Recently we were lucky enough to catch up with Rhys Wynne (web developer, the author of bbPress Complete and the man behind WP Email Capture), who was talking about WordPress – a platform that powers approximately 20% of all websites. Enjoy the interview and feel free to leave your name in the comments section.
1. Hi Rhys, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us, we really appreciate it. To start – what are 3 things or facts that hardly anyone knows about you?
Three facts hardly anybody knows about you. Interesting! I’m not sure exactly if they’re secrets but here are three “fun facts”:-)
- For a few years I was interviewed as the go to “Blogging Expert” for BBC Radio Wales (their words, not mine!).
- I am a published author, releasing bbPress Complete in 2013.
- For fun, I used to work as a professional wrestling manager near my home town. I often played the bad guy, and occasionally got beaten up for it. It was fun though, with a highlight being involved in a steel cage match a few years back.
2. Please, tell our readers and subscribers something about how and when you get into the weird and wonderful world of SEO?
I got into SEO pretty much straight after I started my first web development job. We were a small agency, and the director tried and make sure that people played to their strengths. I’ve not got great graphic design skills, but I was shown how to do some basic SEO (such as on page optimisation) and was given time to optimise a site. After a bit of work we were ranking for the chosen keywords in Google within the first one or two months, which lead to a lot of high price sales for the client. Seeing I had a bit of a knack for doing this, I became the SEO guy for the firm I was working for, staying there for 4 years in total.
3. As former SEO that has turned into WordPress enthusiast – what exactly makes WordPress so popular and effective from SEO perspective?
From my perspective, I think it is great out of the box. I’ve dealt with other CMS’, and they appear to struggle out of the box in the search engine rankings, with things such as pretty permalinks not being standard within the software. Installing Yoast’s WordPress SEO on a default WordPress installation, and you can pretty much do most important on-page tasks associated with a good SEO strategy.
4. WordPress has risen up as the dominant platform. With so many other CMS available on the market, what made you choose and stick to WordPress?? Do you remember the first time you started working with the platform?
I started working on WordPress the same time I started with that web development job. From my guess it was nine years ago in around May 2006. So it’ll be WordPress version 2.0.2. All in all it was still a young product and not strictly a CMS, for example you couldn’t set a page as a home page. Nevertheless, it showed promise, and it was incredibly easy to make changes through plugins and themes. That made me rather happy to stick with WordPress. I’ve since been delighted to find out that the community is superb, so I’m glad to have make that jump.
5. At the very beginning of your WordPress journey – what difficulties did you face and how did you manage to cope with them? What is your piece of advice to those who are at the very beginning of their WP path?
Well at the time the difficulties I faced at the beginning of my WordPress career simply don’t exist anymore, however my advice is get familiar with the source code of WordPress. Turns out there are some great functions available to developers which aren’t always covered in the Codex. If you get into the habit of trying to find a function associated with WordPress, rather than write your own, then that is a great way to start WordPress development, as it helps speed up development.
Have a watch of Helen Hou-Sandí’s WordCamp Europe talk on getting familiar with core.
6. You are known for the WordPress email marketing plugin WP Email Capture. Why did you start the project? What was the inspiration behind it? Any other projects that keep you busy these days?
WP Email Capture started because I wasn’t able to find a plugin at the time that did the same. I wanted to start collecting emails so we could begin marketing, but I didn’t want to commit to any mailing list provider at the time. So I built my own solution. It’s grown popular over time, especially amongst the theme communities out there, as they design themes built with my plugin in mind. I’ve been rewriting it for version 3 to allow expansions to further integration with other services.
Recently I’ve been diversifying my WordPress plugins, and getting back into blogging. You can read my thoughts on WordPress and find my new plugins at my Winwar Media site.
7. In your opinion, what’s the next level of WordPress development? Where do you see WordPress in 2-3 years time?
I think with the WP API development is probably the most important thing happening in WordPress. Effectively if this gets put into core (which seems to be happening), in effect you will be able to build WordPress sites completely separate from WordPress. You will be able to build some great apps that integrate with WordPress a lot deeper at the moment, and have custom admin interfaces. It’s very exciting, and I’m waiting for just the right project to use it.
8. Which is your favorite plugin you can’t afford to miss out every time you configure a WordPress website and why? Which is theme do you enjoy most?
For me, the one plugin I install usually first is WordPress SEO by Yoast, purely from my SEO days. It is a great plugin that with a few tweaks you can optimise your posts for search engines. It is almost like having an SEO consultant on your dashboard.
Theme wise, I use Peadig for a lot of my projects. It’s a bootstrap based, mobile first framework. I generally use that as a base and then create a child theme on top of it.
9. Have you faced the problem of website migration? Did you personally perform website switch to WordPress?
I’m facing the problem right now! I’m in the process of converting a site from Expression Engine to WordPress, it’s an interesting process, I must admit.
There is so much you need to keep in mind, from managing the database and making sure nothing is missing to making sure that the URL structure is the same, or all redirects are present. I’m managing the switch, and it’s giving me a few grey hairs!
10. What is your opinion about using an automated tool during the site switch? Do have an experience of using online converters?
I’ve no experience of using online converters, and I’ve never tried an automated tool. For basic sites, I can see them being useful as from a basic WordPress database to a (for example) basic Drupal database, I can see them being easily converted over. However, for complex systems such as WordPress sites with a lot of extra database tables, where do you place them? For that, then human intervention I feel could be important.
11. Do you think that keeping the same design is an important part of migration from one platform to another?
I do so. From a business standpoint you want the migration to be seamless from one platform to another, and if you have invested heavily in site design you don’t want to throw that away, so if you can keep the design the same, then you will not cause confusion to your customers.
However I do think that it may not be possible, or even worthwhile, to keep the site design exact when you complete migration, but as long as it is similar, then no problems should arise.
Many thanks to Rhys for sharing his thoughts and life experience with us. Keep reading our ongoing Experts Interview Series with a lot more experts to be invited soon.
P.S. Left with a strong desire to switch to WordPress? Then look no further than CMS2CMS automated migration service to perform the conversion as seamless and error-free as possible. Find more detailed information here and try your Demo Migration without any delay.