Screenshot from the homepage of CheriCalvert.com. The view is outside Cheri's home office window, overlooking the Columbia River and sailboats.

Interview: Cheri Calvert, WordPress Web Designer, Web Developer, & Incredible Artistic Talent

WordPress gives women a voice. WordPress gives women an opportunity to better integrate meaningful income-producing work into their family life. I especially enjoy helping young mothers grow a business out of their talents and passions.

WordPress supplies Artists of all kinds – from authors, musicians, and actors to painters, photographers, and sculptors – with a platform to showcase their work and preserve their memories. WordPress enables graphic designers to include complex functionality at an affordable price through the use of its vast assortment of Plugins. Cheri Calvert

The Interview

It was the first significant rain and wind storm this fall: Mother Nature was angry, and I had the greatest opportunity to meet with Cheri Calvert, Web Designer, Developer, and Artist, at her breathtaking Hayden Island work office. The wind was whipping my scarf around my face and rain pelted my glasses as I approached Cheri’s front door.

After a soft knock, Cheri opened the door; her friendly face appearing with a smile. She was so stylishly outfitted as well as accessorized with a beautiful black and silver scarf.

Andrea: Cheri, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to meet with me! This is such a pleasure, and your view is amazing!

Amazing view from Cheri's home office on Hayden Island on a very stormy day.
Cheri’s home office view onto the Columbia River on an especially stormy day.

Andrea: How long have you been working with WordPress, and do you have any other experience with non-WordPress website design?

Cheri: I’ve worked with WordPress for the last 8 years, but I started out hand-coding an HTML site back in 2002. I purchased Adobe Suites shortly thereafter, and worked in DreamWeaver and Flash. I worked for a couple of years for a company that was a pioneer in the field of virtual tours. One of their contracts was to film and create virtual tours for all the Best Western properties in the US. One of my jobs in 2006 at VRNational was to research blogs along with some of the cutting edge virtual environments of Second Life. This was my first blog, still published on Blogspot (she said to me as she pulled the website up on her computer).

Andrea: Why do you prefer WordPress, and what is your favorite feature?

Cheri: I really like the WordPress culture; it was created to share. It is affordable: a platform for the people, not designed just for corporate elitists. It is a supportive International Community that works together to create something that is bigger than merely the sum of its parts. I once had a question that I posted within the WordPress Community, and a young man in Belgium responded to me immediately with a solution.

Andrea: How did you get into Web Design and Development?

Cheri: As the world changed, I felt I needed these new tools to effectively market my own artwork. I fell in love with the creative possibilities and loved the fact that I could keep all my messes tidily on a couple of hard drives. I foresaw the freedom it would give me to earn a higher hourly rate, work from just about anywhere, and make my own schedule. When the sun comes out and it’s a glorious day, I want to be able to take a “Sun-Day” off and go out and worship our amazing Earth! I’ve found that living in the Pacific Northwest, Mother Nature usually supplies me with sufficient inclement weather for me to make a living. When it’s rainy like this (as she indicates out the window), it’s perfect weather to cozy up to my computer.

Andrea: How do you go about generating new business?

Cheri: I have participated in BNI, networking groups, several Chambers of Commerce and done numerous pro bono work for non-profits. However, most of my work comes from Word of Mouth. Existing clients have recommended friends from across the country that I have never met. I think any group that you are consistently involved with creates a feeling of trust. If you let them know what you love doing, they will seek you out if that need arises for them. In the past few days, I have had four new projects come in. One is an Artist who just moved here from Hawaii and has seen some of the work I’ve done for our HOA. Another is an Actor who’s appeared on Law and Order and Grimm who is in my cardio class at the Marshall Center. Another is a single Mom who is growing her personal chef business. My daughter is her food photographer and recommended me.

Andrea: How do you deal with clients that are difficult or resistant to change?

Cheri: I just let them go. I know the relationship won’t work, and perhaps there’s someone who can better accommodate them.

Andrea: How do you make a website mobile-friendly?

Cheri: I let the Theme do the basic heavy-lifting and tweak it with a Child Theme’s custom CSS. To ensure compatibility on all mobile devices, I test them out on my Windows desktop, Apple Notebook, Tablet, and Android phone.

Photo of Cheri Calvert with a Windows desktop, Apple Notebook, Tablet, and Android phone.
Cheri Calvert tests her sites with a Windows desktop, Apple Notebook, Tablet, and Android phone to ensure compatibility.

 

Andrea: How do you feel about Web Accessibility?

Cheri: In 2003, while working for Lewis-Clark State in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, I had the opportunity to participate in a workshop introducing the importance of accessibility issues. Although the screen-reader technology was rather crude back then, it was a good tool to help understand how information would be extracted for the visually impaired.

Andrea: What would you change about WordPress?

Cheri: Nothing. I can’t think of anything I’d want to change.

Andrea: It seems that this line of work requires constant education to keep up with all the upgrades. How do you go about continuing your knowledge?

Cheri: WordPress Meetup Groups, WordCamp, Online User Groups, solving problems through researching. When things don’t work, I try to look at it as a game. I’m “Cherlock” Holmes, searching for clues to solve the mystery. When something breaks, it is oftentimes trying to determine what is different. Sometimes I find that it’s just a comma in the code…

Andrea: What do you enjoy most about your career?

Cheri: Flexibility. Plus, there’s always something new to learn! I am an introvert (meaning that groups of people drain my energy). I need solitude, like a nutrient, to keep me balanced. Web Development gives me a voice and allows me to connect with the world from the comfort of my own office!

Andrea: Do you have any advice for those who are pursuing the same line of work?

Cheri: You’ve got to love it!


Cheri’s Story

Cheri is not just a Web Designer/Developer, but she has also worn many, many hats. She went from processing crab in the Aleutian Islands in the 70’s to Head of Wardrobe for Bobby Vinton and the Glen Miller Orchestra at the Blue Velvet Theatre in the 80’s, and spending the majority of her time as a self-employed artist. 

She had her own line of sheepskin outerwear and hand-laced deerskin clothing. Cheri used the scraps to create hand-sculpted dolls, with faces made of deerskin. These dolls were featured on the cover of Better Homes & Gardens and Early American Life. She sold these little dolls, as well as elves and Santas, while featuring them in illustrated booklets.

Screen shot from Cheri Calvert's theleatherdoll.com.
Cheri Calvert’s Woodland Fantasy Elves, photo courtesy of http://www.theleatherdoll.com.

In the 90’s Cheri developed her own line of hemp clothing called the Cannabis Collection. She created beautiful clothing and bridal gowns, all made of hemp.

Cheri continues to play with the creative features of WordPress, which fits well with her Artist clientele. Her current favorite Theme is Elegant Themes DIVI to create fun special effects and layouts. One of the biggest joys of her career is being able to help promote her fellow creative-types and their work.

 

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