Robby is the co-founder of Beaver Builder, a WordPress builder solution. He is well known as a WordPress expert, web designer, developer, and marketer. He joined FastLine Media in 2013 and has been involved in WordPress development ever since. In his free time, he enjoys fishing, biking, and live music events. He is very partial to coffee and sushi and tries not to use emoji (he prefers old-school emoticons) 😉
In his interview with Cloudways, Robby talks about his experiences and personal life.
Cloudways: Please tell our readers a bit about yourself. How was the journey from Marketing to becoming a developer? When did you first discover WordPress?
Robby: Hey Mustaasam, thanks for the opportunity to be here! To be honest, it was more the other way around. I went from developer to marketer. I always loved building and coding, but then after I built something, there was the inevitable urge to share it. Learning about online marketing and promotion really came about in an effort to attract more attention to the things I built.
I have a hard time remembering my first experience with WordPress. My first experience with PHP/open source was with the phpBB forum system.
One of my first web projects was a guitar tab website. I believe my first experience with WordPress was creating a blog for that website. This was probably around 2010.
Cloudways: There are many other Content Management Systems in today’s internet world. What were the reasons for pursuing your career as a WordPress Developer? What makes WordPress different from other CMS’s?
Robby: I love the internet and technology. We live in such an exciting time. Never before in history have humans had access to such a vast wealth of knowledge, i.e., the internet, nor the ability to instantly communicate with anyone anywhere in the world.
I think this idea is very powerful and I think WordPress is one of the leading technologies that empowers people to share information. It’s one of the most accessible CMS’, and I think the WordPress community and leadership really appreciate the significance of this role.
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Cloudways: You’re Web Designer at FastLine Media. What are your responsibilities there? What would you suggest on how to become a WordPress Designer from scratch to advance? What are the tools you uses for your work?
Robby: Well, we recently stopped doing client work at FastLine Media so we can focus all of our time and effort on Beaver Builder. I consider myself a bit of a generalist. I get to write code, design, help, manage our social media and communities, and solve problems. I get to tap into many of the varied skill sets I’ve picked up over the years and that’s been a great way to keep things interesting and stay engaged.
On the subject of tools, gosh! there’s too many to list. One thought, though, is that I love getting to know the tools I use inside and out. We jokingly have “text editor” arguments amongst each other (Sublime FTW), but I think which tool you use is far less important than knowing how to use it. Pickup trucks might be a good analogy. Here in the States, folks will argue Ford or Chevy all day long, but if you don’t know how to engage your 4WD, no matter which brand you prefer, you’re still going to be stuck in a ditch.
Cloudways: WordPress popularity makes it an incredibly attractive target for hackers. What are your suggestions to secure WordPress website?
Robby: Update, update, update! There’s no other suggestion. Choosing strong passwords is also important, but 9/10, heck maybe 99/100, WordPress sites aren’t going to get specifically target by hackers.
More often than not, if a WordPress site gets hacked, it’s because it fell victim to a massive untargeted attack at a particular, vulnerable piece of software. That is, a skilled hacker doesn’t care about deliberately trying to hack into your cat photo’s blog. But if your cat photos blog is running a plugin with a known vulnerability, some script kiddie or automated vulnerability scanner is going to find it and exploit it.
Set up a staging server so you can run and test updates before running them on your live site, too!
Cloudways: WordPress speed is a little hitch in its usage. What are your recommendations to optimize and speedup WordPress website?
Robby: Don’t get hung up on micro-optimizations. For example, consider a website running on a shared hosting plan that has a page with a bunch of small images. You could spend a few hours making a sprite out of all the images and save yourself a few HTTP requests, but how much performance are you really going to gain from that as opposed to coughing up a few extra bucks and getting a better hosting account? Try to focus on optimizations that are going to make a big impact on your performance instead of wasting time with little stuff.
Cloudways: What are your favorite WordPress 4.5 features?
Robby: I like the new inline link editor. I think that’s my favorite!
Cloudways: Robby, you’re co-founder at Beaver Builder. How did you come up with this unique idea? Please share your experience with readers.
Robby: It definitely wasn’t my idea! We had a couple clients that asked us to build their website using a visual builder so they could manage the content without having to pay us to write code for them. After completing those projects, we saw the benefit of using a builder for client work. We were able to build sites in less time and the clients did come back to use requesting small changes and updates. The problem was, we didn’t like any of the visual builders on the market. After trying all of them and not being satisfied, we decided to make our own!
Cloudways: The tagline “Build your website in minutes, not months” really suits Beaver Builder. Can you please explain a bit about Beaver Builder? How can one easily develop WordPress sites with it?
Robby: Thanks! We’ve been trying to pin down the perfect, one-sentence description of Beaver Builder. As of lately, we’ve been calling it a “Website Builder for WordPress.” Beaver Builder allows anyone to design a website by dragging and dropping elements on a page. No coding is required.
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Cloudways: Have you attended any WordCamp? How these meetups are beneficial for WordPress Community?
Robby: Yeah! Myself and my two partners, Billy and Justin, went to WordCamp SF in 2014 and WordCamp US 2015. We’re also planning to go to WordCamp US this year. I’m hoping to hit a few solo this year, too. Unlike the other guys, I don’t have any kids (yet..?), so it’s a bit easier for me to jet around.
I think the Camps are an awesome way to meet face-to-face with the people that we’re interacting with virtually. There’s just no beating a face to face—especially when it’s with someone that you already have established a virtual relationship with.
Cloudways: Robby, you’re fond of music. What kind of music do you like the most?
Robby: Live music, haha! That’s a bit of a lazy answer, though. Right now, I am listening to one of the Focus stations on Spotify. I really like ambient electronica when I am working. Sometimes I’ll do Jazz or Classical. For whatever reason, I find lyrics really distracting when I am trying to work, so I usually opt for something mellow and melodic.
As I joked around about, I also am a big live music junkie. I love going to shows and music festivals and it doesn’t really matter what genre or style.
Cloudways: We know it’s hard to take out time from a busy schedule. But, everyone needs to relax. What do you do in your free time, other than music ;)?
Robby: Being on the cusp of summer, I try to get outdoors as much as I can. I like to fish, hike, and mountain bike. I live very close to a lake, so I recently got a stand up paddleboard. I am still a bit shaky on it, but I am looking forward to getting better at that.
Cloudways: WordPress Community is so vast, who do you list as your best buddies?
Robby: Awe, that’s a tough one. Whoever I happen to be sharing a beer with I think. 🙂
Cloudways: Hosting plays an important role in WordPress performance & security. In this regard, how will you compare traditional hosting with Managed WordPress Cloud Hosting like Cloudways, that offer advanced cache technologies like NGINX, Varnish, Memcached, and Redis?
Robby: When I was younger, I went through a period where I used Ubuntu as my main OS. Using Linux was an awesome learning experience, but it was also really eye-opening as to how complicated and technical managing a server is.
I think the managed WordPress hosts like Cloudways are such great services because you get the performance and security of a VPS with a team of server admins that know how to tune a server just for WordPress.
Just to humor our readers, can you please send us an image how does your desk or workspace look like? 🙂
Mustaasam is the WordPress Community Manager at Cloudways. Where he actively works and loves sharing his knowledge with the WordPress Community. When he is not working, you can find him playing squash with his friends, or defending in Football, and listening to music.