To start our Speaker Interview Series for WordCamp St. Louis 2015, the organization team decided for 2015 to send out a list of 5 questions to all of our speakers. Rather than ask different questions, they were the same exact inquiries. This is because each person has their own experience with how they started with WordPress.
NILE FLORES: What got you interested in WordPress?
RUSSELL FAIR: Well that was a long time ago and WordPress wasn’t the mature publishing platform that it is today. Still, the thing that made it attractive was that I could give it to a total novice and they could publish content on their own, without needing to know html, have any special software, or rely any other protocols to publish their thoughts online.
The simplicity and ease of publishing was, and still is one of the biggest reasons I love WordPress. One of the other big motivators for my interest was the WordPress MU project. The Idea that I could run multiple sites off one codebase was awesome. When that was rolled into the core platform, my interest was renewed and I find more reasons to love WordPress each day.
NILE FLORES: What is the most interesting WordPress-related project you’ve worked on?
RUSSELL FAIR: Probably the Nixon Foundation Website (nixonfoundation.org). I worked on it several years ago and it was one of the first projects where I pushed my knowledge about themes to the limit, and even made an attempt at writing my first plugin. The amount and quality of content they have is amazing and was just a fun and interesting project.
NILE FLORES: Name 3 WordPress plugins that have always been on your MUST install list, and why.
RUSSELL FAIR: The Yoast family of plugins for sure, SEO, Google Analytics etc. They’re vital to making your website get found and figuring out what your users are reading.
GravityForms, The form builder itself is just great, but when you add in all of the external API integrations it is just amazing. I use it all the time.
WP Super Cache – this one is pretty much a must have for making your site zippy. Nobody likes a slow website so WPSC is a must have for my sites.
NILE FLORES: What is something interesting about you that the WordPress community doesn’t know?
RUSSELL FAIR: I’m an outdoor nut. I like camping, geocaching, hiking, and pretty much anything I can find an excuse to get off of my computer to do.
NILE FLORES: In regards to new WordPress users, what one or two pieces of advice would you give them that could be very helpful?
RUSSELL FAIR: 1 – There is almost always more than one way to accomplish a particular job – this is especially true with WordPress. If you’re running into obstacles, stop and think about a different approach.
2 – Backups are mandatory. If you’re not backing up your site, and testing the integrity of your backups you’ll might wind up loosing everything. If you don’t have a backup solution in place that you KNOW WORKS, stop and do that now before you do anything else.
A big thanks to Russell for his time in answering these questions. Feel free to ask him questions and connect with him at the event.