On August 30th, August 31st and September 1st we had a WordCamp in Nijmegen in the Netherlands. It is an ideal opportunity for the Dutch WordPress community to meet and exchange ideas.
This is part two of the report about my experiences.
I had already noticed on the Contributors Day that somebody was making a drawing, but I found out what he was doing only later on: Maikel Verkoelen from @StudioMIK has created a truly wonderful recap in cartoons of the sessions he visited at this WordCamp. He has given me his consent for using parts of it to lighten up this report.
Saturday August 31st
On this second day the WordCamp was really getting started: talks, workshops, sponsor booths… Is it a real pity you cannot visit all the presentations. So it is very important to plan what you want to go see in advance.
The Privacy Paradox: We all need to start acting
The first keynote was by Robert-Jan Budding, international marketeer at Savvii.
A well-known statement is: “I don’t worry about privacy, because I have nothing to hide.” That is of course a very narrow-minded point of view. And do you really have nothing to hide? If you were being watched 24/7, you would most likely change your mind.
And it goes further and further. Do you know who has data about you? And do you know how they use it? We all give permission to use our data, without really reading the terms and conditions. Why is that? We cannot oversee all the consequences; we just aren’t up to it!
In the past, privacy used to be simple. When you meet someone in real life, you can feel whether you can trust them. And if you closed your front door you had privacy. But nowadays we are in all sorts of databases all around the world. And we have lost the trust you could gain in direct human contacts.
If you think you have nothing to hide, you are not doing yourself a favor. You need room for experimentation and the right to make mistakes to be creative.
So it is important that businesses and organizations take great care when handling the data their clients, members, readers or participants have agreed to share with them. The website plays an important role in this, so it is up to us, WordPressers, to pay attention to this!
Read more: Future Crimes by Mark Goodman
Why site structure is important for SEO
Marieke started with an anecdote about Alice. Alice likes to write stories. She writes one every day. And after that she throws them on the floor. After three years she has written more than 1,000 articles and they are all spread out on the floor. How can she ever retrieve a specific story if she wants to? She had forgotten to create a structure.
Such a structure is not only important for yourself, but also for other people, and for Google. You create the structure by making links. Google follows links. The more links a page gets, the more important it is. In this way you can guide Google to the good stuff and your visitors as well.
Her talk made me wonder: should we be linking to our posts at all? I mainly want to lead my visitors to the pages. Her reply: “A difficult question… But yes, your posts deserve a few links too.”
Read more: https://yoast.com/author/marieke/
A Marketer’s Guide to Developing Empathy (for Developers)
After Marieke, Bridget Willard, @YouTooCanBeGuru, entered the stage. She is a marketing consultant and often gets asked to be a keynote speaker all around the world.
Before the talk began, a developer came to ask of this talk was really intended for developers, because that was not immediately clear from the title. Developers don’t really like marketing, or other “soft skills” for that matter. But is marketing really that soft? Not according to Bridget: it is a science!
The main thing you need to do is to get a real understanding of who your potential clients are and what is interesting to them. And you can get that by meeting them. She referred to the research work by Dian Fossey, who studied gorillas by living with them as part of the group. She behaved just like the gorillas and therefore she was totally accepted amongst them. Do the same: find out where your clients meet and join in with them.
Read more: bridgetwillard.com
The Eternal Struggle: Backward Compatibility VS Technical Debt
Alain Schlesser, @schlessera, is a freelance software engineer, WordPress consultant and entrepreneur from Germany.
His talk was about technical debt. Technical debt is a loss in software quality that builds up over time due to the inconvenient design decisions you are forced to make, even if you are working in a prudent way. The kind of decisions you would want to say NO to, but you have to say YES instead. This happens a lot in WordPress development, because at WordPress people are trying very hard to retain backward compatibility with previous releases.
A good way to explain about technical debt is the technical debt quadrant. It shows how technical debt arises and what happens when you deal with it in a matrix presentation.
No matter what you do, if you have a debt, you pay interest: you pay interest in the form of additional work that you have to do to handle the problems in your software. It makes maintenance more and more difficult and it will be getting more and more complex to add new functionality.
A fun fact is, that even the bugs in your old versions become features as you go along: people are building all sorts of things that interact with your software and they are counting on a certain behavior of it, so you cannot change that.
Don’t fix it…
I will never forget what happened, once upon a time, when I corrected a spelling mistake in a software program. It caused another, seemingly unrelated, program to suddenly fail: it turned out that other program was processing the output of program I had changed. And it would only work if it got that output WITH the spelling mistake!
Browser APIs: the unknown Super Heroes
He told us about a lot of APIs that have been built into almost every web browser while we were not looking. They are mainly functions to work with the hardware of your device. He spoke about the Geolocation API, the Battery status API, the Device memory API, the Web audio API, the Media capture and streams API, the Vibration API, the Page visibility API, the Online offline status API, the Speech synthesis API, and the Speech Recognition API.
He showed a demonstration of almost all these APIs and he had even brought along a little robot, which could be controlled via the Bluetooth API, even by the audience!
Who is afraid of the Business Plan?
It was time to get some work done: Francesca Marano, @FrancescaMarano, gave a workshop about creating a business plan. I detest business plans, but I am willing to improve my ways. So if somebody knows a good way to do that…
When Francesca first started her business in 2011, she did not have a business plan. She was a web designer officially, but she took on all kinds of work. And she also managed to spend a lot of money, so the whole business collapsed after only eight months. And she had spent a lot more than the turnover she made.
Later, she started again, this time using a business plan. She claims you can make every business a success, if you focus on a specific market and work with measurable goals and a clear strategy.
This workshop was originally designed to take an entire day, but she had condensed that into three hours. And now she had shortened it even more into one hour and a half to present it here. Clearly we were in for a real sprint!
Francesca has a very original approach to making a business plan. No tables and graphs, but color pencils, felt-tip pens, crayons, stickers, and drawing-paper. We wanted to make a “right brain business plan”.
A plan based on your own values and standards… Maybe you guessed it: she referred to the famous book by Simon Sinek: “Start with Why”. You see that everywhere these days. And when I first heard about it in 2012, I was very enthusiastic. But in all those six years I still haven’t managed to apply it to my own business. Maybe I could learn how to do that today?
Francesca had created the basis of her own business plan during a boat trip. She was traveling on a ferry for six hours, without any distractions, so she could totally focus on it. She had also brought her original plan along today. It was very colorful and it had thick pages, much like children’s book. It was partly written English and partly in Italian. I could have spent an hour and a half studying that plan, but there was no time for that. We all got a quick look at it as it was being passed along in the classroom.
And of course somebody else’s plan is not what you need. Your own business plan is something very personal, that exactly tells how and why you are different from all those other companies that appear to be doing the same work.
I think we could have learned a lot more, given enough time.
Read more: https://francescamarano.com/
An online learning environment with WordPress and LearnDash
While I was attending the workshop, I unfortunately missed the presentation by Rosanne van Staalduinen about LearnDash. I have a great interest in eLearning and I have created many educational websites with ATutor in the past. And right now, now the future of ATutor is unclear, I should learn more about the alternatives.
I hope this session will soon be available on WordPress.tv…
This post is also available in: Dutch