WordCamp SLC 2013

WordCamp is a conference that focuses on everything WordPress. WordCamps are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users like you. Everyone from casual users to core developers participate, share ideas, and get to know each other. So if you ever get a chance to go to a WordCamp in your area I definitely recommend it. You can see a list WordCamp’s in your area by going here: http://central.wordcamp.org

I took notes on all the speakers and some of the highlights of the day below:

Opening Remarks:

Joseph Scott from the core automattic team welcomed everyone with a brief introduction and of course features the sponsors ;-) Below are some notes from the sessions.

Using Ajax in WordPress

by Blair Williams

If you’re writing WordPress themes or plugins, you’ll probably need to do some AJAX sooner or later.

WordPress has some really great internal tools for doing AJAX on the admin side … but there are some great techniques that can help you leverage these same tools on the front end of your website.

In this session we’ll discuss best practices for implementing AJAX in WordPress and go through some demonstrations to show you how to set this up in your plugins.

His equation is JS + AJAX + WP = Awesomeness. He points out that you can learn more about AJAX and using it in your WordPress theme by going here: http://codex.wordpress.ort/AJAX_in_Plugins however he assumes that you already know quite a bit about AJAX and doesn’t really guide you on how to actually do anything.

This shows the standard and compatible way to add ajax to your theme or plugins.

  • Start by loading the action: wp_ajax_{myaction}
  • Create an AJAX callback: function myaction_callback
  • Ensure that your callback outputs

So if you are familiar with AJAX at all, this is probably good for standard compliance.

In the end, his presentation was OK, I wish that some of these developer track sessions would give some context to how to get started with some of these things rather than just jumping right into the middle thick of it.

http:// blairwilliams.com/slcwc2013

Best Practices for WordPress Site Ownership and Management

By Ryan Sullivan

The barrier to entry for starting a WordPress site is very low. The one-click install is a real thing, and with all of the theme and plugin options that are available, setting up an entire website using an options panel is a real possibility. People forget that under the hood, WordPress is a combination of PHP, CSS, and Javascript, and that underneath that code is a MySQL database. This talk will address best practices for managing all of the most important aspects of your WordPress website, as well as managing multiple sites in a scenario where you have clients of your own.

The other title of this topic as to “Avoiding a WordPress Armageddon”.

Everyone says that WordPress is so easy, which it is, however people sometime overlook the complexities of WordPress, such as the server, php, database, css, javascript, etc. It’s easy to install and setup, however it has many complex components to it.

He mentions some great places to start learning WordPress such as:

  • WPBeginner.com
  • WpTuts
  • Wp101
  • Treehouse
  • CodeSchool


“Protecting your site is your job”. Backing up WordPress in the number 1 rule of WordPress.

He shows some great options to backup your site. He mentioned a few different services to keep your site backed up such as VaultPress, BackupBuddy, DropBox, etc. I exclusively use BackupBuddy, it’s very easy to backup, and restoring or migrating to a new site is fantastic and extremely easy!

The other thing to keep your site secure is to make sure you keep your site updated. Update WordPress to the most recent version, update plugins, etc.

Another method is to Restrict Access:

  • HTTP Authentication
  • Limit Login Attempts
  • Force SSL on admin
  • Restrict IP
  • 2-Factor Authentication
  • use SFTP not FTP
  • Dont’ store FTP Passwords

He then discussed version control. There are apps such as SubVersion, BeanStalk, GitHub (which I personally use), and BitBucket. They are very helpful if you are developing or design in code. If you make a change that you find doesn’t work or you change your mind you can easily go back to a different version of the site (or plugin) and it can save you in those moments that you most need it.

He then mentioned some ways to manage multiple wordpress sites. Such as WPRemote.com or ManageWP.com. I’ve used both of them before and they both work pretty well. ManageWP.com I find is a little expensive, WPRemote.com is more realistic as far as pricing goes. If you manage multiple websites it can be very helpful. I personally found that I ended up logging into the sites anyway, so I ended up abandoning these services, but if you stick with it, they can be helpful.

He ended with a few questions, but overall it was a good presentation with some good info.

