Spare a thought for AJ Zane and you may be left with no less deep impression than the one he made on us: smart, creative, proficient and modest. When he turns up for work each day, there is not much chance to see him relaxedly enjoying tea or contemplating conversations. Luckily, for us this chance today is given. AJ is being an admin of the AdvancedWP Facebook group, has been developing websites for more than 15 years, this guy is a real gem of talent within the community of WordPress. When you have exhausted all possibilities to make your web project even better, remember this: you haven’t. With you we share AJ prime chart of WP plugins and a flash on everything you need to enhance your CMS. Read these things this day below.
Thanks for agreeing to this interview, AJ. You’re a well-known WordPress developer. When did you discover your talent? Could you share with our readers why did you switch the passion of developing video games for WordPress CMS?
Thanks for having me! I wouldn’t say I’m “well-known” so being alongside all the great content you guys put out is a great honor.
I’ve been developing websites for over 15 years but I didn’t consider it as a real career option until 2011. Making the switch from away from video games was a gradual progression. There’s just so much you can do with WordPress as an engine for web applications. Combined with the great usability in the backend, it’s a no-brainer starting point for any project.
Every developer has his special understanding of what a perfect CMS is. What is to be yours? With so many web solutions available online, what were the factors for which you’ve chosen WordPress?
WordPress’ community is what really sets it apart. Don’t get me wrong, the plugin infrastructure, the market dominance, the great UX and extensibility are amazing, but if it weren’t for the community I would only be a fraction of the web developer I am today.
Not only is the community filled with the nicest people on the internet, but the bar is set really high. There’s incredibly smart people who use WordPress on a daily basis that would normally scare the socks off me, but they’re so approachable! Everyone is pushing and helping each other to be as amazing as possible and keep moving our platform forward.
What are the challenges in using WordPress? Please, share your pieces of advice for the beginners who are just getting started with WP but have big dreams and will? What’s the most important advice that you’ve been given regarding WordPress CMS?
The biggest concept I see newbies missing with WordPress is getting an understanding of standards. WordPress is not a strict platform so it’s very easy to hack together a theme or plugin. However, if you ever want to work with someone else or understand the code you’re going to receive, you need to be fluent in the common language that other developers are speaking.
WordPress is known for its best community that expands with each passing day. Where do you see it in let us say 3-5 years? Being one of the admins of Advanced WordPress on Facebook, what this experience provides you?
If our community doesn’t take over the world you will know the Robot Apocalypse has happened and there’s no humans left making websites. In just a few years the AWP FaceBook group has grown to over 16,000 members. I’ve noticed the topics people share get more complex all the time. It’s very apparent that the momentum of WordPress is growing and I think pretty soon we’ll look fondly on the days when WordPress powered only 25% of the internet and chuckle at how small it was.
Are there any personalities or peculiar resources that have inspired you to take an active part in WordPress world?
Again, the community. If you’ve never been to a WordCamp or a local meetup group you need to find one right now. WordPress attracts so many different kinds of people from so many backgrounds that even if you don’t want to become a developer you’ll be inspired to push yourself to the next level after spending some time with these awesome people.
There are thousands of plugins available at the official WP Directory. What are the top 5 plugins you can’t but install when building up a WordPress site and why?
Root Relative URLs – This is a great plugin that makes the links in your content relative instead of including the domain. This is essential when you’re working in multiple environments or need to migrate a site.
UpDraft Plus – Unlimited, automated, offsite backups. Need I say more?
User Switching – Super useful tool for changing which user you are without logging out.
Gravity Forms – This plugin epitomizes WordPress for me. It’s so simple to use but it can do anything
Stream – Logging what your team is modifying on the backend is a huge timesaver when something stops working how you expect it to. You can look at the logs and pinpoint the exact change.
Have you ever organized WordCamps? Since you must have attended many of them, could you share something cherished moments from your personal experience there? What’s your favorite part about this meeting?
I’ve never organized a WordCamp, but I’ve helped as a volunteer and presenter. What continues to amaze me about WordCamps is how approachable everyone is. I’ve learned so much by simply walking up to the people who’ve been major influences in my career and asking them a question or just saying thanks. No one has an ego in our community and are so often genuinely interested in getting to hear your story.
How has WordPress changed your life over the time? Imagine this CMS exist no longer. What would be the online system of your choice and why?
WordPress helped me realize that web development is actually a legitimate career option and not just a hobby. If there was no WordPress I would look for a CMS in the NodeJS and NoSQL space. Something that is more primed to spin up fast and quickly migrate between environments while still providing a great UI for nontechnical site admins.
Providing migration services, we see that with each upcoming year WordPress is increasing in its popularity with more and more people willing to switch to it. Have you ever faced the problem of website migration? What’s your attitude towards automated way of conversion? Do you think it’s crucially important to migrate design?
Migrations are WordPress’ Achilles’ heel. There are so many variables to consider and you will inevitably miss something major. Letting experts like aisite help out with a migration is a great resource for any team.
We’ve come up to the last question. What would be your closing words, perhaps, any suggestion to WordPress lovers?
Thanks for letting me spend some time with you.
To the WordPress lovers: Keep up the awesome work!
We would like to thank Aj Zane for this conversation, for us it was a sincere joy 🙂
In case, you’re now to deem whether the move to WordPress CMS is really worth trying, test out the free tool of aisite and then decide to migrate or better not.