Guest Blog: Session Summaries & Links to Presenters

I posted these summaries of the sessions I attended over on my Google+ google+ icon first, and Mary asked me to share them here. I’ve added links to the speaker’s Google+ profiles & Twitter streams to the session lists, in case you’d like to keep connecting with any of them. The ones in bold link to the summaries below.

User Track

  1. Nile Flores google+ icon twitterSetting Up Your WordPress Site Like a Pro
  2. Dre Armeda google+ icon twitter WordPress End-User Security  presentation icon
  3. Mary DuQuaine google+ icon twitter icon The Digital EcoSystem
  4. Jim Raffel google+ icon twitter& Shelby Sapusek google+ icon twitter: He Said / She Said
  5. MJ Tam google+ icon twitter Building Blocks to a Successful Blog
  6. David Murray google+ icon twitter Building Your Content Bubble presentation icon
  7. Nicole Yeary google+ icon twitter WordPress as Your Social Media/SEO Hub presentation icon
  8. Bob Dunn google+ icon twitterHow to Attract More Readers with a User Friendly WordPress Site  presentation icon
  9. TJ List google+ icon twitterEssential HTML and CSS for Bloggers and Business Owners

Development Track:

  1. David Tufts google+ icon twitter Beyond the Theme – WordPress as API presentation icon
  2. Jake Goldman Editing the Visual Editor
  3. Mert Sahinoglu google+ icon twitterAdvanced SEO – Thinking Like a SearchBot
  4. TJ Stein google+ icon twitter icon Developing Fast & Scalable Servers for WordPress
  5. Jason McCreary twitter iconConfiguring WordPress for Multiple Environments
  6. Brian Richards google+ icon twitterDeveloping for Success, or Any Fool Can Do This presentation icon
  7. Rachel Baker twitterYou Are the Project Manager (Whether You Like it or Not)
  8. Andy Stratton twitterDiet Pills, SEO, and Theme Frameworks
  9. Garth Koyle google+ icon twitterThe $40,000 WordPress Business Plan
  10. Becky Davis twitter A Tale of Two Shopping Carts
  11. Gloria Antonelli  google+ google+ Tips for Improving Support Documentation for Themes & Plugins

UnConference Sessions:

  1. Lisa Ghisolf google+ icon google+How to Hire (Developers, SEO Experts, hosting companies, etc.) for Your Website presentation icon
  2. Keith Johnstongoogle+ icon twitter icon Cool WP Applications
  3. Heather Acton google+ icon twitter icon WP Frameworks (or not…)
  4. Scott Offord google+ icon twitter icon SEO I
  5. Andrea Geller google+ icon WP & Real Estate
  6. (Didn’t catch the name): WP Local Development Software
  7. Jason McCreary twitter E-Commerce
  8. Bob Dunn google+ icon twitterWP Entrepreneurship
  9. Scott Offord twitter SEO II
  10. John James Jacoby google+ google+ Buddypress

My Summaries

David Tufts: Beyond the Theme – WordPress as API presentation icon
After discussing the benefits of moving to WP MS   he demonstrated an extremely impressive preview of his KickPress plugin. On his alpha site ( he’s using it to create custom post types and taxonomies, then integrate those into the theme using ajax scripts to load content dynamically or filter content with new queries or even spread it out to social media and mobile apps through new APIs. He demonstrated 3 ways to implement the api across the theme and mentioned the NPR API is a good example of potential uses:

His team of 4 will be releasing KickPress when they’ve reviewed the security options for allowing others to build on that API (how long – 2 weeks??) that he’s using to create custom post types and taxonomies, optimized with ajax scripts, to automatically load content across his sites, filter content easily, and spread that content to social media and mobile apps automatically through new APIs. I’ll definitely be playing with this thing:

The full slides are up here:

Dre Armeda: WordPress End-User Security presentation icon
This session started with basic personal security (antivirus, internet connections, browsing, passwords) then moved to site management issues (check your host! cheap may = bad security) and covered a nice range of WordPress security tips, including updating, plugin/theme review, secret keys, SSL security, .htaccess in wp-admin, logins, folder permissions, etc.

A version of his slides (lots of links on them too) is up from a previous WordCamp here:

Keith Johnston: Cool WP Applications
As an unconference session, the conversation covered everything from ways to use WordPress overall to favorite plugins and plugins we WISH existed. Fausto Fernós was looking at podcasting/buddypress/developing, Joshua Alexander and Matthew Patulski mentioned some great plugins. Others were interested in the potenial of plugins to help develop mobile-friendly websites, with wp-touch and wp-droid topping the list.

