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WordCamp Milwaukee 2014 – WordPress and Cows

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at WordCamp Milwaukee. I had the pleasure of having great discussions with both existing friends within the WordPress community, as well as meeting some great people.

The speaker/sponsor party

The speaker/sponsor party took place at the Brewhouse Inn & Suites on Friday night. I decided to take a walk there from my hotel room so that I could soak in a bit of Milwaukee on the way there but little did I know, the walk would be much more longer than expected.

Once I arrived outside the venue, I spotted plenty of familiar faces, including Dre Armeda and Lisa Sabin-Wilson. We had a few good conversations, and I was introduced to Marc Benzakein of ServerPress before making our way inside.

Finally inside the party, everyone was quite lively and ready to share information on various projects that we were working on or recently released. Inside, I found more familiar faces, such as Michelle Schulp, Dan Beil, and Syed Balkhi, as well as giant cheesehead hats and the most comfortable WordCamp Milwaukee sweatshirts I have ever worn (Seriously, these sweatshirts are amazing).

As the night went on, everyone had an incredible time. Towards the end of the night, I was able to speak with Sam Hotchkiss, who is the organizer of WordCamp Maine which I will be speaking at as well.

Sam and I shared a cab back to our hotel rooms in which we spoke briefly about his product BruteProtect which prevents brute force attacks against WordPress site using global cloud-based rules. It is certainly a quality product and can greatly prevent attacks which are rising on a daily basis.

Overall, the speaker/sponsor party was a great opportunity to have fun and enjoy ourselves before we get down to business at the main event.

Saturday at WordCamp Milwaukee

Rather than attend all of the talks, I decided to take more of a personal approach to WordCamp Milwaukee and focus on meeting plenty of new people. It was quite a success in which I simply sat down next to people and introduced myself. This approach allowed me to learn more about people I have never met before and their upcoming projects, as well as inform them about what I do and how it could benefit them.

Of course, no WordCamp can be complete without some sort of great food and WordCamp Milwaukee certainly delivered with bacon and fried cheese curds. I may have gained 5 pounds from it but there are no regrets whatsoever. It was absolutely delicious.

My presentation promptly commenced at 3:00PM and I was ready to get started. At this WordCamp, I chose to speak on WordPress optimization techniques to get faster speed and more performance out of an existing setup. I feel that the audience gained a significant amount of information from my talk and got a deeper look at site performance from a hosting perspective. For more information on my presentation, you may view my slides on SlideShare.

Post-WordCamp festivities

After WordCamp Milwaukee, even with all of the great bacon and cheese, I was absolutely starving. Thankfully, Syed Balkhi invited me to dinner with him, Nik V, and Chris Christoff. We made our way to Benihana for some great food and even better conversation. At dinner, I came to the realization in how close this community is, in that you can mention someone’s name that you may have never seen in person, but still know who they are and what they do. Even a 15 year old kid like Nik has an impact on the WordPress community and can add a great amount of value to it.

Of course, one of the best parts of any WordCamp is usually the after party. If there is someone that you have been wanting to meet or have a discussion with, the after part is the best way to site down, have a drink, and make great conversation. At the after party, I spoke to numerous people, both established in the community as well as just starting out. Every conversation with a hit. As always, WordCamp after parties as perfect to just relax and talk about anything that comes to mind with great people who all share a passion for WordPress.

Conclusion

Overall, WordCamp Milwaukee was an amazing experience that makes me wish I could have stayed just one more day to say the least. The entire weekend, I could just feel the passion coming from everyone there.

I want to thank all of the organizers, volunteers, speakers, and attendees with my deepest gratitude for making WordCamp Milwaukee an amazing event. I’ll see you all next year!

Joomla Day Minnesota Recap

The fun began early!

Working with InMotion Hosting’s Customer Community team has it’s payoffs: learning about Joomla, writing tutorials that help 100,000′s of users, and getting my hands dirty from time to time with some development work.

Every few months I get to travel and attend some great conferences too. Last March I attended Joomla Day Boston 2014. Over the weekend I had the privilege to both attend and present at Joomla Day Minnesota 2014!

Before the event started, the gracious organizers took some of the event’s sponsors out to a Twins game! Unfortunately the Twins didn’t win, but that didn’t matter, watching the game from the box seats helped make the night one to remember.

Sessions and Speakers

STATE OF THE JOOMLA! UNION

Rod Martin was the event’s keynote speaker in the morning. His talk was all about the current state of Joomla!.

Do you remember being 10 years old, and do you understand how far you’ve come since then? Do you know that Joomla is turning 10 next year? That’s right, and Rod did an excellent job through his stories driving home that point.

