Category Archives: Interviews

Interviews with people who work on and use WordPress.

Interview: with Doug Yuen

A black and white picture of Doug Yuen in black and white with a profile shot of his face.Meet Douglas Yuen, Doug is originally from Waldwick, New Jersey. During his time at Cornell University, he double majored in English Literature with a concentration on creative writing, as well as Philosophy. He was interested in the subject matter, and thought that one day he would become a writer and professor of creative writing. In 2008, he got into Content Management Systems because he was thinking about quitting his job and working for himself so he could travel the world. After evaluation of some of the most popular CMSs of that time, he decided to settle on WordPress. He has owned and operated EfficientWP (Efficient Websites LLC.) for the last 6.5 years.

A screenshot of a landing page for efficientwp.com. Website design in a day.

Q: Tell me about yourself?

A: I’m a WordPress designer who’s expanding into the world of developing premium plugins. I’ve spent about 2.5 years traveling abroad, while growing my business, between 2012-2015. I’ve spoken at WordCamps 4 times (so far), have 3 publicly available plugins in WordPress.org, and co-host a WordPress podcast, WPcast.fm. Continue reading Interview: with Doug Yuen

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Interview: Jocelyn Mozak, WordPress Web Designer

A portrait of WordPress Web Designer, Jocelyn Muzak.Jocelyn Mozak, WordPress Website Designer and Founder of Mozak Design, was born and raised on the East Coast and was a featured speaker at WordCamp 2015. At Cornell University, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering then worked as a Senior Hardware Designer at Intel. With her hard work and discipline, she earned a full scholarship to Stanford University to obtain her Master’s in Electrical Engineering. From the technical skills she learned from her education, her passion is what makes her an outstanding web designer. Continue reading Interview: Jocelyn Mozak, WordPress Web Designer

Interview: Lisa Presely, Web Master at The Independent

This is a screen shot of the banner for the website The Independent at Clark College.Lisa Presely is the current Web Master for The Independent and one time student of WordPress here at Clark College. Lisa in fact, decided to attend Clark College to learn more about WordPress.

Ever since I discovered WordPress, just a couple of years ago, I quickly fell in love with the fact that I could have a website almost instantly by choosing a theme and entering my information, and…bam! A website!

Since then, especially since I took the WordPress class at Clark College, I have also fallen in love with the way I can completely make a WordPress Theme my own by customizing almost any aspect of a Theme into the specific details that I need.

Matt:

Did you have a defining moment that ignitied you to continue your education?

Lisa:

I have been a stay at home mom for 16 years. In that time, I only worked part time outside of our home for a few months. My kids are all in school full-time now, and even though I still keep busy with the demands of my home life, I felt a strong desire to continue my education.

I knew I had skills that could help others, and I wanted to learn more about web design in order to build beautiful things for other people…and web design gives me an opportunity to hopefully be able to do it mostly from home so I can still be available for my kids.

It was important for me to teach my kids that we can do hard things. I knew adding school to my already busy life wouldn’t be easy, but I felt like it was the right time, and my kids have been nothing short of amazing in helping me achieve this goal.

Do you have any advice for someone looking to change careers, start a first career or just improve their job skills by learning WordPress?

Exactly one year ago, I knew I needed a new career field, and I wanted to make sure that if I was going to take the time and money to go to school for it, that it needed to be something I loved! For me, it was web design, and more specifically, to learn about WordPress in depth. I saw potential in that field, and I continue to see it.

If you love a career that you constantly need to stay on your toes about what you’re learning (I LOVE to learn!), then web design is for you! Especially if you love to create and design beautiful things that make other people happy. That is my joy in life, and with WordPress, I can do that.

Does your five year plan include continuing your WordPress mastery?

Absolutely!

Given any content management system to work with, I will always choose WordPress.

I have done my research, and I am very impressed with the way WordPress stays on top of the changes in technology and builds them into their users’ experiences.

