Member Spotlight on Laura Hunter and Claire Chappell

 

Claire Chappell and Laura HunterWhat’s your name?

Laura Hunter and Claire Chappell (Laura is usually the one on the left!)

What do you do with WordPress?

We run a small business called The Digital Grapevine, based in Thornbury, South Glos. We specialise in building WordPress websites for local businesses and charities.

We have different skillsets which means we approach a website project from different angles. We look at the content and design at the same time, making sure they flow seamlessly together. We also have long term associations with freelance designers and photographers and call on them to provide the full package, when needed. We are proud to have built up a loyal local client base and have longstanding working relationships with many, helping them as their businesses grow.

What’s your involvement with Bristol WordPress People?

We are among the regular faces that attend nearly every meet up! We were part of the organising team for a year, helping live tweet, occasionally hosting with Simon and just being a friendly face for people to talk to. Claire also did a talk about website content a couple of years ago as well. We have also volunteered at the two Bristol WordCamps organised by other members of the Bristol WordPress community. We were the people on reception welcoming you in!

What’s your job?

We are both Founders of The Digital Grapevine and run it together. Laura is the more technical of the two of us, having worked as a developer and Business Analyst in previous jobs and Claire is the copywriter writing website copy and blog posts for clients.

How long have you been attending the Bristol Meetup?

We think it have been about 4 years now! It has been amazing to see the group grow over that time.

Why do you attend?

We started attending to learn new things about WordPress and new advances on the platform. We quickly discovered that being part of the group was more than about learning. Bristol WordPress People is a great community that we really enjoy catching up with every month. When you work in a small team it is great to have a group you can chat to about problems you have, not just to do with WordPress but worries or issues with clients or your business. It really can be a great support network.

How have you been long using WP?

Laura first discovered WordPress in 2009 after previously creating websites by hand using HTML and CSS in Textpad! We like how its flexibility makes it a great platform to build websites on. Claire came to WordPress in 2013 through working with Laura and likes the fact the platform is user friendly even as a non-developer like her!

Any sites you’ve built that you’d like to share?

We always enjoy sharing our work. Our favourites are often the ones where we have provided the website design, content and branding.

  • The Digital Grapevine  – We love our own website as we feel it really represents who we are.
  • Cotswold Discos  – We think this website has a really strong look and was a great collaborative process with the client.
  • Office Owls  – This recruitment website made use of graphics in an interesting way.
  • Meridan  – This is a financial services website. We wanted to look different and life affirming, whilst still providing useful information.

Favourite WordPress feature/plugin

This may be a controversial answer for some but we are fans of the Divi theme. It is a perfect fit for a lot of our clients.

Anything you’d like to see in WordPress?

The short answer at the moment is no! We feel the platform provides everything we need to deliver websites to our clients.

Tell us something that people might not know about you

We think most people will be surprised to know that we didn’t actually know each other that well when we started working together! Our daughters were good friends and we knew each other through them. Obviously, we are great friends now and support each other through everything. Not being close friends at the start probably made it easier to set out our working relationship.

Member Spotlight on Ross Wintle

Ross Wintle

What’s your name?

Ross Wintle – there aren’t many people with my name. But oddly there’s another one in Bristol!

What do you do with WordPress?

I’m a freelance software and website developer who uses WordPress a lot to build websites, mostly for charities and small businesses. I also run several of my own sites on WordPress.

I use other technologies too – primarily the Laravel framework, and I view one of my key roles as being someone that bridges communities, so I’m often sharing Laravel ideas and tools with WordPress folks.

What’s your involvement with Bristol WordPress People?

I’m mostly a sporadic attendee these days, Because I travel in from Swindon and have two young children. But I worked a little bit behind-the-scenes in the organising team for a short time, and have given a few talks.

Generally I’m a big supporter and encourager of all that the organising team does that I am unable to do. I’m a super fan!

How long have you been attending the Bristol Meetup?

My first Bristol WordPress people was over five years ago in March 2015. I remember my first Meetup well because it was when the WordPress Meetup joined with the PHP South West Meetup! So I’ve been involved and attending for a long time.

How have you been long using WP?

I can tell you that almost to the day, because I have a blog post about moving from Blogger to WordPress back in December 2008. So I make that 11.5 years!

Any sites you’ve built that you’d like to share?

I’m quite proud of my super geeky personal blog/site, but it may not, and is not designed to, appeal to everyone!

Some of the many things I’ve built with WordPress:

Why do you attend?