The evening before his presentation, Rod and I had some time to talk WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. He has significant experience in all three, and he wasn’t shy about praising his favorite (guess which CMS?). I saw his optimism and excitement for the future of Joomla during our conversations and while he took the podium.

The Success of Joomla 3!

Michael Babker, member of the Joomla Leadership Team, spoke in the afternoon on some of the successes of Joomla 3.

Some of the highlights shared during his talk included:

Free Schwag!

USB thumb drives, cool iphone chargers, and free hosting! That’s right, I came packing! How cool is it when your job is to give away some cool schwag to fellow Joomla users? Very cool!

If you ever see us at an event, stop by and say hello! And don’t be afraid to ask, we’re usually equipped with goodies you can take home and show off to your friends.

Looking forward

This year was the first year for Joomla Day MN. There’s no doubt that this was a very successful event! A big congratulations goes out to Demo, Ryan Book, and the other event organizers.

The event went so well that the team is already organizing Joomla Day MN 2015! Next year the event will be held at Mall of America. My fingers are crossed – I hope to attend!

Thank you Joomla Day MN!
Brad Markle

5 Misconceptions Marketers have about their Customers

Understanding your target audience and customer base is the most important component in formulating effective marketing campaigns and communications. While understanding the value of your product to your prospects is the first step to increasing conversions, a lack of knowledge of your customers’ tendencies and pain points will sabotage your efforts.

Here are five common misconceptions marketers have about their customers, and some helpful suggestions for how marketers can align their efforts with the mind of the most important person in their business: the customer.

1. You = Your Customer

As much as we may want to believe this, it isn’t true. Many marketers and business owners fall into the trap of thinking that they know everything about their customers and how they behave. Don’t let personal opinions and preferences dictate the design and content of your website.

Re-align: Continuously interact with your customer find out who they are and what they want.

  • Use email and social media to deliver surveys and feedback forms
  • Place comment boxes on web pages
  • Utilize analytics software (like Google Analytics) to understand what your customers are telling you with their behavior on your website
  • Take advantage of web-based testing with services like UserTesting.com

2. The customers don’t know what they want

A 2012 report titled “Digital Evolution in B2B marketing” put out by CEB and Google revealed that, on average, customers progress nearly 60% of the way through the purchase decision-making process before engaging a sales rep.

Re-align: Recognize that today’s customer is educated and in most cases has already done a great deal of research before initiating the sales process.

3. More is better

Even though the consumer may be in the market for information, that doesn’t necessarily mean that more information is better. Ease of access to information and clarity of messaging is more important. According to Taylor and Francis Online, you only have about 0.05 seconds to make a good first impression on your website. Make it count.

According to a study by Google, users’ first impressions of websites are influenced by two design factors:

  • Visual complexity: How complex is the visual design of the website
  • Prototypicality: How representative a design looks for a certain category of websites

Re-align: Follow the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep it Simple, Stupid) when it comes to your web design and content and you’ll have a better chance to keep your customer on your site (and convert).

4. My customer doesn’t use mobile devices

According to the annual State of the Internet report by Mary Meeker from KPCB, mobile usage continues to grow rapidly and is at 25% of Total Web Usage vs. 14% Year over Year. This trend is even more prominent in emerging markets. For example, in Asia mobile usage is more than 35% of total internet usage. Mobile data consumption is at an all-time high of 81%, with video content being consumed even more.

Re-align: Start preparing your mobile strategy NOW if you haven’t already.

5. Personalization is optional

This is true, but it’s no longer about just including the customer’s name in an email message. Personalization has become much more sophisticated over the past few years.

According to a study last year by MyBuys and the e-tailing group, customized messaging and promotions based on past shopping or buying experiences increases the likelihood of buyer engagement and corresponding sales.

Re-align: Understand that consumers are aware of online personalization and they  tell us that they both value and expect it, as it makes it easier for them to find products that are most important to them.

WordCamp Chicago 2014: The Bean, the Blues and a ton of WordPress info

wordcamp-chicago-banner-and-tower

This past weekend, I got to do two things I’ve been putting off for awhile. Visit Chicago, and go to a WordCamp. I’m glad I finally did, because I got to see an awesome city and meet a ton of amazing people that help make up the close-knit WordPress community.

The city

On Friday, we started exploring the city and ended up seeing the Cloud Gate (also known as “the Bean”) in Millennium park that showed off the city skyline in a very unique way. The architecture of Chicago was simply stunning and I was in awe just walking around it.

There was a Blues festival, as well as the Chicago Electronic Dance Music Festival going on, so the city was packed with people, and the weather was beautiful. I had a lot of fun exploring the city, but was even more excited to start digging into WordPress.

