Speaker Interview: Mary Baum

We know there’s been a lot of posts being published and shared to your inboxes in such a short time, but we’re a little half-way through our Speaker Interview series. We really hope you’ve enjoyed some of them and have learned something behind each individual.

This interview is with well-connected local, Mary Baum. Mary is a really spunky lady with a lot of knowledge of St. Louis and even design. You can find out more about her in her speaker bio.

Mary is scheduled to present – Structure, Style, Story: What Goes Where?


NILE FLORES: What got you interested in WordPress?

MARY BAUM: I was involved with a hardcore direct marketing group, and it was becoming clear I needed to be able to design for WP – it was a problem that I’d never done anything with the platform to speak of.

Suddenly, the summer I turned 50, I had three WP projects: A news site for the mayor of U City, a blog for my SIL and the branding of your pal and mine, Retail Rich. (Note: Mary and I worked with Retail Rich.)

As freaked out as I’d been over turning 50, suddenly I had a whole new challenge: PHP. (And at that point I was only fair to middling with my CSS.)

Further, I had started using a purported no-coding solution for functionality – commerce, email marketing, events – and was paying a fortune for no support, even when something broke. Also, their no-code/shortcode system was plenty convoluted – it’s really just as simple to learn PHP and to tweak plugins.

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

MARY BAUM: Porting Frontenac Racquet Club to Genesis in fall 2012 from static html. I was doing it for my own reasons, so the design needed to look exactly like the previous version. It took me two tries and some CSS3 nth-child shenanigans, but it lives and breathes.

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

MARY BAUM:1. Reveal IDs, because I like to be SURE what categories (etc) I’m targeting for blog-page and other layouts.

2. iThemes Security, because: I really don’t ever want to hear about a hacking from the client.
Also, my fighter pilot did get hacked – while another security plugin was running. And, while I know he’s left iThemes, Chris Wiegman is a Twitter bud. He’s often the only one to answer when I have a question or make comments on my VERY twisted perspective. And he’ll politely tell me when I’m wrong.

3. Regenerate Thumbnails, because I change image sizes a lot.

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

MARY BAUM: Everybody on Twitter knows how proud I am of my daughter the sportswriter.

Well, the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree:

  • In college in Rhode Island (she went to school in Boston),
  • I did sports on the radio (she was sports editor of the paper)
  • and was a student of pro football (she’s a huge baseball fan).

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

MARY BAUM: Learn some CSS, even if you’re not a designer, so you can make simple tweaks without bugging your developer (you’ll save money, too.)

Security, security, security:

  • Install a security plugin and learn to configure it.
  • And I don’t care if a name like Adminonnia or Vicadminnius has been in your family since the Hundred Years’ War – NOBODY registered on the back end should have the letters ‘admin’ as any part of their user name, their real name or their dog’s name. It’s the one thing that makes it way too easy to get compromised.

You can kick it with Mary at WordCamp St. Louis on March 14th and 15th. She’s really witty and you’ll learn a lot. You can also reach out to her in the comments below. 🙂