WordPress and Video Games – WordCamp Orlando 2014

As some of you may know, I had the pleasure of attending WordCamp Orlando this past weekend.  If you didn’t quite get it from the title, everything was classic video game themed. Being someone who loves classic games (but doesn’t have much time to play them) it was great to see all of the work that the organizers put into everything.

Due to Orlando being another WordCamp where individuals flew in from all around the country, I was able to reconnect with others that I have previously met, as well as meet new people whom I was able to learn from and share new ideas.  Meeting with other like-minded individuals and sharing ideas is incredibly motivating.

The Main Event

Unlike most WordCamps that run on Saturday and Sunday, WordCamp Orlando took place on Friday and Saturday.  Throughout the weekend, I couldn’t seem to remember what day it was, but it seemed to work out well as the majority of people were representing a business or freelancing.

WordCamp Orlando was full of talent.  From Syed Balkhi’s incredible business genius to Mark Jaquith’s developer mind, all aspects of the WordPress world were well covered in some sort of “success wonderland”.  Not once was my mind not blown by a conversation I had.

My Presentation on Writing Better Documentation

At WordCamp Orlando, I had the pleasure of deploying my documentation skills onto the brains of developers.  Often times, I feel as if documentation is neglected in lieu of new features.  While new features are great, if not properly documented, those features because hard to use.

I feel that I made a great impact on how developers can write better documentation to enhance user experience and reduce support tickets.  The feedback was excellent and if I got even a single developer to better their documentation, my presentation was a success.

Overall

Overall, WordCamp Orlando was an excellent experience and will go down as one of my favorite WordCamps.  The attendees were top notch, the presentations were inspiring, and the organizers’ efforts were extremely appreciated.  A big thanks goes out to everyone involved who made WordCamp Orlando and unforgettable experience.

 

Squashing the misconceptions about WordPress

I have highly recommended WordPress for various different projects, and often times I am provided with a reason as to why they think WordPress may not be suitable for them.  Those who work with WordPress regularly, know that WordPress can be used to a multitude of projects and in most cases, is the best solution.

These misconceptions are so common, in fact, that Andrew Nacin recently asked for feedback on the most common misconceptions people have.

When reading the replies, it seemed that many others who work with WordPress on a daily basis are all giving the same responses like, “It doesn’t scale”, “WordPress is just for blogs”, and “WordPress isn’t for developers”.  Of course, these are simply not the case.

“WordPress doesn’t scale well”

One of the most common things WordPress development studios face is clients thinking that WordPress is not scalable enough to operate on enterprise platforms.  To think so, is just insane.

WordPress.com is one of the most used blogging sites on the planet and on during October 2014, sites hosted on WordPress.com or externally hosted using JetPack received over 17 billion pageviews and is steadily increasing without any decrease in sight.  While externally hosted sites may skew these statistics a bit, but it still represents the sheer power of how WordPress can be scaled.

Now, you may be thinking, “Ok, but how many individual sites are on WordPress.com?”  Based on how WordPress operates, they are actually all within a single multisite installation of WordPress.  This means that a single WordPress installation is currently operating this massive number of sites.  If that’s not scalability, I would love to see what is.

Of course, this isn’t just limited to WordPress.com who are are better supported than any other WordPress site in existence.  This also spans to Microsoft, CNN, and The New York Times.  If those media giants can successfully scale a WordPress site to fit their massive amount of daily activity, anyone can.

“WordPress is just meant for blogs”

It’s no secret that WordPress was initially created for blogging, but it has evolved into so much more.  WordPress has become the standard for any content management system at this point.  Powering over 23% of sites on the internet, WordPress is certainly used for much more than blogs.

With the launch of AppPresser, WordPress is slowly being adopted as a mobile application framework.  As mobile phones are taking over market share by leaps and bounds, a mobile application framework makes perfect sense and will continue to push WordPress as one of the best ways to deliver your content to end users.

In terms of websites, even sites that are very light on written content are making the change to WordPress due to it’s versatility.  WordPress is made to be built upon and sites are fully equipped to evolve as their needs grow, so logically, WordPress is made for whatever you want to build on top of it.

“WordPress isn’t for real developers”

This is a big one that I hear often from self-exclaimed elitists.  WordPress is but a tool that is meant to be built upon and any other developers stating this are simply misinformed. Just as we fight for WordPress, you can’t blame other developers for fighting for their favorite tools.  We support what we like and many times feel that other tools are inadequate simply because we don’t use them, but belittling a developer’s tool simply because you don’t prefer it is just bad form.

You have to ask yourself, what is a real developer?  For me, it’s someone who simply makes something awesome.  Plenty of WordPress developers push the boundaries and innovate new ideas every day.  Most open source developers want to build things that make the biggest impact on the world and with as large as WordPress is, they are certainly making that impact.

