WordPress Is Such A Fun And Diverse Platform

Jo Minney

Jo Minney

Today we are going to conduct the interview of Jo Minney from the Greater Perth Area. She is a Website Architect and WordPress Evangelist. She is always passionate to help businesses to succeed plus she loves to help people by creating a beautiful online presence for their businesses. In this interview, she has also shared a small story that how she became a WordPress expert.

I am a small business founder and WordPress developer based (for now) in Perth, Western Australia. I am passionate about UX, data-driven decision making, cats and travel – not necessarily in that order.

If somebody had told me ten years ago that I’d be running a web agency in 2021, I’d have told them they were crazy. With a double degree in Engineering and Chemistry, I had spent some of the best years of my life studying so I could earn big bucks working for mining companies as a process engineer.

I did that – successfully – for nearly a decade, during which time I collaborated on a number of software projects as a product owner.

I also happen to be married to a software developer, so when I decided I needed a break from working in mining my husband and I decided to join forces with me taking on a project management role so he could focus on the technical side of things.

We lasted less than 3 months before we had to choose an alternative path or risk the end of our marriage! I found myself looking for a different way to put the research, development, UX & process management skills I had to use, and so I decided to take a few months to overhaul our website while I decided what I wanted to do. The rest, as they say, is history!

In early 2018 I took over as the coordinator of our local WordPress meetup, which pushed me to learn more about this new platform that had presented me with a surprising career change.

Living and working alongside my husband who has spent half of his life working as a PHP developer made things a lot easier, as I had someone to help me identify the gaps in my knowledge that most WordPress newbies struggle with! It wasn’t long before I was addicted and spending half of my time travelling around the world attending and speaking at WordCamps.

Q. How did you get to know about WordPress? Share if there is an interesting story.

Ans: When we decided to overhaul the websites for my husband’s existing businesses (IT Support and Software Development) I did some research into best practices for web development and options for Content Management Systems.

I came across WordPress again and again, and given that we already had experience working with the WordPress ‘stack’ (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP & SQL) it seemed like a great fit.

It took a bit of convincing to get him on board – but once I did I overhauled both of his horrible old static websites and started running blogs for both businesses. Soon, his clients started asking about his sexy new websites and they became MY first clients. I’ve come a long way since then!

Q. What’s the most interesting project you have done to date in WordPress? What were your responsibilities?

Ans: My agency works a lot with organisations (e.g. Destination Marketing Organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations and Non-Profits) and we do a lot of integration work.

Recently we launched a destination marketing website for Tourism Rockingham that includes an interactive map, accommodation booking facility, local business directory, and integration with the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse.

It was a gigantic project but we (and they) were very excited with the result! You can check it out at visitrockingham.com.au.

Q. Have you ever been to any WordPress meetups or WordCamps? Share your thoughts on WordPress Community.

Ans: So many! I run the Perth WordPress Meetup, and I’ve spoken at 5 WordCamps so far (two international and three in Australia). I was also confirmed as the lead organiser for the first ever WordCamp Perth, however we were forced to cancel due to COVID-19.
wordcamp - Jo Minney
I am an active member on the Make WordPress slack channel, and I was set to be a speaker and table lead for the Training team at WP Asia before it got cancelled! The WordPress community is my single favourite thing about the platform.

Q. How does your workstation look like? Can you send us a picture?

Ans: haha ALWAYS messier than I’d like… regardless of where I am! I use a Microsoft Surface Laptop so that I can work from pretty much anywhere, but I’m stuck at my home workstation at the moment due to lockdown. I can definitely send you a picture, the best thing about my home workstation is that it includes a very fluffy kitty.
workspace - Jo Minney

Q. What interesting feature do you think you would like to see in WordPress and is currently missing?

Ans: haha OH I have a wishlist. My top three are:
1. Incorporate a ‘duplicate post’ function into core. It’s ridiculous that this isn’t a default feature and it’s always the first plugin I end up installing when I work on a new site!
2. Gutenberg developers – pretty please give us a way to easily remove the button styling from the block editor for specific user roles. My clients should not be allowed to make design decisions, they’re not very good at it 😀
3. A nice ‘post’ block that allows users to display a grid of posts (bonus if it allows custom post types and/or filtering). It would really open up the block editor to start replacing page builders for simpler sites. My current favourite is the Getwid Blocks which gets pretty close.

