Highlights from WordCamp Miami 2012

WordCamp Miami 2012 This was my first WordPress Conference in Miami, and I have to say it was a good one. I was only disappointed that I couldn’t attend more sessions, as the event was split across three rooms at The University of Miami. Also I didn’t attend the Friday sessions as it was generally aimed at beginners, as an introduction to the WordPress platform.

WordPress as a CMS

I’m quite familiar with the technicalities of using WordPress as a CMS, and Adrian Esquivel of Teckpert.com provided an excellent introduction to this topic. Adrian has provided an excellent demo site with all the source code he used during the presentation here.

Adrian looked at custom post types and taxonomies, which highlighted the incredible flexibility of WordPress and how (with some good development knowledge), WordPress can be used as a very powerful CMS.

Website Client Handover

Andrea Graham of bigseadesign.com talked about the hand-over process from a design/development perspective. WordCamp 2012 Conference Room 1 opening comments

Andrea highlighted that at Big Sea they have setup a Google Docs checklist that is sent to each client at the very beginning of a project. This document is used to collate:

  • Logins and passwords
  • Server credentials
  • DNS settings
  • Social Media logins
  • Email subscription details
  • Analytics/Webmaster Tools details
  • Email addresses

I like this list, and it’s actually far more in-depth than I have been used to in previous companies that I’ve worked for.

Andrea also mentioned Big Sea’s preferred development method, of always relative linking on the development site to avoid problems when switching the site over to ‘live’. This is contrary to my past experience, where I’ve preferred absolute URL paths, and performed a find/replace, but this method does seem to be easier and less prone to errors. In WordPress, you can always use the hook to give the correct URL path.

During the presentation Andrea mentioned the WordPress plugin, WP Help, which enables the web designer/developer to publish tutorials and guides that can remain a reference point for the client once the project is handed over. WP Help also allows you to embed screencasts for quicker and more effective teaching of common tasks within the WordPress platform.

Andrea went on to discuss Subversion, the nightmare of so many non-techies. I’m familiar with using Github, but wasn’t aware of some of the new GUI-based SVN tools such as Versions and Beanstalk.

Another important area for consideration is content. Andrea stressed the importance of getting the client to start producing site content at the beginning of the project. In my experience this has generally been the issue that holds up a project. With this in mind, before releasing the site, it’s good to fill it with dummy content to check that the site renders correctly. Then before launch, this is replaced with the real content, and at this point we hope nothing has broken.

When the site is ready to launch, it is good to do this at a time when traffic is generally low (if the site has historic data). PHPMyAdmin comes in useful at this point for changing the URLs within the wp_options table. Andrea covered some command-line prompts that make moving the database very easy. These details are all included in the presentation link below.

Overall, there were some excellent tips in Andrea’s presentation, and I thoroughly recommend reviewing the presentation here.

A full write-up of the presentation with all the relevant links is available on the bigseadesign.com website.

In Part 2 of my highlights, I will continue covering some of the other interesting sessions from the event. In the meantime if you have any questions please leave a comment below or contact me via the details on the site.