Many people choose WordPress for its simplicity, but stay for the community. I can’t think of many other online tools that rival it for the sheer size and friendliness of its user base, and willingness of that user base to share solutions.
Within the community some people stand out for their contribution, going the extra mile, or just sheer charisma. Here I present ten of the most interesting personalities in the WordPress world today (deliberately unnumbered as they are no in particular order!).
Matt Mullenweg (@photomatt)
Not many people own a personalized four-letter domain name, but ma.tt is one of the lucky ones! As a founding member of WordPress, Automattic, and WordCamp, he has more emotion invested in WordPress than most.
“Like eating, breathing, music, I can’t not work on WordPress”, he writes on his blog.
Jeff Chandler (@wptavern)
Is there a viable business model for a WordPress news site? It’s been a hot topic lately and Jeff Chandler, “Tavern Keeper” at WP Tavern is well-placed to answer. Jeff hit the headlines when he sold the blog to a mystery buyer, who eventually revealed himself to be none other than Matt Mullenweg, co-creator of WordPress itself.
Since then, Jeff’s personal profile has rocketed and he’s given several interviews about the topic of WordPress business models.
But Jeff’s bread-and-butter is the WPTavern blog, where he’s been keeping us abreast of the latest news developments for the last five years. Other WordPress news sites come and go, but the Tavern remains open for business.
Matt Medeiros (@mattmedeiros)
Every so often I find someone popping up all over the internet, with no idea how they find the time for it all. Matt Medeiros definitely qualifies as one of those people. First up he’s co-founder of Slocum Design Studio, a specialist WordPress design and development agency. Under the Slocum banner he produces two podcasts, PressThis and SEOLunch.
As if that’s not enough, he also runs the Matt Report, where he publishes regular interviews with people who work with WordPress. He’s carved out a nice publishing niche by focusing on the business side of WordPress. There’s no filler, just quality interviews with the likes of Chris Lema, Brad Williams (WebDevStudios), and Jeff Chandler.
Joost de Valk (@yoast)
His SEO plugins have been downloaded over 10 million times and he has the coolest name in WordPress. Dutchman Joost de Valk created the Yoast brand thanks to Rand Fishkin from Moz, who told Joost to tell English-speakers the name was pronounced “toast with a y”!
Whether you say Joost or Yoast, his WordPress plugin has been synonymous with SEO since its inception back in 2009. He’s a regular speaker on all things SEO and WordPress and keeps everyone updated with his whereabouts on his excellent blog over at yoast.com.
Brian Gardner (@bgardner)
Perhaps the most copied man in WordPress, Brian Gardner is the brains behind the Genesis framework from StudioPress, the “best of the best” among WordPress theme frameworks, according to Mashable. Some argue he invented the whole concept of premium theme frameworks with his Revolution theme and subsequent Genesis/StudioPress project.
Brian’s personal blog is a melting pot of WordPress tips and tricks (mostly geared towards Genesis) and a playground for his own theme development, often hinting at a future Genesis child theme release. Right now he’s showing off what Genesis 2.0 has in store for us.
Toni Schneider (@tonidotorg)
For those interested in the commercial side of WordPress, Toni’s your man.
Born in Switzerland, Toni moved to California for college and decided to stay put, ignoring the opportunity to get a “real job” and throwing himself into entrepreneurship at a fledgling email startup. After a successful exit to Yahoo, Toni joined Matt Mullenweg at the Automattic project.
As CEO of Automattic, Toni has overseen the launch of projects such as Jetpack, VaultPress, Gravatar, and of course the continued success of WordPress.com. He also finds the time to work as a partner at VC firm True Ventures, ensuring not just everyone involved in WordPress, but also Silicon Valley, knows his name.
Here’s a keynote from last year, full of information about the commercial side of WordPress.
Mark Jaquith (@markjaquith)
Mark makes his living as a web publishing consultant, but he’s better known as a WordPress superstar. As one of the lead developers of WordPress, Mark has played a vital role in getting WordPress to where it is today.
