All posts by Chad Warner

Bob Orchard Speaker Interview

Bob Orchard

Bob Orchard is the founder of Tinypint, a web agency based in Grand Rapids and a designer/developer for 8 years. When he’s not pushing pixels or pulling code, he’s out and about cycling or enjoying a beer downtown. He’s also a Maker at GR Makers, where they meet up once a week to create cool things.

Bob will be presenting Customizing the WordPress Admin Area.

Interview

Why do you use WordPress?

I use WordPress because it allows our clients to feel empowered by the ability to manage their own website and not be hamstrung by an errant developer. Though the releases, we’ve steadily been able to push the boundaries of ‘what’ WordPress is into “where” we can take it.

When and how did you start using WordPress?

I started off as a designer offloading development to other developers when I started freelancing. I had seen this new blogging platform but since I didn’t blog I never gave it that much though until I tried using Joomla and then Drupal. After finding a lot of inflexibility within those CMS’s, I went back to WordPress and fell in love with how much it reduced my client overhead for support requests and what I was able to do with it (custom fields, consistent UI, pretty URLs, etc).

What tips or resources would you recommend to a new WordPress user?

I would reach out to the local meetup group for WordPress Grand Rapids right away. There’s always great talks going on about what we can do with WordPress and a ton of great people like Topher or Chad (as well as myself) who’s there to answer any of your tough questions.

What advice would you give someone who’s building a business around WordPress design or development?

Find a GREAT host for your websites. Yes – those $3.99/mo ‘unlimited’ hosts are a great start, but move to something like Flywheel’s hosting. They make it super-easy to manage your client sites and hand the billing directly off to them. Check them out at getflywheel.com.

Second – use Google Apps (we do) or another off-site solution like AtMail for your client’s email. You’ll find that when you’ve got to move 30 sites plus 4-10 email accounts per site from a cPanel powered solution to another email provider to be a pain. Using a third party solution for email independent of your hosting environment will save you an incredible amount of time. We’re a certified Google Apps reseller and we’ve never had a client ask to leave it after being trained on how to maximize their productivity with it.

How do you stay informed about WordPress (news, tips, etc.)?

I use Feedly to aggregate about a dozen WordPress-related blogs and check it periodically. The WPGR Meetup group has a lot of other information and I follow a few key people on Twitter for updates.

What’s a cool WordPress-based site you’ve seen recently?

We actually built this one about a year and a half ago, but its completely responsive and has stood the test of time quite well:  usallc.net. We used Advanced Custom Fields to tackle 90% of the per-page customization available to the clients and took their old site to something befitting a $25M/year company.

What do you like most about WordCamps?

I love being able to meet the local communities. WordCamps are a GREAT time to reach out and meet people you otherwise probably wouldn’t have met. Bring in a ton of business cards and network like crazy.

Where can we find you online?

You can find me on Twitter @boborchard as well as @tinypint. Our website is tinypint.com and we also have a separate service we’re launching called Stride (an all-in-one site/service solution).

Taylor Vanden Hoek Speaker Interview

Taylor Vanden Hoek is a West Michigan native with a passion for design in any form. Her Bachelors in Fine Arts from the Illinois Institute of Art prepped her well for her career as a print and web designer. Having been doing design for 8+ years, she’s had the opportunity to work with creative agencies and now work independently with a variety of clients.

She has a particular interest in the intersection of design and the entrepreneurial spirit which has led her to work with many tech startups in helping to bring their product or service to launch from initial investment to sustaining a large client base. Additionally, she’s extended this skill-set to work with organizations one-on-one and through AIGA West Michigan’s Weekend Blitz, using design to leverage a larger impact in her community.

Taylor will be presenting The Intersection of Clients + Design.

Interview

Where can we find you online?

taylorvdh.com
@taylorvdh

Michelle Schulp Speaker Interview

Michelle Schulp

Michelle Schulp is an independent graphic designer based in Chicagoland (and soon to be relocating to Minneapolis). She was on the WordCamp Chicago organizing committee in 2012 and 2013, and lead organizer in 2014. 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. You may have seen her work on the WordPress Template Hierarchy or her Git-Themed poetry. 😉

Michelle will be presenting Design Is In The Details: How Decisions Shape Communication.

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. Suddenly there was a world of resources available to me online and in-person to help me with my work. But more importantly, I was drawn to how passionate and helpful people are, and that more than anything is what makes me stay. That and it’s a pretty good user experience as far as CMSs go!

When and how did you start using WordPress?

I’d heard of it for a while, and had a little WordPress.com blog in 2009, but didn’t start building sites for other people until 2010, and didn’t get really serious about it until attending WordCamp Chicago in 2011.

