Category Archives: Interview

Meet our Lightning Round Speakers: Brian Busche, Joel Bronkowski, and John Havlik

Brian, Joel and John will be speaking in our Lighting Round of sessions on Saturday. in the Loop/River Room (Engineer Track) at 12pm

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Brian has been working with WordPress for 8 years, using it to build online communities like camaro.com, and various client projects. His background as a web developer landed him jobs at agency.com, Leo Burnett, Digitas, and BBDO.

Brian founded Rendition Multimedia in 1999 as a Web design shop, and currently operates out of the 1871 co-working space in the Merchandise Mart. He emphasizes the Lean Startup principles to building software, and feels that WordPress is the best tool for the Minimally Viable Product approach to web site design.

Brian organizes a monthly meetup called “WordPress in the Loop”, which you will find at meetup.com. He is always looking for opportunities to connect with other WordPress people in Chicago, and foster a greater degree of friendship and collaboration within that community.

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Joel is a bit of a WordPress newb but has been thrown in the deep end in helping WooThemes bolster its relationships and partnerships with the many players in the eCommerce space over the past 14 months.

Joel lived at home in Southern California until he was 23 before he ventured to South Africa on a mission trip, met the love of his life and has lived there ever since.

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First introduced to WordPress in 2005, John Havlik has been an avid WordPress user, theme creator, and plugin author ever since. Among his various plugins is the popular breadcrumb plugin, Breadcrumb NavXT.

When not working on his own projects, John helps support the small, 150 user, WordPress community at Weblogs.us. He also helps organize and frequently presents at MSP WordPress User Group meetings.

Interview:

Why do you use WordPress?
Brian: WordPress is the best way to quickly build and test new startup ideas. The platform can then be extended, customized, and scaled to grow with the business.

Joel: The easy answer is that it is now a huge part of my life working with WooThemes. I am constantly blown away by the many incredible ways WordPress is being used and by the people using it.

John: Ease of use, extensibility, and familiarity that comes with using WordPress for 9 years.

What would you say to convince someone to attend a WordCamp?
Joel: The WordPress community is great, there is so much to learn from attendees and speakers. People are generally incredibly approachable and down to earth. People come ready to learn and share ideas. Feels so good to be part of community and something bigger than whatever you use WordPress for.

John: Attending a WordCamp gives you access to a ton of friendly and talented people that you can learn from and cultivate ideas with. Additionally, attending a WordCamp that is “out of town” is a perfect excuse to visit a new city.

Do you have any advice for someone looking to start or grow a WordPress based business?
Joel: I’ve never worked at or with Web Agencies but in terms of a larger WordPress products/services business, I would say do not underestimate the value of quality support. Without quality support at Woo it would be challenging for us to differentiate ourselves from the copy cats and misusers of products we’ve developed.

Secondly, pricing and licensing are key. Terms like unlimited and lifetime really bit us in the ass and making changes to those terms was a tough pill for many of our customers to swallow.

What is your favorite WordPress-related resource?
John: As a developer, I find myself searching the wordpress.org codex frequently, so that still is my favorite.

Joel: WP101 is great. TeamTreehouse does really nice stuff. I suppose with both of those suggestions I lean towards videos, it’s easier for me to learn that way.

Tell us something awesome about yourself that is not WordPress related
Joel: I previously worked in the development sector here in South Africa and served various poorer communities all over the country. More recently (2010-2011) this led me to do a post grad degree in Sustainable Development where I focused on community led informal settlement upgrading. While I now work in the private sector I am still passionate about social justice and crossing the invisible lines that divide society in South Africa.

Interview with Lisa Sabin-Wilson

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Lisa will be presenting Check & Double Check: Internal QA is Vital on Sunday in the Business/Project Management track

Lisa Sabin-Wilson is the co-owner of WebDevStudios, a design and development company specializing in customized WordPress themes and plugins, and the author of WordPress For Dummies.

As the “For Dummies”¬Ě brand franchise author on all things WordPress she’s also written several other WordPress-related books. She’s worked with WordPress since 2003, and is also a regular public speaker on topics such as WordPress, blogging, design, and social media.

Interview:

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Interview with Michelle Schulp

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Michelle will be presenting A Website Is Not A Poster on Friday
in the Foundation Friday 301 track

Michelle the lead organizer for WordCamp Chicago 2014. When she’s not organizing, she’s an independent graphic designer based in Chicagoland. She was formally schooled in many aspects of design including print, branding, packaging, etc., as well as Psychology and Sociology, all tying together in a love of How To Solve Problems. She is a lover of WordCamps and the WordPress community. Find her portfolio at Marktime Media, and her talks/events/ blogs/geek-themed artwork at My Name Is Michelle. You may have seen her work on the WordPress Template Hierarchy or her Git-Themed poetry. ūüėČ

Interview:

Why do you use WordPress?
I started using WordPress because someone told me that it was easy for designers to learn. And at the beginning, it was kinda easy but kinda hard and scary… and then I discovered the WordPress community. Continue reading Interview with Michelle Schulp

Interview with Josh Broton

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Josh will be presenting You Don’t Need jQuery on Saturday¬†in the Advanced Development¬†track

Josh spends his days building interactive infographics, cool ways to visualize data, and high performance NodeJS web apps and WordPress themes at Lemonly. There, he fills the roles of both senior developer and curmudgeon.

He writes HTML, CSS, and JavaScript at Kidblog.org, the world’s largest educational blog network.

He also helped build the Spring Theme and Sassquatch Sass mixin library with 3themes.

