I got an inspiration for interviewing Carrie Dils after watching her at Matt Reports. Carrie is a freelance developer from Fort Worth, Texas in the USA. With the vast experience of 15 years in development, she has hands-on experience in different web technologies. Nowadays, she is only focused on WordPress and Genesis Framework to develop websites and delivers her clients the best every time.
Carrie supports the WP community and answers to users’ queries through all social networks. You can contact her on Twitter at @cdils. She also writes tutorials for WordPress learners and loves to exchange knowledge.
Apart from WordPress and development, Carrie loves her dogs and spends time with them. I hope you will enjoy reading the interview.
Cloudways: Carrie, you’ve been working on WordPress for so many years. What is it that made you choose WordPress among all the other CMS?
Carrie: I’ve done web development in some form or fashion for 15 years, but I’ve only worked with WordPress for the last 4 years. I was drawn to WordPress for its ease of use. I love that I can build a site for clients and they have the power to easily manage their content via the WordPress dashboard. Also, it didn’t take long in working with WordPress to realize there’s a great community of people behind it. Although I work alone as a freelancer, I feel like the people in the WordPress community are my co-workers.
Cloudways: How do you see WordPress development in the future? Do you find any necessary features to be added, and to be done away with?
Carrie: Technology changes so rapidly. It’s hard to say what WordPress (or even the web in general) will look like in time. I mean, 15 years ago I had a zip-up bag phone that plugged into my car’s cigarette lighter. 10 years ago I used a Palm Pilot and a flip phone. These past 5 years I’ve moved on to smartphones and feel like I have the world in my pocket. That said, I know the way we’re consuming information and socially engaging others will continue to evolve at a rapid pace. I’m not sure what that means for WordPress specifically, but no doubt it will adapt.
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Cloudways: WordPress is the most frequently used CMS, and you’re a seasoned WordPress pro. Still, did you have followers, whom you recommended to go with a platform other than WP?
Carrie: Most of my projects are for small-to-mid market businesses and WordPress is great for the needs I’ve encountered. I realize it’s not always going to be the right solution for everyone, but for my customers, it is. 🙂
Cloudways: What do you think is the biggest mistake a newbie might make when starting with WordPress?
Carrie: One mistake I made when starting out was directly editing themes; I didn’t realize that the next time I applied an update, I’d lose my customizations. My advice? Never edit WordPress core and never edit a parent theme. Instead, create a child theme to override styles or functionality as needed.
If you expect to customize your site beyond the basic theme, you’ll need a working knowledge of PHP and CSS. You don’t have to be fluent, but a little knowledge helps a ton. Although I had a programming background before I discovered WordPress, I went through the “up and running with WordPress” course at Lynda.com and found it tremendously helpful.
Cloudways: What is worse in your opinion? Not to capitalize the P in WordPress or someone saying they are building their site on WordPress.org?
Carrie: Haha. You know, I’ve made my share of mistakes along the way and looked plenty uninformed at times. Part of working in a community means helping educate people and leveling them up. Sometimes that might involve telling them it is a capital P. *Dangit*
All of that to say, if you’re claiming to be a WordPress professional, it looks unprofessional to incorrectly refer to the brand. If you’re just starting out and not claiming any expertise, call it whatever you want. 🙂
Cloudways: Love to know about this: Which WP plugin and theme you consider as your favorite?
Carrie: The Genesis Framework (a parent theme) is my hands-down favorite and the starting point for all my projects. From there, I’m either creating or customizing child themes to run on top of Genesis.
The plugin question is harder. Not sure I can pare it down to just one. 🙂 The Regenerate Thumbnails plugin is a must when switching themes on a site. I’m also a fan of the Yoast SEO plugin.
Cloudways: Any sneak peeks for the upcoming changes in WordPress?
Carrie: I’m not involved with the WordPress core dev team, so no insider scoops from me. That said, looking forward to the 4.0 release scheduled for August. Core has seen so many huge updates this past year—from the admin UI overhaul to auto-updates and media gallery enhancements—I’m excited to see what comes next. My next goal is to contribute to an upcoming version of the Genesis Framework. From there, I’d like to try my hand at contributing to core.
Cloudways: Who do you admire in the WordPress community?
Carrie: This is like the plugin question. There are too many to name! I’ll call out Andrea Rennick though she provides support for Copyblogger and is also involved in the larger WordPress community. She’s such a welcoming soul and demonstrated great patience and willingness to help in my early days. Kim Parsell is another one that helped point me in the right direction when I started asking questions about getting involved with WordPress. Really, so many people have helped me in my WordPress journey, but those two ladies stand out to me.
Cloudways: We will surely meet again. What are your words to end our conversation here and any message or suggestion to the new WordPress lovers?
Carrie: GET INVOLVED. Seriously, just ease into it. Start with being social on Twitter or Google+ or wherever you hang out online. Seek out groups of WordPress people or try your hand at answering a question on the WP support forums. (Trust me, you know the answer to at least one question.) From there, see if there’s a local meetup or user group in your area. If not, save up your money and make plans to attend a nearby WordCamp. The best thing you can do for yourself is to meet and engage the community. You’ll learn more than you ever expected.
You can follow Carrie Dils (@cdils) on Twitter.
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Waseem Abbas was WordPress Community Manager at Cloudways. He loves to help people with their WordPress worries. He is a self-proclaimed "food explorer".