I come to learn from others. But I should be clear that one of my favourite things about the Meetup is the diversity. So when I say I come to learn from others, that’s not just learning technical stuff from talks, but it’s learning how other people use WordPress, what they use it for, what they love about it, and what they struggle with. Because that informs my technical work a great deal.

I also just love the friendliness of the people in the community. It’s a really kind and encouraging place to be, and I’ve made several friends through it. And though I attend other Meetups, this was my first and it’s always felt like my “home”.

Favourite WordPress feature/plugin

As a geeky developer type who spends lots of time in the terminal and avoids the mouse wherever possible, I’d have to say the WordPress command-line interface: WP-CLI. It lets me easily do things like installing and configuring WordPress, testing out code and queries, and quickly doing advanced tasks like database backups, search-and-replace, and regenerating image thumbnails.

If you want an actual plugin, then Advanced Custom Fields and Query Monitor are two that I use heavily and am very thankful for.

Anything you’d like to see in WordPress?

As someone who works in the back-end a lot and works with complex data, I’d love to see relationships between posts built into WordPress core. The ability to have, say, a “City” post type and a “Country” post type and to have them linked together without using custom post meta fields would be amazing. The current methods are really inefficient and difficult to use.

I’d also love to see the Holy Grail of database/content merging between copies of sites. But many have tried that and many have failed.

Tell us something that people might not know about you

I can juggle 5 balls, 3 clubs and can also ride a unicycle….just (I’m not very good)!

Member Spotlight on Scott Jones

Scott Jones - Illustrate DigitalWhat’s your name

Scott Jones

What do you do with WordPress

I run an agency in Bristol & Cardiff that specialises in the platform. We design and build sites and software for WordPress, primarily for financial services, legal, medical, B2B and B2C sectors. We’ve got a great team made up of UX designers, front-end and back-end developers, as well as a dedicated support team to look after sites for our clients in the long term. WordPress has helped us to build some powerful sites for some major brands and helped enable marketing teams to publish better content more quickly.

What’s your involvement with Bristol WordPress People?

I live just outside of Cardiff but love travelling over to Bristol to join the WordPress Meetup when I get the chance. It’s a thriving community with great insights being shared and it’s always great to connect with others, learn from them and share my own knowledge too.

What’s your job

I’m the Managing Director at Illustrate Digital. I spend most of my time consulting and strategising on marketing, user experience and the technical in-and-outs of using the WordPress CMS in an enterprise context.

How have you been long using WP

I’ve been using WordPress since my last job for a charity in the North of England back in (roughly) 2009, when we moved all of our website management in-house. We previously used Drupal and a couple of agencies to manage the sites, but it wasn’t very flexible or user-friendly, so we decided to take matters into our own hands and developed a new site internally using WordPress. It was a steep learning curve for us, but WordPress was 100% the right choice and I’ve been using it as the foundation of my own business ever since.

Any sites you’ve built that you’d like to share?

Of course! Although I can’t say they’re built by me personally, as an agency we’ve built a lot of sites in WordPress. Here are a few I’m particularly proud of:

  • Ladybird Education – an international resource for schools to teach English using popular children’s books, teachers can unlock books they own to get access to plenty of additional resources
  • Hodgebank – we recently finished overhauling this Intermediaries site for Hodge Bank, it uses Gutenberg and the REST API to power interaction with the banking systems
  • Free Supertips – we were one of only 3 brands authorised to integrate with bet365 to pull through live odds into this affiliate marketing site with millions of monthly users, which has very feature rich custom post types

How long have you been attending the Bristol meetup

The first event I came to must have been around 3 years ago, I’ve spoken at the Meetup too!

Why do you attend

One of our team at the time called Justin, a very enthusiastic American chap, had visited one month and came to work the next day telling us all how amazing the Meetup in Bristol was. With such a glowing recommendation we just had to attend, so a few of us went down to the next Meetup and the rest is history!

Favourite WordPress feature / plugin

Custom Post Types have got to be my favourite feature. The ability to create well organised, well structured content that can be updated on a regular basis, and appear in the relevant parts of a website automatically, it’s a marketer’s dream. Then giving users the power to filter through categories and read the types of content that are relevant to them, it’s ideal. We’ve used it for everything from team member pages to careers vacancies, vehicle listings to live football tips, and everything in between.

Anything you’d like to see in WordPress?

Slightly controversial question. 😉 But I’m going to give a cop-out answer! One of the things I love about WordPress is how light and versatile it is. The more things that get added into WordPress core the more bloated and less versatile it will become. Whilst I 100% agree with progressing the platform, getting new features or releasing major upgrades (like Gutenberg), I wouldn’t want to see it become too overweight with features.

