David is a 20 year digital veteran and former WordPress agency owner who serves as VP of Growth at WP Engine, the world’s leading premium platform for WordPress. David’s also embarks on various special missions to support WordPress and the open source community.
Q. How did you come into your current field? Share a bit of the background?
Ans: My career started in 1996 when I met someone who owned an ISP & web host while I was working a college job one semester. I wasn’t overly technical at the time, but I knew some computer words, and the owner of the ISP needed people who knew computer words. He hired me a week later.
Over the next 15 years I worked in every aspect of the ISP & hosting space including support, billing, system operations, advertising, sales, and of course digital growth including leading teams of designers, developers, and digital marketers.
In 2010 I founded a 22-person WordPress agency focusing on digital growth which serviced clients globally. In 2015 I exited the agency business through an asset acquisition and joined the WP Engine team directly (WP Engine had been a client of my agency).
Since joining WP Engine in 2015, I’ve served as leader of many teams, projects, and initiatives. My current role is as VP of Growth where my teams focus on helping SMB customers discover and materially benefit from the value of WP Engine in their business.
Q. What’s the most interesting project you have done to date in WordPress?
Ans: One of my favorite projects is the work the WP Engine Labs team (which I lead) did with Cloudflare on CF’s video-streaming CDN. The plugin allows WordPress sites to store videos in the Cloudflare video CDN and make those videos available to users via the same CDN. This reduces storage needs for the WordPress site and delivers a much faster experience for visitors watching videos on the site. You can check out the plugin the WPE Labs team built with Cloudflare here… https://wordpress.org/plugins/cloudflare-stream/
Q. Have you ever been to any WordPress meetups or WordCamps? If yes did you learn anything useful?
Ans: I’ve been to tons of WordPress meetups and WordCamps. While I often learn valuable things in the talks and presentations, I find the most useful things I learn are in conversations with others.
Having the ability to trade notes, ask questions, and compare strategies with others in a live environment can lead to insights simply consuming content could never deliver.
My workstation consists of one large monitor and a laptop stand to allow me to use my laptop as a second monitor. I use an ergonomic keyboard which works wonders at reducing typing fatigue and an 8 button mouse with custom programmed buttons which help me reduce steps in my standard workflows.
I also have a somewhat high-end webcam and mic since I often record podcasts, webinars, and other digital events.
Q. What kind of tools/software do you currently use for your creations?
Ans: One of my favorite tools these days is using Local (localwp.com) for my local development environment and the WordPress block editor for building out content in WordPress.
Q. What interesting feature do you think you would like to see in WordPress and is currently missing?
Ans: I’d like to see more optionality around activating / deactivating elements in WordPress. By sake of example to deactivate emoji in WordPress you have to either modify code or install a plugin. It would be nice if disabling certain features had a setting in /wp-admin.
Q. Out of the current plugins and themes which one do you like the most and why?
Ans: I have a lot of favorites, but if someone asks me “what’s my favorite plugin for X”, I typically refer to the WP Engine Solution Center found at https://wpengine.com/solution-center. All of the plugins & themes in that directory have been scanned for code quality, platform compatibility with WP Engine, and have had a business interview where we confirm the company behind the plugin will continue to support the plugin.
Q. Which WordPress hosting do you use and would you recommend for your clients and others?
Ans: Well I work for WP Engine, so I recommend WP Engine and Flywheel. From the high-level, I believe people who care about performance, security, uptime, and scaleability should choose a host who specializes in those areas with WordPress.
Choosing a host that has to support all kinds of websites means that those hosts’ concerns are spread all over the place.
Of course, specialized hosts tend to have better performance than non-specialized, and a faster website leads to higher conversion rates. Brands trying to grow will typically spend a bit more on a managed WordPress host to make sure their business is set up for success with digital growth.
Q. Do you like/love what you currently do in WordPress?
Ans: I do. I personally view my professional life as a vehicle to support my personal life, but I feel blessed that I have such a good time doing what I do 🙂
Q. What would you like to do in the future in the current field or somewhere else?
Ans: I don’t really think too much about my professional future beyond the next year or so. After spending over 20 years in digital I’ve learned that the future is never set. I tend to just make myself available for opportunities and be open to acting on opportunities when I see them. I’m 100% comfortable with ambiguity.
Q. Can you give us some reference for whom we should conduct an interview next and why?
Ans: https://twitter.com/allie_nimmons on diversity in WordPress