“Overcoming the WordPress website management and security challenges with Strattic” – Interview With Miriam Schwab [Featured WP-Professional]

  • Interviews

We are happy to introduce Miriam Schwab as the WP-Professional of the Month.

Miriam Schwab is the co-founder and CEO of Strattic, an all-in-one static site generation and hosting platform that instantly optimizes WordPress by converting it to a static architecture. For over 12 years she has been connected with open-source web development and is today one of the most popular names in the Israeli WordPress community.

Miriam deserves the title Super Woman in all respects. Imagine a woman who studied English Literature raising 4 kids and then embarking on a journey to pursue her love for tech (Now she has 7 kids.) She taught herself to code and started making websites and slowly built her own space in WordPress. That’s Miriam for you! She has not only succeeded in making her dreams come true but is an inspiration for all today, especially women. She is also a strong advocate for women in tech.

She also contributes generously to WordPress. She has a popular WordPress blog WP Garage. Besides organizing 5 WordCamps in Israel, she is also a regular speaker at various international WordCamps – including US, London and Europe WordCamps. Starting with the first WordCamp Europe (2013) she has been four-time speaker at WordCamp Europe.

You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin

How did you get introduced to WordPress? Can you please explain the journey, especially your story behind becoming an entrepreneur?

After my fourth kid was born, I realized I needed more flexibility in my work so that I could develop professionally while also having the ability to be at home when I needed to be. I decided to quit my job and become a freelancer. At first, I offered content related services, like copywriting and translation. But my love has always been for tech so I decided to learn to build websites too.

At first I started with regular HTML-based websites, but I quickly realized I needed to build sites with a CMS so that people wouldn’t need to come back to me for every edit they needed to make. I explored the CMS options available and fell in love with WordPress. I started to offer WordPress site building as a business service, and as demand for my services grew I expanded to become an agency called illuminea. That was my first business.

The idea for my current business, Strattic, came many years later in light of the increasing challenges around managing and securing WordPress sites. I decided to research the options out there to see if maybe we should be offering our customers websites built on another platform other than WordPress.

Screenshot of www.strattic.com

I came across the emerging world of static site generators, which eventually became known as the Jamstack, and was very excited because static sites are basically unhackable, and are incredibly fast and scalable. But they are also complicated to build and maintain as they rely on a lot of developer resources.

So I concluded that WordPress is still the best CMS out there (yay!) but if we turn it into a static site generator, we get the best of all worlds – the usability, ecosystem and tooling of WordPress with the unbeatable security, speed and scalability of static.

Please share with our readers something about the projects you are involved with.

I’m the CEO of Strattic, so I’m involved in a lot of projects: product, technology, marketing, HR, investor relations and more. It’s very exciting and I love that I get to learn something new every day!

Where are you based? Does your location influence your work?

I’m based in Israel. Overall the location doesn’t impact our work except maybe around scheduling calls across time zones – but I’ve become pretty good at calculating that too. Six months into Covid we became a remote-first company and our team is based in Israel and around the world. Now that travel is more possible we travel sometimes for meetings when it makes sense, but overall we can do everything from home.

What makes WordPress so special to you?

I love that WordPress is Open Source and accessible to everyone. I also really love the community – I have made so many wonderful friends over the years in the WordPress community. I really miss being able to meet up with people at WordCamps. I hope WordCamp Porto happens because I’m really looking forward to that!

How all have you contributed to WordPress? Why do you think everyone should contribute to WordPress?

I organized five WordCamps in Israel. I think that we should all try to give back to WordPress in some way since it’s a freely-available, powerful, wonderful platform that gives to us.

What is your favorite a) Plugin b) Theme and why?

My favorite plugin is Yoast SEO because it really takes care of all of a website’s SEO and social media marketing needs, and is constantly being updated to stay current with the latest demands of the web. Also, the Yoast team are significant contributors to the WP ecosystem and really walk the walk of Open Source. I also love the founders and their team.

I don’t have a favorite theme. At a certain point in my agency we decided to stop using available themes and always built our own for quality and reliability.

You wear many hats – CEO, WordCamp organizer, developer, mother, to name a few. How do you keep on top of things? Please share any time management tips you follow or tools you use to organize your work.

