Can you tell us something about yourself and DevriX?
DevriX was founded late in 2010 and we’re currently a team of 30 providing WordPress development retainers for SMEs and fast-paced startups. With 6 WordPress Core contributors in our team, we’re committed to solving the types of problems that everyone else tries to avoid on purpose. 🙂
Aside from the engineering department, we’ve also signed an agency partnership with HubSpot. Being vocal proponents of Inbound Marketing, our marketing department works closely with our project leads on discovering new business opportunities for our long-term clients – automating slow processes, finding new monetization channels to tackle, and moving prospects further down the funnel.
I wear many hats on a weekly – and even daily – basis. You can find me debugging a nasty concurrency problems behind a load balancer, drafting a proposal for a new project, preparing some snarky behavioral-based interview questions or updating the excerpt for an upcoming blog post.
Would you mind sharing with our audience, how did you start with WordPress?
A media company I worked for in 2005 started a blogging project (think of a local WordPress.com). We were assigned to explore different blogging systems and WordPress was one of the obvious choices. I started my first blog, built a few WordPress-based projects for clients, and kept tinkering around.
At some point, I’ve switched entirely to WordPress. We were spending too much time building the same old admin dashboards with CRUD features and user roles on numerous frameworks instead of focusing on business problems.
What would be your top three reasons why blogging rookies should start their blog with WordPress instead of other CMS?
- Extensibility. WordPress powers 30% of the web nowadays. Every SaaS or service provider aims for a plugin or another form of seamless integration with WordPress.
The template hierarchy is brilliant, too. You will struggle replicating a random design 1:1 with other popular CMS.
The flexibility of the database is certainly a plus. Drupal is also extremely powerful, but isn’t as intuitive and doesn’t support the needs of bloggers out-of-the-box.
- Data ownership. You can write on Medium or LinkedIn Pulse, but you don’t own your copy. This will bite you at some point, sooner or later.
- Affordable start. You can hardly pull a professional solution yourself, but you can start with a DIY site until you get some traction and can afford paying for a properly developed WordPress project.
There are thousands of plugins available that help us build a better looking and functional blog. What would be your top three choices?
Plugins are tricky – quality code is hard to find and supporting hundreds of hosting vendors (and their corresponding server/PHP versions) is really tricky.
That said, the first three that come to mind are: Yoast SEO, MailChimp for WordPress, Contact Form 7. Won’t make your site pretty but you’ll rank better in Google, capture some email subscribers and make sure advertisers are able to contact you 🙂
It’s expected that Gutenberg editor is going to be released in WordPress 5.0 version, and it should replace default WP Editor. What do you think it will bring us? Are people going to love or hate it?
Transitions are always difficult – be it good or bad. It’s a natural psychological phenomenon as people don’t know what they lose yet and aren’t used to the new set of features. Sounds frightening, doesn’t it?
That said, I see that as a positive move toward a better and more powerful CMS. We’ve been spending a lot of time integrating custom metaboxes, crafting widget areas within pages, migrating visual builders and the like. We even built our own WordPress visual builder just so that we could create rows and columns within our layout.
Gutenberg is definitely promising. I don’t think it’s mature enough yet – supporting metaboxes from various plugins out there or providing a flexible enough API for building new add-ons. But it’s getting there fast. It will take a while, but both small businesses and enterprises will benefit from the upgrade.
Can you tell how the future of WordPress is going be?
Sending one Arduino hosting a WordPress website inside of the next Tesla aiming for Mars?
It’s hard to tell. WordPress keeps getting traction – but it’s still primarily picked by bloggers, small businesses, magazines. We work with various enterprises on WordPress projects. Yet, many are hesitant to use a well-known “blogging platform” for a real in-house product.
Certain initiatives such as the REST API could help businesses build mobile, desktop, SPA applications interacting with WordPress as an external engine. Gutenberg can improve the overall user experience while managing content. The focus on accessibility is key for governments and universities. That’s definitely a move in the right direction.
The WooCommerce acquisition by Automattic may help a lot pushing WooCommerce toward large eCommerce stores out there. Clients still pick Shopify or choose Magento as their online shopping platform – even though WooCommerce is the leading choice for smaller online stores.
Is there anything you would like to change about WordPress?
A lot of things – although it may harm the ecosystem as a whole.
