Wednesday, May 18th, 2022

Jeff Starr Interview – Author of “Dig into WordPress”

Hi everyone. Welcome to a new interview with another professional who knows WordPress inside out. Today, you will get to know about web design, development and WordPress Jeff Starr – One of the most experienced people in our community,

In case you missed our latest interview with Tom Greenwood about green business and sustainable web design, check it out here. Feel free to browse through our full collection of interviews to learn more about your favorite topics from our community experts.

You can also find Jeff’s content on his blogs – Digging Into WordPress and Perishable Press – where he writes about his discoveries and experiences with WordPress as part of his daily job. When he’s not writing, he’s coding plugins at Plugin Planet and working with clients through his web design company called Monzilla Media.

Jeff Starr is passionate about web design and security, and loves contributing to WordPress core. He has been an active WordPress contributor since the very beginning of his love story with our CMS.

Let’s hear more from Jeff!

Jeff Starr Interview – author of the book and blog “Dig into WordPress”

When and how did you start working with WordPress? Is there an interesting story here?

I started with WordPress around 2004. At that time, things were very different than they are now. At the time, I was building my own dynamic website from scratch using PHP and MySQL. Then I discovered WordPress, which took care of all the dynamic stuff as well as more. So I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel for every website. Once I got to know WordPress and realized its potential, I was shocked. Been working with WordPress since then and haven’t looked back.

What’s your technique for staying productive all day?

I am a goal-driven minimalist. I use simple text notes to manage my schedule. All the little things that need to be done to achieve the big goals. All neatly organized on plain-text files. So to stay productive, I keep my goals in mind for motivation and focus. Like I can’t wait to finish it. And then use to-do lists like a map. To stay on target and keep things moving as they unfold each day.

How do you define “being successful”?

Being successful is more than financial freedom as far as career is concerned. It’s all about doing your own thing, making your own decisions, thinking for yourself, and setting your own rules.

What do you want more people to know about WordPress?

I wish more people took some time to understand how things work. There’s a lot that WordPress can do all on its own, of course. With a little understanding and a few lightweight plugins, you can build almost anything. WordPress itself is very fast, secure and capable. You don’t need 50+ plugins and some heavy-handed “do-it-all” themes to build a great website.

Describe the WordPress community in one word.

What is one thing you would like to change about WordPress?

Stop overflowing the core with content that can and should be left as a plugin. For example, features like application passwords, responsive images, lazy loading, sitemaps, robot meta, emoji, embeds, and even the REST API and Gutenberg should have been left as plugins. Keep the core light and sharp. Then let users build whatever they want with plugins. There are over 30,000 plugins available, with plenty to choose from.

How do you see the growth of WordPress compared to ten years ago? Is it on the right track?

WordPress is growing heavily in the JavaScript field. So if you’re a typical WordPress user, like having your own site or whatever, you’ll probably enjoy the new fancy Gutenberg block content and related functionality made possible by JavaScript. Likewise, if you’re a WordPress developer and love working with JavaScript, you’re also going to love where WordPress is going. If you’re primarily a PHP-based developer, turning hard in JavaScript land won’t make your life any easier.

So the question “is WordPress on the right track” depends on the person, their goals, preferences, etc. It’s all relative to the user. In general, users who like the whole Gutenberg editing “experience” are going to say “yes, WordPress is on the right track.” Everything else might not be so much. There is always a better way to do things, especially when it comes to web development.

What is not. What should a new business that is entering the WordPress space do?

Read and learn as much as you can. About WordPress, Hosting, Security, SEO and everything in between. Otherwise you are going to make mistakes, waste time, and lose money. Before you do it, take some quality time to research everything you want to do. This is the information age, so take advantage of it.

What do you think is the most efficient way to market your services or products at the moment?

quality product. transparent processes. Listen to your users. It is a basic organic approach to gain market share. Where users will promote your stuff through word of mouth, sharing etc. Think quality products and happy customers. The exact opposite way is top-down promotion, like buying ads on Google and other big tech providers, basically killing everyone.

What is your personal definition of “quality WordPress website”?

