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Brad Griffin talks about how WooCommerce is shaping the ecommerce industry

October 15, 2015

6 Min Read
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Keeping things simple is the right way in this complex era. Today, we are honored to bring Brad Griffin in our WordPress Interview Series. He is a simple man with noble intentions to help the ecommerce community. Brad works on WooCommerce projects and is also responsible for project management at The Fountains Fellowship.

Brad is well-known in the WooCommerce groups on Facebook. He helps people with their issues regarding online websites built on WooCommerce. In his free time, he loves to play with his kids and enjoys the energy of children. Enjoy reading the interview!

Brad Griffin interview

Cloudways: With an extensive experience in Web Development, how do you see the future of WordPress in the next few years?

Brad: With so many developers and so much market dominance, I think the future of WordPress has no choice but to grow, both bigger and deeper. Better roots with the WordPress API coupled with larger more complex site environments will continue to evolve WordPress into even more dominance.

What level of competition does WordPress have with other content management systems?

Brad: None!

Cloudways: Since how many years have you been working on the WooCommerce projects?

Brad: I created my very first WooCommerce site back in 2011 for a lady who had a brick and mortar retail store. For health reasons, she needed to close up her physical store immediately. The only concern was that she still needed the revenue. Since that very first WooCommerce site 4 years ago, I’ve been in love with what WooCommerce does for individuals, families, and (later) larger corporations.

Cloudways: Have you ever had an opportunity to work for WooThemes?

Brad: I’ve had a few Ninjas suggest that I put in an application. But, ‘No’, I’ve never worked at WooThemes.

Cloudways: You are associated with The Fountains Fellowship program as a Project Manager. What are your responsibilities with them? What sort of projects do you handle?

Brad: Mainly production.  It’s a very large and complex building with all the moving light elements, projectors, colors, video feeds and sound. Getting those elements right, and enhancing the experience in a distraction free environment is always critical.

Cloudways: WooCommerce is linked with WordPress. When we talk about WordPress, there come the vulnerabilities and attacks. Obviously, the more people know you, the more you will be attacked. How do you manage security for the WooCommerce website of your clients?

Brad: There’s been a good deal of articles covering security so I’ll mention some other ways to minimize security risks:

  • Look at the code!

When I started this principle of always looking at the code, it was mainly for my own learning purposes. What I quickly found out was how to spot pesky base64 code and out-of-place backlinks. If something didn’t look right, I asked. Turns out, looking at the code is not only a great way to learn, but it’ll sometimes keep your site secure as well.

  • Realize that security doesn’t have to come from plugins!

Here, let me show you what I’m talking about. Folks need to secure their environment! It doesn’t matter if it’s shared hosting, VPS, dedicated, managed, or anything else. There’s tons of ways to secure and protect your login, downloadable files, js files, media, XSS attacks, …all without ever touching a plugin. Before we move on, here’s one more just for fun.

Cloudways: It’s not possible to work all the time and not take off. Work-life balance is important. It’s necessary to maintain a good schedule. Here I have two questions for you.

First: Tell us about any memorable moment of your life?

Brad: As it relates to WordPress, a memorable moment was when I was at and revealed that Emojis were part of a larger security fix.

Second: What are your hobbies in your free time?

Brad: I really enjoy my kiddos! Actually, let me be a bit more honest: With all the seriousness, detailed work, dealing with people’s personalities, worrying about code, late nights, meeting deadlines, and all the work related ….”stuff”, it’s good for me to act like a kid! To hang upside down on a swing set, to go to a trampoline park and bounce around like I’m a kid, to get pushed up and down the driveway on a skateboard, go to the park, make a huge mess in the kitchen (don’t tell mom), and all the things that worry free kids do. Anything along those lines, that’s what you’ll catch me doing in my free time.

Cloudways: You are very active in the WordPress groups at Facebook especially in the WooCommerce community. Do you think these groups are a good source of learning?

Brad: For the most part, I think these groups are a GREAT source of learning, and here’s why: Everything we do always comes down to the end user’s experience, right? So, these Facebook groups allow for both individuals to ask questions, and have other members answer, which is always needed. But, if you look closely, you’ll actually see a lot more. What you see in these groups are things that WooCommerce store owners are consistently struggling with. If you’re a plugin author, you might discover an opportunity for a well needed plugin. If you’re an official WooNinja, you might find a great opportunity to answer a pre-sale question, or if you see a consistent question that might be an indication that a well needed tutorial or write up needs to be shared in the group.

Cloudways: How do you compare these WordPress Communities of social media with the official forum?

Brad: In the beginning, the forums were perfectly adequate. They were meant to be a place to share code, allow the plugin (or theme) author to get feedback, and give support to others who might need it. I know this isn’t 100%, but now it seems like the forums are full of takers – people who expect that the plugin should magically work and cure all their WordPress related ailments without them having to learn anything. It’s getting littered with stripped down paid plugins and promotions for the Pro Version. That’s fine, but it just seems like the majority of workflow is now becoming: write awesome plugin, strip it down, hope to get approval for it to be hosted on, then use the .org forums as nothing more than a place for great backlinks and promotion.

Have you ever been a part of any WordCamp?

Brad: Sure. I’ve been to a bunch! Austin, San Antonio, DFW,

How was the experience?

Brad: I want you to keep my “experience” into perspective as I answer this.  I really wish WordCamps were less about speaking and more about DOING! It seems to me like there’s a huge opportunity to get questions answered. Most WordCamps however are structured so that people sit and listen to a presentation for 85% of the time, and are (sometimes) prompted for questions with the remaining 15%. In my opinion, that seems a bit backwards. If I were ever to speak at a WordCamp, I’d simply open with, “Hi, I’m Brad. What questions do you have, and how can I help?”

Cloudways: In the WordPress community, there are many individuals who leave a lasting impression on many of us. Tell us about any 5 people who inspired you the most. What made you follow them?

Brad: Cory Miller – The Wisdom and experience that Cory Miller brings to anything he touches is absolutely brilliant on so many vast levels – WordPress, personal and business!

James Dalman – I wish HappyJoe was around about 20 years ago when I got out of the Navy.

Matt Cromwell –  Matt has a very eloquent way of articulating theology. In spiritual matters, the-land-of-code, and in the realm of Facebook Groups as well.

Michael Beil – That man’s spirit is seemingly always full of Joy – ALWAYS! Look, we can all set expectations that are not lived up to: at home, at work, and in all areas of our lives. We whine, we get upset, we get hurt, mad, disappointed, and a billion other things. If only to have a spirit filled with a Joyful Smile at all times, like Michael Beil.

Chris Lema – In the beginning I followed and read his stuff because I saw everyone else doing it. After talking with him, meeting him a few times, and really listening to him, I start to see exactly “why” I connect with him. Imagine someone who has walked down the path that you’d like to carve out for yourself.  Now, imagine for a second that the gentleman whose path you’d like to be on actually left you bread crumbs, instructions, and lessons learned so that you can walk down that path with greater success. That’s Chris Lema. I can only aspire to be that man for other people.

You can follow Brad Griffin 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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