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Thanks to Dave for taking the time to talk to WPKube.
Q: Can you tell readers a little about yourself?
I’m 27 years old and I currently live in Florida. I was born in the UK and lived there until I was 21, when I met my incredible wife. Unfortunately, as much as I loved my friends and family, she was American, so I had to pack my bags and start a new life in the States. During the day, I’m a practicing civil engineer and at night, when I’m not building websites, I’m drinking cider, spending time with my wife and fostering kittens for the local Humane Society.
Q: When did you start using WordPress?
I initially built websites in raw HTML (using tables, and then CSS), before moving on to Joomla.
I didn’t like how fiddly and overly complicated Joomla was, so I set about finding something new for my next project. That was when I discovered WordPress, which was about 2006. Luckily, I went straight into using the self-hosted version, so I was immediately able to take advantage of custom themes and plugins, which quickly helped me to realize the true power of WordPress.
Q. What do you consider to be your strengths and weaknesses with the WordPress platform?
My strengths are tailoring solutions for helping with specific problems, with the least amount of code or plugins possible. I love the challenge of being presented with a need and trying to see it met in the simplest manor possible.
I’ve got a lot to learn, but I’ve also got several years of experience that I rely on. My weaknesses are with custom theme development. I can tweak any existing theme to do what I need to do, but I’ve not yet gone through the process of starting with a blank piece of paper and building a WordPress theme from scratch. So I need to find the time and opportunity to do that, to add that tool to my belt.
Q: What would you like to see added to the WordPress core in 2012?
I don’t necessarily think that anything needs to be added to the core. The core is exactly that; a solid foundation upon which plugins can give you the extra functionality that you need for your own specific needs. The WordPress core is intentionally lean, but immensely powerful and secure at the same time. So I hope that the development team continues to implement best practices and keeps up-to-date with security and new and appropriate technologies.
If I had to pick though, I personally would like to see some sort of automatic plugin update feature. Perhaps it would require you to opt-in, or developers with well-established plugins, like Gravity Forms, or W3 Total Cache, could earn a “trusted status” where their plugin updates are automatically pushed to installations.
Is there anything you think that most WordPress themes lack?
Yes. There’s a serious lack of well-coded WordPress themes, that are set-up to allow easy development. For example, get_template_part is severely under-used, and should be more widespread to allow child themes to more easily manipulate themes without having to delve into the meat of larger files, instead enabling them to just focus on editing the loop for example. Another thing that WordPress themes lack is simplicity.
I think that all too often, themes try and do everything under the sun, when they really just need to concentrate on being good at the basics. The more complicated it becomes, the more chances there are for conflicts and mistakes. For example, there is no need for “SEO titles”; wp_title will suffice just fine. Anyone wanting more than that, should be relying on a plugin for that functionality – it’s just bloat.
Q: Who do you admire in the WordPress community?
This is dangerous; I might miss someone! Oli Dale at WPLift has long been an inspiration for me, as a blogger who has his screwed on the right way and is focusing on the important thing; creating good content.
Another man in that camp is Kevin Chard from WPSnipp; he’s just doing it to help people out. For developers, you obviously can’t miss the big hitters like Mark Jaquith, Andrew Nacin and Jane Wells, but then there’s also developers like Konstantin Kovshenin and Pippin Williamson who are very active in the community, know their shit and will actively seek to improve your understanding and coding to make the WordPress ecosystem an all-round healthier creature.
Q: What are your favorite 5 WordPress plugins and why?
- Gravity Forms, for being incredibly powerful and useful in so many applications
- Easy Digital Downloads, a recent, but already incredibly successful plugin for selling digital content online
- and WP Smush.it for helping to squeeze every last useless byte out of your images and make your site (and the web) a faster place.
Q: What future plans do you have for your WordPress blog DoItWithWP?
Well, I’ve just gone through a couple of big changes; I recently moved to a VPS, for better performance behind the scenes and just a couple of weeks ago, I launched a new design, which is responsive and much fitter for 2012, than the old theme.
Moving forward, I plan to continue creating more and more impartial and helpful tutorials for my readers and you may see a couple of splinter projects come out of Do It With WordPress. Watch this space