They have the best, most generous group of users, who continue to give up their own time to help other people learn about the benefits and joys of WordPress. The WP community is so helpful! It doesn’t matter if you are working with WordPress.com or WordPress.org, you will always find the answer to your questions out there.

If you are interested in WordPress, you should really try to go to a WordCamp. I went to my first one this year in Portland, Oregon, and I met so many wonderful people there who just wanted to share what they had learned with people like me who are trying to make a living out of this.

What has been the biggest challenge of running The Independent?

There really haven’t been a lot of challenges with The Independent. The people I worked with to build the site were fantastic, and very supportive. Any of the challenges that have come about have been because I am still a student of web design, and really need to learn a lot more about what I’m doing! But that is the great part of working for a student run newspaper…we are all students here, and we are loving what we are learning.

As a web designer one of them is wrapping my brain around the complexity and constant changes of coding.

I can do it, and I’m continuing to build my weakness into a strength, but with WordPress in my tool box, I can build a gorgeous site without much coding involved.

It is a beautiful thing that has given me the chance to start building sites for other people before I had the ability to code much at all.

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris, a 19th century British textile artist and poet.

Interview: Jino Conklin, The Columbian

Jino Conklin attended Clark College, just like we are right now. But he attended classes here between 2011 and 2014 for his web development degree. He now works over at The Columbian as a world class Web Developer, where they just transferred completely to WordPress from another major CMS. But before I go spilling all the details of the interview, here are the words from Jino himself.

Jino Conklin

Q & A

When did you first start using WordPress and was it your first time using a CMS (Content Management System)?

The first time I used WordPress was actually in Lorelle’s class, back in May 2013 as part of my Web Development Degree Program. And, yes, it was the first time using a CMS. I’ve had a couple projects going at that time trying to create my own CMS, but once I found out that Matt Mullenweg had beat me to the punch, I started using WordPress.

How do you use WordPress at your job? (Do you alter Themes, create content or code custom Plugins for your company?)

We do quite a bit with WordPress here at The Columbian. Up until August 2015, we were on a completely different CMS (a very popular one used around the country) that was hosted off site. Our vision was to bring columbian.com on-site and forego a hosting company. It took us from January 2015 – August 2015 to get switched over (with only myself and my Senior Developer, and a crew of 4 IT gurus). Now we are full fledged WordPress.  We’ve had to convert all of our Theme templates from Django (written in Python) to WordPress.
What do I do personally with WordPress at The Columbian? I’ve written a couple custom Plugins for our Events site, I’ve modified Themes to fit our needs. As we speak, I’m in process of writing a new Plugin for our Best of Clark County contest coming up in February. And I do maintenance for columbian.com when issues arise.

Do you have a personal preference towards WordPress, as compared to other CMS’s like Drupal or Joomla?

I personally really enjoy WordPress. I like how the action and filter hooks give you pretty much endless customization and abilities to do everything you want. I’ve touched Drupal and Joomla, and while they are great CMS’s, I was pulled toward WordPress because of the minor learning curve, and because all the support that comes with it (Codex, WPDevelopers site, Support Forums, etc). I felt that trying to learn Drupal or Joomla was off the course of where I wanted to be with The Columbian, so I didn’t go that route. I’m not saying I never will, but right now, I’m content with WordPress.

Is there anything that you wish that WordPress would change that may make your job easier?

I’m still new in my career with WordPress, but so far, I haven’t had any major requests for WordPress to change. Everything that I’ve wanted to change, WordPress provided a way, either with a custom Plugin, or a little bit of custom code inside of a Theme.

Interview with Bob Passaro

Profile picture of Bob Passaro.Bob Passaro is a partner in the branding/web development agency Figoli Quinn & Associates. He lives in Eugene, Oregon.

The following is from a phone conversation with Bob Passaro on November 20, 2015.

