Last weekend I headed to New Zealand to attend WordCamp Auckland. WordCamps are community driven conferences focused on people who use, create, and support WordPress.
It was a fantastic time – with great talks (check out my notes below), awesome people, and some fabulous food (mostly cooked by the family of the organisers).
Oh yeah – I also spoke on How to troubleshoot your site like a Happiness Engineer. I’ll put the video up once it is ready.
Here are my notes from most of the talks. They’re a little rough and may sometimes be out of context – but there’s some nuggest of Gold in there…
How to make the most of your WordPress Experience: Sally Eberhart
Author of Pain Free Networking for Introverts – believes in the power of connection
The WordPress Community is awesome!
The learning can be done later, the opportunity to connect is here and now,
- Talks will be on WordPress.tv later.
- If you get caught in a great conversation that’s ok.
It’s not who you know, but who knows you
- When you connect with someone (after meeting them) don’t just touch base, but recall something notable from your conversation.
- The note/connection about what you talk about not only gives you something to mention to them, but helps you recall the person/conversation.
- It is powerful, but easy (and free) to give. Say thank you.
- It makes you memorable (not everyone says thanks).
- You can do it publicly/privately, verbally/on social media.
Happiness lies in connections with others
- Encourage you to build relationships today
- Be authentic, vulnerable, respectful, give before you ask for anything.
Self Care at WordCamps (especially for introverts)
- Socialising can be overwhelming
- Take mini-breaks for yourself
- Seek quality over quantity (when it comes to connections)
- Take time to recharge
The new rules of Online Writing – Bill Bennet
- Freelance Journalist
- Started Blogging to help his freelance work. He needed a higher profile.
- 3 or 4 years to kick in and become helpful (bring traffic and work).
- Has been a journalist for 40 years.
- Doesn’t like to introduce himself as a ‘Blogger’ because he’s not an ‘influencer’. People assume there might be some kind of payment for your opinion.
- He’s independent, not paid by companies/products to write.
- Writing is about getting your ideas across to other people.
- The zeroth law of good writing: Put your readers first.
- Good clear writing – readily understandable and unambiguous
What’s changed (with writing online)
- Most people will read on a phone. It’s different from reading in other mediums.
- Narrow measure, you don’t get lots of words on the phone.
- People flick through (on avg. 28% of pages are read).
- Everything comes down to the first paragraph. Let people know what you’re going to write about.
- Phone users have less patience – they hate waffling and will quickly switch away.
- It is still easier to read from a book because your brain isn’t overloaded from interpreting from a screen’
- Forget what you were taught about writing (at school or University)
- Remember basic grammar rules
- Don’t try and use big words or long sentences to look smart
- If someone has to look up a word you used – you’ve failed.
- Keep it simple – simple words and sentences
- Speak in one tense (ideally the present tense).
- Avoid ‘be’ words (it makes your writing passive)
- Limit the number of adjectives and verbs. Not everything is ‘Awesome’ and ‘Amazing’
- Prefer Anglo-Saxon words to French or Latin ones.
- One idea at a time
- Avoid jargon and complex terms – even professionals in a certain industry (that might understand the terms) still prefer simplicity and clarity.
- If in doubt, leave it out.
- Use ‘Chunking’ (break it up into stackable bits using headings).
Gutenberg makes writing in ‘Chunks’ easier – because you can see how many paragraph blocks you have and that you need to break it up with a different kind of block.
“Don’t use Focus Keywords. It makes a crap piece of writing”
- Go Short (less than 300 words. 6 or 7 paragraphs), or
- Long (much longer) – don’t write an in-between length (2000-3000 words)
- 4:1 short to long stories.
‘Simple’ means that your words are less likely to be misinterpreted.
Your .nz domain name 101 – Maria Skatova
.nz second level domains
- Some are moderated (.govt.nz)
- Some are unmoderated (.nz)
- .nz registrations are open to all countries.
.co.nz or .nz?
- Up to you
- .co.nz is more popular
- .nz was added to simplify/shorten things.
- 16% of business register both
- .nz has the most positive associations with being trustworthy and secure
- .com is good for shopping
- .org is knowledgable
WordPress has 25% share in the .nz space (60% ‘no’ CMS).
Hosting: Ricky Blacker (WPEngine)
- Hosting used to be simple. CMSes added lots of power, but lots of headaches.
What do you need from hosting today?
- You don’t get your own ‘box’. You get a little piece.
- Shared Hosting: Like staying at a Backpackers – it’s cheap but not ideal.
- Dedicated Hosting: Your own Hotel Room. Still in a shared environment – but you’ve got your own section of it. More control over what is going on, more secure,.
