James is Pragmatic’s first ever employee. He joined us as a freelancer at Pragmatic’s inception. Originally joining as a WordPress Developer, James is now our Head of Support where he provides excellent support for the team and our clients.
Read our Q&A interview with WordPress expert James Morrison below:
How long have you been working with WordPress?
I started working with WordPress around 2005; I came across it when I was beginning to work with HTML and CSS and I was starting to become frustrated with having to write every page out as a separate HTML page. I needed a Content Management System to help me speed up publishing so I started building my own CMS but after working on it for a few weeks, I realised it wasn’t going to work out. It was then that after a little searching for a suitable CMS, I found WordPress. Back then, WordPress was kind of clunky and basic, but it did what I needed it to do.
When did you start at Pragmatic?
I started working with Dave in February 2012 as a freelancer. In May 2012, Dave hired me as his first employee. I did basically everything back then as my official title was WordPress Developer, and I helped Dave out with Pragmatic’s growing workload. In August 2014 when our client base expanded and the team grew, I became Head of Support.
What do you enjoy most about working at Pragmatic?
The social side of working at Pragmatic is the most fun bit. I like knowing at the end of the working day we can all go out and have a laugh.
We’re lucky that the WordPress community has fantastic events that we all get to attend as a team. Everyone always has a really good time at them and they’re a great way to get to know people better.
What experiences do you have that help you as Head of Support?
I’m entirely self-taught in WordPress and web development. I don’t have a degree or any WordPress qualifications – that’s because there aren’t any available. I got into WordPress development by figuring out how websites work, which led me to figure out how WordPress works. Being curious helps. You start by figuring out how something works by reverse engineering it.
When I started working with HTML it was really basic (we’re talking over 16 years ago) so it was easy to take a webpage and work out what was controlling each bit. You could take a copy of a page, tinker with it and save it, and then end up with something completely different. The same thing happened for me with PHP functions – working with WordPress, it became inevitable. There was some information available online and you could figure out “Is this what I need?” and the more and more you deal with technology the more you can work out its quirks. Especially with something open source as it’s all available to you.
In terms of life experience, work has taught me to be pessimistic about things, assume the worst and work up from there because you don’t want to end up in a situation where you haven’t foreseen something. So you plan for the worst case scenario and work backwards from there. That is also true for coding because you assume someone is going to come along with a malicious intent where they’re going to try and tinker with the site so what you need to do it make sure everything is locked down.
What’s your must-have plugin in a WordPress website?
I would recommend installing the Query Monitor and Yoast SEO plugins – as they’re the only ones I install on every site and they’re invaluable.
If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
A meerkat because they’ve got a good work ethic, they focus on tasks, are alert, and always look out for each other.