When Purpose meets WordPress

John Regan is Fervor’s Senior Digital Strategist and UI Developer. You know, “the techie.” John defies popular stereotypes about web developers who care more about code than clients. Instead, he finds his purpose in making people’s digital lives easier.

“Fervor is a marketing company, but we don’t just build ads and websites: We put people first,” John says. “It’s part of my mission in life: To use the skills God has given me as a developer to help others.”

John’s road to finding his purpose was a long one. He spent more than a decade as a youth pastor before becoming a chaplain’s assistant in the Army. He spent a year in Iraq, then had a life-changing battle with PTSD when he returned. It transformed how John saw and related to the world.

“My whole concept of self was destroyed,” John says. “I had to figure out who I was again.”

One of the things that John re-evaluated was his work. While in the hospital, he rediscovered his love for web development, a passion that first ignited when he was in college. He started building sites with Geocities in 1998 and had been building sites as a hobby ever since, teaching himself new skills as he went. He was delighted to find that his self-taught skills were valued in the tech world: portfolios and real-life know-how trumped degrees and pedigrees.

“I like it because it’s technical—with solid rules and a structured, right way to do things—but also has a very creative problem-solving side to it,” he says.

For several years, John worked at a few other firms, where he built large enterprise sites, and did some contract work for Fervor on the side. But when Fervor was searching for a senior digital strategist in 2017, John realized he could align not only his technical skills but his calling.

“Coming from a background in ministry, I’ve always wanted to be a part of a team that’s trying to change the world for the better,” John says. At Fervor, he was able to put his technical prowess to work for like-minded organizations. With purpose-driven companies, he feels even more motivated to build sites that are both impactful and easy for clients to use, edit and maintain.

The greatest compliment a client can give him? Saying “That’s so easy and effective,” after going through the training and seeing how simple it is to manage and update their new website.

“The website shouldn’t be a roadblock to communicating your message,” John says. “That’s really important to me.”

Also important: Being efficient with clients’ resources. For example, the first project John worked on at Fervor was for Youth Entrepreneurs. They wanted an eLearning platform, which are usually massive undertakings that can involve costly management by a third-party without producing real results. But when John really listened to what the client wanted to do with their site, he realized he could provide everything they needed by building the site in WordPress, which is both free and would ensure they’d continue to own all their own content.

“By understanding their actual needs instead of just giving them what they asked for initially, we were able to save them both time and money,” he says.

Right now, John, a WordPress core contributor, is excited about using WordPress’s new Guttenberg block editor to make life even simpler for Fervor’s clients. He’s been customizing blocks for clients’ site-specific needs to give them both more options and less confusion.  

“The whole purpose is to make things easier for clients to use,” John says, “If they want to build a page, they can do it on their own!”

You won’t meet very many developers who get as excited about teaching clients to do their own site-building. In short, John is a coder who really cares. Which makes him an excellent fit—and an inspiration—at Fervor.
“When you are working with organizations that do good, their resources are really important,” John says. “It’s not just important to do a good job—it’s important to be effective.”