WordPress is So Fascinating That I Tried

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Thabo Tswana

We are today interviewing Thabo Tswana who is a WordPress expert and has immensely contributed to the WordPress community for past several years. We are going to take you through his experience and how did he come to WordPress.

He will also explain why he likes the platform and what he expects to do in future. Read through his interesting interview below. He likes to call himself: WordPress fanboy, community supporter, and never gets tired of watching good movies over and over.

Q. How did you come into your current field? Share a bit of the background?

A. Shortly after learning how to build a static HTML website about 7 years ago, I was employed by an online marketing firm in Harare, Zimbabwe. My job involved managing websites for existing clients and building websites for new clients. Websites were built using CMS and the management’s preference was Joomla!

One day I was assigned to build a site for a local artist, and in searching for a template, I stumbled upon a WordPress theme. That was my first experience with WordPress (WordPress 3.8). Before using WordPress, I had the impression that it was only used for blogging. I had no idea you could use it to make all kinds of websites.

I quickly fell in love with it, and after leaving the company I worked for in 2015, I became a freelancer focused on WordPress site building and site management. WordPress was so fascinating that I tried to read as much as I could about it, following blogs like https://wptavern.com/. This is how I found about an experimental WordCamp Incubator Program that aimed to bring a WordCamp to three new cities where there was no active WordPress community.

I applied to be an organizer and Harare ended up being selected as one of the locations in 2016. Two of the speakers at Harare’s first WordCamp were Automatticians, Job Thomas and Herman Kok. I had heard of Automattic but never thought I had what it took to work for this company. Meeting Job and Herman and talking to them motivated me to apply for a position as a Happiness Engineer. After several failed attempts, I finally got hired by Automattic to be a WordPress.com Happiness Engineer in 2018.

Q. What’s the most interesting project you have done till date in WordPress?

A. Being the lead organizer for WordCamp Harare 2016 & 2017 has to be the contribution that I am most proud of. I had read about WordPress events all over the world but never thought that this would be feasible in Zimbabwe. I also had no idea that the WordPress project had such a large community and that anyone could be a part of it.

WordCamp Harare allowed me to get to know amazing people from all over the world that I would have never come in contact with. It also built a community that gets together to share their knowledge, and to meet other WordPress users in the area. I like to believe that the small part I played in helping to bring WordCamp to Harare has had a lasting impact on the WordPress community in Harare.

Q. Have you ever been to any WordPress meetups or WordCamps? If yes did you learn anything useful?

A. I have been to WordCamps in Harare and South Africa, but the most memorable was being a speaker at WordCamp Europe 2017. This experience taught me that all WordPress users have an experience that someone needs to hear.

I also found that the WordPress Community celebrates all successes, no matter how big or small. I also got a chance to see the way more experienced organizers run WordCamps. This knowledge was so helpful when we organized WordCamp Harare 2017.
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Q. What does your workstation look like?

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A. My work environment is pretty basic at the moment. It consists of a MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2017) sitting on a laptop stand. I also have a wireless Bluetooth keyboard and an ergonomic wireless mouse. My desk is not that big, but once I buy a bigger desk, I hope to get a monitor so I can be more productive with multiple screens.

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

A. You can do so much already using WordPress, so I can’t think of anything else 🙂

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

A. If I have to pick only one, I’ll say WooCommerce. It is amazing how this one plugin can turn a website into a fully fledged online store right out the box. I enjoy showing people how easy it is to set up.
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Q. Which WordPress hosting do you use and would you recommend for your clients and others?

A. As an employee of Automattic, I have test sites on WordPress.com. I would recommend WordPress.com to anyone who is not a developer and needs managed WordPress hosting.

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

A. Absolutely! I do what I do because I love what I do 🙂 I am passionate about spreading awareness of this awesome CMS and helping others learn more about it. Since I now work in customer support, I get to help people every day. Also I work for a company that encourages learning and I love advancing my WordPress skills.
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Q. What would you like to do in the future in the current field or somewhere else?

A. I am currently trying to learn more about WordPress development, like building themes from scratch and plugin development. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to contribute more to the development of WordPress software.

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

A. Mary Job would be a great person to interview. She organized the first WordCamp in Lagos, Nigeria, making her one of the first female WordCamp organizers in Africa. She is very active in the African WordPress community, and also does a lot of work promoting African women in tech. https://profiles.wordpress.org/mariaojob/

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SKT Posts Team shares exciting WordPress themes, plugins and other WordPress related news for our viewers. We also post selected WordPress developers interviews from time to time.

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