- Cloud Hosting. Your site may be stored in multiple locations (not necessarily global). Hosting that is fluid and able to be moved around.
- Location of servers matter.
- Have a server as close as possible to your customers/viewers
- Know where your traffic is coming from.
- No on a can offer 100% uptime. Things happen.
- 99.9% uptime is 1m 24.6s a day. 8hr 45m a year
- But you need to monitor your uptime, and check your SLA to see whether your host will compensate you if they go outside that time.
- Threat Detection and Blocking
- Proactive Security and Maintenance
- Managed Patching and Updates
- Free SSL? Same as $120 SSL (Let’s Encrypt).
- If you haven’t tested your backup – you haven’t got one.
- Easy Restore
- What kind of support do you get?
- What does it cover?
- When is it available.
- You get what you pay for, but make sure you get what you pay for.
- Particularly if you are making money/relying on your website.
- Speed vs Speed (comes down to a variety of factors – not just a single value).
- PHP Versions
- Database versions…
- Server Side Caching
eCommerce and Membership
- If you’re making money from site – invest in your hosting.
- Resources for Seasonal Traffic and Spikes
How Elementor Changed my life for the better – Mel Telecican
- Course on Marketing Automation with ActiveCampaign
What is Elementor?
- Drag and Drop page builder
- Free/Pro version
- Incredibly user friendly for non-coders – but also good for handing off sites to users.
Demo videos were good examples of Elementor – but not many notes taken…
Mistakes in Digital Marketing – Darren Craig
Digital Growth Speicalist – Fully Charged Media
- Clients think Digital Marketing is Snake Oil.
- “You can’t go back and get the data if you want it later”. Start tracking now.
- The info from this would be REALLY helpful for our users…
- Check talks from WCBNE:
Who builds your house?
- Not just a builder. A bunch of people.
- Iceberg marketing. The client sees the nice website at the top – but there’s a LOT going on underneath.
Tracking and Analytics
- Clickable Phone number links (means they can be clicked and tracked)
- Specific thank you pages for forms (instead of success messages).
- GA, GTM, Google Search Console. (GTM tracks events without having to manually add events).
- Cross-domain tracking and frames…
- Migrations. Usually Digital Marketing sites are a rebuild/redo – you want to respect the previous site. Make sure you redirect old URLS to new ones
- Ease of Remarketing
- Site Content and SEO ‘Silos’
Speed & Functionality
When your site is slow:
- Your search engine optimisation suffers
- Conversion rate drops
- Your average Sale value drops
- Cost of advertising goes up.
Check Waterfall view in GTMetrix
Search Engine Optimisation
- Watch out for themes that do a bad job of SEO
- Cut excess content (useful content vs useless content)
- Watch custom post types (can manage SEO for them in YOAST)
- “Don’t confuse design elements for SEO”
- Deliver a better product
- Lower the total cost of ownership
- Beautiful websites don’t get found (the stuff behind them does)
- Challenge and Educate
- Create a better industry together.
How Literally anyone can become an open source contributor – Jo Minney
Becoming part of the WordPress community
- You become better at what you do
- You get to shape the World’s most popular CMS
- You can give back to the WordPress Community
- It’s fun
Where do I start
- Become a Meetup organiser before you’ve attended one? Winging it, but no-one will notice
- Core: Building, testing, fixes
- Design: User interface and User Testing
- Polyglots (one of the fastest and easiest ways to contribute)
- Support (IRC!!)
- Meta – (WordPress.org, Make.Wordpress.org, learn.WordPress.org)
- Testing (Super easy – get involved in half an hour)
Do Action – https://doaction.org/about/
Effective Triaging is moving a ticket one step closer to resolution every time the ticket is touchedJonathan Desrosiers
- Don’t do it on a client site
- Don’t do it on a site with sensitive data
- Can roll up a site on Jurassic.Ninja and install the Beta Testing plugin
- Every Test Matters
- Three different ‘tests’ you can run people through
- Use screen capture software to record the session
- Not helping them, or figuring out the bugs – it’s finding out what their experience was like.
Documentation and Training
- Teaching people how to teach people about WordPress
- Can contribute without any coding.
GIT amongst it
- Change (Staging = “I’m ready to do the thing!”
- Pull Request
Check out Git Kraken
Kia Ora, Polyglots
- Search where you want to translate to
- Shows you how many untranslated strings (bits of text) there are.
- Make a suggestion for a translation
Last night I managed to do my first translation and first PR at 3am when I was horribly jet lagged, so you can do it too
- Organise a Meetup or WordCamp
- Become a WordCamp Mentor
- Become a Community Deputy
facebook.com/groups/womenwhowp – talk about WordPress without getting mansplained.