“WordPress is insecure”

This mostly stems from the thought that because it is open source and anyone can view the source, it is insecure.  In the contrary, you have many, many, additional people who are constantly testing WordPress for security vulnerabilities from it being open source.

Do WordPress sites get hacked?  Most definitely.  Is it because of some sort of laziness or lack of adequate security?  Certainly not.

WordPress is a target because of how large it is.  If you had a content management system that is used by 1,000 people, you would see far less hacks not because it is necessarily secure, but because it’s simply not a target.  WordPress simply targeted because it has a very large market share.

So, how do we solve these misconceptions?

Resolving all of these misconceptions about WordPress are primarily the responsibility of the community as a whole to inform the public.  If we can set these things right every time we see them happening, we can begin to push these rumours into the abyss.

I personally feel like the closeness of WordPress.com and WordPress.org are certainly confusing folks.  When a beginner is looking into WordPress at first, they simply see WordPress.com for the most part.  I think if we could better differentiate the two, we would see a significant improvement in fully understanding WordPress for the general public.

As for the developers that think WordPress developers are some kind of wannabes, that may never change.  All we can do here is simply show off our work and the improvements we have made, and hope for the best.  There are always going to be haters out there, but lowering those numbers is only going to be done by writing better code, and proving to any opposition that we are here to stay.

WordPress In My Mind – WordCamp Raleigh 2014

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending WordCamp Raleigh where I represented InMotion Hosting as well as spoke on WordPress optimization.  As with all other WordCamps I have attended, there were incredible discussions and memorable relationships made all around.

Pre-WordCamp Gatherings

Being a speaker at WordCamp Raleigh, the first of many interactions with others was the speaker event on Friday.  Differing from the several others I have attended, the organizers decided it would be a great idea to have a sit-down, family-style dinner at Jimmy V’s Osteria.

At the dinner, I sat beside Will Haley and Allen Moore in which we had excellent discussions about our upcoming presentations, web hosting, and front end development.  Through these conversations, I felt an immediate need to learn a bit more front end development and I was able to provide a better inside look on various aspects of hosting.

After the dinner, we made our way over to The Oxford for a bit more relaxing and mingling before the main event on Saturday.  Of course, I always expect at least one person from WebDevStudios when I attend a WordCamp in which I met up with Justin Sternberg and discussed all of the great they’re doing for Microsoft, as well as the newest addition to AppPresser – Reactor.

The Main Event

WordCamp Raleigh took place in the engineering building of NC State University.  The venue was perfect for WordCamp presentations due to large lecture rooms.

Justin Sternberg gave an excellent presentation on CMB2 which will allow you to create custom metaboxes and fields with incredible ease.  If you use any custom fields on either the front end or back end, it is certainly worth looking into.

My favorite talk at WordCamp Raleigh was Allen Moore’s talk on work/life balance.  In this talk, Allen hit the nail right on the head with the endless struggle between working hard and having a life outside of work.  As someone who begins working immediately after rolling out of bed, continues late into the night, and make myself available at all hours, it was great to hear that I’m not the only one that struggles with a lack of social life outside of the WordPress community.  I certainly learned that while WordPress and InMotion Hosting have become a very large part of my life, I need to take a step back sometimes and get my face out of my computer, phone, or iPad.

My presentation at WordCamp Raleigh was titled “Stop Eating Resources and Optimize Your WordPress Site“.  Within my presentation, I was able to inform WordPress users on how to better optimize their site to increase server performance and visitor experience.  Everyone’s site has the opportunity to become faster than it already is, and I’m glad that I was able to help so many users hit the next level of site performance.

While at WordCamp Raleigh, I was also able to have some great conversations about hosting with Steve Mortiboy of SemperFi Web Design.  It seemed he was quite pleased with InMotion’s efforts to know what customers want, and catering to their needs in the most effective way possible.  It was certainly great to speak with someone who genuinely appreciated all of the efforts that InMotion and I make to provide a consistently pleasurable experience for everyone.

Overall Impressions

WordCamp Raleigh was an excellent experience.  I feel the organizers picked the perfect venue, and speakers were well selected.  I had some excellent conversations with highly skilled individuals, as well as some who are just starting out.  WordCamps are a great way for users, developers, and designers to all meet on even ground to help each other, and WordCamp Raleigh did exactly that

A big thanks goes out to all of the speakers, volunteers, and especially the organizers who have shed their blood, sweat, and tears to make WordCamp Raleigh an amazing experience.

