Speaker Interview – Ian Dunn

My name’s Ian Dunn, and I’m a plugin developer.

I grew up in Dayton and started creating custom plugins and themes as a hobby in 2005, which evolved into doing it professionally in 2006, when I helped start a small web development shop.

I moved to Seattle in 2010 and got involved with the local WordPress community, and then last year I joined the Dot Org team at Automattic, where I help build custom tools for WordCamp.org and the other sites in the WordPress.org network.

Why Do You Use WordPress?
It’s the best option for most clients because of how user-friendly and familiar it is to them, and it’s great for me as a developer because of the platform provides so many features and is designed to be extended and customized.

The ecosystem and community surrounding it are both thriving, which means that there’s a lot of great code and people out there to help out on projects, and it makes WordPress the most sustainable platform around.

When and How Did You Start Using WordPress?
I started blogging in 2002 with Blogger.com, but migrated to a self-hosted WordPress site in 2005 to get more control over the theme and back-end.

I learned how to build a custom theme for the site, and then wrote a few small plugins to add functionality. Not long after that I built a theme and a tour-scheduling plugin for a friend’s band, and started getting asked to do more projects. That led to building custom themes and plugins professionally, which is what I’ve been doing for the past 7 years.

What Tips or Resources would you recommend to a new WordPress User?
Nothing is more valuable than experience, so I’d strongly recommend that you create plugins or themes and submit them to the WordPress.org repositories.

Before being accepted, your code will be reviewed by some of the best WordPress developers in the world, and you’ll get feedback on any big problems that need to be fixed.

After it’s accepted, providing support, fixing bugs, adding requested features, dealing with cross-browser/platform issues, etc will all give you valuable real world experience and a step into the WordPress community.

The other big thing that I’d recommend is to be active in your local WordPress meetup. That will help you build a network of people you can learn from and partner with, and keep you in touch with what’s going on in the wider community. It’ll also give you opportunities to give back to the community by volunteering, speaking, organizing, etc.

What advice would you give someone who’s building a business around WordPress design or development?
Get involved in, and give back to, your local WordPress community.

That’s essential for building a network of partners and clients, and for earning a good reputation.

Grant Landram gave a great talk about this at WordCamp Portland 2012

How do you stay informed about WordPress (news, tips, etc)?
On any given day I probably log in to half a dozen different WordPress installations, and I usually glance at the News widget on the Dashboard when I do. That aggregates a couple dozen popular/authoritative sites, and offers a good overview of what’s going on.

I also subscribe to a lot of blogs via RSS and am involved in my local WordPress meetup.

What do you like most about WordCamps?
It’s great to see communities being built around people helping each other, and I love the casual/volunteer values behind them.

Where can we find you online?
Web: iandunn.name