Bob’s Experience with WordPress

Bob has been using WordPress for around 6 years. His first development job using WordPress was for NW Book Lovers. The website is still active. Even though he has offered to redesign the site, the owners are happy with the original design. Continue reading Interview with Bob Passaro

Interview: Tina Granzo, City Beautiful Design

A photograph of Tina Granzo sitting on red brick stairs outside.Tina Granzo founded City Beautiful Design (CBD), a website design and web application development firm located in Detroit, Michigan, and moved to Portland in 2006.

Tina attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for 2 years, and then transferred to the University of Michigan where she earned a BFA in 1995.

Tina built her first database in 1992. She has been making websites and databases talk to each other since 1997. Continue reading Interview: Tina Granzo, City Beautiful Design

Interview: Heather Andrews RMLS

Heather AndrewsHeather Andrew is with the Regional Multiple Listing Service about their use of WordPress. She is a Communication Specialist for Regional Multiple Listing Service (RMLS) in Portland, Or. Specializing in education media, she has worked on content development for museums, textbooks, television, and websites. Some of her past projects can be found at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky, Voyagers National Park in International Falls, MN, and Champoeg State Park in St. Paul, Oregon. She holds a master of publishing from Simon Fraser in Vancouver, BC.

Screenshot of RMLS Central website.

Why chose WordPress?

RMLS Central used a WordPress.com site to host a blog before I was hired but it had limitations. My immediate predecessor recommended migrating to a self-hosted WordPress site but wasn’t around long enough to see the project through to completion. After I was hired, I migrated content to the self-hosted site and have been working on content ever since. Continue reading Interview: Heather Andrews RMLS

Interview With Mojo Mustapha: A WordPress User

A picture of Mojo with bananasMojo Mustapha, the Community Director for Hedonisia Hawaii Eco-Community. He chooses WordPress for his professional website. Hedonisia.com is mostly a virtual tour of his community, built with informational pages and applications. While his business is located in Puna, Hawaii, his WordPress website can reached anywhere in the world.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Mojo Mustapha. My choice of communicating with him was through emailing, as he is located in the jungle of Hawaii and me, in a classroom located in Vancouver, Washington.

Samantha Yuill: How and when did you initially find out about WordPress?

Mojo: A Tech Intern at Hedonisia Hawaii told us.

Samantha Yuill: Mojo provided me with a link to Tech Volunteers In Hawaii when he answered this question. I’m assuming that Leonardo is the Tech Intern that told him about WordPress.A screen shot of Hedonisia, Tech Volunteer webpage

Samantha Yuill: What was your first impression after using WordPress for the first time?

Mojo: I liked the fact that you can use it from any computer.

Samantha Yuill: I’d like to know what the WordPress Community is like in Hawaii, especially in your area. Are their meetups? Workshops? Classes?

Mojo: That’s why I have to go to Portland. There’s nothing in Big Island.

Samantha Yuill: Do you have experience with any other CMS? Why did you pick WordPress?

Mojo: Drupal was way too complicated. As a community that depends on Volunteers and Interns, we found many more had WordPress experience.

Samantha Yuill: How has WordPress helped build your Eco-Community in Hawaii?

Mojo: It allows me to create multiple user accounts so interns can also play a role in editing and updating the site.

Samantha Yuill: Are there any changes you would suggest to make WordPress more user friendly?

Mojo: Yes built in levels of Admin control based on security clearance. Right now when I give Interns Editor access they can’t do much unless I give the Admin status which then allows them access to everything. There should be more levels of clearance and control between Editor and Administrator when adding Users.

Samantha Yuill: Is there anything extra you would like to share about your experience using WordPress?

Mojo: I wish there was a better way to work offline with it. We live in Hawaii and when the internet is down we are unable to use the site. This is different from the old html days where we could still read our site offline.

Although Mojo and I didnt get to communicate in person or over the phone, I got the sense that most of his website Hedonisia.com is maintained by his interns. He travels off the Big Island to attend any workshops on WordPress. Maybe someday I will be able visit Hawaii and help Mojo with his WordPress site.

