There are only few people who can claim to be Evangelists. They actually deserve this title due to their relentless passion, enthusiasm, dedication, everlasting love, long years of hard work, and experience. When it comes to WordPress, you can find many people, who have dedicated their lives fully to the community and growth of WordPress. Their invaluable experience, their love for WordPress makes them the real Gurus of the industry.
I’m honored to have interacted with one of the most experienced WordPress developers, Suzette Franck, an Evangelist in the truest sense of the word. She is a good friend and remains a source of inspiration for me throughout my WordPress career. Suzette has developed hundreds of WordPress websites and has participated in the numerous WordCamps all over the world. Currently she is working as Front End Developer at WebDevStudios.
Suzette keeps herself updated on the current issues of WordPress. In our discussion with the community on WordPress 4.0 on Twitter, she shared her interest in the new media library grid view and plugin icons. She is highly active on social media forums. You can always count on her when it comes to seeking help regarding various WordPress issues.
Cloudways: Being an experienced WordPress user, how do you feel about your fascinating journey? How WordPress has changed your life?
Suzette Franck: I’ve been doing web development for over twenty years, back when geocities and tables were used for layout, and CSS had not yet been invented. I discovered WordPress in 2008 and have been using it exclusively for all of my over 300 websites since then. By leveraging the knowledge of the WordPress community and their awesome contributions, WordPress has allowed me to build and manage gorgeous websites with advanced functionality very quickly and easily. The websites that I developed before WordPress were very simple with limited functionality, and would take me a full week to code in HTML and PHP, whereas the same site I could have up and running within two hours using WordPress.
Cloudways: Congratulations on joining WebDevStudios. What made you switch from being a WordPress Evangelist to a Front End Developer?
Suzette Franck: I loved being and will always be a WordPress Evangelist, but my background was coding and I really missed digging into code, learning new techniques, and working with clients to make their web dreams come true. I approached Lisa Sabin-Wilson, one of the founders of WebDevStudios, who was one of my top WordPress heroes and the author of the extremely popular ‘WordPress for Dummies Series’. We talked several times and she invited me to join the team. WebDevStudios allows me to troubleshoot and work with code, as well as be part of an awesome team of extremely talented developers and WordPress contributors, whom I can work with and learn from. I will still continue writing WordPress articles, speaking at Meetups and WordCamps, and teaching people about the wonders of WordPress.
Cloudways: You have attended a large number of WordCamps. Tell us any funny story of a camp and share your experiences with us. How these WordCamps are helping in the growth of Community?
Suzette Franck: WordCamps are awesome, I have spoken at 23 of them so far since 2011. WordCamps are a great way to learn about WordPress, meet people and get help from the community. One of the best times I had at a WordCamp was when I taught the kids’ WordCamp at Phoenix 2014. It was challenging but also very rewarding, and teaching WordPress to beginners is one of my favorite things to do. The kids were smart and kept up and many of them created their first WordPress blog, some of the kids are still blogging today, including Chris Lema’s daughter who took my class. This is her blog.
Cloudways: You are always active on the different social forums and communities of WordPress. With a tough and busy schedule already in place, how do you manage to be generous and helpful to WordPress communities on social media? Do you think these communities are making any difference to the benefit of WP?
Suzette Franck: Communities, I believe, are at the heart of why WordPress stands out from any other Content Management System. I was introduced to The OC WordPress Group on Facebook by Steve Zehngut, who ran the OC WordPress meetups at his office at Zeek in Huntington Beach. Meetups are a great way to get advice, share information and share your experiences. I make an effort to share important information everyday and stay connected via participating in the Facebook WordPress groups, of which I have my own called, “WordPress for Artists”. I also try to tweet relevant web development articles and share useful links, and follow others who are active in the community.
Cloudways: Recently, WordPress 4.0 was released. There are many changes within the UI/UX functionalities. What’s your opinion about this release?
Suzette Franck: I have always been impressed with every WordPress release, and WordPress 4.0 is no exception. I love the new media library and the new icons for plugins really help to make finding and installing plugins easier. I am looking forward to WordPress 4.1 and the new Twenty Fifteen theme.
Cloudways: Imagine a situation where, just being the case that if you woke up one day and found that WordPress is no more. Which CMS would you like to use instead?
Suzette Franck: Before I discovered WordPress, I built a custom CMS using PHP and MySQL and there were a lot of pieces that you have to be aware of, and there were a lot of bugs and problems. I think if there was no more WordPress, I would like to start something with a brand new community-made Content Management System that would also allow for the same freedoms that WordPress does. Luckily, I am pretty sure that WordPress will stick around and we won’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Cloudways: A quick one. Which is your favorite plugin and theme that you can’t afford to miss out while developing your website?
Suzette Franck: Admin Columns, formerly CodePress Admin Columns, which is a free plugin. It allows you to customize the admin view by adding or removing the columns that are visible to you in the admin panel. It works with CPTs and Advanced Custom Fields or CMB2 very well, and I also use it to look up the names of the fields that I have added to the post. It is very useful for showing the featured image thumbnail to give you a verification that you do have a featured image on the post, and a definite must-have for all websites.
Cloudways: Most of WordPress sites are vulnerable to security threats, such as brute force attack and DDoS attacks. Many users have called for the WP core team to come up with a built-in solution. What do you suggest our readers to keep their websites secured?
Suzette Franck: WP core team has come up with something that you can use to keep your site secure, and that is VaultPress, which I highly recommend; if only for the backup aspect of maintaining your site. Another alternative is to use the plugin WordFence, which I also recommend and use on most of my sites. Your best bet is to first get reliable hosting, enforce strong passwords, limit login attempts, and keep your software updated.
Cloudways: Glad to talk to you. We will talk soon sometime again. What are your last words for aspirant bloggers and developers, who want to start their careers with WordPress?
Suzette Franck: My advice to aspiring bloggers and developers is to learn something brand new everyday. Never stop learning because someone will always be inventing new and better ways to do things on WordPress. My second piece of advice would be to get involved in the community, because when you are stuck, nothing is better than finding someone who has already done what you are trying to do and getting their advice and wisdom. Anyone can start using WordPress with very little knowledge, and as you learn and add to your knowledgebase you will find more opportunities opening up that WordPress can help with.
Cloudways: You know about the developments at Cloudways. We have added WordPress multisite as an app to the platform. How did you find WordPress on Cloudways?
Suzette Franck: The setup process was very easy and informative. My favorite part while waiting for the setup to be completed was the video that gave a tour of the server and application management panels. The interface was very flexible and there are a lot of advanced tasks that could be performed easily. I put up CharmZilla on Cloudways, which is one of my WordPress 4.1/Twenty Fifteen testing beta sites that I use to test plugins and themes.
You can follow Suzette Franck (@suzette_franck) at Twitter.
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