WordCamp Vancouver was held on the weekend, and while a lot of it was for developers and code monkeys, there were a few sessions that served up some great information for content creators.
My key takeaways? Optimize for mobile. And, yes, WordPress can do that. I have now spent the weekend optimizing my sites. My speed has doubled, my sites look great on mobile devices, and I still have more plugins to drop in.
Here are some of the great WordPress plugins and resources I discovered this weekend at WordCamp Vancouver. If you use WordPress, it’s worth digging through to find some gems.
Much of what Suzette’s slides offered was common sense, but she did serve up a couple of tools where you can learn more and move deeper in to WordPress.
There are WordCamps all around the world, all the time. You don’t always have to attend one to get the content and learn new tips. WordPress.tv has a collection of some of the best WordCamp talks, so dig through and find a topic that suits your specialty and learn something new.
If you want to learn some tips on PHP or CSS, check out W3 Schools for easy how-to’s and guides. Most themes don’t work perfectly out of the box, if you understand how to tweak some of the code, you can make your site look just right.
via Kane Jamison
I really enjoyed Kane’s session and scribbled things out frantically as he discussed 30 different tools you can use to move beyond basic blog content. His slides show all the things he was talking about, here are some of the highlights that I found useful
This tool automates what people are searching about to help you break writer’s block and get deeper content ideas. Say you like to write about trains. Type “model trains” in to uber suggest and it will offer suggestions that continue that keyword phrase with every letter in the alphabet. The suggestions are taken from what people are searching for on Google, so the best and relevant ideas are available through this tool.
If you ran a bricks and mortar business, you could easily walk down the street to a competitor and see how they run their business, this tool lets you do that online. Pop in a competitor’s site to see the keywords they rank for and how they are getting traffic. You can use it for yourself as well to see how you compare and to find areas you can improve.
This cool tool adds little + signs to your images so you can add extra hover details. You can pop the pin on maps, collages, and other photos to bring more engaging and deeper content to your site.
Social Media Hover
Social is where your traffic will be coming from. People like to share content they like and engage their friends, so make it easy for them to share the content. This plugin adds sharing icons to your images when people hover of them making it easier to pin, tweet, plus, post, and like.
This tool will help you build visualizations for the data in your blog posts. They have dozens of templates, all you need to do is input the data and you’ll have a great visual tool you can embed in your blog instead of leaving the audience bored just reading text on the screen.
This tool will put your photos and descriptions into a clever grid. If you have a number of authors for your blog, or want a different way to visualize the ‘about us’ page for your corporate team, this site will lay it out in a clean, clickable way.
Custom Category Pages
If you have a large collection of information on a certain topic, add some juice to your category pages with descriptions and images. WordPress usually defaults to showing category pages as just a list of links – not too exciting. By creating Category Pages, you can add links, images, and formatting to increase your Google juice and have people be interested in clicking down the page on your links.
If you do interviews on your site, there is nothing more draining than spending hours transcribing the entire talk. SpeechPad is a service that will transcribe your content for $1/min.
If you want an easy way to make how-to videos, or do screencasts to post to YouTube and embed on your blog, check out Screenr. You can just hit record, and then start dictating what’s happening on your screen.
Morten did a great case study of how he is rebuilding Ciao Bambino, a site that was not organized to properly use what WordPress can offer, and so he has had to go back and recode, and reorganize the content from scratch.
He offered many reminders for when you are writing your content.
“Tags are tags. Categories are categories.”
WordPress likes to organize things in a categorical hierarchy. Think about how your site should be organized and place them properly within categories. Then, when tagging, you can go a little crazier and add more tags to describe specifically what that article is about. First think generally, then specifically. And never use “uncategorized.” Categorize your posts and content.
Compartmentalize your content
It is a great way to make it easier to update and change later. Use shortcodes and then call back to them when you need something – a logo, or wordmark, or ads of text or something. Then, when you need to change that item, you only do it one place, and the callback will change it across the site.
THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IS THAT THE USER FINDS WHAT THEY NEED
This was a great thing that Morten really hammered home. We cannot design pages, or write content for ourselves, we need to write it for the user. They are our customer. We need to think like them and create content for them in a way that is usable and comfortable. If you don’t write / create for the user, you will have no users.
via Steve Zussino
Steve has a couple of websites that generate a lot of traffic for people trying to save money. He runs a Grocery Alert site and a travel deals site. While none too impressed with the designs of Steve’s site, and I certainly wouldn’t take advice from him on how to build a website, he did have some important ideas on optimizing your site for mobile, and speed.
How To Go Mo
This is an initiative from Google to help people get their sites up and running for mobile. IT will test mobile compatibility and the speed of your site on mobile. A mobile site needs to load in less than 5 seconds, or users are gone. We have no patience. This site will give you all the tools to maximize your speed. MobiTest is another site that performs speed tests for you.
W3 Total Cache
This plugin will find your java and CSS files and compress them so you can optimize speed. I saw a 20% decrease in load time when I installed this plugin.
Am I Responsive
Want to see quickly how your site looks across platforms? Am I Responsive will show you what your website looks on a desktop, notebook, tablet, and smartphone, just by dropping in your web address. It’s an easy and quick way to see if you’re ‘doing it right.’