WordCamp London 2016

This weekend has been the (what now seems to be) annual WordCamp London event and I went along with our co-founder Keith to network, learn and just be part of the amazing community that surrounds our wonderfully web and WordPress industry. I had a fantastic time, speaking, chatting and of course learning about lots of new things.

Presentations / Talks

The speakers who present their talks are the bulk of the offering at a WordCamp and I would like to thank all those speakers who took the time to prepare, rehearse and of course present their talks. I know how difficult that can be as I too, spoke at the WordCamp and therefore had to go through the process myself.

Preparing slides, researching your topic and practicing your delivery all take a great deal of time and effort, on a voluntary basis, so it is great that so many speakers choose to share their stories with the wider community at WordCamps.

I attended a number of talks throughout the course of the event and I wanted to outline the talks I watched and the main points of interest in the talks from my point of view.

Building an Innovative WordPress Agency: Mooves 5 Year Journey

This talked kicked off the event in track B and as a new business / agency only I was really keen and grateful to hear what they had to say about their journey. Adrian and Ilona gave a well presented talk about the history of their agency, from the very beginnings through their growth to where they are no, building sites for clients like Toyota and Lexus.

Highrise Digital, at the moment are in the very early stages of this journey but I was good to know how Mooves journey progressed and there were a number of top tips that we could use. It is also reassuring that they had the same decisions and worries that we all have, giving me confidence that we can get to where they are in time – watch this space!

Transients are Good For You (and your website) – Julio Potier

Having already used transients in my code when needed I went into this talk more hoping to be reassured that I was following the correct practice. Even so I mangled to pickup some extra snippets of information which is always good to know. For example when running a WordPress core update, all your sites transients are cleared, and then they are built up again on the next sites page loads.

Julio gave a really good talk, presented in a clear and informative way which was also very amusing at times!

Hacked Off: Dealing with a Hacked WordPress Site – Tim Nash

This was a very popular talk – perhaps indicating that there are a lot of WordPress users that have had sites hacked, looking for the vital information in order to help fix the problem.

As Tim works for a hosting company he was able to use lots of real-life examples that have happened to sites hosted with them which is good to hear.

Tim’s presentation was very amusing and his deliver always keeps the audience entertained. He presented tips and tricks for what to do if you site is hacked and made things pretty clear for what can be quite a complicated topic.

The thing that I took away from this talk was that it is key to always make your own backups of your sites and not to trust your host to do this for you (good as it was coming from Tim who works for a hosting company!). Another thing was that you should always take daily, not weekly backups and gave the excellent example of an online store loosing all its customer data for items customers may have purchased.

I feel a lot more confident now in attempting to fix a hacked site as I will have a more clear plan of action getting the site offline as quickly as possible.

Accessible Accordions for Your WordPress Theme – Graham Armfield

Accessibility is something we all need to brush up on, get better at and just start implementing in the work we do. Graham is a great evangelist for this and always gives excellent and information talks.

He didn’t let us down and explained very clearly how you would go about creating an accordion that was accessible. What this essentially meant is that users who do not use a mouse are able to use the keyboard to navigate through the accordion expanding the sections with keyboard strokes rather than clicking with the mouse. All done through the use of ARIA and some javascript.

Panel: Recruiting for your Business

Panel members included: Ant Miller (MC), Matt Buckland, Sam Cameroon, David Lockie and Jessica Rose

As a new business I was interested in the recruitment processes, tips and tricks that both the panel members and the audience had to offer. I am sure at some stage in the future we are going to want to hire and it was interesting to see what others had to say.

Notably points were about the difficulties in hiring in our industry where at the moment there is more work that developers, designer etc. to actually complete it.

It was also nice to hear Jessica mention that ICT teachers in schools is a good place to get good staff from – that is where I came from!

The Highlights of PHP 7 and What’s Planned for PHP 7.1 – Dan Blows

I recently made the switch the PHP 7 with my own blog and was looking forward to having the benefits outlined. Dan did an excellent job (it was also his first talk at a WordCamp although you wouldn’t have known) outline the changes and benefits.

The main benefits being of course speed with PHP typically offering more than 100% speed increases for both response time and the number pages served. All this with no change of hardware of anything in WordPress!

Teaching WordPress to Kids (Lightning Talk) – Rachel McCollin

Rachel shard her experiences of running a Code Club with primary school child (10 – 11 years old). Having taught programming through the use of programs such as Scratch, she bravely introduced then to WordPress with some excellent results.

It was also interesting to hear her approach in terms of getting a multisite installation of WordPress for the children to use in order to learn on their own blog within the multisite.

A well delivered talk which is on a topic I know well – being a former secondary school teacher for 12 years.

Securing Your Self-Hosted WordPress Website with Lets Encrypt – Soledad Penadés

Lets Encrypt is something that I am super excited and will make it super easy to get an SSL certificate installed on your website.

Soledad talked us through the process of installing a certificate using the new (free) Let’s Encrypt service. I really enjoyed the talk and her delivery. I could listen to her lovely Spanish accent all day!

Highrise Digital Speak at WordCamp London

Both myself and Keith have spoken at a number of WordCamps and we had both applied to speak at WordCamp London. I was delighted when my talk on Publishing a Plugin on WordPress.org was accepted. After lots of preparation and a demo run at the WordPress Manchester meet-up group my talk went really well.

I must admit it was difficult being last on Sunday as you can never really relax throughout the conference knowing that you are speaking. That said the talk went well and I got some nice feedback. Slides can be viewed by clicking the image below:

Keith gave a really good lightning talk on optimising images in WordPress. The talk covered the main areas of image optimisation in WordPress including lazy loading images, compressing images correctly and of course the new responsive images including recently in WordPress 4.4. Keith’s presentation slides can found by clicking on the image below:

Response on Twiter

Speakers Dinner and Saturday Social

A big part of a WordCamp is socialising with other attendees, network and chatting to fiends who I have met from WordCamps and look forward to seeing at each WordCamp. The speakers dinner and Saturday after-party are perfect opportunities for this.

This year the Speakers dinner held on the Friday evening before the conference on Saturday / Sunday was held in Bounce, an amazing pub with Ping Pong tables. Having not played ping pong (table tennis) for a long time and someone who used to enjoy it, I took advantage and myself and Gary Jones had a good hour of fun playing table tennis whilst in a pub!

The Saturday social was also great, held in the student bar in London Metropolitan University where the conference was being held.

Lots of free drinks where consumed by the attendees and I played lots of pool, although I was not quite as successful at this at the previous year. Oh well I will have to come back next year a play more!

About the author

Mark is the lead WordPress developer at Highrise Digital. He has been working with WordPress for over 13 years, way back to 2005. He focuses on back-end development, integrating the website build with WordPress so it can be editable.