As of this blog post, it has been 9 years since I stepped off the Pittsburgh Technical College campus (then known as Pittsburgh Technical Institute), but I had the opportunity to return on Saturday for WordCamp Pittsburgh 2017. This is the second year for WordCamp Pittsburgh. Below are just some of the takeaways from my first ever WordCamp:
Session 1 – Designing for Accessibility and Illiteracy by Kimberly Norris
Kim is the web developer for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History so its website has to be accessible to a wide range of users. You should try to have no more than 80 characters on a line and keep your text below a 5th-grade level. Something I didn’t think about that was interesting to hear was to remove image carousels. While they may look great, users probably won’t wait to look through the carousel and it can be distracting to someone with a disability.
Session 2 – Systems and Processes for Creatives by Lauren Pittenger
This session seemed to be the one everyone wanted to attend. It was standing room only as we got started. We learned how important processes are especially when leading clients isn’t a strength. Using client questionnaires and tech briefs to gather requirements helps provide your customers with the best solution. Don’t get locked into one process. One process doesn’t fit all clients and industries. Slickplan is a piece of software Lauren mentioned that looks like a great tool we need to start using here at Heartbeat Websites.
Session 3 – Brand Positioning: Growing Your Business by John Centofanti
In my opinion, this was the most informative session at WordCamp Pittsburgh. Every brand has a position in the market. Your goal is to establish your brand in the market. Think of Google and Yahoo like search engine providers. Which one do you use and why? Who has established themselves as the go-to search engine in the market? Think about Mercedes vs. Chevrolet or Starbucks vs. Dunkin’ Donuts. Every industry is going to have someone who will do it cheaper and quicker, but is it a better product?
Session 4 – Local SEO: A Breakdown by Alex Riddle
Alex provided some valuable steps that every business should take. Start by signing up for Google My Business and filling out your company information. Use tools such as Axiom and InfoGroup to submit your company to other listing sites. You have to make sure your information is the same on all sites though. 123 Heartbeat Drive isn’t the same as 123 Heartbeat Dr. Be consistent in how you present your company information.
Session 5 – WordPress core tables and MySQL by Rene Morozowich
The final session I attended was where the inner geek was able to come out. Rene discussed the core tables of WordPress and explained in detail which each table did from wp_options to wp_users and how they are tied into MySQL. If you have no clue what wp_options, wp_users or MySQL is, don’t worry you will never have to get involved in those backend functions. Heartbeat Websites handles all of that behind the scenes to keep your website up and running all the time!