In his own-words, Mark is a religious skeptic, one of those stuck-up Mac users, and really bad at answering emails. He’s also a dedicated family man, so much so he launched his own take on Amazon review sites called Have Baby, Need Stuff. It’s functional, great to look at, and oh, it’s on WordPress of course!
Mark is in the spotlight right now as lead developer on WP 3.6.
Daniel Espinoza (@d_espi)
Developing WordPress plugins helped Daniel and his wife pay off $67,000 of debt in just 8 months. He focused on building recurring revenue plugins for the WooCommerce platform, then sold the plugins to achieve his financial goal.
What’s next for Daniel? “There are changes in WordPress, there are changes in the internet, and there are changes in the world. With so much change happening I’m very confident that I can find a new niche to serve customers”, he writes on his blog.
One thing seems certain — WordPress hasn’t seen the last of Daniel Espinoza.
Chris Pearson (@pearsonified)
Chris developed Thesis, the popular WordPress theme framework, but he’s far more than a one-trick pony. Chris can talk about anything and everything WordPress, from SEO to how many hours a week he works on his business. This, combined with his self-proclaimed “enthusiastic, outspoken character”, sees Chris regularly booked to speak at WordCamps and other industry conferences.
He blogs at Pearsonified about topics as diverse as the Thesis theme and his personal interest in web typography.
Frederick Townes (@w3edge)
Frederick has his fingers in many pies. He’s the man behind design and development company W3Edge and the creator of the W3 Total Cache plugin. He was founding CTO of Mashable, a great example of a major site running on WordPress, and is still involved today as Senior Technical Advisor. On top of all that, he’s co-founder and CTO at real estate web marketing company Placester.
Frederick’s vast experience of WordPress entrepreneurship puts him in great demand as a speaker. He gives back to the community by speaking at numerous WordCamps, not just near to his Massachusetts home, but as far afield as Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands.
Tom McFarlin (@tommcfarlin)
In the first post Tom was mentioned in one of the comments as a notable miss so it’s only appropriate that I start with him. Tom is a WordPress developer and avid blogger who dedicates a great deal of his blogging time to sharing WordPress tips, tutorials, snippets, resources, and all things WordPress.
Tom’s personal blog is a great resource especially for newbies but advanced users and developers too can benefit from his deep mastery of the platform.
Aaron Jorbin (@aaronjorbin
On his Twitter profile, Aaron describes himself as a Polyhistoric man of the web — whatever that means 😉
Regardless, Aaron is a WordPress Core committer and dedicates part of his time on the web to helping developers improve their skills, among other things.
Helen Hou Sandi (@helenhousandi)
Every member of the WordPress core committer team is a worthy mention on this list but Helen Hou Sandi stands out because she is the only female member on the team. Among other things, Helen is a devout WordPress evangelist and has graced a number of WordPress related conferences around the world.
Tom Auger (@TomAuger
Tom is another committed WordPress evangelist who shares lots of tips and tricks on WordPress and other development topics via his website and through social media.
Matt Medeiros (@mattmedeiros)
Matt runs mattreport.com, a website that helps people start and run successful business websites on WordPress. He basically interviews leading WordPress entrepreneurs and then shares those interviews as podcasts on his website.
Through these interviews, Matt has learned a ton of tricks to make money using WordPress and is now considered an authority in his own right on how to monetize it.
Amber Weinberg (@amberweinberg)
Amber Weinberg is a self-taught WordPress developer who’s been building websites since her teens. She specializes in WordPress and front-end development. She mostly shares tips and tricks on WordPress, profitable freelancing, writing clean code, and everything in-between.
If you want to craft a career as a freelance WordPress developer, you will find Amber’s story very inspiring, so be sure to check out her website to get her unique insights.
Chris Coyier (@chriscoyier)
Chris focuses on general web development and particularly on CSS. He runs css-tricks.com (which is built on WordPress) and codepen.io where he shares lots of design and development tricks that cut across the web development board, including WordPress of course.
