29 Apr

WordCamp Ottawa 2013 – an event review

Since this website uses WordPress I always seek out tips and tricks managing it. That’s why I spent last Saturday (April 27th) at WordCamp Ottawa 2013.  Here’s why it was well worth the day’s investment:

Overall assessment of WordCamp Ottawa 2013

If you have a WordPress website it’s well worth the day!  This is an excellent event packed full of good advice, information and valuable networking opportunities. 

With three learning tracks there was something for all levels of WordPress users; Content Creators (beginner users), Site Creators (Intermediate) and Code Creators (Advanced).  Even better if you needed one-on-one attention there was “Happy Bar” staffed with experienced users eager to help. 

It’s tough to beat the value on the dollar for WordCamp.  My total spent was $37:  $28 on the conference (including $5 was for a 3 hour pre conference WordPress introduction) and $9.00 on parking at the University of Ottawa. 

I sure hope there is a WordCamp 2014!

WordCamp Ottawa 2013 – what I learned

Here’s my summary of some of the sessions I attended.

Making a living with WordPress.  Presented by Chris Ross @thisismyurl

Chris was very entertaining and had some great quotes (that will probably show up later on this website, thanks Chris):

  • ·         Consultants are trouble shooters.  They find trouble and shoot it.
  • ·         “This graph means nothing…”

A lot of graphs (meaningful ones), charts and data were used to show how one can make a living servicing (design, customization, etc.) the 65 million WordPress websites out there.  Chris was generous with valuable personal experiences.   

How to write a blog post.  Presented by David Hamilton @ko_davidh

This was an inspiring session for me.  The best part of this session was “Beginnings, Middles and Ends”.  David laid out what they mean and who to do them well:

Beginnings have two parts – “lead”, the first paragraph which identifies the who, what, when where…  Part two is the “pitch” which answers why read this article, the value to the reader and sets the expectations what is going to be covered.

Middles set out the scope of the article; what points are going to be covered and there is a logical progression through these points, 1st, 2nd, 3rdStructure this section with headings to help readers.

Ends provide the summary that sharpens your point, perhaps raises other relate questions or previews upcoming posts.

Help me Help You:  the art and science of getting good WordPress support by Kathryn Presner (@zoonini)

WordPress help comes from volunteers not paid (and therefor accountable) employees.  Hence Kathryn’s advice – be nice and people will want to help you.  Act entitled or snarky, don’t expect a lot of help.  The point was emphasized with some real life examples. 

Other things you can do to help yourself get an answer to your question include: 

  • Provide a link to your site – I put this first because it’s important that helpers can look at your site and if get source code.
  • Present a clear goal – what you are trying to do
  • Be clear about the problem you are having and what you have already tried to fix the problem
  • The browser and version you are using
  • OS / device you are using
  • Version of WordPress
  • Anything unusual about your set-up
  • Screenshots of the issue.

Typography in Web Design.  Presented by Jasmine Vesque @jasminevesque

Fonts – just how exciting a topic can that be?  You might think it’s a recipe for a morning nap.   Not so fast…  Jasmine’s passion for the subject of fonts is contagious and so I learned a few interesting tidbits that will help me with my website. 

Font Selection considerations: 

  1. Readability – is the font easy to read and understand
  2. Don’t use multiple colours – it’s annoying which distracts the reader
  3. Use one font for headings, use another for the body
  4. Careful with colour usage – to make the point Jasmine had a slide with red type covered with a yellow highlight. 

There was also an introduction to fonts summarized in the table below:   

Font Type



Best use

Serif Little Feet and tails Garmond, Oldstand Headings
San-Serif No feet or tails Ariel Text
Display Sorry missed this Missed this too Short text
Script / Handwriting Looks hand written. Missed this too Short text


WordPress Themes and Frameworks Explained.  Presented by Richard Martin @richardmartin

This session was a summary of how to pick a theme and a bit of a review of Richard’s two favourite theme providers; Woothemes and Gennis.

When selecting themes consider the kind of website you are building; a blog, a brochure or a store.  As you review themes consider things like your freedom in sidebar placement and what is needed in page templates:

  • Blog
  • Landing pages (can you remove the navigation which distracts visitors from your goal)
  • Columns
  • Home page design.

Introduction to WordPress by Rick Radko (@r3designforge)

This three hour pre conference introduction to WordPress was just enough to get a beginner user started.  I am more of a novice than beginner and there was a lot of value in this session for me.  For instance:    

  • Pages and Posts– Rick is the first person who has clearly explained to me the difference between a “post” and a “page”
    • o   Post – for blogs;  posts are collections that have date associations, categories and tags and can be searched by any of those criteria.  You can also sort by author and not usually on the website menu.
    • o   Pages are single (standalone) pieces of content without tags, categories or date associated.  They usually show up on site menus.
  • Images – use the Alt tags, they describe the image and help your SEO
  • PermaLinks are URLs – page codes that are numbers.  The numbers are meaningless to people and to SEO so Rick showed us how to customize URLs in the “Settings”.


Comments from speakers, other attendees welcome.  Please add anything you think I missed.