“I Had Unknowingly Used WordPress…” – Interview with Drew Poland

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At aisite we love to get the inside view from developers working with website platforms. Following our last interview with Chris Lema, this week we get in touch with another top WordPress developer, Drew Poland.

Drew has been developing websites for over 15 years, has co-founded one of the first WordPress support services, WP Maintainer.

Currently, he’s running a small business at his site, regularly speaks at WordCamp events, writes about freelancing, Zen Freelancing and lives in beautiful Baltimore, MD.

We hope you find the interview inspirational for your own designing and development efforts! As always, we invite you to join in with your comments at the end of this post.

“Nothing will ever fit all cases…”

Drew, would you tell our readers a bit more on your background? How did you come up to the development direction?

Sure! I have always been a bit tech inclined, growing up at just the right age to watch the internet / dot com boom and realizing there was something there and I should pursue it. As for development, I’ve been building websites for about 15 or so years now, most of that being for personal projects and the occasional barter or friend. I’ve spent the last 5+ years building sites for clients as a freelancer.

You have achieved impressive results in the CMS field. Could you share your first experience with WordPress? What advice would you give for those just starting to use the web system?

I had actually unknowingly used WordPress by running a blog on b2. I kept that blog running for awhile but it wasn’t until years later I picked up on WordPress and realized it would be a good fit for a few projects. I used it and realized it had a lot of components I needed to quickly build-out client sites. This was just as custom post types were coming together.

As for just starting out, I think developers should use WordPress like a user for a bit to familiarize with how it works, then start building on it. You’ll have a better understanding of how to structure the backend/management of what you’re building.

Surely, WordPress is an immensely powerful tool. However, the practice proves that there’s no limits to perfection. From your professional point, is there something that you’re feeling WP system lacks?

I think we’re on the right track to continue being the leading CMS. I don’t see an immediate need for any big features now that the JSON API is coming together so well and even being used already.

Nothing will ever fit all cases, so I think picking a path and sticking to it is also really important for future success of the project.

There are thousands of plugins available at the official WordPress repository. Which plugins you don’t miss to install with every WordPress installation?

There is indeed a lot of plugins in the repository! It’s really astonishing.

A few I often use are:

  1. Post Type Order
  2. Custom Post Type UI
  3. Post2Post

In our constantly-evolving world of web technologies, WordPress CMS makes progress as well. Where do you see the platform in the next 5 years? 

Yes, I think WordPress will continue to lead market share amongst CMS platforms. I think in the next 5 years, we will see more refactoring of the core WordPress code base and some focus put on enterprise needs.

If not WordPress, what CMS would you advise to use? From your perspective, what is the chief competitor of WP solution?

Definitely Drupal. I don’t know much about Drupal though. To be honest, my use is really limited with it. I think if you don’t need a CMS specifically, and are looking for a similar solution in terms of technology stack (PHP/SQL) you would be looking at solutions like Laravel.

Have you ever experienced website migration? Could you provide any suggestions to make this process easy? What’s your attitude towards an automated conversion?

Yes, I’ve done quite a few of migrations to WordPress. Most recently I’m on my 3rd SharePoint to WordPress project. It’s not a pleasant experience and my advice in this situation is to think about how to speed up a lot of manual tasks or scrape content with a custom solution.

I think automated is great and most developers are open to embracing automation in their workflows so why not content migrations too?

Do you think it’s crucial to migrate design or it’s ok to make it from the scratch?

Great question! Depending what you’re migrating from it’s probably better to start all over, or try to recreate the design as pixel perfect as possible.

And we’ve came up for the the last question. Besides, WordPress and the development activity, what do you most enjoy doing?

Being that I spend a lot of time at a computer I really enjoy the outdoors, even if just going for a drive to get out from behind a desk in an office.

Thank you once again to Drew and we wish him best of luck with all his new projects! 🙂

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