Remkus de Vries Interview
Remkus de Vries is passionate about WordPress. He blogs at WP Realm, WP Candy, and he’s a co-organizer of WordCamp Europe. He’s keen to share his knowledge as a prolific WordCamp speaker. Learn what this father of three has to say about the future of WordPress and the part we should all play in it.
How did you first get involved in working with WordPress?
Back in 2005 I became self employed as trainer/coach/hypnotist and needed a website. I turned to a friend to build me one, but I wanted to change a few things after launch and after realizing it would cost about as much as building it, I figured something had to change. That change became WordPress and from that initial site I created for myself I got requests to build other people’s sites. That in turn became a bigger business than my original goal and the rest, as they say, is history.
You organize WordCamp Netherlands, you’re the co-organizer of WordCamp Europe, and you’ve spoken at several WordCamps — why do you choose to contribute so much time and effort to the WordPress community? What do you get out of it?
Funny thing is I don’t see it that way. I don’t particularly see it as me spending that much time and effort. I mean, I love what WordPress has allowed me to do and I love the community surrounding WordPress and anytime I can contribute to that I will find ways to do it in such a manner that I won’t regard it as time consuming. I don’t get anything out of it other than meeting a lot of fine folk sharing a common interest but I hope I’m contributing to strengthening the (European/Dutch) WordPress community.
In your recent talk at WordCamp Transylvania, you laid out a vision for what the WordPress community could be. In that talk you mentioned thinking of the bigger picture — paint that bigger picture for us.
The bigger picture is nothing other than recognizing the global trend of finding and caring for subjects that transcend the ego. The bigger picture is something we all benefit from regardless of personal goals. As a collective we ought to be focusing on what it would mean for WordPress, or any other project for that matter, to have a solid (local) community with everything working smoothly. Everything being the translations, localized releases, forums, documentation, etc. When that is the case, more people will end up using WordPress and that in turn will create more work for anyone available in that particular community. That to me is the bigger picture.
You painted an amazing portrait of the future WordPress community. What is it going to take to get there? What can individuals do?
Spreading the word is what it will take to get us there. Spreading the word by people understanding the cause. I’d like to think that us organizing WordCamp Europe is exactly that.
At WordCamp Norway, back in February, you mentioned that professional WordPress business owners need to have a professional approach to their business, as well. Can you encapsulate your philosophy of professionalism as it relates to WordPress? Why do you believe this is important for Code Poets at this juncture in WordPress’ development?
Right now WordPress as a software solution — for pretty much anything online — is maturing rapidly and this means you as a WordPress-related business owner should too. I mean, you don’t have to, but if you want your business to grow you need to attract the type of clients that are already in a mature market. They are looking for an online solution for their businesses and are looking for someone who’s going to be in a rapport with them on a professional level. This means that if your focus up until this moment has only been improving your design skills and / or your programming skills you need to consider upping your business skills. Communication, project-management, and sales are but a few examples of areas where you can improve your skills. As a Code Poet you have to recognize that your code and designs are just a small part of the bigger picture in order to get to the future.
After attending and speaking at so many WordCamps, what has been the most memorable moment or event for you?
Hmm, tough one. I’d have to say the WordCamp Netherlands 2012 edition was the most memorable, but WordCamp Sevilla in Spain, WordCamp Norway in Oslo, WordCamp Lisbon in Portugal, WordCamp Portsmouth & Edinburgh in the UK, and WordCamp Transylvania certainly were educational and fun WordCamps as well.
You’ve developed three well-rated WordPress plugins: Genesis Toolbar+, Genesis Translations, and the WooThemes Toolbar. What motivated you to create these plugins and what has been the most important thing you’ve learned in creating them?
Well first, I should really update two of those, but I mostly learned how easy it can be to translate a simple idea into a plugin and how that can help others. The Genesis Translations plugin is one that people really enjoy using.
What motivated you to create your plugins? Which technical itch did they scratch?
I wanted to know if the idea I had in my mind could be done. Wasn’t so much of a technical itch, but more a “hmm, it would be kinda cool if I had that…” and turned that into a plugin for others to use.
Tell us about a favorite project you’ve worked on. Why was it your favorite and what was the most important thing you learned from working on it?
My favorite project would have to be building the Jobs site for the Dutch Postal Company: PostNL. Together with my partner in crime Daan Kortenbach we built a WordPress site with custom work like SOAP server import from SAP, Postal Code distance search, and a bunch of custom rewrites and filters — to name but a few things — and we feel we genuinely pushed the boundaries of WordPress. And when boundaries get pushed, that’s when the learning begins.