Tell us something that people might not know about you

I live right by the sea, near to Barry Island and I love to go out paddleboarding whenever I get the chance. As I’m writing this it’s really sunny and calm outside, perfect paddleboarding weather, but I’ve not been out on the board since late 2019 because of winter (it’s way too cold in the sea) and the Coronavirus lockdown. I’m hoping very soon I’ll be able to go out!

Member spotlight on Hannah Smith

Hannah SmithWhat’s your name

Hannah Smith

What do you do with WordPress

I mainly build and support sites for SMEs (small to medium enterprises). Over the past three years I have also instructed courses in Bristol aimed at developers wanting to learn WordPress, mainly through developme.training.

What’s your involvement with Bristol WordPress People?

I’ve been regularly attending the group since 2015 and between 2016 and 2019 was group secretary. I’ve now stepped down as a group organiser but am still very much a part of the community.

I first starting attending because I needed to learn about WordPress. I have always found the meet-ups great for sign posting me to features or tools that I hadn’t heard of before. I soon found myself helping to organise the group and became enthralled with the Bristol WordPress community but also the community wider afield. I now consider many of the people I have met through the group as good friends. My WordPress skills are more advanced now so I continue to attend to pay back some of the knowledge I took from the group, and to socialise and network.

What’s your job

A freelance WordPress developer.

How have you been long using WP

I did my first freelance project using WordPress in December 2014.

Any sites you’ve built that you’d like to share?

My favourite site is pieminister.co.uk, for a few reasons. They make fabulous pies, which I have always loved ever since they first started business in 2003. They’re also a great Bristol brand who have stayed to true to their roots and are absolutely lovely people to work with. They came to me with a site and online shop that hadn’t been updated in nearly two years. It’s been great working steadily with them over time to get the site’s performance better (we’ve still got a lot to do!), makeover the site so it’s on brand and continue to support the marketing team with the things they want the site to do.

Another one of my favourites is itic.co, another Bristol based firm. I love this website because I think the design is very clean and simple. It also draws the majority of the site’s content in form a third party system using APIs which was a lot of fun to build.

And one more… repair.eu. Many of you will know that the environment and sustainability are things very close to my heart. I was delighted when I got to build this site as I think the organisation is doing truly wonderful work. They raise awareness about how so many of our electronics end up in landfill because they are not designed to be repaired and are pushing for legislation changes around Europe to stop this. The site was a quick and cheap build and was one of the first builds I did using 100% Gutenberg. I also support a few sites for one of their main partners therestartproject.org who are also absolutely brilliant. I wish I had the time to arrange a repair party here in Bristol because I know we’d love it here.

Favourite WordPress feature / plugin

It’s got to be Advanced Custom Fields. I think Elliot Condon deserves a medal for that plugin, especially as the plugin allows you to create Gutenberg blocks so easily. I use it on every single site I build and support – it’s an absolute must!

Anything you’d like to see in WordPress?

More conversation and discussion about the impact (both good and bad) of WordPress on the environment and how WordPress could play a role in tackling climate change. I think there are some people in the WordPress community who realise that the internet and poorly performing sites do have an environmental impact, but I would like to see more consideration paid to it in all aspects of the open source project.

Tell us something that people might not know about you

The main reason I am a freelancer is so I can take time out to travel and enjoy the great outdoors. My main passion is snowboarding and for the last three winters I have been away in the Italian Dolomites, nestled deep in mountainous valleys getting my groove on with nature.

 

Member spotlight on Piers Tincknell

What’s your name

Piers Tincknell of Atomic SmashPiers Tincknell

What do you do with WordPress

My studio Atomic Smash are an Enterprise WordPress / WooCommerce studio based in Bristol. We do everything with WordPress, we love it. Our projects involve strategy, UX, Design & Development and we focus on WordPress as the technology platform so all of our project thinking stems around that. What does WordPress do out of the box, what extra functions do we need to build / extend, how can we deliver the best possible WordPress site for this client within their time / budget available. I focus on the strategy / planning side of things, having used WordPress on many projects and supporting a number of large WordPress sites I am able to think practically about how WordPress can provide the best solution to solve the clients problems.

What’s your involvement with Bristol WordPress People?

I have been involved for just over a year now, I am part of the organising group alongside the other super awesome team members. After being a long standing attendee I jumped at the opportunity to be more involved and I am keen to help make the WP groud the best it can be.  My favourite bit is meeting new people at the events and understanding the different ways people use WordPress, it’s fascinating.