The food

wordcamp-chicago-food

After asking the locals, both Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria and Portillo’s Hot Dogs were the unanimous places to go for authentic Chicago style deep dish pizza, and a hot dog. Neither place was quick, and they were both packed, but man the food was worth it!

The talks

wordcamp-chicago-talks

I was looking forward to some great WordPress talks. I’ve seen quite a few online, but being live in the same room as the speaker made the info resonate with me even more.

At WordCamp, they split talks up into 2 or 3 tracks, so you can’t listen in on every single one. With the ones I saw, I gained some useful knowledge from every single talk.

  • There was the “It Starts With Good Posture – Website Security (WordPress)” talk from Tony Perez (@perezbox) of Sucuri. He had some great security tips for making sure your WordPress site was as secure as it could be for any type of attacks.
  • Dan Beil (@add_action_dan) taught us “How NOT to develop (With WordPress)“. There were some great tips on how to get organized and make your development life much easier.
  • Josh Broton (@joshbroton) had a great talk on “You Don’t Need jQuery” that showed how you could easily squeeze a precious 100ms of loading time out of a site that relies on jQuery by instead using vanilla JavaScript.
  • Joe Casabona (@jcasabona) had a really informative talk about “Responsive Design with WordPress” that went over why designing for mobile first and then scaling up is the way to go. I even picked up a signed copy of Joe’s book after listening to him talk on the subject.
  • There was a whole team of 3 including Pete Mall, Brian Krogsgard (@krogsgard), and Sara Cannon (@saracannon) that basically held a panel on “Do Big Things With A Small Team” where they told the story of how their small team at Range was able to take on huge projects and still stay on top of them.
  • Sara Cannon (@saracannon) followed up the panel with a cool talk about “Smart Design: Icon Fonts, SVG, and the Mobile Influence” that showed some really cool ways to make sites load fast and scale but still be pretty.
  • The last talk on Saturday was none other than lead developer of WordPress Andrew Nacin (@nacin) with “Advanced Topics in WordPress Development”. It was exciting to learn about the plans of WordPress to become an auto-updating platform. This would be great for the entire community by helping plugin and theme developers only having to support the latest version of their plugin, knowing that when someone downloads their plugin it will be auto updated along with the rest of the WordPress core.
  • Sunday morning with breakfast in hand Josh Leuze (@jleuze) started off the day with a talk on “Building Your First Widget“. It was great presentation on how to get some simple widget interactivity into WordPress in no time.
  • Lisa Ghisolf (@gizmodesign) gave a talk on “A house with no walls: Creating a site structure for the future” which covered using site maps, content strategy, and mobile to give the best user experience you can for your site.
  • One of my favorite talks was from Ben Lobaugh (@benlobaugh) on “From Zero to WordPress Hero” which basically just talked about not being afraid to dive into the WordPress community and start making an impact.
  • There was some great business advice in the talk from Rebecca Gill (@WebSavvyMrkting) on “Solutions Before Developement: Creating WordPress Products That Actually Sell“. She explained how her own WordPress business was able to grow and flourish using some tactics to keep everything on track.
  • The last talk of this WordCamp for me was from Julie Cameron (@jewlofthelotus) on “Surviving Support: 10 Tips for Saving Your Users and Yourself“. This talk was probably the most directly related to what I do day in and day out in the InMotion Customer Community department.

The experience

WordCamp Chicago was a great time and I learned a ton, I also met some great people and I’m sure I’ll bump into them again at future WordPress events. Going to my first WordCamp and seeing the WordPress community up close in person has really opened my eyes to all the possibilities that WordPress allows for. I really appreciate InMotion Hosting sending me out there to bring some of that great community back to our ranks.

If you have a chance to go to a WordCamp and you’re putting it off like I had been, do yourself a favor and dive in! If you happen to join the great learning and networking experience that is WordCamp, let me know! (@JacobsLadd3r)

Increase Website Performance with Managed Hosting

Our Managed Hosting team was created to ensure your server is properly setup the way you need it. In operation since early 2013, this team has helped hundreds of customers solve their unique hosting challenges. They are software and hardware experts and know how to optimize high volume, high demand websites.

What can Managed Hosting do for you? That depends on what type of server you have and what your overall needs are. For example, if you’re looking to increase the performance of your WordPress site, our team can install plugins, check your database settings, and give your entire site a thorough review. They can then provide recommendations to improve performance and implement them for you.

That’s just one example of what Managed Hosting can do. Below are some specialties of Managed Hosting.

