Today it’s our pleasure to introduce an interview with another eminent WordPress expert – Ahsan Parwez, WordPress Geek, Search Engine Optimizer and Marketer. Enjoy this inspirational interview and feel free to join the discussion by leaving your question in the comments section.
Lots of thanks for your agreeing to the interview, Ahsan. For those who probably don’t know you yet – can you shortly introduce yourself and provide us with some facts about yourself? The more unknown – the better…
Well I am a kind of person fascinated by the world of computers and the internet. As I grew up I started to spend more time on computers often playing video games and reading about new gadgets. Browsing through websites, I thought about making my own website about computer hardware and video games. First off I started building websites with HTML and CSS, I self learned it from a second hand book that I purchased from a roadside vendor.
I started my professional career as an SEO working for an online clothing store, there I was tasked with building a blog network for the company and reach out to our target audience. During my search I discoverd WordPress.com and that I was instantly amazed by its easy to use backend, ability to quickly switch themes, and quickly publish your new content. After that I purchased a web hosting just to try out WordPress to its fullest potential.
Currently I am employed at Cloudways as WordPress Community Manager, my job role is to participate, engage, help and educate the WordPress users from around the world and build a community around Cloudways. I also specialize in WordPress speed optimization, security, SEO and theme development.
When I am not working, then you can often find me playing competitive Dota 2 and Starcraft 2 matches.
What is your definition of WordPress? How would you explain the meaning of WordPress, if you were a teacher?
I am very passionate about teaching, I am currently in the works to offer complete tutorial guides touching specific WordPress topics.
My definition of WordPress is:
“An easy yet very flexible CMS, that can be used to build just about any type of website, that can meet just about any kind of demand. You will love WordPress whether you are a blogger, a designer looking to build a portfolio, a business man looking to build an ecommerce site or your official site, and you can even build your very own social networks.”
When did your WordPress love story begin and when did you realize that it was the right choice for you? What is the role of the platform in your career?
I was working as an SEO for a clothing company, and I was assigned a task to distribute the content of our company on various blogging sources, then I came across blogspot, WordPress.com, and Tumblr.
All of those 3 blogging platforms had their own advantages but WordPress caught most of my attention, on WordPress.com however there were certain features that were locked, like the “Editor” I wanted more power to customize it, later that year I bought a shared hosting plan just to use WordPress to its fullest potential.
With so many other CMS available on the market, what made you gravitate towards WordPress? Was your acquaintance with the platform accidental or it was planned?
Before WordPress I was introduced to Joomla by my teacher. I found Joomla’s admin panel to be a bit complex. After many hours and days working with Joomla and reading about it online, I stumbled upon WordPress but I didn’t use it until my first job.
After seeing the WordPress backend, its themes, and feature rich plugins and getting to know that there are thousands around the world working with WordPress, making it better, and running entire businesses around it. That was the time when I got hooked to WordPress and the community around it. Now I have many friends from around the world who work with WordPress.
Tell us a bit about your early days with WordPress. What challenges did you face with? How did you manage to find the solutions?
As I didn’t had a development background as I am an Electronics Engineering graduate, I did had a lot of troubles while working on WordPress theme customization, that was the point when I started learning PHP and then moved on to study the WordPress codex. The things started to make sense and I find it quite easy now playing with WordPress themes and plugins, customizing it and making it do what I and my clients want.
Even now and then I run into bugs and problems, thankfully there are thousands of active people just waiting to help each other fix their WordPress problems. There are active groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, and on forums like WordPress.org, WPChat.com and many more. That’s the thing about WordPress, people are always ready to help each other out. I think that is a big contribution, taking out the time from your day to answer the queries of people who are based thousands of miles from you.
Any resources or personalities to follow for newbies trying to learn and grow as WordPress developers or bloggers?
There are many ebooks, books, online courses that you can take to educate yourself on particular topics related to WordPress theme, plugin development, WordPress SEO, speed optimization and even WordPress blogging.
