A few months ago, we started interviewing the eminent WordPress experts all around the world. We have so far interviewed Bob Dunn, Alex Moss, Jason Cohen, Dustin Hartzler, and many more WP intellectuals. The stories are really awesome to know more about these amazing people. Today, we got the chance to talk to Carrie Dils, one of the top-notch developers specializing in Genesis sites.
For those who don’t know, Carrie is a freelance developer from Fort Worth, Texas in USA. With the vast experience of 15 years in development, she has hands-on experience on different web technologies. Nowadays, though, she is only focused on WordPress and Genesis Framework and tries her best to fulfill even the most forward-thinking expectations of her clients’. Besides, Carrie supports the WP community by answering to users’ queries through all social networks. You can contact her on Twitter at @cdils. Enjoy the interview and feel free to leave your name in the comments section.
Could you please start off by telling us 3 things about yourself we may not know from your website.
Even though my site is business-focused, I try to be transparent about who I am. That said, a few nuggets you may not know…. 1) I finished four half-marathons in the past year, 2) My husband brews beer in our garage, 3) I love books so much that I sniff them before I read them. 🙂
Tell us a little about your website. How did it come about? What inspires you to run such kind of web project?
I put up my first website in 1997 after graduating college – I made it with Front Page and it was basically just a resume to use while job hunting. My business sites have evolved many times over the year to arrive at it’s present state. It’s built on WordPress and specifically uses the Genesis Framework. I use it to attract new business as well as write about various technical or business topics.
What was the major motivator that got you interested in web development?
I sort of fell into it. I took an HTML class in 1996 and immediately wanted to try out my new skills in “the real world.” I built a resource link site for my college department and then a website for my church. Just those two projects was enough on my portfolio (at that time) to start picking up freelance jobs. I’ve been making websites in some form or fashion since that time and love it.
How did your WordPress story begin? What made you choose WordPress among all the other CMS solutions currently available at the web market?
Prior to WordPress I was using a combination of Classic ASP and SQL Server to build out content management systems for clients. I have no business doing database design, but I was doing it back then and hashing out front-end web forms to manage that data. I met a guy who heard what I was doing and he just laughed. He said “try WordPress – it does all that for you.” Needless to say, I’ve never looked back.
Do you have any specific advice for up and coming WordPress developers? What is the best advice you have ever been given concerning WordPress?
For folks getting their feet wet with development, I’d say always stay curious about how and why things work and don’t be afraid to break code – it’s the best way to learn. I don’t know that anyone’s given me specific WordPress advice, but when I was new to the WordPress community, I made it my job to observe what the people around me were doing. The most successful people were the ones highly engaged in contributing to WordPress in some way and helping out others. I’ve tried to emulate that in my business.
Any suggestions out there for students or newbies trying to learn and grow as WordPress developers? What resources would you recommend for self-study?
My advice is to not feel like you need to know and conquer it all – pick an angle (i.e. front-end development or user interface design) and learn it well. Once you feel comfortable in one area, then set out to tackle another. Take projects that interest you, that give you an opportunity to learn and work with smart people. When it comes to self-study, there are SO MANY wonderful, free resources out there for learning CSS, PHP, design, you name it. The hard part is, the information is scattered around many tutorials and piecing it together is difficult – especially if you’re brand new. I recommend a small investment in a Lynda.com membership or similar in order to cover topics cohesively.
What are the WordPress tools you simply couldn’t live without? Are there any favourite plugins?
I love DesktopServer for a local development environment. My other daily tools are Sublime Text and Photoshop. As for plugins, Gravity Forms is a go-to.
What are the challenges you currently face in using WordPress? Do you find any necessary features to be added, and to be done away with?
My biggest challenge isn’t with WordPress itself, but rather using it for clients – there’s a misconception that because WordPress is “easy to use” custom development isn’t hard to do (and shouldn’t cost much). There’s a lot of customer education that goes into explaining the difference between “out of the box” solutions and custom made solutions.
Providing migration service, we witness that more and more people are currently leaving other platforms in favour of WordPress. Have you ever faced the problem of website migration?
I’ve had some project requests for migrations from Blogger, but nothing from another CMS. Honestly, there are so many considerations when migrating anything other than a small site (i.e. a 100% manual migration) that I pass on those projects.
Did you personally perform a website switch? How do you treat an automated way of website migration?
I’ve never done a full platform migration, although I have done link cleanup for a client who had loads of URLs from her previous site still floating around on her website and indexed in Google. A 100% automated migration makes me a little nervous, but then there’s a lot I don’t about the process. My concern would be data being mapped properly from the old database to the new, link updates, URL paths, that sort of thing. If it can be 100% automated, that’s magical, but I think I’d feel better about it if there was some manual oversight.
Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with us… Any parting words?
Thank you for your interest in learning more about my business. No sage wisdom here, but I wouldn’t encourage anyone who’s reading this that has the slightest interest in WordPress to find the closest meetup or WordCamp and GO. There’s so much value in meeting and connecting in real life with folks from the WordPress community.
Thanks so much for chatting with us, Carrie.
In case you have any additional questions – feel free to leave a comment and we’ll be happy to answer them all in the shortest period of time.
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