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Interview with Lorelle VanFossen of Lorelle on WordPress

Female with red hair and wearing glasses smiling infront of a background with logo's of different companies I had a great opportunity to interview, Lorelle VanFossen. Lorelle is a keynote, trainer, and writer, consultant on web writing, blogger, author, and teacher, plus offers a variety of training programs that emphasizes on web publishing and the social web. This gives her the opportunity to travel to places like Holland, Texas, and Canada to name a few to help inspire and motivate individuals to “have their say” on the web. As you have noticed, Lorelle is the Jill of all trades.

I asked Lorelle about a mentor when she started WordPress, someone she was able to look to when she was learning WordPress. What I found out was that she didn’t have a mentor per say because the individuals she was working with were learning it at the same time she was by breaking it and putting it back together. She said:

It was kind of like a puzzle with all the different pieces.

During Lorelle’s many trips to WordPress Meetups and WordCamps she has had many individuals inspire her to continue on with WordPress. One of the many individuals that have inspired her was one female that was a prostitute, which was involved in the Literacy Program for Street People, that quit three weeks prior because her voice was finally heard, which ended up changing her life for the better. Lorelle goes on to also mention that WordPress helps connect individuals, from someone that is to shy or very gregarious, and by way of networking together the creativity among those individuals is endless.

When the topic of how Lorelle helped evolve WordPress, she likes to think she not only helped it evolve but also helped inspire more individuals to pitch in and help as well. She was referred to as the “WordPress evangelist” by Matt Mullenweg, which she takes that role very seriously.

One of the features Lorelle likes in WordPress is because of the backspace key feature among the browsers that had WordPress.com add a feature into the main core. In 2005 she used the backspace key to correct a spelling mistake and it went to the previous web page and all the hard work she was working on was lost. This is what inspired her to write “Screams Heard From Online Bloggers.” This got some attention from WordPress.com developers and they introduced soon after that a feature to the main core that would solve the issue, auto-saves in WordPress.”

Lorelle goes on to mention other features she likes:

I like categories, though tags took a long time for me to respect, for a variety of reasons that has nothing to do with their functionality but politics – it’s complicated. But I like categories for grouping related topics together.

I love the easy interface, though I’m not happy with the new WordPress-for-dummies interface they are developing on WordPress.com. While I understand it will be good for those with little or no web experience, the WordPress interface now is simple and easy to use. The problem is not the interface but the names of the parts and pieces. Pages and Posts are one of the problems with naming things in WordPress.

Lorelle may be very enthusiastic about WordPress but at the same time she does not like everything about it. Here are some features Lorelle said she dislikes:

I hate the WordPress Visual Editor and avoid it at all costs. I hate that the development team ignores the Text Editor, putting all their energy in the Visual Editor as if WYSIWYMG is better for the world in general. Come on, give the Text Editor some love.

I’m thrilled with what they did with the JetPack WordPress Plugin, bringing all the functionality of WordPress.com to self-hosted versions of WordPress, but it is still a HUGE Plugin and a bit confusing. It is improving, but overwhelming. I have to explain it, step-by-step, to clients, especially those who think that installing it means installing some huge WordPress Plugin. The user chooses the features to install. If they aren’t installed, it doesn’t bog down your site.

I’m still unhappy with the Media Library, even after the recent updates. It’s too clunky to add images, and very slow. I still wish that the File Gallery WordPress Plugin were incorporated into the core, after some major interface updates to the Plugin to improve usability. The concept is right, though.

Other features she dislikes are the way there is no control over followers, differentiating between subscribers and followers, and the non-adherence to web standards for accessibility.

Lorelle and I got onto the topic of how to learn code fast and the first thing was to find out the definition of what I meant by code. Lorelle says:

Web Design, the ability to design, customize, or tweak our site’s look and feel, deals with HTML and CSS, fairly simple code for the most part. Programming code, the code in WordPress Themes and Plugins that makes WordPress shake, rattle, and roll, that involves learning JavaScript, jQuery, AJAX, PHP, and some other basic scripts.

One thing Lorelle also mentions is that it may depend on learning style and to have a drive and willingness to learn. There are many avenues that one can learn as Lorelle continued:

There are videos, free online coding classes, college courses, tutorial articles, and the DYI method to learn as you go. How fast you go is up to you and your abilities.

For someone like myself I will take Lorelle’s words of wisdom here as I venture forth within my own career path.

Like everything, there is no get rich trick here. You learn what you need to know to do what you need to do, and if you need to learn more, you learn it. If you want to be a professional in web design, web development, and web publishing, you have to learn more than you may ever need to know in order to do it well, right, and within web standards.

It was a great opportunity to interview an individual that can multi-task and be a jack of all trades at the same time. I have learned a lot and I will continue to learn as I go on, maybe one day you will see associated with WordPress. Never know…huh?

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