Meet John Hawkins, WordPress Guru and User Advocate

I first met John Hawkins about a hundred years ago at the first WordCamp I ever attended. WordCamp is a conference that focuses on all aspects of WordPress, and there’s always a local event to join.

So this particular WordCamp, all those years ago, also happened to be the first Word Camp in Las Vegas, and also happened to be Matt Mullenweg’s birthday, and was the first road trip I took from San Francisco with my then-new-friend, Gerard Ramos. So many firsts. What I discovered all those years ago, and re-discovered during my five years or so living in Las Vegas, is that John is one of the most helpful people I have ever met.

Earlier this year, we needed to find a software engineer who could really own all the internal and external projects at Revelry that utilize the WordPress core. When I reached out to John, I was simply hoping that he would have one or two hundred intros he could make from his vast network of WordCamp and WordPress Meetup members. My mood sank when he replied, “I really only have one person you should consider…” But, then, he redeemed my spirits with a simple, “me.”

I’m honored to have John on the team.

So how did we get John to join us at Revelry?

“There were a couple of reasons,” John says. “But if I had to pick one, it would be the ‘Call Your Shot’ mentality.”

“If you see a way to make a process better, tell folks you’re going to work on it and then do it. There’s no shame in falling short and the knowledge gained as part of the process has value that’s hard to come by. In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve seen teammates build some amazing, cool, and useful tools that have improved processes. It’s very inspiring.”

I asked John a few more questions to help you get to know him. Here’s what he said.

Why do you do what you do?

I bought my first computer almost 40 years ago. One thing that hasn’t changed in all that time is that feeling I get when watching something I typed into a box make something happen on screen. In the beginning it was as simple as:

10 PRINT “Hello World”
20 GOTO 10

These days, I get that same feeling by taking a business owner’s idea for a site or new business venture and turning that into a functioning website. And, if there are elements that can be automated in order to save them time and money, all the better.

What is your programming language of choice?

As a long time WordPress developer, PHP has been my primary language. I don’t see that changing any time soon, but JavaScript is definitely creeping up there.

Which of your daily work tools is your favorite?

Hands down, the answer is Alfred.

Right out of the box, Alfred is a super handy tool for launching apps, launching a website in a browser, doing math, starting a Google search, and a lot more.

But, the real power is when you get into using workflows. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of workflows out there that integrate with tons of other tools. I use custom workflows daily to search documentation in Dash, generate paragraphs of lorem ipsum text, do WHOIS lookups, and randomly generate strong passwords.

What is your favorite productivity hack?

I’m a real creature of habit. Even though I work remotely and could work from wherever I want, I find that I’m most productive when I’m sitting at my desk in my home office.

I have tried coffee shops, co-working spaces, the couch, a recliner, under a tree in the backyard, and a bunch of other places. Nothing comes close to sitting at my desk. So I guess, my desk is really my big productivity hack.

But the way more fun answer is music.

If I’m doing work that doesn’t require intense concentration, I can put on a Spotify playlist and let it pick random songs from random artists. But, when it’s time for deep focus, I will play the same album on repeat for hours on end. My go-to album being Audio by Blue Man Group.

Who inspires you? Why?

One of my biggest inspirations is my grandpa, Harry. Growing up, I worked at his fish market for about a decade starting at the time I was 16 years old. I would love to tell you that I realized and appreciated his work ethic and all the lessons I learned while I worked there, but I didn’t.

It would take me several years and owning couple small businesses to really understand everything he taught me while I wasn’t even paying attention.

I can remember countless times where he and I would butt heads over decisions he would make. As a kid, I looked at each of the decisions he was making as individual pieces and didn’t understand how they all fit together as a much larger plan. While running my own businesses years later, I would be faced with some of the same decisions. A huge smile would cross my face each time as I realized again how much he taught me.

What could you talk about for days if you climbed up on your soapbox?

If I had to pick just one, it’s something that I learned early on in my development career and it holds true today.

You need to understand who you are building a project for.

I attend a fair amount of WordPress conferences. Something I hear presenters say time and time again is how easy WordPress is to use.

Don’t get me wrong, I agree that WordPress is easy to use. But, I have been using it for 15+ years. It better be easy for me to use by this point, right?

But, have you ever watched a brand new WordPress user log in to the WordPress dashboard for the first time? With literally hundreds of options and settings to choose from, it can be extremely overwhelming.

Before I start a project, I try to get an understanding of the technical ability of the people who will be using the site. Based on that information, it can require additional development time to make sure each element you’re building meets their technical level. It may also require a larger budget for documentation and training.

Not taking this into account at the start can lead to unhappy clients, and that’s never fun.

We’re always looking to add great folks to the Revelry team.

Check out our Careers page.

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