With more than 16 years of experience as a web developer under his belt, Jason Resnick is one of the most famous WordPress mavens in the community. He is currently associated with Wajig, an evolving web development company, as a solutions specialist. He is also the owner of a firm that provides security solutions for WordPress websites. He is a devoted family man, who enjoys playing hockey, football in his spare time.
We at Cloudways thank Jason Resnick for sharing with us his precious time for our trademark interview series. In this interview, he has spoken at length about his early freelance experiences, business ventures, interests, and above all his motivation for living the life to the fullest. You can catch him live at WordCamp NYC 2015.
Cloudways: Jason, you are a development virtuoso. With 16 years of experience in web development under your belt, share your journey with us. How did you come across WordPress? What other platforms have you worked on?
Jason: Thanks so much for the kind words! One day, while I was sitting at my desk at the agency I was working at full time, I was literally starting to nod off looking at a screenful of code. I could barely keep my eyes open, even with the window open behind me while cars were whizzing by on the highway outside. I had only about 2 or 3 hours of sleep each night for the past 2 weeks. This was when I realized that I was officially going to pull the plug, quit my job, and work full time for myself.
I always worked freelance projects while working full time. I knew in the back of my head that I would eventually strike out on my own, there were personal goals that I knew I couldn’t achieve by sitting at someone else’s desk. I had developed in just about every technology under the sun; Microsoft’s .NET, COM, Java, Ruby, Ruby on Rails, PHP, AS/400. Working in the early 2000s for a consultant firm where their main clients were all startups, I had to code in the language that they choose.
Back in 2007, I had come across WordPress for the first time at the agency I was working for. I used it only as a way to install a blog on a client’s website. It wasn’t until 2012 when I made the decision to focus on it solely for my own customers. The reasons were simply that it provided them an easy way to use interface for managing their own websites and the tight-knit community around WordPress.
Cloudways: You are one of the founding members of Wajig and have been involved with them for 6 years now. What major responsibilities do you hold? How do you see yourself growing with this company in near future?
Jason: Wajig is a company that always strives to evolve its service offerings. My main role is that of providing development and application expertise for Wajig and its customers. Obviously with my background, I have a great deal of varying technologies; however, my role really is specifically in working with Wajig clients who use WordPress and growing that segment of the business. Wajig is growing as a systems architecture and hosting service for small businesses and startups. The growth has been great and I can only see it growing even further.
Cloudways: You were associated with many companies with focus on web development. What is the most significant learning you would like to share with our readers from your past experiences?
Jason: That’s easy: Do right by your customers!
I have worked at many organizations, and those that focused on the needs of the customer and achieving the goals of the customer’s business were extremely successful and are still growing to this day. Pat Flynn has put it best: “I may not be able to change the world, but if I can change someone’s world, then I’ve done my job.”
Cloudways: With this much experience in web development, did you ever encounter any security issues? What are your views on the security concerns engulfing WordPress, especially the brute force attacks and vulnerabilities?
Jason: Let me re-phrase your question a bit, if I may. I’m always thinking about security and taking preventive measures to ensure the security of my clients’ websites. Of course, I’ve had to deal with my share of infected websites over the years, but that’s usually due to the lack of maintenance performed on the websites by the site owners. This is why I’ve shaped my business around taking “ownership” of the website for my clients. This way they don’t have to worry about such things and can focus on the successful businesses they are running.
Cloudways: Moving away from work, what do you love doing in your spare time? I prefer trying any new eatery in my leisure time. What are your hobbies? Do you love outdoor games or enjoy sitting and watching a movie at home?
Jason: I love spending time with my wife, family and friends. My wife and I love to travel and try to see and experience new places. I’m also a HUGE sports nut. I play on two softball teams, love watching baseball, football, and hockey. Getting exercise is a difference maker when it comes to clearing your mind and stress levels.
Cloudways: WordPress communities are growing exponentially on social media and online forums. Facebook groups of WordPress are very active to answer any query from code to community level. What are your thoughts about these communities?
Jason: I think that online communities are great for those that get value from them. Personally I’m not much of a Facebook person. In fact, I sometimes even forget that I have an account. I use Slack instead and belong to 8 different channels. Communities are great as long as they aren’t too noisy and the people in there are genuine and add value.
Cloudways: This is a tough question, especially with the thousands of plugins available. I know it is hard to choose, but, would you share your favorite five plugins?
Jason: Gravity Forms, WP Migrate DB Pro, WordPress SEO are the three plugins that I install on every website I work on. Two more huh? — I’d have to say Field Manager or ACF and WooCommerce.
Cloudways: WordPress users love WordCamps. It is the best conference to meet and connect with the influential personalities of WordPress community. What are your views about this flagship event of WordPress?
Jason: I enjoy them, in fact I’m speaking at WordCamp NYC ’15 in October.
I think it’s always great to get out from behind the keyboard a bit and socialize with like-minded folks. It does a world of good to see the face and not the avatar photo.
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Cloudways: Generally, we all choose our ideals at a very early age. We start following them in any way we can. We defend them. We look up to them. Everything positive and negative has an impact on us. Who inspired you most in your career? Do they belong to WordPress? Tell us about any 5 people whom you consider to be your source of motivation?
Jason: That’s an easy answer. My main motivator is my wife. She’s been with me through thick and thin and has encouraged me to continue moving forward when I was in a big rut. Family has always been a major factor in my life. My Grandpa as well, while I was growing up, was always a source of inspiration. My mother who scratched and clawed to give my sister and I anything we wanted and made sure that no matter what we went to college.
As far as business goes, I’m not sure that I look up to any particular person. However I try to surround myself with those that are smarter than me so I can learn from them. I also try to make sure that I continue to contribute to the community as well, especially the WordPress community.
You can follow Jason Resnick on Twitter.