Cloudways: Hey John, thanks for joining us today. Can you please tell our readers a bit about yourself and share your career history? How did you start your career? Who inspired you? What challenges did you face during your initial career?
John: I’ve been a web developer for 15+ plus years and have been working with WordPress since WP 2.0. I have been building products since the start of my career. My very first product was called eartistmanagement.com and was a website builder for bands. It was originally written in aps.net and I rebuilt it in WordPress. This is how I started working with WordPress. It was a challenge coming from the proprietary Microsoft universe to the open-source world of the LAMP stack at that time. I started at ground floor, but it was a great learning experience. I taught myself everything from server and db admin to writing plugins for WordPress to recreate the functionality I had in my original app. I wasn’t inspired by a single person. I was more inspired by the technology and learning something new. I knew open source was going to be the future.
I wasn’t much of a marketer at that time so selling my products was by far the biggest challenge.
Cloudways: Your LinkedIn profile shows that you are currently working at College of Charleston. What are your responsibilities there? Could you share any interesting stories with our readers?
John: I currently serve as the webmaster at the College of Charleston. I know Webmaster is an outdated title. Currently my job includes, managing the College’s externally facing web service such as the website, WordPress blogs, Database, streaming servers, etc. Presently, someone with these tasks would now be called a Full-Stack Developer. The college has been a great place to work and has allowed me to launch my current product, Coming Soon Page Pro by Seedprod, which is a Coming Soon Page And Maintenance Mode plugin for WordPress.
Cloudways: There are lots of CMS’s in the market. Why did you choose WordPress? If WordPress was not available, what would have been your CMS of choice?
John: I chose WordPress because even though it was blog focused at the time I started using it, I saw the architecture (Plugin, Hook & Filters) as a flexible way to build a CMS for bands. Like I said, I originally had built it in aps.net but once I started playing with WordPress I realized its flexibility.
Cloudways: You’ve created many coming soon plugins. Please let our readers know how they’re beneficial for WordPress Developers?
John: Basically every site should start with a Coming Soon page while the actual site is being built. It helps you get a jump start on being indexed on Google, it lets visitors get an idea of what’s to come and can be a great marketing tool to collect emails and market to those interested in your site. Plus it hides all the development work being done in the background.
Cloudways: What is the most important thing developers can do to support and bring value to Web Development & WordPress?
John: When I develop any WordPress plugin, free and/or paid plugins, I focus most on stability and support. When people or businesses use products for WordPress, the products should just work, and if they don’t work, then a support channel should be available instantly to provide help. That’s why paid plugins are needed in the ecosystem. There are many people that rely on WordPress for their business. The only way plugin developers can provide support is to charge for their products and make it the best they can.
Cloudways: What are your thoughts on the businesses and industries that are built around WordPress? What opportunities do you see in the future?
John: The future is bright, right now I don’t see any slowdown in the growth of WordPress.
Cloudways: If you could change one thing in WordPress without having to worry about backward compatibility, what would it be?
John: I would love to see the code base and requirements modernized. I’ve worked with Laravel, which is a modern PHP framework, and doing things in Laravel is so much easier than in WordPress, but then again, end users don’t care about the code base, they just want it to work. So I understand why WordPress focuses on backwards compatibility.
Cloudways: What does your typical work day looks like? Are there projects that you are proud of? Can you share the most complicated or most interesting project you have worked on?
John: Right now, I still have a day job but it won’t be that way much longer. Typically, I work on all my stuff in the evening after my kids go to bed. Since I’m a one-man show, I wear all the hats and I have a routine where I divide up Dev, Marketing, Support, Product Development, etc., to different time and days of the week so nothing gets ignored. I recently built Coming Soon Page, a SaaS version of my Coming Soon Plugin for WordPress. I’m testing the water outside the WordPress bubble and trying a different business model.
Cloudways: Within the WordPress Community, who do you consider your best friends?
John: I have been to every Pressnomics, which is a conference for WordPress businesses, since it started and have co-organized a local WordPress meetup as well. I have met so many great people and have so many friends that it is hard to name just a few.
Cloudways: Let’s leave WordPress for a while and talk about your personal life. I see from your facebook profile that you are a family guy. How do you spend your time with your family? Also, you have a cute daughter. Tell our readers a little bit about your family background and share some favorite family pictures?
John: I have a son who is almost 2, a daughter who is 6 and a beautiful wife. We just put in a pool recently so we love swimming in that in the summer. Plus, we’re kind of Disney nerds so we love going down to Disney World every chance we get.
Cloudways: Cloudways is a managed hosting platform for everyone, offering 1-click installation for WordPress with great caching solutions and optimized servers. What’s your opinion about Managed Cloud Hosting services like Cloudways?
John: I think this is a great resource for people that want more control of their WordPress site and don’t want to set up and maintain all the aspects of configuring a high performance WordPress server. Trust me this takes lots of time and skills to do, so I think a 1-Click solution is great!
Cloudways: Just for our readers, can you please send us an image of how your workspace looks like? 🙂
John: I work from my laptop mostly on our screened in porch.
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