Jeff Starr

Jeff Starr

Jeff Starr of Perishable Press is an expert in WordPress (which is, in case you don’t know, probably the most popular blogging platform in the world right now). He was an early adopter too, taking it up in the days before it hit mainstream (circa 2005). In that time he has written two books: .htaccess Made Easy and The Tao of WordPress. He also co-authored Digging into WordPress with Chris Coyier.

As WordPress is used so widely and thus an an integral part of SEO and online marketing, we asked him a few questions around design and where the platform is going.

Firstly, tell us more about your new book, The Tao of WordPress?

The recently launched Tao of WordPress is a complete WordPress guide for beginners, students, designers, admins, and anyone who uses WordPress and wants to get the most from it. It’s basically the sum of my 8+ years of experience working with WordPress boiled down into a streamlined, focused guide.

The book covers everything from choosing a domain name, hosting, and software, to installing, configuring, and customizing WordPress. It also covers security, SEO, and performance optimization, plugins, themes, as well as an entire chapter on customization techniques and examples. (See the book’s website for more.)

Why did you write it?

I wrote The Tao of WordPress to show people how easy and powerful WordPress has become, and how to maximize results with the least amount of effort by working with the software and utilizing its wealth of plugins and themes. Further, my own children are reaching the age where they’re online more and wanting to succeed with their own sites – not just Facebook and other social media accounts – so I wanted to share my experience and knowledge to help make it happen.

Basically I just wanted to write an easy-to-read, well-designed book that virtually anyone could use to make awesome sites with WordPress.

Give us the concept behind what it is you do and what Perishable Press is about.

In its current form, Perishable Press is a design/development tutorial site aimed at intermediate to advanced readers. The site’s been online since 2005 and contains over 500 articles focused on design and development related content (e.g., WP, PHP, SQL, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, .htaccess, et al). As the site has grown, I’ve gotten more and more into writing books, and have decided to pretty much go full-time in that direction. After my next book, I’ll be revamping the Perishable Press site to showcase my books, and eventually would like to publish the work of other writers on a variety of topics.

One step at a time though — taking time to do quality work is the key.

Why are you so passionate about the WordPress platform?

Being an early adopter of the platform, a lot of how I learned web design and development happened while using and customizing WordPress and sharing the information at Perishable Press. The improvements to WordPress over the years enable me to focus on creating content and developing sites instead of wrestling with the software.

To bring it back around to my book, The Tao of WordPress explains how anyone with an Internet connection can use WordPress to build incredible sites and succeed on the Web. I’m passionate about WordPress because it makes all of this possible and much more.

What excites you most about design?

Realizing vision is always inspiring, but in a more practical sense, design is freedom to do what you want on the Web and helping others do so as well.

I also enjoy the fast pace at which design and development are evolving. UX design, for example, is getting better everyday, and it’s great to be a part of it. Furthermore, new versions of browsers are improving their support for CSS3 and HTML5, so less work is required to achieve greater, more consistent results.

Also exciting is mobile/responsive design, which enables designers to “design once for all” browsers and devices, which means less wasted time and more productivity.

Where do you think WordPress is going?

I can see it continuing to improve and grow well into the future. I think the best is yet to come, and look forward to using WordPress for as long as it’s the best choice for my needs.

Where do you think design is going?

I see everything going to the cloud, so data will be available from virtually anywhere, any time. So more JavaScript/query, more application technology, and more responsiveness will all be key.

Another thing that I think a lot of people don’t see coming is the “TV” aspect of the Web. Eventually, surfing the Web will be like an interactive version of watching television: fluid graphics, robust multimedia, and high connection speeds will enable broadcast-rich media to flourish on the Web.

In other words, the future of design, I think, will completely erase the boundaries between Web, TV, movies, radio, etc. To a large degree it’s already achieved this, but I think it will go much further as technology and infrastructure continue to improve. It’s very exciting to think about, and another reason why I’m glad to be in this line of work.

Jeff’s last answer is very interesting when we think around planning for the future of creating content and marketing online. To find out more about Jeff, head over to Perishable Press.

Ryan Peter is a ghostwriter, journalist, copywriter and author of amazing books.