My WordPress Origin Story

This year, WordPress turns 20. To celebrate, the folks in the Marketing Team are running a 20 Days to Celebrate 20 Years of WordPress, From Blogs to Blocks campaign. For day 1, one of the prompts is:

What is your WordPress origin story?

Hello, world!

My journey to WordPress was tied to my journey of learning web development. At 23, after working in various retail positions for 5 years, I studied for a programming diploma at a local college and learned Visual Basic, Delphi, and Java. After I finished my diploma, my first programming job was using Visual FoxPro, and during my time at that company, I was introduced to PHP and MySQL. This led me to my first attempt at striking out on my own as a freelance web developer, and my attempts at an online web presence.

In 2006 I registered 2 domains. was to be used as my personal site, and would be my business site, promoting my PHP development services. (I still own both domains, but today I mostly use them for staging site purposes, having dropped the use of the psykro online nickname, which now only exists as my WordPress profile name.)

Apparently, I had already tried blogging three different times by September 2008, which is when I first installed WordPress on the domain I used as my personal site.

I don’t really know why, but at the time most of the local web development folks I was in contact with did not speak highly of WordPress for building sites, so I had gone the route of building my own CMS to power I only tried WordPress on because someone else suggested it, and I wanted to try it out.

First serious attempt at blogging…using Drupal!

This attempt to blog didn’t last long, but in around 2008, I registered a new domain, This was the start of my first serious attempts at blogging, and the sharing of knowledge around web development. For whatever reason, I chose Drupal to power that blog.

I didn’t use Drupal for long, as I found it cumbersome to use, and I soon moved the blog over to WordPress. I even shared the migration script I’d used to migrate from Drupal to WordPress. If only I’d known to turn that into a plugin!

For a number of years, I randomly blogged about PHP and other assorted tech-related things on that primary WordPress blog. I was not a prolific blogger and my posts were mostly just a way to document things I might need to come back to later. During this time I’d gotten married, left my full-time career as a software developer to work with my wife in her family business, and worked in either a freelance or part-time basis with a handful of local South African start-ups and smaller agencies. Mostly I did back-end development work using frameworks like CakePHP, CodeIgniter, Yii, and a few bespoke solutions.

This all changed in 2015.

WordCamp Cape Town 2015

At the start of 2015 the company I was contracting with at the time needed a WordPress developer to assist their marketing team with a few smaller projects they were built using WordPress and Divi. As the only person in the company at that time who knew anything about WordPress, I became the go-to guy for WordPress questions. Mostly it was just learning how Divi did things, and I spent a lot of my time Googling to find answers.

Seeing as the company was doing more WordPress work, I suggested to the CEO that the folks using WordPress should attend the upcoming WordCamp. I’d known about WordCamp from the previous year but never attended. The CEO agreed, and I attended along with the marketing manager and one of the front-end developers.

As clichéd as it may sound, that WordCamp changed my life. I met so many folks who I still consider friends today, Hugh Lashbrooke, Jenny Wong, Drew Jaynes, and Jeffrey Pearce, to name but a few. I discovered this wonderful community of people, who were not only passionate about their open-source project, but were a friendly, helpful, and caring bunch of people. I walked away from that WordCamp and decided I would pivot my career and focus on WordPress development.

I’ve not looked back since, and it’s honestly been the best career decision I ever made. So thank you WordPress, for helping me find my path and my people!






2 responses to “My WordPress Origin Story”

  1. Leo Gopal Avatar

    Lovely Journey JBoss! And look at you now, being a fundamental part of the team and organisation focused on education around WordPress!

    Having used WP for 14 years, if I had to truly pick the year I truly became part of the WP Community, then it would also be 2015 starting at the WordCamp VIP Dinner where we met.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Jonathan Avatar

      Heh, thanks man. It’s been exciting to be part of your journey as well.

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