Shared Hosting Reseller Hosting VPS
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You can read more about what Managed Hosting can do here.

WordCamp Orange County 2014 Recap: Life, Love and WordPress

I had the privilege and opportunity to attend the WordCamp party in The OC last weekend. The party started on Friday night and didn’t stop until Sunday night. Along the way I learned a lot about life, love, and the proper maintenance and structure of WordPress plugin directories.

I arrived in Costa Mesa a little late for the opening event at Rancho San Joaquin Golf Course. This was my very first WordCamp event and I didn’t know anyone there. I was nervous to say the least, but that was fixed by Jeffrey Zinn (@jeffreyzinn) rather quickly. Let me first say, what an amazingly friendly and welcoming group. I felt right at home in no time. Jeff has a way of making you feel relaxed and comfortable in just a few words. I ended up meeting several people that night. Shortly after Jeff I met Chris Lema (@chrislema). Everyone was gathered around this guy and with good reason. Ridiculously intelligent and really funny, I don’t care what Jeff Matson (@thejeffmatson) says.

 

I also met the Chuck Norris of PHP programmers, Dave Jesch (@davejesch). Dave Jesch doesn’t use a debugger. His PHP code is too afraid of him to develop bugs. I also met several other speakers and organizers.

The camp itself started the next morning. I got into the show a little later than I wanted, but ran into Sash Ghosh (@liferhymes) on her way out. It was great to see a friendly face before getting into the show. The show was nice and cozy. The one thing the OC WordCamp people do is lay out a nice spread.

WCOC2014-1After getting some great snacks I immediately moved to one of the two main speaking rooms. The first presentation I heard was by Carrie Dils. It was titled, “Learning to Troubleshoot WordPress.” I learned a bunch of great pointers from the speech. The slides are here .

The most mind blowing presentation of the day was by Dave “Chuck Norris” Jesch. He went into hard core PHP optimization. You can see the slide here.

He explained the difference between built in functions that run in native C and slower ones that a user builds in PHP. One thing to note about Mr. Jesch, all the code he writes is object oriented, even when he programs in Basic.

Dave Winter (@dauidus) would give the most helpful presentation. His slides are here and his video is here.

He spoke about how to customize the WordPress Admin area to prevent clients from FUBARing all of your hard work. He had me laughing and thoroughly entertained during the whole speech. Going forward, his information will save me more lost time than anything else I learned at the show.

That night I went to an Irish Pub called “Durty Nelly’s” so I could attend WordCamp OC’s after party. Jeff, being the awesome guy that he is, was waiting by the door with free drink coupons. I ran into a nice chap named Glenn. We are of similar generations and got to talking about the good old days. Out of nowhere I heard Dave Winter say, “Old people are fun.” The three of us started talking when Blair Williams (@blairwilli) walked up. It was truly wonderful meeting him. Not only is he a great guy, he is the maker of many a useful WordPress plugin which I will be using going forward.

WCOC2014-2The next day was my speech. Being my first speech I found myself pretty nervous. Still I couldn’t wait to get to it. First though was lunch. On both days WCOC brought in food trucks. Truly a yummy decision.

Now that lunch was finished I watched a presentation going over integrating social media into your WordPress site. This is an area that I’m very weak at and really appreciated the info. I strongly recommend checking out Sarah Wefald’s slides.

Finally it was time for my presentation.

WCOC2014-3

 

The title was “A WordPress Site Even Your Mother Can Use.” The presentation covered setting up an easy to administer WordPress site for the non tech savvy. The slides can be found here.

My speech was the last of the day and was followed by closing remarks by Jeffrey Zinn. Afterwards I had dinner with Dave Winter and Dave Jesch. One of Dave Winter’s students showed up as well. We talked about every subject imaginable.

It was a really great end to a great show. I would like to thank everyone involved with WordCamp OC (@ocwordcamp)! I had a blast and look forward to other events going forward.

WordCamp Philly 2014: WordPress and Cheesesteaks

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending WordCamp Philly.  From the pre-WordCamp speaker/sponsor dinner to the after party, I greatly enjoyed every moment at WordCamp Philly.  All of the organizers, volunteers, speakers, and sponsors truly made it an extraordinary event.

The Speaker/Sponsor Dinner

As I was speaking at WordCamp Philly, as well as InMotion being a larger sponsor, Mike Zyvoloski and I both attended the dinner prior to the event which took place at Moriarty’s.

We were greeted with food, drinks, and many other speakers whom we were able to make great connections with.  I was certainly happy to see Rami Abraham, Tracy Rotton, and Brad Williams whom I first met in person at WordCamp Miami.

