Team

Meet the Newest WebDevStudios Engineers!

Business is booming at WebDevStudios. Client projects are on the rise, as more and more media websites, enterprise-level corporations, and educational institutions are relying on the power of WordPress to support their organizational efforts.

We just announced two new project managers recently added to our project management team, and now, we’re ready to announce the addition of three engineers. They vary in personalities and interests, but one thing they definitely all have in common is a passion for building WordPress solutions. Keep reading to meet the newest WebDevStudios (WDS) engineers: Sal Ferrarello, Rebekah Van Epps, and Oliver Harrison.

Sal Ferrarello, Senior Backend Engineer

A portrait photograph of Sal Ferrarello, Senior Backend Engineer at WebDevStudios. Sal is looking at the camera and smiling.
Sal Ferrarello, Senior Backend Engineer

Having spoken at over a dozen WordCamps and WordPress Meetups, Sal Ferrarello is kind of a big deal. You can find many of his talks on WordPress TV. In fact, next week, Sal will be presenting two sessions at php[world].

“I’ve always enjoyed being in front of a crowd and before becoming a programmer I was a teacher. This combination proved useful when I started speaking at WordCamps in 2014,” explains Sal. “There are two things that I think help my talks resonate with people: one, I use a lot of analogies, drawing parallels between programming concepts and real life situations. Two, my talks are focused on helping my audience learn, which includes skipping introducing myself and instead diving directly into the material.”

Like many in the WordPress ecosystem, Sal’s career is multifaceted, running the gamut from education, to photography, to being an entertainer.

“My previous jobs did a lot to build my interpersonal communication skills, which have been invaluable,” Sal says, adding, “A huge part of successfully creating solutions is communication. Beyond that, I’m also pleasantly surprised how often a little knowledge in different areas can be helpful in understanding other new concepts.”

Because many of the WDS team members and leaders are quite active in the WordPress community, over the years, Sal has met many of them and he’s always been impressed. So, when he learned of our recent team expansion and open job positions, Sal gladly applied.

“I’m looking forward to working alongside so many talented people and tackling interesting challenges,” he states.

Rebekah Van Epps, Backend Engineer

A portrait photograph of Rebekah Van Epps, Backend Engineer at WebDevStudios.
Rebekah Van Epps, Backend Engineer

“I enjoy digging into things to figure out how they work,” says Rebekah Van Epps. She fell in love with programming well over a decade ago and says that her passion lies in working with databases and constructing backend functionality.

“With databases, this approach [digging into things] allows me to see how all the data is laid out and how it all fits together,” Rebekah explains, saying, “This has the dual benefit of helping me better understand what various third-party functionality is doing, how, and why; and I get a better understanding of structuring my own functionality.”

When asked to describe one of her most rewarding website projects, she talks about one that took place years ago in which she was tasked with building a client download portal for an international 3D modeling software supplier. Within certain functionality constraints, she was given free reign, with regards to platform, so she went with CodeIgniter, a PHP-based MVC framework. After all, she had some experience with it and was eager to test it out further. Now, unlike WordPress, CodeIgniter doesn’t come with a pre-structured database, so she was able to experiment and design a database schema that was optimized for the purpose of this portal.

“From there, I structured the admin interface for interacting with products in the database as well as multi-level user management,” reports Rebekah. “Overall, it was an incredible learning experience, and though it wasn’t WordPress work (my current focus), the challenge of creating this portal improved all aspects of my coding abilities, which has certainly transferred to the WordPress realm.”

Over the past four years, Rebekah had been freelancing, having previously worked with small teams, but she desired the challenge provided by working with a larger pool of skilled developers on a regular basis.

“After learning more about WDS (and after using several of their plugins regularly for years), it sounded like the perfect environment to connect with and learn from other passionate WordPress developers,” she says. She adds that she’s looking forward to taking her skills to the next level and getting more involved with the WordPress community.

“WDS is a leader in WordPress development and I’ve already seen marked changes in my workflow in my short tenure here,” clarifies Rebekah. “I’m constantly impressed at how helpful and supportive the team is, as well as how dedicated everyone is to improving the community as a whole.”

Oliver Harrison, Frontend Engineer

A portrait photo of Oliver Harrison, Frontend Engineer at WebDevStudios.As a Frontend Engineer for WebDevStudios, Oliver is responsible for bringing visual design to life. One of the things he loves is Advanced Custom Fields (ACF).

“I love how ACF makes what can be a tricky functionality completely simple,” explains Oliver. “Before it, creating a specific layout, say, for a carousel or a repeating block of cards, would be incredibly difficult and possibly end up with very custom and messy code. With ACF, this is straightforward and clean, using WP-styled syntax that most WordPress developers already know. Even better, it is easy for clients to understand and build with, with a very low learning curve.”

Recently, Oliver got to work on a project for TrackTik in which he was tasked with rebuilding the site with a focus on maintainability and functionality.

“Their previous site had been built by several different developers over quite a long time, causing it to be easily broken,” elaborates Oliver. “Half of the admin interface was in French, half in English; none of the functionality was obvious. I was given free reign to build it the way I thought was best. I tackled it with ACF Pro and CPT UI and created a functional site that uses a multi-environment setup on WP Engine, with Git handling the version control. It ended up working very well—fully translated and searchable, with seven post types, 150-plus blog posts, and 34 pages.”

When Oliver was learning about ACF a couple years ago, WDS kept coming up again and again in Google search results. Earlier this year, he decided he felt confident enough to speak at WordCamp Montreal and while there, he met Meagan Hanes, Technical Project Manager. “She mentioned that WDS was hiring for Frontend Engineers and I knew that this was meant to happen! I’m thrilled that it has worked out,” says Oliver. He adds that what he is most looking forward to is all the learning.

“I’m excited to work with a variety of people from all different backgrounds with a melange of skills and interests,” Oliver claims. “I’m also looking forward to working on all the different projects. I like variety, so this is a huge perk.”

Want to Join Our Team?

We are thrilled to have Sal, Rebekah, and Oliver on our team and invite you to be a part, too. WebDevStudios is hiring! Check out our Careers page now and apply today.

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