Doug Smith Speaker Interview

Doug Smith WordCamp Grand Rapids 2013Doug jumped into WordPress in 2005 and has since put it to work on dozens of sites for clients, non-profit organizations, and just for fun. He is currently the co-owner of @SimplyCM, a homeschool curriculum publisher, where WordPress and bbPress are essential components of keeping the business running smoothly.

He’ll be presenting Putting the Content in Content Management System.


Why do you use WordPress?

WordPress has given us a such a flexible platform to build whatever we need for our business. It’s great to have our customers interacting with our blog, forum, e-commerce, and custom apps, with everything under a single account and login.

I don’t do much client work anymore, but when I do, WordPress is such a quick way to get a site up and running. And then it’s so easy for the site owner to understand and learn to use. I love turning the doubt of being able to run a website into “yes, I can do this myself!”

When and how did you start using WordPress?

I was launching a business with some friends back in 2004 and we were looking for a content management system to run our website. Even though WordPress wasn’t a full CMS back then, we favored it over the more full-featured choices because of its simplicity and flexibility. In hindsight, I think we may have been initially drawn in by the nice (for the day) typography of the default theme. 🙂

What tips or resources would you recommend to a new WordPress user?

Realize that WordPress is so much more than just software. It is backed by a vibrant community that welcomes those of any skill level. Get plugged into the community and you’ll likely gain some new friends as well as learn how to use WordPress.

What advice would you give someone who’s building a business around WordPress design or development?

Just as with any other successful business, talk more about your customer than you talk about yourself. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes, get to know their perspective, feel their needs, and consider how they will see your business and practices. Then clearly communicate the uniquenesses of what you offer and how it can solve your customer’s problems.

And find a way to give back to the WordPress community and ecosystem.

How do you stay informed about WordPress (news, tips, etc.)?

Over the years I’ve curated a list of trusted Twitter accounts that I follow to stay up to date. That includes a mix of news sites, individual developers, and companies that are involved in WordPress.

What’s a cool WordPress-based site you’ve seen recently?

Lately I’ve been interested in sites revolving around book text, and plugins that make that possible. For example, CommentPress Core and let you present a book with WordPress and allow commenting in the margins. While Anthologize and Pressbooks are tools that take content in WordPress and build books out of them. I’m working on a site that uses some of these and I’m very excited about the possibilities.

What do you like most about WordCamps?

The official talks have been great, but I’ve also gotten incredible value out ad-hoc conversations and bouncing ideas around with others in the community.

Where can we find you online?

I occasionally blog at and tweet as @douglsmith.

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