Mark Westguard is the founder of WS Form, a WordPress form plugin as well as the owner of the web agency Westguard Solutions.
Mark has worked with WordPress for 10 years but has run a web agency for the past 26 years and has worked on over 350 web projects.
You’ll find Mark at WordCamp US and EU where WS Form is often a sponsor. He is also active throughout the rest of the WordPress community.
WS Form was developed to address a need for creating complex forms in a no-code, rapid development environment.
Michele: What do you do in the WordPress ecosystem?
Mark: I am the founder and lead developer of WS Form, a no-code next generation form plugin.
Michele: How did you get involved with WordPress?
Mark: WordPress came across my desk later than most, probably because we were focused on building B2B custom solutions for our clients. It was recommended to me by a team member as a content management system we could use for our clients websites. We’ve been using WordPress now for about 10 years.
Michele: Please tell me one story of someone who has inspired you within the WordPress Community.
Mark: There are many that have inspired me, but one person who stands out, and who has become a dear friend, is Michelle Frechette. She never ceases to amaze me on all fronts. You only need to look at her WordPress.org profile to realize how much she does for the community. On top of that I am fortunate to have her as a mentor who quite literally shoves me in the right direction!
Michele: What does the Open Source Community mean to you?
Mark: The open source community encourages people to come together and work on a collective project. This teamwork is what makes the WordPress community so strong and diverse. I also like that open source makes it easier for me, a coder by heart, to be able to look under the hood when something goes wrong. I can then fix it or let someone know what I found.
Michele: Please name some of your favorite plugins.
Mark: Can I say WS Form? No? Ok … how about Atarim, Automatic.CSS, Advanced Custom Fields, Bertha.ai, Bricks, Groundhogg, Newsletter Glue, Oxygen, Pods … the list goes on!
Michele: Do you have a favorite theme or framework you like to use?
Mark: I tend to write themes from the ground up with WordPress as our clients have very specific requirements, but if I were to choose a theme to work with it would probably be Kadence or Storefront for WooCommerce sites. In terms of frameworks, if I need to work with a framework I enjoy using Automatic.CSS, Bootstrap or Foundation.
Michele: If you could change one thing in WordPress, what would it be?
Mark: I’d like plugin developers to stop taking over the admin interface with notifications begging for people to pay for their plugin or cross promote other products. It would be great if WordPress could introduce a notifications system that became mandatory for anyone submitting a plugin to the directory. I realize premium plugins need to do this to encourage sales and make people aware of their paid version, but we don’t need a banner that takes up half the page!
I also wish WordPress would encrypt page passwords in the database. Whoops, thats two things.
Michele: What is your most memorable WordPress moment?
Mark: I think my most memorable WordPress moment was when we were sponsoring a WordCamp in Fort Worth, TX. I gave a demo to someone and they ran off and got their colleague to come take a look. They said “You have 10 minutes to convince me to use your form plugin instead of x.” I gave a demo and their jaw dropped! That person was Kori Ashton and we’ve been friends ever since. It was at that moment I knew we had a great product and it gave me a great deal of encouragement to keep going.
Michele: What is one piece of advice you would give to someone just getting started with WordPress?
Mark: Don’t jump straight in. Read the advice given by some of the great tutorial websites out there such as WP101.
Also, take the plugin directory results with a pinch of salt. When you search the plugin directory it is going to rank them primarily by the number of installs, but there are some awesome plugins out there these days with lesser install counts. WP101 makes some great recommendations on which plugins to use.
Finally, get involved with the WordPress community. Get stuck in and talk to people, it truly is a very friendly place and you can learn a great deal from others.
Michele: What do you think is in store for the future of WordPress?
Mark: I’m keen to see full site editing (FSE) mature, but it is going to be a slow process and there are also a large number of other mature and upcoming site builders out there that you can use too, all of which have exciting new developments all the time.
I’m also excited to see what comes of the premium plugin directory that is planned for WordPress.com, it could open up a great new channel for plugin developers such as myself.
Michele: Just for fun, share one memory that makes you proud to be a part of the WordPress Community
Mark: I attended a Post Status event in Oklahoma. I had attended hoping to learn about ways I could grow my business but I spent most of my time talking and helping others. I found this incredibly rewarding but also an affirming experience that I was going in the right direction. I really enjoy sharing my knowledge and experience with others in the community.
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