“I Was Impressed at How Easy It Was to Run a Website With WordPress” – Interview With Mark Zahra

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Professional hockey players do not get to the top of WordPress mastery by accident. It takes superhuman levels of time, dedication, and focus – and that includes paying attention on what to read and where to find the needed. In this series, CMS2CMS takes a look at the transformation of Mark Zahra. Better yet, provides you with all required for your website to progress. A passionate WordPress follower & user currently occupying the roles of contributor for WP Mayor & as Project Lead for the WP RSS Aggregator plugin shares what to read on a daily basis and who to listen to perform at best. Here’s a look at the daily sources of an avid hockey coach and WordPress player Mark Zahra. 

Mark, could you share with our readers a bit of your background? How long have you been a part of the CMS world? When did the desire to get involved with the tech ground come into your mind?

I was first introduced to the CMS world when I was asked to start contributing to my hockey club’s WordPress site about 3 years ago. A short time later I also decided to leave University mid-way through a course in architecture, after which I was looking for a new experience in a completely different direction than the one I was heading in before, so I began taking some online courses in web development. This combination of events, along with my cousin Jean Galea’s encouragement to get involved in WordPress just last year is what eventually led to me working with WordPress full time.

Presently there is hardly anyone who hasn’t heard about WordPress, many of us are WP users. Do you remember your first experience with the platform? What were your impressions? What did WordPress lack at that time?

Yes, as I mentioned, my first experience with WordPress was managing our hockey club’s website, and I have to say I was quite impressed at how easy it was to run a website with WordPress with little to no experience of web development. As for limitations, at the time I was still new to the world of WordPress, so to me it just looked great.

Have you tried alternative CMS solutions except WordPress? Is there anything exceptionally shining connected with this CMS when compared to other alternatives?

I haven’t personally worked with other CMS solutions yet, though I plan on doing so in the near future to better understand WordPress’ strengths and limitations. I think the vast amount of themes and plugins available and the possibilities these provide, together with the amazing community surrounding WordPress is what really makes it stand out among the rest.

Could you tell us more on your engagement with the WP Mayor project? How did you get involved with it? What do you like the most of your participation? What is the aim behind this site?

I was first introduced to WP Mayor by its founders Jean and Alyona Galea when Jean, who is also my cousin, saw that I was starting to build up an interest in web design and development. Once I had started to work on a couple of WordPress sites Jean had asked me to try contributing a post or two about WordPress themes, and we haven’t looked back since. I have to say I love how free I am to give my honest opinions in my posts while always being provided with all the support that I need from both Jean and Alyona.

The aim of WP Mayor at the moment is to keep providing the best and latest news, reviews and more on everything WordPress, and there are plans in place to keep expanding the blog to give back even more to the WordPress community.

Mark, you’ve got quite an ample blogging experience. Are there any CMS-related resources you are reading on a regular basis? Where do you turn when facing any problems you are not able to figure out yourself?

Well, the first resource I turn to is almost always Jean himself. He’s been working with WordPress for far longer than I have and has plenty of experience in all aspects of it. Having said that, there are a number of online resources I follow and refer to, such as the WPMU Dev blog, the Elegant Themes blog, WP Beginner, and WP Tavern. Besides blogs I also listen to a few podcasts including WP Elevation, KitchenSinkWP, WP Watercooler and others. All this is a part of my weekly routine as it also helps me in compiling all the latest from the world of WordPress for my WP Mayor newsletter that goes out every Wednesday.

Do you have any people related to WordPress CMS who serve you as a proficient examples and motivators? Could you name few of the most eminent WP specialists for our readers to inspire?

It might be sounding repetitive now, but Jean has definitely been my main motivator since starting out. He gave me this opportunity and we’ve built a great working relationship around the already existing family bond. There are also a number of persons I admire and aspire to for various reasons. Chris Lema was one of the first WordPress experts I started following, and for good reason. Kevin Muldoon is another blogger I’ve found to have very interesting views, and lastly Syed Balkhi; he’s just an inspiration to us all, having achieved so much at such a young age.

WordPress CMS is currently the most award-winning online platform. Though, as we know perfection has no limits. From your perspective, what are the challenges in using WordPress? Do you find any features that are necessary to be added/removed?

While WordPress itself is already easy to learn for any newcomers out there, there will always be ways of improving WordPress as a CMS, the first of which could be improving the Dashboard to provide an easier interface for beginners. From a developer’s perspective, working with our developers on the WP RSS Aggregator plugin I realise that there are still areas that need improving to keep up with the latest features in web development.

In your opinion, what’s the next level of WordPress development? How do you see this web solution in a prospect of 5-7 years?

I see it growing more and more, especially with the introduction of the REST API and the ever-growing community. WordPress will continue to develop and expand, providing even more opportunities than ever before. Seeing how far it’s come since its inception, I have no doubts that it will go on to power much more than the current 24% of the web.  

Providing migration services, we witness that there’s a growing trend to leave other CMS platforms in favor of WordPress. Have you ever faced the problem of website migration? What do you think about the automated method of website migration?

I haven’t personally made use of the automated migration, however, having had to migrate some WordPress sites before, I’m very interested to see what it’s like should another project crop up.

We came up to the last question 🙂 Mark, let’s forget about work and turn to leisure. As far as we know, besides from being an avid hockey player, you are a juniors coach as well. What experience pleases you more: to play the game yourself or to share your knowledge with the youngsters? Would you share with us what you like doing most other than work?

That’s right, I both play and coach field hockey in my home country of Malta. I have to admit, playing the game myself and being on the pitch is definitely a big part of my life away from WordPress.

There is no alternative to actually being on the pitch yourself, however coaching our junior members and watching them develop both as hockey players and as individuals is a whole other type of reward. Seeing the smiles on their faces at their weekend sessions after a week of hard work is a great reward. Other than hockey I enjoy playing any other sport, and I’ve also grown fond of travelling here and there in the past couple of years, which I’m hoping to do more of now that I’ve settled in as part of a remote team .

Mark Zahra is the man of admiration whose pleasant personality cannot leave you uninspired.  We want to thank him for finding the time to share his awesome insights, for us it was tremendous joy 🙂 

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Valentyna Tysiachna

Valia is a vivid CMS platforms observer, that’s why she found her dream job of marketer manager at CMS2CMS migration service. Keen English learner, music lover and passionate content writer, she enjoys constant improvement and is open to challenges.
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