Word Up!by Carol Green on 23/04/2012
This weekend I went to the fourth annual WordCamp NZ in Auckland. A conference for all things WordPress. Don’t stop reading if you are afraid this will get nerdy, I promise to Keep It Relevant. Here are some stats to whet your appetite: Stop thinking that WordPress is a blogging platform – 63% of the top million websites that use a CMS use WordPress and approximately 15% of the web is powered by WordPress. It’s not going away any time soon.
The ‘official’ part of WordCamp was Day One, held in Pioneer Women’s Hall in Freyberg Place. (My nomination for slightly neglected star of the day. What a beautiful example of early 60′s modernism, relatively untouched. I digress.)
Day One was a really good range of short presentations on diverse topics by WordPress users, developers, designers and bloggers (slides are being uploaded as we speak to Slideshare and video footage is being processed).
What became quickly apparent, prompted by Dee Teal‘s discussion, is how large the WordPress community is, both worldwide and locally. One of the overall impressions I got of attendees was that they were all largely self-taught WordPress users, cutting-and-pasting and crossing fingers. This was a comfort to me since I am the same but have the added disadvantage of working in isolation at home. I now have an arsenal of WordPress addicts from whom to seek advice should I need it.
A underlying theme of many presentations was that content is king. Amanda Blum, Julianne Taylor, Nikolasa and Potaua and Giapo all talked about the fundamental rule of the web; that in order to have people visit and engage with your site, you have to say something interesting. Obvious but often overlooked.
Day Two was the unofficial first WordPress meetup, targeted at a smaller group of advanced users and developers and held in Young & Shand‘s hotdesking space at Old Sofrana House. Some more architecture to inspire the eyeballs. Whilst some of the content was technically over my head, it was great to hear lots of ways to make sites more client-friendly, thus prompting fewer support requests and fewer ways for your client to leave their grubby fingerprints all over your beautiful design.
My highlights of the weekend (bearing in mind I am a front-end designer/developer) were Aaron Rutley’s list of delicious plugins designed to make sites client-proof; Giapo’s passionate insistence that if you are an artist and create interesting things that you love, other people will find them and love them too (I’m paraphrasing); Luke Hurley’s magical musical interlude and Dan Milward’s imminent-release project GameFroot – an online game making platform entirely built in WordPress (visionary!). Not to mention the conversations over coffee, lunch and the party at Cassette Nine.
And one last piece of advice for all of you out there with your own out-of-date and neglected website: WordPress is easy. Install WordPress on your web host (this is the most technical bit but there’s plenty of instructions out there), get yourself a theme which largely does what you want it to do and show the world your amazing work.