I depend on a number of tools to help automate and remind me about important things. My Google Calendar looks insane because it’s so full of business and personal events, but it’s how I keep things running smoothly. I have a million things that I need to remember so I set alarms and reminders when I need to remember things at certain times (i.e. put the laundry in the dryer, call a teacher, etc.) so that I don’t have to try to remember these things.

I use Gmelius to resurface emails that need attention and follow up, so my email ends up being a type of living todo list. I use Zapier to automate certain processes, and Text Expander to reuse text snippets without having to retype them every time. I don’t use a to-do app. If I need to remember something, I put it in a simple text note.

What are your thoughts on WordPress security and the new WordPress Performance Team ?

WordPress itself is a secure platform. However, we can’t get away from the fact that there are a lot of other factors at play in every WP site that could be vulnerable, starting from the server level (PHP, MySQL, Apache, etc.) up to the plugin level. That’s why I think that securing a WP site will always be an ongoing defensive effort…unless the site is hosted on Strattic (of course :)), in which case the original WP site is not accessible to the web and hacker bots, so even if it has vulnerabilities, the static site doesn’t have them and there’s nothing to hack. Hacker bots move on!

I’m really excited about the new WP performance team. Just like we can’t build sites anymore that are functionally ok but super slow, so too does WP itself need to do more than just function. It’s amazing how a group of such smart people took the initiative to tackle this issue together – big kudos!

What are your thoughts on the future of WordPress, (especially headless WordPress) and the web hosting industry?

WordPress continues to grow at a tremendous pace, and its future looks bright. But I do think we can’t relax and assume everything will continue to be fine. If we don’t innovate on how WP sites are built and deployed, it may cease to be attractive to developers and that could change things. I think trends like headless, static WordPress are great because they recognize the strengths of WordPress, but also aims to make WP current and future-proof. It’s very exciting.

As for the hosting industry – it’s also changed dramatically since I first started in the space. Hosting providers have become much more sophisticated and offer a much more robust service. I think this will continue to be the case, which is great for the ecosystem.

If we don’t innovate on how WP sites are built and deployed, it may cease to be attractive to developers and that could change things.

What do you think about the latest acquisition saga in WordPress?

All these acquisitions are a sign that the WP ecosystem is maturing commercially, and people are recognizing the massive opportunity in this market. When a tool or plugin is acquired, it often means that there will be more resources allocated to its development which is good for everyone. But if something is shut down after acquisition, that can suck.

We are sure you have some wonderful things planned for Strattic customers. Can you share some spoilers on what we can expect in the future?

Our goal is to align the user experience in Strattic as much as possible to the native WP experience. That’s why we already support Gravity Forms, Contact Form 7, search, 301 redirects, WPML and more out of the box on Strattic, and that’s why the static publication process is one-click – everyone can click a button.

Our next goals are to make the static publish even faster, and to support heavily dynamic functionality like WooCommerce and membership sites.

What advice would you give those aspiring to be entrepreneurs in WordPress products?

Listen closely to your users and customers and learn from them all the time. They’re who you’re building for, and the way they use your product, or the challenges they face when using it, can help you make your product better and amazing.

What is one thing you wish more people knew about web security?

That running a static site is pretty much as secure as you can get since it removes over 99.999% of the attack surface. And it’s not hard to achieve.

As a person steering a company in the highly competitive web hosting market, please share some marketing/pricing tips. Also on how you ensure customer support and satisfaction?

We have focused heavily on community, product-led growth – participating in webinars, conferences, podcasts etc. and in that way building awareness in a high quality audience. This type of growth is not necessarily as fast or aggressive as other guerilla types of growth, but can be a very solid way to go to market and grow from there.

You are a key figure in organizing WordCamp Israel. What are your thoughts on WordPress meetups and WordCamps?

I LOVE THEM. And I miss them 🙂

Source: GoDaddy UK Blog

What is Miriam like away from WordPress? What are your ways of chilling?

I work long days, so I don’t have time to invest in chilling. Chilling has to be easy and accessible. So I love just sitting on the couch with my kids watching something, or eating dinner with them. Also I keep Shabbat so that’s like my weekly digital detox and retreat – all electronic devices get turned off and it’s just me and the kids, books, newspapers, nice meals and friends. It helps reset my mind.

That’s all for now folks! We will be happy if we have motivated atleast one of you to reach for your dreams, no matter how late it is. We’ll be back with another WordPress celebrity next month.

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