Search Engine Journal is made up of a team that works every day with our authors to make their posts the best they can be. We span five time zones and most of our work is behind the scenes. I’d like to shine some light on this backstage process via this interview series with my team members. Up next is Slobodan Manic. Summed up: if this was Oz, he’d be the Wizard.
You’re Alpha Brand Media (ABM) and SEJ’s Chief Technology Officer. How did you begin your career with tech and design?
I was interested in tech for as long as I can remember, took my first programming lessons way back in the 80’s. My involvement with WordPress started much later, when I was setting up my personal blog seven years ago. Not long after that I started poking the box and figuring out how to make changes on my own and after becoming comfortable with that I figured why not use this new skill to make some money.
How did you start working with ABM and SEJ?
Believe it or not, working for ABM was my first WordPress job. Of course, I started out as junior developer, used ABM’s huge collection of sites to learn and get better, but sometimes patience and sticking around are the best thing you can do.
You led SEJ’s new site redesign this year. What do you like best about the new design?
The SEJ redesign was a huge project that included every person on our team. In addition to new look, there’s also the new voice, made possible by the editorial team, and I think that is even more impressive. Everyone pitching in and doing their part was the best thing about the entire process, but if we’re only talking about the looks — the site is just so much brighter and easier to read now.
WordPress has really upped their responsive and design game this year, IMHO. What do you like best about the latest WP updates that have happened recently?
In 2014, unless you have a very good reason for your site not to be responsive, it really should be. I guess WordPress theme shops were as “guilty” for making responsive a buzz word as anyone (just Google responsive WordPress theme), but just like any other buzz word, it was overused.
The old websites that are still around work fine on all devices we have today (feel free to check the world’s first website on your phone), then we messed things up.
WordPress has been getting a lot of under the hood changes in recent releases. First there were the automatic updates in 3.7 that just work, period, then there were smoother admin in 3.8, better media editing experience in 3.9, and soon we’ll have a whole bunch of subtle updates in 4.0, like better internationalization, media library browsing, and plugin installation.
What are your favorite WordPress resources?
There are a lot of great blogs you can learn from, but the only thing you really need to stick to is WordPress Codex. It covers all things WordPress, from bug reporting to writing a plugin and it definitely is not just for developers. Another one I use more and more is WordPress itself, since it’s open-source, you can read and learn from its files, most of them are full of useful comments that even non-developers can understand.
You also spearheaded our newest endeavor, LinkPatrol, the first WP plugin by SEJ. Why do you think LinkPatrol serves a vital need in our industry?
We developed LinkPatrol so we could use it here at SEJ, but it also fits a need for anyone who uses WordPress to produce content on regular basis. Google knows what you did last summer, and every summer before that, so it’s vital to keep track of exactly who you’re linking to.
You could spend hours, if not days going through every single post and page on your website, removing or nofollowing links manually, or you could use LinkPatrol. So deciding if you want to use it really comes down to how much you value your own time.
What do you like best about working with the SEJ team, which is 100% telecommute?
It’s an amazing experience. We have close to a dozen people on and it’s such a diverse team, in every way possible. We each have our own areas, but outside of that, there is always someone who is better than you at something. So when I want to learn something about social media, content marketing, or design principles, I just need to ask.
Outside of SEJ and ABM, what do you like to do for fun?
I try to spend my time doing only things I really enjoy and then go all in. So, you can find me in the gym lifting weights almost every morning and then I’ll stay up every night watching basketball when NBA playoffs start. Nothing like healthy and unhealthy habits offsetting each other.
Bonus Question: What was your favorite childhood website or video game?I’m afraid I’m too old for childhood websites. But when I got online for the first time, using a dialup connection, of course, reading game recaps at NBA.com became part of my morning routine right away.
Video games? If I had to pick one, I guess One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird would be it. I still remember shattering the backboard for the first time and screaming “I broke the glass, I broke the glass”, followed by my mother rushing into the room, relieved it wasn’t real glass that I broke!