Hey Daniel, I’m so delighted to have an opportunity to ask you several questions to share with our Crocoblock Community.
Well, I’ve been following you on Twitter for not so long, but I know you as a WPMinute producer, WordCamp organizer, and web developer in Pinellas County Government, am I right? I’m sure I’ve missed something, so please introduce yourself first. 😊
Yep, I’m doing all of that, and I’m also constantly working on side projects at night and on weekends to try out things that I wouldn’t normally do in my day job. Some of those that have come to fruition are WP Live Streams Directory, WordPress Twitter Community, and Tiny Press Email.
Where/When have you learned WordPress/website development? Was WordPress your root platform for website building?
I started working with WordPress around 2007 but didn’t start creating websites for clients until around 2010. My background is in PHP, HTML, and CSS, so it was a natural progression to WordPress, especially the ability to theme and work with custom post types.
I also had an agency that was one of the first to focus on creating websites for non-profits and making it as easy as possible for them to edit by using Visual Composer and WP Bakery at the time. Before WordPress, I had built sites on top of Drupal and created my own custom CMS.
Do you have a full-time job? If yes, what are your primary assignments/tasks?
I’ve recently been promoted and am now the Team Leader at Pinellas County Government, overseeing all of the public-facing websites and interactive experiences to help the public get the information they need easily and intuitively.
Your WordCamp organizer experience looks astonishing (WCUS 20, WC Miami 2020, WC NYC 2018); how did everything start?
Before 2009 I had become a regular organizer and speaker in the Adobe Flash community. I first started out attending, then got into volunteering, then speaking, and then organizing.
So I’ve followed the same playbook here in the WordPress community. I first volunteered at WordCamp DC 2017, then spoke at WordCamp NYC 2017 & WordCamp Albuquerque 2018, then organized the Photography teams for WC NYC 2018 and WC Miami 2020, and am now an organizer for WordCamp US 2022 in San Diego.
I feel it’s really important to give back, and this is one of the ways I’m able to do that and meet people from around the world in our community.
What is your role/tasks in the WPMinute podcast?
The WP Minute is a very unique news network created by Matt Medeiros that is focused on community journalism. Anyone can join, contribute, and help shape the news each week.
I was one of the first members to participate as a paid contributor, meaning I paid an annual fee to be involved. This might seem backward to some, but it has been one of the largest factors in me being able to execute so many side projects over the past year because it keeps me in touch with what is going on in the community and where there are gaps for what people are craving.
Everyone can contribute as much or as little as they would like. There is a Discord server where we share links we think should be included in the news, some people contribute by reading the news, and others might do their own 1-minute spot on a particular topic. All ideas and contributions are welcome. If someone is interested, they can feel free to reach out to me on Twitter with any questions.
Could you please share the main goals/purposes of your WP Live Streams Directory & Tiny Press Email?
All of my side projects are born out of a need for something I want to use myself and that I know others do as well.
WP Live Streams Directory was the first side project I worked on around the middle of 2021 because I was noticing a lot of live web streams popping up across the WordPress community and wanted to be able to see in one place what events were happening. I built the site as a minimum viable product at first so I could add new events manually and be able to see them well on any device. Now it has evolved into a partially automated process and a google calendar that anyone can subscribe to.
Tiny Press Email also was born in a similar way. As you also might experience, I was receiving many WordPress email newsletters over the past few years, and they were filled with great content but were becoming very long, with over 100 links per issue.
Personally, I don’t have time to weed through all of those links to find the nuggets that pertain to me. So I decided to make an email newsletter where I share the top 3 WordPress design and development links in your inbox every week of nuggets I’ve found across the web.
What are your top free/premium WordPress tools for website building?
For a long time, I’ve been using Advanced Custom Fields to handle any custom fields that need to be created and using a hidden gem called the ACF Extended plugin to add on some extra features to also create custom ACF blocks, ACF front end forms, custom taxonomies, custom post types, and more. I’ve also been getting very excited about your product, JetEngine, and using it with Gutenberg to create listing sites.
I also consistently use Admin Menu Editor Pro on every website I build. I’ve found it to be invaluable with its ability to make the admin menus look and organize how you like but also turn off some core blocks, rebrand the login and colors of wp-admin, organize the top toolbar, and edit admin.css and the list goes on.
What is your list of WordPress resources you read/follow daily or weekly?
I tend to listen to a lot of podcasts and skim email newsletters as well as Twitter. My main podcasts are:
- The WP Minute;
- Women In WP;
- Kitchen Sink WP;
- WP Review;
- WP Tonic;
- and the newcomer Press The Issue from MasterWP.
Could you please share any tip/s for newcomers and advanced Web Developers?
Whether we like it or not, the future is in the Block Editor and Full Site Editing. So be ahead of the curve and learn what you can do with it right now.
Some great resources for that are fullsiteediting.com and Learn WordPress.
What are your thoughts about the “no-coding” trend? Do you think website developers should know any programming language obligatory?
I LOVE NO CODE!!!! I truly think that the No-Code movement democratizes web development in a way that can help us all succeed together. The more people that are able to bring their vision to life, the more ways we can help as web developers to make that experience amazing.
A good example is Full Site Editing; sure, we could be disgruntled as web developers that FSE is being forced into WordPress Core. But the reality I see is that it brings entirely new opportunities for us as web developers to help craft an intuitive and exciting admin experience for our stakeholders.
You can now take a design system built in Figma, edit a theme.json file to have the same style attributes for all of the core blocks, and then setup templates that are locked down with the proper blocks necessary for your admins to work with.
This is something we’ve never been able to do at this level before, and it gets me excited to see where it is going!
😃Thank you a lot for an amazing interview! In closing, let me ask an old-fashioned question, what is your hobby?
I used to sing and was in a Barbershop Chorus with about 50 other men, but since the pandemic, I’ve put that to the side. I’ll one day get back to it.
My other main hobby is just “relaxation”. I can’t stress enough that with everything going on around us, it’s important to take an inventory of your own state of mind and body.
I’ve had to take time to consciously give myself the room to just relax and not work on anything. Sometimes that means I go to the pool with my kids, take a walk at lunch, or play a video game before bed.