A focus on better code quality would be great. The major setback for enterprises and larger organizations are plugins that throw notices (or even fatal errors at times), security warnings, performance leak and more. I won’t even discuss the premium themes market – it’s hard to find high-quality paid themes nowadays.
Within the WordPress Core – extracting the Core framework further would be great. Bloggers and small businesses often look at Squarespace, Weebly, Wix as easier alternatives for simple sites. Enterprises consider web content management platforms or options like Drupal simply because they seem more mature and professional (and are marketed as such).
A way to serve both audiences would be great. Or at least maintain an established process for enterprises – a shortlist of decent plugins, best practices for scaling enterprises (ones that will be supported 5 years from now), a roadmap for what’s coming in the future, things like that.
Within the community – less “race to the bottom”. Installing WordPress is a common “service” to offer nowadays and fees go down to $50 or even lower. Simple site customizations may be sold for $100. This doesn’t really touch on important areas related to stability, scalability, security – and as soon as the business starts to get some traction, everything breaks and customers may very well lose their business.
Establishing quality standards is definitely something I’d work on – through some sort of certification, a validation authority, an automated scanner or a partnership program outside of WordPress.com VIP.
Now, let’s talk a bit about social media. You’re very active on Quora and your answers have reached 1 million views. That’s really a big thing, congrats! For our readers who haven’t used Quora yet, can you tell the pros and cons of using it?
Sure – I do love Quora and I spend a lot of time both reading and writing.
It’s a Q&A platform like Yahoo! Answers or reddit – but with a large audience of industry experts and a focus on personal branding. Answering politely is one of the main rules of Quora – known as BNBR (Be Nice, Be Respectful). This isn’t something you can rely on at reddit, for example.
I found Quora a while ago while reading a bunch of answers by people working in Google, Amazon, Netflix – sharing their own experience and know-how. As someone running a tech agency, learning from the best is definitely on top of my list of priorities. You won’t find similar opinions in press releases or on Wikipedia.
The platform is among the top 100 most visited websites in the US even though a lot of people haven’t heard of it. I am subscribed to various topics discussing management, recruitment, marketing, sales, business process optimization. I read a couple of answers by Mark Cuban the other day on Quora. Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, writes frequently. Don’t be surprised if you stumble upon people who have programmed major components in iPhone’s core, designers of programming languages, serial entrepreneurs running several multimillion-dollar startups at once, rockstar marketers like Neil Patel and Eric Siu, venture capitalists and angel investors like Jason M. Lemkin (the main advocate of SaaS) – it looks like the secret society of cool people from where I stand.
I was just awarded the Top Writer 2018 quill (along with about 400 active members) thanks to my participation in 2017. I plan to keep writing and interacting with some brilliant minds along the way. And I repurpose some of my answers on LinkedIn or as YouTube videos (along with having some of them republished on Forbes, HuffPost, Inc.)
Is there any other social media network that you would like to recommend, especially to blogging newbies?
I do use Twitter and LinkedIn a lot. Facebook is still a good choice for bloggers, though I don’t enjoy it and its recent changes have turned it into a “pay-to-play” game.
For bloggers writing about visual stuff – clothing, art – Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest are likely a good option.
Sometimes, being an entrepreneur can be tough. What would be your “golden advice” for existing, but also future online entrepreneurs?
Keep hustling and be flexible. Entrepreneurship takes a lot of time and energy – and that’s normal. Work hard AND smart, hit your milestones and don’t give up.
But also be flexible – listen to feedback whenever you can and carefully analyze it. Haters are gonna hate, friends and family are going to support you “no matter what”. But any piece of feedback contains a nugget of valuable advice that could be incorporated into your business model. Agility is crucial in an ever-evolving ecosystem.
Do you have advice for other people who want to start web development business?
Don’t buy into the “race to the bottom” advice. Pick a niche or profile in a specific skill, a technology, a platform. Become a real expert and provide incredible value to your customers.
Everyone is a generalist nowadays in the web space. Most clients aren’t looking particularly for Laravel or CakePHP developers, either. You should either pick a vertical (legal firms, dentists, grocery stores) or profile in a complex framework, library, tech stack.
We like to wrap up with a bit of fun, so…do you have any hobbies?
Sure! I work from a hookah bar every day, try to read a couple books a month and occasionally get a chance to play some World of Warcraft with my wife. We’re raising a 4-month old princess now which requires a lot more attention and time but I’ll try to pitch her some of my favorite podcasts as soon as I get a chance! 🙂
Photos ©: DevriX