Heard the latest news about WordPress 3.0, the most feature-packed, versatile version yet of the world’s most popular blogging software? If you said yes, chances are you read about it on a WordPress powered blog or CMS-driven news site like the one you’re reading now. The WordPress platform appears to have inherited the mantle of digital publishing leadership as the preferred blogging platform of the NY TImes, CNN, TechCrunch, BuzzMachine, GigaOM, WSJ.com, CNET and Reuters, to name but a few. Even NASA’s Ames Research Center can now ping its posts into the depths of cyberspace.
Still, WordPress is more famous for its ease in posting headlines and comments for others, than in making headlines for itself. The community that has sprung up around the software has, for the most part, kept a relatively low profile. That may be about to change, especially in the Puget Sound, if talented Seattle WordPress developers like Josh Harrison, Nick Ohrn and Joshua “Red” Russak have anything to say about it.
Each of these three WordPress publishing professionals takes a decidedly different tack in their approach to producing solutions for their clients’ problems. The common denominator is that WordPress lets them craft solutions in ways the clients didn’t think were possible.
Josh Harrison, one of the lead organizers of Seattle’s first WordCamp event, has seen WordPress grow into an increasingly flexible framework that does not get in the way of what clients want to accomplish. “Site owners can think of whatever they want done to their site for whatever reason. Most likely, somebody in the WordPress community has already added that and you can use that solution in a plug-in or theme. Or else you can build your own. Site owners can easily update content and add new features. And in my experience, maintenance is just as easy.”
Josh is committed to helping grow the local Seattle WordPress community through networking events like the upcoming WordPress Meetup on tap for September 15th (get Seattle WordPress Meetup details here) , and at the second annual Seattle WordCamp event now being planned for early 2011. “The community that exists around WordPress [online and offline] is awesome. It is possible to find answers for yourself in a number of ways or find a capable developer to help out with more advanced features,” says Harrison whose website is http://picklewagon.com
Nick Ohrn has been working with WordPress in one aspect or another for around four years and sees its overwhelming advantage as the ease-of-use it offers through the content management interface. “The fact that pretty much anyone can open the administrative interface and see immediately how to write and publish content is huge in my mind,” says Nick. While he works with many out-of-area clients remotely. one of the Seattle sites he has built that runs WordPress is his own PlugIn Developer business site (http://plugin-developer.com) where he features custom plugins he developed to run his contact and quote forms.
Joshua Russak has deployed WordPress to help both newcomers and advanced Website owners find an on-ramp to the Internet and a roadmap for future growth. The company he founded as a springboard for his consulting services is aptly named First Time Online and offer solutions ranging from a $450 beginner’s package to a $10,000 fully-featured solution. Says Russak: “WordPress offers the ability to integrate so many different tools that users are finally able to say, “I’m no longer working for my website. My website is working FOR ME!”
WordPress 3.0 has achieved a new plateau for the software reminiscent of Windows’ first 3.x version. But today’s WordPress is considerably more advanced than any software of the early desktop publishing era. We asked our three WordPress aces for their take on the new 3.0 standard, their favorite plug-ins and what’s next for the Seattle WordPress scene.
Nick Ohrn: WordPress 3.0 is a huge game-changer as it allows developers to extend the content management features of the platform in ways that were previously impossible, but very inconvenient. I think that it will allow higher quality content management plugins to be developed and will open the gateway to amazing sites built on top of WordPress without totally hacking the system (say by adding custom DB tables or adding columns to existing tables).
Josh Harrison: WordPress 3.0 is a big release because the software took a big step to become a big-time CMS. With custom post types, custom menus, and multi-site capabilities, it is now a lot easier to add features that would have taken much more time and effort beforet. I started using WordPress 3.0 for a project when it was still in development and had a perfect opportunity to use custom post types. It was so easy to add the new content type and after doing so, so many possibilities ran through my mind of what could be done with this. WordPress 3.0 is definitely worth the upgrade.
Joshua Russak: The new capabilities improved the overall experience for both hard coding developers and beginners alike. Custom Menu Interface & Custom Post Types are but a few improvements that I’ve seen the most success from. The key word here is “Custom” and WordPress is headed in the right direction. No longer the Blog technology next-door, WordPress is easily becoming the best CMS option for all business types.
What is the Coolest WordPress Plug-In?
Nick Ohrn: There are a lot of awesome plugins out there and picking just one is quite the task. If I had to pick one it would be the Events Calendar Pro plugin. This plugin uses custom post types to store events, has a great set of default views for events, and handles several tricky date related things quite smartly. This plugin came out of the open source Events Calendar plugin but the premium version allows for full time support from the development team. (Full Disclosure: I work with the team behind that plugin, but don’t receive anything from it).
Joshua Russak: TS Custom Widgets. This plugin enables you to select which widgets appear on specific posts, pages, categories,author’s posts and tag pages. By default, all widgets appear wherever the sidebar is loaded within your theme. With this plugin, you can configure where widgets are displayed. This is the easiest way to customize sidebars without having to touch code. A big hit with non-tech-savvy clients!
Josh Harrison: This question is asked so often and is so difficult to answer. So instead of giving a specific one, I’ll say that my favorite plugin is the one that I find that saves me many hours of work to develop it. So many times, I have searched for a plugin hoping to find what I need and I find a few to choose from. It is great that many developers release their plugins to be used by the community. And the best thing: if it doesn’t do exactly as I want, I can modify it to suit my needs.
How would you describe the Puget Sound WordPress community?
Josh Harrison: The WordPress community in the Seattle area is slowly organizing itself. We finally met last month for an initial WordPress meetup and hope to make it a monthly meetup. In fact, our next meetup is September 15. We meet to discuss all things WordPress. If you want to join, everybody is welcome. We are also trying to plan another WordCamp Seattle to take place at the beginning of next year. We need volunteers to help out with that. Planning the 2009 event was a lot of hard work but it has been awesome meeting so many people. I highly recommend that others get involved to make it an awesome event.
Nick Ohrn: Affer attending the last WordPress meetup in downtown Seattle I am convinced that there is a strong local WordPress community. I really look forward to working with the local community of designers and developers and helping out however I can – including working with the WordCamp Seattle team and educating others on new WordPress features and development.
Joshua Russak: The Seattle WordPress community is really just getting started. At the last meeting I attended, it was a real treat to be able to brainstorm with some very talented Developers. It will be great to see a regular monthly meetup take shape. Theglobal WordPress user community is constantly contributing to the growth and perfection of WordPress. It’s a great feeling to know that in 5 years from now, your website will still be up to date with all the technologies of 2015…all included!” [24×7]