Posted in WordPress by
Anthony Hortin

Just last week (Nov 5th & 6th, 2011) I was lucky enough to attend WordCamp Gold Coast. This is only the fourth WordCamp held in Australia and the first event to be held in Queensland. Approximately 150 attendees, 21 speakers and 8 sponsors made for an awesome weekend! A huge thanks must go to all the guys that organised the event and kept it running over the weekend as well as all the fantastic speakers.

WordCamps are conferences that focus on everything WordPress. They’re informal, community-organised events that are put together by WordPress users. Everyone from casual users to core developers participate, share ideas and get to know each other.

The Gold Coast WordCamp consisted of two tracks. A high Tech Track and a Low Tech Track. This meant that there was something for everyone, no matter what your WordPress experience.

I’ll briefly go through the sessions that I attended but if you’re interested in reviewing the full schedule for the weekend, you can find it on the WordCamp Gold Coast website.

Saturday November 5

Kate Swaffer — Using WordPress to capture memories
The day started off with a moving talk by Kate Swaffer. Kate was diagnosed with a rare younger onset dementia when she was 49. She spoke and presented a video about her life, living with dementia and how she uses WordPress as a personal journal. As it’s getting harder and harder for her to recall past events, blogging helps her to remember her life.

There are over 1500 cases of dementia diagnosed each week and as yet, there is still no cure.

Kate’s presentation can be found at
http://www.slideshare.net/wordcampgc/using-wordpress-to-capture-memories-by-kate-swaffer

Dan Milward — How to facilitate and Build an open Source Community
Dan is the man behind the wildly popular WP e-Commerce plugin, which at last count, has over 1.7 million downloads. He spoke about what you can do to create a successful open source community. Key points included finding a niche market and how important it is to be innovative rather than simply copying where others have been.

John Ford — How Automattic works across 20 countries with 95 employees
Automattic is the company behind WordPress.com, Akismet and numerous other popular tools . It’s founder, Matt Mullenweg, is the man behind WordPress.

John gave us a really interesting talk on what it’s like to work for Automattic and their culture. He also spoke about how they manage to operate with staff residing all around the world and some of the tools he uses in his day to day activities. John currently heads up the VaultPress team.

Some of the tools used by John and his team include:

Stew Heckenberg — Freelance FTW (Strategies for Success, Pitfalls to avoid)
Stew lead off his talk with a great quote from his father. “The world runs on 98% bullshit and 2% brains”. Using this “philosophy”, Stew outlined some simple steps to take to accomplish your goal of working from home (or wherever you like), while still keeping hours that suit your lifestyle.

Dee Teal — Getting to Grips with Genesis (A WordPress Framework)
Starting the afternoon sessions off was Dee with a really interesting discussion on the Genesis WordPress Framework. The Genesis Framework is one of the more popular WordPress frameworks that are around. Dee discussed the benefits of using a framework like Genesis and also briefly outlined its use of Hooks, Actions & Filters.

Dee’s presentation can be found at
http://www.slideshare.net/wordcampgc/word-camp-twp4by3

Japh Thomson — Code quality standards and best practices
Japh gave a fantastic talk on the importance of coding standards and the use of best practices. Not only is this going to help yourself, but in the long run, it’ll also help your users, clients, the community in general and potential employers. Japh provided some great links that are a “must read” if you plan on developing any WordPress themes, plugins or getting involved with core updates.

Japh’s presentation can be found at http://japh.com.au/wcgc2011/

Anthony Cole — WordPress Plugin Development 101
Anthony shared his extensive knowledge in developing WordPress plugins. It was a great presentation if you’ve not yet begun to develop plugins. As part of his presentation, he briefly discussed WordPress Actions & Filters along with the various API’s that are available for use within WordPress.

