Every few weeks, we’re sitting down with an Automattician to help you get to know the people who work behind the scenes to build new features, keep Automattic running, and make WordPress.com the best it can be. This week, we’re very pleased to introduce you to Mr. Philip Arthur Moore: Theme Broker, global nomad, and emoticon expert.
What kinds of awesome things do you do at Automattic?
I’m currently the Premium Theme Team lead at WordPress.com. The majority of my waking hours are spent feverishly obsessing over making premium themes a world-class experience for all WordPress users. This means a lot of different things: ensuring that customers are well-supported in our premium themes forum; auditing every single line of code in every premium theme; educating the WordPress theming community on proper approaches to WordPress theme development; and with my colleagues coming up with strong, robust guidelines for developing themes the WordPress.com way.
One of the more exciting parts of my job is being able to partner and work very closely with premium WordPress theme shops like Graph Paper Press, The Theme Foundry, Press75, and Organic Themes to bring some of the best WordPress.org themes onto WordPress.com for our users’ delight. In many ways I feel like not only do I have Automatticians as coworkers but partner theme shops as well. Many a long night has been spent prepping premium themes for their launches, none of which would have been possible without solid, thriving relationships with our partners. In short, premium themes are my life right now.
Tell us about a project you’ve worked on recently.
My favorite ongoing project is _s, or Underscores. It’s a starter theme on which every single Automattic premium theme is built and it was created to both help us do our jobs better and educate the WordPress community on theming best practices. I actively contribute to the project primarily because I strongly believe in developer education and Open Source. It also doesn’t hurt that I get to play with git and GitHub, which is one of my favorite companies in existence.
It’s hard to understand the power of _s unless you see what’s built with it. Further, Ryu, A Simpler Time, and Untitled were all created using _s, but you’d never know it without being told and that’s what makes the starter theme so powerful. To date, Underscores has around 34 total contributors and it’s always open to more. I’ll continue to work on it because it provides a solid benchmark on which to grade other themes and it also gives me a chance to interact with the theming community.
What have you learned that you can share with WordPress.com users?
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in life is that writing will take you everywhere. It doesn’t matter what occupation you hold or what you study, writing will take you far. If you are a new blogger who doesn’t know what to write about, just write; it’ll come to you. If you form the habit of blogging daily or weekly and stick to it, you’ll find your voice in no time and you’ll thank yourself for slogging through the days when writing didn’t feel so great. Keep at it and don’t stop, and a year from now you’ll be thankful your fingers kept tapping on your keyboard.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Without a doubt what I appreciate most at Automattic is the level of confidence that my colleagues and I have for each other to be the best in the world at what we do. We push each other to grow and learn, rarely — if ever — accept the status quo, and always think about how to make things better. We’re managers of one who rely on trust and sound judgment to guide our collective ship; it truly is a pleasure working with a company filled with so many independent thinkers who care most about pushing the needle forward day by day.
It also feels incredible to know hundreds of other like-minded individuals spread throughout the world who are firmly united by the goal of making the web a better place. I’m not alone in my love for WordPress and an open web and being virtually surrounded by others who share the same views really is something special.
What do you love to do in your spare time?
Spare time will almost always consist of one, or any combination of the following:
- Reading up on fellow Third Culture Kids, Third Culture Adults, and Global Nomads. I’ve lived mostly outside of my birth country (the US) for the last decade and connect best with expats and mobile souls.
- Watching Seinfeld episodes for the umpteenth time. George is getting upset!!!
- Digging deeper and deeper into the Spotify rabbit hole to find smooth chillout and lounge tunes.
- Making a concerted effort to call my family and best friends on the phone to tell them that I miss them and love them very much. The art of long, rambling phone conversations must live on.
- Finding out where the best dark chocolate is located in the world and dreaming of those places in my sleep. If it’s less than 85% dark let’s not talk.
- Reading books on Buddhism and living a mindful life. It passes by so quickly so let’s make it a good one!
- Figuring out how to randomly interject emoticons into online conversations.
- Taking public transportation in large cities. Tokyo’s rail system is the tops.
- Walking nowhere in particular.
Did you know Automattic is hiring? We want people who are willing to work hard, share their ideas, learn from their colleagues, take initiative to get things done without being told, and those who aren’t afraid to ask questions. Think you fit the bill? Work with us.