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).

Everyone was so relaxed (chill…) and welcoming – it was really just a fabulous experience. MASSIVE thanks to Tarei and Ralf, and all the other speakers and volunteers.

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

Photo of Sally Eberhart speaking at WordCamp Auckland 2019

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 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.

A Blogger

  • 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.

Ground Rules

  • 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”

Story length

  • 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 (
  • Some are unmoderated (.nz)
  • .nz registrations are open to all countries. or .nz?

  • Up to you
  • is more popular
  • .nz was added to simplify/shorten things.
  • 16% of business register both

Research 2018/19

  • .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.
  • Constant
  • Reliable
  • Offsite
  • Easy Restore


  • What kind of support do you get?
  • Free/Paid?
  • Email/Chat/Phone?
  • 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

  • Loyalest
  • 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


  • Permalinks
  • 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”

Take aways.

  • 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

Why Contribute?

  • 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
  • Mobile:
  • Accessibility
  • Polyglots (one of the fastest and easiest ways to contribute)
  • Support (IRC!!)
  • Documentation
  • Theme
  • Plugins
  • Meta – (,,
  • Community
  • Testing (Super easy – get involved in half an hour)
  • Training
  • TV
  • Marketing
  • Hosting
  • Tide
  • CLI

Do Action –

Getting Started



Effective Triaging is moving a ticket one step closer to resolution every time the ticket is touched

Jonathan Desrosiers

Release Testing:

  • 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

Usability Testing

  • 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

  • Fork
  • Clone
  • Commit
  • Change (Staging = “I’m ready to do the thing!”
  • Commit
  • Push
  • 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 – 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
  • Personalization
  • 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

  • Memory
  • Storage
  • CPU

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

  • 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
  • JAMSTACK (Javascript, API, Markup) – sometimes used for HeadLess CMSes


  • 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

Live Demo!

  • 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
  • Awesome!!!

Published by jordesign

I'm a web guy who lives in Wollongong, Australia with my awesome wife and 2 little girls.

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