Speaker Spotlight: Anthony Somerset

Anthony Somerset GravitarAnthony works as an Infrastruture Engineer at W3 EDGE. Day-to-day that could involve absolutely anything from fighting fires with servers, building/provisioning new infrastructure/servers for clients, all the way to general consulting on performance best practices for WP with a focus on the hardware side or even some direct work on the W3 Total Cache plugin itself. Anthony is married. He and his wife Marie are expecting their first child in February, so the feeling of late night rushes to deadlines will be constantly upon him soon 24/7!

Session: Site Speed = Success! – Optimising WordPress from the Server up
Time: 13:35 – 13:50

Personal Website Work Website

Tell us more about how you became interested in WordPress, what about it drives your continued interest?

I first learned about WordPress during my A-Level year in 2005/2006 – i got totally frustrated that the project i was doing required me to create HTML pages from scratch for each page so i looked at some level of basic CMS and wordpress was the first hit in google at the time. In terms of continued Interest, the answer is simple to me, WordPress is so widely used in a variety of sectors that no 1 job is ever the same as the previous and you get to work with such a diverse range of people through that – its never boring.

Why did you decide to speak at WordCamp Cape Town?

I’ve been to these kinds of conferences before and always thought it would be cool to talk at one. I always thought you had to be an Uber Guru on a subject to talk on it but I was given a nudge to actually step out of my comfort zone by the team and so i took the chance and decided to talk on something i enjoy doing and am passionate about seeing done well. I’ts nice to be able to share my experience with others so they are enabled to do things even better.

What is your talk going to be about?

My Talk is about improving wordpress performance from the server level upwards, that means how to gain performance in MySQL and PHP and then how to get the most out of W3 Total Cache.

What is the one thing you want people to walk away with from your talk?

The Default settings are never optimal in pretty much any piece of software/plugin, you always need to make sure things are tuned for your environment/setup.

What is your favourite WordPress theme and/or plugin, and why?

I have to cheat on this one and say W3 Total Cache, but that’s since before I even started working with Frederick, its been my favourite and its a plain and simple reason why, No other single WP Performance plugin comprehensively covers all the aspects of WP performance like W3TC does.

Can you share one WP tip with us?

Lock as much of it down as you can – use http authorisation as an extra layer of security on wp-admin if you can and keep things as up to date as possible, knowing if your theme uses timthump.php in particular – WP is so popular now its a large and easy target for hackers so don’t give them any easy routes in.

What are you most looking forward to at WordCamp Cape Town 2012?

Everything really. It will be my first conference outside of the UK! So it will be great to see how things are done differently in the southern hemisphere, and to meet new people of course.

Do you make money from wordpress?

My living revolves around working with WordPress so yes, just about 🙂

Is WordPress an effective platform for getting your message across?

I would say so yes, it gets better all the time and it keeps becoming more effective at what it does so that i can spend less time worrying about code and focus more on content – and 95% of the time you can find a plugin for what you need to do, or a tutorial of how to do something. My day to day work is less about me getting my message accross, but about enabling people to get their message across – its working well so far.

Why did you get into the website performance scene?

I got incredibly frustrated at going onto websites and finding them exceptionally slow or unoptimized, its amazing how many sites only need 1 or 2 things that only take a few mins to configure that would make a huge difference to the user experience. The age of high speed internet has meant we can do great things with rich media and javascript etc. on websites, but it still doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be optimising sites to load fast like people were forced to do in the days of 56k dial up modems. And really, its just been one of those things – It makes sense to make a site go fast.

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