WordCamp Orlando was held last weekend (November 11 & 12) and, as a newcomer to the WordPress community, I wanted to check it out and see how the WP community compares to the Drupal community – really the only community I knew for the last 8 years or so.
WCORL was awesome! I took a ton of notes (see below), met some great folks, and got the general vibe that this is a happy, welcoming community.
Here are just a few of the things I learned at WordCamp – session by session.
Keynote – Sam Smith
Sam Smith is a firefighter EMT and a WordPress developer! The keynote was a chronicle of his journey learning web development while saving lives. Truly an inspiration and I wish I would have met him afterward, but alas I was off to the first session.
Just a couple of resources/tips that Sam mentioned:
- Noted that a Seminole County library card – like Orange County – gets you a free Lynda.com subscription
- For 15 minutes, you should try to figure out a problem on your own, then you should ask for help
- Genesis framework for WordPress
- WordCamp Miami – March 16-18, 2018
Comparing Page Builders – Aaron Reimann
I really haven’t explored the world of page builders yet, but this was a great resource for where to start (tip: most folks I met suggested Beaver Builder!)
- Gutenberg – soon to be in WP core
- Page Builder by Siteorigin – oldest and has the greatest number of installs
- Beaver Builder – this was the speakers fav, free in official WP repo (though, it has a paid upgrade), huge community, possible tie into ACF (Advanced Custom Fields)
- Divi Builder – really nice interface but no free version, works by inserting shortcodes into your pages (and was discouraged by most for this reason)
- Elementor – newest, also really nice interface and powerful feature set, free/paid
Bonus: Blank slate plugin – resets theme and strips all regions but content, good for building landing pages
Running Your Service Business on WordPress – David Laietta
The presenter, David, described his freelance workflow and how he uses WordPress for almost all of his business needs – from attracting clients, to landing them, to managing projects, to invoicing. Really great list of resources!
- Gravity Forms – used to gather prospect’s budget, time frame, depth of project
- Calend.ly – booking service integration – used to let prospect pick meeting time!
- Side note: Always email recaps about phone calls immediately!
- Gravity PDF – Gravity Forms extension to create submission PDFs
- SproutApps – invoicing through WP
- Zoom.us – video conferencing starting at $15/mo
- IFTTT & Zapier
Encrypt All the Things – Chris Wiegman
This talk was mostly about encryption and how to keep your data secure (on you phone, desktop, online). It focused more on protecting privacy, not security.
There was a lot to follow, so here are the slides if you want to check it out:
10 Biggest Mistakes After Launching your Website – Patrick Alexander
There were actually 21, but this session mostly focused on what you should remember AFTER your site goes live – a time where most folks are ready to move onto the next project.
Here are just a few of the tips:
- You don’t set up scheduled backups (suggested: All-in-One WP Migration / Duplicator)
- You ignore security (always update plugins, always use recently-updated plugins, secure with SSL)
- You forget or ignore spam prevention measures
- You don’t set up friendly permalinks
- You forget about SEO / sitemap creation (suggested: YOAST)
- You forget to disable “discourage search engines” (yikes!)
- You don’t submit sitemap to search engine consoles
- You don’t connect analytics (Google Analytics)
- You don’t set up alerts when mentioned (Google Alerts)
- You don’t monitor website uptime (uptimerobot.com)
At this time, I randomly walked in on a session in progress on A/B testing. I stayed long enough to hear the speaker’s favorite tool, VWO.
API Integration with WordPress – Rob Ruiz
The basic gist of this session was to talk about the ability to use WordPress functions to run API calls to external sites to get information back to your site. The example provided was how the speaker created a local WP meetup site and then pulled the meetup schedule back into the site from Meetup.com.
The main resource takeaway for me was to look into what he called “WordPress settings/options frameworks.” Still haven’t done that… but here are the 2 that were suggested: Redux & S214 (this one was the fav).
WP_query and You – Brian Richards
I have to say that, as a WP newbie, this was one of the most helpful sessions of the whole weekend! Brian, creator of WPSessions, took time out of his day after the session (this was at the end of the day, so he easily could have shrugged me off and gone home) to answer a couple of my questions and point me toward some great resources – none of which were specifically his site, so I know he wasn’t just trying to make a sale 😉
Here are a couple of tidbits and resources from the talk, but please make sure to check out WPSessions! Brian is a great guy that made me feel welcome in the WP community and gave way more advice than he should have for free!!
- WP Rocket – good generalized caching plugin
- CMB2 – post meta boxes and ACF alternative
- Facet WP / Custom Facet Hooks / Facet WP Conditional Logic
- Search WP
- AG Custom Admin
To wrap up, I had a truly fantastic first WordCamp experience (and I say first, because I will be going again!). Here are just a few pictures to give an idea of how it was.
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