Michelle is a graphic designer and co-founder of Marktime Media, a multimedia design and video production company based in Chicagoland. She was formally schooled in many aspects of design including print, branding, packaging, etc., with additional education in Psychology and Sociology, all tying together in a love of How To Solve Problems. Lately she has been specializing in WordPress websites, infographics, and high-end presentations for her clients. She is a lover of WordCamps and the WordPress community, a Meetup junkie, and WordCamp Chicago organizer.
She’ll be presenting Stop Making Things Pretty And Start Designing.
Why do you use WordPress?
Well, I started because it seemed friendly, but I stuck around because I love the people. I’ve been pretty intensely involved in my local WordPress community (meetups, chat groups, WordCamps, etc) for a little over a year now. Also, I love the enthusiasm everyone has for WordPress. The amount of sticker-covered computers I see everywhere (mine included, now) just seals the deal. :)
When and how did you start using WordPress?
I fell into using WordPress after sitting in on some sessions at CMS Expo. I had already had some bad experiences with Joomla! and was checking out Drupal, but something about those sessions (and all the free colorful buttons for my bag!) intrigued me. Plus, I knew a lot of other designers using WordPress so I figured I would check it out.
I don’t have a huge development background, even on the front-end side (as a graphic designer, we’re practically taught to call even HTML/CSS “scary code stuff”) but I’ve taught myself a lot. I don’t think I’d be as successful with WordPress if I wasn’t also dedicated to learning general best practices of HTML, CSS, and even PHP for myself.
What tips or resources would you recommend to a new WordPress user?
What are you trying to get out of WordPress? There are so many resources out there, and so many things to know, that it can seem extremely overwhelming. For example, are you trying to learn how to find and use the best plugins, or build the best plugins? It can help to have an overall goal so you know where to target your knowledge. Of course, your goals may evolve, and that is OK!
Then, from there, just start breaking stuff and experimenting. Play with installing new plugins, or break apart a theme, or take a look at how your favorite plugins are built. I love local development tools for that (my favorite is DesktopServer) because it makes it easy to screw things up without consequences.
And of course, start meeting other people who love the same things you do! WordCamps (like this one) and meetups are a good start, both in person and online (such as http://meetwp.me)
What advice would you give someone who’s building a business around WordPress design or development?
Be sure to get involved in the community somehow. Whether you’re like me and prefer to be involved in a personal way via events, meetups, chats, Q&A, etc., or you have the skills to actually contribute to the core project somehow through development, documentation, forums, etc… it’s very important to give back somehow.
Plus, you build up a valuable network of people with varying skill sets that can help you grow your business, anywhere from answering a technical question to sharing business advice.
How do you stay informed about WordPress (news, tips, etc.)?
A combination of Twitter, Facebook groups, and RSS.
What do you like most about WordCamps?
They can be whatever you want them to be! Sometimes I just want to sit back and absorb knowledge, sometimes I want to meet new people or some influential people in the space, sometimes I want to hang out and catch up with my friends. The environment is so positive and supportive, and it’s really a good place to be able to grow, learn, ask questions, and make friends.
Where can we find you online?
All over the web as marktimemedia :)