Cloudways Conducts Interview with Sami Keijonen

by Saud Razzak  November 25, 2016

Sami Keijonen is a teacher who likes to learn about web and WordPress. He runs a theme and plugin shop called Foxland. He is available for WordPress freelance work.

Sami Keijonen

Cloudways: Hello Sami, Thank you so much for taking some time out from your schedule for us. First of all, tell us a bit about yourself? How did you start your career? Who motivated and inspired you?

Sami: I’m Sami Keijonen from Finland. I’m a math teacher who is interested in web, accessibility, and WordPress.

At the moment I teach mathematics, do freelance WordPress work and run my own theme shop called Foxland. I know, I know, I probably should focus my energy on one thing at a time but I am a multi-tasker 🙂

Career in teaching was kind of my only choice when I was studying math in the University of Jyväskylä. I just didn’t have the talent to become a mathematician so I had to work hard to stay consistent in my field. Now it’s easy to say that teaching has been a perfect fit for me.

Cloudways: From my research, you currently work at Pohjois-Tapiolan lukio.  What are your responsibilities there? Could you share any interesting stories or events that you encountered? I learned that you teach Mathematics classes? How has your teaching experience been so far? Can you give us some insight?

Sami: Yes, I’ve been teaching math in Pohjois-Tapiola high school since 2002. It’s been great and students still give me energy and motivation to keep going on.

But, there is a lot more going on in schools than just teaching. Here are my main responsibilities that I catered over the years:

  • Taking care of the information technology.
  • Vice-principal several years.
  • Summer school principal.

Other than that there are so many fun and important stories to tell!

First, our school have it’s own theater and media class. Their drama shows has been so amazing over the years. For example, this short film doesn’t need words.

Secondly, there have been occasions when multiple funny things are happening in the classrooms. One time the whole classroom was totally quiet. Then one girl started to sing Madonna’s song really quietly…

Times go by so slowly
Times go by so slowly

Then her friend started to sing with her…

Times go by so slowly
Times go by so slowly

Next minute almost everybody was singing that song!

Times go by so slowly
Times go by so slowly
Times go by so slowly
Times go by so slowly

At times like these you just want to smile and let it happen. It was a pure joy.

Cloudways: CMS’s have gained a considerable recognition over the Internet. If you don’t mind, may I ask why you chose WordPress among all other CMSs available on the Internet? Let’s assume that WordPress was never created, what will be your alternative?

Sami: Actually, I was introduced to WordPress by some of my ex-students. I have already build my own “CMS” for my school website but I knew it sucked, I mean really sucked!

Then I got a note from my ex-students that they are doing some course about media and video. My job in that course was to build a website for our short film and I only had two days. At this point, one of my ex-student gave me a hint about WordPress.com service, and I bought it.

Choosing a theme and writing the content was easy and fast; Just the thing I was looking for. I can’t remember the year when all this started happening, but it was all around 2007, taking a wild guess.

If WordPress was never created I have no idea what would be my alternative. Perhaps Drupal, static site generators, or perhaps maybe nothing. Though, I really don’t know because I have never had time to check out other alternatives; I got pretty involved in WordPress only.

Cloudways: I learned that you have worked as a WordPress freelancer. Is there any project in particular that you are proud of? Can you share the most complicated or the most interesting project that you have worked on lately?

Sami: I had to take a whole year off from school and worked as a full time freelancer. Like I said before, at the moment I’m teaching, freelancing, and building themes.

One of my pioneering project was Evervest website which is not fully open yet but here is a short summary why it was interesting and an important project for me:

  • I worked in their office almost every, day and we got along really well. We were more like colleagues. Having beers and stuff.
  • I worked with super talented designer. For example we worked on details for days, that’s how I like it. Do everything as good as you can.
  • There were new things to learn in the front-end, and in the back-end.
  • As a freelancer, it’s important to have this kind of projects in your portfolio.
  • I got paid for every hour 🙂

Cloudways: Many associate the success of WordPress to its vast community. Do you agree or disagree? How do you see the future of WordPress in the coming years?

Sami: I’m not sure how we define success when we talk about this topic. Sure, more and more people are using WordPress and making money out of it. Keeping that in mind, I think it’s a success but it’s not that important for me because this is not a race in the Olympic games.

Community definitely plays a huge role in bringing success to WordPress. I started out in Theme Hybrid: A WordPress theme club community and would never be in this position without it.

Other things that define success are mostly these:

  • Users can add their content via a browser, and that’s pretty easy to do.
  • You can extend WordPress, and the sky is the limit. Or is it?
  • WordPress does get better and better.

In the near future, I don’t see any big challenges in bringing success to WordPress. But in the long run, there can be other “such good” platforms, who knows. Not me.

Cloudways: WordPress core is lesser known for its speed & security. What are the steps you take to optimize and make it more secure? Which plugins are your favorite and most recommended?

Sami: Keep your site simple! Do you really need all the bells and whistles on your website?

  • Four images in the slider. Let’s make it ten. Fullscreen.
  • Another big hero image.
  • Wait, I didn’t optimize any of those images.
  • Cool and shiny chats and dialog box opening in front of content. Don’t forget ads.
  • Load 4 different fonts.
  • Tons of plugins that split styles and Javascript on front-end.

I’m mostly a front-end developer, and my main job is to build the theme. I try to follow all the security standards starting with validating, sanitizing, and processing the data.

Frank Klein have written great articles about coding secure themes.

For speed, good host (with caching) is crucial. I naturally minify styles and scripts in my themes and combine scripts if possible.

Here are a couple of resources for optimizing:

Cloudways: You run a theme and plugin shop called Foxland. Please tell our readers how your shop is beneficial for WordPress Developers?

Sami: I try to write content for developers and share ideas on my blog . But, I think for business I should probably write more articles for basic users, not developers.

Accessibility related articles hopefully bring awareness how to create more accessible sites.

Developers could also get some ideas from my themes; at least, if you’re just starting out.

Cloudways: Within the WordPress Community, who do you consider your best friends?

Sami: This is a hard question. In general, my best friends have nothing to do with WordPress. When you list names, someone could think why they are not on the list and get upset.

In Finnish WordPress community, my friends are the people who organized WordCamp Finland.  We had an amazing team.

I also got to know other cool people like Rolle and Timi from WordPress agency Dude.

In WordCamp Europe 2016, I also met Ana and Marko who runs Anariel Design theme shop. We had been talking on Twitter before but when we met live, we were on the same page instantly.

For me friendship in WordPress community means couple of things:

  • Share ideas and experience of your work.
  • But most importantly, talk life in general. Not just about the work.

Cloudways: Let’s leave WordPress for a while and talk about your personal life. What do you do during your free time?

Sami: What’s free time:)

I do try to exercise almost every day. I believe that mental and physical well-being goes hand in hand. I wish I had been a professional athlete but I never had enough talent. Nevertheless, sport is my passion.

My other passion is music. It’s my channel to emotions. It is my soul.

I can’t play any instrument (I do have two guitars), but I listen to music a lot. I also enjoy live shows. Red Hot Chili Peppers is next live gig in Helsinki. Let’s rock!

Cloudways: Cloudways is a managed cloud hosting platform offering 1-click installation for WordPress with great caching technologies and optimized servers. What’s your opinion about managed cloud hosting services such as Cloudways?

Sami: I’ll have to admit that I really don’t understand anything about servers and stuff. For people like me, this kind of service sounds great. Just click and play.

Cloudways: Just for our readers, can you please send us an image of how your workspace look like? 🙂

My workspace is never this clean 🙂

Worksapce

 

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About Saud Razzak

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 m.saud@cloudways.com

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