An interview with Aleksandar Predic, A Senior Web Developer at Better Collective

Aleksandar Predic Interview

Aleksandar Predic, a senior web developer is with us today for an exclusive interview so without further ado, let’s hear it from the man himself.

WPJuicer: Thank you Aleksandar for taking the time out and joining us today. Let’s start by listening to your story. Please tell our readers about yourself and what do you currently do?

Aleksandar: I work as a Senior web developer at Better Collective.

I love WordPress 🙂 This is my daily task for almost 6 years and I still enjoy new challenges of implementing various solutions using WP. During this time my interest was transformed into a passion that always drives me to learn more and more about WP.

I’m a co-founder of Nis WordPress community #WPNis, co-lead organizer of WordCamp Nis #WCNis, a member of the #WPSerbia community and member of WCEU org team.

When I have spare time I enjoy the moments with my family and my dachshund.

WPJuicer: How did you enter the world of programming and web development? Who inspired you and what resources did you refer to for learning and development?

Aleksandar: It was not intentional. I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to choose. Actually, at first, I started maintaining one company website which was created using ASP.NET WebForms. I must admit I didn’t love my work back then for those couple of months while working in this company.

Then, I started working at the Shindiri Studio company as a PHP developer. I had no experience with WP, but they were very patient with me, which I consider to be my breaking point to fall in love with WP and web development in general. The company is an elite author on the Themeforest and they were focused on creating premium themes and plugins for this market with some client’s projects also in the scope. That requires you to learn deeply about what you do. You have to optimize your code to fit any user requirement and you have to think out of the box while developing your items. For the years I spent in that company I learned WordPress inside-out. So, big thanks to my ninjas from Shindiri Studio 🙂

About the learning resources. I learned a lot from Jeffrey Way while he was working at Tuts+ tutorials those days, I still love his tutorials on Laracast. I read the articles from Pippin Williamson (Pippin’s Plugins), Carl Alexander, Delicious Brains, many others, and of course the WordPress codex.

WPJuicer: Could you please describe your typical workday? Are there any projects that you are proud of? Can you share some of the most complicated or most interesting projects that you have worked on recently?

Aleksandar: My typical workday begins by taking half an hour to read or learn something new. Then I plug myself to work mode and start working on the daily tasks. At the end of the workday, if I still have some energy, I try to take another half an hour to learn again. Then I finish my daily chores and I switch to the father mode for some family time. I would say, pretty standard workflow.

Of Course, there are days where I have some other tasks related to the volunteering roles I also do. I’m one of the organizers of the WP meetups in my town and three years back a WordCamp Europe org team member, so after my workday, or within, I have tasks related to those activities and less time for others.

I’m most proud of the Contributor Orientation Tool my WCEU community team created for the WordCamp 2019. That is an online tool to help new contributors take part in building the WordPress platform. The most common problem people face when they want to join the WordPress community is that they don’t know which team to join. By answering a series of questions we give them the recommendations about the different teams they can join to contribute. You can read more here. We also improved it a little bit for the WCEU 2020.

Well, the most complicated project I was involved in so far is the custom reservation system done in Laravel which is then integrated into an existing WP site. Here we used a lot of Laravel advanced functionalities to make this system work fast and be very responsive to its users. It had so many relations and custom non-standard requests from the client that it took us half a year to finish only the Laravel part. But that is why it was so interesting and challenging as if it was a regular project I wouldn’t enjoy working on it so much 🙂

The most interesting project I had up to now is for a private client project. I created a system where you just upload a couple of photos to the WordPress / WooCommerce website and then you can immediately start selling them via the website. The photos are converted to digital products within the WooCommerce store and are ready to be purchased. In that process we did the following: Resize the image for the preview in various sizes, optimize the image for the website, add the watermark, read the image metadata where all the data was stored (name, size, categories, tags, models names….), create the digital products in the WooCommerce and store the original file for the download after the purchase. In short terms, the client, a professional photographer, had a very big collection of stock photos ready for the big sites where he is selling them and he wanted to use the same photos for the personal stock photos website, but to have a single click set up for uploading multiple photos at once.

WPJuicer: WordPress has the solution for almost all kinds of websites like eCommerce, blogs, polls, etc. Big industries are using WordPress as a solution for their websites. This becomes an attraction for the new web developers to choose WordPress. What are your suggestions and advice for newbies?

Aleksandar: The best advice I can think of is to take all the time they need to read the WordPress codex. I know that this sounds silly, but you will be surprised how many developers do the very basic things wrong, which they wouldn’t if they just read the codex first. 

If they have some advanced PHP knowledge, I would also recommend to go through the WordPress core code and see what is happening behind the scenes when you load the website page.

