“I Am an Advocate for the Things I Believe In” – Interview with Suzette Franck

Blog,Experts' Insights,Helpful Tips

The interview series with world-known WordPress experts continues. Today we are honored to have Suzette Franck participate in this interview sharing her knowledge about WordPress and a lot more. She was very quick at getting her answers back to us, so read on to learn more about her.

Suzette Franck has been in web development for over twenty years and she is passionate about WordPress the application as well as the WordPress Open Source Community. She loves to code and teach others about all the aspects of building and maintaining sites with WordPress. So, pull up a chair, grab a cold one and join us in our conversation with Suzette Franck.

Suzette, what are 3 things about yourself that you would like to share with our readers? Those that aren’t covered at your website…

  • I am passionate about crafting and painting, and I do have a website specifically for that purpose, but a lot of people don’t know about it.
  • I was going to write a blog post about my new goals for next year but you can read it here first: I plan to focus on education, both for myself as well as to teach others what I know in a big way.
  • When it comes to web development and programming languages, I am 100% completely self-taught. I am an advocate for the things I believe in and one of most under unsung freedoms is that we have the ability to teach ourselves through the information on the Internet.

Do you remember the first time you started working with WordPress? Among hundreds of CMS solutions that are currently available at the web market – how do you think, what makes WordPress stand out from all the others?

Yes, I definitely remember the first time I worked with WordPress. I was experimenting with blogging, and heard that WordPress was the latest and greatest thing. I transferred my blogger account to a self-hosted WordPress site. I did not know that this piece of software would eventually transform my life and as well as the way that I develop.

WordPress stands out from all of the other competitors because of its amazing, intelligent, generous community. WordPress now makes up 23% of the internet, and the people that create with WordPress help each other out and have a strong kinship around WordPress events including Meetups and WordCamps. There are more free themes and plugins than any other system and more people and companies have the knowledge to support WordPress than any other CMS.

When you started your WordPress journey, what kind of difficulties did you face and how did you manage to solve them?

When I first started with WordPress in 2008, I was just starting to use div containers and CSS instead of tables for layout. I was new to the idea of having content stored in a database be totally separate from layout or theme template files. As a webmaster, I had always taken care of styling in the same page that had the content. I had to duplicate styles from page to page to the next, or link them to the stylesheet.

It took me a while to get used to this way of thinking, but once that was behind me, I began to see everything as different types of posts that were displayed within a template that I set up. I could begin to imagine the type of power and flexibility that WordPress had and used it to create of 200 new or converted websites. I believe that I was able to solve my problems by working more and more with the sites and iterating what I had previously learned over and over again.

What feature in WordPress is your favourite and what one do you think WordPress lacks in its core? What frustrates you most about the platform?

I absolutely love how easy it is to create awesome picture galleries. I remember doing this before WordPress and there were many tedious steps to create a simple grid thumbnail image gallery with links: first you had to create thumbnails, then you had to create the code which was usually table based, upload everything and test it. Now this entire process of uploading and inserting happens almost automatically and thumbnails and links are created on the fly with a few clicks.

I think what frustrates me the most about WordPress s a platform is when I meet people that create websites and they are too scared to try WordPress

Which are your 3 favorite plugins that you never forget to install when creating a new WordPress website? Any themes you couldn’t live without?

My three most favorite WordPress plugins that I must install on every site include Jetpack, Admin Columns, and Wordfence. Jetpack is a suite of modules that have just  about everything I need for a new site, Admin Columns lets me tweak the columns displayed in the admin area of posts, pages, media, and users, it’s very helpful. Wordfence is definitely a must for every site unless your managed WordPress host provides a similar functionality. It allows you to limit login attempts and has a lot of other protections and diagnostics against hackers as well.

For themes, I really love the WebDevStudio’s version of Automattic’s _s named ”wd_s” on github. It includes Grunt, Sass, Bourbon, and Neat, all of which I use in my development of new themes. If I need something quick and easy to configure and customize, I use WordPress’ default theme, Twenty Fourteen. This theme is very basic but can look amazing with the right content and images.

As WordPress expert, you are definitely asked a lot of questions. That is why, could you please provide a few most frequent ones of WordPress beginners?

The question I see being asked the most often at meetups and in online support forums is, “Where should you host a WordPress site?” This is such a very basic and important question, as your entire foundation is developed on someone else’s equipment, so you want to make sure that it is a reputable company that you trust with your data. I have tried many different hosts over the years and, right now, I am very happy with my current host, SiteGround. I find that everything just works as it should. One time, I did call support. They answered right away, and solved my issue in no time at all. I also like how their dashboard shows the version of WordPress that is installed on a site, so helpful. I also like the presence they have at WordCamps.

WordPress is now recognized as the most choicest CMS out there. How do you see the progress of WordPress industry? Where it will be, let us say, in 3 years or so?

I believe the WordPress economy will continue to grow and support new types of jobs everyday. There is now an immediate need for WordPress specific developers. Several very large WordPress-only development agencies, such as WebDevStudios, 10up, and Crowd Favorite are always hiring. There are exponentially even more WordPress specific freelancers that work for themselves, and the requirement for WordPress-specific professional services keeps on increasing with no end in sight.

Have you ever dealt with the problem of the website migration? What are the major challenges that users are faced with?

Yes, extensively! Configuring DNS and DNS propagation has got to be the hardest and most difficult concept to explain to someone that does not make websites for a living. There are also problems such as losing menus and widgets and some plugins do not save custom settings to the database. Also, when you migrate, if you do not re-serialize your strings or replace your old domain with your new domain when migrating WordPress databases, things could break. Migrating websites should be left to those who know what they are doing, as a lot can go wrong in the process.

Finally, what is your expert advice to WordPress beginners and bloggers willing to kickstart their career with the platform? Any words of wisdom?

Never stop learning, stay curious, and master the art of teaching yourself new web concepts and languages because technology will always be changing.

A million thanks to Suzette Franck for taking the time to discuss WordPress with us. Keep reading our ongoing Experts Interview Series with a lot more guests to be invited soon.

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