Ryan Sullivan is a web consultant with more than 7 years of experience in database administration, security analysis, record management, and web architecture. He is the founder of WP Site Care and also serving as an account executive of Southern Web, a web development and digital marketing agency.
In this interview with Cloudways, he shares the highlights of his career from SysAdmin for Microsoft products to WordPress security analyst.
So, without further ado let’s get to Ryan Sullivan and ask him a few interesting questions.
Cloudways: Hello Ryan, it’s a pleasure to take your Interview. 🙂 First of all, could you please introduce yourself to our readers? How did you start your career and what motivated and inspired you to choose WordPress? How was the journey in the beginning?
Ryan: Sure thing. Hi, I’m Ryan Sullivan and I’ve been working with WordPress for the better part of a decade now. My background before WordPress was in Systems Administration for Microsoft products, so I was fascinated by the world of open source software. Initially, I wasn’t drawn to WordPress specifically, but open source. After working on a few projects with WordPress I really started to like it and saw some business opportunities as well.
Cloudways: You have recently sold your company to Southern Web. What was the reason behind selling such a successful business? What are some lessons you learned while running WordPress maintenance service for more than 7 years?
Ryan: There were a lot of factors that played into my decision to sell. A lot of them are personal and I’ve written about them before. The fact that it happened so quickly was the biggest surprise. Southern Web has been a great partner and made the decision to sell easier than I thought it would be.
Cloudways: What are key factors you consider WordPress performance should be measured? What is the role of a good WordPress hosting company and what should one look towards when buying hosting?
Ryan: There are a lot of factors and things to consider when choosing a web host. Support, speed, uptime, and feature set are all things that should be top of mind. Probably more important than all of that is the relationship a company has with their hosting provider. When things don’t go well, does the host own the issue and work to correct it? Or do they blow it off? No provider is perfect so choose someone who is always actively working toward improvement.
Cloudways: WP Site Care is still hosted on Cloudways. How do you think of Cloudways as a WordPress host? Why you opted for Cloudways? What features did you really like? Why would you recommend Cloudways to anyone?
Ryan: We have lots of sites on Cloudways. We do love how Cloudways exposes so many tools that are usually reserved for developers in an easy-to-use interface. Things like resetting file permissions, changing PHP versions, and creating symlinks usually require some command line knowledge. But Cloudways makes all of that available in their dashboard, which is awesome.
Cloudways: You have been in the WordPress industry for over a decade now. How do you think of transformation in WordPress in all these years? What do you think on the recent debate over WordPress 5.0 & Gutenberg Editor?
Ryan: I don’t get involved in debates too often and there are many dynamics in play when it comes to Gutenberg. I will say that I’m excited to see what ends up being capable with Gutenberg over the next year and beyond once we get past some of these initial technical hurdles. If it’s as transformative as has been portrayed, WordPress is in for a really exciting future!
Cloudways: From WordPress 4.0 to WordPress 5.0, how do you think Automattic has worked on security flaws? What are your 5 best recommendations to WordPress website owners to strengthen their security?
Ryan: I certainly don’t follow the security channels in WordPress.org Slack directly but I think it’s fantastic that there are bounty programs in place for identifying vulnerabilities and that responsible disclosure is used by most hackers. I do know that for any major vulnerability concerns the core team is always very quick to release patches, which isn’t the case with lots of other major CMSes.
Cloudways: Speed of the website is one of the key ranking factors in Google search today. How to make sure that a WordPress website loads under 2 seconds?
Ryan: Clean code, simple plugins, as much caching as possible, and a content delivery network. Also as third-party integrations become more popular, we find that external HTTP requests can really slow down a website, so we always try to limit those to the extent possible. They’re especially bad in advertising networks.
Cloudways: During your time in the community, what different areas have you been involved with? How has the WordPress community changed since you started?
Ryan: I’ve been in and out of the community quite a bit during my time in WordPress. I seem to go in phases. I’ve helped organize WordCamps and we hosted our own developer event for several years, but I typically keep a pretty good pulse on things that are happening. In terms of change, I’d just say it’s gotten bigger, which presents a lot of new dynamics, both good and bad.
Cloudways: How do you see the future of WordPress in the next 5 years?
Ryan: I wouldn’t want to speculate. I couldn’t have predicted where we are today five years ago. 🙂
Cloudways: Name 5 people in the WordPress world who have inspired you during your WordPress journey? Also, mention some great blogs/newsletters our readers should follow for WordPress tips/tricks/news?
Ryan: There are many fantastic people who have inspired me along the way, and for many different reasons. I’ll say Steve Zenghut, Drew Barton, Jeff Zinn, Brandon Dove, and Nathan Tyler for now. I honestly don’t read a lot of industry-specific news but I have enjoyed Human Made’s new newsletter and I’d recommend subscribing to our blog too.
Cloudways: Let’s leave all of the work for a while and talk about your personal life. I see from your social profile that you are a family guy. How do you spend your time with your family? In your Twitter profile, you have written: “My 3 boys are so much cooler than I’ll ever be.”
It’s awesome! Please tell over readers a little bit your family background especially 3 boys 😀 and share some favorite family pictures, if possible?
Ryan: I grew up in Utah and I’ve lived here for most of my life. As you mentioned, I’ve got three sons who are 11, 9, and 6. They’re all at really fun ages now and are starting to get good senses of humor, which makes things fun. They have an amazing mom who also happens to be my wife. The best place to follow that craziness and see any pictures of them is my instagram.
Cloudways: Finally, here’s your chance to freestyle :). Write anything you think could be interesting or useful to our readers.
Ryan: Please go see Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse and buy a website from Southern Web too!
Cloudways: Just to acknowledge our readers, could you please share the images of your workstation. That would be all!
These photos are almost a year old, but my desk still looks almost exactly like this.
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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@example.com