WordPress Tag

wordcamp2015

A few observations about Cape Town’s 2015 WordCamp

eCommerce is a lot more fun than you would think.

The last speaker on the first day was just the greatest. First of all he was inspirational – he said things like “the limit exists in our mind only” and “why not?” instead of ‘why?’ And my personal favourite: “before the existence of the black swan was an accepted fact people thought, hey, these people are crazy, maybe we should send them back to Australia!” He was funny and inspirational at the same time.

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Code in two minutes: The internet is yours

I’ve been doing a night course on HTML and CSS coding through Friends of Design for the last few weeks. I’m doing it becuase I want better control of the websites we build and to be able make precise tweaks and changes to them. At Pomegranite, we build websites on WordPress which allows us to create slick, professional sites that are affordable for the client. Ninety-nine percent of the time, clients don’t need complex, custom-coded websites. And if they do, we hand them over to trusted agencies who can provide that service.

Self-hosted WordPress essentially comprises of two systems: the first is a content management system which acts as an interface between you and the website, saving your images and posts and giving you the tools to edit the website. The second is a theme or template which is like a ‘skin’ for your website and manages its design. This is where it’s handy to have some coding knowledge to manipulate these themes.

Learning to code (I say this with a pinch of salt because hardcore coders study for years) has been a pretty mind-blowing experience. For most people, the internet is another world, created and controlled by others, that we can only make a mark on through social media, which is itself contained separately within the greater world-wide-web. When I started editing the code of WordPress themes, Sarah and I referred to it as “entering the Matrix” and rejoiced when I did something and the site didn’t explode.

But the truth is, the internet is made by people, creating code. To scratch beneath the surface, all you have to do is right click and select “inspect element” to see the code that props up the site you’re viewing.

Coding is becoming more and more accessible to people other than nerdy hackers. Just check out organisations like Code for Cape Town which runs a three week holiday programme that introduces grade 10 and 11 girls to the world of web development for social impact. What’s also great is that you don’t have to wait for someone to teach you to code. There are tons of resources online to get you started.

Codecadamy is the one I started with. It’s super simple, fun and effective at teaching you code. They use a system where you’re walked through the code on one side of the screen and it shows the effect on the other side of the screen. So not only do you never feel lost, but you see instant results.

codecadamy

It’s free, it’s fun, you can login with Facebook and Gmail.

So go ahead, give it a go!

[Feature image source.]

WordCamp wisdom: 10 takeaways from the 2014 WordPress conference

I realise that it’s been a while since WordCamp – which we went to on 23 October – but we got so much out of the conference that I thought it was worth another quick blog post to share some of the nuggets of wisdom we came away with.

So – here are our 10 takeaways from WordCamp, some of which are from talks and others from our own observations:

  1. “It’s all well and good getting traffic to your website, but your site then needs to be good enough to convert that traffic into leads.” (Chantelle Bowyer)
  2. “Google Analytics help not just with marketing decisions but with business decisions too. There is no more guess work as the cold, hard facts are there.” (Chantelle Bowyer)
  3. “Focus on where the value lies. Speak to your customer – what do they actually need? Don’t give them any unnecessary fluff.” (Matt Cohen)
  4. “All innovation begins with vision. It’s what happens next that is critical.” (Matt Cohen quoting Eric Ries)
  5. Emma Jane Dicks and Code4CT are teaching young girls to code and changing perceptions about women in the IT world. Looking at the demographics of the WordCamp conference (95% male and white) it’s clear just how important the work is that they’re doing. Read more here: http://code4ct.com/
  6. “How a website it written is just as important as the design.” (Noel Tock). We couldn’t agree more with this point and believe that our words background and subsequent approach to website creation are what sets Pomegranite apart in the web development world.
  7. “The biggest compliment you can give WordPress is to just use what you need and leave everything else out. It’s a tool.” (Noel Tock) In other words – don’t blindly follow the theme. Rather focus on what your website actually needs.
  8. “You don’t realise how even educated web users use your interface. UX testing is crucial.” (Dave Perel)
  9. “People are not clicks. They aren’t conversion rates. You need to have a personal touch.” (Nick Haralambous)
  10. And my favourite of the day, something we all need to be reminded of sometimes: “It’s just a job, you do it to live. Not the other way around.” (Tomaz Zaman)

WordCamp 2014: A summary

Going to WordCamp was a bit of a last minute decision – but one I’m so glad we made.

Having worked on WordPress for about a year and a half now, we feel fairly comfortable with the platform, but we liked the idea of broadening our WordPress horizons somewhat and seeing what the frontrunners in our industry are up to. So we registered and went along not really knowing what to expect.

First impression: So many guys. So many guys in one room – in Cape Town. Seriously, I kept marvelling at the sheer number of them throughout the day. It was weird. But not entirely unpleasant. Let’s just say there is a reason they call it “bro-gramming”.

