Meet Natalie MacLees, Design Expert

natalie Natalie will be presenting during the Design for Developers session, which you can watch LIVE on September 20. During her presentation, Natalie will teach us about functional design and how it’s even more imperative than aesthetic design (both are important). Our users are NOT robots, so we should be designing our tools to be used by real humans.

Check out her interview answers below.

Where can we find you on the internet?

Business site:
Personal site:
Twitter: @nataliemac
Facebook: /nmaclees

Those are probably the best ones. 🙂 Of course there are like 100 more, but that’s the stuff I use most often.

When and how did you get started with WordPress?

I got started with WordPress in 2005 when a client requested a blog she could use for her poetry and photography. I did some research and decided WordPress seemed like a good direction to take. I modified Kubrick to make her a ‘custom’ theme and the site is still live today. 😀

What resources do you turn to when you want to learn something new?

If it’s something completely new to me that I’ve never done before, I like to start with a book. If I’m looking to further my knowledge on something I already have some familiarity with, I’ll usually stick with blogs, podcasts, and community. I love reading Little Big Details, Sidebar, WP Beginner, WP Tavern, and, each December, 24 Ways. For podcasts, I listen to Jeffrey Zeldman’s Big Web Show, Boagworld, Unfinished Business, Businessology, DradCast, UIE Brain Sparks, and WP Watercooler. For community, I like meetups, but online, I like Facebook groups like Advanced WP and Stack Overflow.

What is your favorite WordPress feature/aspect?

I love that it puts the ability to add and edit content into the hands of users who aren’t proficient in writing code. When i’m creating sites for clients, I go out of my way to ensure that as much of the site as possible can be easily updated or changed around by my clients.

What attracted you to design? What is your favorite aspect of design?

I’ve always loved making things. Even as a kid, I preferred toys like Colorforms, Fashion Plates and LiteBrite to toys like dolls. I desperately wanted to go to design school after graduating from high school, but got talked out of it and into earning a more ‘sensible’ college degree instead. But if you’re meant to do something, it’s going to find you, so I found myself designing stuff for a living anyway, even though I didn’t get the degree. I started in the world of print doing posters, flyers, catalogs, and packaging. I briefly worked designing trade show booths. Then I discovered the web and haven’t looked back. Web design wasn’t even a career option when I graduated from high school, so I had to spend time doing other stuff while the web was invented and grew popular enough to be a viable career option.

I love the feeling of solving a puzzle – working out how to tell a story, how to make a layout work, how to fit pieces together into a cohesive whole.

What advice do you have for others looking to become WordPress experts?

Get involved in the community! WordPress has one of the most open, generous, gracious, welcoming, awesome communities out there. You’ll meet person after person who is smart, cool, nice, and fun. Get out to meetups and WordCamps. Participate in online communities. If there isn’t a meetup in your town, start one!

What is one interesting non-WordPress-related fact about yourself?

I’m an extreme introvert, which I think surprises people sometimes because I do work so hard at organizing meetups and speaking at conferences. But I’ve found that when I put forth the effort to organize a meetup or present a talk, people will approach me to start conversations and I don’t have to worry about being the one to approach people.

wpsession15_thumbThanks, Natalie!

If you want to see Natalie present “Your user is not a robot: Bringing design thinking to your development process”, get your event ticket today!