When we first encountered Dallas and ChurchPr.es we had to know more about his thinking and why he launched the project.
And yes, he lives in Texas. Also, he runs ChurchPr.es on the side, which is very impressive. Want to know more? Check out his interview after the jump.
1. Tell Us About Yourself, The More ‘Unknown’ Facts the Better!
I am a newly married, 26 year old, front-end developer living in the great state of Texas. In my junior year of high school, I took a web design class and got my first taste of HTML and CSS. After I completed that class, web design became a pretty big hobby of mine but wasn’t actually my original career choice.
By the grace of God, I stumbled into this field around 2010 and got my first full time non-freelance job last July. I received my undergrad degree in mass communications and history and originally wanted to be a university professor. I actually really enjoy reading books by old dead guys and writing papers about what they have to say.
2. How Long Have You Been Working with WordPress? When Was Your First Experience.
I am honestly not sure when I first encountered WordPress, probably around 2007. I started really looking into WordPress around 2009 and the first time I built a WordPress based website from the ground up was in 2010.
The website was for a friend’s dad who is a custom saddle maker. Realizing I could get paid for my hobby was pretty awesome!
3. What Was Your Inspiration For Starting ChurchPres? What Challenges Did You Have To Overcome To Get It Off The Ground?
My inspiration behind ChurchPres is simply the need for it. I have been doing web development for churches and ministries for about three years and, for the most part, small and some medium sized churches are using technology from the 1990’s. The technological setbacks aren’t because of some archaic aversion to technology but from a lack of funds, time and knowledge.
There are a lot of pastors and ministers who would love a user friendly, beautiful, responsive website but they just don’t know how to go about getting one or they don’t have the available resources to spend on one. If the average pastor asks you what the cheapest way to get a website up and running is, the answer would most likely be something along the lines of:
Well, you need to sign up for a web host, register a domain name, install WordPress on your server, download a theme and then install the theme and any preferred plugins.
99% of all pastors or church leaders would look at you like you are crazy if you gave them that answer. Also, the sad reality is most of them would probably just give up and not count a website as being worth all the trouble.
That’s where ChurchPres comes into play. Ultimately, my goal is to create a platform for churches and ministries that will allow them to get a modern day website up and running with the least amount of effort. This also includes email addresses, website analytics, web backups and access to Microsoft SkyDrive, which could be very beneficial if utilized in churches.
With a proper website, the church’s message can truly become global. The thought of someone in China or Sudan being able access sermon podcasts or read blog posts from a small church in Anytown USA is pretty exciting.
I am the solo founder of ChurchPres so the greatest challenge has been staying organized and keeping up with the seemingly minor details. I do have some people who are going to help with support but getting the platform built was completely on my shoulders.
Trying to come up with exactly what needed to be done for things such as setting ChurchPres up as a registered business or dealing with server configurations was quite a task. Staying organized and keeping up with the smaller details has definitely been the greatest challenge so far.
4. How Have You Seen WordPress Grow and Change? Where Do You Think It’s Headed?
This is really cool question because my answer is directly related to WP Daily and all of the WordPress centric blogs. I haven’t been in the WordPress scene very long but I think the greatest change I have seen has been growth in the community.
It’s great seeing so many WordCamps getting organized, meetups starting, devs blogging and an overall increase in the amount of community growth.
In terms of where WordPress is headed, I really have no idea. It’s pretty obvious that WordPress has been transforming from a blogging platform to a functional CMS. How far that transformation goes is, in my opinion, up to the developers who use WordPress to build projects.
I think if people keep building apps based on WordPress and continue to push WordPress in unconventional ways, we will see some pretty innovative changes to WordPress core.
5. What Can People Expect to See From You and ChurchPres in 2013?
For me personally, I would love to start contributing back to the WordPress community more. There are many opportunities for getting plugged into the WordPress community and I really want to focus on taking advantage of several of those opportunities. I would also really like to start writing and releasing some helpful code for front-end developers.
A few months ago, I decided to make a lightweight fluid CSS grid for my personal projects. I went ahead and threw it up on Github and submitted a post to Hacker News just for curiosity’s sake. I wasn’t expecting anything, but it turned out to be pretty useful for a lot of people.
Even though the whole project was like one little CSS file, it’s still great knowing I built something that other people can use, and I would really like to start doing more of that.
For ChurchPres, I really want to focus on providing an excellent user experience. Right now, there are still some kinks and what I would call ugly areas to the overall design of how ChurchPres works. Although getting a huge user base right after launch would be nice, I really want to focus my time more on quality than quantity.
What am I not offering that customers want and need? What can I change to make ChurchPres a better experience? How can I offer the best possible customer service? When I do grow, will I be prepared for growth? Those questions are what I really want to focus on for 2013.
6. What Side Projects or Passions Keep You Busy?
I am working full time as a front-end developer, as well as, working on a grad degree in theological studies. Those two things take up a major amount of time during my week so ChurchPres is really the only side project I am working on right now.
The great thing is, web development and studying the Bible/theology are two passions of mine so it all works out in the end.
7. Would You Share One or Two Tips For Those That are Just Getting Into WordPress?
In the words of Chris Coyier, “Just build something.” Everyone learns differently but I think one of the best ways to learn WordPress (and programming in general) is to jump right in. Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t be afraid to break things.
Find something that intrigues you about a WordPress theme and try to build that feature out for yourself. Keep doing that until you have a solid grasp on things.
Ask questions like, how do you create multiple sidebars, how do you create new page templates, how do you create custom post types and what are some unconvential way can you use them. Don’t think about building a WordPress “theme” or “plugin” but think about building the pieces that will allow you to build themes and plugins. Start small and slowly work your way up.
Also, try to use the least amount of plugins as possible. Take the functionality of a specific plugin that you need and build out that functionality for yourself. Finally, don’t forget everyone struggles and everyone has to take time to learn.. Those guys who are WordPress rockstars started out as beginners too.