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Home » News » Interview with ‘Digging into WordPress’ and ‘CSS-Tricks’ Rockstar Extraordinaire Chris Coyier

Interview with ‘Digging into WordPress’ and ‘CSS-Tricks’ Rockstar Extraordinaire Chris Coyier


Chris Coyier has been rocking the design scene since a while now with his very popular CSS-Tricks design community but recently Chris made a well noticed intro to the blogging scene with Digging into WordPress which he co-authors with Jeff Starr (Perishable Press).

Only 6 months after starting Digging into WordPress, the duo released the wonderful Digging into WordPress book, 400 pages of useful information for the most popular blog platform, WordPress. Check out the Table of Contents and a sample chapter here (PDF link). Time for an interview we thought.

Chris, thanks for taking time to participate to our interview here on BloggingPro. You are rather new to the design and development scene but are already one of the rockstars. Tell us a little why you decided on web development as a career.

I think this field is just a perfect match for me. It’s art, it’s problem solving, it’s technology, it’s all the stuff I find fascinating. As I kid I was way into computers. In high school I was really into my programming classes and then later into ceramics. When I went to college I ended up going with computer science, and gave up on it right before graduating and switched to ceramics. I always gone back and forth between art and technology. Now I can do design and development, and it’s like doing both at the same time!

You have been working around a year with Jeff Starr on ‘Digging into WordPress’. Congratulations on releasing the book. 400 Pages is no small feat!
Why did you guys decide on WordPress?

Thanks! Jeff actually approached me about doing a book. I had been wanting to do one for a while, and I thought it would be a great idea to co-author one, so we could share in all the responsibilities and hopefully that would be easier than going it alone. Turns out I was right, working with Jeff has been awesome, he’s a talented guy. We chose WordPress pretty quickly after deciding we were going to do a book, just because we both had worked with extensively and both had a lot to say on the subject. Also that we both needed an outlet for WordPress writing, since neither of our blogs is directly focused on that.

Ebooks are a great and practical resource to always have with you when working on a computer/laptop, but are there any plans to release a print version and when?

Yep absolutely, as I write this we are working on getting the final version together to send to the printer. Should be out to them this week and, all goes well, available around the new year. Anybody who has bought the PDF will be getting a fair discount on the print version. I think having both is the perfect scenario. Print is awesome, but the PDF is searchable, portable, and copy-and-pastable, so if you have both you have the best of both worlds!

How difficult has it been to write about a quickly moving platform like WordPress? The book was only just released and WP2.9 is already knocking on our doors with many new features. Did the fast update cycles make writing the book more difficult and will buyers receive updates about new features?

We were trying to be very aware of that when creating the book. The book, right now, is 100% up to date with version 2.8.6. We have been watching 2.9 and are just as excited about it as everyone else. When 2.9 comes out, nothing in this book will be “outdated”. There will be some cool stuff that won’t be covered in the book. But that’s the cool part about this book! When you buy it, you are getting a lifetime subscription. We will be updating the book to add that new stuff. All previous buyers will be delivered that new version (as PDF) for no additional cost.

You are very successful with your CSS-Tricks website. ‘Digging into WP’ and your success as designer makes me wonder: ‘Are you the new Chris Pearson’? Any plans for WordPress themes in the future?

I’ve created a ton of themes, but mostly for clients and myself. I have done an number of publicly released ones as well though. We have a “Theme Playground” on Digging Into WordPress where people can browse our themes and download them for free. I’ve actually been working on a new one that I (as of now) plan to package up and offer with new versions of the book. I don’t know Chris Pearson very well I’m afraid, so I’m not sure if I’m the new anybody =). Would that be good or bad?

Good of course, there can only be one Chris Coyier. 😉

Do you think WP has cornered the market now or do other platforms such as MT and EE still stand a chance? As designer, is your life limited to WP now or do clients running other platforms still get in touch?
What do you think is the ‘best of the others’ nowadays?

I love WordPress but I’m not narrow-minded about it. I’ve actually never used Moveable Type but ExpressionEngine is awesome. One of the things I often tell people is that you should use tools that you can be instantly productive with. If you are a great EE developer, then by all means, reach for EE by default when doing a new project, no need to go through a new learning curve for every project you do. They are both pretty similar in capabilities. WordPress actually isn’t great at a few particular things. For example, I don’t think WordPress is particularly well suited for is restricted-access membership type sites. But in general, if someone is looking for a CMS to learn as their primary tool, I think WordPress is a great choice.

Last but not least, there has been quite some rap around lists recently (Smashing Magazine Killed The Community ). Some of your tutorials have been featured on tons of ‘lists’. How have lists helped CSS-Tricks and what is your take on lists?

I’ve done my part in expressing my disdain for list and roundup posts in the design blog community. In general, I think they are a soul-less attempt at trying to snag some short-lived attention on social media sites. Sites like Smashing Magazine and Vandelay Design have generally been the exception. They put a lot of time and effort into their lists and have a little voice to go along with them. Smashing Magazine lately has been vocally trying to move away from this and into more specialized content.

I don’t do lists/roundups at all on CSS-Tricks unless the context of the post makes perfect sense. For example, I was thinking about putting a post together about Christmas gifts for web designers. I’ll probably title it “Christmas Gifts for Web Designers”. I’m not going to name it “50+ Mouth Watering Gifts for Web Designers”, even though that would probably do better on StumbleUpon. If I ever name a post something like that, feel free to knee me in the nads.

Have list posts helped my site though? I’m sure it’s contributed to my overall traffic, so in that sense I guess it has helped. I don’t want to be ungrateful for that, but at the same time, if CSS-Tricks never appeared on another soul-less roundup post, I would be more than fine with that.

The point: use your voice and write original content.

Thanks for your answers and time, Chris. We look forward to many more great tips and wish you lots of success in the future.

You can stalk Chris at his personal site, keep up with his design tips at CSS-Tricks, become his fwend on the tweeter (emphasis Chris) and keep an eye on Digging into WP.

If this interview made you curious, go grab your copy of Digging into WordPress, at $27 it’s a steal (Big mean affiliate link!).