Welcome to this edition of 5 From 5 Fold. Each month, we’ll ask a different member of the 5 Fold Marketing team five questions about themselves, what their job is like, and what they see as the future of marketing.
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Scott • Bijo • John • Kevin
Alexander Persky is the WordPress developer for 5 Fold Marketing. We sat down with him to chat about how he got into development, what changes he’s seen, and what his favorite type of ice cream is.
1. Where did you grow up, and where did you go to college? What did you study there?
“I grew up in Pasadena, California for my entire childhood, with the exception of four years where I lived in New Jersey. And then we moved right back to Pasadena, California.
I went to college at Arizona State University, right here in Tempe. I went there because my brother went there, and he kind of convinced me to follow in his footsteps and go to ASU.
I originally wanted to study business management and international business, but I couldn’t pass statistics and accounting. I took both of those classes three times and just couldn’t pass them. So, I had to change my major. I chose to study African American Studies and later I joined Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
That same year, the person who managed our chapter’s graphic designs and website graduated. Somebody had to take over. We just stared at each other; we weren’t sure who was going to do it. Finally, I was like: ‘Whatever. I’ll do it.’ I didn’t know anything about it. I went to the library the next day and I just started getting books on graphic design. We had parties coming up, so I needed to make the flyers first. So, I taught myself how to do graphic design. They sucked, but they worked.
The summer session was coming up, so I took classes in graphic design, Photoshop, and web development to wet my appetite. I just kept going the graphic design route. For the next two years, I made all the flyers and anything needed by the Fraternity.
Then came time to finally take over the website. Our graduated Brother managed the website still, but it had expired and he didn’t want to handle it any more. I said fine. I was going to have to learn.
Every month or so I made my chapter’s website better and better through successive iterations. Eventually, I got good enough to where I was making websites for other people. Word-of-mouth started to spread, and it just went from there.
A few years passed, and I decided I wanted to do this full-time. At that time I was a computer technician for Apple, freelancing on the side, but I was making more money through my freelance work than in the computer gig at Apple so I quit. I went to the Rocket Bootcamp in Tempe and what I learned from it took me to the next level.
I just kept building and building.”
2. What do you think it is that drew you to web development as opposed to graphic design?
“It’s kind of like me. I’m the kind of person where I need to understand how things work. I don’t like just doing stuff. When you learn things, you got to learn by doing.
For some people, it’s enough just to read something. I have to learn by doing and understanding how it actually works.
I was always that little kid who would find my family’s electronic devices and take them apart. I had no idea how to put them back together. The stuff was completely broken when I was done, but I wanted to see what was inside of it. I really want to understand how the technology works and how to put things together from scratch.
WordPress is kind of cool in that you can have a theme that you can plug in, and you can build the website using tools provided to you. But, for me, that’s not enough. What if I don’t have any of that? I need to know how to start from a blank slate and make it work. And that’s the type of person that I am.
So, that’s what keeps me going. With web development, there’s always something new coming out, and there’s always a new way to do something. So, never, ever stop learning.
3. What is the component of web development that has changed the most since you first started?
When I first started, CSS was midway through version two. Now, we’re in version three. If you know anything about what it takes for any language to bump up a version, it can take ten years for that to happen.
That’s changed the most in that time. LESS, SASS, PostCSS, Stylus and other tools—most that stuff didn’t even exist at that point in time. LESS was still in its infancy. By nature, CSS is not a programmatic language. It is what it is: you just have to write it in its vanilla syntax. But, now, with the tools that are available, you can write it in sub-sets, scripting languages, all kinds of stuff and it all just compiles to plain CSS. This allows you to add all the fun stuff like logic into in it. CSS just very recently started to support native variables, not to mention that now you can code complex layouts and designs that in the past you had to use images, tables, etc. Now, you can do it all using just the plain language itself.