WordCamp Maine 2014 – WordPress and “lobstah”

WordCamp Maine 2014 header

I recently had the pleasure of visiting beautiful Portland, Maine for the first ever WordCamp Maine. Living in the city for so long and only traveling to large cities for WordCamps, I wasn’t sure of what to expect with a brand-new WordCamp out in the middle Maine. Well, to my surprise, it was an amazing trip full of wonderfully knowledgeable individuals who truly cared about WordPress as well as open source software.

Being a smaller WordCamp, I felt as if it was much easier to connect with people a lot closer than other WordCamps I have attended. If you have attended larger WordCamps in the past, you may have found that there are usually somewhat of common people that hang out together. Of course, absolutely anybody is welcome to walk up to whomever they want and strike up a conversation, but groups are sometimes formed that can discourage new folks in the community from talking to the big name “circuit speakers”. What I felt at WordCamp Maine was exactly the opposite of that.

Typically when I attend a WordCamp, I go with an agenda of who I want to speak with and the particular topic I want to discuss. At this smaller WordCamp, my approach was to wander up to absolutely anybody and strike up a conversation. From the very moment I arrived at the speaker/sponsor party to the very end of the day Saturday, I was constantly asking people what they did with WordPress and what they are currently working on. Sure, it may have been a bit strange to some for someone to randomly approach them and ask them about their work, but learning more about everyone’s jobs and upcoming projects was well worth it bit of creepiness I could have possibly portrayed.

The arrival

Not very often do I get the rare opportunity to arrive in a city with much time to explore. Typically, I fly in, get to a speaker dinner, get much less sleep than I should, attend the conference, run to the after party, then catch a flight home in the morning. When I had the opportunity to arrive in Portland on an early flight, I knew I had to make the best of it.

As I had not seen Chris Wiegman of iThemes Security since WordCamp Miami, and he was arriving a bit earlier as well, I saw it as a perfect opportunity to connect with him. After a few text messages back and forth, we took a short walk (that felt like an eternity uphill) to downtown Portland. There, we decided to grab a bit to eat and chat about WordPress, airplanes, and stray cats for several hours before we had to head over to the speaker/sponsor party. Walking the city of Portland was never on my bucket list, but it was certainly a pleasure.

The speaker/sponsor party

wordcamp-maine-jeff-and-chrisAt WordCamp Maine, I had the pleasure of being part of an incredible group of speakers, and bowling alongside them as well at Bayside Bowl. If bowling skills had a direct correlation to WordPress development/design skills, I think we would all be in some serious trouble.

The organizers had the right idea when they decided to encourage people to randomly bowl together so that everyone would be almost forced, in a sense, to talk to people whom they don’t know. It certainly broke the ice well and led to some great camaraderie between individuals who may even be business competition.

Overall, the speaker/sponsor party was a great success and I highly encourage other larger WordCamps to encourage conversation and teamwork from the very beginning just as well as WordCamp Maine did.

The main event

Just a quick walk from my hotel was WordCamp Maine, located at the Maine College of Art. I especially loved they layout of the WordCamp in which most would walk by the Happiness Bar and it was very open and inviting. As the majority of my memorable discussions occur at the Happiness Bar, that was my direct target.

At WordCamp Maine, the keynote was John Eckman of 10up, one of the largest WordPress development and design studios out there. In his keynote, John discussed his roots and the community spirit of the open source community, especially WordPress. It was quite possibly one of the best keynotes I have been to recently due to the direct connection I have with the WordPress community and its impact on me both personally and professionally. In some way, WordPress has shaped our lives and John did an excellent job in describing that feeling.

I spoke at my typical 3:00PM time slot on choosing a WordPress host. As it was a smaller WordCamp, it was a smaller crowd which was nice as I was able to read everyone a lot better and determine where more emphasis may need to be placed. I felt like the audience certainly learned how to better choose a host for their WordPress site in an unbiased manner.

After speaking, all speakers are highly encouraged to sit at the Happiness Bar for an hour to further discuss any topics that may have been left out. During that time, I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Ackley who is heading up the Ecosite Competition which is an effort for developers to provide websites for eco-friendly organizations. We were able to have some great conversations about eco-friendly datacenters and helping the environment as developers as much as possible.

Why WordPress Maine was awesome

Firstly, no WordCamp can be a success without the organizers that give their lives to it, the volunteers who work hard to keep things running smoothly, the speakers for providing excellent subject matter, and the sponsors for footing the bill. A big thanks goes out to all of you for working so hard to make the very first WordCamp Maine such a success.

WordCamp Maine was a great approach towards bringing people together, regardless of their status within the community. I feel that the organizers worked especially hard to keep a large amount of diversity within the group. As WordCamp Maine grows, I hope to see those values continue through many successful years.

I had a great time speaking at WordCamp Maine and hope to see you all next year!

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!

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.

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.