Name and fame is all around Jeff Chandler. He is the founder of the largest WordPress (WP) blog. It is none other than WP Tavern.
Jeff has a vast experience of WordPress. He is a contributing writer at WP Tavern since 2007. He has written hundreds of reviews on WP plugins and themes. He is also very active on social communities of WordPress. He also hosts the WordPress weekly podcast.
In this interview, he discussed about his sudden and unplanned WordPress journey and how he becomes the most popular WP blogger. Jeff also shared his views about WordCamps and their importance.
Cloudways: You started with WP Tavern, which is now a giant in WordPress industry. Was it all planned or was it just a thought that triggered your mind? Why do you call yourself a Tavern Keeper?
Jeff Chandler: No, the success of WPTavern was never planned. I started the site as a way for me to express my opinions and thoughts on the progress of WordPress community and ecosystem. I maintained the site for a few years and I never thought that I’d one day end up having to sell it. I surely didn’t think the co-creator of WordPress would purchase the site, but he did. As far as being called a Tavern Keeper, it’s a fun way of giving myself a job title. Look at Automattic and how they have Chief BBQ Taste Testers and Bug Squashers.
Cloudways: You are all over the media once andso far the journey has been a successful one.Would you like to tell our readers who acquired WP Tavern? Is there any secret to the sky-rocketing popularity that you enjoy now?
Jeff Chandler: The co-creator of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg, acquired WPTavern and Weblogtoolscollection in 2013. There are no secrets to the popularity of the site. The Tavern is more than just me. It’s also Sarah Gooding who does a fantastic job covering the WordPress scene. Despite being in the dashboard of thousands of WordPress sites, it’s not like the site is on the radar of millions of people. The Tavern is a site focusing on a specific niche which limits the overall popularity of the site.
Cloudways: There are numerous challenges facing WordPress Community today. What, in your opinion, are the biggest challenges they are enduring?
Jeff Chandler: That’s a tough question. I couldn’t think of anything that stood out as a huge challenge.
Cloudways: Now that WordPress is continuously evolving, what is your prediction for the next five years?
Jeff Chandler: Your answer is as good as mine. At this point, I have no idea where or what WordPress will be in five years. With the addition of the REST API in the core of WordPress, who knows what WordPress will evolve into. There are a couple of things that point towards the future of WordPress. The first is the move towards frontend editing. I think more administrative tasks will be moved to the frontend making the backend less important. The second is the REST API being used in such a way to reconfigure the way the backend of WordPress functions. Maybe within the next five years, the WordPress backend will be reworked so that it can be configured for specific scenarios such as running an ecommerce site or some other specialized type of site.
A lot can happen to open source software in five years. I wouldn’t be surprised if the WordPress we know and use today is radically different five years from now.
Cloudways: We know that you have written reviews on many plugins and themes. Tell us which one theme and one plugin you love the most?
Jeff Chandler: My favorite theme is Stargazer by Justin Tadlock. I’ve been a fan of Tadlock’s work for a long time and Stargazer is a continuation of the effort he’s put into Hybrid Core. The theme has my favorite layout, Content -> Sidebar and makes excellent use of Visual Editor style support. In fact, the Tavern is a child theme of Stargazer.
As for plugins, that’s a tough question because I like so many of them. My favorite plugin is Simple Comment Editing by Ronald Huereca. Most sites have anonymous commenting turned on and this plugin gives them 5 minutes to edit their comment. Without something like this plugin in place, users have no way to edit their comments. Depending on the volume you receive, editing comments can be a real time suck.
Cloudways: WordCamps have now become a regular feature all over the world. How these events are affecting the community?
Jeff Chandler: They are bringing the community closer together. People who may have never met each other are becoming best friends at and after WordCamps. It’s one of the best things to happen to the software and it’s one of my favorite parts of the WordPress project.
Cloudways: Share your views about the WordPress groups on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Jeff Chandler: I don’t have a problem with WordPress groups forming on Facebook. Sure, Facebook is not the most open platform and it increases the odds WordPress centric content will just disappear, but this is Facebook we’re talking about here. A ton of people use the service and if that’s where folks feel comfortable talking about WordPress topics, why not? It would be better if they hosted all of the conversations on a WordPress site, perhaps in a bbPress forum install but I won’t hold that against them. I don’t use Google+ or LinkedIn to converse with WordPress users but the same attitude applies.
Ultimately, it would be great if WordPress.org could somehow be used to host all of these groups and conversations, but that functionality doesn’t exist on the site just yet.
Cloudways: There are so many websites on WordPress. What do you suggest to those who are just starting their website? Should they opt for WordPress or should they go for any other CMS?
Jeff Chandler: They should try out as many content management systems as it takes to find the one they are the most comfortable with. They should also use the one that has most of what they want out of the box. WordPress is not the solution to every problem and should not to be used for every kind of website. WordPress is a tool and you should use the best tool for the job.
You can follow Jeff Chandler (@jeffr0) on Twitter.
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