What tips or resources would you recommend to a new WordPress user?

Most importantly, don’t be scared. Push yourself to keep learning as much as you can. I hear a lot of people say, “Oh I’m not ready to customize that/add plugins/build a child theme/write code/whatever.” There was a period where I felt the same way! But the only way you’ll learn is by doing it, breaking it, playing with it, taking it apart and putting it back together. That’s why local development environments (like DesktopServer, especially if you’re new to local development) are really important!

What advice would you give someone who’s building a business around WordPress design or development?

Grow your network as well as your skills. I can’t tell you how much work I get from referrals, and how much technical and business advice I get from my friends in the field. We all want to help each other succeed, even if we’re technically competitors. Oh, and don’t screw up your taxes, finances, and legal. Find someone that can help you with all that right away. Division of labor is there for a reason!

How do you stay informed about WordPress (news, tips, etc.)?

Twitter/Facebook/Skype, and occasionally diving into my Feedly feed for articles when I have time.

What’s a cool WordPress-based site you’ve seen recently?

I’m enjoying the workouts on HackerBody which is powered by WordPress.

What do you like most about WordCamps?

There is literally no better value for what you pay, and I’m not just talking what you get in the sessions. Go and you’ll be hooked, you’ll want to learn more, you’ll want to be involved, you’ll make great friends, you’ll get help, you’ll make connections… it can be anything you want it to be.

Where can we find you online?

Portfolio at Marktime Media, and talks/events/ blogs/geek-themed artwork at My Name Is Michelle.

Chris Klosowski Speaker Interview

Chris Klosowski

Chris Klosowski is the founding developer of Filament Studios, which produces the Post Promoter Pro and WP-Push plugins. He’s a contributing developer and Support Technician on Easy Digital Downloads, and also works at GoDaddy where he primarily specializes in large-scale WordPress installations as well as JavaScript development.

Chris currently resides in San Tan Valley, Arizona with his wife and son, and hails from Wyoming, MI.

Chris will be presenting Wrangling WP-Cron.

Interview

Why do you use WordPress?

Primarily for the community involvement, specifically around development. There’s always something new and interesting coming out of the group of developers I follow.

When and how did you start using WordPress?

I started using WordPress by migrating from LiveJournal, back in the fall of 2005. From there, a small tweak to a theme turned into my first plugin.

What tips or resources would you recommend to a new WordPress user?

My number one tip for new users is get involved and don’t be a stranger.

The forums on WordPress.org are full of people in the community who want to help. While WordPress may be open-source, that doesn’t mean it’s without amazing (community provided) support.

Some helpful blogs are WPMayor.com, BobWP.com and Smashing Magazine.

If you are looking for developer resources, PippinsPlugins.com and WP TutsPlus.

What advice would you give someone who’s building a business around WordPress design or development?

Be transparent and give back. I love having a mix of commercial and free plugins available for people to check out.

How do you stay informed about WordPress (news, tips, etc.)?

I have a Twitter List that I follow for news including Pippin Williamson, Chris Lema, Brian Krogsgard, and most of the core dev team. Being that I’m talking daily with the Easy Digital Downloads team, it’s rare that I miss a story.

As far as blogs I tend to watch PostStat.us for news. I also subscribe to the weekly email from WPMail.me. When I need developer tips I look towards PippinsPlugins.com, TomMcfarlin.com.

What’s a cool WordPress-based site you’ve seen recently?

I’ve recently been working with a copy editor named Lisa over at wordmaid.com. It’s a great site designed by another EDD contributor, Andrew Munro.

What do you like most about WordCamps?

Getting to catch up with people I usually only talk to on social media. As much work as we can get done co-located, those face-to-face conversations mean a lot to a relationship.

Where can we find you online?

I blog personally at kungfugrep.com and you can check out my plugins at filament-studios.com.

You can follow me on Twitter at @cklosowski.

Tim Yow Speaker Interview

Tim Yow

While Tim Yow actually owns 3 businesses, including a coffee / ice cream shop in Metro Detroit, he still manages to dedicate nearly all of his available hours to YowSeo, an online marketing firm he started in early 2012. YowSeo was created with the intention of staying specialized, building on Tim’s many years of experience in the field of SEO, and avoiding the temptation of becoming a “one stop web shop” like most companies offering SEO today.

Tim will be presenting The Traffic Data that Matters in Google Analytics.

Interview

Why do you use WordPress?

I started using WordPress because I was impressed with the user-friendly dashboard. I kept using it when I saw how the WordPress sites I optimized performed in Google compared to sites built from scratch or on other popular content management systems.

When and how did you start using WordPress?

I gave up on launching forums and began experimenting with it for my own sites in 2009. By late 2010, I was convincing clients and others I knew to go with WordPress and helping several with installation and set up.

