WordCamp Raleigh 2015 plugged over 250 WordPress beginners, business owners, developers, and collegiate organizations into a community-organized unconference-style weekend of WordPress wow.
Couldn’t Attend WordCamp? Our Recap Will Fix That!
Reify Media team members Vanessa Smith and Courtney McKone captured their major takeaways just to share with you. Their highlights of best practices and new tricks—from their different developer and marketing perspectives—will make you feel like you were there!
Vanessa’s Takeaways from WordCamp 2015
Takeaway #1: Choose the Right Theme
“Don’t build your website to fit the theme. Choose a theme to support your goals.” – Kelly Phillips
With the endless amount of theme options that are available to us, it’s easy to become distracted by all the bells and whistles. Our clients can sometimes feel overwhelmed or simply don’t know where to start. Referencing their business goals helps to guide them in the theme selection process. What is the most important action they want visitors to take on their site? Subscribing to your newsletter, for example? Or viewing your service options?
Even though Reify Media can customize a theme to no end or develop one from scratch, we are powered by knowing what is essential and what may only distract visitors from the goals of our clients. (More importantly, identifying their goals first thing guides them in all their business decisions, naturally resulting in them staying “on brand”!)
WordCamp Raleigh this weekend! I get to be with my team AND get my geek on? Yes, please.
— Vanessa! (@withgreatheart) October 10, 2015
Takeaway #2: Everyone Screws Up HTTPS
“Security can boost your Google rankings and reduce incorrect Google Analytics attributions.” – Patrick Stox
WordPress security has been even more of a big deal these days, so I was really excited for Patrick Stox to teach me a thing or two (or three or four). While it’s obvious that security is non-negotiable, I was unaware how not being secure can affect Google Analytics. (We collect analytics for many of our clients, and if security is lacking, this can be quite crucial as it can affect our client’s business and their business decisions.)
Going from a secure site to another secure site allows for better referral data, Google uses HTTPS as a ranking signal (and this measurement practice could strengthen over time), and while switching to HTTPS can be a SEO headache, that headache is really the lesser of two evils. If you’re redirecting from HTTP to HTTPS, Patrick recommended doing so at the server level, and to avoid creating redirect chains.
Patrick warned us to not be naive though – just because a website is HTTPS secure, that does NOT make you impervious to hackers! If nothing else, mind your Ps and Qs: use strong passwords, employ any reliable security plugins or secure hosting, run updates, backup and BACKUP.
Takeaway #3: Podcasting with WordPress
“Marketing funnel model to building an audience: awareness, interest, desire, action.” – Calvin Powers
I was really looking forward to this talk because one of our clients has been playing around with the idea of hosting their own podcast, and we want to offer them as much support and knowledge as we can. Cue Calvin Powers, podcasting extraordinaire. His marketing funnel (otherwise known as the AIDA Journey) helps in deciding what plugins, services and tactics are worth our clients time and money. For instance, in the Awareness phase, how can you alert consumers to the existence of your product? One option might be sharing information about your product on social platforms such as Twitter. How can you accomplish this through WordPress? Include social sharing buttons right on your site!
Takeaway #4: Project Workflow: Building WordPress Sites with Virtual Teams
“Documentation is critical.” – Tony Zeoli
Tony’s project documentation is extensive. When I say extensive, I mean, describe the process behind choosing a movie to watch. Most might do so in about 1-2 paragraphs. With Tony, he could probably write a 300 page book on it. That is how detailed he is when it comes to project management and documentation. While this may sound overkill, it is necessary when working in virtual teams. I can’t tell you how many times my own team has referenced past documentation to clarify how we came to a certain decision in a web design or print design project. Without that supporting documentation, especially in large-scale projects with many moving parts, team communication can get especially messy; and communication is key, amirite?
Courtney’s Takeaways from WordCamp 2015
Takeaway #1: Be Focused and Think Lean
Tools, people, and process should be streamlined. For example:
- Create specific landing pages for your different prospective buyers, so they only see the content that relates to their needs.
- Don’t hassle your buyers with shipping fees, either roll them into the cost or only offer a flat rate.
- Avoid featuring a promo code option on every checkout screen. If customers are already there and buying, why make them feel cheated for not having a promo code? If you run a coupon or promo code campaign, have that coupon link to a separate checkout page (so buyers not included won’t even see it.)
Takeaway #2: You Only Need a Few Hundred Raving Fans
300 raving fans is all it takes to be successful. They will sell your product or service for you by raving, sharing and connecting others to your product or service. In other words, loyalty trumps quantity. Specific tips:
- Create photo contests, allow your clients to participate.
- Watermark your Pinterest pictures; if someone pins the picture or share’s with a fellow pinner, you’ll always be linked to the content.
