Brian, Joel and John will be speaking in our Lighting Round of sessions on Saturday. in the Loop/River Room (Engineer Track) at 12pm
Brian has been working with WordPress for 8 years, using it to build online communities like camaro.com, and various client projects. His background as a web developer landed him jobs at agency.com, Leo Burnett, Digitas, and BBDO.
Brian founded Rendition Multimedia in 1999 as a Web design shop, and currently operates out of the 1871 co-working space in the Merchandise Mart. He emphasizes the Lean Startup principles to building software, and feels that WordPress is the best tool for the Minimally Viable Product approach to web site design.
Brian organizes a monthly meetup called “WordPress in the Loop”, which you will find at meetup.com. He is always looking for opportunities to connect with other WordPress people in Chicago, and foster a greater degree of friendship and collaboration within that community.
Joel is a bit of a WordPress newb but has been thrown in the deep end in helping WooThemes bolster its relationships and partnerships with the many players in the eCommerce space over the past 14 months.
Joel lived at home in Southern California until he was 23 before he ventured to South Africa on a mission trip, met the love of his life and has lived there ever since.
First introduced to WordPress in 2005, John Havlik has been an avid WordPress user, theme creator, and plugin author ever since. Among his various plugins is the popular breadcrumb plugin, Breadcrumb NavXT.
When not working on his own projects, John helps support the small, 150 user, WordPress community at Weblogs.us. He also helps organize and frequently presents at MSP WordPress User Group meetings.
Why do you use WordPress?
Brian: WordPress is the best way to quickly build and test new startup ideas. The platform can then be extended, customized, and scaled to grow with the business.
Joel: The easy answer is that it is now a huge part of my life working with WooThemes. I am constantly blown away by the many incredible ways WordPress is being used and by the people using it.
John: Ease of use, extensibility, and familiarity that comes with using WordPress for 9 years.
What would you say to convince someone to attend a WordCamp?
Joel: The WordPress community is great, there is so much to learn from attendees and speakers. People are generally incredibly approachable and down to earth. People come ready to learn and share ideas. Feels so good to be part of community and something bigger than whatever you use WordPress for.
John: Attending a WordCamp gives you access to a ton of friendly and talented people that you can learn from and cultivate ideas with. Additionally, attending a WordCamp that is “out of town” is a perfect excuse to visit a new city.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to start or grow a WordPress based business?
Joel: I’ve never worked at or with Web Agencies but in terms of a larger WordPress products/services business, I would say do not underestimate the value of quality support. Without quality support at Woo it would be challenging for us to differentiate ourselves from the copy cats and misusers of products we’ve developed.
Secondly, pricing and licensing are key. Terms like unlimited and lifetime really bit us in the ass and making changes to those terms was a tough pill for many of our customers to swallow.
What is your favorite WordPress-related resource?
John: As a developer, I find myself searching the wordpress.org codex frequently, so that still is my favorite.
Joel: WP101 is great. TeamTreehouse does really nice stuff. I suppose with both of those suggestions I lean towards videos, it’s easier for me to learn that way.
Tell us something awesome about yourself that is not WordPress related
Joel: I previously worked in the development sector here in South Africa and served various poorer communities all over the country. More recently (2010-2011) this led me to do a post grad degree in Sustainable Development where I focused on community led informal settlement upgrading. While I now work in the private sector I am still passionate about social justice and crossing the invisible lines that divide society in South Africa.