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My First Modifications: Child Themes and Feature Plugins

In customizing WordPress, most people look first for a splendiferous and fancy theme. There are thousands of options, so we can usually find something that gets us 80-90% of the way there. But heavens to Betsy, that last 10-20% can be hard to find! That’s why it’s good to learn how to make a child theme, which lets you keep almost everything while adding to or removing from your original theme safely. Most of this talk with cover the creation and use of child themes. This is an absolutely essential (and pretty easy to learn) skill for any WordPress designer.

As a bonus, we’ll take a peek at creating a “feature plugin”, which is a very simple kind of plugin you create just for your site. They’re easy to make, and let you customize your site in ways that will stick even if you change your theme later.


Forking it Right

What is a fork? Well, essentially taking a copy of someone else’s code and developing on it yourself. A lot of popular plugins you use today began as forks, such as WooCommerce and many others. So, when is forking right and when is it wrong?

Learn about what a fork is and how you can use third party code to create unique and meaningful solutions.Let’s discover the history and debate around forking in the WordPress, the community, and beyond.

This presentation will be light on code and geared towards WordPress users who understand the underlying principles of WordPress and General Public License (GPL).

Choosing a Lean WP Theme for Future Growth

“Bloated Themes” – You’ve probably heard the term if you’ve been around WordPress much. In this talk I’ll address the problems with using themes that come bundled with 900+ shiny objects. You don’t want that if you want a stable, secure, fast website that will last more than 6 months. I’ll cover criteria to look for and things to avoid when choosing a premium theme, or a starter theme. I will also be introducing a free information site launching soon – a directory of themes (premium & free) that avoid the trappings of the bloated theme bonanza.

WooCommerce Bootcamp

WooCommerce is the most downloaded and used eCommerce solution for WordPress. This session will serve as a quick start for the beginning WooCommerce user. I will cover installation and setup, extensions, payment methods, shipping, and basic theming. I would show setting up products and categories in addition to pricing with variations. I’ll also touch on eCommerce usability and how to leverage widgets and custom menus for a more successful online shopping experience.


Selling WordPress Products

Scott has been selling WordPress products for 5 years, starting with premium WordPress themes.

He now has a plugin business (AppPresser) and a SaaS product. Learn what has and hasn’t worked for him, and where the WordPress product economy is today. If you are interested in selling products, this talk is for you.

Explaining Hard Things To Humans: The Principles of Effective Technical Communication

Every technically minded person needs to know how to communicate technical knowledge clearly and effectively. This talk examines the fundamentals of “explaining hard things to humans,” including:

  • What makes technical communication uniquely difficult, and uniquely important.
  • Avoiding two major impediments to technical communication: arrogance (relating to gaps in knowledge as a hassle or irritation) and breeziness (attempting to gloss over gaps in knowledge).
  • How and why to make technical communication both audience-aware and strategic – tailored to both the knowledge level of the audience and the goal of the communication.
  • The value of analogies in technical communication.
  • Principles of clear technical writing.

Session Video

Sustainable WordPress

“TALK EVOLUTION: On Saturday of WordCampLA’ 14, I worked the Happiness Bar and had a conversation about WordPress sustainability. That conversation carried over into a chat with Alex Vasquez on Sunday at Contribute Day. I then decided to develop this question and solution information into a talk for WCLA’15.

WordPress is one of the largest and most successful projects in Open Source history. An incredible collection of developers, perhaps including you, have built, maintained, and expanded a robust and powerful platform that should be with us for a long time to come. WordPress as a platform seems like a real sustainability success story.

But what about the individual websites that people create with WordPress? Are those specific instances sustainable too? I worry that as the years go by, they won’t be.

It’s not hard for a business site to stay up as long as it needs to: as long as the business generates revenue, it can pay someone to maintain the website; if the business should come to an end at some point, probably no one will mourn the website going down. But what about the legions of people who are “”just a blogger””? Often they pour heart and soul into websites that generate little or no money. Many would like their site to stay up even after they’ve had a couple of kids and haven’t had a minute to look at the site in the last 5 years. Many would like this document of their life and ideas to stay up in the years after their passing.

We all know about the troubles Themes and Plugins can bring. Even for the best written ones discovering a vulnerability is a matter of when, not if. Web hosts are quick to take down sites that have issues. In fact they tend to take down your whole cPanel, so a single vulnerability can take down a whole family of websites.

Could it be that if you’re “”just a blogger”” sharing content about Health & Lifestyle, Politics & Religion, Art & Culture, or any other topic, that your website would stay online longer if you’d used Tumblr or Blogger instead of a self-hosted WordPress site?

* Look at long-term sustainability issues for a WordPress blog
* List best practices for sustainable WordPress websites
* Describe solutions for individuals
* Describe solutions and business opportunities for hosting providers
* Survey how other Web2.0 platforms are approaching these issues, eg: Google’s “”Inactive Account Manager”” or Facebook’s “”Memorialization Request””

WordPress and other Web2.0 platforms have been spectacular at opening up new communication possibilities. As relatively new tools, less thought has been given to the sustainability of individual websites. Now is a great time to start addressing these issues. While we still have time.


WordPress Upgrades: Ready, Set, Go!

WordPress upgrades, they bring us new features, faster sites, and better security. But pushing that upgrade button can be a scary moment, unless you’ve ensured your site is ready and compatible. I’ll show you the best practices for ensuring your site is ready including a simple strategy that works whether you manage one site or hundreds.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Understand the important of keeping WordPress upgraded.
  • Create a 5 step test plan to ensure their site is ready to upgrade.
  • Test their sites on beta and Release Candidates to provide feedback to the community.


Getting Started with WordPress the Right Way

Per the speaker acceptance email I received, I’m submitting a Beginner topic. I’ll have to put together an outline for this, but it will focus on Best Practices in getting started with WordPress. Or “Things I Wish I Knew When I First Learned WordPress”.


Wrangle the WordPress Template Hierarchy Like a Boss

Did you ever wish you could go beyond what index.php, page.php and single.php have to offer. Have you ever wondered what taxonomy.php in your premium theme actually does? Have you ever had the need to target a blog category or a custom post type with a unique layout?

Well, it might be high time to put the WordPress Template Hierarchy to work for you.

I will take you on a little tour of this powerful aspect of WordPress development. Learn how to the hierarchy is structured, how to create a custom post type template, how to drill down and create a template for even a specific page or post and more.

And as a bonus some tips on using get_template_part() to avoid bloated files and to neatly organize your themes templates!

Like a Boss!

WordPress Accessibility: Spreading the word!

“Web Accessibility is not just for developers, there are plenty of things people can do to get involved. This presentation will focus on the different ways you can contribute to Web Accessibility and how you can help spread the word. We will cover some Web Accessibility fundamentals and why it’s important. From there we will go over the various ways you can communicate and increase exposure to Web Accessibility using various terms and avenues. Next we will discuss WordPress Accessibility specifically and the different aspects surrounding it. Finally, we will go over the different ways you can contribute to WordPress Accessibility.
It’s well-known that there is power in numbers, so the more we can advocate the more we can evoke change.

Learning Outcomes: (please do not publish)

– a quick overview on the fundamentals of web accessibility
– – what is accessibility?
– – how does it work?
– – why is it important?
– – what is inclusive design?
– – what web accessibility tools are available?

– how can I help spread the word?
– – what is a11y?
– – how can I use social media?
– – what events can I attend to show support?
– – how can I make a difference?

– how can I contribute?
– – auditing and reporting
– – documentation
– – patches and updates
– – plugins and themes
– – education and advocation”


Decoupled Development with WP-API

The eagle has landed. WP-API 2.0 is here, opening up new horizons for how websites are constructed with WordPress as a CMS. More and more developers are discovering the benefits of “decoupled” website development: where the front-end is built as a separate system from the CMS itself.

This method of development has many applications:

Parallelize front and back-end development via “the API Contract”
Use lean/elegant markup and best-of-breed front end development tools.
Build rich interactive experiences leveraging modern JS frameworks like Angular or React.

Support native mobile applications, the “internet of things”, and other web services.

If you’re a developer who has been looking to try out some of these use-cases, or follow some of these new practices, there’s no better time than now. This presentation will give you plenty of places to start.

Session Video


How To Level Up As A Developer

Becoming a developer is not easy. It isn’t much easier once you become one. You start by knowing very little to no code, and just as you feel confident about coding, you realize there are at least 2 languages you need to now learn. I’ve been there, and this talk is about some skills I’ve learned to help jump from that starting level, to the next. Tricks and things I’ve learned through over a decade of coding to help you in your developer journey.


WordPress for Lazy People

“What are some of the ways to quickly get a WordPress site up and running with the minimal amount of effort?

Templates, page builders, and emerging technologies will be covered. Many tips and tricks will be reviewed helping those who suffer from the lazy find a way to become part of the WordPress community.”