- Update your blog and social media regularly. Include your customers in those updates.
- Use Rafflecopter to help run giveaways for any brand, on any website, as much as you want.
Takeaway #3: Make Your Brand Easy to Share
Jen McFarland gave a great presentation on Saturday about Making WordPress work for Education. But I found the presentation useful for businesses as well. One of her main points, which was that organizations should list their branding colors and fonts on their website, made for an interesting idea for business. Should all organizations showcase their brand information in order to stay consistent across the board? And, to that point, to make it easy for others to share their blog posts, Facebook updates, and more? What can we all be doing to make it easier for our fans and clients to be sharing our content and sharing our brand?
Who Vanessa Met:
“I love meeting new people. I love connecting with them, learning about and from them, getting inspired by their brilliance, and WordCamp is a wonderful opportunity for just that. It’s fair to say that I was excited to meet ALL the people.
It was great meeting up with some new team members, and we had lunch with a client of ours who was attending the unconference as well. I saw some former NC State colleagues which always puts a smile on my face. I was even introduced to Kelly Phillips, the amazing speaker behind the Choose the Right Theme session. Plus, there was the WordCamp hashtag #wcraleigh, and I’ve never been shy about reaching out (and offering alcoholic beverages) through Twitter!” – Vanessa
Who Courtney Met:
“Andrea Olson gained additional raving fans this past weekend at WordCamp Raleigh 2015. She listed more plugins, apps and ways to market your business faster than I could type. I was inspired after listening to her present and grateful she let me ask her a few follow up questions. It’s rare to meet someone with such passion for what they do and it was contagious. She even tweeted me following the conference! “ – Courtney
— Courtney Walton (@Cmmckone1) October 10, 2015
WordPress Best Practices and Tips from WordCamp 2015
- X theme – When asked what her favorite theme was, Kelly Phillips mentioned the X Theme (among others). If it has Kelly’s endorsement, I say it’s worth looking into.
- iThemes Security plugin – As Jen MacFarland put it, “How secure is WordPress? It’s as secure as you make it.” Jen also attended the Everyone Screws up HTTPS session with me, and recommended the iThemes Security plugin, particularly for handling things like redirects.
- WordPress HTTPS plugin / StartSSL / SEO Crawler – This is an all-in-one solution to using SSL on WordPress sites that Patrick Stox mentioned. Some other helpful tools include StartSSL, for free low-assurance SSL certicates to more advanced options, and SEO Crawler for finding redirect chains, broken links and more.
- Libsyn, Blubrry media hosting / PowerPress plugin – Calvin Powers let us in on a little something: while WordPress will auto-generate an audio player when you place a MP3 file on a page, some web hosts are easily overwhelmed and will kick you offline! The solution: sign up for a media hosting company like Libsyn or Blubrry. Additionally, 65% of all podcast downloads come from iOS devices, but iTunes requires extensions to RSS which aren’t supported by WordPress’ built-in feed generator. The solution: plugins like PowerPress that generate iTunes compliant RSS Feeds.
- Take time to get to know [your team] outside of just the work context – Tony Zeoli presented some tips on building a successful virtual team and this practice was one of the suggestions he offered. Luckily for me, my team is phenomenal. Very hard-working and supportive. Any chance I can get to get to know them outside of work, and therefore add to fostering a successful work environment, I jump at. Dare I say we have a Color Run in my team’s future?
- Rafflecopter– Helps run giveaways for any brand, on any website, as much as you want, with no I.T. help required. Friendly billing policies and no long-term commitment. https://www.rafflecopter.com
- Pretty Links– plugin for people who want to clean up their affiliate links, track clicks from emails, their links on Twitter to come from their own domain, or generally increase the reach of their website by spreading these links on forums or comments on other blogs. https://wordpress.org/plugins/pretty-link/
- SumoMe – Use this tool’s heat maps to find what is working on your site and what isn’t working on your site. See where your websites visitors are clicking. Get more shares, on mobile, web and everywhere. They work with tons of big and small businesses and offer free trials. https://sumome.com
- WooConference – Using pay pal or another online billing technique? Might be time to take a look at this new and award winning plugin. It is designed for small to large-sized online merchants using WordPress. It’s simple to customize and install! http://www.woocommercemarketing360.com
- PowToon – Too much content or text description on your site? When used Powtoons, organizations showed increased traffic and sales. The basic version is free, and it’s awesome. You can create animated videos and presentations. Used by Starbucks, Coca Cola, Ebay – and our client, flipitconsulting.com!
Questions, Comments, or Other Thoughts?
Connect with us if you want to chat about WordPress, want to share your takeaways from WordCamp, or just want to grab a coffee with some Raleigh-area website fanatics.