Did you know about static WordPress? It’s a technology that brings significant performance and security upgrades to your business website. You’ll learn about this concept in our today’s interview with Miriam Schwab – the CEO of Strattic. We’ll also tackle topics like marketing, personal mission, the evolution of our favorite CMS, and more.
Just a quick mention before we get started. Make sure to check out our latest interview with Adam Connell if you’re into content writing and marketing. Or browse through the full collection of our interviews with more interesting people from our community.
This technology improves your web page speed and the overall site security by a ton – without changing the way WordPress works and looks (from the admin’s point of view).
Miriam found her inclination for entrepreneurship when she saw the opportunity to build something quite unique in Israel. She took advantage of a local market that was missing advanced WordPress knowledge and filled the gap with what turned out to be a steady solution to a real need for the business sector.
It was only her at the beginning of Strattic’s journey. Now, it’s an entire company with people that contribute to the same goal: “bringing static and headless architecture to the WordPress ecosystem” (in Miriam’s words).
Let’s hear the awesome insights she shared with us below:
Miriam Schwab Interview – “I Created Strattic to Solve Some of the Major Issues Related to Performance and Security in WordPress”
When and how did you start working with WordPress? Is there an interesting story here?
After giving birth to my fourth kid I realized that I needed more flexibility and opportunity in my work. I wanted to be able to take time off to attend school events, or take care of my kids when sick, and work when I could outside of standard work hours, like after the kids went to sleep in the evening. I also wanted to work in a field that gave me an opportunity to keep learning and work with interesting people. So instead of going back to my job after she was born, I quit and went freelance.
At first, I worked as a copywriter and translator for companies, but my passion was always tech so in parallel I started to teach myself to build websites. Eventually, I felt confident enough to start offering website building services and it quickly became clear to me that I needed to give my clients the ability to edit their own sites.
I started exploring the options at the time and found the Open Source direction particularly appealing. After trying out the three big Open Source CMSs – Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress – I fell in love with WordPress and started offering WP development services to my clients.
I was one of the first in Israel to offer WP services for businesses, so when companies started proactively moving to WP I was well-positioned to take on that business and I grew from being just me to being an agency.
What’s your technique for staying productive throughout the day?
For me, productivity means staying on top of everything and keeping projects and processes moving forward. I also aim to be as efficient as possible. Here are some of the tools I use to automate and offload headspace:
- Google Calendar – if it’s not in my calendar, it’s not happening. I have two calendars – one for business and one for personal, and as soon as something needs to be scheduled, it goes in there.
- Gmelius – this app for Gmail resurfaces emails that are waiting for a response to remind me to follow up.
- TextExpander – shortcuts for text that I use repeatedly, like my email address, our website URL, my bio, etc.
I try to make sure I sleep enough, since I get up at 5:30 am every day. I also go for a walk every morning which gives me energy for the day, and I try to make sure to take breaks when I feel like my productivity is going down after sitting for many hours in front of my screen.
How do you define “being successful”?
I don’t really think about whether I am successful or not. But when I have a positive impact on those around me, whether it’s my family, friends, coworkers or customers, I am happy with where I’m at. I’m very grateful that I love my work and am constantly learning new things. It’s a journey, and the journey continues to be fun and interesting, and enjoying my work feels like success to me.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I always laugh when people ask me what my hobbies are. I am the co-founder of a growing startup and a single mom. So I don’t have much spare time. When I do, I love to spend it with my kids, family, and friends, whether it’s taking my kids to the beach, or meeting friends for coffee.
What do you wish more people knew about WordPress?
I recently saw someone describe WordPress as the largest no-code project on the web. It’s true! People are always looking for the next great no-code solution, and WordPress gets overlooked even though it has persisted and grown as the most popular and widely used no-code solution!
Also, the community is awesome. It makes working with WordPress even more enjoyable.
Describe the WordPress community in one word.
What’s the one thing you’d like to change about WordPress?
Well, I created Strattic to solve some of the major issues related to performance and security in WordPress, so there’s that 🙂
How do you see the evolution of WordPress compared to ten years ago? Is it on the right track?
WordPress has always been on the right track in terms of continuing to be a flexible CMS with a very robust ecosystem. However, usability was becoming an issue as drag-and-drop web builders were proliferating and WP’s editing experience started to feel really old-school and clunky.
I think the push to make Gutenberg a priority was the right strategy for strengthening WP’s position and future.
What’s the no. 1 thing a new business entering the WordPress space should do?
Get to know the communities around WP. The community is very diverse in terms of location, experience, background and business models and you can learn so much.
What do you think is the most efficient way to market your own services at this moment?
