I’ll be speaking about WordPress at CMA NYC in March

Following Lauren’s lead, I’ll be speaking at the Spring College Media Convention on Sunday morning, March 13th (the conference runs March 12th through 15th) at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. The organizers have asked me to lead two sessions:

  • WordPress hack attack (Sunday, 9-9:50 a.m., New Media Central 1) – The basic WordPress website is pretty stripped down, but plug-ins and themes can perk up its appearance, simplify your workflow, and streamline your mobile delivery. The former director of CoPress will show you some of the best add-ons, teach you some nifty design tricks, and tell you how to keep your site running at peak efficiency.
  • Making WordPress work for you (Sunday, 10-10:50 a.m., New Media Central 1) – Considered making the switch to WordPress? The former director of CoPress offers tips on how to make an open-source content management system work for your organization. Learn the pleasures and pitfalls of migrating from another CMS and why WordPress is a good solution for college newspapers.

My goal is to make each primers on core concepts, include usable takeaways, and offer lots of links for later digestion. In the first, I intend to cover topics like backups, version control, development sandboxes, and performance, a few different tools, and several of my favorite plugins. See my notes in progress on a Google Doc. In the second, I’d like to give a complete overview of migrating to WordPress, including how to migrate your archives, what to look for in a web host, and where you can train your staff, and then have a healthy Q&A session at the end. These notes are also in progress in a Google Doc.

If you have any concepts, tricks, or wisdom you think I need to cover, please let me know. I’d be happy to credit you in the presentation. I also intend to publish my full notes for reference prior to the sessions.


Andrew Nacin February 20, 2011 Reply

Badass. Best of luck! I’d come up to NY for this, but I’ll be at SXSW.

I see an unfinished bullet point where it says performance. I’d suggest covering three stages. One, WP Super Cache is a minimum requirement. That said, you need to be careful here, because static caching entire pages will, of course, make your page far less dynamic, which can affect widgets and the like.

Two, graduating from WP Super Cache to W3 Total Cache is a logical step, but you need to know a bit more about what you’re doing. Not much though. Start with static caching and minification, but seriously consider object caching via APC behind that, if your server solution supports it. The CDN support is also excellent.

Three, the holy grail would be rolling all of this yourself, with something like nginx serving pages cached with batcache, and either memcached or APC as an object cache. (Use APC when dealing with a single server, and memcached with a pool. For that, you’d also want hyperdb.) Obviously, there are only going to be so many students who can manage this, but there’s the distinct possibility of someone skilled on campus who wants a high-profile, high-traffic site to play with as a sort of a challenge.

Looking through the notes further, you should add WPEngine to your list of hosts, given that they’re WordPress-specific, like Page.ly, and would be good for larger papers. I’ve never heard of Gabfire Themes, but a big plus one for Graph Paper Press, and WooThemes as well. There are a number of other commercial providers. In terms of plugins, I’m a fan of YARPP, and don’t forget about Akismet.

“Open source, so you own the software” — isn’t strictly accurate. I usually say that you own your content. Really, the idea behind free software is more about being able to run, copy, study, change, and distribute the software without restriction (or rather, with the same rights and responsibilities provided to you, particularly the GPL). You don’t own it, but you control it as if you did. I think definitely spending a bit of time on the philosophies of open source is vital, if you don’t expect your audience to truly have that knowledge.

Hope that helps!

Daniel Bachhuber February 25, 2011 Reply

Thank you, Andrew. This is great feedback. I’ll let you know how the session goes.

Aram ZS February 21, 2011 Reply

I look forward to seeing your sessions. I’ll be presenting as well!

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