Coming from a words background, it really drove home the fact that we approach website creation so differently. We start with the story – how are you different from the competition? What picture do you want to paint of who you are and what you do in a way that sets you apart?

It was interesting to see that, while we are comfortable with WordPress, the hardcore coding side of things is not our strongpoint – and that’s ok. Because we have something to offer that is a lot less common in the “bro-gramming” scene: writing and communication skills. Having chatted to a few developers and speakers from the conference, it was exciting to see how we fit into this world and the role we would like to carve out for ourselves.

We found the talks really interesting and entertaining (nerd humour included), and, being women, felt the need to talk-all-about-it-and-how-inspired-we-felt after each one.

We took so much from the talks, in fact, that we’ll be running a series of blog posts over the next little while, as there is just too much to communicate all at once.

But we left the conference full of ideas and chuffed at the networking opportunities the day afforded us.

For now, here is a brief summary:

Organisation: Great – Liz especially loved the goodie bag and struggled to play it cool in the beginning. Thanks WooThemes!

Speakers: Awesome – especially Tomaž Zaman, Founder / CTO, Head of Product Development at Codeable.

MCs: Hilarious. Derick Watts & The Sunday Blues – you guys definitely added another dimension to the standard conference vibe.

Catering: Delicious. Sarah particularly loved the doughnuts. And popcorn. And muffins. And chicken kebabs.

Thanks WordCamp – I’m sure we’ll be seeing you again in 2015!

To see all the tweets from the conference and the nuggets of wisdom people took home, check out #wcct.

Liz and her hipster briefcase at the awesome venue - Greenpoint Stadium

Liz and her hipster briefcase at the awesome venue – Greenpoint Stadium

What happens when a brand collaborates with its Instagram followers

There’s nothing quite like a hopping on a bike and feeling the breeze in your hair on a sunset bike ride along the picturesque Sea Point promenade. Childhood memories of riding with “no hands” for the first time, the flying sensation of high speeds, near-collisions and scraped knees come flooding back. You can’t help testing your bell – brrrrrring brrrrrrrring – for safety purposes, of course.

But how do you communicate that experience on a website? Having been long-time customers of UpCycles, we got chatting about their website and before we know it, that question was ours to answer. So we checked out UpCycle’s social media presence and found that people had such a blast that they LOVED taking photos of their joyrides. And you can see the what a good time they’re having. So we let them tell the story of what it’s like to rent an UpCycles bicycle by collaborating with them on the UpCycles website.

Here’s a taster of what Instagram users happily contributed to the Upcycles website:

The result?

We used a grid design because we were working with generally square pictures of a relatively low quality (having been shot on the fly with phones most of the time). We used a small slider on the homepage and built links to important pages around it. We got across the important information as succinctly as possible with maps and clearly listed rates and contact details. We also incorporated their Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds to show off their online communities.

We had a lot of fun developing this site on a tight timeline and budget – and even more fun hearing how thrilled Jared and Shannon from Up Cycles were when we showed them the end product.

Upcycles website

Five reasons why we use WordPress

Website building platforms are constantly evolving to keep up with the needs of developers. We keep an eye on the CMS options available to us but have always come back to WordPress. Here are five reasons why:

  1. It’s versatile

WordPress helps us build a site that’s as simple or as expansive as you like. The functionality at our fingertips allows us to build sites from a clean, informative portfolio or an evocative website, complete with galleries and blog to an e-commerce site that makes you money while you sleep. Our job is understanding what you need and making that happen.

  1. It’s affordable and efficient

With the themes and plugins available in WordPress, there’s no need to build from scratch. This makes the website more affordable for the client and the process more efficient for us. There are thousands of WordPress themes available – by far the best selection online – and the best news? They’re built to be responsive and ready to work on any device.

  1. It’s SEO-friendly

The number one reason businesses want to be online is to be found. Tip-top search engine optimisation is crucial for any website and WordPress is inherently SEO-friendly, giving developers the opportunity to use keywords in URLs, headings, site descriptions ,etc. There are also plenty of great plugins that instil SEO discipline, ensuring you’re on top of your game.

  1. The WordPress culture

There are no nasty surprises like having to pay a monthly fee for a custom domain or conditions urging you to upgrade. Once you’ve sorted your hosting, you’re on your way and you always feel in control of any premium themes and plugins that you might want to use.

Because so many people use WordPress, their resources are always growing. Updates are constantly improving the experience and if you do run into a problem, they have impressive support.

Another advantage of its popularity is that there is a huge community of WordPress users who offer free advice and tutorials so support extends well beyond the WordPress team.

  1. It’s accessible

Once a site is up, the WordPress dashboard is accessible enough that we can easily teach clients how to maintain their sites in a workshop. This is a popular option as they can be in control and easily update photos, post news and edit information. In short, they keep their site feeling fresh and if there are any problems, we’re always there to help.