Overall, a great time was had by all and did well in breaking the ice between key individuals who made WordCamp Miami truly exceptional.

The Main Event

WordCamp Philly kicked off registration at 8:00am on Saturday morning.  Upon arrival at the venue, we were immediately greeted with fresh “W” shaped pretzels which was a warm welcome to Philadelphia.

Once within the venue, we headed over to the Happiness Bar in which we were able to discuss hosting with various individuals as well as assist beginners with any additional questions they may have.  The Happiness Bar was a great opportunity to connect with individuals ranging from the most basic of users, to advanced developers alike in an accepting environment where no question was considered too basic.

Each one of the speakers did a wonderful job in presenting the information appropriately for their target audience.  Without each one of the speakers in attendance, WordCamp Philly would have not been the same and they all made it a truly exceptional event.

I had the wonderful opportunity to speak on the subject of choosing a WordPress host.  Although I do represent a hosting provider, I wanted to keep my presentation as unbiased as possible to ensure that everyone in attendance is able to choose for themselves as to what host suits them best.

Overall, I was grateful to receive such as great response from attendees and hope that I was able to inform everyone on picking the perfect host.

The After Party

If you have ever been to a WordCamp before, you already know that the after party is always the best way to mingle with people whom you may have missed due to conflicting presentations during the event.

The after party occurred at Buffalo Billiards which was greatly enjoyed by all with great conversations and a bit of trash talking over a game of pool with friends.  Although Mike and I lost our games of pool to Rami and Shayne of Maintainn, we had a great time and long lasting memories and connections will be everlasting.

A big thanks goes to…

  • The WordCamp Philly organizers whom without them, this would only be a dream.
  • The WordCamp Philly volunteers who worked hard to keep everything running smoothly.
  • All sponsors who made it all happen.
  • The speakers who kept us all glued to our chairs and entertained.
  • All of my friends in the WordPress community who have pushed me into the spotlight for these great opportunities.  You know who you are.
  • Last, but not least, InMotion Hosting whom without this amazing company, I would have never had the opportunity to experience this incredible event.

Until the the next WordCamp when we meet again; So long and thanks for all the fish cheesteaks.

Team Member Profile: John Joseph

2014-04-team-blogHometown: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Position: Sales Manager
InMotion Hosting team member since March 2011

How did you get started in the web hosting field?
I’ve always had a passion for technology and an affinity for computers. Most importantly, I enjoy learning new things and being challenged. For me, the web hosting space is a fun one because it’s ever changing. We are constantly exploring new technologies which makes the impossible possible for our customers.

At InMotion Hosting, we get to play a critical role in the success of folks online all over the world. Whether it’s a start-up, growing enterprise, or established business, we help take them to the next level by providing them a reliable and powerful platform to host their website. How great is that?

What’s your current role at InMotion Hosting? What do you like most about it?
I’m currently positioned as the Sales Manager, overseeing the Hosting Sales, Design Sales, and Onboarding teams. I most enjoy the environment and the people I work with. Everybody has a genuine interest in the product, company, and customer success.

Coolest gadget you own, want, or have read about?
I encountered the red circle of death on my XBOX360 about a year ago. I’d love nothing more than to replace it with an XBoxOne. I miss my videogames.

What would you like to tell us about yourself?
I’m a husband to my wife Stephanie and father to an 11 month old baby boy. I like spending time with my family at the beach, water park, aquarium, or just grilling out in the backyard.

What’s one word that would describe your personality?
Real.

wcmiami

WordCamp Miami 2014 Recap

When many users think of WordPress, they think of it as a content management system. While it is indeed that, it is also so much more. To me, it is now a lifestyle, an extraordinary community that is unsurpassed by any other, and a common goal to make the internet a better place. During a WordCamp, nobody is judged based on their financial situation, the size of their company, or how popular they are. Everyone only pays attention to one thing about you; how much you love WordPress. Developers talk with beginner users, and hosts even converse with each other to drum up friendly competition. Seeing so many different people from various backgrounds certainly pushed me further into the WordPress community and showed me that it is much more than a product, but a living, breathing ecosystem.

The Arrival

arrival

As I had a later flight that was further delayed, I was a bit later than everyone else to the party. Although when I landed, I was able to contact Rami Abraham of Maintainn where we immediately decided to meet for some food and drinks. He suggested a destination and we immediately headed toward the Wynnwood area of Miami. Upon arrival, I was greeted by many well-known names such as Shayne Sanderson of Maintainn, and Brad Williams of WebDevStudios with open arms. Although they are quite well known, and I am much lesser known by the community, it amazed me that such big names would be just as accepting of me as they would any of their peers.