Bursting at the Themes

Themes shape the entire WordPress experience, and there are seemingly endless options to choose from. But with all these options, how do you know which theme is the best for you? This talk will explore the vast spectrum of WordPress’ themedom, from the simplest default themes to the most involved custom creation, including theme option panels, theme repositories and marketplaces, and which types of themes are best for which purposes. Sé will also cover the must-haves (and the red flags) to look for when choosing your next theme, when you should (or shouldn’t) build a custom theme, and how to structure your site so you can go from theme to theme without losing your content (or your mind).

Session Video

Social Media Marketing Tips to Boost Your Online Reputation and Your Prosperity

“Whether you are a web developer, web designer, content producer, author or agency; social media marketing should be a skill you command. Your WordPress website is the hub of your marketing but social media platforms represent important spokes supporting both marketing and customer service.

Social Media Pro, Linda Sherman will give you a quick overview on how to manage social media for yourself and your company, then deliver rapid fire tips for key social platforms. She will also explain why you shouldn’t ignore your Klout score and how to give it a quick boost.

After her presentation, you can find Linda Sherman at the Happiness Bar for personal assistance with your social media marketing issues.”


Hit the Target: Client Satisfaction and Profitable Projects in One Easy Step

We’ve all been there. You’ve worked hard, protected scope and timeline, had all the right meetings and shown all the right deliverables. Now you’re getting near the finish line, only to find that the client has requirements you’ve never heard before, or doesn’t like something you thought was final. You’re either stuck doing extra work, or the client’s mad the price went up. How did it go so wrong?

You should have focused on Hitting the Target. Every client has one (or two) – and no one wants to be a client from hell, but everyone wants to get what they think they bought. Heck, sometimes even they don’t know what the target is.

As a co-founder and principal of Skyhook Interactive, a WordPress design and dev shop in Phoenix, AZ since 2008, I’ve spent a LOT of time trying to figure out how to execute profitable website projects. This is the framework we use daily to talk about our projects, and make sure we build the right thing the first time.

In this session, we dig into what it means to really satisfy a client (with a fun dip into some cognitive psychology), develop a process to find out what the Target is so you can hit it every time, and discuss why it’s easier, more profitable, and more effective than trying to “Wow” everyone you work with.

So You Want to Work With(In) WordPress?!

You read through WordPress for Dummies and thought, “I ain’t no dummy! I can do this!” Only to find out – you really didn’t LIKE messing with PHP files and you broke more than you built. But you love WordPress and really want to make a living leveraging your skills within the WordPress economy and/or community. Well, there’s definitely more to building a career in WordPress than stylesheets, hooks, and loops. From part time bloggers to full time CEO’s, WordPress offers a diverse array of options for the budding or seasoned professional. In this session we will explore different professional skill sets that are utilized by freelancers, small agencies and large WordPress companies. With an emphasis on investing in the community at large, we will cover how to network your way to the top! (Or, at least …. how to grow your career in WordPress!) This will be an informative discussion and I will open the floor for questions/comments at the end.

A Year in Core

Both a retrospective and look into the future: We’ll walk through the last year in WordPress core — what’s changed, how some of these changes have been received, and a peek into what’s likely for 4.4, due in early December.


More Resources

Surgeon’s Guide to Plugin Development

“Similarities of surgery and coding. KISS principle, First do no harm, etc.

I will describe my journey in development of GitHub Updater.”

Speed Up Your Production

Time is money, and time wasted is money lost. It is time to start identifying points in your development process that can be automated or sped up. We will review all the time-saving tips, tricks, and applications that I have incorporated over the years as a front-end developer. Fear not, back-end developers, much of this will apply to you as well! Time permitting, there will be a bonus round of time-saving applications I use to help run our business regarding bidding, time tracking, and invoicing. This will be an interactive presentation – while covering all these items, I am interested in alternatives you use as well. Let’s get all the ideas out there!


Land of Confusion – Understanding What Makes Genesis Special

“Maybe you’ve heard about Genesis or other frameworks but you don’t know what all the fuss is about. Maybe you’ve tried to use Genesis but were thrown off by the actions and filters. Or maybe you just find me entertaining and want to spend an hour listening to me talk. (Hey, it could happen.)

I struggled with using Genesis for a long time before I had a breakthrough. I finally stopped trying to compare it to other markup-based themes and started treating it as a framework rooted in PHP. This talk is geared toward people in the same boat that I was in – they know what Genesis is, but are daunted or confused by it.

After explaining the markup / PHP differences, I go through several use cases, showing how to make simple changes in regular themes like Twenty Fourteen, and how to make the same changes “”the Genesis way.”””