For newbies the best teachers that I would say are Bob Dunn and Mari Kane, both of them conduct one on one live classes over the call with you showing you step by step on how to get started with WordPress.
If you ask where my WordPress knowledge comes from, then I would refer you to three ebooks, WordPress Themes In Dept by Jeff Star, Professional WordPress: Design and Development and Professional WordPress: Plugin Development.
Also there are many blogs like wpbeginner.com, smashingmagazine, sitepoint, wpexplorer that also feature awesome easy to follow tutorials about WordPress.
As a company providing migration services, we witness that presently more and more website owners are switching from their current HTML-based websites or projects powered by other CMS solutions to WordPress. Is it a good idea to migrate content across platforms or should they start a new website from the scratch?
Static HTML websites are a thing of the past. A CMS like WordPress helps you to speed up your online work, for example you can hire writers and assign them contributor rights to your WordPress blogs, where they can access and write blogs online. While on HTML websites writers had to write the content and give it to a developer or designer to create a new page and upload it for them, taking a lot of resources, time and effort. So it is a good choice moving your site to WordPress, and the good thing is it comes with a lot of feature rich plugins to improve your website, like if you want to communicate with the visitors on your site in real time then you can install a plugin like olark and provide instant support to your clients.
Well migrating your existing design and content from HTML to WordPress is generally a good idea if your website ranks well on the SERPs for related search terms. If you keep the design and content the same and migrate over to WordPress, there won’t be much of a ranking shift. But if you happen to build your website from scratch, creating one page at a time then the search engines will fail to find the pages and your rankings will take a thumping.
Keeping the design and migrating entire site from HTML to WordPress is generally a good move. Keeps your SERPs intact and also your users will find the site familiar. After you have successfully migrated then you can empower your new WordPress website with plugins and customizations.
Have you ever migrated website content to WordPress from other platforms by yourselves? What are the main challenges?
Yes I had many occasions where I was asked to move the content from other blogging platforms like blogspot and tumblr over to the new WordPress blog. The migration process is pretty simple if you talk about the content, posts and images, but tends to get very complex if you are trying to import the design over to WordPress.
It takes days to convert or re-create a blogspot theme to WordPress theme and sometimes the better option is to look for a new theme, but that will change the look and feel of your website and most of the clients don’t want that to happen.
The major challenges faced on converting a CMS to another CMS is the theme, functionality and then the debugging process. I would say, let the professionals handle this job!
Do you think that keeping the same design is an important part of migration from one platform to another?
Yes, as I said before keeping the design same should be your priority if your hardworking search engine optimizers have got your site ranked on search engines on relevant terms. Changing the design, images, content and interlinking will potentially harm your good rankings.
How do you treat an automated way of website migrations? Have you ever used online converters?
I haven’t used any online converters other than the WordPress importer plugin, that moves the content from a online blogging service to your WordPress blog. I like to do things the hard way “manually”, it gives you the chance to keep debugging as you go along but it takes time.
For a complex migration however, I did refer service providers like aisite to many of my clients before I start working for them on their new WordPress sites, as my area of expertise doesn’t cover CMS migrations.
Imagine a situation – WordPress doesn’t exist any more. Which CMS would you prefer to use instead? Why?
Tough question! I can’t imagine a day without WordPress anymore as my livelihood depends on it.
But if WordPress happens to disappear somehow then I would most likely move my operations over to Drupal, it has a similar kind of active helpful community behind it. I have heard many good things about Drupal about how secure and reliable it is, it is just a matter of getting familiar with it.
Many thanks to Ahsan for sharing his thoughts and ideas about WordPress with us! Don’t miss the conversations with many other WordPress experts in our Interview Series.
P.S. Left with a strong desire to switch to WordPress? Consider aisite automated migration service to perform the conversion as easy and convenient as possible. Find more detailed information here and try your Demo Migration with no delay.