Thank you for checking in with WordCamp Portland, Maine 2017. We’re excited to get this years event put together to provide you some great talks that you’ve grown accustom to.

We are currently in the process of receiving speaker applications, so if you are ready to get out there and share your experiences and knowledge, just head on over to our call for speakers page and submit your presentation!

Intro to WordPress

In this session, we’ll take a dive into WordPress and all of it’s settings and features. We’ll discuss:

  • Posts vs. Pages
  • vs
  • Adding Content
  • Installing Plugins and Themes

Keynote – Democratizing Software

If you ask a WordPress contributor what the project’s goal is, chances are we’ll say “to democratize publishing.” However, for over a decade the community that has grown around WordPress has been doing something even more important: our community is democratizing software itself. By creating one of the only web communities to include everybody from writers and photographers to interaction designers and senior software architects, WordPress has done what often seems impossible in Open Source software: we have built a product not just for ourselves, but for everyone. The future of WordPress rests on our ability to recognize and celebrate the spectrum of our community.

It’s the Little Things that Make a Difference

So you can build a technically wonderful website, but does it appeal to your audience? Does it have finesse? Who is it designed for: the owner, the designer/developer, or the customer/user? Are forms user-friendly? This talk will show you the things that make a website more complete, user-friendly, and user-appealing. Topics will include favicons, custom 404 pages, form buttons, footers, colors, SSL certificates, and more.

Do I Need Professional Help?

Have you ever wanted to change how your WordPress site looks or works, but aren’t sure if you can make the changes on your own? Do you wonder what kind of help you even need: a designer or a programmer? Both? And what do those folks even do? If you do hire someone, how much should you spend?

This talk will go over examples of some things you can DIY and when you might consider calling a professional. It will also review the different skill sets that go into working on a WordPress site to help you understand what kind of help you need. Finally, it will cover what costs to expect and give you some tips on getting professional help.

Accessibility Panel

No Dead Ends: Writing Will Get You Everywhere

Writing can be an inspiring practice that has a variety of personal and health benefits. This presentation will cover these benefits, as well as identify ways to make a regular practice of writing. Michelle will discuss ways to find inspiration, offer some writing prompts and discuss her journey with her blog clunkyshoe.

Boost Visitor Engagement

It takes work to get people to your website, between short attention spans and competition, how do you keep them there? Your website was built with a purpose, when a new visitor lands on your site, there is something you want them to do. Are your visitors sticking around long enough to take that desired action? We’re going to focus on some ideas that might help you boost visitor engagement.

5 SEO Mistakes Not to make in WordPress

Many of us know and understand the importance of SEO, yet it surprisingly doesn’t stop at just hitting publish on your latest blog post. Even if you think that you are a true SEO rock star and following the SEO basics to a T, chances may be that you are still missing some core onsite optimization basics (as even I have done in the past). We’ll go over some of these easily made SEO mistakes and ill offer some basic solutions.

Hands-on Development with the Customizer

We’ll start with an overview of what you can build with the Customizer and where to use it, followed by hands-on development building customizer controls. We’ll wrap up with a discussion on some of the more advanced ways you can leverage the customizer, with tips & techniques for your own theme.

Stop Saying No – Nurturing Client Relationships

As a freelance designer, we turn down business constantly. Most small business owners undervalue the work we do and have limited budgets. Every week, I found myself turning down those dreaded “I have $300. Can you build me a website?” kind of leads.

Then, I realized I didn’t have to. With the right strategy and confidence in your work, you can make a living on $300 jobs. But more importantly, you can convert that customer you would’ve turned down into the customer you wanted, to begin with (and still do the fun custom work we really love to do).

We’ll discuss strategies, contracts, residual income generation, and long-term customer-focused approaches to freelance web work. We’ll also chat about keeping yourself happy in the midst of working for yourself and why those leads you’ve been turning down can be a huge asset.

WP Security: That Boring Thing Until it Matters

WordPress is one of the most used content management systems in the world. Which also, inconveniently, makes it one of the most-targeted CMS’ for hackers. You know you should keep WordPress core, plugins, and themes up-to-date, but what else can you do to protect your system?

Join Sarah as she walks through some of the best practices for securing WordPress and explore the resources available to secure a site, especially if you’re maintaining or hosting sites for your clients. How do you reduce your security risks, so you have less headache over time, ensuring you don’t have nasty surprises, and can keep your clients happy.

