Andrew Norcross – WP Heavy Hitter

In this edition of WP Heavy Hitters we are proud to showcase Andrew Norcross. Andrew is a good hearted, trend setter. Don’t let his quiet demeanor fool you because when he talks and shares info, people listen. Andrew won Pagely’s grand Birthday prize and will enjoy a trip to WordCamp San Diego on us. His brilliant mind uncovered the identity of our infamous support tech, El Furioso and will be part of the posse rolling into SD. If you’re at WordCamp SD be sure to say hello.

Andrew Norcross

Andrew Norcross
Tag line: “Full of piss and vinegar. And coffee. Lots of coffee.”

Knock Outs:

Reaktiv Studios,
BlueGlass Interactive, Inc,
WordCamp speaker,
Dad, Themes, Plugins,

Power Move: Jedi Mind Trick – Always remain calm and collected, but I will make it happen.

Training Facilities: Reaktiv Studios BlueGlass Interactive, Inc WordCamp speaker Dad Themes Plugins Tutorials

When and why did you start working with WordPress?

I had installed a server on an old computer. I had initially installed Movable Type, but found it horrible to work with. So I installed WP, having never touched a line of PHP in my life. It all went from there. Did favors for friends while I worked in banking / finance, then started doing a bit of side work here and there to help pay the bills when my son was born. Soon enough I was able to ditch finance completely and make a go of this.

You run a firm called Reaktiv Studios. Are you passionate about client service? Why and why not?

I am passionate about building awesome things. Themes, plugins, or whathave you. While I certainly don’t enjoy pissing clients off, I’ll be the first to admit that dealing with people isn’t my strong suit. I’ve had a VA for about a year and a half who handles most of the client interaction, and for good reason. She’s much better at it than I am.

You seem to be more of a Thesis man than a Genesis guy. Why the preference?

When I started getting a decend hand on this stuff, Genesis didn’t exist yet, so there wasn’t much of a decision to make. Thesis was the only framework at the time that I found useful (there were others, but they didn’t make as much sense to me). I’m still partial to Thesis because the development methodology matches how I prefer to do things, although I do a decent amount of Genesis builds as well. I’m framework agnostic, though. I use whatever tool fits the job. I still “roll my own” about 50% of the time, esp for complex sites (ecommerce and BuddyPress mainly).

How many languages can you code in? Which do you find one superior and why?

I code in PHP, and I know a bit of javascript / jQuery (obviously HTML / CSS, but those don’t count). I’ve always wanted to get my hands dirty in other languages, but alas I haven’t had the time.

Any SEO tidbits you’d like to share?

Other than keep the site design clean and fast, my SEO advice is always to hire a professional if it’s something that really matters.

You’ve developed many plugins. Which do you think is most useful?

Based on usage, the FAQ Manager is probably the most useful. It’s a pretty common need on business sites, and using it allows the user to keep the content better organized and let the area grow as needed.

You speak and attend many WordCamps. What’s your favorite topic to talk about and why?

It really depends on the crowd. The talk I gave in Boston on dealing with clients had nothing (directly) WordPress related, but I got a lot of awesome feedback from it. Beyond that, I enjoy going over topics that other developers would find helpful moreso than general users. I know that for myself, I sometimes get stuck in doing things a certain way and when another dev points something out that makes my life easier, I’m always appreciative.

You have many tattoos. Do you have a favorite and what does it mean to you?

This is gonna sound bad (for some people), but my tattoos don’t have any deep-seeded meaning. They’re as much for the art than anything else. Although, the eagle / anchor I got in my grandfather’s memory is probably my favorite.

Is there something that your grandfather taught you that you use daily in your work/ life?

Actually, yes. Two things.
1. The world doesn’t owe you anything. It was here first.
2. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re in for a long, lonely life.

How do you balance work with being a parent?

It’s hard. God damn it’s hard. Its easy to get lost in a project and forget that there’s another world other than my screen. One of the biggest adjustments was coming to terms with the fact that my kids (ages 7, 4, and 4) don’t give a shit what time I went to bed, or if I have a code problem rolling around in my head. So I’ve gotten much better at walking away from my work when it’s time for family. We all eat dinner together every night, and I make it a point to spend time with each of them individually just so they don’t feel as though I’m not a part of their lives. Even though they drive me insane, my kids mean more to me than anything.

What makes WordPress so bad ass?

The fact that it can basically do anything, if you’re willing to think it through and build it. I’ve put together sites that folks never believed were WP, because their function was outside the normal blog / site scope. Photo managers, a CRM, a digital “business card” just to name a few.

Where do you see WordPress going in the future?

I see it becoming more refined and more “modular” in nature. Custom Post Types and Taxonomies did a lot for that, allowing people to build features that do and act how they want, without having to ‘work around’ existing structure. Beyond that, I think the sky’s the limit.

Thanks Andrew for allowing me to showcase your valuable WordPress contributions. See you in San Diego.

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  1. Great interview. I saw Norcross at WordCamp Phoenix, and in my opinion he had the most entertaining presentation at the conference. He seems to have a great attitude and philosophy on life and web development.

  2. Really enjoyed this interview, thanks for posting it!

    I was particularly interested in Andrew’s “roll me own” comment. I’ve been looking at e-commerce plugins for WP for quite some time now and although they all seem pretty capable I have yet to find one that’s flexible enough to work for most cases. I’m thinking of going down the “roll my own” path as well for at least one project.