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.
Get to know Matt more in this in-depth interview, where he answers questions including why Yahoo bought Tumblr, how Automattic makes money, and whether they allow porn on WordPress.com![youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JG3hFrpVCPc&w=600&h=338]
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.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwFlvg4Pok4&w=600&h=338]
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.
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!
Photo credit: Henk-Jan Winkeldermaat