Josh Pollock is a WordPress developer and entrepreneur. He creates and sells WordPress plugins at CalderaWP. He is also a WordPress core contributor and have written for the top WordPress tutorial sites, including Torque, Smashing Magazine, Tuts+ and WPBeginner.
Cloudways: Hey, Josh, I was amazed while going through your LinkedIn profile as I observed that you have vast years of experience on the Development side. What challenges did you face initially in your career? How did you connect yourself with WordPress? Share your career history with our readers.
Josh: I never opted to be a developer. I just started writing blogs on WordPress.com, and discovered if I self-hosted it, I could do way more. That led me further in developing my theme and falling in love with web development itself.
More importantly, I started to believe that I could use WordPress to build websites and apps that I always wanted to create.
Cloudways: You currently work at CalderaWP. Tell me something about your company? How do you manage your responsibilities? Could you share any of your interesting stories?
Josh: CalderaWP is a company which I created and it is now a part of a bigger venture named the Caldera Labs. We make WordPress plugins including Caldera Forms — a drag and drop, responsive form builder — and Ingot, a complete A/B testing solution for WordPress.
I currently use the title “Lead Developer/ Founder/ Time Traveler.” I do a ridiculous amount of work, and that includes leading the development and support. I’m also involved in account management and marketing. We’re a small team, currently three people, so it’s a lot of work.
The bottom line is I work a ton, but most of the time I have a lot of fun doing it. I don’t make a lot of money, however, my ratio of fun work vs not fun work, and doing whatever I want vs doing something I’m stuck doing at is pretty good and improving all the time.
To me, that’s most important. I think making money is nice, but having a good time doing it is more important. It certainly doesn’t mean that I’m not serious, I’m super-serious about everything, which I enjoy 🙂
Cloudways: I learned that in your LinkedIn profile you wrote a lot of tutorials. Could you tell our readers which are your favorite one as well? how they’re beneficial for WordPress Developers?
Josh: I love teaching. It’s a great way to give back and it’s also how I learn. I’m someone who enjoys explaining readers about the advantages of WordPress. WordPress is one of the best CMS application in the world empowering more than 25% of the websites on the internet. It will be difficult for me to say which is my favorite, however, you can find a number of WordPress tutorials that are written by me on one of the famous tutorial websites such as Torque, Smashing Magazine, Tuts+ and WPBeginner.
Cloudways: WordPress core is lesser known for its speed & security, what are your steps to optimize and make it more secure? Which plugins are your favorite and most recommended?
Josh: I think a lot of people’s first instinct when looking to speeding up or securing a website is to install a security or performance plugin. Often times it is not needed and doesn’t really resolve the problem. The first places to evaluate are the server itself and the code that’s already running. A good hosting platform can offer effective server resources.
I’ve sometimes faced such problems. They are normally present among poorly written themes and plugins. Removing a theme with a ton of options and other fluff and replacing it with a custom theme is almost always worth the expense in terms of the load time it saves.
My company has done performance improvement work for different sites where we’ve quickly taken off a seconds worth of load time, but normally that comes from optimizing wp-cron and removing or replacing bad plugins or themes.
In terms of plugins, I don’t use any specific caching plugins, besides whatever object caching drop-in the host provides. Every site I’m working on is always too dynamic for a static HTML caching plugin.
Cloudways: What are your views about the future of WordPress? Will its market share continue to grow? What is that one feature you would love to see in the coming WordPress version?
Josh: I think that WordPress core is doing an amazing job,of modernizing, given the requirement, not breaking backwards compatibility and almost 15 years of technical debt. People complain about WordPress’ code, but it’s old, and you can only do so much without throwing it out and starting over, which isn’t practical.
To me, WordPress is about the ecosystem and the people. The code is fine, but it’s nothing special. When I need a better framework, I use Angular and/ or Laravel. However, code is code.
WordPress was the thing that made me believe that I could learn development. I came to WordPress at a real transitionary period in my life. Being successful at WordPress and finding acceptance and true friends in this community has been a huge experience for me personally. I can’t overstate or truly express how important this community is to me.
To me, the big changes I’d like to see encircles WordPress.org, which I’d like to see become a community website, run by the community and better fitting the realities of what plugin and theme developers as well as users need in 2016.
Cloudways: Let’s leave WordPress for a while and talk about your personal life. How do you spend your leisure time?
Josh: I’m really into science fiction. I love to read and read a lot of science fiction. I’m crazily focused on working and learning about development, but the other thing I’m crazy into is science fiction, TV, movies and books.
I probably should go to the gym more, but that’s something I do for fitness and such. I also enjoy taking strolls in parks nearby my accommodation.
My wife and I have a dog Josie who is pretty amazing. She amuses us a lot in our leisure time.
Cloudways: Everybody has some motivation and inspiration for success in life. Name a few people who have real importance in your personal and professional life?
Josh: My wife Alicia is an opera singer. She’s insanely focused on her voice, her career and classical music. She really inspires me, because what she does is intensely hard, but she sticks with it and is great at it. I’m a bit scattered sometimes, and always doing more things than I should be. I’m motivated by her drive and focus.
David Bowie is a huge inspiration to me. I’ve been a fan of his music since I was a kid. I just love that he did so many things, and always did it with sincerity and humor. I’m in awe of the fact that he made great music for almost 40 years. Not every record was great, but he had at least one great record in every decade he was active in, which is indeed incredible.
My parents taught me that it is important to become useful for people and enjoy yourself simultaneously. This has always been a huge motivation in my life. My dad got me into sci-fi by introducing me to The Lord of The Rings when I was a kid. Frodo Baggins is a huge inspiration to me. I hope I can be another short guy with hairy feet that does big things through determination, compassion for others and with a bit of help from his friends.
Cloudways: Cloudways is a managed cloud 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?
Josh: A lot of people go to WordPress because it’s a relatively fast and affordable way to get their site up and running, because it is. That’s awesome, but I think people often don’t plan for keeping their site functional, secure and updated. Solving that requires keeping the server and the code up to date, and a good managed WordPress host provides the server part of that.
I’ve used Cloudways and I like that it is more developer-focused than some of the other managed hosts, while still being a managed service.
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Cloudways: Just for our readers, can you please send us an image of how your workspace looks like? 🙂
Josh: Here’s my desk. I recently made the switch from MacOS to Ubuntu. That tiny black and silver box on the left is my main machine. It’s an Intel NUC running Ubuntu. It’s more powerful and lighter than my laptop, which I’m mainly using for music right now. I can travel with that little desktop, which has a quad core i7 and 16GB of RAM and just plug it into any screen or TV.
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Saud is the WordPress Community Manager at Cloudways - A Managed WooCommerce Hosting Platform. Saud is responsible for creating buzz, spread knowledge, and educate the people about WordPress in the Community around the globe. In his free time, he likes to play cricket and learn new things on the Internet. You can email him at [email protected]