Faces of WordPress: Cindy Cullen (2015 Speaker)

Cindy Cullen

Cindy Cullen

How were you first introduced to WordPress?
I had a blog when WordPress came out in 2003. I thought it was cool, but continued using HTML (and a little bit of Frontpage occasionally since I’m not a designer). I paid attention to WordPress through the years and watched it ‘grow up.’ More and more clients started asking me to help them with their WP sites and more and more designers hired me to fix or modify plugins and/or themes since I’m a programmer first and foremost. Once I saw how awesome WordPress can be for the whole site (sometime around 2012), I began using it exclusively to build new websites.

What do you like about it?
I like that it can be customized to do anything we can dream up. I love that it’s open source. I love the community surrounding WordPress. I love that it’s easy enough for my kids to use and yet sophisticated enough for most any website or web application. I love that there are practically a billion themes out there that are easily accessible and available so that my clients, regardless of budget, can get a website.

What do you do with WP now?
I mostly build web applications with WP or customize plugins and themes for my clients. In addition, I host and protect WP sites for my clients who don’t want to worry about their sites getting hacked. Unfortunately, I also fix a lot of WP sites who didn’t have any protection and therefore, have been broken into. It definitely pays to have protection.

How as the WP community helped you?
The WP community has helped me to learn about new plugins, themes, services and tools available to the WP community that I might not otherwise know about. I meet with other developers and discuss how we have solved certain problems using WP. I’ve also called upon other WP developers, and been called upon, to help out with business logic, tools or solutions.

Did learning WP lead to any significant changes in your life?
WordPress has increased my bottom line substantially through my security and protection services. It’s also made development much faster. I’ve met many Designers, whom I wouldn’t have met otherwise, because they’ve needed help customizing or extending WordPress. WordPress is a wonderful tool that anyone can use to build a website and seems to be very popular with designers because it doesn’t require them to learn much about coding and development. But, when they do need help, they often call me.

What would you tell a new user? A new developer?
I would tell a brand new user to make sure they have good hosting, good backups, good security, and update, update, update! WordPress is open source, meaning that everyone, including those who aren’t so friendly, can find the security holes in themes, plugins and the core code. When those security holes are patched, they are announced to the world, which gives hackers the specifics they need to break into WP sites more easily unless the sites are updated almost immediately. Update and backup everything often.

I would tell new developers, you made the right choice! Get involved with the community and never stop learning!

Anything else we should know?
I love teaching and training and often have about 5 to 10 interns and/or junior programmers working with me in my business. It helps them get the experience they need to get a job (unless I keep them 😉 ) and helps my clients get more affordable help with their sites. I think it works well for all of us.