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Permanent Tourist

A personal website by Mark Howells-Mead

WordCamp Switzerland 2015

WordCamp is an international conference for people interested in topics related to the content management system WordPress. Whether technical or content-based, specific of general, most topics are covered. Even if you find yourself out of your depth in some talks, stick around and there’ll soon be a presentation to interest you.

After last year’s successful conference at the Technopark in Zurich, the first in Switzerland, I signed up immediately when this year’s event was announced. Although all of the speakers’ presentations were good, these are the elements which spoke to me.

Konstantin Obenland held a keynote summarizing the process he led during the release of WordPress 4.3. His presentation was honest and included a section on what he and the team felt that they could’ve done better. It also refreshed my awareness of how WordPress develops new features in a modular way: avoiding delays in the release of main core updates by developing new technology in feature plugins.

A presentation by Marko Heijnen encouraged me to look into the security of WordPress installations a little more closely: whether ensuring that the uploads directory is properly secured, that the admin area is doubly secure, or how (and whether) it’s possible to move the WordPress core out of the project web root.

Tomaž Zaman put across an often overlooked piece of knowledge in a simple way: the number of visitors to your website is irrelevant. Just as the number of people who walk past a shop and look in the window is unimportant, the real goal is the “conversion” of visitors into people fulfilling the goal of your website. One of the most productive routes toward achieving this goal is by tracking events in Google Analytics: for example how many people click on a slider or download a PDF.

Mendel Kurland clarified the process behind making sure that the purpose of your website is clear and obvious. Don’t try to cover masses of topics and link to them all prominently: focus and offer the site visitor a clear indication of the purpose of the site through the navigation.

Jan Thiel explained simply why it’s important to switch your site over to HTTPS: benefits include secure information transfer between the web server and the visitor, and also the potential of better SEO ranking at Google. He also pointed out the most common deal breaker for small sites – cost – will soon be helped when Let’s Encrypt launches and begins issuing free domain validation certificates in the fourth quarter of this year.

Petya Raykovska presented plenty of interesting information about localization and internationalization in WordPress; reminding us all that it’s not all about translation but also about avoiding cultural faux pas.

All in all, a good conference with good speakers and a wide range of both technical and non-technical presentations. I’m already looking forward to returning next year.

WordCamp Switzerland, 2015