Today, Pagely was lucky enough to interview 10up’s WordPress big hitter, Chris Wiegman. Chris is probably best known as a WordPress security pioneer, as the developer of the fantastic iThemes Security plugin. He is also a valued member of the WordPress community as a whole, with heavy involvement in a variety of WordPress events.
As well as iThemes Security — or Better WP Security, as it was originally known — Chris has developed a number of high quality, free plugins which are available from the WordPress repository. If you want to see more of Chris’ work, head over to the 10up website for a look at some of the great things he and the team are doing. You can also learn more about what makes Chris tick by checking out his personal blog, ChrisWiegman.com, or by following him on Twitter, @ChrisWiegman.
In today’s interview, Chris will be discussing all things WordPress, so let’s get on with it, shall we? A huge thank you to Chris for his time, here 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 am currently a Senior Web Engineer for 10up working on various projects for enterprise-level WordPress clients. Before this I built the iThemes Security (Better WP Security) plugin. I have worked as a WordPress developer in various roles from Higher Education to agencies, I’ve been a technical editor for books on WordPress and other development topics and I have taught computer science at the University level. Believe it or not my whole tech career is only actually 8 years old though, before which I was a captain for a small airline in Hawaii.
You’ve been in the WordPress community for several years now, but could you tell us how you first became involved with WordPress?
I was working on Drupal sites for Southern Illinois University and needed a somewhat turn-key solution for supplementary sites such as those for faculty and student groups and WordPress fit the role perfectly. The more I worked on that system the more I saw value in the WordPress community, particularly as a product developer so I started writing plugins including Better WP Security and the rest is history.
During your time in the community, what different areas have you been involved with?
In addition to being a developer I’ve also been a co-organizer of the Austin WordPress Meetup and WordCamp Austin and I am a current organizer of the Sarasota WordPress group. I’ve spoken at WordCamps and Meetups from Main to San Diego and have served on the WordPress Meta team as a moderator for http://jobs.wordpress.net.
What has been the best thing about working with WordPress for you?
The community. In no other eco-system have I seen people from such diverse backgrounds work together at such enormous scale. If it wasn’t for the community and the people in it I would sure be working in something else today.
How has the WordPress community changed since you started?
It has surely matured however, as they say, the more things change the more they stay the same. This has particularly rang true with the most important ingredients in WordPress: momentum and the drive to make it better. Everything else is just part of the natural evolution of any project.
What advice would you give to anyone getting started with WordPress? Which direction would you yourself go if you were starting over again?
Get involved and build something. Put out small plugins, get involved with the community, etc. There is so much support available to those working in WordPress and all you have to do is accept it.
If I was to do this again I don’t think my path would be much different however I would surely have avoided some of the mistakes I’ve made (most likely in favor of entirely new mistakes).
What do you think the biggest mistakes WordPress website owners are making?
Undervaluing their sites. So many think that because WordPress is free so should the rest be. This attitude can be detrimental on so many levels and is something that needs to be addressed at some point by the community itself.
What do you think the future of WordPress holds? What would you like to see?
Like all products it will continue to evolve. As the code base grows and becomes more complex I hope we’ll see it taken more seriously for the capabilities it does have as well as for the really smart people who make the project what it has become and what it will be.
A big, big thanks to Chris Wiegman for providing us some excellent answers. It’s great to see so another perspective on the WordPress community as a whole, as well as an insight into the journey a well-respected community member has taken in his career so far.
As always, we’ll end the article with those all-important links just in case you’ve missed them. Be sure to check out Chris and the other team’s work over at 10up, head over to his personal blog, ChrisWiegman.com, or get in touch with him on Twitter, @ChrisWiegman.
Thanks for reading, we’ll be back with another interview with a major WordPress player next week.