WordCamp Pittsburgh 2017

It has been 9 years since I stepped off the Pittsburgh Technical College campus (then known as Pittsburgh Technical Institute), but I had the opportunity to return on Saturday for WordCamp Pittsburgh 2017. This is the second year for WordCamp Pittsburgh. Below are just some of the takeaways from my first ever WordCamp:

 

Session 1 – Designing for Accessibility and Illiteracy by Kimberly Norris

Kim is the web developer for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History so their website has to be accessible to a wide range of users. You should try to have no more than 80 characters on a line and keep your text below a 5th grade level. Something I didn’t think about that was interesting to hear was to remove image carousels. While they may look great, users probably won’t wait to look through the carousel and it can be distracting to someone with a disability.

 

Session 2 – Systems and Processes for Creatives by Lauren Pittenger

This session seemed to be the one everyone wanted to attend. It was standing room only as we got started. We learned how important processes are especially when leading client isn’t a strength. Using client questionnaires and tech briefs to gather requirements helps provide your customers with the best solution. Don’t get locked into one process. One process doesn’t fit all clients and industries. Slickplan is a piece of software Lauren mentioned that looks like a great tool we need to start using here at Heartbeat Interactive.

 

Sessions 3 – Brand Positioning: Growing Your Business by Finding Your Niche by John Centofanti

In my opinion, this was the most informative session at WordCamp Pittsburgh. Every brand has a position in the market. Your goal is to establish your brand in the market. Think of Google and Yahoo as search engine providers. Which one do you use and why? Who has established themselves as the go-to search engine in the market. Think about Mercedes vs. Chevrolet or Starbucks vs. Dunkin’ Donuts. Every industry is going to have someone who will do it cheaper and quicker, but is it a better product?

 

Session 4 – Local SEO: A Breakdown by Alex Riddle

Alex provided some valuable steps that every business should take. Start by signing up for Google My Business and filling out your company information. Use tools such as Axiom and InfoGroup to submit your company to other listing sites. You have to make sure your information is the same on all sites though. 123 Heartbeat Drive isn’t the same as 123 Heartbeat Dr. Be consistent in how you present your company information.

 

Session 5 – WordPress core tables and MySQL by Rene Morozowich

The final session I attended was where the inner geek was able to come out. Rene discussed the core tables of WordPress and explained in detail which each table did from wp_options to wp_users and how they are tied into MySQL. If you have no clue what wp_options, wp_users or MySQL is, don’t worry you will never have to get involved in those backend functions. Heartbeat Interactive handles all of that behind the scenes to keep your website up and running all the time!

 

It was a great way to spend a Saturday with a few friends, Ryan Shaffer and Matt Houk. If you are attending next year with us reach out to me!

 

Content Management made easy with WordPress

A content management system (CMS) is an application that allows you to edit text, images, forms, video, and/or any other media easily without a lot of technical knowledge. Web developers and designers use these applications in order to make website management easier for a wide variety of clients.

There are many CMS’s out there, including: Drupal, Joomla, concerte5, Expression Engine, and Magento. However, there is only one that powers nearly 28% of the entire Internet: WordPress. Released in 2003 by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little, WordPress offers a user-friendly, easy-to-use experience for marketing teams with various levels of website management know-how.

Here are five reasons why I believe that WordPress is the ultimate content management system:

 

WordPress is open-source software

Open-source software allows you to use and edit without the hassle of licensing fees. You can easily download the latest version from WordPress. Most web hosts (i.e. InMotion, GoDaddy, HostGator, etc.) now offer a 1-click website installation option, which makes it easy to get started.

 

Ease of Use/Customization

A major perk of using an open-source software platform is that anyone can see its original developer code and locate errors unlike licensed software. WordPress was built with two widely used programming languages: PHP and SQL. Thus, approximately 50,000 plug-ins – such as testimonial sections, photo streams, and subscribe buttons — are available for install on your WordPress website. This allows you to customize your dream website without using difficult programming techniques.

SEO Friendly

Google and other search engines rank your website on a variety of criteria. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the process of configuring your website to rank highly within that criteria.

 

Here is some of the criteria WordPress handles:

  • Fast Loading
  • Good Coding Standard
  • Sitemaps
  • Navigation
  • Image Optimization
  • Social Media Integration
  • User Experience

Large Troubleshooting Community

Approximately 16 million websites use WordPress, which means errors and technical problems occur from time to time. Thus, the CMS contains a plethora of well-maintained support forums filled with millions of queries and solutions. Whether it is a theme or plugin problem, the WordPress community will guide you to a solution.

 

Security

Recently, WordPress has been called out for its lack of security. When a company powers millions of websites, hackers are going to continuously look for loopholes to expose. As with any software platform, staying on top of updates will effectively keep your website secure. There are even great plugins such as Sucuri and WordFence that can help enhance your security.

 

If you are ready to be a part of the nearly 28% of websites using WordPress, contact Heartbeat Interactive to get started!