An incomplete list of the plugins mentioned in the discussion: chartbeat, manage-wp, measuremyseo, pixelpipe, wp-droid, wp-touch, mingle forums, bbpress, headspace2, event espresso, wp community, directory plus, paid business directory, amr list c, ezpz, backup buddy

Josh Feck: Slow Cooked WordPress  presentation icon
My takeaway? He loves food metaphors (not a bad thing) and has a lot of practical tips to help make your wordpress setup and customization not come back to bite you later (see slides for details). I think I just created some sort of cannibal food mixed metaphor there. There were a lot of questions about setting up local development environments and tools you can install to make it easier to edit code accurately, which resulted in an extra UnConference session later.


Mary A. DuQuaine: The Digital EcoSystem
I think the main point of this session was knowing your audience, but not just from a one-way communication. She talked about getting to know the people you’re addressing in a variety of venues, from social media to online communities to real-world experiences and personal networking. She recommends centering your content on your blog, and thinking carefully about audience when you share it – but also getting out there yourself to build connections in real life.

Brian Richards: Developing for Success, or Any Fool Can Do This  presentation icon
This talk was funny and pithy, with a lot of Twitter activity as everyone was all online at the end of the day. He started his WordPress development career without any prior training in business/developing/design, so this session covered his personal and business challenges, tips on dealing with customers and scaling projects, and how to reach a demonstrable level of success (by defining success for yourself). He also just made his StartBox framework free the night before his session and is starting a Developers Club.


Rachel Baker: You Are the Project Manager (Whether You Like it or Not)
Another relatively new freelancer (1 year 30 days), she covered the importance of translating/defining a developer’s role with your clients as you set up your own business. Don’t expect clients to know what you can do and what you won’t do unless you tell them. Know who is involved (from content to design) and assign goals and roles to keep your costs and deadlines under control. It’s essential to have a PM system in place and push until everyone uses it. Be tactfully annoying, staying positive and documenting everything just in case. Then you can ramp up charges for extras if needed.

Andy Stratton: Diet Pills, SEO, and Theme Frameworks
Many sessions talked about careful choices when using free materials out there for WordPress. This talk tackled the perils of customizing existing themes & frameworks in a client-developer relationship. Clients may think pre-built themes or frameworks are a magic fix to (SEO, design, functionality). Developers who prove the overhead in re-purposing anonymous code can save clients time and money and save themselves major headaches. Know their requirements, start with the least possible coding/db calls and you’ll end up with a better site. If you do customize an existing theme/framework/plugin, use child themes and stick to core functionality wherever possible to keep it all secure, flexible, and easy to update.

Nicole Yeary: WordPress as Your Social Media/SEO Hub presentation icon
Starting out on SEO, she recommended beginning at the source: read Google’s docs on SEO and play with their Webmaster tools (but keep other search tools in mind too). When you know what to look for, you’ll know what tools will save you time and be most effective. She recommended a number of tools, from Woo themes and key plugins to tools like HootSuite that let you build out from WordPress to other social media. Details available in her slides:

The discussion of comments afterwards covered a range of optons (Moderated? Login required? In local tables or through a plugin? What spam filter?). Here are a few key names mentioned: DisQus, CommentLove, LiveFyre, Intense Debate, ReplyMe

Bob Dunn: How to Attract More Readers with a User Friendly WordPress Site presentation icon
What are key choices that anyone could focus on to improve their website? Headers with relevant taglines & images, navigation that’s quick & easy to use (hint: custom menus, effective categories/tags), optimizing RSS with Feedburner to create e-mail updates, make it easy to share your content, have a good about page, contact forms, and photos (they can bring in 50% more views, but be intriguing, not literal).

Find an earlier version of these slides online here:

As a photographer/librarian, I love the last point but always want to emphasize respecting the creator: learn about licenses, esp. Creative Commons, and always link back so you can keep using great free content! I recommended 3 sites to get started: for flickr CC searching, for public domain photos (often older), and for logos & illustrations

John James Jacoby: BuddyPress Unconference

The final session I attended, the Buddypress Unconference, went much longer because we were able to have John James Jacoby moderating it, one of the core developers for Buddypress (I was there until about 4pm). If anyone’s interested, I have many detailed notes I could send along.

Key points:

  • is an awful example of buddypress, but you can help with the new 1.5 code by getting involved at
  • new 1.5 version of Buddypress will have a revamped default theme that allows custom menus and a lot of styling upgrades: “if everyone uses the default, the default shouldn’t be ugly”
  • is coming out in 2.0 soon, redesigned based on custom post types & taxonomies so it will work in any theme!
  • key issues slowing down 1.5: They will probably be moving to custom post types & taxonomies, which may raise issues of data federation & scalability on large-scale installations. (But will make it more server neutral – hurray for those of us stuck in IIS!)
  • They all want more community input, but the complexity of creating themes to match the plugin features and having so many features enabled at the start makes this a less flexible platform for many
  • Many people there were interested in the potential of APIs (like kickpress from David Tufts??) to move buddypress in the direction of “Diaspora,” at least on a theoretical level. The issue is in pulling data and server connections, though technically a revamped buddypress based more on core wordpress features should make it easier to “talk to” other instances

Beyond WordCamp

I have a lot more detailed content in my notes and would be happy to send them along if anyone missed a session and wants more information before the slides/recordings are all posted. You can contact me easily through the links on my Google+ profile google+ icon.

If you already use Google+, follow me or comment on this post to get added to a WordPress circle where I’ll be posting more resources as I follow up on things I caught in passing around the edges of these sessions. I’d love to see what you’re doing too!

Creative Commons credits for the icon images used above:
google+ icon Google+ icon & twitter icon Twitter icon are from Creative Nerds, the presentation icon Presentation icon is from VisualPharm
Posted in 2011 Announcements, 2011 Blog, Speakers, WCChicago 2011 | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Guest Blog: Better Late Than Never

I hate being late. Can’t stand it. Little did I know as I set out for 2011 WordCamp Chicago that part of my route — Lake Shore Drive was closed.

That meant a lot of detouring and teeth gnashing to finally end up at my destination, The DePaul University Student Center.  To my relief, I was only 15 minutes late for the first session on the user side.

I’m not yet a WordPress impressario, only having recently made the transition from another blogging platform, but was duly impressed with the breath and scope of speakers and the topics they covered.

From learning just a bit more about the hidden coding behind some wannabe WordPress themers to favorable SEO and analytics, I’m feeling pretty good about this new community and my yet-to-be-launched website.

This information couldn’t have come at a better time.  I’m smiling.

Posted in Uncategorized, WCChicago 2011 | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Guest Blog: Better Late Than Never

Interview with Chris King

Tell us a bit about yourself:
I have been building websites as a hobby dating back to 1996 when I learned to hand code sites in HTML on Geocities and Tripod. I began working professionally in SEO and web analytics in 2003 and I have worked in a variety of in house and agency-side positions and have personally used WordPress heavily in its different incarnations over the years. I also happen to be one of those people who very much believes that SEO is Alive.

Currently I serve as Senior SEO & Analytics Strategist at designory. where I work with companies such as Nike, Hewlett Packard, and Vonage to develop comprehensive natural search programs. Previously I was SEO/SEM Product Manager at Hostway, a leading worldwide web hosting provider where I developed search engine marketing solutions for clients such as Ebay and Costco.

I live in the Chicagoland area with my wife and son and in my spare time in addition to building WordPress sites, I am an avid Ice hockey player and Skier.

Why did you choose your topic for Wordcamp Chicago?
Having attended the first two Chicago Wordcamp events, I noticed that there had never been a session dedicated to web analytics and thought it might be interesting to share my experience on the topic since web analytics is such as critical element to building your business on the web.

What do you hope the attendees will get out of going to your session?
I hope to provide everyone with a solid overview of web analytics and how they can best leverage it in their business.  I also want to share some valuable takeaways that WordPress users can implement right away into their day to day workflow.

What do you think is the biggest challenge in web analytics?
By far the biggest challenge in web analytics (especially in large organizations) is putting yourself and your business in a position to actually take action on the insights pulled from web analytics. Analytics reporting by itself is useless unless you are learning from the insights and making updates to your web presence based on those insights. I think this is a huge advantages that WordPress users have is that the platform makes it very easy for you to take action. I want to see more businesses better leverage this advantage.

Where do you see the web analytics discipline going?
Web analytics is a field (not unlike SEO and other emerging channels) that continues to evolve and get more mature. I think some of the most interesting innovations going on in the field is the move towards more multivariate and split a/b testing. Certainly this type of testing has been around in direct marketing for years, but we are just beginning to see a significant increase in adoption on the digital side, as tools like Google’s phenomenal Website optimizer and SiteCatalyst’s Test and Target solution see increased adoption.

What is your favorite WordPress theme?
While themes definitely serve a purpose in that they help site owners get sites up and running quick and inexpensively; in general I believe in custom designed themes. Great design has a lot of value and sometimes I wonder whether out of the box themes do more harm than good. That said my personal blog uses an out of the box theme so I am talking out of both sides of my mouth.

I am really impressed with what is being done with theme frameworks with solutions like Genesis and Thesis, I think they allow site developers to have a strong foundation to build their site on, while not forcing designers to have to compromise on creativity or simply reworking an existing theme’s design.

Any tips for people just getting started with Blogging or using WordPress?
My biggest tip would be to seriously consider what you are trying to achieve with your blog before you buy your first domain, get hosting, and install wordpress. If possible narrow down the topic of your blog to a niche you are passionate about rather than building a general purpose site. It will significantly increase the chances that you can turn your blog into a successful business.

Do you have a WordPress hero?
Well without a doubt I will always remain in awe of what Matt Mullenweg has been able to achieve with WordPress from an application standpoint and also in terms nurturing the building of such a great community that has created easily the best open source blog/cms platform in my opinion. I have also more recently been very impressed with what Brian Gardner has achieved with the Genesis Framework, it is an excellent product that provides a lot of value.

What is your idea of success?
Looking at the analytics data from your WordPress blog and seeing “hockey stick growth”

What is your favorite restaurant or club in Chicago?
I really like Piece Brewery & Pizzeria in Wicker Park. Great pizza, great beer, and its owned by Rick Nielsen (Guitarist for Cheap Trick) so you really can’t go wrong.

Chris King

Senior SEO & Analytics Strategist at designory.





Posted in 2011 Blog, Member Stories, Speakers, WCChicago 2011 | Comments Off on Interview with Chris King

Interview with Jeremy Tanner of MapQuest

Tell us a bit about yourself:
MapQuest is the #1 destination for maps and directions in the US, used by more than 40 million every month.

Please share a brief history of your company (or your work with WordPress):
Around since 1994, MapQuest has been using WordPress on since 2008.

What is your favorite plugin?
All in One SEO Pack

Tell us about your latest WP project:
Map Builder plugin for WordPress
Allows users to make maps to embed from the same place as they write their posts.

Share one WP tip:
Update & backup often. A little sweat now will prevent tears later.

Any tips for people just getting started with Blogging or using WP?
Start writing, don’t stop.

Do you have a WP hero?
Pagely, Crowd Favorite & Mark Jaquith are all pretty swell.

What is your motto?
MapQuest is the trusted source for maps and directions; where to go, how to get there and what to do along the way.

What is the funniest tweet you ever read?
I’m so glad my GPS has a bear-warning feature! “Bear to the left.” Ok, I won’t go that way then! Atlanta has SO MANY bears! –@crispycracka

What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you at a conference?
Ask me in Chicago

Who is the most interesting person you have met through social media?
Was on a SXSW 09 panel with Todd Huffman. ( Ph.D., Traveler, Burner, Brain dissector, Entrepreneur

What is your favorite restaurant or club in Chicago?
I still think of the dinner I had at Carnivale (
For desert, Flamingo’s Ice Cream

Why did you choose to support WC Chicago?
We’ve never met an unconference we didn’t like. Looks like a great chance to show support for the community and introduce bloggers & developers to some of MapQuest’s tools.

Contact info:

Posted in 2011 Blog, Member Stories, Sponsors, WCChicago 2011 | Comments Off on Interview with Jeremy Tanner of MapQuest

Interview with Garth Koyle and Seth Shoultes

Please share a brief history of your company:

Garth says that Event Espresso began when he interviewed Seth for a job. Seth was using another CMS system and wasn’t aware of WordPress. Right in the interview process Garth evangelized WordPress, and from there on out, Seth began using WordPress for his client’s CMS.


Seth would tell the story that his wife needed a way to collect registrations and payment for her scrap booking classes, and the business grew out of that need.


Garth and Seth both worked at the same company doing marketing and web development respectively for 3 years before Garth left the company and Seth set off to work on Event Espresso full-time. Garth joined Seth in July 2010 to help with the marketing and support. In January 2011, Garth entered a business plan competition and formalized Event Espresso’s strategy, which took the grand prize of $40,000 for Event Espresso.


Now, thousands of customers from across the globe use Event Espresso for all their event registration needs. Event Espresso releases new versions nearly every month, and new products are released just about as often. We have plans to make Event Espresso accessible to more than just the WordPress community, but they will always be a core part of our history and business.


What is your favorite plugin?


Besides, Event Espresso? I think I’d have to say Gravity Forms. We use it and also aspire to their level of usability.


Tell us about your latest WP project:


Can’t say; top secret. Watch our website because we’ll have something revolutionary, hopefully by the end of the year.


Share one WP tip:


Even though WordPress is a great blogging platform, it can also be a great CMS. However, anytime you extend the use of a software into more uncharted territory, it will consume more resources than usually anticipated. Just be prepared for your mind to be inspired about the possibilities, and be prepared to put time and money into making things possible.


What inspires you?


Our customers inspire us. We’re constantly proud of how our users do great things with our plugin and we hope to facilitate opportunities for them to have autonomy and higher profitability.


Any tips for people just getting started with Blogging or using WP?


Take enough time to determine what your niche will be and how you can be successful in the long-run.


Who is the most interesting person you have met through social media?

At WordCamp Utah in 2010, we got to meet and watch a demonstration from the Will it Blend guy. We got to see whether a WP coffee mug and copy of WP on a flash drive would blend. I’ll let you speculate who won that battle.


What is your idea of success?


Our mission is to empower business and organization leaders with the event registration, ticketing and management tools that maximize the success of events. Our vision is to become the world’s leading event registration and ticketing provider, and model of profitability by offering autonomy and value. We take pride in our products, including the support we offer to our customers.


Our idea of success is achieving our mission and objectives.


Why did you choose to support WC Chicago?


We’re not sure why more WordCamps don’t contact us to discuss sponsorships. We enjoy being part of the WP community, and we often want to give back. We noticed a message from the organizers that they needed more support from sponsors and Garth recently moved to the Detroit area so it was more convenient to attend. We also hope to meet a whole new group of WP Lovers.

Posted in 2011 Blog, Member Stories, Sponsors, WCChicago 2011 | Comments Off on Interview with Garth Koyle and Seth Shoultes

Interview with Josh Feck

Please share a brief history of your work with WordPress:

After building a few web sites, mostly hand coded in HTML and CSS, I started to realize that I needed to make this process more efficient. I started using WordPress in 2008 after trying out a few other open source CMS’s and haven’t looked back.

What is your favorite plugin? Widget Logic

Tell us about your latest WP project:

I just finished building a web site for some good friends: I’m also working on a WordPress theme that’s tailored for small businesses.

Share one WP tip:

Have some fun and customize individual posts with Noel Jackson’s Art Direction plugin.

What inspires you?  Other peoples’ amazing work.

Any tips for people just getting started with Blogging or using WP?

For blogging, set up a local server with MAMP or XAMPP, install WordPress and just start writing something everyday. Start publishing to the web when you are comfortable enough for others to read it. For using WordPress, download some themes and install a few test sites on that local server and just start breaking stuff.

Do you have a WP hero?

There are a quite a few people that we’re all very fortunate to have working on the WordPress core, and the User Interface. WordPress would not be the awesomeness that it is without them. Taking a step back a bit, I’m also thankful for those who got involved in the Web Standards Project about 13 years ago and really fought hard to bring some sanity to how web browsers rendered web pages. Designers and developers would be spending a good amount of time coding workarounds just to make basic web pages look halfway decent if it weren’t for them. Much of the innovation we’re experiencing with the web right now might not have ever happened.

What is your motto? I’m an 80 percenter.

What is the most relevant  tweet you have  read in the last month?

Sarah Parmenter, @sazzy:

<blockquote>”Speakers” don’t speak for fame, certainly not for fortune – we get up because we enjoy aspects of it, and hope attendees do too.</blockquote>

The link to that tweet.

I can only hope you all keep this in mind while I’m speaking at WordCamp Chicago.

What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you at a conference?

I’m not allowed to mention it here.

Why did you choose your topic for WC Chicago?

I just wanted to share some stuff I’ve learned that I think will be helpful to others. We all have our different ways of learning. This session is for those of us who learn visually, from real life examples, and maybe by breaking a few things, too.

What do you hope the attendees will get out of going to your session?

At the very least: a few tips they can use. I’m really hoping that a few attendees will walk away from this and make some cool things happen.

If you’ve got any questions about Slow Cooked WordPress you can shoot me an email:

or via twitter where I go by: joshfeck

Posted in 2011 Blog, Member Stories, Speakers, WCChicago 2011 | Comments Off on Interview with Josh Feck