Speaker Interview – Danny Santoro

Born at the dawn of the digital era (1989, apparently), I’ve grown up around tech, media, and entertainment all of my life. It’s so ingrained that a profession was an easy choice – after a four-year stint at the University of Cincinnati’s highly competitive Electronic Media program, I graduated and went out into the big scary world.

Why Do You Use WordPress?
I use WordPress because really there’s nothing else like it. Sure, there’s tons of other CMS platforms, but none of them have the simplicity and flexibility of WordPress. Not only is WordPress easy to use as a developer, it’s easy for clients to operate, which is a godsend compared to bulkier systems like Sitecore.

When and How Did You Start Using WordPress?
Funny story – the first time I used it, I JUST wanted the blog aspect – that’s all I figured WordPress was for, anyway. After a long and kind of frustrating attempt at embedding the WordPress blog, I just remade the theme in WordPress… And holy cow, it worked! Within the month I’d converted three sites over, and I’ve never gone back to the old way.

What Tips or Resources would you recommend to a new WordPress User?

There’s so many resources out there that it can be overwhelming at best. The Codex will be your best friend down the road, but it’s hardly the place to start… Instead, let’s think of it like a martial art with three stages, SHU-HA-RI.

SHU: This is where you learn the basics. Learn how to apply a theme, learn how to make a child theme, follow any tutorial you can get your hands on and don’t be afraid to copy someone’s code (as long as you’re not profiting off of it 🙂 ) to make something happen. Doing is the only way to learn here.

HA: After a base knowledge has been formed, you can start to experiment. Try to build a plugin. Try to decide if something is worth a plugin or just a function. Make sure you know what a function is. Start to get creative with the basic tools to see how far you can go – I created a 10,000 page database with two plugins and a lot of sweat and tears… It was done the wrong way, but it was a lesson well learned.

RI: Once you’re comfortable experimenting, go crazy! Try new things – you’ll always have a backup to fall to, right? WordPress has so much untapped potential that only you can discover, so start those basics.

Wax on, wax off. 🙂

What advice would you give someone who’s building a business around WordPress design or development?
WordPress is flexible, and therefore your business should be just as flexible. The great part about WordPress is that it’s easy to use and can fit almost any need – don’t limit yourself to popping out dime-a-dozen themes or niche development. TALK to your customers and adapt – not only do you get paid, but you might get a fun WP project out of it too.

How do you stay informed about WordPress (news, tips, etc)?
Working every day with it! Blogs of course are great, but people are the best connections out there. Add everyone on Facebook and Twitter, and you’ll see the knowledge pour in.

What’s a cool WordPress based site you’ve seen recently?
Oh jeeze, this is a hard one. There are SO many good sites out there… I’d have to say the work done in some WooCommerce sites is really astounding, especially when it comes to e-learning.

What do you like most about WordCamps?
The people, the knowledge, the fun, and the memories. There IS a notable lack of campfire marshmallows, though.

Where can we find you online?
Twitter: @Danny_Santoro