Quality WordPress sites are secure, load fast, and provide excellent user experience. The best part about WordPress is that it does all these things out of the box. Install a new WordPress site and use only the default themes and plugins. It will be a quality website, because WordPress is a quality software.

However, what happens is that overzealous and/or clueless people try to improve upon a good thing. They start installing all kinds of unnecessary plugins for caching, security, SEO, and things like that on and on. Sure some of those things may be necessary, but it’s really easy to turn a bloated, slow and sloppy looking hot mess out of a terrible WordPress site if you’re not careful. Plus too many ads, popup nos, signup reminders and other desperate measures are a sure way to ruin any website, WordPress or otherwise.

Any tools you use frequently to streamline your work?

I am a minimalist. Streamlining means eliminating extraneous steps and simplifying the workflow. For example, using some fancy scheduling software that needs to be configured, maintained, updated, backed up, etc. is nowhere as easy or productive as a simple Note.txt file. Keep everything close to the default system functionality for all devices at all times. Another example, instead of relying on a third-party service for email, I use non-cloud based apps and domain-based email addresses for 100% control and no false-positive spam or blocked messages. saves time. Save money

It may seem counterintuitive, but instead of using a million different tools to save time, it’s actually faster and easier to DIY as much as possible and all that’s needed to buy, configure, and manage a group. Avoid intangible hassle and time. various apps. Stay close to the data, not lost in space.

What is your favorite/essential WordPress plugin and why?

I have two favorite plugins, both my own creations: BBQ and Blackhole for Bad Bots. I’m heavy into security, and these two plugins do an excellent job of providing a lightweight super-fast firewall and honeypot-style trap to deter bad bots.

what is your number? 1 Rule When It Comes to WordPress Security?

WordPress itself is very secure. Stay close to the core and use only well-known and trusted plugins and themes. Also solid, reliable, dependable hosting is a must.

Coding or Writing? Which is more beneficial and why?

They are one in the same. Just different languages. I like to write in English, like books and tutorials. Also like to write in code, like PHP, JS, CSS etc. All languages ​​can be beneficial depending on what you are trying to achieve.

What do you think about full-site editing in WordPress? Will it affect designers from a business point of view?

I imagine it would affect some of those “page-building” plugins of all kinds. They’ll be challenged with all the fancy Gutenberg content and full-site editing. Users will be able to use WordPress core to build a site, without bringing some of the heavy page building monstrosities into the mix. Beyond that, I find that full-site editing only fills a space that has lacked a real solution for years.

Do you think Block Editor will be a real threat to page builders like Elementor or Beaver Builder?

That’s basically what I was saying in response to a previous question. Page builders are one group that is getting the shaft with all this Gutenberg stuff. But I think competition is a good thing and will thin the herd and make the best plugins even better. Page creators aren’t going away any time soon.

Has the pandemic had any impact on your business (positive or negative)? Did you have to make any changes in this regard?

Not necessary. My workflow is already in quarantine. It’s been like this for years. Interesting to see the rest of the world, give it a try.

Are you part of any good online/offline communities or groups? Can be about any subject, not necessarily work related.

Offline, not really. I am a very independent person who spends most of the time looking at the screen. So reclusive and introverted. Unless I’m comfortable around those people, I’m an extrovert. Online, I am involved with all kinds of groups/interests like web development, security, cryptocurrency, blockchain, photography, flying drones, video making, and of course WordPress.

What is motivating you to keep doing what you are doing? What is your personal mission?

It has changed over the years. 20 years ago, I was inspired by the idea of ​​success. Now that I am achieving it, I am driven by my love of work. I really enjoy the small online empire I have built. I enjoy managing it and watching it grow. A little more every day.

What are the main challenges in completing your mission?

Self. I am my own worst enemy. The name of the game is discipline and responsibility. Usually I handle this just fine, but sometimes it can be challenging. At the same time it is becoming harder and harder to find people who are honest and truthful, who have half a brain and who are not afraid to use it. Luckily, I’ve had the privilege of connecting with a lot of great people online. My network and users really help make this possible.

This is the gist of our Jeff Starr interview. If you like it and want to know more, please leave your comment in the section below. Plus, if you have any ideas about who we should be talking to next, feel free to share your suggestions with us!

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