For months now, I’ve been stumbling around WordPress. Sure, I have a blog, post to it semi-regularly, and have installed enough plugins and widgets to make it somewhat functional.
But, I’ve always known there was more. As websites increasingly migrate toward the Web 2.0 engagement paradigm, it is apparent that WordPress has become the de facto platform-de-jure, for not only the blogs for which it was originally intended, but for entire websites.
During the 90s, I’d been a moderately successful website designer, but some time taken off had put me far behind the curve to the point where I either had to evolve my skills or throw in the towel. I chose the former.
Therefore, it was with no little satisfaction that I learned of WordCamp Reno-Tahoe 2011, a two-day series of workshops being held on the UNR campus, less than a mile from where I live. It was affordable, too!
I hastened to register.
And this morning I packed up my laptop, threw a notebook and some pencils into my backpack, and headed out for an entire day of WordPress instruction. Boy, was it ever worth it!
Not only was there swag (stickers and decals, pencils, buttons, and even a t-shirt), but evangelists as knowledgeable and enthusiastic as any fanboy in the earliest days of Apple Computers. I even learned (much to my chagrin) that there is an active WordPress community here in Reno, of which I’d been woefully unaware—even though I’ve lived here for the past 8 years.
There was even a Genius Bar (similar to Apple’s), where WordPress experts were on hand to help folks like—answering questions and offering solutions. WordPress, after all, is more than a blog, and—for all its ease of use—can be more than a little intimidating.
But, enough preamble. Here are just a few of the things I learned today that will, hopefully, a) make me a better blogger, and b) make ScribeSite.com a better blog
Building a Successful WordPress Business via Community Collaboration
This was the keynote keynote, delivered by Josh and Sally Strebel, founders of Page.ly, and, while some of the advice was of the generic, the customer is always right variety, more was specific to the WordPress Community and online communities in general. And some of them I even offer verbatim from the PowerPoint presentation. You’ll know them by their quotation marks:
1. Thank the legions of WordPress Contributors. Most of them are unpaid, and even WordPress itself—open source that it is—is free.
2. Give props to the core team (the folks who write the code, provide the upgrades, and sweat out the bug fixes), the folks who create the free WordPress themes, and the moderators who keep the forums greased and humming and tremendously valuable.
3. Read How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (something everybody should do at least once in his or her life . . . even if they never even consider starting a blog).
4. Be a positive force. Ditto the previous message. Encourage, don’t discourage.
5. Celebrate every success. We all like to be reminded that each success moves us forward . . . even if it’s only by inches (or pixels, take your pick).
6. “Share the wealth, you greedy bastard. You did not get here alone.”
7. “Start something new and look for ways to involve others.” This is terrific advice, especially while it appears that WordPress is only entering its adolescence.
8. Donate to plugin authors. They are the ones who make WordPress the unique platform that it is.
9. Ask yourself: What Would be a perfect solution for both you and others—for when you’re sweating over what to do next.
From Start to Awesome in Under an Hour: An Intro to StudioPress Child Themes
10. Right-clicking something on a webpage (even if it’s dynamically generated) brings up an inspect element pop-up window that not only provides the parameters of the element, but will also show where it resides in the CSS— an incredibly helpful feature for modifying a theme.
11. How to add those (way cool) big-ass quotation marks to a block quote. John was tending the Genius Bar when I asked him which theme incorporated them. Turned out none of them do, off-the-shelf, but they could be easily added using a little bit of CSS, which he not only explained, but demonstrated!
WordPress Network Effects: How the WP Community Changes Your Destiny
I wouldn’t go so far as to claim that my destiny has been altered—even a little bit—by Mobiah’s Luke Pilon, but if nothing else I came away with a greater appreciation of how the WordPress dynamic works in both theory and practice
12. A product gains value simply through more people using it. Seems self-evident, doesn’t it? But it’s actually a little subtler than that. Do Ford pickups (as an example) gain value just because a few million more are sold than Chevy pickups? Not on your oil pan, buster!
Other Things I Learned at WordCamp
13. I learned about a bunch of different plugins I’m about ready to install on ScribeSite.com.
14. I learned that low-cost, high-value WordCamps are held all over the country, throughout the year.
15. I learned that Chelsea Otaken, a local web & user interface designer is the local WordPress Community Leader.
Oh, and the registration fee even included lunch and an after-party. Hot puppies!