Interview with Brian Richards

Tell us a bit about yourself:

I am a graphic designer turned web designer turned web developer. I’m one of those weird ones who can understand the principals of design as well as code. I got a degree in Photography just so I could go to college and have fun, and that was a very good choice. In addition to all my independent work I also have served with several ministries all around the country.

 

Please share a brief history of your work with WordPress:

In 2009 I decided to release my core theme framework, StartBox, for the general public. I then spent 9 months rewriting much of it, adding and improving functionality, in-line documentation and an external codex and training resources. StartBox was already two years old and had been put to work on more than 50 sites before it ever graced the hands of another developer.

 

Here we are, one year later, and StartBox is now being used by hundreds of developers around the globe. I am very excited for what is in store for the year to come! I’ll be announcing a couple of surprises at WordCamp :)

 

What is your favorite plugin?

Gravity Forms, hands down. I install it on absolutely every site and have used it for some pretty incredible things.

 

A very close runner-up is BackupBuddy. I also install this on every site and am most thankful for it’s robust feature set.

 

Tell us about your latest WP project:

I can’t, yet :)

 

Share one WP tip:

Unlocking the power of hooks and filters will give you master control over every aspect of WordPress.

 

What inspires you?

The incredible mountain of talented designers and developers within our community. They’re all truly awe-inspiring. If I were half as talented as some of these guys I would be able to do so much more.

 

Any tips for people just getting started with Blogging or using WP?

Read, a lot. Then, if you’re serious about something, commit to it with steadfast dedication — especially in the face of failure or difficulty.

 

Do you have a WP hero?

Several! In no particular order: Jason Schuller, Carl Hancock, Ian Stewart, Justin Tadlock, Drew Strojny, Andrea and Ron Rennick, Ryan Imel and Andrew Nacin. They, and their work, simply amaze me. (that’s not even all of them)

 

What is your motto?

Be a blessing.

 

What is the funniest or most informative tweet you ever wrote or read?

Read: “The iPhone has forever changed the way I poop.” Threadless web made a shirt from it.

 

What is your favorite restaurant or club in Chicago?

Brazzaz Brazilian Steakhouse – an incredible place where you are descended upon by a SWAT team of meat. If you eat here, don’t make plans for afterward. All you’ll be able to do is nap.

 

What is your idea of success?

Enjoying how I spend every day while doing something meaningful with my time.

 

Why did you choose your topic for WC Chicago?

I’ve seen a number of people question and struggle with creating a business. Uncertainty about what to charge (if they should at all), doubt about their own abilities, fear of failure, etc. I know all about it, because I was there.

 

What do you hope the attendees will get out of going to your session?

A better sense of confidence and control over their situation; an increased awareness of the tools and resources available to them; a sense of reassurance that any idiot can do this (many have!), but only determined individuals will succeed. The WordPress community is both wide and deep, there is space for everyone to contribute and create improvements.

 

Contact Info:

@rzen

@wpstartbox

WPStartBox.com

Posted in 2011 Blog, Member Stories, Speakers, WCChicago 2011 | Comments Off

Interview with David Tufts

Tell us a bit about yourself:

I was born and raised in Brazil and have lived in the US for the past 18 years.  I met my wife while attending college in Florida, and we now live in Grand Rapids, Michigan where we are raising our 6 great kids.  I have been in software development for 12 years and web development for about 7 years.  I have worked as the Web Producer for a large non-profit for the past four years while also starting my own business with a couple of partners.  I am neither a WordPress guru, ninja, black-belt, author, or a consultant, and I have been know to forget to capitalize the “P” in WordPress from time-to-time.  However, I do use WordPress daily in all areas of my life ranging from personal projects to complex business implementations.

 

Please share a brief history of your work with WordPress:

I launched my first WordPress blog about 5 years ago when my mother wanted a personal website.  It was mind-numbingly easy compared to other web publishing tools out there, so I was sold.  I have since launched dozens of WordPress sites and have convinced dozens of people to use WordPress as their CMS.  The success story doesn’t end there, many of the sites that I have helped launch and/or migrate have seen significant increases in traffic and in revenue as a direct result of moving to WordPress.

