Michelle will be presenting during the Design for Developers session, which you can watch LIVE on September 20. During her presentation, Michelle will teach us how to talk like and talk to designers, explaining many of the nuances of design language and how designers work. Do you want to work with better designers? This talk is step one.
Check out her interview answers below.
Where can we find you on the internet?
When and how did you get started with WordPress?
I’d heard of WordPress back in college but didn’t start doing any work with it until maybe 2010? I attended a WordPress session at the CMS Expo, and later my first WordCamp (Chicago 2011) and became hooked. The more I learned (and the more involved I became with the community) the more I wanted to work with it! I guess you could say I drank the Kool-Aid 🙂
What resources do you turn to when you want to learn something new?
For all topics I have an interest in (design, web, and WordPress included) I have a core library of actual books that cover a lot of the high level education. Outside of that I’ll typically turn to a combination of Google and People I Know to find answers. I’ve got a list of trusted design and WordPress sources that I know I can find quality answers from online when it’s for work, otherwise it’s sometimes a bit of a trip down a rabbit hole to see what I can learn!
What is your favorite WordPress feature/aspect?
My favorite thing about WordPress is the Template Hierarchy. One I wrapped my mind around how it worked, I realized how powerful it was. The ridiculous amount of flexibility and granular control it gives you over the display of content without having to hack or break anything is fantastic. The fact that it allows you to create new page templates, child themes, etc. has enabled me to build some pretty custom sites for clients for a reasonable cost. And the fact that many plugin developers are emulating this functionality for their own templates is pretty awesome too.
What attracted you to design? What is your favorite aspect of design?
I’ve actually been doing visual things my entire life, whether through traditional art mediums or on the computer (one of the first programs I ever used was Kid Pix when I was in preschool). But though I did “art” for all of my life, I was always much better at technical execution (drawing what I could see) than personal expression (drawing what I felt or thought). What attracts me to design is that it isn’t really “art,” but visual problem solving. You still need a strong sense of aesthetics, but it’s for a specific goal. I think the fact that design is as much social, economical, and psychological as it is aesthetic is one of my favorite things about it.
What advice do you have for others looking to become WordPress experts?
1) Get involved now. Whether that’s attending meetups, hanging out on the forums, showing up at WordCamps, speaking, teaching, whatever your local or online community is doing. Being involved helps get you name recognition for sure, but it also gets you a network of people that can help you OR that you can help! Yay community!
2) Read read read! There are so many great online resources- blogs, news sites, magazine articles, the Codex- and several books available written by prominent community members. If listening is more up your alley, there are lots of podcasts as well. There’s almost TOO MUCH information out there about WordPress! So you can definitely find resources that suit your needs.
3) Be active on Twitter. I know it can sound kind of lame to people that don’t know what I mean (140 characters? Really?) but I have gotten so much help, feedback, support, and even work referrals from the community members and friends that I converse with on Twitter, as well as solidifying relationships with people I have met at WordCamps.
What is one interesting non-WordPress-related fact about yourself?
I’m a band/marching band geek. Played flute and piccolo through college, where I had the opportunity to perform in such awesome places as Carnegie Hall and the Great Wall of China. I still have my flute and pick it up on occasion.
I also like to occasionally paint (and sometimes sell) impressionist versions of iconic things, like cityscapes or scenes. Right now I am on a sci-fi kick and I’m going to do more in this series 🙂
Here’s my shop: http://mynameismichelle.com/shop
If you’d like to hear more from Michelle, specifically about “How to Speak Unicorn” and understand common design terminology and methodology, make sure you get your ticket for “Design for Developers”