Ha, that’s the million-dollar question (literally!). Strategies and tactics that worked yesterday may not work today, and there’s a constant need for testing and adjusting. One person’s product may resonate with one type of user, while another product doesn’t speak to them at all.
So there’s no one-size-fits-all direction. Having said that, there’s one tactic that seems to always be effective, one way or another, and that’s creating quality content.
Did your business idea come to the surface after unpleasant experiences you personally had with WordPress or did it simply come as a solution to an existing need that you spotted among WordPress users?
As I mentioned, I founded a WordPress development agency and built custom websites for companies for many years. Over the course of those years, the sites started demanding more and more of our ongoing attention in terms of security, maintenance, and performance. At a certain point, I started to wonder if continuing to work exclusively with WordPress was the right approach for our clients.
I started exploring other solutions and came across an emerging trend of static site generators (later referred to as Jamstack, headless and decoupled). I got really excited since those sites solved all the issues I mentioned above – static sites are prerendered so they are fast, WP and the server stack are gone so there’s virtually nothing to hack, and they scale infinitely.
But when I looked into what it meant to build these sites, I realized that they’re incredibly complicated, and using them would mean reinventing the wheel on a lot of things. And not only are they expensive and complicated to build, maintaining them demands a lot more developer resources.
So I came to the conclusion that WordPress is still the best CMS out there. Yay! And then I thought – well how about turning WP into a static site generator so we can get the best of both worlds – all the usability, familiarity, and tooling of WP with the speed, security, and scalability of static sites. And thus Strattic was born. 🙂
What is the most challenging thing about being a CEO?
I don’t really know, since I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. I’m very fortunate to have an amazing partner, Josh Lawrence, and we work on all strategic matters together. Our CTO is Zeev Suraski who co-created PHP and brings a lot of experience and wisdom to the table.
We’ve worked hard to hire amazing, smart, nice people to our team and create a friendly, supportive work environment for everyone, which makes all the difference in our day-to-day experiences.
What is your company’s culture? What does Strattic stand up for?
We sometimes refer to our culture as “nice and nerdy”. 🙂 It’s very important to us that our work environment is respectful and supportive. We are also very family-oriented – as family people ourselves we get that your family deserves attention too and not only are we very flexible from that perspective, we see that as an integral part of our team’s lives that must be recognized and supported.
What is your personal definition of a “quality WordPress website”?
A quality WordPress website is one that is lean and effective. It’s a site that is efficiently built and is also strategic in terms of how it’s structured to support organizational goals.
What’s your favorite/must-have WordPress plugin and why?
I’ve always been, and continue to be, a huge fan of Yoast SEO. A site should be as optimized as possible and Yoast SEO is an amazing, forward-thinking tool that puts a lot of power in the hands of website managers.
What is your favorite type of client? What about the client that you enjoy working with the least?
At Strattic we love all our customers, for real. We love that they embrace cutting-edge technology and are excited to try a very new, different and modern approach to deploying their WordPress websites. We love how engaged so many of our customers are with us, and the questions they ask help us always learn to be better and serve the WordPress ecosystem further.
What is your no. 1 rule when it comes to WordPress security?
Don’t run WordPress live 🙂. What? Yup. If you run your site on Strattic your live production site is completely disconnected from the WP server and backend, which means there’s basically no attack surface. That’s the most secure way to run WP.
What do you think makes WordPress the most dominant CMS?
WP has been under development for eighteen years by the community so it’s constantly moving in a direction that serves a large swath of users. As a result it continues to be the best-in-class CMS thanks to its open source nature, extensibility and tooling, and active community.
Are you part of any cool online/offline communities or groups? Can be about any topic, not necessarily work-related.
I’ve always been passionate about supporting other women in their careers. I volunteered for many years on the Steering Board for a very active professional women’s community, and I mentor women who are looking to take the next step in their careers or pursue founding a venture. I also speak at events geared towards empowering women, particularly in tech.
What is driving you to keep doing what you’re doing? What’s your personal mission?
I’m passionate about bringing static and headless architecture to the WP ecosystem. I believe it helps people do their jobs better, and makes the internet better for everyone. I also love my team and love that I get to learn something new every single day. It’s incredible.
What are the main challenges of keeping up with your mission?
Finding the time to do all the zillions of things I’d love to get to. On the one hand, I know I need to be realistic. On the other hand, it’s frustrating that I can’t accomplish more in a day.
That sums up our Miriam Schwab interview. If you enjoyed it and want to learn more, please leave your comments in the section below. Also, if you have any ideas for who we should talk to next, feel free to share your suggestions with us!