Leora Wenger has worked as a freelancer for several reputed companies and individual clients. She taught herself web designing and development, especially WordPress, Drupal and Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. She has studied art at the Boston Museum School, Boston University School of the Arts and other institutions. She currently lives in New Jersey.
Cloudways: Hello, Leora, it is a pleasure to have you with us today. Tell our readers a bit about yourself. For how long have you been working at Rutgers University and what are your responsibilities there?
Leora: My first assignment at Rutgers University was working on the anthropology website. Don’t even bother looking for it—that site no longer exists. That was back in the day when we did everything in HTML and PHP. WordPress was still a baby blogging platform.
Fast forward about 13 years, I am now working for the School of Communication and Information. Together with others, we are working toward a Drupal 8 website for the school. I have a few Drupal 7 sites that I built and manage for other departments.
Cloudways: We saw that you were using multiple CMS like Drupal, WordPress, etc. Which CMS platform do you prefer to work with for your clients’ websites?
Leora: If a client has a small business, I tell them to stick with WordPress. For Rutgers sites, I do almost exclusively Drupal sites. I enjoy all the features of Drupal, especially now with Drupal 8, fabulous modules like Views are part of the core. If you want those capabilities with WordPress, you either have to use a plugin or write your code. I love writing code, but I don’t want to have to keep it updated. So popular plugins are a must! What is nice about WordPress is that it is easy to learn. Given to the right person, he or she can get creative and put up content fast.
Cloudways: If WordPress would not have been there, which other CMS would you have preferred and why?
Leora: Not Joomla! I do like Drupal, but for small businesses, I would probably learn something like Square if WordPress didn’t exist.
Cloudways: Being a WordPress developer and designer, you must be well aware of plugins. Which are your favorite ones? Can you specify some of the tools you use more often?
Leora: My favorite plugins are a site that uses barely any! Unfortunately, plugins can conflict with each other. Or you can have one plugin mess up your whole site. OK, if you want me to mention one, I will go with TablePress. Very easy to put up tables! Here are Highland Park birds, for example.
Cloudways: The WordPress core isn’t known to be very secure. What steps would you suggest to secure WordPress website? If you get a chance to change or add one thing about WordPress, what would it be?
Leora: Um, no. The core is not the problem. The problem is usually themes or plugins – added coded. First and foremost: keep your themes and plugins up-to-date. Create backups regularly. Read the WordPress Codex page on Hardening WordPress. Read as much as you can about security, or hire someone who does.
Since I mentioned Views in Drupal, I would love it there were open source software that you could add onto WordPress in the same way you add Views onto Drupal. Right now, you have to pay some business to do some version of a content viewer … this should be a basic element instead.
Cloudways: I saw your tremendous portfolio. Can you tell our readers which one is your favorite website that you have created so far?
Leora: I would say Robin Benjamin’s site.
She said she wanted a graphic with the moon and the sun and beach and palm trees. I had a lot of fun creating the graphic! The site itself is simple. We have discussions about doing more with it. But her personality comes across, she has a certain warmth that I feel when I look at her site.
Cloudways: If someone were to ask, what do you consider yourself as? More of a Designer or more of a Developer?
Leora: Originally, I thought I would do design. But I prefer working with a great graphic designer. What I really do is plunging into the code, manipulating modules and tweaking the site so everything works. So I suppose that would be more of a developer. In the Drupal worlds, they might call me a site builder. I don’t think I will be writing public plugins, even though I like the idea. I can’t see myself rushing to put out updates on a Friday afternoon, for example. One day I will say I really got that object-oriented stuff down pat. Keep sending me coding tutorials.
Cloudways: There are two sides of a coin. There are stories of people succeeding at freelancing and there are those who say freelancing isn’t a reliable source of income. How has your experience of freelancing been?
Leora: Freelancing isn’t easy. It helps if you have a partner who gets health and other benefits. It has worked out well for me because it has provided me flexibility. I can find time to take care of myself and my family. You also have to give yourself time develop the business. Don’t expect to do well in the first few years. You have to learn how to network and market yourself. And your initial ideas may not work out as well as you planned.
Cloudways: Within the WordPress Community, who do you consider to be your best friends to hang out with?
Leora: I could use some knowledgeable WordPress friends! I have befriended quite a few bloggers. One of my favorite bloggers is here. I did her daughter’s site, and she maintains it.
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