More than a year ago we started interviewing the eminent WordPress experts all around the globe. We have already interviewed an amazing line up of CMS specialists – Rhys Wynne, Scott Wyden Kivowitz, Joseph Casabona, Devin Walker, Suzette Franck and many more WP intellectuals. The stories are really awesome and are definitely worth a bit of your valuable time. Today, we got the chance to talk to Chris Perryman, one of the top-notch WordPress developers.
1. A million thanks for agreeing to this interview. Chris, what are 5 things or facts about yourself that we may not know from your website?
- I’m a female. A lot of people assume “Chris the developer” is a guy, haha.
- As much as I love web, technology, coding and all that nerdiness, I love the outdoors and being active – I make the gym 5 days a week and I’m proud to have finally made that a permanent part of my routine.
- My husband and I are expecting our first baby! A boy due this coming June. We are also parents to two pups: Nilla (boxer/spaniel mix) and Lolly (full bread boxer). They are both huge characters and make life a lot of fun.
- I also own a digital creative agency which was founded August 2014 called “Mind-Blowing Things”. That’s where I take the majority of projects these days. “Revelation Concept” was my original business venture and it’s still going strong, but I really only take personal projects under that brand. MBT has a team of 5 right now and we are excited about the coming year.
- My office is at home. This was something that has been very important to me from day one. I love the freedom of a home office as well as being able to support my husband when he needs me as his job is very, very demanding. I just finished adding on to the house so I now have a large dedicated space where the team can work onsite together if need be – it’s great!
2. You are now running Revelation Concept project which is one of the best design agencies of San Diego. What is the idea behind it? What is your proudest accomplishment within the project?
We really try to focus on quality. We build custom solutions, and we believe this is something that sets us apart from a lot of WordPress shops. We don’t work with commercial themes or third-party frameworks. All of our design work is 100% original, as well as the code that supports it. All of our themes are built from the ground up based on the design and the functional needs of the client. This includes custom plugins, a tailored admin and a lot of other really fun and creative custom WordPress solutions. We definitely love a challenge!
As far as my proudest accomplishment, I guess it would be having the business grow to the point of expansion (into Mind-Blowing Things). But that’s very closely tied to the pride I have in our client list. We work with some amazing individuals/companies and it’s really exciting every time a new referral comes in
3. Do you remember the time when you first heard about WordPress CMS? What were the reasons that you became passionate about the platform and decided to build a career out of it?
I think I started hearing that WordPress “could” be used as a CMS in 2008/09? It’s really hard to remember. But I do recall trying to research that notion online, and there wasn’t a whole lot of solid information on the idea. I found some articles on the “theory” of it and then a couple of forums where people were explaining how they made it work. That was enough for me to give it a try since I was building static HTML sites and losing clients who wanted to manage their content. It was definitely a struggle in the beginning…there was just a real lack of information and I wasn’t formally trained in PHP.
Slowly but surely the web began to explode with information – the WordPress community really took off. After my first WordCamp I was 1000% on board, and so excited about the potentials of the platform. Everything changed after that first camp. I decided to shift my service offerings to WordPress based solutions only. Without the support of the community I never would have made a decision like that.
4. What is your golden advice to those starting to build websites with WordPress? What is the most memorable piece of advice that you were being given concerning the software?
Don’t give up! If I can do it, you can do it. I went to school for Finance and Business Management and was working in Real Estate. I didn’t know anything about web development at all. When I started, I taught myself HTML, CSS and jQuery/JS. WordPress is what pushed me to learn PHP, and that was uncomfortable at first.
There were times I considered going back to school and times I really questioned what I was doing…but I had some pretty influential WordPress developers tell me I could do it – and their confidence in me gave me more confidence in myself.
It’s crazy to think back to that time now. I’ve learned so much! But I’m still learning and I’m still willing to learn, and that’s very important too. The web and technologies are always changing. It’s frustrating sometimes to finally feel caught up and then to find out that something has changed, or there is a new way people are beginning to do things – but that’s also a lot of the excitement in what we do.
