I’ve known Matt and have followed his progress online, as well as have enjoyed interacting with him on Facebook. He’s been a part of some great plugin projects, including plugins from my favorite company FooPlugins.
While he isn’t there anymore, he works with WordPressImpress, a company run by a team who love to create products exclusively for WordPress. One of the highlights on WordImpress is sharing the plugin called Give. This plugin allows people to be able to collect donations on their website. The plugin is free, but special payment gateways add-ons cost.
I hope you enjoy my interview with Matt Cromwell. I really appreciate that he took the time to answer my questions. 🙂
Interview with Matt Cromwell
NILE FLORES: How did you first get into WordPress?
MATT CROMWELL: I started out freelancing when I was a much younger lad with an obscure CMS called Website Baker. I loved it, and it taught me all kinds of stuff about how browsers handle data. That allowed me to pitch myself as a full fledged “website maker” (I really feared those super professional titles like “web developer” or even “web designer”!).
Then a friend/colleague of mine said: “I’ve got way too much work. Can you build a site with WordPress?” I said: “Yep” and started that day by downloading and learning how to install it and cowboy coding with the best of them. Man… those were the days!
NILE FLORES: You’ve attended and spoken at WordCamps, what’s one of the biggest things you recommend WordPress users to do when they’re at a WordCamp?
MATT CROMWELL: I know everyone says the Hallway Sessions and the Afterparty… I’m a big fan of getting lost on the way there and showing up late.
In all seriousness, it really totally depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re a blogger and need to gain skills, hang out in the happiness bar every time you don’t like a block of sessions. Don’t ever attend a session you’re not interested in — it’s not worth it. Do the Hallway or Happiness instead.
Then, I really think anyone who wants to get to know the WordPress community more needs to attend at least 3 different WordCamps. It’s easy for me to say since there’s tons here in California, but each one I’ve been to is really different and offers different things.
Travel if you can afford it… travel if you CAN’T afford it. It’s worth it. Then last but not least, look up folks who are attending or speaking and setup lunch dates or dinner dates with them before the camp. What happens outside of the sessions is very often some of the most valuable part, but you have to work for it.
NILE FLORES: For a WordPress developer, what tools have made it easier for you to streamline your work?
MATT CROMWELL: Roots/Sage, ACF, DesktopServer, PHPStorm, and SourceTree. Can’t live without each of those.
NILE FLORES: What has been your most favorite WordPress development project to date?
MATT CROMWELL: Give — by far. I love what it is, I love the people that need it, I love how we’ve developed it, I love the website, the support forum. Sheesh… it’s been awesome to build and dream and see come to fruition.
NILE FLORES: Is there something funny or unique that you do that the WordPress world doesn’t know about? Like a participate in a charity or a hobby or something else?
MATT CROMWELL: I’m actually a pianist, song writer and am pretty good at improv. Put me with some keys, a mic, and someone like Alex Vasquez or Roy Sivan in the room as my object and … oh my.
NILE FLORES: What one or two tips do you have for new WordPress developers needing a little direction towards becoming better developers?
MATT CROMWELL: Reading articles is your new religion. Never use a plugin if you can learn to code it instead. Take the time to do something new in EVERY single project, no matter what.
NILE FLORES: What would you like to see improved in WordPress, whether it is core, or the community?
MATT CROMWELL: I’d like to see Core take on front-end editing in a serious manner. It’s the future whether we like it or not and Core needs to get ahead of that game.
I *think* the Customizer is the beginning of what might one day be a front-end editor of sorts, but it’s got a long way to go until that is realistic — still, the live refreshing that it does with colors and menu items and widgets now is basically instantaneous. I think most wouldn’t have expected that even a year ago.
Have any questions for Matt?