WordCamp UK 2011 – Tasting the Rainbow

David Coveney
Development Interest Group Events Screencasts WordPress

Let’s start with a story.

In 2008, WordCamp UK started off in Birmingham.  The concept was great – a WordPress related conference that would take place in a new city each year.  And so it was.  Good talks, good people, good fun.  It doesn’t get much better.

Year two was Cardiff.  Year three, Manchester.  And this year, 2011, WordCamp UK hit Portsmouth.  Of course, we’re not supposed to call it WordCamp UK any more (for reasons so tedious, so dull, and so irrelevant that I won’t even link to the back story), so officially it was WordCamp Portsmouth UK.  That’ll do then.

And so, it was good fun.  And I spoke too, trying to use tricks I picked up from Nancy Duarte’s workshop at Thinking Digital this year.

So, what were the highlights?  For me, at least, the following talks were worthwhile:

WordPress in the Enterprise, John Adams

John chaired this panel, and I was flattered to have been invited to sit on it and throw in my opinions of why WordPress still struggles to get any significant market share in the Intranet market when it’s such a useful tool for it.  I’d suggest that marketing and direction don’t fit well, along with cultural inertia within many large organisations’ IT departments.  There was also discussion that WP will run perfectly well on IIS within Windows server environments, meaning one potential block could be circumnavigated.  This is important.

Authentication remains an issue – ultimately, the way WP’s user management works means that it’s hard to simply swap it out with a third party authentication system.  Each user has to log in at least once.  However, we’ve seen slick OpenAuth solutions so there’s no reason why a slick LDAP solution shouldn’t be possible.  Here at interconnect/it we’re planning to set up a server internally and, eventually, will have an Active Directory stack to experiment against.

Advanced SEO with WordPress, Nick Garner

Nick had an excellent story talking through the career of an SEO marketeer who started as white hat but finished in a term I’d not heard before – red hat… as in, an illegal SEO marketer hacking sites in order to insert his spammy links.  The story gave an excellent insight into the different types of SEO employed out there, and the mindsets that drive this.

Although a lot of techniques were most definitely NOT recommended, it’s good to understand how they work because we have to deal with these people on a regular basis, and we need to know what’s worth avoiding.

How to Make Money from an Agency, Norman Wilson

Norman’s talk was a smaller one, but valuable for many.  Although I felt I knew much of what he discussed, there were still some gems, such as the problems faced in having enough chargeable hours, the way an organisation has to change as it grows, and the key points where the changes occur.

Lessons Learned from running your own Theme Marketplace, Noel Tock

Noel works with the Theme Force/humanmade team building a service to allow restaurants and bars to quickly and easily produce their own websites.  This kind of service is of huge interest to developers as it provides a scalable income – ultimately there aren’t enough developers to go around, so if we can create reusable resources not only can more people benefit, we can make more money too!

Noel showed some of the services and tools used to help build up the product and it was fascinating to get a behind-the-scenes look at what they’re doing.

Local Group Leaders

Sunday morning brought together this panel for a small discussion.  We here at interconnect/it run SWIG, the Liverpool WordPress Interest Group.  There are others in Manchester, Scotland and London and these are growing in numbers.

A couple of pertinent points from the discussion:

  1. Some common way to name our groups and make them easy to find out about would be useful.
  2. It’s easy to set up a group if you use the right tools.
  3. Ticketing can help enhance the perceived value.
  4. A structure to the event is good for making it valuable.
  5. Regularised dates are very important but can also exclude some people.

How to Content Manage Everything, Robert O’Rourke

Our very own Robert O’Rourke gave this talk – an excellent run down on techniques to make WordPress themes as usable and flexible as possible for the end-client.

Here’s the presentation:

Rob also created a quick and handy drop down menus plugin over the weekend.

Our Biggest Mistakes, David Coveney

Me!  I introduced a lot of Skittles into this discussion.  The embedded slideshow is below, but I recommend you view it with the presenter’s notes on Slideshare as that will give you a better understanding of what I said, albeit without Skittles.

I thoroughly enjoyed giving the presentation, even if I was nervous as hell for an hour before it.  I hope you enjoyed it and thank you to everyone in the audience, especially the seven who were roped into Skittles duty!

The Other Bits

Well, what’s a conference without a few social events?  It was good to meet up on Friday night with a lot of the WordCamp regulars like Tony Scott (who’s the guy who started all this), Jonny Allbut, Mike Little, John Adam, Jonathan Harris, Kimb Jones and many more.  All top blokes and I wish I had more time to chat with them.

On Saturday I admit, I wimped out of the social.  As a team we’d scooted over to the Isle of Wight by hovercraft.  Why?  Because hovercraft are awesome, that’s why!  After that, however, I knew I wanted a bit of time to practice my presentation and needed to keep away from the free booze, so I left the guys to do the socialising and went and hid in my room.

Next time, Tony, if you could put me on on the Saturday I’ll socialise a bit more!

We’ll create another post soon with images, etc.

David Coveney

David Coveney

Dave has been working in the IT industry since forever, starting with payroll development and ERP consultancy for large corporates. He is a keen traveller, photographer and motorsport enthusiast, but now puts family first as he’s in love with his two little boys. Dave’s job title is “Director” which in a small company is another way of saying that he does all the things that developers hate to do, like account management, sales and so on. He’s usually complaining about being busy and has heard of “inbox zero” but believes it to be little more than a concept.

6 responses to “WordCamp UK 2011 – Tasting the Rainbow

  1. I really like the slideshow and main ideas in your presentation. Wish I could hear the full talk and see you develop the themes. I did a LOL when I saw lingscars.com (is this a real website or just a joke that combines all possible worst practices?!). I imagine your point was something like: Don’t be too snobbish about tacky websites. They might be way more effective than our properly done ones.

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