Responsive Web Design

by Patrick Cox

In this “minimal slides” presentation we’ll take a live, non-responsive WordPress blog and perform a responsive retrofit-ectomy on it… awe the magic of CSS. But this isn’t just another “how to use media queries” talk either, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you can actually accomplish with some simple CSS techniques. Oh yeah, no plugins required!

He started out by defining what a responsive website is and some methods you can use. He mentioned Brad Frost who has a bunch of responsive patterns and examples that you can use. It’s all in CodePen so you can see how it works.

He shows a few browser extensions so you can see different screen sizes easily right within your web browser (Safari, Chrome, Firefox, etc.).

He then asked the session attendee’s if they had a site that wasn’t responsive that he could try and demonstrate how to make responsive. I suggested our own Learn2Wordpress.com. It was fun to see our site up on the big screen. However he struggled a bit to make it responsive in front of everyone, as he planned to do.


E-Commerce in WordPress

By Becky Davis

Installing a shopping cart plugin and adding products is the easy part. Figuring out which plugin is the best for your needs and getting all the information needed in place is the tricky part. Do you have good consistent web-ready images? How are you handling shipping? Do you have a merchant account, payment gateway and SSL certificate in place? Does the business have a plan in place for how to handle orders and more importantly, how to handle exceptions? This is a must see presentation whether you’re developing a site for a client or thinking about selling products on your own site.

She went through the processes of what you need to get a store setup such as ssl certificate, payment gateway, etc. I felt I could relate to many stories cause I have done many many ecommerce sites myself. She went through the stories of when you start a eCommerce site the customer usually never knows what is going to be required. That they have to supply all the content (pictures, titles, descriptions, price, sku, shipping weight and dimensions, etc.). Then you have to know what kind of shipping they want , etc. etc. So she mentioned that you should always charge double when doing an ecommerce site.

Most everything she discussed wasn’t new to me, as I’m pretty experience with WooCommerce and other WordPress plugins. But she didn’t really walk through how to do an eCommerce site, as much is what is needed and required to get started.

Finding the Perfect Theme and Plugin

By Bryan Petty

With over 30,000 plugins and over 5,000 themes out there in the wild west of the Internet, it can be an intimidating job finding just the right ones for your WordPress sites. In this presentation, we’ll cover all of the best techniques for finding quality plugins and themes that you can trust, and what you can to do to avoid messy upgrades.

He showed a word cloud answering what people like least about WordPress and his stats showed that it was Plugins. So he said definitely choose your theme first then your plugins 2nd. I don’t know of anyone who would do this, however, I guess it’s good advice if you are not sure.

He talked about the WordPress themes you can look through on WordPress.org repository and to be mindful of the author and star rating, as well as if they have been active or not.

He showed some Premium theme developers, which I believe is very much worth the price: Some of theme are:

As well as many others.

Does This Theme Make My Website Look Fat?

By Adam Dunford

While the principles of responsive web design can make sites look better on mobile devices, they don’t necessarily load faster than a site designed for desktops. And as more and more sophisticated WordPress themes emerge, with their multiple options and fancy sliders, websites just keep getting more and more bloated.

This presentation will help cut out the junk that’s larding up your sites so you can better meet the demand of users wanting fast-loading user experiences–no matter the device or connection.

He mentioned some great references to check the speed of your site. Some of them are:

  • YSlow
  • Google PageSpeed
  • Webpagetest
  • GTMetrix


  • Databases: Debug Bar, Debug Ojects for Database
  • Themes: Theme Check
  • Plugins: Plugin Performance Profiler


These are a way to combine multiple small images into one image, so the server doesn’t have to load multiple images and instead can load just one. These are some sites that can help.

Another way to lighten your load is to use web fonts. You can use Font Squirrel to generate your own fonts. Workflow would go first create your own font using an app like Glyphs Mini, then go to Font Squirrel to generate the Web Font, then you can integrate that in your CSS and add to your site.

Caching, Minify, and GZip some other ways to speed up your site.


All in all it was a good WordCamp. Good speakers, free t-shirts, stickers, and great to meet some new people with the same WordPress passion for building great websites. I definitely invite everyone in the WordPress world to seek out a WordCamp in your area, which you can check by going here: http://central.wordcamp.org