Zao WordPress web development, Zao WordPress team, WordPress web development, WordPress web developers,

Zao: A Look Back at 2017

Last year, we celebrated a huge 2016 with excitement and anticipation for what the future would bring.

We’re happy and humbled to report that 2017 didn’t disappoint. We added a Project Manager to our team, we posted some rad content, worked on some incredible projects, and learned a lot along the way.

Here are the highlights of what went down in Zao’s 2017:

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Jon Campbell, WordPress web developers, WordPress web development, Zao contractors, Zao WordPress web development, west coast web developers

Get to Know Our Contractors: Jon Campbell

We recently did a series highlighting the core Zao team so you could get to know us better. We often partner with other experts in our industry, and since we’re all about building long-term relationships, we like to work with our contractors over and over again. For our end of the year, we want to highlight a few of the great contractors we’ve worked with over the past year and are continuing to work with now.

Meet Jon Campbell:

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Ian Bixby, WordPress web developers, WordPress web development, Zao contractors, Zao WordPress web development, west coast web developers, graphic designers, WordPress graphic designers, hire a graphic designer,

Get to Know Our Contractors: Ian Bixby

We recently did a series highlighting the core Zao team so you could get to know us better. We often partner with other experts in our industry, and since we’re all about building long-term relationships, we like to work with our contractors over and over again. For our end of the year, we want to highlight a few of the great contractors we’ve worked with over the past year and are continuing to work with now.

Meet Ian Bixby:

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Stacy Kvernmo, Zao WordPress web dev, WordPress web developers, WordPress web development

Get to Know Our Contractors: Stacy Kvernmo

We recently did a series highlighting the core Zao team so you could get to know us better. We often partner with other experts in our industry, and since we’re all about building long-term relationships, we like to work with our contractors over and over again. For our end of the year, we want to highlight a few of the great contractors we’ve worked with over the past year and are continuing to work with now.

To start with, meet Stacy Kvernmo:

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Zao WordPress web dev, WordPress web developers, WordPress web development

Zao’s Holiday Giving in 2017

We’ve talked a lot about how we like to give back to our community. It’s a huge part of Zao, as it is crucially connected to one of our core values: family.

Family is more than just your blood relatives. Family is more than what you’re given; it’s who you choose. We say “family,” but family, at the end of the day, is a group of people who are connected by values, goals, and proximity. It’s a community. We wanted to figure out how we could integrate our values into our holiday giving this year. Here’s a little look at how we decided on what to do, and what we ended up picking:

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using quickbooks in WordPress, WordPress plugins, WordPress Quickbooks plugin,

Quickbooks and WooCommerce: It Was Only a Matter of Time

At Zao, one of our passions is building modular tools that solve client problems, and (our favorite part) releasing them to the public.

We were tasked with integrating QuickBooks Online with WooCommerce for one of our super rad clients, Brooklyn Tweed. Specifically, Brooklyn Tweed needed to be able to create QuickBooks invoices every time a manual wholesale order is generated (sidenote: If you’re familiar with WooCommerce, you know there is no such thing as a manual wholesale order [yet], but stay tuned for a future blog post and plugin release).

Naturally, the first step was to look for a WooCommerce/QuickBooks plugin. It might surprise you, as it did me, to find that there is not much available. Sure, there are a few SAAS options available, but nothing looked quite plug and play for what our client needed and wanted.

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team building, who to hire, should i hire an optimists, should i hire a realist, teamwork, how to get your team to work together better, best team member qualities, best hiring qualities

Your Team Needs Optimists and Realists for Your Business to Thrive

One of the things we often hear about hiring is that people want a good fit for their “company culture.” If you have a group of high energy, endlessly optimistic go-getters, you might think that a no-nonsense realist will chill your vibe. If your small organization is filled with purely pragmatic, only-dealing-with-the-tangible types, you might balk when you consider how an idealist may approach problems. Hold up, though! Can these two types work together for the greater good?

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modern tech apprenticeships, paying to learn on the job, getting paid to intern, should i pay my interns, should i pay my apprentices, should i pay an apprentice, should i pay for my employee to learn, should i pay for my employee's education, should i pay for my employee's class

Yes, You Should Pay Your Employees to Learn

Many of the folks in the WordPress space have come up without a formal education (or without a tech specific education), and became successful through avid learning and self-motivation.

John Hawkins is an excellent example of someone who paved his own path without a formal education: he founded 9seeds, is well-respected for his work with WordPress, and is now the Business Development Manager for WebDevStudiosHelen Hou-Sandí went to college for piano, not tech, and is self-taught in web development; she is the Director of Platform Experience at 10upLisa Sabin-Wilson, partner and COO of WDS, worked as a nurse before she heard about WordPress (when it was in its infancy). After further investigation, she dropped everything to make it her new career…and became the author of WordPress For Dummies and a force to behold in the WP space. Brad Parbs dropped out of college while studying computer science to make his own websites; he is currently a Senior WordPress engineer at Human Made.

Our own founder, Justin, funded Zao’s earliest days by working at Burger King, and now Zao is a burgeoning WordPress eCommerce and custom development agency that is experiencing an incredible growth spurt, after over a decade of steady upward success. JT was a house painter who started fiddling around with WordPress for his church website, joined the WebDevStudios team, advanced to Director of Engineering, and is now a Managing Partner of Zao.

Some of these folks landed in companies where they had an opportunity to unofficially apprentice: they found a position that allowed them to work and learn simultaneously. Others ended up using their own determination and the educational access built into the open-source community to create their own companies. Although they might not have gone through a formal apprenticeship in the way that many of us think, they still sought opportunities for their skills to be developed and to be mentored while also still providing for themselves and their families.

“I don’t pay people.”

Recently, I heard this uttered–without an ounce of shame–on a panel talking about the rise of apprenticeship programs.

Apprenticeships are growing in popularity, particularly in the tech industry where employee retention is low, truly entry-level jobs are rare, and where many people want to work, but don’t necessarily have the applicable skill sets for the positions that are available. The panel was a group of experts discussing their experiences taking on apprentices and how that works for them. One of those experts said the above.

Side note: While I understand that there may be curiosity about who said this or what panel it was, I am intentionally not providing that information as I think it’s counterproductive. This isn’t intended to be a “call out” post, but to examine the flaws in this particular approach.

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Zao Adopts Asset Queue Manager on background of WordPress code image

Zao Adopts Asset Queue Manager

You’ve already heard our good news about CMB2…but wait, there’s more! We recently adopted Asset Queue Manager, a WordPress plugin that allows experienced front-end performance engineers to take control over the scripts and styles enqueued on their site(s).

About Asset Queue Manager

AQM is a well-liked and regarded plugin built by a developer from the UK named Nate Wright.

When plugins are bad citizens, they enqueue their assets everywhere on the front-end, which means their style sheets and JavaScript files are loaded everywhere, regardless of where they need to be. AQM allows you to manage whether or not those assets are actually enqueued. It’s a fantastic tool based on a great idea, and it has a really cool UI.

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A sign saying thank you

The Importance of Generosity and Gratitude in Business

There are billions of books, articles, journals, and thoughts about how to run a successful business and be the most profitable. Search “run a good business” in Google and you get 441,000,000 hits. Clearly, a lot of people have a lot to say about this, yet there isn’t enough time in a lifespan to cover it all.

While I’m by no means an expert in the business realm, I’m a small business employee and I have a tangible experience and perspective in the job market. So, naturally, I do have my own two cents on the subject. Generosity and gratitude can have one of the most profound effects on your business, beyond what is easily measurable.

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