We Went To Wordcamp Orange County 2019 - Here's What We Gleaned

"Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first"

By: William Scott, Website & Brand Strategist
Linkedin: WilliamUnsung

WordCamp is where creative minds go to talk (and learn) about WordPress. As WordPress aficionados, we attended last year not fully sure of what to expect and our experience was lackadaisical at best (probably our fault). This year however, we planned out our day, sat in the front rows, and even took a few notes! The following discussions were helpful for us; both for our customers and also for our website. Ready for some solid excerpts? Let's do this.


Optimize Everything

The first talk of the day was by Maura Teal and her talk was titled: Optimize Everything! A common thread in the web design/develop world is making sure the websites we build are speedy. The tough part being, there are many variables to assuring just that.

Here’s what we gathered from her talk and we’re happy to report we do this with all the websites we design and develop 🙂

  • PHP 7: Make sure you’re running the newest version of PHP! Here's why - “At a development level, PHP 7 adds some exciting new capabilities to the programming language, while eliminating some older, deprecated and/or obsolete code” via Flywheel
  • CDN: If your site visits are from all over the world, make sure to use a CDN (content delivery network). This allows your website to be viewed at the same speed whether in Dubai or Orange County.
  • Full page caching: This is important if you have a lot of returning customers or visitors to your site. Caching the page allows them to come back to the page much quicker than if they were visiting it for the first time.
  • Image optimization: now-a-days our cell phones take pictures at roughly 1mb per picture (which is amazing in itself), but that same photo displayed on your website should only be 350kbs (and no more than 500kbs). That’s image optimization!

She finished by providing us with some common tools used to investigate websites and see where we can speed up site-load including: Googles inspect element (personal favorite), Querie monitor plugin, and Datadoghq.com

  • Create a long password (like 25 characters long): You can use a generator or just make something up on the spot but when it comes to securing your website and your online information of any sorts, the more random your password the better! Here's an example of a good password: #kv8*fs))s012cXsGer%ueswS
  • Don’t use the same password: The issue is, if hackers get one of your passwords they try that password on an infinite number of other sites that you frequent. 
  • Use a password manager: Francesca recommended using 1password.com a private password manager. You’ll only need to remember one password as long as you use 1password
  • Don’t provide any private information on sites that aren’t secure: If the website you’re entering information into doesn’t have an (s) after http(s) in the top left corner of your browser search bar, don’t provide them a lick of your personal information
  • Have a solid hosting company: Just a short humble brag... we use GetFlyWheel - to date, all of our client's websites are unhackable. Other hosts we recommend are Cloudflare and Dreamhost.

Secure WordPress Without Coding Skills

Next up was a presentation by Francesca Mareno from Site Ground. The title of her presentation was Secure WordPress Without Coding Skills. She provided beautiful analogies for the layperson on the different kinds of website attacks and some simple steps to preventing them. Here are a few:

She started by describing the individual attacks stating that the majority of website hacks are caused by bots, while the big website attacks are caused by humans (sitting behind 4 screens eating Cheetos, we presume). Bot attacks (programs written by humans) attack smaller websites for passwords, emails, and account information. She also spoke briefly about a new form of internet attack called ransomware - mostly social media attacks (I’ve personally seen it on Instagram) targeting influencers. A ransomware attack takes over your social media account and locks you out. They’ll then ask for money in order to let you back into your account #brutal.

Wondering how you can block this kind of maliciousness activity? Here’s some short answers:

google sc

The New Google Search Console & How to Use it to Improve Your Rankings

After a lunch intermission, it was time for a talk by Erik Wardell of Pathfinder SEO about Google Search Console. I personally love GSC as it provides a more direct line to Google, search terms, and the all knowing data! This talk was an hour and a half long (compared to the regular 45 minute talks) and by personal misfortune ¾’s of the talk was entry level GSC. But man - those last 15 minutes we got some nice tidbits about how to better read the data and display sites to Google! Here's what we gathered:

  • Thin content should not be in the sitemap: at this point in the game, Google doesn’t see value in a page with 1 picture and a baseline paragraph...
  • Google Indexes individual pages, not your entire site: This was a big ahh-haa moment because I always could tell there was more value by indexing individual pages instead of just the homepage but I never knew why
  • Queries (under Dimensions) are what people are typing into search: Go here to find out what you really should use for your Title!
  • Make sure your Brand name is in the Title: Simple enough
  • Speak to Google through the page title, speak to your customer in the page description: I talk a big game when it comes to the importance of page titles and descriptions. Little did I know Google doesn't care about the description nearly as much as the title.

Leveraging your Project Management Methodology

The next talk was by Beth Livingston of WP Road Maps about Leveraging your Project Management Methodology. For Andy and I, this talk really struck a chord with us as we've been spinning our wheels trying to find a project management tool that facilitated our needs. As a small business working mostly b2b, managing projects is a beast of it’s own. We were excited to hear Beth provide us with some answers we had been seeking. Here’s what we extracted from her fast-paced talk:

  • When developing a methodology, the waterfall method seems to work best
  • Have a deliverable every so often to eliminate static air between you and the customer
  • “It’s an estimate, not a quote” - You’re not a crystal ball
  • After every project, talk about lessons learned - every client is unique and each experience with them is a way of learning

We were eager to ask Beth during the after party which project management tool she used. She explained to us she has her own which was cool but not the answer we were looking for lol. Our chat with her during the after party was extremely valuable for us and we look forward to incorporating her knowledge into our system. 


Taming the Whirlwind – Growing Your Business While You’re Busy with Client Work

As Andy and I were content in our seats from the previous talk we stayed for the final talk by Nathan Ingram a WordPress Business Coach. His talk - inline with Beth's - was also about project/client management. Nathan’s talk was designed around how he has created habits and set up “blocks” throughout his day that enable him to work for the client AND ALSO work for himself and his business. He planted a flag at one point in his talk and said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first”.

As Unsung Studio moves into it's second year, it was refreshing to surround ourselves with people who are part of the same whirlwind we are. While Andy and I have been in this industry for 10 years now, we often times ask ourselves are there others like us out there? And the answer is yes. We're definitely at the point now where we're ready to present at a WordCamp this year and look forward to the opportunity.