Although we had never spoken outside of channels such as Twitter or a Google Hangout here and there, I was completely accepted. Thousands of miles away with people I had never met in person before, I felt as if I was at home.

Pre-WordCamp

beginners-workshop

On Friday, we made our way over to the Beginners’ Workshop where we wanted to get a good feel of the new users that we may be hosting. While I was unable to learn anything specifically about WordPress, I did gain a significant amount of information about the users. Sometimes, when you get so involved in the development side of things, the basics become lost and you forget what the average user goes through on a daily basis. It was great to chat with a few new WordPress users and see their everyday struggles whether it be with their hosting provider, or maybe just a simple plugin that they can’t see to quite figure out.

Day 1 – Usability, Development, and Design

wcmia-banner

Saturday was the first day of sessions for WordCamp Miami. Immediately as I walked in the door, I knew this is where I belonged. There was an immediate sense of overwhelming knowledge, but not in an intimidating way. It was a very humble, helpful environment that my brain loved to feed off of. Even hearing a conversation going on a few feet away is as intriguing as they come. Although I could not attend every one of the presentations as there were several going on at the same time, nor would I be able to describe each one on this post, here are a few that made notable impressions on me:

 

 

“Responsify All The Things!” by Tracy Rotton

tracyBeing that I am a terrible designer, but interested in honing my skills on the front end of things, I decided to attend Tracy Rotton’s talk on Responsive design. Although I am already a bit versed in how responsive design works and the theory behind it, in practice, my skills are extremely limited. I this talk, Tracy went over a bit of the basics for those who aren’t quite as familiar, then jumped straight into some life-saving techniques to help both the novice and advanced designer become a design powerhouse.

Most notably, Tracy showed us the element within HTML5 which will allow designers to automatically load the appropriate image for the best possible optimization solution for the particular user’s device. As we all know, serving the same image and simply scaling it is always a bad idea, but with the element in HTML5, loading those various images depending on viewport size is a breeze. Of course, we still run into another issue with it as not all browser support the element in which she also describes the picturefill.js JavaScript library to deliver the same experience to users who do not have the same capabilities.

Progressive JPEGs were also discussed in which to the naked eye, appear exactly the same as lesser compressed images but with a much smaller file size. This will save users on bandwidth and I/O usage on the server and also allows a much quicker page loading experience for the user. Previously, I had been using various other methods for my images, but after seeing her example on using progressive JPEGs instead, I don’t think my methods will ever be the same.

Tracy brought up a good point that I think all of us in the room thought of as a “why didn’t I think of that?” moment which was that other elements may be placed within <a> tags such as divs. When there are several items on the page aligned within boxes including things like text and images, many times users will have some trouble clicking on a specific link within that box. Why not make that entire box clickable? This can be done by placing the entire div within the same <a> tag so that even a user with the fattest of fingers can click it on their tiny iPhone screen.

Overall, Tracy Rotton taught me why responsive design is more important than ever, that it will never go away, and how to provide a better experience to all users with some simple tips and tricks that make a huge impact.

If you’re interested in taking a look at the slides from Tracy’s presentation, you may view her slides on GitHub.

“Real WordPress Security – Kill The Noise” by Dre Armeda

dre-armedaDre Armeda of Sucuri made some excellent points on how users can better protect their WordPress sites with just a few simple steps. This was targeted more at basic users and reenforced that the WordPress users is the first line of defense against attacks.

In this presentation, Dre mentions things like using a stronger password, and keeping everything up to date. At InMotion, the #1 cause of compromised sites are simply because the user either had a weak password, or they were running a vulnerable piece of software in which the issue could have been easily fixed by simply updating their software to the most recent version which closes those security flaws. Of course, there are also other tools that can help further protect your site such as Sucuri CloudProxy which runs between the attacker and the web server.

If you’re interested in seeing more about this presentation, you may find Dre’s slides on SlideShare.

“Playing Nicely With Other Plugins” by Pippin Williamson

pippinIf you use any WordPress plugins, you have probably used something by Pippin Williamson. As with any plugins, it is bound to break at some point when introduced to some other plugins. In Pippin’s presentation, he discussed how plugin developers can better suit both their clients, and other plugins that may interact with theirs.

The biggest point that Pippin made was that plugin developers should be nice to other plugin developers. Whether this means fixing their own code to interact with another plugin properly, or by fixing the other plugin’s code, they still share a common client base and they should interact accordingly to ensure that everyone has a great experience. Many times, plugin developers will place blame on others for their plugins causing issues when installed alongside others, but in that instance, nobody really really benefits from the experience. By resolving the conflicts between the plugins, plugin developers can ensure a happier experience for both their users, and other plugin developers.

