WordCamp Boston 2011 Review

This past weekend I spent my time with technology professionals from all over the New England region to meet, discuss and learn more about one of our favorite pieces Website technology, WordPress. The simple control and elegant ways we can manage and leverage data online make it a great content management solution (CMS) for just about any size/scope website project.

Today WordPress is used by 54.6% of all the websites whose content management system we know. This is 14.5% of all websites on the internet, the next closest content management system platform is Joomla at a paltry 10.1% (thanks @ryanprogramming) of all websites. The proof as they say is in the pudding, which you can find in this article if you are interested. What I have prepared here is a brief review of the sessions that I attended at the conference, what my impressions were and what I learned from each session and what I thought about the presentations themselves. I hope you enjoy my point of view and also offer you a small glimpse into the vast amount of incredible information I obtained at WordCamp Boston 2011 this weekend, if you are on twitter and are looking for comments from the event simply search the hashtag #wcbos. Enjoy!

Creating Plugins: Kelly Dawn (Grade Incomplete)

Got in pretty late to start…there was a lot of rain and it was tough to get in on time with traffic so to be honest we missed just about all of this talk but here is the link to full presentation if you are interested in learning about creating and developing plugins for WordPress. You can download her presentation slides here. And you can follow Kelly on Twitter here.

Stepping into Custom Post Types: K. Adam White (Grade 9 out of 10)

Custom Post Types Scaled

Custom post types in WordPress are very much like DuctTape, in that it allows you to better tie all your information types together. Great presentation by @KAdamwhite, first time speaking did an amazing job. Some real gems of information that are directly affect some projects we are working on right now. Made the day completely worth it already and we are only 1 session in! You can download his presentation slides here

WordPress Security – Facts and Fiction: D.K. Smith (Grade 7 out of 10)

WordCamp Boston 2012

15 – 20% of WordPress hacks are drive-bys. The cracker already has the username and password! Overall D.K.’s WordPress Security presentation was very lighthearted, and was kept very casual and fun. I got a few useful bits of information about what I need to do to be more secure but left feeling more panicked than I did prepared to deal with the challenges I have in front of me. But in the end there are definitely some new security processes that I will be instituting not only for myself but also for all my future client projects that will help me sleep better at night. If you want more links and information on securing your WordPress website follow D.K. Smith on Twitter.

Customizing the Admin Interface: Jake Rainis, Niki Brown (Grade 7 out of 10)

Customizing the WordPress Admin Interface

This session was all about how can we improve the usability experience for our users by customizing the Admin Interface by using Custom Post Types, Custom Fields and admin user tool design. Good presentation….the tag team approach felt a bit disjointed but the value of the content greatly outweighed that. Some AWESOME plugins and techniques given in this presentation that will drastically impact the quality of the interaction and the branding of all of our client site admin areas. Very exciting. You can follow Jake Rainis and Niki Brown on Twitter and you can view notes of their presentation here.

Theming with Sidebars: Ellie Roepken (Grade 5 out of 10)

Wow, I felt really bad for our presenter in this session, she was very nervous and uncomfortable. Our presenter made all the classic mistakes…saying it was her first time, saying she didn’t understand things, appeared completely unprepared, and answered a bunch of questions with simply “I don’t know.” it was uncomfortable. However there was a silver lining here, interestingly enough this session somehow morphed into a giant Q&A session between all the attendees, a bit awkward for the attendees but somehow it all worked. Odd and unconventional but what the heck I give her a 5 out of 10 for at least staying up there the whole time. Presenting to a group of peers is NEVER easy, and I hope that this experience doesn’t completely discourage Ellie from trying this again. She is a very smart person, just needs more practice at public speaking that’s all. If you can follow Ellie on Twitter and you can also check out her blog.

Theming & Mobile: Optimizing WordPress Site: Sara Cannon (Grade 8 out of 10)

Responsive Web Design

Responsive Webdesign is a crazy awesome and somewhat complex way to approach designing modern websites. Hicksdesign is a great example and so is the 2011 theme for WordPress (open them up and then make your browser window less wide to see what I mean. See how it changes? Pretty cool right?). Responsive website design IS the future of website design NOW. @saracannon did a great job with her presentation on responsive website design. Really got my brain firing on new ways to not only look at the overall design aspects of my websites but consider how we might be able to augment them to provide even better content based on different monitor sizes and devices and orientation. The bottom line is that the options and ideas are extensive but the process of actually making this work for all combinations and situations can get expensive fast because of the amount of time needed to tweak and get it all just right. Definitely things to discuss for future projects and feel good about knowing more about how all this works. You can download her presentation slides here.

Abusing Your WordPress Theme with CSS3: Boaz Sender (Grade 8 out of 10)

Boaz Sender Presentation Photo

Excellent presentation and excellent job speaking by @BoazSender. Got a great first hand look at some really advanced and cool functions that CSS3 can add to your website designs. Great link and practical demo applications of all techniques that I am definitely going to keep on tap to use in current and future projects right now. You can see examples and links of what I am talking about here just too much to go through in this quick review….animations, transitions, shadows, insets, hover effects and a whole bunch more. This session was another one that really got my brain spinning with excitement.

Advanced Theme Performance Techniques: Frederick Townes (Grade 8 out of 10)

The creator of W3 Cache…and CTO of Mashable.com (that runs in WordPress by the way). One quick tip I can share is to always use native file naming conventions when ceasing themes. This was a very advanced presentation that definitely was a tad over my head (which is why I work with super smart people like @jdstudios). It was interesting to hear the prospective and opinion of a developer who works with some very busy and large properties like Mashable.com which I had no idea that ran on WordPress. Regardless of the actual content being beyond my grasp initially it was still good to hear all of this and make me realize I have a lot more to learn.

We will definitely be back to WordCamp Boston in 2012

WordCamp 2011 is exactly what I was hoping it would be and even better than WordCamp 2010! It was a jam-packed day with a ton of useful information, tips and ideas that challenged my creativity and inspired me and got me excited to do more with the current projects I am building and the past projects I have currently live with my customers. My biggest take aways from this years conference were the custom post types tools and flexibility options, new ways to secure and protect our client sites better than we already are and finally new and exciting ways that we can customize our clients admin dashboards to make them easier and more seamless for them to use. It’s going to be a very exciting next few months as we wrap up and start a few more WordPress projects for our clients. I hope you enjoyed my overview and impressions of the conference and have supplied you with some great information that you will find interesting and useful. If you did enjoy this please leave a comment below and or share this post however you like, open source is all about sharing after all.

If you are interested in talking to us about building you a WordPress Website you can give us a call at 603-325-2429 or you can fill out our website development request form. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

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