Q. Out of the current plugins and themes which one do you like the most and why?

Ans: Loaded question! I love plugins & themes that are lightweight and do something really specific, really well. In that category, I’d say that my favourite themes are OceanWP and GeneratePress.

For plugins, pretty much every site I work on includes Yoast Duplicate Post, Regenerate Thumbnails, Redirection and Relevanssi. I also have a ‘default stack’ of plugins that I typically pull from as needed – these include Search & FIlter Pro, Gravity Forms, Pods (we’re both friends of Pods and contributors) and Admin Columns Pro.

Oh and pretty much every site we work on I immediately install Admin Page Spider and Admin Menu Editor, because I’m a firm believer in optimising the dashboard to make it as user friendly as possible!

Q. Any awesome technology you want to share other than WordPress?

Ans: Pods. If you haven’t discovered the power of Custom Post Types, Taxonomies and fields yet you are missing out on what makes WordPress so special.

I love the Pods community and the fact that they have stayed open source rather than pursuing a Freemium model. They need both supporters and volunteers so if you have time to give back to the community please check out the Pods project!

Q. Do you like/love what you currently do in WordPress?

Ans: Definitely Love! I think WordPress opens so many opportunities and it’s such a fun and diverse platform.

Q. Where do you find yourself after 5 years

Ans: Who knows? Hopefully travelling. I don’t plan on expanding my business, we’re pretty happy with our niche and having a small, close knit and remote team. I’d like to think I’ll have more free time by then to contribute to Open Source projects and finally get my head around React 😀

Q. Share something about your life other than work

Ans: I teach people to dance for their wedding as a side gig/passion project. I taught dancing all the way through university.

I never really did it for the money (it doesn’t pay particularly well!) but I’ve loved dancing since I could walk. I also play the guitar and the ukelele, and I have a very fluffy cat named ‘Lol’ (we adopted her so please don’t judge the name!) who is arguably the most important person in my life.

Q. To whom you give credit for your success?

Ans: That would be a three way tie between myself (hey, I work hard!), my amazing husband who has been super supportive, and the amazing WordPress community who welcomed me with open arms.

Q. Can you give us some reference for whom we should conduct an interview next and why?

Ans: I’m super inspired by people in our community doing amazing things for the heck of it, and not to make a quick buck.

Anybody that is an active contributor to an open source project – like Scott Kingsley Clark or Jim True from Pods, or any of the fantastic contributors on WordPress.org (especially those NOT employed to do so but who are self-funded). Also anyone promoting women in tech – we still make up a scarily small percentage of the industry.

Q. How do you reward yourself?

Ans: Travel! If I can’t travel, chilling in my craft room and/or drinking wine 😉

Q. Any suggestion for WordPress beginners?

Ans: Go to meetups. Don’t feel like you have to go it alone, there are so many people out there willing to help you learn the ropes. If your local community doesn’t have an active meetup (or lockdown doesn’t allow face to face in your region) then there are dozens of online meetups every week.

Don’t listen to the haters – some people love judging and being condescending whether it’s because you’re not a ‘real developer’ or because you use a plugin they don’t like. Learn from the feedback but try not to take it to heart (and if you are one of those people being super critical, try to be a little friendlier!)

Lastly, be prepared to make mistakes. The first time I tried to create a WordPress website I had NO IDEA what the difference was between WordPress.org and WordPress.com, and ended up tangled in a disaster of my own creation. You learn from your mistakes and they make you better for it.

About Shri Posts

Shri PostsShri shares exciting WordPress themes, plugins and other WordPress related news for our viewers. He also posts selected WordPress developers interviews from time to time.

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