In the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, we seldom forget what’s good and what’s real. However, individuals like Tess are always there to inspire us towards the right path.
Tess Coughlan Allen is a Marketing Lead at Atomic Smash, a WordPress agency in Bristol, UK. She has a background in writing for ethical brands and promoting tech for good. Tess is deeply involved in the WordPress community and has spoken at WordCamp Europe and WordCamp US.
In this interview, Tess has shared many insightful things like how self-care is important for those who are invested in community work, and how many of us do not check the environmental cost of our projects.
Devrims: Thanks for your support, Tess. For those who may not be familiar with your background, tell us about yourself and your professional journey.
Tess: In one way or another, my career has always involved telling stories related to technology. My current role is Marketing Lead at Atomic Smash, an agency based in Bristol in the UK. Much of my work revolves around showcasing and celebrating the fantastic work my colleagues do to get our clients’ WordPress and WooCommerce sites performing at the very highest levels.
I’ve worked in various marketing and communications roles over the last ten years and I’ve been participating in, and contributing to, the WordPress community since 2017. Some highlights include running Europe’s first do_action day, speaking at both WordCamp Europe and WordCamp US, and being one of the Global Lead organisers of WordCamp Europe too.
Devrims: You have a background in writing for ethical brands and promoting tech for good. How has your past experience influenced your current role at Atomic Smash?
Tess: Enormously! Atomic Smash was already community-focused and ethical, but by joining I’ve contributed to moving this forward in a big way. Firstly by sharing and celebrating the positive things the agency was already doing, one good example is the agency winning a Tech for Good award.
I’m also deeply involved in various initiatives to ensure we really live our company values at Atomic Smash, such as our internal Sustainability Working Group and managing our journey to becoming a B Corp.
It’s also a huge privilege to work alongside people who are so committed, curious and results-driven. The agency is dedicated to continuously improving, doing better and being better, so I feel very inspired by my colleagues, the directors of the agency, and how much everyone cares about the work they do.
Devrims: Being deeply involved in the WordPress community, what do you consider the primary advantages of such participation? What advice would you offer to inspire others to join and engage in this community?
Tess: You get to work alongside people from all over the world who are all contributing to WordPress in one way or another, and collectively your efforts have a significant impact on an enormous slice of the internet.
You’ll also build relationships that benefit you professionally, and attending talks or workshops at Meetups and WordCamps really broadens your knowledge.
There are also opportunities to share your own insights by speaking, or develop your skills by stepping into leadership roles. Age doesn’t have to be a barrier to contributing to WordPress, and people will see the value you’re bringing and support you to do more. I was 27 when I was Global Lead of WordCamp Europe and I’d love to see more young people get involved.
But my advice is also to know when to step back and pass the baton, or at least take a supporting role. Much of the involvement in the WordPress community is voluntary, and burnout is a real risk. As a community it’s important we take care of each other too.
Devrims: What are some personal and professional goals you’ve set for yourself in the coming years, both within your role at Atomic Smash and in your broader involvement in the tech and WordPress communities?
Tess: It’s important to me that my professional life feels in cohesion with my personal identity. I want to continue to live and work in a way that feels sincere, authentic, and gives me a sense of purpose day-to-day. I hope to have creativity, leadership, and positive working relationships in my career in the coming years, and to continue enjoying what I do!
Devrims: In addition to your professional roles, you’ve been involved in organizing local meet-ups in the WordPress community. How do these local connections contribute to the growth and vitality of the broader WordPress ecosystem?
Tess: Local Meetups offer that crucial first introduction to the wider WordPress community. I think this is especially important if we consider the longevity of the WordPress community, and the strength and value we gain from diversity.
I think that if Meetups aren’t capturing new audiences, collaborating with other communities and educational institutions is a good idea. And running do_action hackathons!
Devrims: For those considering managed WordPress hosting, what guidance would you provide to help them find the right solution?
Tess: Consider speed, scalability, support, and sustainability.
At Atomic Smash, our preferred hosting provider covers all of these really well. We get huge improvements to site speed and server response times when we move clients to this provider. And we want our clients to be confident their host can handle traffic spikes or provide fast support if something isn’t quite right.
Finally, considering the environment is an important one for me, and it is for Atomic Smash and the majority of our clients too.
The internet is such a huge polluter. We need to do our part if we work in web design and development. Choosing a website hosting provider that offers greener hosting is a good step towards running a more sustainable business.
Devrims: Let’s do some quick rapid-fire questions:
|Mountains or Beaches||I cannot answer an impossible question! Luckily I have both the beautiful Welsh coast and mountains near to me at home.|
|Day or Night||Definitely day! Early mornings are my thing.|
|Books or Movies||Another tricky one, I love both but I think I’ll choose movies. Then I can watch book adaptations too.|
Devrims: Content marketing is a valuable tool for many businesses. What content strategies have you found to be particularly effective in the competitive digital marketing landscape?
Tess: I’m a big believer in collaboration—for example, by working with partners or other businesses in your industry. They can contribute insights that will strengthen a piece of content you’re working on, and you’ll also benefit from leveraging their additional reach, so even more people will find content that’s useful to them.
There’s so much value in working together. This is as relevant for content marketing as any other area in business.
Devrims: Data-driven marketing is becoming increasingly important. How do you use data and analytics to refine your marketing strategies and optimize performance?
Tess: We take a results-driven approach at Atomic Smash, so we use analytics and insights to help our clients make decisions on data instead of guesswork. This helps us build out roadmaps to improve their websites over time and gives them direction with their marketing efforts outside of our involvement too.
Devrims: And finally, who else would you like to see in the next interviews?
Tess: My long-time friend who I met through the WordPress community, Laura Nelson.