So this last weekend, I headed to Dallas to get my nerd on and learn about more about WordPress at the DFW WordCamp. This was my first WordCamp and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I scanned the topics and found a specific few that I wanted to attend. I learned some very interesting things. There were also a lot of things that were just good reminders and refreshers as a business owner and designer. Here are some highlights of a few:
Freelance Survival School, presented by James Dalman: I think this was a great way to start WordCamp. As a business owner, it can be tough. He really shared some things that we all know but needed to hear again. His presentation was wrapped around the analogy of a survivalist. Some key things he mentioned:
- Focus on what you’re good at. Don’t try to be all to everyone
- Keep your head on straight. Watch your mental health.
- It’s the circumstances in your heart that prevents you from being successful. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
- My favorite part: You need to believe in yourself to sell. Even if you suck, you can sell it for a million dollars if you have confidence and believe in yourself and what you provide. Clients can sense if you don’t.
- Be weary of bad clients. Dont be afraid to say no and don’t take on every client.
It was a good presentation and I think started the day off on a positive note.
Leveling up with Documentation, presented by Pat Ramsey: Man we are all guilty of this – not properly documenting. This seemed to focus more toward developers but was good information for project managers or anyone doing strategy with clients. He broke down the documentation like this:
- Operational documentation – how do you get into the website, how do you get to hosting, documenting the workflow.
- Development – are we using any code libraries? What did we use? How did we use it? Put together some sort of step by step.
- Calendars – put everything on the calendar, rignt away. Schedule follow ups. During the kick off, immediately schedule a follow up. Calendar reminders help keep things in the forefront.
- Patterns and Trends – By documenting, it helps keep you from reworking something over and over. It also give you the ability to reuse, especially if you find several clients have requested the same thing. By documenting those steps, it allows you to grow and be more efficient. Picking up on these patterns will help.
- After action reports – What were your challenges? How did you solve it. By going back and rehasing the project you learn from your mistakes.
During the question and answer session, I presented the question to the room about scope creep. I was interested in seeing what everyone’s experience was with it. I was more addressing the early documentation stage, the requirements and how you handle it if something was missed. The overall response was that if it’s out of scope you really have no easy way to have that discussion. It just has to be addressed with the client and an honest assessment has to be done.
The CIA Mindset – Planning security for your WordPress website, presented by David Brumbaugh: Well we all know security is a big issue with ANY website you build. WordPress is actually one of the most secure CMS tools out there which also makes it a target. David highlighted
70% of WordPress sites are vulnerable for one bad policy decision – they fail to stay current on the most recent install.
That is such a TRUE statement. So many clients, rely on you to build and design the site but when it’s all over with, they don’t realize the importance of the post-launch maintenance. It is SUPER important to keep your core install of WordPress up-to-date as well as the plug-ins that might be used on the site. Here are some other key points from his presentation:
- No system is secure from a particularly motivated hacker. How much though or effort are you willing to put into it to make it tougher and not worth their time to bother your site.
- Clients will blame you whether it’s your fault/responsibility or not because you built it.
- If you’re not using a plugin, delete it. Code exploits can happen even if the plugin isn’t activated.
SIDE NOTE: It is okay to load plug-ins, test them out and see if they work. But this is important – if you’re not gonna use it, delete it.
Conclusion: This was a great little event. WordCamp is hosted in cities all around the world. You can find one in your area by going to the WordCamp website. It’s inexpensive and can be really helpful for anyone using WordPress or considering using WordPress as their CMS. And each one is different. So if you go to one in Dallas, the one in Austin is going to be completely different so it’s a cool concept. Lastly, it’s super inexpensive, around $20 for the day.
So consider WordCamp the next time you are looking for some good overall information.