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One of the perqs of living in the San Francisco Bay area is being close to the action. For example, tonight I attended the latest WordPress SpeedGeeking event held by the San Francisco WordPress Meetup group, graciously hosted by Zach Berke of Exygy. Automattic was out in force. Old friends were caught up with and new friends were acquired.
And of course some of the coolest WordPress around.
So what is this “speed geeking” thing anyway?
Speed Dat^H^H^HGeeking, WordPress-style
SpeedGeeking is round-robin lightning talks. Presenters occupy tables placed around the room, and people move from presentation to presentation every 5 minutes. I’ve done this before, presenting hRecipe plugin for WordPress at the April 2011 WordPress San Francisco SpeedGeeking. It’s fun.
Obviously, the potential for widespread panic is latent, but our host Zach has that all figured out: we count off 1 to the-number-of-presenters, each getting a number which becomes our “group.” Every five minutes, Zach queues up the music, and we shuffle en masse to the next station.
Since I was with Group 4, we started with station #4.
#4. Better WordPress image filtering
Station #4 was inhabited by Ben Sheldon, the thoughtful blogger driving Island 94 and 2012 Code for America fellow.
Ben explained that hyperlinking around images in WordPress is a chancy proposition. Fixing the styling with pure CSS and jQuery makes for poor and fragile solutions. Much better to use WordPress filters and handle the necessary markup on the server.
All it takes is a little bit of code in one’s
functions.php file. Ben also presented some very good advice for asking WordPress questions on forums. Key: know what question you’re really asking.
Here’s Ben’s blog post with downloadable PDF: WordPress image filtering.
#5. Sidekick Plugin for WordPress administrators
Gaird Schlesinger is one of the driving forces behind Mighty Digital, a San Francisco-based design shop. Lately, Gaird and rockstar WordPress colleague Dimas Begunoff have been doing a fair bit of WordPress work, one of the results of which is the WordPress Sidekick Plugin.
It’s all about the little things, those little things which really matter:
- Expanding and collapsing post listings.
- Starring favorite posts.
- ID column really helps when developing custom code.
- Lists the modified date as well as the publication date.
- Live search, find terms on every part of a post or page, not just content.
- Site visibilty notice, don’t forget to ask Google to index when your new site goes live.
- Page count for menu children.
And more! Sidekick is really cool and really useful, especially when you find yourself spending (what feels like) most of your waking hours scratching around in the WordPress administration interface. Dimas is happy to tell you more about WordPress Sidekick Plugin.
#6. Important Media sustainability blog network
David Anderson owns and operates Important Media, a consortium of 18 blogs focusing on sustainability. Each blog has full editorial independence. David built Important Media using WordPress Multisite, which he states is indispensible. Expect to see more about Important Media here on Website In A Weekend in the future. For now, visit sites in the Important Media Network.
#7. Livefyre real time conversations on WordPress
I met Jenna Langer of Livefyre at a San Francisco Blog meetup almost two years ago(!?), and since then, Livefyre has really started to take hold in the blogging community. It’s like having a Twitter feed dedicated to each blog post.
Here’s some of what Jenna told us about Livefyre:
- Livefyre comments still owned by bloggers
- Installs via plugin
- Makes comments social, uses @symbol for reference
- Tracks back from twitter. Facebook coming.
If you have (or want) a lot more engagement on your blog, seriously consider Livefyre. Read more from Justin Germino AKA DragonBlogger about converting to Livefyre commenting.
Update from Jenna:
One thing to add is that we do have SocialSync support with Facebook – you enter your Facebook Fan Page and Livefyre imports comments that are left when you post a link to your blog.
#8. SEO Translate
Jason Thai presented a new WordPress plugin for helping with translation which leverages the Microsoft translation services. The angle is that the plugin is part of Fox Translation’s offering. While machine translation is not usually very good, the plugin makes a great start, and critical text can be cleaned using Fox services when necessary.
SEO Translate offers 35 different languages, and check out Fox Translate as well.
Also, Jason is looking for case studies using the plugin. If you have notion to try it out, leave a comment below and I’ll get you connected with Jason.
#9. Salon.com – WordPress CMS, for real
Is or is not WordPress a CMS.
The answer to this depends a lot on who you ask.
If you were to ask Salon.com, they might say something like “WordPress CMS? It’s close enough, we can work with it.”
And work with it they did.
The new Salon.com WordPress-based site features:
- Custom built in-house theme.
- Administrative backend is on a different domain, with htpassword access protection. This is really good for security.
- Articles are given Priority and Shelf life to establish publication precedence.
- Custom edit panel with images, notes pool, improved approval process via editor
- Algorithmic front page construction using priority and shelf life.
- Image crops are automatically set in theme for custom presentation depending on context.
All in all, an amazing piece of work. Visit the new Salon.com.
If you haven’t yet heard of Page Lines themes for WordPress, you probably will soon. I didn’t get the presenter’s name, but I was impressed enough to sign up as an affiliate to PageLines (not aff. link here, though). The framework features drag and drop design with no coding necessary, it’s listed on WordPress.org themes, and it can handle child themes (the recommended way to develop these days).
The options settings page is pretty amazing for PageLines. Worth checking out if you’re a theme junkie.
#11. Full website, no content!
Karla Leibowitz presented freedirectoryguide.com, which is built on genesis, nothing in website, all built using shortcodes, multiple sidebar patterns, client-driven seo. I can’t do better than the description on the SpeedGeeking announcement page, so here’s a partial quote:
Karla is using the theme display and the category structure, the admin interface, and taking advantage of easy and rapid deployment of SEO ready new “pages”, but is able to nestle, with shortcodes and page templates, information from an exterior source into the WordPress framework. This work also demonstrates location based search, google maps, and page access by URL eg: www.mysite.com/searchfor?what=this&where=there&who=me
Visit Karla Karla as well.
#1. Responsive web design
Richa Avasthi is a a long-time blogger, from back when blogs were cool. Or weren’t cool, I guess, depending on your perspective. She blogs at The Emotional Pumpkin, which is built on a custom, responsive web design to work well on any device, browsers as well as mobile. Go ahead, check it out The Emotional Pumpkin on all your browsers, at the same time. It’s really cool.
Also, she is super-smart so you can learn stuff too.
#2. Learn That on Cloud Flare
Rosevita Warda, Learn That reports that moving to CloudFlare content delivery network had a major positive effect on her traffic. With the numbers to prove it, the CloudFlare results graphs are amazing, and if I can get permission to post them here, I will do so.
The short answer is that traffic went up and bounce rate went down. Since Learn That relies on traffic for revenue, this is a Bona Fide Big Deal.
Rosevita has no association with CloudFlare, other than being a delighted customer. Best type of testimonial there… she drove down from Sebastapol, California to present these results. That’s, like, 50 miles on a Monday evening.
#3. TekPals’ TPSunrise Theme
Ed Ehrgott owns and operates TekPals, a boutique design outfit located in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District.
What I like about Ed’s work is that it’s classical web design, done right. For example, his TP Sunrise theme (available via WordPress.org) provides an options panel, sidebar menus on demand, and has an optional, resizeable and responsive slideshow. That is cool.
And Ed totally gets it. Here’s a quote from a recent blog post about creating your blog’s message:
In my experience in developing many sites, I’ve actually found that the most challenging part of the process is defining the organization’s message. I actually believe that developing a website is the best thing that any organization can do because if forces a reflection on what the organization is all about.
This is good advice for most everyone with a website, including myself.
It’s a party!
As mentioned, when the music queues, it’s time to move. And the music was great.
After exercising my 1337 haxors skilz,1 I now have a copy of the SpeedGeeking playlist. Which I am informed pulled double duty as Zach’s wedding playlist. Or maybe the other way around. Whatever. Here’s a treat from the playlist:
Questions? Comments? SpeedGeeking for fun and profit?
And what about you? Are there any SpeedGeeking events in your area? If not, why not? You could host one! Be sure to send me details, I’ll link to your SpeedGeek event right here.
If you have any questions about any of the presenters or presentations, let me know and I’ll see about getting those questions answered.
1. I sent Zach an email.