Prototyping in the Browser with WordPress

Using an in-browser style guide to drive your development process will save you time and help you manage code and design complexity. In this hands-on demonstration, participants will learn how to build an in-browser style guide and prototype for your WordPress site using KSS.

On the Move, Website Migrations Debunked

Migrations are a thing we have to do sometimes, but dread doing. You ask yourself before, will it go okay? You think later, did I forget anything?

In this talk I’m going to give you some key insights into migrating information from to a self-hosted site. After we’ll discuss the details of migrating a public web site from one host to another. I’ll give you the tools to test the migration before completely flipping the switch. Lastly, we’ll briefly discuss when you want to migrate content from a development copy of the site over to your public site.

Woo for You: Customizing WooCommerce

WooCommerce now powers over 30% of all online stores, both big and small. While the basic WooCommerce package covers a lot of needs, business use cases often require special attention.

This talk will look at the best practices for building and customizing themes and plugins for WooCommerce. We’ll talk about:

* Building a streamline customer service experience for your business;
* Keeping template files up to date;
* Useful actions and filters;
* Custom solutions for unique eCommerce situations

Rapid Web App Development on WordPress

WordPress is known to be a powerful and versatile tool for rapid proof-of-concept web app development. During this presentation, we will investigate why WordPress may be the best tool to help create your next web app.

  • In this presentation, we will look at different examples of business cases where WordPress is the best option, and also where it falls short.
  • I will illustrate how I have solved the most common UI patterns required by web apps using plugins, web resources and occasionally code.
  • We will walk through one of the apps I’ve built from idea to development to production to see the patterns in action.
  • Finally, I share other considerations from my experience like deployment, syncing dev environments, AJAX, the REST API and iterating on feedback.

After the presentation, the audience will have a better understanding of WordPress for web app development. They will be ready to build a minimum viable product (MVP) web app on top of WordPress even if they have limited coding experience.

Beautiful Web Type

With the rapid popularization of web fonts over the past few years, type on the web has never been more exciting! We’ll learn a bit about basic typographic principles, review techniques and services for integrating web fonts into your WordPress sites, and finally conclude with a bit of speculation on where type on the web is heading.

Humanize Your Web Design Process

To often a website is planned on ideas based around the business owners personal likes and wants. Humanistic design creates an engaging experience that users can connect with physically and emotionally. I teach human-centered design as a creative approach to problem solving to unleash creativity to put the people visiting websites at the center of the design process.

It’s critical to know exactly who you’re designing for. You must define your audience so that you know the broad spectrum of people who will be touched by your product or service and create a website that resonates with them.

Yes, the goals of the business are still in the spotlight, but you need to approach web design by taking human emotions into account during the design and planning phases of every web project. And understand that you have more than one type of site visitor to design for.

I’ll redefine your web design strategies to create and build a site directed toward what your site users want. Using these strategies, you’ll fuel your design process to build WordPress sites directed to what your visitors expect and need:

  • Research and become passionate about the Industry and trends.
  • Define your segmented audience and understand the many types of people you’re designing for.
  • Think like your end user and be innovative!
  • The importances of user personas to eliminate guessing whom your users are and build a design with their needs in mind.
  • Get curious; discover what your competitors are doing — both good and bad. What works and what doesn’t. Go beyond what’s happening and investigate your competitors’ strategy:
    • What types of customer are they’re targeting?
    • What are their products/services? Pricing structure? Product packages? How can you improve on any of these?
    • What are the features and functionality of their site?
    • What types of content do they have?
    • Based on what your competitors are doing, improve and find your niche in the market.
    • Find out what keywords they use and build a keyword list to create relevant and engaging content.
  • It’s good to get a bit nosy, and I’ll share tools to quickly tell if a competitor’s site is a WordPress site, and which plugins or theme they use.
  • I’ll touch base on the importance of low-fidelity prototypes along with Design Tiles and how they simplify and finalize the design process.
  • Build in good SEO and plan for social media.

Website and UX Design – From a Designer’s Perspective

Website design and UX principles applied to WordPress websites – from a designer’s perspective. The process starts with discovering client objectives and the website audience. This informs decisions on colors, fonts, and layout. A mood board helps to communicate the design direction for the website and user research informs decisions on website navigation and content hierarchy. Tools of the trade include color, stock photo and icon resources. Implementing these design discoveries into your WordPress website is not as hard as you think.

