WordCamp Birmingham

... and the Tshirts are cool.

This past weekend I took a road trip to Birmingham, Alabama to attend WordCamp Birmingham, a day-long conference about all things WordPress. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know I’m obsessed with WordPress.

Andre Natta and the rest of the team did a phenomenal job organizing the day. Every session I attended was excellent, though some were over my head, which is OK. Warning: this is a long post. Here’s a short rundown and link to each:

  • How to Speed up WordPress and Boost Performance

    Syed Balkhi is the guy behind wpbeginner, a brilliant guy — and he’s 19.

    I’m going to admit right here and now that some of his presentation was over my head, and much centered on large websites with far more traffic than I have to worry about right now.

    Here were his tips for speeding up WordPress — the ones that I understand. You can take a look at his presentation for the rest.

    • Decrease Page Size • Use excerpts instead of full posts. It’s best to display no more than five posts on a page. To do this, replace the_content with the_excerpt in the WordPress loop. It’s also better to avoid duplicate content for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.
    • Maintain Your Database • Much like you defrag your computer, databases need to be cleaned up. You can do this from phpmyadmin or use the clean options plugin. http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/clean-options/ You can also use the WP-DBManager plugin to optimize your database. http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-dbmanager/
    • Disable Additional Stylesheets • “In a perfect world, plugin developers would allow the CSS to be disabled on plugins,” — Syed. But this isn’t a perfect world, so he recommends that you disable them manually. This is a bit complicated (for me), so I’ll refer you to his presentation for code.
    • Disable Javascripts • Make them load only when needed, by de-registering the script. Again, complicated and highly technical. See Syed’s presentation.
    • Keep your WordPress installation updated to the latest version.
    • Delete inactive plugins.
  • How To Let Everyone Know How Awesome You Are With SEO

    Rebecca Morrow • SEO Guru

    • Keywords create silos, which create the architecture of your website, keep it well-organized and give your content a cohesive value.
    • H1 titles should be about 64 characters for best results with Google, and should also be the URL of the post and contain a call to action.
    • The description is 250 characters, and is a short snippet of what each page is about. It’s the first thing the visitor will see in the search engine results page (SERP), so it should be compelling.
    • Google Caffeine provides real-time search results; it take only about 10 minutes to index a post, Twitter updates are constantly refreshed as well as blog posts and images. Content is analyzed in smaller portions.
    • Look at analytics with Google Webmaster tools to give you more information on how your website is updated in search engines and show your rankings for different keywords.

  • Beyond the System Font: Advanced Web Typography

    Sara Cannon • Interaction Designer & Developer at Scout Branding Company in Birmingham
    Go beyond Arial, Helvetica, Verdana … you can now add custom fonts to your website with @font-face embedding. Foundries are opening up fonts for licensing on websites. This makes custom text selectable and discoverable by search engines. Most of her presentation centered on Typekit, which I’ve already signed up for, so expect this site to look much cooler in the near future.

    • Go to the Typekit website and set up an account; you’ll get a code to paste into the header.php file on your site. Then you can choose your font.
    • Typekit also supports iPhone and iPad.
    • Fight flash of unstyled text (FOUT) that occurs when javascript loads – you see a brief flash of unstyled text. See Sara’s presentation for code to do this.
  • What’s Next for WordPress?

    Andrew Nacin • WordPress core developer
    Exciting things await in WordPress 3.1 that makes the platform more of a content management system (CMS).

    • Custom post types: this should really be custom content types, as the content can be used in different ways; photos, videos, etc.
    • Custom menus: drag and drop makes it easy to create menus where you want them.
    • Custom header images and backgrounds without editing the template
    • WordPress 3.1 will offer internal linking; to add an internal link to a post, you’ll click a button and a popup will appear that lets you search for the post. This is going to be a fantastic time-saver.
    • AJAX for the admin area will load lists of posts faster.
    • Health check plugin tells you whether or not you have the correct version of PHP/MySQL. In the next step, it will do a full health check on your server.
    • Closer integration with BuddyPress, a social networking layer and bbPress, forum software
    • Get involved as a beta tester by downloading the WordPress beta tester plugin.http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wordpress-beta-tester/
    • If you know what you’re doing, you can contribute to the WordPress Codex – it’s a wiki.http://codex.wordpress.org/Main_Page
    • WordPress security:
      • Open source is more secure than closed source.
      • Most frequent problems are permissions, passwords and infrastructure vulnerability rather than WordPress security issues. WordPress has not had a security problem since August 2009.
      • WordPress is licensed under the GPL — it is “free as in speech, not as in beer.”
  • Custom Post Types and Taxonomies

    Tammy Hart • Freelance WordPress expert
    Tammy says, “WordPress just got CMSier.” Much of her presentation is pretty technical, so to best understand, see SlideShare. But here are the bare bones:

    • Taxonomies are ways of classifying things. WordPress uses categories and tags.
    • Custom post types allow you to create many different types of content and organize it.
    • You can do custom post types two ways:
  • My Business Website Needs …

    Panel discussion on how to optimize your business website for search engine rankings and marketeting.
    Panelists: Lisa Isbell, Rebecca Morrow and Karla Porter

    Moderator: Wade Kwon

  • 5 Strategies Bloggers Should Learn from Online Marketers

    Brandon Eley Interactive director for Kelsey Advertising & Design, author of Online Marketing Inside Out
    The last session of an all-day geekfest has got to be good or it’s naptime. This one kept me wide awake. Here are his five strategies summarized:

    • Identify your key goals — what do you want your site to be in five to 10 years?
      Build your brand, sell advertising,attract speaking or consulting business, position yourself as an industry expert and/or promote your product.
    • Improve your calls to action — make buttons clear, noticeable and readable. And big. Place them in the top right corner or other prominent place. Be sure about what you want the reader to do.
    • Increase Trust — consider sharing your number of Twitter followers and/or RSS subscribers, be sure you have an About page and include testimonials and press mentions.
    • Segment Your Audience by traffic source, behavior and demographics.
    • Test, Test, Test — use Google Analytics to test changes; graphics, calls to action, etc.

Whew! It was a long day. And that took a long time to read and a long time to write. But the day was well worth it. I hope the post was as well.

Here’s the roadtrip playlist — selected tunes from:

  • Billy Joel
  • Led Zeppelin
  • A little bit of Aerosmith
  • A lot of Eric Clapton
  • The Eagles
  • Queen
  • Jackson Browne

Like this post? Get posts via email.

Enter your email address.

Get a Free Ebook: 9 Mistakes That Can Tank You on Social Media

You can't afford to mess up on social media — your potential customers and clients are watching. Let me help you avoid embarrassing mistakes that hurt your online reputation.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

%d bloggers like this: