WordCamp Pittsburgh 2018 Recap

For the second year in a row, I attended WordCamp Pittsburgh, which is held at Pittsburgh Technical College in Oakdale, PA. WordCamp is a conference that is everything WordPress. It’s broken down into 30-minute talks from a vast array of speakers speaking about a variety of topics.


Below is a breakdown of the courses I attended, and my overall takeaway from the event.


Overcoming Obstacles in Order to Succeed

The day started with an introduction from Adam Warner, an expert WordPress consultant, who spoke about his life, and how he ended up as a WordPress Evangelist for SiteLock.com. Warner discussed how he overcame many obstacles in life to pursue his dream of being an entrepreneur. We can all relate to this, especially as business owners: for every success, there are many struggles. If running a business was easy, then everyone would do it.


How does this pertain to website building? Well, like you, I overcome challenges daily, from bouts with technology to putting metaphorical fires out when customers need my help right away. In the end, I am better for it because I know how to face those problems next time they arise.


Warner actually lost an eye when he was an infant, and went through life, staring at computer screens, with only one good eye. Now, he’s a success. We all struggle, but we can also all succeed. I think that was a perfect theme for this event.


Using Google Analytics to Create Useful Content

The next presenter, Ray Sidney-Smith, discussed Google Analytics, and why it’s important to use the free tool to track website visitors. By using analytics, Sidney-Smith said, you’ll be able to create better overall marketing content that resonates with users. And, you’ll be able to get rid of unnecessary information that really isn’t helping your cause.


The course was designed for beginners who just started using, or plan to use, Google Analytics, but it brought up something that most people may not know: Google Analytics just one part of the free marketing platform that Google offers. The platform includes other programs, such as: Data StudioOptimizeSurveys and Tag Manager.


  • Data Studio allows you to created branded reports of your analytics and provide data visualizations to your clients.
  • Optimize is Google’s new testing platform that allows users to quickly and easily test page design.
  • Surveys allow you to capture information from your users to make better informed business decisions.
  • Tag Manager lets you manage your website tags and measure your advertising ROI.


These tools help you identify where your advertising and marketing dollars are being spent and if they are really making the impact you want to see.



The Power of Social Media

The next presenter, Laura Byrne Cristiano, discussed the impact of social media, and the best ways to display your messaging.


One of my biggest takeaways from Byrne Cristiano’s course was the power of using images. When you post something to Facebook or another social media platform, users only remember the content 10% of the time after 3 days. If you attach a photo to that post though, 60% of users will remember the content. Most of your customers are visual learners, and photos and videos are far more compelling than simple text or links.


What I Wish I’d Known About Freelancing

One of the most powerful presentations, at least from my vantage point, was, “What I Wish I’d Known About Freelancing,” by Nathan Ingram.

WordCamp Pittsburgh 2018


The first point that jumped out to me was that you don’t have to know everything. You know that feeling when you walk into a room of peers, and hear other specialists from similar fields discussing things that barely make any sense to you? All of the sudden, you feel that you know nothing, and everyone else is leagues ahead of you.


Well, that’s not true, according to Ingram. Some people are great at one thing, and others are pretty good at a lot of different things. For example, Heartbeat Interactive primarily focuses on website design and development, while its partners handle SEO strategies and videography. We might be able to do everything, but we’d rather work with trusted experts in that field to handle it correctly.


Secondly, running a debt free business is an important aspect to being successful. Heartbeat Interactive has always been debt free and will stay that way. It allows us to focus on our clients’ needs, and not overcharging them to settle debts. When you work debt free, you’ll be able to wait for the right jobs instead of taking ones that really aren’t beneficial to you and your company. It completely changes your mindset, and you’ll do much better work overall.


Bringing it all Together

You’re never too old to learn something new, and that’s why I make it a point to participate in events like WordCamp Pittsburgh. These events give me the opportunity to absorb new information so that I can pass it onto you as a customer of mine.


As a business owner, you know that being an expert at your craft is necessary to educate your customers. You also know that you’ll need to overcome obstacles, such as learning and implementing social media and Google Analytics strategies.


One day, you may look back and tell yourself, “wow, I wish I knew this ten years ago.” But, hopefully, when that day comes you’ll already be in a better place because you learned and grew with your business.


When you’re ready to breathe new life into your website, I’ll be here to help! Stay connected for more tips by following Heartbeat Interactive on Facebook.

Backups: 5 Reasons you need them

You’ve probably heard about how important backing up your website is. There are a few things more painful to your business than working hard to create an online presence and it all be taken away in one moment.  Backups are vital to keeping your businesses online presence alive.


Here are just a few reasons why backups are so important:


Website Hackers

Website hackers have been around since the internet. They aim to steal your credit card and other sensitive information or just to cause trouble. When your website is on the internet there is always a chance it can be hacked.


Computer Catastrophes

Most people have their website data backed up locally whether that is text, images, banners, etc. That is a great idea, but computers are known to fail and lose your data. Online, remote backups is a more practical option.



If you are using a Content Management System like WordPress, you will see plenty of updates over the lifetime of your website. They could be WordPress core updates or theme and plugin updates. Clicking the update button may not cause any issues, but there is a chance it could take down your website.



Malware and viruses can get into your website a variety of ways: your new plugin or theme could have hidden files causing the issue, your database isn’t secure, or files become overwritten. Backups are there to quickly replace those files, if these issues arise.


Employee Errors

Employee usually have the best of intentions, but lets face it they are human. Your employee may think they can safely make changes to your website, but the wrong button press or deleting the wrong file could have catastrophic effects.


Heartbeat Interactive provides website maintenance that includes daily backups of your website files and database. Whether you have a basic informational website or an e-commerce store, you need a backup. Just imagine having to recreate your entire website or telling customers you didn’t receive their order because you didn’t have backups of your website!

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.



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!