My Year with Blocks – Jeffry Ghazally
This is one way to work with blocks (it might not be the right way).
Working for Timely (bookings and appointments for Salons)
- Works on the Marketing Site
- Lead Generator
- Content Publishing
- A/B Testing
Why do this talk?
- Gutenberg has been around 12 months
- Can be tricky – this was how he was able to hit the ground running and make the most of it (without making himself cry).
- If you’re wanting to dip your toe into the world of blocks – this is one way to do it.
Their old way of working:
- Design Brief and design – High fidelity mockups at different breakpoints
- Development – break the design into Elements, use a CPT along with Advanced Custom Fields + a custom template
- Mix of hard coded content and ACF fields
- It worked. But…. Template is rigid and locked down – but any customisations or ordering of items required a developer and a new release of the theme.
The question of having all your content in post meta fields instead of the_content() ?
December 2018 – WordPress 5.0 is released
- Everyone was worried.
- It turned out to be as drastic as the Y2K bug – nothing happened.
- “But what are blocks?”
- Liked that Blocks were bringing the focus back on the content – opened up a Whole New World.
How did this change the process?
- Design stage was still the same.
- Rather than ACF + Template – Blocks could be created for each element (type). So those blocks could then be shared with other pages and layouts.
How can I build blocks?
Hand Rolled Blocks:
- Huge learning curve
- Lots of breaking changes – with things still getting finalised
- Maintenance of code was hard
- BYO Editor experience (code your own forms)
- Create Guten Blocks
- Huge Learning Curve – but a bit of a headstart
- BYO Editor experience (code your own forms)
Advanced Custom Fields
- ‘The Devil I know’
- Minimal maintenance of code
- ACF fields assigned to a specific block – no need to create the editor experience.
- ACF/Block has a preview – that’s kinda cool.
Benefits of the new way
- Build is based on blocks – so content can be reordered
- Customisations which don’t require an editor
- Template is fluid (changes are easier)
- Blocks can be used on multiple pages
- Marketing team can create new A/B test pages themselves
Problems with the new way
- Site Editors get free reign (YOLO)
- Blocks are hard
- There starts to be ambiguity about what a page template means?
- Restyling a block for one page can have unexpected impact on other pages
- ACF doesn’t do inner blocks.
Serverless WordPress – Quintin Russ
- Technical Director at SiteHost (made the mistake of starting a hosting company).
- Started as a web developer – but has had GIT access revoked.
- Working on getting WordPress to be able to install WordPress natively on serverless..
What is server less?
- Servers that roll up when they are needed. Also called event-based hosting
- Pay just for the time you use. (Allows you to scale to 0)
- Can scale up more easily.
- Perfect for sites that have spikes in weekly traffic, or things that only get used at regular times.
Neopolitan Ice Cream
How can we decouple the scaling of these things? Make sure there is always enough chocolate?
History of hosting
- Bare metal (servers in boxes)
- Virtual machines (decoupled a little from a server in a box)
- Containers – multiple different environments in a virtual machine (decoupling environments from the virtual machine)
- Serverless – don’t think about the server at all (it’s not there when you’re not using it)
These things aren’t competing – they are an evolution
- Cost is not the key driver
- Focus on customers, not costs
- When you provision for your peak – you’ve got too many resources for most of the time.
BetaMax vs VHS
- Still aspects of cloud/serverless hosting that is built in proprietary systems
- We don’t know what will become standard.
- Lambda vs Azure
- At the moment you need to customise things to run on each – this seems unreasonable. It makes the technology inaccessible.
- Propietary CMSes that do target/allow for Serverless can give them an unfair advantage over WordPress.
A way to run WordPress natively in AWS Lambda
- The future of what hosting looks like.
- Sitehost is building a product based on it
- Anything that involves making changes to the file system (uploading images, updating plugins) is challenging.
- Cold Starts: If the website hasn’t run for a while, there is a small delay in running it.
- At the moment you can notice some small lag, but it is improving rapidly.
- Only a matter of time till it is really performant
PHP on Serverless?
- Definitely possible – but not as simple as it needs to be
- Bref – OS project to deploy PHP on Serverless. Targeted at Developers
- Looking to launch internationally. Think they are a bit ahead of the game
- Initially launched as a platform.
- “cPanel for Servers”. Make AWS easy and cost effective to use.
- Utility building model
- No servers harmed in the making of this demo
- Created a site
- Upload a (slightly) modified ZIP of WordPress core (collapsed the directory 1 step).
- Have set it so the wp-config.php file can be generated even though it is serverless
- Upload images