 

What is your favorite plugin?

I have enjoyed using BuddyPress and wp-ecommerce lately, but I really have a thing for home grown custom plugins.

 

Tell us about your latest WP project:

I am in the process of releasing a plugin, now called KickPress, to the market which I have been using for the past 18 months on several projects including odb.orgutmost.orgchristiancourses.comdiscoveryseries.orggetmorestrength.org, and the soon to be released redesign of rbc.org (alpha.rbcministries.org still in alpha) that has many great features that I can’t wait to demonstrate during the session.

 

What inspires you?

A passion for learning, creativity, and problem solving.

 

Any tips for people just getting started with using WP?

Don’t be afraid to spend money on a well written premium theme, it will save you a lot of time and hassle.

 

What do you like about Chicago?

Our family really enjoys making memories in Chicago.  My favorite location is the Buckingham Fountain where my wife and I were engaged in ’96, and my favorite adventure was running the Chicago Marathon with my wife in ’03.

 

What is your idea of success?

Being the best that you can be in your given field.

 

Why did you choose your topic for WC Chicago?

“Beyond the Theme” describes my WordPress journey over the past few years as I have implemented some very complex corporate web strategies.  At the heart of most of these strategies is the need to have WordPress work more like an API centric content repository than a blog.  I believe that others will see great value in this topic as well.

 

What do you hope the attendees will get out of going to your session?

Throughout the talk several real world examples using a WordPress based API will be reviewed so that by the end of the session there will be clear and tangible ways that theme and plugin developers can integrate these simple concepts into their next WordPress project.

 

Contact information:

@davidscotttufts

 

Posted in 2011 Blog, Member Stories, Speakers, WCChicago 2011 | Comments Off

Interview with Becky Davis

Please share a brief history of your company (or your work with WordPress):

I’ve been working with WP for 3 years now, this past year it has become the main focus of my web design business.

 

What is your favorite plugin?

So many! Right now, Photospace

 

Tell us about your latest WP project:

E-commerce site for a jewelry designer.

 

Share one WP tip:

Set up a local multi-site for development (thanks Jeff)

 

What inspires you?

Sharing knowledge and learning from others

 

Any tips for people just getting started with Blogging or using WP?

Dive in, but don’t be afraid to ask for help

 

Do you have a WP hero?

Chris Coyier, Aaron Jorbin

 

What is your motto?

Focus on the service, not the money

 

What is your favorite restaurant or club in Chicago?

The Daily in Lincoln Square is my hangout

 

What is your idea of success?

Making my clients happy and having enough cash left over to have some fun.

 

Why did you choose your topic for WC Chicago?

I learned a lot about shopping carts and how to make functional and beautiful this year, wanted to share.

 

What do you hope the attendees will get out of going to your session?

A better idea of what to look for in a shopping plug-in.

 

Contact Information:

becky@beckydavisdesign, @beckyddesign

 

Posted in 2011 Blog, Member Stories, Speakers, WCChicago 2011 | Comments Off

Interview with Andy Stratton

Tell us a bit about yourself:

 

I’m a freelance WordPress developer from Baltimore, MD. I co-founded Sizeable Spaces, a coworking space in South Baltimore’s Federal Hill and I’m the principal of a web studio called Sizeable Interactive. I’m a Zend Certified PHP Engineer and also specialize in HTML(5), CSS(3) and do a fair amount of Javascript, favoring jQuery.

 

I’m currently becoming obsessed with the JFDI and coworking movements and can’t wait to see where the next year takes me and my friends/partners.

 

When it comes to WordPress, I’m kind of a purist and loud proponent of NOT replacing or corrupting core WordPress behavior. I strongly believe you should respect the principles of development that the WordPress core team and community have tried to instill as well as respect the work of other professionals in the WP community by creating themes and plugins that play nice with other themes, plugins and use the as many of the built-in API’s as possible.

