At Jetpack, our Happiness Engineers are usually busy supporting our customers to ensure that they have everything they need for a successful website — but we interrupted one of them for an inside look at Jetpack and some valuable tips and tricks.
Meet Tracy, a Jetpack Happiness Engineer, mom, and avid tinkerer. Before joining Automattic, she put her technology chops to work for NASA, the U.S. Navy, and her kids’ Parent Teacher Association.
Q. Tell us how you started working with WordPress.
Tracy: Before my life as a mom, I was always a techie. Back in my early days, I built websites with hard-coded HTML. When the kids were little, my husband tried to convince me to start a blog. This wasn’t really my style, since I’m not one for putting my life out into the world. But I am technical, so the idea of spinning up a website was intriguing. As I got more into it, I found that I spent more time tinkering with the nuances of WordPress than posting on my blog.
Later, I took over as race director for my kids’ PTA 5K fundraiser and realized I could create a website using WooCommerce to replace their third-party registration system. We ended up saving more than $500 in fees by bringing the registration process in-house, and I learned a ton about WordPress and how robust it is.
Q. How did you end up working for Jetpack?
My kids were all in school, so I started to think about going back to work. At about the same time, I noticed Automattic listed as the author of several plugins on my race site. I clicked on a link, saw the Happiness Engineer job listing, and thought, “This is perfect.”
I was enticed by the idea of working remotely — it makes it a lot easier to do the mom thing and have something that’s mine when the kids are at school. I was also intrigued by Automattic’s creed; this felt like a place that was different than the corporate world I was used to.
I put together a killer resume and cover letter but never really thought I would get hired. It was a shot in the dark. Just when I was about to give up, I got the call. I started with a trial and that lead to a full-time position.
Q. What’s it like working at Jetpack?
I’m doing direct customer support via email, which can be really fun and stimulating, but I’m a tinkerer and I get bored easily. At Automattic, the world is your oyster. There are a lot of opportunities to get involved without having to follow the traditional chains of approval.
If you’re interested in something, you can go deeper. There are so many things to learn every day!
Q. How do you explain what Jetpack is?
I describe Jetpack as the first plugin you should install on a WordPress site. It gives you all the primary features you need to get off the ground. Basically, Jetpack is the one plugin you need to grow your site and make it fast and secure.
Q. What Jetpack features do you highlight?
I like to talk about the subscription feature. When a user signs up to follow a site, they automatically get an email confirming their subscription. Jetpack takes care of everything!
Social media sharing is another big one. People can get it for free and it just works; they don’t have to do anything but turn it on. Everything happens automatically with Jetpack, which is huge because at the end of the day you want your blog posts shared on Facebook without having to do yourself.
Q. What Jetpack feature are you most excited about?
We’ve done a ton to improve backups and security. Jetpack stores everything on a separate server, which makes it super easy and fast to get your site back up and running if something goes wrong. It’s a really big selling point.
Last week, we pushed out a new release and something happened to the beta version that caused my test site to crash. Jetpack Backup made restoring the site a stress-free experience. I went straight to my activity log, found the last backup before I activated the beta plugin, and clicked to restore. I went about my day and checked back later to find my site was loading again. From an ease-of-use standpoint, Jetpack Backup is solid.
Q. What’s the question you hear the most?
A lot of questions are about social media sharing. When something isn’t published to social media, the world ends for people. Users can reset their Facebook connection and clear a token between WordPress.com and Facebook that sometimes gets a little confused. Once you remove and reconnect, the problem is usually solved.
People also tend to be very concerned about their blog stats. Sometimes there’s a discrepancy between our stats and Google Analytics. Usually, it’s because we do tracking differently than how GA does it. We don’t count clicks from admin users when they’re logged in, so if you’re clicking around your site, it won’t affect statistics.
Q. Are you passing the WordPress torch to your kids?
I have a 16-year-old, a 13-year-old, and a 10-year old — all boys. They have a variety of interests but so far, only my oldest is into tinkering with technology. He is also into filmmaking. I tried to encourage him to put together a website, but he asked, “What do I need a website for?” In the era of social media, kids don’t entirely understand why it’s important. I’ve been chipping away at that, though. He’ll come around.