I’m just about to leave for WordCamp Cape Town 2012, my favourite tech event of the year and it looks like this one’s set to be bigger and better than any of the previous WP related events I’ve attended. I’m also loving the fact that it’s being hosted at one of my favourite places in Cape Town Kirstenbosch Gardens. I’m planning on updating this post as the day progresses with my experiences. That’s the plan at least. Stay tuned!
Here’s a quick wrapup of the talks I managed to catch.
Eric Clements discusses Using WP to setup a Live Mxit Based Journal of Olympics Info. Using mxPress a small team setup a live Olympic Journal Mxit App fed with updates through WordPress. The setup took around 5 hrs and within a couple of weeks they had 10 000 followers.
- Why WordPress – Ease of content management
- Why Mxit – Quick Easy Mobile access to large user base
- Quick Mxit App setup
- Go Mobile Quickly and easily
- Access non smart phone users
- Great Features of the Plugin – tight WP Integration
- Integration with Google Analytics
A suggestion from the floor was to make use of a setup like this for monitoring crime and crime reporting through a crowdsourced type setup where non-smartphone users can easily access and update the system.
Eric also mentioned that monitizing on Mxit is much easier than on platforms like facebook.
Riaan Knoetze started creating WordPress themes out of necessity. He says he loves making money in his sleep and was looking for ways to establish passive streams of income. Riaan explains how difficult it is to break into the Theme sales market due to the sheer amount of players. His talk discusses how to leverage existing theme markets and develop extended products based on their products, eg. Developing WooThemes child themes.
Riaan says he’s not a PHP developer, marketing guru or Graphic design super star.
Enter – Premium Child Themes
- Riaan goes into Hijacking 101, the tools, skills and knowhow needed to Hijack Existing Premium Themes legally and make money off modifying them.
- He further explains how to pick a theme shop – their themes need design improvements, functional extensions and users who want extensions.
- Advanced Hijacking tip – make it legit and get the backing of the theme shop.
- Cons – revenue split
- Pros – more exposure, less overhead, support infrastructure …
Imma get myself hijacking!
3. Fred Roed, CEO of WWCreative speaking about Community & Causes
Fred’s intro was a little unconventional discussing the story of the Apaches but boiling down to the issue of Having a serious and meaningful Cause.
Quick Stat – 95% of Brands in South Africa Use Social Media
Fred impressing on the Social Media Stats but reminding us that Trust is so important in the bombardment from multiple channels. People are still interested in trusted communities and connections.
3 Verticals They Focus on at WWC
- Attracting Traffic
- Converting Traffic
At the centre of it is Cause, something meaningful, something you want to fight for and are passionate about, something you feel for.
Citing the example of Apple, determined to develop Beautiful, Functional Technology. Something which resonates with the users. Fred goes on to cite a wide range of Causes from Virgin taking on the big guys, to Hitler to Steve Hofmeyer.
"No community is sustainable without a cause." Fascinating examples of brands that know this: Apple. Virgin. Wikipedia. Vespa. #WCCT— memeburn (@memeburn) October 4, 2012
- It’s Profitable
- It’s compelling
- It’s sustainable
- Connects People
4. Does Social Media Affect SEO
Neil Starts off comparing statistics – correlation & causation data based on high ranking sites. The Data suggests certain important social functions seem to have some effect on Search Engine Rankings.
Neil Mentions an SEO Moz experiment asking his community to +1 a Post Ranked 16 which then Ranked 6th after many +1’s. He mentions Google Plus profiles linked on Google Webmaster Tools to blogging author page which should allow your author profile to appear on search listings, also shared his recommendation of the AuthorSure plugin to assist with this. He also showed how Google is starting to feature Social activities into analytics tools and reports. Many of the points mentioned are covered by Yoast in his latest SEO outline.
At this stage myself and a few of the guys rushed off to grab some food elsewhere and to stretch our legs, Catering wasn’t Halaal so we grabbed a steak gatsby or 2 down the road, because of which we missed the first session which focused on performance.
Sessions I Missed – Performance, Speed / Load Time
Basically the performance/speed related sessions cover using CDNs (Content Delivery Networks), Caching using built in and Plugins, Controlling which resources get served from your site and which get served from external servers and which versions get served. This includes being wary of the amount and type of plugins used, minifying and compressing some of your sites reosurces and lastly the server you host with. All of these elements work together to drastically improving your site’s performance, user experience and nowadays your site’s rankings based on Google’s new inclusion of major speed factors in their ranking system.
Implementing these enhancements help cut down on the cost of running high traffic sites as well.
The crucial aspects to consider when optimising your WordPress site: optimise your database, cache your content. Think APC, CDN, W3TC. #WCCT— memeburn (@memeburn) October 4, 2012
Byron Rode tackles the subject of performance from the front end side of things after the previous discussions centred around what can be done on the admin and server side. For those who are not able to spend the money needed to have dedicated servers or enhanced server side optimisations and are running on shared hosting there’s alot that can be done as to speed up your site’s load time as well.
Some suggested Plugins
- W3 Total Cache – Might cause problems when developing and caches are not cleared – old files showing
- WP Minify – Might not work with certain plugins
- Using Image Sprites to reduce the amount of loads
Discussing WordPress Transient API – WordPress way of caching Database Queries for serving cached queries later saving on reloading repeated queries.
Byrone makes no apologies for saying that he seriously dislikes plugins due to the various aspects of site performance they negatively affect.
3 Minute Pitches
One of the interesting features of this year’s WordCamp are the 3 minute elevator pitches delivered by some of the microsponsors. The most interest of them so far for me was Blink Tower, who assist entrepreneurs in getting their messages out there by developing short video messages to help them articular and illustrate what they offer. Most of us could do with some improved articulation of what we do.
Other Pitches centred around raising funds for DARG, animal welfare organisationhttps://twitter.com/Ane_vJaarsveld/status/253847381811027968
a mobile testing platform and I forget some of the others.
Panel Discussion – Getting “Started Up”
A Group of 5 Tech Entrepreneurs Discuss how they Succeeded and how others could take their startup ideas forward.
As you can see I’m getting very tired and most likely won’t make it through the last of the presentations. In general it was a good day, some of the content was a little disappointing as compared to last year’s WordCamp. The networking was the best part of the event getting back in touch with some of the familiar faces in the community and meeting a few new ones.
I Must Be getting Old
I was unable to see the entire event through to the end due in part, to some tight deadlines and lack of sleep over the last few weeks.
I’m super disappointed I missed Matt Cohen’s Presentation about Shifting the WordPress Mindset. See his slides below. From what I hear it was great and took the audience on a trip down memory lane from the early days through to where we currently are and into what lies ahead for WP.
All in all it was a very well organised event, though I feel presentations may have not been relevant enough for everyone attending. Last Year’s split focus, publisher vs developer seemed a better configuration and I think this would be the best way to go going forward considering the split focus on the WP community. Those who attended seem to have benefitted in general, I couldn’t find a negative comment apart from one or 2 newbies being baffled by some of the tech talk.
Ashley Shaw & the Lightspeed team have done a fab job this year, thanks a ton again to them!