WordCamp Chicago 2013 Speaker Interview: Zach Tollman

Zach TollmanZack Tollman – WordPress icon designed by Dan Leech twitter icon designed by Dan Leech

Residing in Portland, Oregon, Zack longs for the cold, snowy days of his Alaskan youth. He enjoys strumming his guitar, playing hockey, and spending time with his fiancée and dog. Otherwise, you’ll find him at his computer meticulously spinning lines of clean WordPress code as a developer at The Theme Foundry.

He will be presenting “Enhancing Developer Creativity with Git” on Sunday.

Interview with Zack:

Why do you use WordPress?
I use WordPress because it is easy for everyone. Users find the admin pleasant and easy to navigate, which allows them to quickly get up to speed with their website. It is easy for developers because it provides so much out of the box (e.g., admin section, RSS feeds, database abstraction). Given that it does so much for everyone already, WordPress allows users and developers to focus on building things that go beyond basic experience.

What do you like best about WordCamps?
The community. I can find information about WordPress online. I can develop alone at home. I can eat good food in my home city. I cannot meet with 300-500 of the most awesome people for a full weekend without going to a WordCamp. That is what I like best about WordCamps.

What is your favorite tip or resource for a new WordPress user?
I would recommend that someone new to WordPress (user, developer, whatever) attends a local WordCamp ASAP. The single best WordPress resource is the community and the faster that a person gets in touch with the community, the better chance they have figuring it all out.

What is a common problem you see in WordPress sites, and how would you avoid it?
Performance. Out of the box, WordPress can have some performance issues especially as plugins and themes that are not performance friendly are added to the site. The easiest way to avoid it is to look into a managed hosting solution (e.g., ZippyKid, WP Engine, WordPress.com) or get a good page caching plugin (e.g., WP Super Cache).

How do you stay up to date with new information about WordPress?
I follow community members on Twitter.

Share an example of a really great (creative, cool, unusual) use of WordPress you’ve seen recently.
I really think that Jeremy Felts work on Vagrant for WordPress is transcendent. One of the biggest barriers to entry for developers is getting a good dev environment set up. Jeremy’s Vagrant gives this to you for nearly no effort.

Do you have any advice for a person who’s building a business around WordPress design/development?
Put the quality of code and community first. Everything else seems to matter a little less.