Podcasting with WordPress

Podcasting is an easy way to engage with your audience, have your voice heard, and stand out from the crowd—and WordPress makes it even easier. With a few free plugins, WordPress becomes a natural platform for publishing your serial audio content. From recording hardware and editing software to WordPress plugins and configuration, we’ll review how to get started with podcasting.

How Using a Content-First Approach to Web Development Saves Money and Client Relationships

Creating high quality content before designing and developing a custom WordPress site can be the difference between a successful project and one that goes over budget, wastes time and leaves everyone feeling frustrated. Unfortunately, the reality is that clients underestimate the enormous task of writing and editing and aggregating the right content.

After some trial and error, our team at Big Room Studios has worked to incorporate content gathering, writing and editing into every part of the web development process.

I’ll go over how we incorporate content creation into:
1. The sales process
2. Client intake and education
3. Wireframing and Information Architecture
4. Development sprints
5. Final writing and editing before launch

Busting Through the Content Bottleneck: How to Efficiently Collect Content from your Clients or Colleagues

Content is a huge bottleneck for freelancers and agencies. (How many sites have you seen get delayed because of content loading?) I’ve felt the pinch on projects big and small, both in-house and with client work. But I’ve also learned a few tricks for getting around it.

In this session we’re going to look at four approaches for dealing with the content problem: Making it an up-front dependency; treating content development as an early project phase; working on content in tandem with a website build; and making content development a standalone value-added service. We’ll also review a handful of different tools and resources that make content less of a pain to work with.

Web Site Redesign Checklist

Redesigning your website can be a pretty daunting task, but being prepared can make the whole process go a lot smoother. Defining your goals will help you understand what features are most essential to your new web site, who is the best partner for you, how much money you might expect to spend and how long it will take.

This presentation should get you headed in the right direction with:
– Questions to ask yourself
– Research to conduct
– Tasks to complete


Building Tools for your Agency

This talk will discuss:

1) How agencies can effectively create tools and products for other WordPress developers and the market at large while still remaining cash flow positive. This segment will talk about allocation of developer time and infusing an entrepreneurial mindset into a development agency.

2) How I (and our agency) did this for our recent product Blockade.
Blockade is a lightweight visual editor, that internally drove our costs of building websites down (made us more efficient) and is making it easier for our friends and now public beta testers to build their own sites.

How to Double Your WordPress Site Conversions…Easily

After investing so much time, effort, and resources in developing your WordPress website and marketing your brand, you should expect a flood of conversions on your site. After all, if you offer something of true value, it’s in your audience’s best interest to contact you and buy from you.

This presentation will walk you through 31 effective techniques to get more of your site visitors converting. Some of the techniques will focus on behavior-based data gleaned from heat maps, scroll maps, and A/B testing, while others will focus on messaging, neuromarketing, and human psychology, while yet others will focus on color, design, and UX elements.

Whether you are looking to sell more on your website, increase leads, promote an upcoming event, build your email list, or drive site visitors to some other conversion event, you’ll walk away from this session with highly specific methods for doubling your website’s conversion rate.

Improving User Experience and Engagement

WordPress at its core makes it so easy to build a website people will enjoy visiting. And with 10’s of thousands of plugins and themes available it’s also easy to bloat our sites before we know what users need or even want. On top of all that SEO tactics, content strategies, and social media endeavors tend to make things even worse.

In this session you’ll learn how to build an MVP (minimal viable product). We’ll start by stripping out all the bloat, get rid of all those widgets and start with naked content. Then and only then we’ll start to methodically add features, as they are needed. You will be amazed how much your visitors enjoy just reading your content and engaging with you through simple solutions.

You’ll walk away with practical strategies around:
– Building content driven websites
– Gaining traction and increasing engagement
– Elegantly monetizing your blog
– Plus 5 experience tips that will make your website 1 of a kind

Let’s stop adding features for the sake of adding features, stop following exhausted advertising strategies, and start focusing on providing better experiences for people.

Support Starts Here: How to Go the Extra Mile to Make and KEEP your Customers Happy

In this session I will be covering the importance of good customer service and the powerful impact your support team has on your business. I will discuss practices to use and practices to avoid. I’ll take poor customer service examples and show how they could be handled differently and turned into excellent customer outcomes.

I’ll also cover the steps to develop and implement an all star customer service program. This will include the secrets to providing super service, general support standards, and how to get things right for your customers. I’ll discuss why it’s important to go the extra mile to make and keep your customers happy so that they turn into returning customers and brand ambassadors.