Today, I’m stoked to bring you another amazing international WordPress consultant, Mayank Gupta of Blog Design Studio. Mayank was one of the co-organizers of India’s first WordCamp with Matt Mullenweg and Om Malik as special guests. Mayank has been blogging since 2004, and started using WordPress for the first time in 2006.
A year later, Mayank founded Blog Design Studio to build custom themes, and contribute to the early days of the now enormous WordPress theme industry. Interestingly enough, Mayank credits his WordPress work with helping him meet his wife. The platform continues to enrich everyone’s life it touches.
In Mayank’s Own Words:
I’m a combination of marketer, business developer and a project manager at the same time, who believes that discovering WordPress was a turning point in my life.
Now onto Mayank’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?
In 2004, I wanted to create my website for random personal stuff. The obvious choice was to go with HTML based static site. However, I realized that it the site was something that no one would visit again because the content never changes. I realized that a blog would have solved that problem. Back then, Blogger was hot, so my first choice was to go with Blogger. However, the Techie in me, made me the switch over to WordPress. I soon realized that the customization and extensibility that I was looking for was there.
My real excitement towards WordPress grew in 2006, when I wanted to launch ReviewSaurus for making money through Adsense. I used to read Darren Rowse’s ProBlogger all the time and learned blogging through his blog & my experience with ReviewSaurus. Later, I partnered with like-minded people to start offering WordPress customization in 2007, and launched Blog Design Studio. Back then, there were not many companies that offered WordPress customization or custom development.
Where do you go first to get your WP news, insights, and updates?
Twitter, Google Currents, Feedly are my favorite apps. I’m glad that you guys launched Torque for the same! Earlier we had lots of blogs that talked about WordPress, its plugins, its themes however now, most of them are dormant or have been
Ashish K Saini, my friend from Delhi. He’s a wonderful guy. Fantastic bbPress & WordPress developer. Other than that, he’s a certified Magento Developer too. ManageWP, Sucuri, Codeable, WooCommerce are some of the companies/products that I follow consistently.
What performance tips would you give to other pros (as related to speed, scalability, security, plugins, backup, etc.)?
Make your clients spend those 30 bucks/month for WP Engine! Totally worth it. I’ve been managing lots of WordPress sites on a VPS, however, after WP Engine, i’ve stopped hosting my client’s websites on my server. WP Engine takes care of all the WordPress hosting woes!
Still, here’s how I prefer it for scalability, security, speed, backup
- Nginx + PHP+APC +MySQL stack
- W3 Total Cache + CDN
- Disable WP-CRON
Confess to us your biggest moment of WordPress fail?
Using TimThumb! It got one of the client’s website hosted on their server. Since then, I prefer to use WordPress native add_image_size. The worst part was that the end client was a bank. That gave us a lesson that stick to WordPress standards 🙂
If you were going to spend this weekend creating a plugin that doesn’t exist, what would it be?
A plugin that would allow users to define various image gallery styles.
Do you use Themes & Child Themes, Roll your own, or both?
What’s your favorite theme or theme framework? Why?
First choice WooFramework, Blog Design Studio is also listed as an Affiliated WooWorker. It allows to do a lot with ease and while creating quick options. It’s powerful, secure and has lots of functions that are used regularly by theme developers.
I think the favorite position is shared by lots of plugins. WordPress SEO by Yoast, WooCommerce, Gravity Forms, Adminimize, JetPack.
Least favorite plugin?
Sell Media of Graph Paper Press.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done with Custom Post Types?
Not sure about coolest, however this is definitely the most complex! With one client, they had 5 different post types (Work, Invest, Migrate, Study, Visit) with 3 custom taxonomies (Country, Industry, Occupation) in each custom post type. Client wanted a filter based search, which allowed a user to select any of the Taxonomy to filter the result, after the first selection the other two would be updated through AJAX and eventually list the search result which fulfilled required selection criteria.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that WordPress consultants will face in 2014?
It’ll get more and more difficult for Theme developers, plugin developers and consultants to provide support to their users.
If you could change one thing today about WordPress, what would it be?
Where do you see WordPress going in the next 2-3 years?
Everywhere! I see that WordPress would be used more and more by enterprises for custom solutions, e-commerce stores, web app framework.
Tell us a story where you saved the WP day for yourself or on a client project. What made the difference for you?
One of my clients wanted to make changes in AppThemes’ Vantage directory theme. It was our first experience with Vantage theme, and learning to customize was taking more time than we anticipated. One of the developers had spent more than 4 days to understand Vantage and the project wasn’t reaching anywhere. In the end, we decided to go with the combination of City theme by WooTheme + Gravity Forms + GF Addons + Custom Post Type Plugin to achieve the same level of functionality that user was looking for through Vantage theme & various other changes in just 2 days.
What’s the biggest misconception you encounter about WordPress, and how do you clear it up for your clients?
“I thought it was for blogs!”. To clear this misconception, I show them the list of complex projects that we’ve done with WordPress. To make them believe that what all is possible with WordPress. I also give them example of WordPress.com, telling them that this piece of open-source software is powering WordPress.com which in turn powers millions of websites. I also sometimes joke with my American clients that if it can run your president’s website, it surely can power yours too!
If you were interviewing another WordPress developer for a job, what is the first question you would ask and why?
If they claim that they’ve got experience with WordPress development. Then my first question would be if they love to use Google hosted jQuery or not? It’s an old misconception, even I’ve recommended in the past, however I realized that Google hosted jQuery creates more problems and many support requests can be fixed because of that. I also would love to see their code to see if they are following proper WordPress standards of coding, actions, filters etc.
What did I miss? Here’s your chance to fill in the blanks and add something you want people to know about you!
I was one of the Main organizers of WordCamp Delhi – India’s first WordCamp. Matt Mullenweg & Om Malik were its chief guests. When I first met Matt, it was such an awe-inspiring moment for me that I even failed to have a conversation with him, when I wanted to interview him to write for my blog, but didn’t make it happen.
On a regular day, I enjoy having conversations about Web technology, computers, business or just about anything WordPress!
To check out Mayank’s work, you can visit the Blog Design Studio Portfolio. See if they can fit your next project!