Not only did Pippin discuss how a plugin developer can resolve issues after the release of a plugin when they see a conflict, but how they can proactively avoid issues within the development process such as using better classes and IDs within the CSS, checking to see if various libraries are already loaded before loading them, and various other things that can avoid your plugin overriding another plugin, or vice versa.

One thing that greatly stood out to me in this presentation was developers arbitrarily changing actions and filters within their plugins. I have personally seen this before and can certainly be an issue for any developer that is using those actions or filters. Pippin gave an example of this in which he simply adjusted a typo in a hook which directly affected one of the users that was using that hook (with the typo), so when that user updated the plugin, it caused significant issues on the site. This issue can be easily avoided by keeping that previous action or filter, as well as the correction both in the plugin for an extended period of time so that users are not suddenly affected by the change and have time to appropriately update their code.

If you’re interested in seeing more about this presentation, you can view Pippin’s slides on SlideShare.

“WordPress Podcasting: The Panel”

podcasting-panelThis panel about WordPress podcasting included several individuals who are well known in the WordPress community for podcasting. Having a panel like this allowed a better look into the podcasting world and how/why they do what they do.

I enjoyed hearing that most of these guys (and girl) do not solely do their podcasts for the money itself and do it simply to provide great information to the WordPress community. It certainly helped the reenforce that WordPress is about community first and monetary gain second, although most of us still make a living from WordPress. The consensus of the group seemed to be to have fun and do what you enjoy, and the monetary gain will follow.

A ton of questions came from the crowd about how to get started and promote your podcast in which the general response was to just jump into it and provide excellent content that people enjoy. Whether you want to talk about the development side of things like Pippin Williamson and Brad Touesnard do on Apply Filters, or you want to focus more in the business side of things like Matt Medeiros does on The Matt Report, there is plenty of room to gather various content that can greatly affect the WordPress community in a positive way.

The Networking Party

After the first day of great presentations, we had an opportunity to have a great time networking with various like-minded professionals in a great atmosphere. This took place at Finnegan’s River in Miami and provided the perfect setting to relax at the bar or a table by the water to connect and talk about anything that came to our minds.

inmotion-and-wptavern

Jeff Chandler and Sarah Gooding were there from WPTavern in which it was a great time to catch up with them and have an overall great experience. Having spoken to Jeff almost every weekend co-hosting our WordPress After Hours Google Hangout, it was a wonderful opportunity for us to meet in person and share our ideas and experiences with WordPress. Although I speak to Sarah much less, I enjoyed meeting her and her husband and had a terrific time making jokes and enjoying the atmosphere. We also got a chance to get goofy in a photo booth for some lasting memories with the WPTavern crew.

Towards the end of the night, I had some great conversations with Chris Wiegman from iThemes Security, previously Better WP Security. We discussed everything WordPress security, their bugs in a previous release right after he sold to iThemes, and ways that everyone can make a better push to providing simplistic security options for all WordPress users. There has been a lot of confusion about Better WP Security getting bought by iThemes and the impression that I have received from Chris is that it has only become better since the acquisition. With more time and money being allotted to development and user experience, iThemes Security certainly has only growth ahead of them.

Day 2 – The Business of WordPress

chrislema-wcmiamiDay 2 was all about business in WordPress. The biggest impact that was made was by Chris Lema. He opened his presentation with a story about walking into a supermarket and buying peanut butter which we can all relate to. I couldn’t even begin to explain it nearly as well as he did, but I’ll post a video here when available. The opening alone was jaw-dropping and there wasn’t a single eye that wasn’t staring intently at him the entire time. Chris certainly knows how to speak to a crowd.

Throughout Chris’ presentation, there was a lot of emphasis on why many WordPress developers and designers fail to succeed to the levels that they desire in which it all boils down to confidence in what you are doing. If you’re a designer, don’t try to do the whole package; Just be extremely good at design. If you attempt to do the whole package, you are devaluing your primary skill. Just find what you are really good at, and be the best in your industry. For example, Chris discussed that if you don’t know what to charge, don’t just throw a number out there. Find out the client’s budget and decide if it will work for you. This same point further leads to giving clients “ballpark” estimates. At that point, you don’t know exactly what it will entail so you can’t accurately decide on a price. Learn the client’s exact needs or you will run the risk of devaluing yourself.

Another great point that Chris made (out of many, many incredible points) was that clients should always have options so that they can better suit their needs. If you provide them with a single option, they only have the opportunity to say “yes” or “no”, but if you present them with multiple options, they will almost always say “yes”. For example, if we only provided our customers with a single option for hosting, that one option may not suit their needs, but offering many different hosting options allows us to better suit the needs of many individuals.

