Syed Balkhi is one guy that seems to have an unlimited amount of energy. If you follow this guy on Twitter or around the interwebs it appears that he’s in multiple places at the exact same time. I’m not sure if he has a stand-in that’s traveling for him or if he’s somehow managed to clone himself in some futuristic fashion – but whatever it is, it’s working.
As we’ve done before in our interview segments, we want to showcase and get a little more information from these successful WordPress-centric personalities and glean a bit if we can. Today we’re hanging with Syed, whom our team has the opportunity to hang out with a handful of times in the past few years.
In fact, it is rumored that he’ll be back here in Atlanta for WordCamp Atlanta 2013 – now that should be fun!
1. Tell Us About Yourself, The More ‘Unknown’ Facts the Better!
Hey Guys, I’m Syed Balkhi. I run this site called WPBeginner which has been around for some time. I’m 22, and a lot of people don’t know that. When they find out, they are totally in shock. I’m pretty darn tall, and yes I play basketball. If we had a WordPress Basketball tournament, I would totally win (yup it’s a challenge). I have a Bachelors degree from UF, and no it is not in computer science. I went to school for Anthropology and Religion. Web development and marketing is my passion. I have been doing this since I was 12, and others say that I’m pretty good at it.
In my 10 year web career, I have built all sort of websites. From static HTML sites to web proxies, arcades, web directory, blogs, e-commerce sites, forums, internal communication systems and so on. But if you ask me about code, I will tell you that I don’t know it. I’m a developer by accident, and I’m a marketer by passion. I like to create cool content and see how people react to it. The human element to websites is my favorite part, and I love interacting with all of our readers on my various websites.
2. How Long Have You Been Working with WordPress? When Was Your First Experience?
I heard about WordPress in 2004, but never really paid attention to it. It was 2006, when I first started used WordPress. I needed a way to keep my users updated about my new theme releases. I knew a blog was the answer, and WordPress was there for me.
I started using it, and I fell in love with it. I have seen WordPress evolve from a simple blogging platform to a robust content management system that it is today. It has been an excited journey.
3. How Have You Seen WordPress Grow and Change and Where Do You Think It’s Headed?
When I first started using WordPress, it was a blogging platform. Now with the power of custom post types and custom taxonomies, it has really stepped up the game. Aside from the core changes, we are seeing a lot of creative plugins built on top of WordPress. Gravity Forms is a very neat WordPress plugin. Easy digital downloads by Pippin is also very neat (has some nice add-ons as well).
WooThemes launched their Sensei plugin which seems like a very neat tool (disclaimer: I haven’t fully used it yet). I think the future of WordPress is going to inline with the same motto as it has followed for some time: make publishing easier for users.
I think we will see some improvements in the editorial workflow process (already in talks for 3.6). It would be nice to see more work done on the theme customizer. I can’t stand to see users going with site builders. I think we can do that much better with WordPress if the theme customizer is used more by theme developers. I hope/feel that the future of theme options will be in the theme customizer.
I think we will see a lot of improvements to the WordPress dashboard UI. It is already starting with post formats interface in 3.6. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have two interface for WordPress. A lite mode vs. advanced mode (that we have right now). You could simply switch to advanced view by clicking on the button. I think this would be a huge step up, and it would allow us to improve mobile publishing with WordPress (without requiring any app).
I think the future of WordPress is very bright with such a vibrant community that is around it. It will be a fun ride.
4. What Projects Currently Keep You Occupied (and Any Secret New Ones We Should Know About)?
WPBeginner is a pretty big project. Aside from updating the site, helping users via our contact form, we have a huge consulting business as well. These things keep me very busy. I do have a passion project on the side called List25. We launched it in November 2011, and it has been growing like wildfire. I’m very excited to see where List25 will be by the end of this year since we have a lot of cool things coming for it (in a redesign).
I do a lot of affiliate marketing, so ofcourse there are those secret niche sites that I have. I probably won’t be revealing those anytime soon.
We do have an excited WordPress plugin in the making, but unfortunately I can’t talk a lot about it. I can tell you that it will be awesome.
5. What is One (or Two) Tips for Those That are Getting into WordPress?
My #1 advice that I give to new users is that WordPress has an amazing community. Everybody is very welcoming and nice. If you want help, then all you have to do is ask.
Whether you ask by sending us an email, tweeting us @wpbeginner, posting a question in the WordPress.org forums, or tweeting at anyone of these WordPress experts. You will get a response.
I also recommend new users to join their local WordPress meetup groups and attend nearby WordCamps.