Joe Casabona is a Front End Developer and WordPress course developer on WP in One Month. He has also hosted the “How I Built It” podcast and authored Responsive Design with WordPress. Apart from professional life, he loves Star Wars, Disney, smoking cigars, and playing drums. He owns his own website titled as casabona.org.
Let’s begin our interview with Mr. Casabona and get an insight on his opinions in the world of WordPress.
Cloudways: Hi Joe, thank you so much for taking some time out from your busy schedule for us. Can you please introduce yourself to our readers? How did you start your career? Who motivated and inspired you?
Joe: Sure thing! I’m a Front End Web Developer that also teaches and runs a podcast. I currently live in eastern PA, but I’m born and raised in New York. I like to say I got into the web development business because of divine intervention. I always had an interest in computers, mostly in the hardware/repair side of things. One day, my parish approached me and asked if I (since I was good at computers) could make them a website. Since I have never made one, I declined the offer at first. However, they offered to pay me, and payment is a good motivator. I made that site, and they loved it. I got to exercise my creative side and my logical side equally. That was back in 2002. I’ve been doing it ever since.
Cloudways: You currently work at Crowd Favorite as a Front End Developer. Tell me something about your company? How do you manage your responsibilities? Can you share any of your interesting stories?
Joe: Crowd Favorite is a company that focuses on WordPress development at the Enterprise level. We have offered services for more than 100 fortunate companies and must I say that we have done it well! My role is to take designs from customers and create any themes or plugins needed. I’ve also taken more of a leadership role, managing smaller projects and offering guidance to other front end developers. As far as interesting stories are concerned, I’m sure we have some – but they aren’t mine to tell 🙂
Cloudways: You are currently a WordPress instructor at WP in One Month. How do you motivate adults to create a WordPress website? And how you encourage them to choose WordPress as a CMS? What other CMS do you recommend if WordPress had not been developed and why?
Joe: Great question! Troy Dean has a lot of great thoughts on this, but my philosophy is that they want to learn. To show them that they *should* learn, I release some free videos. I also tried to understand the problems they’re facing. By knowing their key problematic points, the focus of my courses was on resolving them. Also, I had to keep them engaged. At this point selling WordPress isn’t too hard. Most of my students have heard of it and have some sort of interest in it. As far as my personal recommendation is concerned, if WordPress wasn’t around, I don’t have much experience with other CMS’s other than WordPress. I may not be the right person to make a judgment call, but if I had to make a judgment call, it would be based on a case-by-case basis. I haven’t tried Perch yet so I might go for it.
Cloudways: Besides coding and projects, you have also worked on Podcasting. Can you give us some advice on making a more successful podcast?
Joe: Definitely! So I wrote an ebook with Matt Medeiros called The Podcast Starter Kit at http://podcast.win. I think the two biggest pieces of advice I can give to our fellow readers is to make good content and make it consistently. It is also important that one should start their show by staying true to what they preach! And they should be predictable to listeners so they can expect what they wish to hear.
Cloudways: I learned that you had worked approximately 12 years as a freelancer. Is there any project that you are proud of in particular? Can you share the most complicated or the most exciting project that you have worked on by far?
Joe: There were quite a few projects that I am proud of! Here is a list of few that I can probably refer to. A project that I am quite actually proud of was the AZ Voter Guide which I published a few years back. It was a complicated and interesting project. It helped political candidates to stand up on certain issues based on different surveys. It was my job to work on the WordPress theme plus write a plugin that converts an MSSQL to MySQL. Their way involves a lot including screen scraper (which later turned into API). It was a tough and fun one!
Cloudways: WordPress core is lesser known for its speed & security, what are your steps to optimize and make it more secure? Which plugins will you suggest as your favorite and most recommended to increase speed and security in WordPress?
Joe: I think WordPress gets a bad wrap on this sometimes – much like page builders get a bad wrap for being slow. It all depends on how you use it! That said, for speed, I think hardware is a good start. I use SiteGround and WP Engine (and soon, LiquidWeb) for my websites and the performance is much better when I used other hosts. For security, iThemes Security is where it’s at for WordPress level security. Sucuri does great scanning and has some nice thoughts on extending security beyond it. Dre Armeda talks all about it on my podcast.
Cloudways: Within the WordPress Community, who do you consider among your best of friends?
Joe: Man this is tough. I think as far as people who’ve affected me most within the WordPress community are Chris Lema, Shawn Hesketh, Karim Marucchi. Brian and Katie Richards. I would also consider them one of my great friends. And to make it an even 6, Shayda Torabi from WP Engine has to make the cut. Of course, I definitely forget people here but there are a lot more.
Cloudways: Let’s leave WordPress for a while and talk about your personal life. I see from your social profile that you are a Drummer. Is it an individual hobby or do you play with a band? Can you please send us some pictures.
Joe: It’s an individual hobby, and I, unfortunately, don’t have any recent photos because my set is currently in storage until my wife and I find a bigger place. Although, I’ve included a couple of pictures of previous years.
Cloudways: Is there something that I have missed? If there is something and you want to share it with our readers now is the time? Please feel free to share as much as you want in this section?
Joe: Well, as I write this, I’m less than a week from the due date of our first child, a little girl named Teresa Marie. I suspect I’ll be taking some time to prioritize all of my projects, work, and hobbies. My wife and I couldn’t be any more excited!
Cloudways: Cloudways is a managed cloud hosting platform offering 1-click installation for WordPress with great caching technologies and optimized servers. What’s your opinion about managed cloud hosting services such as Cloudways?
Joe: I think as WordPress grows, it is becoming more and more important! Crowd Favorite and others have proven that WordPress can handle large ecommerce websites with millions of transactions daily. Great hardware and behind-the-scenes services are a big part of all of it.
Cloudways: Just for our readers, can you please send us an image of how your workspace looks like? That would be all. Thank you for your time.
Joe: Sure thing!