Atomic Smash has been a sponsor of Bristol WordPress People for over a year now. I take my turn at presenting and project managing the events. In the near future I will be stepping up to assist with the finances side of things.

What’s your job

Managing Director at Atomic Smash, my role is to make sure clients are happy, staff are happy and that we have a full pipeline of work to ensure everyone is nice and busy but not too busy. It’s quite a fine balancing act but I am lucky to have an awesome team who help make everything possible!

How have you been long using WP

We have been using WP for 9 years now, it’s come such a long way it’s been amazing to see how it’s grown and how the community are still driving to make it better and better. We made a conscious decision to focus on WordPress because we knew it was going to be popular, it had all the key ingredients for success. Good UX / UI back then compared to many other CMS solutions, good customer base as it was already being adopted quickly back in 2011 and also it had a really strong developer community behind it.

Any sites you’ve built that you’d like to share?

Yes! We have been super lucky to work on some lovely WordPress sites. I am a big fan of this one,

Positive news

For many reasons,

  1. Their content is really really interesting and especially in these times everyone needs some good news in their lives.
  2. The project was very complicated with a large membership migration piece, we have also heavily customised WooCommerce to work with Positive News’ magazine distribution house. The project took around 8 months from start to finish.

Another site I love that we have built is

Bristol Pride

We did this site partly as a donation to the festival and it’s one of my favourite sites. I love the design and some of the interactive elements really make it stand out.

How long have you been attending the Bristol meetup

More than 3 years now!

Why do you attend

To try and meet as many new people as possible. If you see me at the next one (whenever that is) please do say hello!

Favourite WordPress feature / plugin

  • My favourite feature at the moment is the WooCommerce subscriptions plug-in because it’s been having such a big impact for a number of our clients allowing them to take recurring revenue easily.
  • We are also loving Gutenberg now and are very excited about how we can make our clients site editing experiences the best they can be going forwards!
  • My favourite other favourite WordPress plug-in is Metorik, it really is a must have for anyone running WooCommerce as it makes the customer information much easier to digest and run reports on. It also allows you to experiment with automation / upselling and cross selling of products online. All very cool stuff!

Anything you’d like to see in WordPress?

I am really excited to see how we can bring more machine learning into WordPress, using the power of AI / ML to make our sites as smart as possible. There are so many opportunities from automatic content suggesting, auto image captions for accessibility as well as the chance to build a more personalised experience for everyone.

Tell us something that people might not know about you

I once drove from Goodwood Racetrack to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia for charity in a Suzuki Carry 1.3, it took us 4 weeks and we covered 9,000 km

 

Member Spotlight on Rob George

About Rob George

Rob GeorgeHi I’m Rob George and I’m a freelance WordPress and PHP developer 👋 I’ve been building web sites and other web based solutions for about 20 years now, I tend to focus on sites that need complex bespoke elements that can’t be delivered using off the shelf plugins. I also build other types of management systems using the PHP framework Laravel.

I started using WordPress probably about 10 years ago having made the jump from a little known CMS called CMS Made Simple which I thought was amazing at the time, it’s still around today but let’s just say I don’t think it’s quite so amazing anymore. It does have a built in front-end template engine though, hint hint WordPress 😉

I’ve been attending the Bristol meetup since Jan 2015 which was the 4th ever one. I’ve linked to it below and you might recognise one or two familiar faces. It’s fair to say that the meetup was a tad smaller in those days. I now assist in organising the event each month so you may recognise me.

Setting up WordPress and general Q&A

Wednesday, Jan 21, 2015, 7:00 PM

Deckchair
54-56 Park St, BS1 5JN Bristol, GB

17 WordPeople Went

** UPDATED **DateWednesday 21st January at 7:00 PM – confirmedTopicSticking with setting up WordPress and covering some best practices and tips and tricks etc…Still looking for anyone to do a talk, any level welcome.VenueThe lovely people at Deckchair have offered the use of their office – its on Park Street and pretty easy to find.Or…

Check out this Meetup →

Covid-19

Most of you probably don’t know that I was on The One Show recently… Well kind of.
They briefly showed a photo of me but the piece was really about my lovely wife Amanda who has set up a ‘Scrub Hub’ in Bristol. This is volunteer organisation to make scrubs for the medical profession as they are in short supply. She is currently juggling around 150 volunteers and has orders for nearly 1000 sets of scrubs. She doesn’t need any more volunteers but has run out of money to buy any more material. If you’d like to help then please see this link to gofundme.