Rich Pins, Twitter Cards and Facebook: How to Super-Charge Your Social Media Strategy with WordPress

Social media is now the primary engine of traffic on the web, and if you aren’t creating posts that can be easily shared, it’s likely they aren’t being seen. This session will cover how to use Open Graph tags to shape how your content is viewed on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook and take advantage of new features like Pinterest’s Buy Pins for products and apps. If you make something beautiful, people will share it. Learn how to easily craft flexible posts that look good everywhere.


Understanding & Combating Global Censorship with WordPress

“Recent growth in places like China, Vietnam, India and Russia brought astounding economic and technological successes that also yielded some of the largest networks of censorship in history. The Great Firewall of China, DPI and SORM in Russia, and SmartFilter in Iran and Saudi Arabia are just a few of the tools used to block the free expression of millions of people.

For this talk, we will discuss how WordPress can empower users while still understanding the pitfalls and considerations required to reach those affected by censorship.

Other topics will cover how WordPress sites and plugins get blocked, issues designing and maintaining sites, and how the OpenNet Initiative affects WordPress. John will also give insight into his own experiences working with censorship and the Web from his time working in China.

With this knowledge in hand, you’ll be able to leave the talk knowing what you can do to understand and combat censorship for your new or existing WordPress sites in a global web.”


How Can I Help? A Playbook for Collaboration in Big WordPress Projects

If you make WordPress sites for a living, you’ve probably worked with clients, and you’ve probably been through the occasional tough project. Collaborating with your clients and forming a true alliance with them is delicate art. But, this talk won’t focus on what seems to go wrong with these collaborations –– it will focus on how to get it right.

We’ll compare assumptions that developers and clients often bring to a project, and look at how they are similar in some ways (e.g., the excitement of creating something new) and different in others (e.g. features that may strike clients as simple, but are actually difficult to build, and situations where developers assume a content management task will be easy for the clients, when it’s actually heinous).

We’ll also talk about a comparative wish list of skills and attitudes developers and clients tend to wish the other had, and we’ll talk about the anatomy of an ideal collaboration and the sorts of shared ideas and exchanges that can happen at every phase of a typical web product cycle, especially the initial discovery phase, where we identify the known knowns, the known unknowns, and as many of the unknown unknowns as we can.


Moving up the Food Chain: Finding and Landing 5 and 6-figure Projects

How to identify the most lucrative prospects
How to pitch large projects (value proposition, differentiation, overcoming objections
How to execute (IA, Project Management, Resources, post-launch support)

Session Video

Senior-Friendly Design

An American turns 50 every 7 seconds. Those aged 50 and older represent 45% of the U.S. population. One-third of the internet users in the U.S., are adults aged 50+ representing the Web’s largest constituency. WordPress sites must be designed with this in mind. You will learn how to meet seniors’ needs from one of their own.

Showing Off – The Art of The Portfolio

Your work may be stellar – but no one will ever know unless you present it in the best light. In a world where a Behance account can be set up in minutes, there is no excuse to miss the opportunity to show off just how awesome your work is. Since your first impression could be your last, it is critical to captivate your audience with not only the final-product you’ve created but also the brilliant methods you’ve used to build these solutions.

Together, we will review some “best-in-class” examples to define guidelines and techniques to build a dynamite portfolio. You will leave the talk inspired and with the tools you need to impress your next client.


Using WordPress as a Learning Management System to Make Income

My talk will cover the use of premium content development and services like Rainmaker Pro, ZippyCourses, Optimize Press and Premise to set up automated and password protected content and marketing systems to sell information to users. Heavy emphasis of the class will be on content development and delivery, which ultimately is why WordPress is the best tool for self-hosted e-learning platforms.


Survival Skills: 20 Years in Tech

Maintaining any business for 20 years is difficult. But keeping a tech business running strong for 20 years is a big challenge. Zeek Interactive just turned 20 and Steve will discuss how to stay ahead of the game in an ever-changing tech environment.

Your client is not your enemy.

Learn to embrace the client dynamic and avoid one of the most common mistakes in running a creative business. Treat your client as an adversary and you will foster a short term relationship that is contentious and unfruitful.

As design professionals, we need to let go of the “artist” persona and embrace the creative entrepreneur as one who solves not just design problems but business problems.

Learn how to:

  • Pivot when you are getting negative feedback
  • Define objective goals to reduce frustration and endless revision cycles
  • Talk about money
  • Charge for value versus time


Obvious UI

Often user interface and user experience gets mixed up for both the client and the web developer. These are things we need to help both our developers and clients know in order to ensure making great experiences on the web for end-users.