This was my first WordCamp. I had no expectations and while things were a little shaky, it was a really great experience. I attended with Joy Worthen of Worthen Creative.
Getting a parking pass, finding the building, and getting through the enormous check-in line was really the worst part of the day. Good thing it was at the beginning!
We missed the opening remarks and arrived after Scott Berkun had begun speaking. He was a great speaker, super easy to listen to and informative. He talked about how Automattic runs WordPress.com (hosted) and how that translates to WordPress.org (self-hosted). I found it fascinating that they use WordPress to the extent that they do. I mean of course they use it, it’s their product, but they use it in cool and unique ways. For example, the P2 theme, which they developed and use for team collaboration. I’m on a mission to find a project management tool that is actually useful for me, so I was very interested in this part. I’ve since installed it, but I haven’t played with it much yet.
He also talked about JetPack, which essentially is a bridge between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. It combines several plugins that were previously only available for WordPress.com sites with a few that you could get individually for WordPress.org sites (e.g. WordPress.com Stats). One funny moment was when he asked for a show of hands for who had heard of JetPack and maybe 10 people raised their hand. Then he asked how many had installed it and it was only one or two. He was very disappointed as his team was the one that developed it. I’d seen it before a few times but I hadn’t installed it. I have now and it’s pretty cool. I’ve already turned some of the built-in stuff off, but I think it will be great in the future when they add more functionality.
Cool stat: 15-20% of all tweets include URLs and probably most of them are to blogs.
Next we broke up into three tracks: user/blogger, themes, and development. I went to development, which was “Using AJAX in Plugins and Themes” by Will Anderson. Yes, the ratio of men to women in the room was about 25 to 1. Not surprising, right? Anyway, the bulk of the presentation was very basic, how to call jQuery properly and some simple examples. I think just about everyone in the room already knew everything he was covering. I know it’s hard when there is such a wide range of skill levels but I was hoping for something a little more advanced.
Here is his presentation: Using AJAX in Plugins and Themes (PDF)
After that, I went to the theme track and stayed there the rest of the day. The first presentation I saw there was from Toby McKes of Cheezburger. Yes, the LOLCat guys. The topic was “Cool as a LOLCat: Making Custom Theme Options Easy” and it was pretty damn neat. They have a custom admin panel called CheezCAP that they’ve created that allows them to do a bunch of configuration changes in the admin instead of hand coding it all. It’s available for download for anyone that wants it. It will be in the WordPress plugins directory soon. I’m definitely going to check it out. It could be very useful.
Cool stat: WordPress is about 12% of the Internet and about 10% of that is Cheezburger.
Next up was “Theming for the Masses” from Michael Fields. This was another amazing presentation. He created a free theme, documented his experience, and presented it to us as a case study. Lots of lessons learned and interesting information. You can find his Ghostbird theme in the WordPress theme directory.
He also gave us tips for some plugins and tools: Theme Check, Theme Unit Test, and Meteor Slides.
He said the presentation slides and some discussion points would be coming shortly to his blog in post format.
We had a hard time deciding on the last track session to attend but we ended up staying in the theme track for “Advice for Selling Your Theme” from Chris Molitor. I’m so glad we did. I have the most notes written down for this presentation! He talked about selling themes in three major marketplaces: Theme Forest, Mojo Themes, and Woo Themes. He went over what you want to provide in your themes as a designer/developer, marketing, branding, and support. It was quite thorough.
Here is his presentation: Advice for Selling Your Theme (Zip)
We then watched an interview with Alex King, which was very quiet and hard to follow. I honestly can’t remember what they talked about. I was fading fast at that point. We missed the Ignite WordCamp presentations because we’d had enough fun for the day and took off early.
All in all I think it was a great time and definitely worth the money. I’ll be back next year.