John O’Nolan
Designing Emotion – Becoming a Puppet-Master of User Experience

The first day ended with one of, if not THE highlight of the weekend, listening to John’s session on Designing Emotion. John is an extremely talented user interface and user experience designer out of the UK. Lucky for us, Australia is the first leg of his newly embarked world travels. He’s packed his bags and is travelling around the world for an indefinite period, working, blogging & taking photos. You can follow his adventures on his website.

John has worked with the likes of Virgin, Microsoft & Google and is also a WordPress Core UI group contributor. His talk centered around how design evokes an emotional response. It makes users feel an emotion and great design creates an awesome experience.

John’s presentation can be found at
http://speakerdeck.com/u/johnonolan/p/designing-emotion-1

Sunday November 6

Troy Dean – Running a Small Business as a WordPress Developer
Sunday started off a little later than the previous day. The first talk I attended was a really interesting one on running a small business as a WordPress Developer. Troy had some fantastic tips on running your business efficiently and I think they apply to any small business, not just WordPress developers specifically. Some of the points he specifically mentioned were:

  • Use templates for proposals. No need to re-write everything, everytime
  • Follow up proposals with a phone call, 5 days later
  • Payment terms – 40% Deposit, 30% Design pmt (after completed design), 30% Final pmt (prior to “go live”)
  • Limit your number of design revisions to two
  • Feature creep – Quote only after payment has been made for website
  • Follow up client 1 month after release/training. Use this opportunity to ask if there’s anything else they require, such as email marketing or a social media strategy. You can also ask for a testimonial.

Some of the useful sites that Troy mentioned were:

Troy’s presentation can be found at
http://www.slideshare.net/wordcampgc/word-camp-gold-coast-notes

Dion Hulse, John O’Nolan, John FordDan Milward — Live Panel
Originally this was just going to be a session with Dion on What I’ve Learnt From Working In Open-Source but it was then decided, since there were so many talented people from other countries who had come over, why not take advantage of it. It was turned into a live panel discussion on not only the Open-Source environment of WordPress but on all sorts of other topics, offered up from audience questions. It was awesome to hear the thoughts of these guys who are so involved with WordPress one way or another.

One of the points that really stood out and agreed upon among all the panel, was the benefit in getting more involved in the WordPress community, whether that’s through core commits, UI design, testing beta releases or even just helping people on the WordPress forums. If you’re interested in following along with development updates, check out the official blog for the core development team.

Stephen Cronin — WordPress and Government – The Australian Perspective
Stephen gave a really interesting perspective on what it’s like to work in an Australian Government environment and how and where they’re using WordPress. He spoke about some of the challenges of working in such an environment, such as their prolific use of IE6 (Eeek!). He also touched on some of the other government sites in other countries that are using WordPress, including:

Stephen’s presentation (minus the images) can be found at
http://www.slideshare.net/sjcronin99/stephen-cronin-wordpress-and-government

Bronson Quick — Supercharging WordPress with BuddyPress!
The last session for the weekend was from Bronson on implementing BuddyPress. BuddyPress can turn your site into a complete social network. It comes with activity streams, forums, mentions (ala Twitter), friending and private messaging. This was a live demo of setting up a BuddyPress site and so was a great insight into just how easy it is to get the default site working. Bronson also mentioned some of the great plugins that are available for increasing user engagement and just generally improving your site:

Bronson’s presentation can be found at
http://www.slideshare.net/wordcampgc/supercharging-wordpress-with-buddypress

Presentations for the other speakers not listed, can be found at
http://www.slideshare.net/wordcampgc/presentations

Conclusion…

WordCamp Gold Coast 2011 was Awesome!! This was the very first WordCamp that I’ve been to and I had a fantastic time. As well as getting the chance to hear some extremely talented people discussing various topics, it was a great opportunity to network and meet folks who I’ve only ever “talked to” online, as well as meet lots of new friends. I know it definitely wont be my last WordCamp!

Did you manage to make it up to this one or have you been to other WordCamps? Leave a comment and let me know. I’d love to hear 🙂