Christmas is around the corner, which means you’ll hopefully have a few days off soon ? Before that, though, I’d like to share with you the latest interview of the year. The WProfessional of the Month we had the pleasure to interview is Luis Rull, General Translator Editor (GTE) of the Spanish community and organizer of WordCamp Seville. Without further ado, here you have our questions and his answers:
Thanks for the interview, Luis. It’s a pleasure to have you here! For those who read us and don’t know you, please tell us something about you and your relationship with WordPress.
I work on complex digital projects at Mecus, most of them custom-made. What makes us different is our communication skills, our focus on user experience, and our performance. During the past year our team has grown—Vicente Herrera joined the team as technical manager and Abel Sutilo as digital product design manager. We develop projects from the scratch (either to well-established companies or start-ups) and offer maintenance, optimization, and recovering services. These last few months we’ve even translated premium services and themes.
12 years ago I quit my job at the university and I started to teach companies and organization how to use a blog. That’s when I discovered the free software world and all the talented people behind it. I loved this way of understanding business, first at Blogestudio, in Valencia, and later on with Mecus, which I co-founded with Rafa Poveda, who taught me all I know about free software and WordPress. To me, WordPress is a great example of freedom and versatility—functionalities drive the code and not the other way around.
The Spanish community was born during WordCamp Spain 2009 in Barcelona. That’s when I realized my most important contribution to the community would be translations. Since then, I’ve been focused on making the Spanish version of WordPress one of the most complete and used versions available. I’m a GTE (General Translator Editor) of the es_ES community, take care of our glossary, coordinate several teams, and serve as a link with Polyglots—the global translator community. Moreover, I’m also involved (well, today less than I used to) with the organization of WordCamp Seville and Europe.
My second job is the organization of EBE, an 11-year-old event targeted at digital creators here in Spain.
WordPress is constantly changing and evolving. How do you stay up-to-date? Who do you follow?
Post Status is my favorite source. Ayuda WordPress, in Spanish, as well as the personal websites of the international community (developers, designers, …). There’s plenty of sites you can visit to learn and read news: Facebook, LinkedIn, Slack…
What’s the contribution or development you’re most proud of?
WordCamp Europe in Seville, where 2,000 people brought the best of the community to my city—eagerness to collaborate and create new technologies and experiences. It was a personal challenge (as well as a team effort) due to the complexity of managing such a big and complex event. More than 30 people from 15 different countries were working remotely during 2 months to get everything right—we met just a few days before the event started!
Everything I learned during those days is priceless. I learned the importance of focusing on results and optimizing work—Slack is not a simple tool, but a work philosophy. Coordination is about proposing tasks and getting them done. And meritocracy is crucial too—your peers won’t value you for who you are, but what you do.
I’m also proud of our translation to es_ES, one of the most widely used versions of WordPress. All this work makes WordPress—along with themes, plugins, apps, and services—available to a lot of people who simply don’t speak English.
Sometimes we make things look easy, when they aren’t… Why don’t you share an epic fail with us?
Some time ago we had to work on a big project that involved creating an online shop using some legacy code that used several external services. We had the right team to tackle the project, and so we started working on it. A few months in, our technical chief got sick and we had to find somebody else to replace him. Deadlines were getting closer and we weren’t sure we’d be able to finish in time. Shortly after that, the new chief had to leave the project and we had to find a second replacement. But it was too late—he didn’t know much about the project, the client started to doubt us, deadlines were missed…
We lost health, money, and trust. But we learned some valuable lessons—what customers tell us and what they don’t tell, how to recover from unexpected scenarios, how to solve problems quickly… It’s not always possible to have everything under control—bad luck exists. But, hey, you have to learn from bad experiences too. If you’re willing to learn from them, they have a lot to teach.
WordPress is highly customizable, thanks to both plugins and themes. What plugins and themes do you recommend? Do you miss anything in WordPress?
I shared my list of favorite plugins three years ago, but if you want me to highlight some of them, they’d probably be WordFence, Yoast, W3 Total Cache, WPML, and Jetpack. They might not be the best in their areas, but their efficiency makes them highly recommendable.
Regarding themes, we use Underscores and Foundation Press. I have to admit, though, that my blog uses Syntax, and I’ve been using Webriti‘s themes lately too. If I had to recommend a theme for starters, I’d say Divi—it’s easy to use and our customers can build beautiful pages without any technical assistance from our end.
There’s plenty of people working on WordPress (or considering to). Do you think it’s possible to make a living out of it? In your opinion, what business opportunities are there?
Sure! You can make a good living out of WordPress. It all reduces to three simple factors—your knowledge, your willingness to work, and your ability to identify where you can make a difference.
Maybe you don’t know how to code, but you know how to setup a WordPress installation properly. Or perhaps you’re a great coder that can create beautiful integrations. Or maybe you know how to design beautiful systems and build them with just a few team-mates.
Recent changes in WordPress make it easier (less code) and more powerful and versatile, making it the right solution for many people. Think about the entrepreneurship scene—there’s plenty of people who build their first prototypes or MVPs using WordPress as its backend. They might need to change it in the future and implement a custom-made technology in the mid term, but WordPress (and, therefore, the effort of the community) made the first very first version of their projects possible:
We are like dwarves perched on the shoulders of giants, and thus we are able to see more and farther than the latter. And this is not at all because of the acuteness of our sight or the stature of our body, but because we are carried aloft and elevated by the magnitude of the giants.
Bernard of Chartres
Finally, the possibilities that the REST API will offer are incredible. We’ll see new developments of all kinds (apps, hardware, IoT, new CMS…) based on WordPress, easing some common tasks such as data introduction, post type or permission management, language settings, plugins… I think there’ll be a huge demand of professionals to support and assist all these setups!
Where do you see WordPress in 2 to 3 years? How would you like it to evolve?
The REST API already makes it possible to create projects of all kinds. It’s not only about simple webs anymore—now we see how people use WordPress as a Headless CMS, that is, a hub where you can save and write content, and access those content from other devices. WordPress is no longer HTML+CSS+PHP only! You can read more about this in PostStatus Podcast and CSS Tricks.
If you’re interested in a less disruptive future, I trust WordPress will ease web creation even more. In just a few years we’ll see how inexperienced users create beautiful webs, indistinguishable from those created by professional programmers and designers. The quality and security of the code generated by visual editors will keep improving and, hence, ease the creation of complex projects. Let’s not forget that the final goal of WordPress is the democratization of publishing using open source software and GPL.
Finally, who should we interview next? Tell us 3 WProfessionals you want to see here.
Tom Willmot, from Human Made, who’s a visionary when it comes to determine what customers want and know how to run a successful company in the free software ecosystem.
Fernando Serer, from Blogestudio, my first “boss” and the one who taught me that a sustainable project needs a vision, KPIs, and an open-minded team.
Morten Rand Hendriksen from Lynda (LinkedIn), because he taught us that economical and philosophical discussions about WordPress are also in place.
Thanks again Luis for participating—I really enjoyed this beautiful interview.
This year we were lucky to interview some good friends such as Rocío, Fernando, and Lucy, as well as some international stars such as Petya or Taco. Keep reading our blog, because in 2017 we’ll bring more and better interviews!