Awesome stuff from WordCamp Atlanta 2016

For the past four years, WordCamp Atlanta has rocked my world. In 2014, I vowed to attend WordCamp every year, and in 2015, I spoke at the event. (I turned my presentation into this series of blog posts: Applying the 7 Principles of Design to WordPress.)

This year, as I headed down to WordCamp Atlanta, I was eager to focus on the development talks. If there are ways to make development easier or improve my workflow—I want to know! So today I’m sharing my WordCamp Atlanta 2016 takeaways in three categories of stuff.

Stuff I’m doing right.

To make sure I’m still doing everything by today’s WordPress standards, I attended a workshop for beginner developers. I was pleased to confirm I’ve got the basics covered as I use these 3 different environments:

  • Local: This means on your computer. When you make updates or develop a new website, you don’t want to just make changes right in production. People could see the updates as you’re doing them. You will definitely break stuff; even pros leave out a semicolon and create a white screen of death! In local development, you’ll get everything ironed out before it’s visible to anyone else. Plus, it’s so much faster as you aren’t relying on an internet connection, and page loading is instant.
  • Staging: This is where you (and your client) test everything. You control updates and can maintain clean versions using git to keep your local and staging environments synced up.
  • Production: This is the awesome live site that the world can see.

Stuff I want to do better/more of.

One of the many wonderful things about WordPress is its ease-of-use. It gives the website owner so much flexibility and control. And with Customizer, they can have even more. Here’s how it works. In the Appearance section of a WordPress website, there’s a customize button. It brings up your site within the WordPress backend. You can make changes and see them reflected. Those changes aren’t live until you hit publish. I’m currently doing this through a custom post type called bits. I want to move it into customizer so clients can easily (and safely) update certain content areas of their site themselves.

Stuff to check out.

Here is a list of resources I’m eager to check out:

  • Accessibility: Having an accessible website is super important. It means that a person with any type of impairment (visual, hearing, motor skills) can still use your website. Check out Nancy Thanki’s slides on Accessible Websites. (And, having an accessible website also coincides with best practices for SEO!) Who doesn’t want that—an accessible site and great SEO?! To test whether a screen-reader will work, use Mac’s built in VoiceOver utility to read your site to you. What does it actually say? Is it understandable?
  • Developer pluginThis helps developers optimize the development environment by making sure all the essential tools and plugins are installed.
  • Generate WPIf you’re getting into development, I consider this a good way to learn what’s possible as it lets you create quality code using WordPress coding standards.
  • Page builders: Also for those getting into development, page builders are a visual way to create page layouts without using code. My general understanding is that they tend to add miscellaneous code and can add unnecessary page bloat. They can also be very frustrating to work with when you’d much rather just update the stylesheet and be done. But page builders can make things easy for those who are visually-inclined (like designers) who don’t want to mess with code. Of the following list of page builders that were compared, Beaver Builder won out.
    • Page Builder by SiteOrigin—free!
    • Conductor
    • Divi Builder
    • Themify Builder
    • Velocity Page
    • Visual Composer
    • Beaver Builder

What I said about WordCamp in 2014 holds true: It’s one of the most supportive places for wherever you are in your WordPress journey. Whether newbie or professional, there is something for everyone.

But I want to add something about WordCamp Atlanta…

WordCamp is for everyone who might use WordPress. I’m a designer/developer. But some attendees I met run a site for their business or a hobby. If you have a WordPress site—even if you never want to learn to design or code—attend your local WordCamp. You will learn so much about how to better utilize your website. And, you’ll walk away with a bunch of free swag 🙂 Thank you WordCamp Atlanta 2016!

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