In his spare time, he works on standing.io, a collection of his favorite conference videos. Continue reading Interview with Josh Broton

Interview with Alison Barrett

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Alison will be presenting Wireframing Essentials on Saturday
in the Design track

Alison has been working with WordPress since 2008. She started out building simple client websites and moved on to developing plugins and theme frameworks.

After working at various local agencies in Minneapolis, she is now a senior web engineer at 10up. Alison lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband and their three cats.

Interview:

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Interview with Marc Benzakein

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Marc will be presenting There’s No Place Like 127.0.0.1 on Friday in the Foundation Friday 301 track

Marc Benzakein has been working online since the mid 90s, starting as a Network Administrator for a small, independent ISP in Southern California and has been involved in almost all aspects of technology.

In 2009, he started developing in WordPress, first for his own purposes and then for clients. In early 2013, he got involved with ServerPress, LLC, makers of DesktopServer, a local development tool created for WordPress designers and developers.

Marc lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with his wife, Jessica and two children, Eli (8) and Brenna (4).

Interview:

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Interview with Michele Butcher

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Michele will be presenting Intro to Jetpack on Friday in the Foundation Friday 201 track

Michele is a full time blogger, designer, and all around awesome person. Michele started her love for WordPress back in 2010 when she got her feet wet working with Bit51 as a content creator and support ninja until its merger with iThemes.

Michele is also the Organizer for the Southern Illinois WordPress Meetup. She is also the newest member of the WP Security Lock team in April of this year. When not in front of a screen, Michele enjoys life with her family and friends.

Interview:

Continue reading Interview with Michele Butcher

Interview with Julie Cameron

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Julie will be presenting Surviving Support: 10 Tips for Saving Your Users and Yourself on Sunday in the General Interest track

Julie Cameron is a frontend developer for Articulate working in the metro-Detroit area. She is the sole developer and support-provider of the open source SlickQuiz plugins for jQuery and WordPress.

Julie is a fan of Sassy CSS and modular architecture, responsive web design, and is a student of JavaScript and self-improvement.

Interview:

Continue reading Interview with Julie Cameron

Interview with Kyle Maurer

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Kyle will be presenting Shortcode Shenanigans on Friday in the Foundation Friday 201 track

Kyle Maurer is the co-founder of and lead developer for Real Big Marketing. He has been developing websites since 2009 and is passionate about WordPress as a CMS and development platform.

Working with WordPress multisite, developing plugins, creating complicated websites for small businesses and attending WordPress Meetups and WordCamps are among Kyle’s favorite things. Bacon is also nice.

Interview:

Why do you use WordPress?
I use WordPress because I haven’t encountered a website related project yet that I can’t handle with it, because it has a thriving user base and is very well supported, because the WP community is the freaking bomb, and most of all because people pay me for doing this.

For a more eloquent explanation, refer to my origin story on my wordpress.org profile.

What would you say to convince someone to attend a WordCamp?
If you come to this WordCamp I’ll give you a bazillion dollars and I won’t kidnap your dog.

What is your favorite WordPress project you have worked on recently?
Nothing beats the plugin projects. Unfortunately my true favorites are not quite complete yet. Hopefully some of them will be ready to go live by the time WordCamp Chicago rolls around.

Other than that, I published a couple little plugins last fall for things like enhancing Google Adwords campaigns and showing Christmas song lyrics in the wp-admin. Plus I’ve made tons of websites.

Do you have any advice for someone looking to start or grow a WordPress based business?
Try not to think of code as a four letter word but rather something that can really empower you. As much as you don’t want to mess with code, your clients want to even less and will pay you well to do it for them. Embrace this reality. Learn to do it right.

Also, follow coding best practices, study the codex, attend WordCamps, focus on quality, raise your prices, don’t hire anyone you’d have a hard time firing, use contracts with every client, don’t do drugs, wear your seat belt at all times, listen to Bob Marley, help out on the .org support forums

Don’t fear the code.
Don’t settle for mediocrity.
Immerse yourself in WP.
Say yes to things you have no clue how to do.
Vote for Pedro.
Wear your seat belts.
Eat more bacon.
Talk to Chris Lema.
Buy a really comfortable office chair.

What is your favorite WordPress-related resource?
Do I have to choose just one? Yes? How about no? Ok. I’m gonna just ignore that.

The codex
make.wordpress.org
ManageWP.org
ChrisLema.com
CSS-Tricks.com
PippinsPlugins.com
Twitter
Local meetups

Tell us something awesome about yourself that is not WordPress related
I play guitar. Does anything else really matter? If you walked up to me and said “Hey, Kyle. You want some of this free beer?” I would most likely say “Yes”.

Interview with Brent Shepherd

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Brent will be presenting Develop Very Mild Superpowers with Git on Saturday in the Development track

WordPress is my hobby and my profession.

I currently work day-and-night on WooCommerce Subscriptions – the most popular 3rd party extension in the official WooCommerce marketplace. Prior to falling in love with WooCommerce, I worked as a WordPress freelancer developer for clients like Stanford University, Designer Fund and the Australian Government.

I’ve spoken at WordCamp’s in Phoenix, Orlando, Sydney (Australia) and helped co-organise WordCamps in Melbourne and Gold Coast (Australia).

Interview:

Why do you use WordPress?
I started because of the simplicity & good documentation, I stayed because of the community and ideals.

What would you say to convince someone to attend a WordCamp?
You only live once.

What is your favorite WordPress project you have worked on recently?
WooCommerce!

Do you have any advice for someone looking to start or grow a WordPress based business?
Go to a WordCamp in your area.

What is your favorite WordPress-related resource?
WordCamps! Are they a resource? If not, the Codex.

Tell us something awesome about yourself that is not WordPress related
WordPress is my hobby and profession. There is nothing else.