What tips or resources would you recommend to a new WordPress user?

Embrace permalinks! Love ’em! Make the best of ’em!

How do you stay informed about WordPress (news, tips, etc.)?

My local WordPress Meetup and Twitter.

What’s a cool WordPress-based site you’ve seen recently?

I’d have to go with fluffyguy.com – Gabriel Iglesias, one of my favorite comedians.

What do you like most about WordCamps?

Ummm… After-parties. I MEAN, the exchange of knowledge!

Where can we find you online?

yowseo.com
michiganmarketer.com
Twitter: @yowseo

Jared Olson Speaker Interview

Jared Olson

Jared Olson has been working in technology since 2004. He started off doing PC repair and grew into doing network implementations and server support. Working at a company that took on the QR code boom hard and having customers that needed simple landing page websites, he started learning HTML to help the customers’ needs. He grew up in a small town in Illinois and now recently moved to Grand Rapids.

Jared will be presenting Intro to WordPress.

Interview

Why do you use WordPress?

I use WordPress because I feel it is one of the most user friendly content management system to use.  The ability to purchase a great template and run with it to create a great looking site that is editable by clients in hours is amazing.

When and how did you start using WordPress?

I first used WordPress in 2010 and did not really like it.  Then in 2012 I was testing out a bunch of different content management systems like Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress and really fell in love with WordPress and how user friendly it became.  I started just taking a template and adding content to it, and now am starting to customize themes and PHP files to create an even better experience.

What tips or resources would you recommend to a new WordPress user?

A few things to help learn WordPress is to start working with it.  The more you can deep dive into using WordPress the better you will get and the more questions you will have.  Also go to events like Wordcamp and meet other people that are using it to learn what they are doing and how to do certain things.  Meeting new people helps you grow your skills tremendously.

What advice would you give someone who’s building a business around WordPress design or development?

Look at working with other businesses that your skills can help, and vice versa.  If you are a designer, find developers to help you in the back end. The more partnerships you can make, the more people you are helping, which then leads to more business.

How do you stay informed about WordPress (news, tips, etc.)?

I stay informed about WordPress by doing the following:

  1. Going to Wordcamps.
  2. Listening to podcasts.
  3. Subscribing to email lists.
  4. Going to meetups.
  5. Talking with other people that use WordPress.

What’s a cool WordPress-based site you’ve seen recently?

lifeandtimes.com. This is a nice design and has some cool features. It is amazing what can be done with WordPress now days.

What do you like most about WordCamps?

I love being able to learn from experts in the area, and experts from all around the world.  It is also cool that the WordCamps are recorded for future viewing also.

Where can we find you online?

consultingparttime.com
Consulting Part Time on Facebook
@OlsonJared

Ross Johnson Speaker Interview

Ross Johnson

Ross Johnson is a man of many passions, the most interesting is new age retro antiques. Google it… it’ll change your life. When not pursuing said passions, he’s working at his design agency 3.7 DESIGNS, working on his project management plugin Panorama or teaching at Michigan State University.

Ross will be presenting Designing for the First Five Seconds.

Interview

Why do you use WordPress?

These days I have to attribute it to the community. The knowledge and resources available for WordPress make it the best platform for me. It also helps that it’s easy to learn and understand, making it a great tool for my design clients.

When and how did you start using WordPress?

I started using WordPress in 2006 after a brief stint with blogger. At the time I felt any important web designer needed a blog… naturally that included me, despite the fact that no one new me. When I didn’t instantly hit fame and fortune I blamed the platform. Clearly I wasn’t to blame, I just needed a better tool! I switched to WordPress and before I knew it Donald Trump was calling me up asking if I’d be on his show “Celebrity Apprentice.” Naturally I declined.

What tips or resources would you recommend to a new WordPress user?

Setup a development or sandbox environment and don’t be afraid to break things. I’ve found the best way to really understand something is explore its limits. If you do find yourself following a tutorial don’t copy and paste code examples. Instead, type out all the code as it will dramatically increase memory retention.

What advice would you give someone who’s building a business around WordPress design or development?

Have a thick skin and don’t be afraid to make and learn from mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s a part of life. I’ve been running a WordPress design agency for almost ten years and I still constantly make mistakes. The important thing is they are always new mistakes.

How do you stay informed about WordPress (news, tips, etc.)?

Mostly Poststat.us, following cool people on Twitter and smoke signals.

What’s a cool WordPress-based site you’ve seen recently?

wpelevation.com — very cool use of WordPress tools like LearnDash to make a robust community and training course for WordPress consultants.

Where can we find you online?

3.7designs.co
projectpanorama.com
@3pointross