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.
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.