Speaker Interview: Chris Koerner

On the docket for our Speaker Interview series is Chris Koerner, who co-organizes the St. Louis WordPress Meetup Group.

He’s a St. Louis local who works for Mercy healthcare system. Chris is an excellent presenter and knows how to talk about code in a manner that makes it interesting and easy to learn. (Note: I added that in because he gave the best talk in the past on CSS that I’ve ever heard in a while.)

You can find out more about Chris in his speaker bio. He’ll be presenting on How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Update Button.


NILE FLORES: What got you interested in WordPress?

CHRIS KOERNER: About a decade ago I wanted to create my own site and at the time I had limited technical knowledge. Today, I’ve gained 10 years of experience and consequently have about .05% more knowledge. The idea that anyone can create a site to share their “thing” is one of the tenants of the philosophy behind the World Wide Web. That WordPress is so successful and till holds itself to this core belief is something amazing. I’ve stuck with WordPress not only for it’s technical chops as it’s grown from a blogging software to a web platform, but also because of the great community of people from all walks of life that come together to do their “thing” with WordPress.

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

CHRIS KOERNER: From a technical and collaborative side it would have to be my work with Dynamic Edge Dance Center. I really dug in with Advanced Custom Fields and setup the site to be easily managed by the dance staff. They’ve really ran with it over the last few years.

It feels really good when your clients are excited and empowered to update their own content.

From a, “Heck yeah, this is awesome!” I’d have to say building the site for the non-profit pet rescue my wife founded. But, you know, I could be a little biased.

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

CHRIS KOERNER: Custom Post Type UI – Makes managing custom post types independent of your theme’s functions.php and easy to administer.

Advanced Custom Fields – Along with custom post types, ACF makes WordPress a really robust CMS for pretty much any use. It’s actively maintained, and like all essential WordPress plugins has a thriving ecosystem.

WP Super Cache – If you don’t cache your site, you’re going to have a bad time.

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

CHRIS KOERNER: I’m an avid photographer and don’t work with WordPress as part of my day job (Scandalous, I know!).

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

CHRIS KOERNER: Start out slow. You’re going to get too frustrated and quit far too early if you try to build CNN.com on your first go around. Take baby steps, read, read, read. Break things. Figure out why it broke. Read some more. Then you’ll be ready.

Also, always use a development environment. Never edit a live site without having tested everything in your dev setup first and with a solid backup.

Please feel free to approach Chris and ask questions. Also, feel free to thank him for all the dedication to helping the St. Louis WordPress community thrive through the meetups.