WPJuicer: There are thousands of plugins available at repository. Which plugins are must for you to install with every WordPress installation?

Aleksandar: None. I have been involved in the projects where we had no plugins installed as the client simply had no need for it. So, I would say to use the plugins that you really need for your project. Don’t use the whole plugin if you need only 10% of its functionalities.

Of course, it also depends on the type of website. If you have a blog, then you would probably want to use these plugins: Yoast SEO, Site Kit, and some others that fit your needs.

The most important thing is to have a professional that knows WP inside-out and who will recommend the plugins to use and which functionalities to develop custom for your website.  So this way we can avoid having a user planning the website by the available plugins.

WPJuicer:  WordPress has the best community that expands with each passing day. Where do you see this huge community in the next five years?

Aleksandar: It can only be at a higher level than it is now. WordPress has an amazing community and that is yet another reason I love WordPress so much. It is a very friendly and welcoming community where you can join even if you are not a developer. There is a role for anybody that wants to help and they are all more than welcome. Actually, this is the message we tried to spread at the last couple of WCEU conferences where I was a part of the community team. If you join you will be there forever 🙂

Serbia, my country, has a very big community, and we have the meetups in many towns for such a small country. We had WordCamp in two towns and all of that was accomplished by the local WP community. As a member of the #WPSerbia community and #WPNis community, I can say that we just fired the initial flame, and then the local community showed it’s love for WordPress. 

WPJuicer: Everyone follows industry influencers. Name the WordPress influencers who have inspired you.

Aleksandar: Jeffrey Way, Pippin Williamson (Pippin’s Plugins), Carl Alexander, Delicious Brains articles… I think I mentioned them already in the previous questions.

I enjoyed tutorials from Jeffrey Way while he was the part of Tuts+ and I still enjoy them on the Laracast where the main subject is the Laravel framework.

WPJuicer: How do you think to organize a WordCamp in individual cities have helped the local WordPress communities and WordPress enthusiasts to grow?

Aleksandar: It has an enormous impact on the local community. I was a co-lead organizer of WordCamp Nis, in the city I live in, and I saw the effect it had on our local community. A lot of contacts were made at the conference that helped people to grow as professionals. Also for a lot of individuals, the WordCamp was the trigger point to dive into the WP world and start their careers there. So the local meetups are important but the local WordCamp has far more impact on the people.

WPJuicer: You were a part of the contributing team in the WordCamp Europe 2020. What’s it like organizing a WordCamp?

Aleksandar: I was a member of the contributing team in the WordCamp Europe 2020 org team. The team before the online event, as there were some reorganizations after we had to cancel the regular camp because of the Coronavirus situation in the world.

The one thing for sure is that it is a very time-consuming role. And if you are a global team lead or team lead, you can forget about your life while the organization of the camp is active. That is why until 2019. and the Berlin camp, there was only one global team lead and now from 2020. more people are running this role.

But in the end, you have no regrets and you are sad it is over. And then you apply for the next year’s org team again 🙂

WPJuicer: What’s that one thing that’s really difficult to manage/handle while organizing a WordCamp?

Aleksandar: The people. There are so many people in the organization team and they are all volunteers. It is very energy-consuming to manage them all, but a very grateful task. That is my opinion.

WPJuicer: What do you look for in a managed WordPress host?

Aleksandar: Reliability, performance, and great customer support. Those are the most important things for me. That was obvious, wasn’t it 🙂

WPJuicer: Who should we interview next, and why?

Aleksandar: Milan Ivanovic He is so heavily involved in the WordPress community and has devoted a large part of his life to it. In a joke we say: He breathes WordPress 🙂 He was the 2019 #WCEU Global Lead Organizer and the man responsible for bringing the #WCEU into Serbia in 2018. And besides all, he is a good person, which is the most important thing.

WPJuicer: Besides work, everyone wants to feel a bit relaxed from time to time. What do you do during your free time? (Can we have a pics)

Aleksandar: The local WP community tasks consume a lot of my free time. I am an occasional speaker at the meetups or WordCamps.

Besides that, I try to spend time with my family as much as I can and this is the priority for me. 

I absolutely love what I do, so in my free time, I also do some personal projects where I try other technologies that I don’t use in my workplace.

I am the proud father and also a proud father of a dachshund. And when I say spending the time with my family, he is included 🙂 So here are some pictures of him in some weird positions 🙂 

dachshund one
dachshund two
dachshund three

WPJuicer: Any other thoughts or things you wish to mention?

Aleksandar: I feel that we need to contribute back to the awesome WP community as much as possible. That made me a better person and a better developer.

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