Sizeable is the formal arm of my freelancing career. It’s a cooperative of like-minded professionals that rival traditional web design agencies. We’ve all been working with WordPress for over 5 years and each have at least 8-10 years of experience building websites.

 

We’re fun, passionate and dedicated to our work. We love kicking ass for our clients.

Right now, it’s a tie between Gravity Forms and the Debug Bar/Debug Bar Console. I guess let’s say those are my current favorite premium and free plugins.

My latest WordPress project was to build a highly customized theme for Bike New York (www.bikenewyork.org). I implemented their design agency’s front-end code into a fresh WP theme and customized with tons of custom post types to support the many content types they need to manage.

 

Their staff was extremely non-technical but had some pretty complex functional requirements (like, dynamic sidebar content managed on a per-page basis; per-page and per-section custom sub-navigation that did not follow section page hierarchies, and more). Using WordPress, they are able to edit almost every aspect of their site, including setting custom pagination limits on archive sections, photo galleries, user stories, and more.

 

Share one WP tip:

 

Learn and use nonce’s.

 

What inspires you?

 

Mark Jaquith ripping apart my (and @sivel’s) Page Restrict plugin at WC Miami. It inspired me to never stop learning about both development best practices and WP best practices. You’re never done learning and you can always do better. Aim high.

Just starting with WP? Play around, setup a local development environment (MAMP is a great way to get started), duplicate TwentyEleven or another plugin, and start auditing and editing them to see how they work. Check out tutorials at

I’m going to say @sivel (Matt Martz). He’s a good friend, great presenter and extremely knowledgable about most things tech. He’s great at coming up with ideas and proof of concept work and a core contributor. He’s one of my first real life WP friends, too, even though we were friends before working on WP projects together.

 

What is your motto?

 

“It’s your job to kick ass.” — though, it’s quickly turning into JFDI (Just F*cking Do It), but that’s shared by many now.

“We don’t really know fingerprints are unique, so obey the law.” — @theandystratton

I don’t find it funny, but interesting: at SXSW 2009 I partied too hard, rode a mechanical bull, and wound up with a 2-month long arm injury. Never drink and ride.

 

Who is the most interesting person you have met through social media?

 

Jennifer Finch, a WordPress designer/dev from LA. She’s an awesome chick and has an awesome back story and knows/knew some of my favorite artists. I also quoted a project for a guy who was on True Blood once, it fell through and I had no idea who he was, but did recognize him from his role in Temors 2 and his BlackBerry commercial.

 

What is your favorite restaurant or club in Chicago?

 

Hub/Sub 51. And anywhere with tots.

 

What is your idea of success?

 

Loving your day and the people in it.

 

Why did you choose your topic for WC Chicago?

 

I’m very, very passionate about it and it was a topic that received rave reviews from most attendees at

 

What do you hope the attendees will get out of going to your session?

 

A better understanding of issues with marketplace themes, a demystification about why themes that tout (or that have a sub-community) touting their SEO benefits are not required for great rankings, and a better understanding of using context to build quality WordPress sites.

 

Contact info:

hello@theandystratton.com

http://theandystratton.com

http://twitter.com/theandystratton

http://linkedin.com/in/theandystratton

http://www.sizeablespaces.org

 

Posted in 2011 Blog, Member Stories, Speakers, WCChicago 2011 | Comments Off

Interview with Rachel Baker

What is your favorite plugin?

Gravity Forms, it is amazing what you can do with that plugin. BackupBuddy is a close second.

 

Tell us about your latest WP project:

We developed a custom WordPress theme for Cerrio (http://www.cerrio.com)- a visual platform for building web applications and mashup data sets.  The theme features a custom post type for their Documentation pages, and uses the SyntaxMarkup plugin to allow development code to be displayed with markup coloring.

 

What inspires you?

Building websites that I am proud of and that are as simple as possible for non-technical users to edit and update.

 

Any tips for people just getting started with Blogging or using WP?

Go to Posts->Add New and start typing.

 

Do you have a WP hero?