The best advice I can give is to tell developers to get involved in the WordPress Community. Join a Meetup! At the very least join an online group (like Facebook’s Advanced WordPress). And most definitely attend a WordCamp. I have people all around me that I can reach out to when I have a question or need some solid advice. They are also great for keeping me informed on what’s changing, what works and what doesn’t etc. It’s really an invaluable thing. Also, there is always someone behind you as you’re making your way up – despite what you think, you have something to offer, so make sure you reach out and share what you know!
5. WordPress now dominates the market being recognized as the king of all CMSs. What exactly makes WordPress the choicest CMS out there? What features would you suggest to implement to make the software more beneficial?
Honestly, I’d have to go back to the community. There is SO MUCH quality information on the web because of the number of people who are passionate about this platform. There are endless tutorials, forums, groups etc. not to mention the Codex, which is a pretty solid resource of documentation as well. Then you have the team at Automttic, and the countless contributors who are continuously working to better the experience. The community isn’t going anywhere, which is the best insurance policy on the platform itself.
For sure, there are things that can be improved. I think we, as developers, handle a lot of those improvements on a project by project basis. Without getting too technical, one thing that would be nice to see would be things like Custom Post Types and Custom Fields built into core. But until that happens (or even if it doesn’t) we can add those things relatively easily.
6. There are lots of users who are currently leaving their platforms in favor of WordPress, and it actually has become a trend now. Do you have an experience of website migration?
We have done a couple of migrations – nothing major. Most of our clients are coming to us with old, static sites, no site at all, or revamping their whole brand and that includes their current site content – so in those cases migration isn’t really necessary.
7. What are the main challenges of content migration across CMS platforms? Do you think that keeping the same design is an important part of migration from one platform to another?
WordPress has a few plugins that can assist with migration, but in all honesty we haven’t worked with very many of them. The last major migration we did we about 3-4 years ago and that was taking a large Blogger based site and moving it to WordPress. The biggest challenge with that one was the way Blogger stored it’s photos and the crazy URL structure they use. We were able to get it all sorted, again with some very useful WordPress plugins.
Whether or not you’re keeping the same design is entirely up to the client and the situation. I think it’s very important to keep your site looking fresh and on trend. Design is at the forefront of what my company focuses on, so we are pretty particular about that!
If the site being migrated looks current and relevant, and also has a strong relationship to the brand, then I think it’s pretty imperative to keep the design if you are migrating. However, if the site is some template, looks outdated and is not representing you/your company in a way that is beneficial to your brand – then it’s an ideal time to update the design if you’re going through a migration.
Another thing to consider is whether or not the current site is responsive. If it isn’t, it should be! So again, setting up those things while your site is already in transition is a good idea. There is going to be development work during migration no matter what, so you may as well work on everything that needs to be addressed and finish with a solid, polished product.
8. How do you treat the automated way of website migration? Have you ever tried to migrate a website to WordPress in a fully automated manner?
No, not really. Unless you’re talking WordPress to WordPress. In that case we use WP Migrate Pro…a fantastic plugin that makes development and deployment quick and easy.
9. Which is your favorite plugin you can’t afford to miss out every time you configure a WordPress website and why? Which is theme do you enjoy most?
100% my most favorite plugin of all time: Advanced Custom Fields. It’s used in every single project we work on. Like I mentioned previously, we don’t work with commercial themes, but we do currently use a modified version of “Bones” as a starter theme.
10. How do you foresee the WordPress industry in 3-5 years? Do you believe the software will manage to hold its market share?
In 3-5 years, yes. Beyond that I can’t say. Again, I think the community is strong enough that WordPress can keep up at the pace it’s going indefinitely. So I guess a better question is, “What will the community be doing in 3-5 years?”. As long as there are passionate people backing WordPress the way we see now, then it isn’t going anywhere for a long time.
11. Imagine a situation – WordPress doesn’t exist any more. Which CMS would you prefer to use instead? Why?
I think if that were the case, we would have to build our own!
Many thanks to Chris Perryman for the interview!
In case you have any additional questions – feel free to leave a comment and we’ll be happy to answer them all in the shortest period of time.
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