’ve been pretty impressed with it so I’m tempted to try it on my personal blog soon.
Q. What interesting feature do you think you would like to see in WordPress and is currently missing?
Ans: Full ‘out of the box’ site building has always been something I wanted to see in WordPress. Fortunately, the way things are heading with Gutenberg means that we’re getting closer. I doubt it will ever be a full replacement for the convenience of page builder plugins but it will provide some incredible possibilities. On the subject of Gutenberg, I would like to see more blocks ship with WordPress as standard. I love the eco-system of blocks plugins that has been created but I like to keep sites as lean as possible and not rely too much on plugins that might stop being maintained at some point.
Q. Out of the current plugins and themes which one do you like the most and why?
Ans: I’m a big fan of GeneratePress and Astra. They’re very customizable and lightweight. They also include starter sites which can be great for getting a head start on building websites. For backups I use BlogVault across all my sites. The ability to spin up staging sites and run backups without slowing down my sites is incredibly useful.
WebARX is another plugin I’ve started to use more in recent years. They seem to be very pro-active when it comes to virtually patching security vulnerabilities. I’m also a big fan of Perfmatters – it’s great for quick performance tweaks beyond the standard ones included by caching plugins.
Q. Which WordPress hosting do you use and would you recommend for your clients and others?
Ans: I manage quite a few different sites so I’ve got sites spread between different web hosts. Most of them are with WPX Hosting because it offers the best balance between price, functionality, and support. If anything goes wrong, I can speak to someone within minutes via live chat. Issues are usually resolved very quick.
They handle malware scanning and removal which negates the need for additional tools that can be expensive. They also include a free CDN and will help with performance optimization when needed. I also have other sites with Kinsta – they’re far more expensive but their hosting is more scalable and support is the best in the industry. My other sites are hosted with Cloudways. Support isn’t as good as WPX or Kinsta but their value for money is incredible. And they have much better PHP worker limits..
Q. Do you like/love what you currently do in WordPress?
Ans: I love what I do but because I am focusing on personal projects, I don’t have as many opportunities to build new websites as I did in the past..
Q. What would you like to do in the future in the current field or somewhere else?
Ans: At some stage in the future, I’d love to get into SaaS development or the development of WordPress products. Whether I’ll have the time given my current work load, I’m not sure. Especially since I’m not a coder, so I’d have a lot to learn.
Q. Can you give us some reference for whom we should conduct an interview next and why?
Ans: Istiak Rayhan of UltimateBlocks.com.