Andrew Nacin, he is a code mad-man.  I admire how he handles WordPress issues with others in the community and I am constantly in awe of his ability to resolve Trac tickets in bunches.

 

What is your motto?

Make the website as easy as possible for the non-technical user to edit and update.

 

Who is the most interesting person you have met through social media?

My partner @silverbell, she is smarter and nerdier than me.  She made me laugh on Twitter, before we meet in real-life.

 

What is your favorite restaurant or club in Chicago?

Hopleaf – a gastropub with more kinds of beer than I can ever drink.  I hear they also have great mussels, but I start with the beer and end with the apple fritters.

 

What is your idea of success?

Matt Mullenweg knowing my name.

 

Why did you choose your topic for WC Chicago?

I knew that wanted to talk about something a little different than a traditional “Developer” topic.  While doing the development on a WordPress project with 4 other companies – each responsible for other components of the website – I thought of doing a talk on WordPress Development Project Management.

Posted in 2011 Blog, Member Stories, Speakers, WCChicago 2011 | Comments Off

Interview with Bob Dunn

Tell us a bit about yourself:

I’m an avid Mac user, social media fanatic and cat lover. I’ve been married to a writer for 28 years and we live on a small island in Puget Sound, Washington state.

 

Please share a brief history of your company or your work with WordPress:

Cat’s Eye Marketing, our first company, provided graphic design, copywriting and marketing support for clients in the greater Puget Sound area for 20 years.We did mostly print design in the early years, with a major refocus on web design 11 years ago.

Three years ago, I started looking at CMS software and was immediately drawn to WordPress—and I haven’t looked back since.  Although I still design some websites and blogs by referral, my true passion is in training and support end users. That expanded part of the business, bobwp.com, is now where I spend most of my time: in helping individual clients with online support and training, as well as training and teaching business and corporate clients in onsite settings. In the last 16 months, I have taught and presented more than 60 WordPress-focused workshops.

 

What is your favorite plugin?

Aw, come on. Just one? Okay, of the premium plugins, it’s a tie between Backup Buddy and Gravity Forms. In the category of free, I love the ease of Vipers Video Quicktags and what jQuery LIghtbox for Native Galleries does with the WordPress default gallery.

 

Tell us about your latest WP project:

Well, I have several going on, but the one I most excited about is a series of webinars I will be doing this fall on WordPress, as well as some more local hands-on workshops.

 

Share one WP tip:

This one is short and sweet: Back up!

 

What inspires you?

Teaching and helping others. I love it when I am teaching a workshop and suddenly I hear this small, barely audible expression of surprise from the back of the room. Someone has had an “ah ha” moment.

 

Any tips for people just getting started with Blogging or using WP?

Yes. With WordPress, don’t give up. And blog only if you have the interest. Because otherwise, you won’t be able to sustain it. If you force it, your blog won’t succeed. It will just be a thorn in your side.

 

Do you have a WP hero?

Too many to list.

 

What is your motto?

The glass is half full.

 

What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you at a conference?

I noticed a very young, somewhat nervous, man standing by himself. It seemed like he was finding it hard to strike up a conversation with someone. I introduced myself and we had a nice talk. About halfway through, he looked at me and said, “Wow, I didn’t expect so many ‘old’ people here. It kind of freaks me out.”

 

Who is the most interesting person you have met through social media?

Danny Brown

 

What is your idea of success?

A client who says to me, “Now I really get this WordPress thing!”

 

Why did you choose your topic for WC Chicago?

I work with a lot of startup bloggers and businesses who want to use WordPress. A user-friendly site is imperative to their success.

 

What do you hope the attendees will get out of going to your session?

Ideas that they can walk away with and implement—now.

 

How can we reach you?

bob@bobwp.com

http://twitter.com/#!/bobWP

http://www.linkedin.com/in/bobdunn1

http://www.facebook.com/SavvyWordPress

http://biznik.com/members/bob-dunn

Posted in 2011 Blog, Member Stories, Speakers, WCChicago 2011 | Comments Off