Finely Tuned Consultant - David LanoToday we’re chatting with David Lano, the founder of a boutique WordPress agency called, ControlYours. They focus on helping companies who understand their online presence needs to be targeted, and closely aligned with their specific customer set. David’s team uses WordPress to shape online brands to bring those ideal customers inbound, and connect solution providers with great clients.

In David’s Own Words:

I obsess over solving problems and puzzles, and I like building things. I’ve always been fascinated with business and how to help others by solving their problems, so the thing that felt the most natural to me was to help other companies make their websites better, and attract amazing customers.

Now onto David’s answers!

When was the first time that you really got excited about WordPress and at what point did you decide to make it your career?

When I realized I didn’t manually have to edit footer info on every HTML page and I could update it once and be done. Holla!

I thought to myself… ”myself, you should do this for other people and charge them money”.

That’s when the lightbulb came on and I decided to tell everyone I knew I loved building websites. I quit my day job cold turkey (which was a really stupid idea looking back now) and was super optimistic about building websites. It was a slow start, but I loved every second of it and learned the hard way success doesn’t happen overnight.

Where do you go first to get your WP news, insights, and updates?

I don’t really have and tech friends in the real world, which is a shame, but I suppose that’s the price you pay for living in Kearney, NE. I do however have a bunch of casual friends on Twitter and I regularly converse with them to get the latest and greatest WordPress news and insights for WordPress. I also visit regularly wordpress.org and keep tabs on what’s progressing there.

What WordPress consultants deserve more love than they get? Who should we be paying attention to?

Travis Northcutt. He’s awesome and does amazing work. He’s ridiculously thorough and wicked fast. The guy’s got mad skills.

What performance tips would you give to other pros (as related to speed, scalability, security, plugins, backup, etc.)?

Sweat the small stuff, like how many javascript files you’re referencing, image sizes etc. It all adds up. When you’re working on lots of projects as many of us do, the temptations is to breeze through things like performance and focus more on what people actually see (the visual content, etc.) but performance goes a long way to actually delivering a stellar experience.

Confess to us your biggest moment of WP fail?

I delivered a website we worked on for months to the client. Our hosting provider lost the files and we had no backup. It was a gut-wrenching experience. The client is actually working with us again on a totally different project now but I’ll never forget that moment. We take backups really seriously now and thanks to WP Engine we’re covered & have one-click restore. Awesome.

If you were going to spend this weekend creating a plugin that doesn’t exist, what would it be?

A plugin that allows you to post notifications to logged in users…to a client account page of sorts. Something that was super intuitive and made sense, wasn’t super complicated, and easy to manage with timeouts, cookie sessions, etc. I’d make it lightweight with possible premium extensions – I really like that particular modal of free plugins with premium extensions.

Do you use Themes & Child Themes, Roll your own, or both?

Yes, yes, and yes. However, I’d say our typical flow is to purchase a theme and then customize it to fit clients’ needs. That seems to be the easiest and fastest solution for most projects. Every once in a while I’ll create something from scratch but most of our clients don’t have that kind of budget.

What’s your favorite theme or theme framework? Why?

Themeforest is the way to go. They have a huge library of themes available and always have new stuff coming in. I don’t even want to know how much money I’ve spent there…

Favorite plugin?

WP Migrate DB Pro, which is used to migrate database from one install to another. The great thing is you don’t need to do a “find & replace” in the .sql file like the ol’ days. Just install the plugin on both installs, tell it what your new URL will be and bam! It’s so handy when moving a test site up to staging or staging up to production environement.

Least favorite plugin?

Hmm, this is a hard question. I usually don’t give the bad ones much thought :/

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done with Custom Post Types?

We built client account page with user data, account info, etc. It’s a pretty awesome setup. It’s a custom taylor made solution for our own system we built for our clients. I love custom post types – one of the best things ever developed for WordPress!

What do you think is the biggest challenge that WordPress consultants will face in 2013?

Using all the available tools available with discretion and not just doing something because it’s a trend or looks coot, but ultimately serves the client’s needs and solves a real problem. It’s easy to copy / paste code these days and do “half-fixes” for problems. What we really need are people that can solve problems in a unique creative way. WordPress is a great tool, but you still need to have some creativity and imagination to apply solutions to real world problems.

If you could change one thing today about WordPress, what would it be?

Well, now that WordPress 3.8 just came out I can’t complain as much about the dashboard and its compatibility on mobile devices. That always used to be my number one complaint. Yeah, actually now with 3.8 I don’t know. Maybe the way WordPress handles custom post types? I’d like it to be a more built in solution (part of the settings or something).

Where do you see WordPress going in the next 2-3 years?

I think it’s going to continue focusing on content of all types, not just posts & pages. I think WordPress will make it even easier to customize and adapt according to user needs. It will become even easier to mold and shape the CMS into what is needed using custom post types and taxonomies.

Tell us a story where you saved the WP day for yourself or on a client project. What made the difference for you?

We had more versions of jQuery than you’d ever seen before with the theme and plugins installed. It was a nightmare of a mess. I merged everything together and combined scripts and dealt with incompatibilities in jQuery and made it all work again. It was probably one of my most frustrating moments but also the most rewarding.

What’s the biggest misconception you encounter about WordPress, and how do you clear it up for your clients?

WordPress isn’t just about blogging. It’s the most flexible and customizable platform available in the world. Also, when most people hear about WordPress they assume wordpress.com which isn’t necessarily a good thing. I tell them we can make their new website exactly the way they want it and we don’t need to code everything from scratch. It’s the best of both worlds: customizable but with the vast plugin network so we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. I show them live examples of websites we’ve built and how we’ve customized the CMS to solve the maintenance of the website in a unique way that’s intuitive and makes sense.

If you were interviewing another WordPress developer for a job, what is the first question you would ask and why?

What’s your process for troubleshooting something when you see a blank page or a plugin has an incompatibility?

I’d like to know the process of how they troubleshoot and go step-by-step to find a solution. You can learn a lot just by seeing how someone solves problems- whether they rely on memory, or if they’re comfortable searching and seeking out bits of information to build on their existing knowledge base.

Thanks David!

You guys can check out David’s work at ControlYours.com and see how his team can get you set up!