Interview with Jennifer Daly

Jennifer Daly
Jennifer Daly

Jennifer Daly is an art instructor at Shasta College in Redding, CA. She uses WordPress as a content management system for her classes, a way to communicate with her students, and a means to support the art department and school events.

My students love using WordPress. I had a faculty review last semester and the department chair met with my students. They told him about the site and that they all appreciated being able to access the information outside of class.

– Jennifer Daly

When did you decide to start using WordPress and why?

I started using WordPress in 2007. I had been using Blackboard and WebCT to provide students information online for a couple of years. Neither one was really designed for art students. They are very rigid in the layout and format and not very visually appealing. While in grad school, one of my professors, Byron Wolfe, was using Typepad and a blog format for communicating with his students. I really liked the simplicity and elegance of the system, but being in grad school, I couldn’t afford to pay for a Typepad blog, and found WordPress. I have used it every semester since then. I started out with a WordPress.com site and then migrated to a self-hosted site about 4 years ago.

Continue reading Interview with Jennifer Daly

Interview with Andrew Telegin

Andrew Telegin is an online editor for the Independent, the Clark College student newspaper.

Q: Do you like WordPress?

A: Yes, I really do enjoy WordPress. I think it is easy to use and fun to figure out with cool features. It has been an adventure, too.

Q: The Good and the Bad about WordPress?

A: To me, the good is how is it easy for someone new to catch on, learn, and use. I’m using WordPress.com in class and the bad is that you there is less customization of the back end and dashboard. All you can change is the colors and I would like to switch around some of the functions so they are not on the side bar and I cannot do that on WordPress.com but I can with the self-hosted version of WordPress, and we are using that on the college site.

While most of WordPress is easy-to-use and semi-intuitive, I really want to learn HTML and some basic web code to know more about how all these things work. While I’m not ready to dive fully into web programming, I know the brush with the code will help me in the future. We are into the web forever and I’m riding the wave.

Screenshot of front page of Clark College Independent.

Q: Have you worked with any other Content Management Software? What’s different?

A: I have briefly worked with SquareSpace and I do not recommend it. The menu’s are very confusing. I may have problems with learning WordPress, but it was worse there. Still, it is important to experiment with the variety of options we have out there. Continue reading Interview with Andrew Telegin

Interview With Daniel Portis-Cathers: Composer/Producer

A picture of Daniel Portis-Cathers.
Daniel Portis-Cathers, composer/producer and founder of Deep Sea Music, Inc., was born in Newport, Oregon, raised in Italy, and has traveled extensively studying music. He is very passionate about writing and producing. His world travels have influenced his writing and business immensely. Daniel enjoys collaborating with other instrumentalists whenever possible. Deep Sea Music, unlike other agencies, serves as a conduit for musicians from a wide range of cultures and musical traditions. Daniel has been transitioning more toward web development as music scoring and original composition work has dwindled over the last several years. A picture of David's Deep Sea Music site.

When I collaborate, I track down the best musicians I can find for the project. They are usually great people – interesting thinkers and fantastic musicians. They bring the level of my work up because of what they add. And it’s usually lots of fun. When I was starting out, I tried to perform all the parts myself. I soon realized that even if I could do that, I was losing the benefit derived from having other creative minds in the room. Now I bring people in whenever I can. ~ Daniel Portis-Cathers

Daniel’s Experience With WordPress

Daniel has been creating sites for himself as well as others and they are mostly done in WordPress. He was introduced to web development about six years ago when he received a grant to build an online production music library in WordPress. He felt like the site was fairly user friendly. He likes that it offers good solutions for small businesses, but disliked how quickly it would slow down unless he worked through the many details to keep it running fast.

Development gets pretty deep, but the online and local support communities were great and have continued to get stronger. You can use WordPress as a novice, but take it really far as a professional. ~Daniel Portis-Cathers

A screenshot of David's web development website.

