Speaker Interview – John Hartley

Undergraduate Broadcasting major at Ohio Northern University with an M.A. Interactive Media from Elon University. After grad school I hopped on the WordPress train and didn’t look back. I now live in Columbus and work for companies all around the United States helping them with their web solutions (mainly WordPress). The best kind of food is that which contains jalapenos or sriracha.

Why Do You Use WordPress?
I use WordPress because it’s a great tool for quickly getting a site up and running. I’m not a fan of “my CMS is better than yours” because I think people can make valid points for using any of them. WordPress was the CMS I fell into and thankfully it was at the time when it was becoming popular. I still like to work with other languages, and while some say PHP is stupid (because of it’s simplicity) it’s the language I grew up with as a dev.

When and How Did You Start Using WordPress?
In graduate school I got my first taste of WordPress hacking together a theme. It was awful. Half of every page was hard-coded and you couldn’t switch out content easily and let’s not even get into my custom queries. I learned a lot from that experience and got really attached to the Codex. After a lot of reading, watching and practicing I’m developing custom themes (from Reverie these days) and creating plugins.

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

What advice would you give someone who’s building a business around WordPress design or development?
Find your niche and get comfortable there. It’s not a threat, but one of the biggest things I’ve learned. Say if you’re good at working with bakeries, come up with a bakery theme that you can tweak from customer to customer. Look for a problem in the WordPress or web world and figure out how you can create the best solution, like when WordPress.com started their restaurant websites. They saw that restaurant websites tended to be on the ugly side, so they created a fairly cheap way to get a new website together with all the perks. Plugins have more potential in my opinion than themes (but that’s because I mainly work with plugins).

How do you stay informed about WordPress (news, tips, etc)?
I put out a weekly newsletter with Max Foundry called This Week In WordPress: http://maxfoundry.com/blog/category/this-week-in-wordpress/ and pull from sources like the links in the resources above as well as Twitter.

Twitter is amazing for WordPress news, and jumping into the discussion about current WordPress events. Some of the top names I like to follow in the community:


What do you like most about WordCamps?
The Happiness Bars is one of the best parts, second to getting to know the speakers. If you’re dying to know something about WordPress, the Happiness Bar is generally the best place to go. Past that, meeting new WordPress folks and seeing how excited people are when they come away from the weekend is awesome.

Where can we find you online?
Web: JohnBHartley.com
Twitter: @johnbhartley