Speaker Interview: Heather Acton

One of our next speakers, Heather Acton is from the Chicago area. She’s taken some time right before traveling to St. Louis to take a part in our Speaker Interview Series.

You can find out more about Heather in her speaker bio. Heather will be presenting Financial Business Planning for Freelancers.


NILE FLORES: What got you interested in WordPress?

HEATHER ACTON: Back in 2008 I wanted to build my first website – a venue to share pictures and stories about our family with extended family members around the US. I taught myself HTML and CSS and got rolling, but kept running into information about this thing called “WordPress”. It turns out that it was the perfect tool for my project, so I went full force into learning more about it and building my family site with it. It was “love at first use” for me, and I haven’t looked back since!

NILE FLORES: What is the most interesting WordPress-related project you’ve worked on?

HEATHER ACTON: Recently we built a site for Attachapack (http://attachapack.com), a startup venture that sells customizable backpacks for kids. We built a custom WooCommerce extension that allows a user to “build” their own backpack right on the site – visuals and all. Users and the client love it and it’s helped launch Attachapack to a new level.

NILE FLORES: Name 3 WordPress plugins that have always been on your MUST install list, and why.

HEATHER ACTON: WordPress SEO by Yoast – a must have for generating an XML sitemap, optimizing social posts, and giving the client a spot to edit the search engine title and meta description.

Gravity Forms – we all need at least one form on our site, and GF works great for simple forms and even more complex applications like quizzes, user registration, and contests.

Advanced Custom Fields – an efficient way to add custom fields to pages and posts is imperative even for some of the simplest sites, so this gets installed on almost all of our projects. We’ve also used it to do some cool stuff with modular page layouts – it’s more powerful than meets the eye.

NILE FLORES: What is something interesting about you that the WordPress community doesn’t know?

HEATHER ACTON: That I’m actually more introverted than I seem. At WordCamps and other community events I typically am talking to folks the whole time. And while I enjoy it, it’s not entirely comfortable for me. After a long day of chatting it up with all of these smart people, I like to take a couple quiet hours to myself to recharge and process all that I learned.

NILE FLORES: In regards to new WordPress users, what one or two pieces of advice would you give them that could be very helpful?

HEATHER ACTON: First, stick with it. WordPress is known for being “easy”, but truth be told it’s not so easy to be a really solid WordPress user or developer. Many folks hack through it, but to do things right and well takes time.

Second, take advantage of all of the learning opportunities you can. Go to WordCamps, meetups, read books, Google lots of things, spend time with others that do what you do…and soak it all in.

Please don’t be shy in asking Heather questions at the event, or down in the comments below. 🙂