Chris’ main focus is not WordPress, but once in a while he shares snippets, tools, and resources that you can use in your WordPress projects. In all, as a WordPress developer or keen user, it’s good to keep up with his sites.
Jeff Starr (@perishable)
Jeff is a true WordPress star. He’s a developer and publisher with more than 10 years experience developing for WordPress. He currently runs three websites: Perishable Press, Digging Into WordPress and WP Tao, all dedicated to teaching the ins and outs of WordPress.
Jeff’s WordPress tutorials and books are mainly aimed at developers who want to master the craft of theme development.
Brennen Byrne (@brennenbyrne)
Brennen is a security guru when it comes to WordPress and it’s no surprise that he’s now fully focused on his new ingenious project Clef, an app that allows simple but powerful 2-factor authentication for WordPress. The app uses a digital signature to log you in rather than traditional passwords. The project is somewhat new and has not yet gained a lot of traction in the community (yet), but there’s little doubt that it is the future.
Brennen is definitely someone you should follow if you want to learn how thoroughly secure your WordPress sites.
Andrew Nacin (@nacin)
Andrew is a WordPress lead developer and couldn’t be more involved in the WordPress community as a whole. He participates in all stages of the development cycle from site infrastructure to bug fixes. He also frequents WordCamps where he meets real WordPress users (just like you!) on a regular basis.
He also dedicates much of his time to the WordPress.org site and you can spot him on many a mailing list and the IRC development channel.
Ryan Boren (@rboren)
In addition to contributing to the WordPress core as a lead developer, Ryan also works as an engineer at Automattic. On the WordPress front, he continually modifies the codebase to improve efficiency and accessibility. He’s also a regular bug fixer over at Automattic and describes himself as an “Atheist Vegan Transhumanist Libertarian.”
Peter Westwood (@westi)
There are countless things you can learn from Peter Westwood, a member of the lead developers’ team since 2005. He’s active on Twitter and though his WordPress blog isn’t updated all that often, when it is you can rest assured he has something informative to say.
This post was about individuals but it’s hard to single out certain personalities without mentioning the teams they lead or work with. Without a doubt, the team at Automattic stands out when it comes to team contributions to the WordPress community.
Automattic is a team of WordPress enthusiasts that run and maintain WordPress.com (along with many other projects). Automattic is a creation of Matt Mullenweg and the team regularly contributes to a number of open source projects, most notably WordPress.org. Team members are recruited from all over the globe and most work remotely, which makes it a uniquely fascinating team.
Visit the Automatic website to check out the entire team. You can either single out individuals to follow or you could simple follow the group as a whole.
Nick Roach and Team (@elegantthemes)
Nick Roach is the founder of Elegant Themes and heads a team of 30 developers, designers, and tech support specialists. Nick and his team have built more than 100 WordPress themes (many premium) and they share a lot of what they’ve learnt on their blog. A lot of their tips are aimed at WordPress users but developers too can learn a lot from these guys.
Sinisa Komlenic and Team (@themeskingdom)
Like Nick Roach, Sinisa founded and runs Themes Kingdom, a WordPress themes development company in Ohio. They’ve built some solid themes and share a lot of useful tips on their blog. But unlike Elegant Themes, these guys are a close-knit team of seven developers, designers, and a support agent. They seem very well organized and it obviously shows in their work. There’s definitely something to learn from these guys for every aspiring WordPress theme developer.
WooThemes Team (@woothemes)
WooThemes are makers of free and premium WordPress themes. They created what is currently one of the most popular ecommerce plugins for WordPress, WooCommerce, along with a bunch of other extensions for the plugin. In fact, there are a couple of developers who earn a living solely from developing and selling WooCommerce extensions.
WPExplorer Team (@wpexplorer)
I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about our own lovely team, now wouldn’t I? With a resourceful blog and plenty of high quality themes and plugins to choose from, you’d do best to add this site to your feed reader immediately. But that’s just my not-so-unbiased opinion 😉
Who else is making waves in the WordPress world?
Picking just ten people from a user base of millions was never going to be easy. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these ten selections and who you would’ve picked – let us know in the comments section below!