WordCamp Chicago 2013 Speaker Interview: Suzette Franck

Suzette Franck – twitter icon designed by Dan Leech facebook icon designed by Dan Leech LinkedIn icon designed by Dan Leech Google+ icon designed by Dan Leech

2430532625a8a541b0646256a2b505a8Suzette Franck is the WordPress Evangelist at (mt) Media Temple, where she educates and advocates for WordPress and the WordPress Community. She typically attends 2-3 WordPress Meetups a week, and has spoken/is speaking at 6 WordCamps so far his year: Phoenix, San Diego, Miami, Reno, Orange County, and Seattle. She blogs frequently at suzettefranck.com about WordPress and is a regular contributor on WPWatercooler.com.

She enjoys teaching about the wonders of WordPress and finding better ways to do things with it. She loves learning about web development and digging into code, which she has been doing for over 18 years. She discovered WordPress 5 years ago and has used it to create over 200 websites with a variety of designs and requirements, mostly with hand-coded custom themes, and is showing no signs of stopping.

She will be leading two introductory sessions in the 101 track on Foundation Friday, “Domains & Hosting” and “Resources For Reaching Your WordPress Potential.”

Interview with Suzette: Why do you use WordPress? I use WordPress because it saves me time. 8 years ago, when I used to do only hand-coding, it took me 80 hours to program a simple site. I redid the same site a year ago in WordPress with the same functionality and it took me a total of 2 hours, including coding a custom theme. I also love WordPress because it gives the power to the users to easily update their own sites without consulting a developer for small changes.

What do you like best about WordCamps? WordCamps are awesome because it is like Disneyland for WordPress geeks! I am passionate about teaching others the wonders of WordPress, and I love meeting new smart people that I have followed on Twitter for years. I went to my first WordCamp in 2011 in Orange County where I spoke on BuddyPress, and I have been infatuated with WordPress and the Community every since.

What is your favorite tip or resource for a new WordPress user? Always keep learning, experiment and be curious! Get a copy of Desktop Server and install and configure plugins locally that sound interesting to see what they do. You will not only learn about some awesome plugins, you will begin to see the potential behind the world’s most popular CMS and apply your knowledge to new projects to accomplish amazing and wonderful things!

What is a common problem you see in WordPress sites, and how would you avoid it? One problem that I am seeing more and more of in WordPress sites is the neglecting of updating or redoing themes and old code. New technologies and ways of doing things are always being discovered, so it makes sense to review old work and update it, especially in the long term. I have a client that I have had for 8 years and I didn’t know about WordPress yet and CSS was not even in wide use when I started, so the page was written in tables and a custom PHP/MySQL inventory application that I wrote by hand. The site was updated last year to divs and WordPress and runs very smoothly.

How do you stay up to date with new information about WordPress? I did a talk about this very subject recently at a a few Meetups, where I go over quite a few great resources for finding information on WordPress. I generally check the sources that I mention once a week for new articles, and I make sure especially to leverage social media and online communities to find out the latest news.

Share an example of a really great (creative, cool, unusual) use of WordPress you’ve seen recently. I saw a great use of WordPress by my friend, Natalie MacLees, on her presentation “Adding jQuery Magic to your WordPress Themes” at 2013 WCReno. I had seen her give the talk before, and it is full of great information, but this time, she redid the entire presentation in WordPress using one of her jQuery slideshow examples. The entire room gasped with amazement when she revealed that what they were viewing was done completely in WordPress, and Chris Lema even wrote an article about it!

Do you have any advice for a person who’s building a business around WordPress design/development? Make sure that you are charging enough for your work, and that you do a thorough statement of work to be signed off by the client and get the deposit paid before the work starts. Make sure everything such as time spent, maintenance, your availability, backup, security and hosting responsibilities are well-documented and clearly outlined to the client as well as what would define scope creep.