Speaker Interview – Steve Grunwell

SteveGrunwellSteve Grunwell is a Senior Web Engineer at 10up, a World-class WordPress development company. Specializing in WordPress and application development he has worked with brands and organizations including Experience Columbus, the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, Elmer’s, and the Greater Columbus Arts Council.

Steve has released several plugins in the WordPress.org repositories, including one from the grounds of The White House during the first annual National Day of Civic Hacking in 2013. When he’s not writing software he enjoys hiking, music, and writing about writing software on his blog.

When and How Did You Start Using WordPress?
My first WordPress site was an extension of a poorly-built, straight HTML site right around the time WordPress 3.0 came out. I ended up overwriting style.css in TwentyTen, which then proceeded to break when we updated the theme (moral of the story: child themes).

From there I started using WordPress (properly) on more and more client sites, and really started enjoying the platform.

What Tips or Resources would you recommend to a new WordPress User?
Consider setting up a free blog on WordPress.com and just play with the settings. Try out new plugins and themes, discover how and why they work. You can keep the blog private, that’s fine, but play in the sandbox of WordPress.

For developers getting started, poke around the source code. See how a plugin works, and when you find an action or filter track down what that hook is actually doing in core. One of the fundamental APIs in WordPress is the Plugin API – get to know it, how it works, and when to use it.

What advice would you give someone who’s building a business around WordPress design or development?
The threat to WordPress comes not from other platforms like Drupal or Joomla, but from the “”so easy a baby could do it”” site-builders like Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly. We as designers and developers know that it’s generic, uninspired, and garbage code, but clients who don’t know any better often don’t understand (or care).

Focus on the value you can bring your clients: a site that will be able to grow with their company; a swift, performant page load; a unique design from someone who’s taken time to understand their branding, goals, and audience.

How do you stay informed about WordPress (news, tips, etc)?
I spend a lot of time on Twitter, where I follow a lot of important people in the WordPress community. I also work at 10up (a major player in the WordPress ecosystem), so there’s a lot of discussion about WordPress with the rest of the team.

What do you like most about WordCamps?
WordCamps are a great opportunity for beginners and seasoned professionals alike to come together and bond over WordPress. Whether you’re completely new to the community and looking for help or you’re a developer looking to network, WordCamps bright out the whole spectrum of the community.

Where can we find you online?
Web: SteveGrunwell.com
Twitter: @SteveGrunwell
GitHub: stevegrunwell
Google+: +SteveGrunwell