In our quest to connect with top influencers in WordPress and Web Development, we found a kindred soul in Dustin Hartzler: a self-confessed WordPress fanboy, a WooCommerce customer support team member, and an entrepreneur who follows a strict schedule and values life outside work. He started using WordPress in 2009 and has taken big steps since then to immerse himself in his craft and contribute to the WordPress community.
Aside from being a Happiness Engineer at Automattic, Dustin is the founder of yourwebsiteengineer.com, a site devoted to WordPress with podcasts published weekly, and the owner of Hartzler Digital Media. He took a moment off of his busy schedule to answer our questions. In this interview, get to know Dustin as a keen web developer and a successful entrepreneur. What works for him may work for you too.
1. You described yourself as a WordPress fanboy. What do you think sets WordPress apart from other content management systems?
The community. There are so many passionate WordPress folks and they are all willing to share their knowledge with others.
2. What does it mean to be a Happiness Engineer at Automattic? What’s the most rewarding aspect of your role? What is the most challenging?
A Happiness Engineer is a member of the customer support team that helps people every day on how to use WordPress. I’m a Happiness Engineer on the WooCommerce team, so I get to debug and troubleshoot customer’s websites all day. It’s super challenging because every site is different; on a different host, with different plugins, with different themes. It’s most rewarding when I find bugs in our code, submit a request and have the issue fixed for all of our users.
3. In your opinion, what separates good developers from great developers?
Great developers continue to work on their craft. They also don’t add every feature that is requested. They have a vision of what the code should do and program until that vision has been met.
4. How would you describe your workflow when working on a project? How do you approach a challenging project? Do you have any rituals that you follow?
It depends on the project. I like to map things out and break them into little steps. It’s hard for me because I have way more ideas than time to implement.
5. What inspired you to start YourWebsiteEngineer.com?
After listening to podcasts for three years, I knew I wanted create my own show. I was also starting my own website development company at the time and thought it would be a great way for me to learn WordPress better; by teaching others. I’m still going strong with my podcast, releasing a new episode every week since 2010.
6. What are your favorite development tools and why?
7. Why did you choose to have a career in web development? And why focus on WordPress?
I love the challenge of creating something out of nothing. There’s never a dull day when I’m constantly learning new things everyday. I’m focusing on WordPress, because I decided back in 2010 that I wanted to master one platform and I picked WordPress back then.
8. How do you manage your time between work and being a family man?
I balance having a full-time job and my family by having a very scheduled life. I add everything to my calendar. This helps me not over-schedule my day. I also wrap up all work by 4:30pm. This gives me time to spend with my family and I can enjoy non-computer things in the evening.
9. What’s in store for Dustin Hartzler? Do you have any big projects going on for you? What’s keeping you busy on your spare time?
When I look at OmniFocus, I’ve got tons of things that I want to do, but don’t have the time (like most entrepreneurs). One thing I want to release this year is a guide at how to manage your time / plan your day; written for developers and others who don’t have to report in for a job every day.
10. If you had one advice to give to a budding developer, what would it be?
Always keep learning. Find something that you love and continue to get better at it. If you like building themes for clients, pursue that. If you’d rather write code, write code.