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Interview With WordPress Samurai Brandon Lavigne

January 30, 2015

5 Min Read
Reading Time: 5 minutes

He loves what he does the best. He is a core WordPress developer, a SAMURAI in the truest sense of the word, who started his journey in 2005 and has never looked back since then. He is the true reflection of “practice makes the man perfect”.

An introvert by nature, he loves to run marathons, and has travelled to different countries, and has worked with Japanese organizations. In his own words, travelling to Japan and experiencing a new culture have been a huge learning experience on the personal level. He is currently working at Caava Design. He is Brandon Lavigne.

Brandon Lavigne Interview

Cloudways: WordPress is the most commonly used content management system in the world today. How did WordPress come into your life? How it has impacted your life as a developer?

Brandon Lavigne: That’s right. I started development professionally in 2005. People have criticized WordPress’ database structure, but you should have seen some of the hand-built stuff we inherited. WordPress’ first iteration of meta data wasn’t pretty, but I worked on to it hard because it was consistent. At the time it was a huge differentiator.

We were giving people one login to manage their sites and enough control over the content while maintaining the brand integrity. Who likes editing dreamweaver templates? It was also a huge learning curve for people to get past “blog”. I still avoid using the word today.

Cloudways: What kind of WordPress projects you have worked upon? Which one project stands out for you?

Brandon Lavigne: Big and small, there are lots of custom post types and a few WP VIP projects. My favorite project was one called ‘Plant with Purpose’. They’ve done a beautiful redesign since then, but the concept was interesting. It was all about micro donations to specific regions.

We built an interactive map so you could discover different ways in which your donation would help and proceed to actually donate to those regions. I was part of a larger team, and my contribution was the interactivity and WP integration. The checkout process was done with Magento.

Cloudways: You are already working on the website at Caava Design. How did you manage all the work? What kind of projects does this agency handle?

Brandon Lavigne: I’d worked with Designer, Cody Small on the Plant with Purpose project and some smaller projects in the past and we worked really well together. He asked me to develop the design he’d come up with for Caava Design and not long after, I decided to work with Caava full time. The kinds of projects he was working on were more creative service related – Catering, Photography, Craft Spirits, Coffee, Tea, etc..

Businesses looking to grow their identity, a lot of them come to us with a website already built on WordPress looking for something to differentiate them from the store-bought themes.

Cloudways: On the lighter side of life, what are your interests in your spare time? Do you like any sports or music etc?

Brandon Lavigne: My fiancé and I like to jog. We’re lucky in SD, we can run most of the year, I can’t run indoors. This year we finished the triple crown which is 3 specific half marathons. I think half a marathon is about all I have in me though. People who run full marathons are crazy.

Cloudways: WordPress groups are doing really good on Facebook and Google+. What are your views about these groups? Do you think these social communities can beat the mainstream forums?

Brandon Lavigne: What I like about the Advanced WordPress Facebook group is that they also do weekly round table style meet-ups. Everyone gets up and shows something they’ve worked on. The first time I went I wasn’t expecting to stand up and present anything so I just showed some of the tools I built to help automate a generic project build, how to keep your database in sync, etc.

What was really nice was that you could tell the audience had similar experiences and struggles, so the conversation moved much faster because we were speaking the same language as if we’d worked together.

There are tons of resources online but the resources thin once you start asking more complicated questions. What the AWP Facebook group tries to do is encourage and maintain the higher level of conversation and sharing.

Cloudways: You have traveled to several countries, while frequently changing your jobs from one web agency to another. It would have been an amazing experience. You also taught English in Japan. Share your experience with our readers.

Brandon Lavigne: I’ve been really lucky that all of the jobs I’ve had were built on the references and resources from the previous positions. I did leave my first job after 3 years, where I was their principal developer. I had never traveled before, and I had great friends who encouraged me to experience another culture. I consider myself an introvert, so this was a huge growing experience personally.

I am a developer though, so I was secretly looking at a few design/development companies with offices in Japan that were doing really interesting things with UX and language learning that I was specifically interested in. It was a long shot so I primarily did freelance work for people I’d worked with in the past in order to keep my skills sharp.

Cloudways: Michael Bastos was inspired by you and your work. Name any five other people who inspired you the most in the WordPress industry and why?

Brandon Lavigne: Michael Bastos already mentioned the locals I’m familiar with so I’ll dig deep. Follow these people:

  1. Cristi Burcă – Accepted my first Pull Request on the WP-CLI project and his github projects are absolutely brilliant. Outside of being a very good developer. He manages a very large community project and is quite polite and patient with contributors. I believe he’s moved on to other projects, still worth checking in on.
  2. Daniel Bachhuber – Contributes frequently to WP-API and currently runs the WP-CLI project. He has really interesting projects related to WP development stack, and workflow.
  3. Devin Walker – He’s a local guy I’ve met a few times. A real good premium plugin developer, an area I haven’t don’t have much experience in.
  4. Kalen Johnson – He’s really interested in working application style development into the WP workflow.
  5. Marko Heijnen – I think his main focus is translation with glotpress, but he has an on-the-fly image resize script I was pretty impressed by.

Cloudways: WordCamps are the flagship events of WordPress. These conferences are helpful in bringing the community under one flag. One can learn a lot from the experienced speakers. Did you attend or speak at any WordCamp? What are your views?

Brandon Lavigne: Part of going to the events is getting to put faces to names and hopefully meeting some of the people you see over and over online. I attended for the first time, when custom post formats made their debut. I got to meet some core contributors and one of the talks was about how to contribute.

I was hoping to participate this year, but I’m getting married the week of the event. If you don’t have a solid excuse, I highly recommend to go there.

Cloudways: We have built a platform with one-click WordPress installation on cloud infrastructure. Share your opinion about the speed and optimized WordPress installation on Cloudways platform?

Brandon Lavigne: Part of WordPress’ charm is the 5 minute install. A lot of people have no interest in the hardware running their code. However, Mark Jaquith did a talk recently offering 3 alternatives to the traditional LAMP stack all offering huge performance increases with little to no change in your code.

That’s something people do care about. Cloudways and similar services offer a simple way for people to quickly move their site to an entirely different stack with very little friction. I am all for that.


You can follow Brandon Lavigne on Twitter.

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Waseem Abbas

Waseem Abbas was WordPress Community Manager at Cloudways. He loves to help people with their WordPress worries. He is a self-proclaimed "food explorer".

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