Of course, nothing can compare to seeing his presentation live, and it certainly was the best in my opinion, but if you want to see more about it, check out Chris Lema’s slides from WordCamp Miami on SlideShare.

The Experience of a Lifetime

Overall, I had the experience of a lifetime. Not only was it my first WordCamp, but it was an incredible one. With 770 attendees, including many big names in WordPress, there was never a boring moment. Connections were made that will take me deep into the future, and memories that will last a lifetime. I made new friends, and connected with old ones in which this experience was unsurpassed by anything I have previously done. It was truly an incredible experience and I was to thank InMotion Hosting for sending me there, all of the organizers and volunteers who have put their blood, sweat, and tears into this WordCamp, and all of those sponsors that provided the funding for such an amazing event. They affected so many lives, including mine, and I could not even begin to express my gratitude to to everyone involved to the extent in which they deserve. I’ll see you next year, Miami.

Efficiently hosting a WordPress site

Hosting a WordPress site is easy, but efficiently hosting a WordPress site is the hard part. Sure, you could easily just install WordPress, install a theme that looks good, maybe install a few plugins, and leave it there, but efficiently hosting and maintaining a WordPress site can be more difficult.

If you want to get the most of of WordPress, and keep system resources, costs, and your visitors’ page load times low, you will need to build and maintain that site as efficiently as possible. In this post, we will show you some ways to ensure that your WordPress site is running in top shape at all times.

Keep your WordPress installation updated at all times

WordPress, just like any other widely used and open source content management system is subject to bugs and security flaws. The majority of issues that I see on a daily basis are simply due to out of date WordPress installations.

WordPress now includes the ability to automatically update itself for any maintenance releases. While this does not apply to major releases such as 3.9 to 4.0, it will update your site automatically for minor and maintenance releases such as security issues.

Clean out those themes and plugins

Often, users will simply deactivate plugins and themes instead of fully removing them. Although deactivated, the files are still there and can lead to various bugs and security issues.

When not using a plugin or theme, be sure to fully remove it. You can always reinstall it if you find a need for it in the future.

Avoid bloated themes and plugins

Many users will go for a single plugin that does everything but the problem with that is that there are a lot of other options within the plugin or theme that they will never use. Avoid plugins or themes that are an “all in one” solution and instead of going for something that does everything. For example, if you just need to display a small Twitter widget, go for a widget that does just that, not something that includes various other things such as extra share buttons in your post or an entire page of Twitter posts. While those elements are not being shown, the code itself will usually use more system resources.

Some themes and plugins may also be poorly coded in which they will use up more resources than necessary. Although they may be attractive, there is most likely a theme or plugin that will look just as good, but use half the resources of a poorly coded theme. A good starting point in this would be to only purchase themes from reputable sources.

More and more caching

Caching can be critical in improving the performance of your site. Caching simply allows dynamic elements to be run a single time and then serve static elements to all of the users allowing for less system resources, and a quicker page load time for all visitors.

Plugins such as W3 Total Cache can easily configure caching for you with just a few simple clicks.

Use a CDN for all static content

A CDN will allow you to serve your static files from various locations depending on your visitor which will allow much quicker page load times. Aside from the user’s perspective, your server will also be able to offload those resources to another service that is specifically tuned to do exactly that, allowing a lower effect on server resources.

Services such as MaxCDN are able to cheaply boost the performance of your site, and are very easy to set up within plugins such as W3 Total Cache.

Make regular backups

Ensure that you always have backups ready to go if anything were to happen to your site. If something happened to cause you to lose all of your data, or you made a change that completely breaks your site, you will have a backup ready to go.

Most users don’t understand the need for backups until they need them, so proactively make backups when changes are made, as well as incremental backups every week, month, year, etc. Several plugins such as BackUpWordPress will be able to easily back up your WordPress site with just a couple clicks.

In addition to making regular backups, be sure that you are also storing them off of the server. Many times when a user is compromised, it will also affect the backups as well. Storing the backups in a location such as Google Drive or Dropbox will ensure that your backups are always readily available.

Maintain like a madman

Of course, once you have everything set up, be sure to continuously maintain your site at all times. Even if the site is a purely informational site that isn’t updated much, keep checking up on it to ensure that everything is running smoothly often. Sometimes you may notice a small issue that if discovered early, can drastically affect whether that small issue turns into a big one later down the road.

Running a website is much more than simply tossing it up and leaving it there. Treat it like a pet that continuously needs love and care.