Interview with Dave Martin: Automattician

Black and white close up of Dave Martin.Dave Martin is the Creative Director and Growth Lead at Automattic. In his own words he is…

A husband and a father. Those titles mean more to me than anything else. I live in North Carolina with my wife and 3 kids. I have a lot of passions, most of them related to the web. I’m a designer, a developer, and I love startups.

Describe your role in Automattic. What have you done there in the past?

I currently hold two titles, both Creative Director & Growth lead. That may come off sounding fancy but when it comes down to it, they are both really just support roles. My job is to make sure that our 30+ designers and growth explorers are happy, and that they have everything they need to do great work.

I started off at Automattic 5 years ago as a UI designer. In the 5 years that I’ve been there I’ve jumped around to six different roles. Prior to Automattic, I had a habit of jumping around to new companies every 2 years or so – I can thank my A.D.D. for that habit. Fortunately, Automattic has been supportive of me swapping teams whenever I get antsy.

I recently wrote about how the hiring process at Automattic works for WP Tavern. Continue reading Interview with Dave Martin: Automattician

Interview With Walter Jeffries: Pastured Pig Farmer

Picture of Walter Jeffries
Walter Jeffries

Walter Jeffries is an accomplished farmer, raising “Pastured Pigs, Chickens, Ducks, Geese, Sheep, Dogs and Kids in the Mountains of Vermont”. He uses WordPress to blog about the things he loves and is interested in, as well as supporting his business, Sugar Mountain Farm.

WordPress is quite easy to use. I recommend it to people because they can use it at many levels from the fully hosted WordPress.com for hosting their own, to hacking their own.

– Walter Jeffries

Why did you choose WordPress as the content management platform for your business?

I had been using Blogger, but they shut down the custom URL platform which made me look for a replacement. In the process of researching what to use I found WordPress and have been very happy with it. That happened in early 2010. Google had notified Blogger users well ahead so it wasn’t a surprise and I had time to make a fairly graceful transition. It wasn’t too painful other than some errors in translating characters and HTML with the export-import features.
Continue reading Interview With Walter Jeffries: Pastured Pig Farmer

Interview with Danielle Baldwin: Social Media/Content Strategist, WordPress Developer

L.Danielle Baldwin

This is L. Danielle Baldwin. She is a Social Media/Content Strategist, WordPress Developer and The Founder of the very first WordCamp RDU in 2009.

Why did you start using WordPress?

I started using WordPress back in the day when it was called b2 cafelog around 2002. From there I have just followed the application and was able to watch it morph into what WordPress has become today. I started using it initially as a blogging tool but very soon after I got the hang of it, I started using it to create blogs for other people.

Website Whole Lotta Yadda by L. Danielle Baldwin - screenshot. Continue reading Interview with Danielle Baldwin: Social Media/Content Strategist, WordPress Developer

Interview with Daniel Payne

A Photo of Daniel PayneDaniel Payne of Tualatin Web has been developing commercial web sites since 1995 and programming since 1975. So it made sense to me to get some key insights from someone who has been in the business for a number of years.

Q: What made you decide to become a member of the WordPress community and to become involved in organizing the PDX WordPress meetups?

A: I first heard about WordPress in 2008, after I had already created and sold my own content management system, it become clear that the team at Automattic had a much superior product so I decided to focus on customizing WordPress for business users. Later on I signed up at MeetUp.com and then discovered the Portland WordPress Meetup group. After attending a few meetings I started to get more involved, and eventually became an organizer. I wanted to give something back to the WordPress community, and also at the same time raise awareness for my own web development company, Tualatin Web.

Q: How long have you been working with WordPress?

A: My first WordPress install was in 2008. I started coding web sites in 1995, and computer coding in 1975.

Q: What made you choose to use WordPress‘s CMS over other methods of content management systems?

A: I also looked at Joomla, Drupal, Concrete, Wix, etc. It seems like every month we have yet another CMS. WordPress was the most intuitive CMS to learn, use, and develop for. WordPress is also the #1 CMS in the world, so it makes most business sense to specialize on the leading tool. Continue reading Interview with Daniel Payne