Michael Cain Interview

Michael CainMichael Cain is is a Portland, Maine-based Theme Generator for Automattic‘s Theme Team. He spends his days creating, converting, and improving the theme experience on both WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Michael is part of Cain & Obenland in the Morning! at WordCamp Minneapolis.

What got you into working with WordPress?

Blogging and then later, employment. I had played around with WordPress a few times previously, but when my wife and I moved to Maine from North Carolina after college, I wanted to start a blog to keep our friends and family updated about our new travels. I spent time exploring both WordPress.com and Blogspot, and sadly (and now ironically) settled on the latter because of their better theme selection at the time. Then as I grew my freelance web development business in Maine, I started exploring content management solutions to offer my clients, and had a hard time justifying any other solution – WordPress was easy for clients to grasp, cheap for me to implement, incredibly flexible, and community supported and developed.

What do you like best about WordPress?

The community is hands-down the best part about WordPress – the grassroots events, the available resources, the volunteer development and support. WordPress is both a billion dollar industry and a free tool to give anyone, anywhere a voice to share, and the community is the foundation on which it all rests. It’s an immensely impressive example of the power of open source.

What WordPress project has been your favorite?

WordPress.com. Having to build anything for millions of users – from a theme with which they directly interact, to a plugin that runs behind the scenes – opens up a whole realm of possible issues. A good example of this in the theme world is that we have thousands and thousands of users, each with their own unintentional unit tests of content, switching themes multiple times a day. Helping minimize their headache makes you think critically about even the smallest of design and development decisions. On the plugin/functionality front, as essentially one massive multisite install, the smallest of mistakes can cause huge performance issues, or can result in downtime. Fortunately, we have an amazing team of talented developers that are constantly on the lookout for shoddy code like my own.

What’s your WordPress design preference?
○ Starter Theme   ○ Free Theme   ○ Premium Theme   ○ Framework   ○ Other

Starter Theme

What would we not guess about you outside of WordCamp?

I built a few wooden kayaks and a wooden fishing boat back in college with my dad and a good friend. When this internet fad ends, I’ll probably make a go of building boats professionally.

What do you like about WordCamps?

WordCamps are perfect examples of the WordPress community in real life. With our work, we spend a lot of time looking at avatars and reading posts/comments/tweets without the context of the writer’s tone and personality. WordCamps fill in these gaps. They show you that even the biggest of WordPress names are approachable developers, designers, and users, just like everyone else. They introduce you to people that are trying to solve the same issues as yourself, or people that have already solved those issues, or even people whose issues you’ve already solved in your own work. WordCamps are all about the individuals that make the WordPress community so strong.