Welcome back to another edition of Pagely’s 8 Questions series. Every week we’ll be interviewing one of the best known faces in the world of WordPress. Today it’s the turn of developer and all-round WordPress expert, Devin Price.
Dev is best known in WordPress circles for his excellent WP Theming website, where you’ll regularly find Dev writing high level tutorials on all things WordPress. As well as this, Dev also sells themes via the fantastic DevPress theme shop, and you can follow him on Twitter, @devinsays.
Today’s interview follows the same format as usual; we’ll be learning a little about how Dev became involved with the WordPress community, what he foresees for the future of the CMS, and Dev will be sharing some useful tips for anyone starting out.
A huge thanks to Dev for taking the time to answer our questions! This is what he had to say:
For readers less familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself and your WordPress background?
I’ve been building WordPress themes for about 8 years. I started WP Theming to write about theming topics, I’ve released a number of little code libraries and tutorials to help other theme authors, and now I build commercial themes for DevPress.
You’ve been in the WordPress community for several years now, but could you tell us how you first became involved with WordPress?
My first real introduction to the community was at WordCamp Portland in 2008. Jen Mylo (of Automattic) gave a presentation about the evolution of the WordPress interface and how they were doing user testing for the upcoming WordPress 2.7 release. I loved the focus usability and simplicity, and I really connected with the mission of the project. I also got to meet a lot of great developers and business owners at that first event who I still talk with and see at various WordCamps.
During your time in the community, what different areas have you been involved with?
I’ve spoken at a few WordCamps, released a few themes and plugins on wordpress.org, and occasionally help out with the theme review team — but what I enjoy most is writing tutorials and sharing what I’ve learned along the way. It’s really fun to meet people at WordPress events who say they’ve read something on my site that has saved them a couple hours of development time.
What has been the best thing about working with WordPress for you?
WordPress has a terrific community of people and some really smart developers. The best thing for me is being able to learn something new every day and contribute (in a very small way) to a project that effects millions of people.
How has the WordPress community changed since you started?
It’s definitely grown. There’s a lot more events, a huge commercial ecosystem (from hosts to plugins), and a much bigger user base — but I still feel like the community is incredibly welcoming. I went to the first WordCamp in San Antonio this year and it was terrific to meet people who were completely new the platform and excited about it.
What advice would you give to anyone getting started with WordPress? Which direction would you yourself go if you were starting over again?
I think having mentors is really valuable. If I was just starting off, I’d try to find a company or agency that had experienced people to offer code review and help me grow my skills. It’s also incredibly valuable to contribute to other people’s projects if you can — that’s how I’ve learned from and met a lot of great developers in this community.
What do you think the biggest mistakes WordPress website owners are making?
When you’re first learning a new tool like WordPress, a few missteps are inevitable. The most important thing is to have good backups. It’s heartbreaking to lose content and data, so have a plan in place for when you accidentally delete that database or someone nefarious finds a security exploit. A great managed host can help with that, or services like VaultPress.
What do you think the future of WordPress holds? What would you like to see?
In terms of the community, I love seeing better language support in core and the growth of non-English installs. I think it’s inevitable that WordPress will become more global and diverse.
Another huge thanks to Dev for providing a great set of answers for us to digest.
Although many experienced WordPress developers have ambitions to run their own agency, don’t be afraid to start small and earn your stripes. If you can keep improving your skills while working alongside other people on their projects, you’ll have everything you need to take the jump when the time feels right. Most successful WordPress developers start this way, and it’s an excellent way to network and involve yourself in the community, which, while rewarding in itself, can really pay off down the line.
I hope you enjoyed this installment 8 Questions, and we’ll be back again next week with another WordPress big hitter!