Get into WordPress with WordCamp Manchester! - Heart Internet Blog - Focusing on all aspects of the web

We’re sponsoring the 2015 WordCamp Manchester, held on Saturday, 10th October at the Manchester Metropolitan University Business School.

2015 WordCamp Manchester Logo

With two tracks of speakers, WordCamp is the conference to learn how to build, design, development, and create with WordPress, with a diverse range of speakers talking about everything from usability tests, designing themes, setting up a server, content strategy, and managing freelancers.

There’ll also be a Contributor Day on Sunday, 11th October, where you can help make WordPress better.

We managed to grab some of the WordCamp Manchester organisers, Rhys Wynne, Hugo Finley, Michael Cropper, and Claire Worthington, and ask them a few questions about this event.

Who are you? Tell us a little about yourselves.

Michael: I’m Michael Cropper and I’m the Managing Director of Contrado Digital, a digital marketing and website development firm.

Claire: I’m Claire Worthington, and I build websites and help people do what they need to do online.

Hugo: I’m Hugo Finley, a blogger who likes to help out charities in my spare time.

Rhys: And I’m Rhys Wynne, a WordPress plugin developer, author, and speaker, best known for WP Email Capture.

What’s WordCamp Manchester about?

Rhys: WordCamp Manchester is a conference about WordPress aimed at anybody who is familiar with the CMS. We’re trying to put our mark on the conference map by having a content-focused track. Since WordPress started life as a blogging platform, we thought we’d try and honour those roots through our speaker selection, and hopefully there’s something for everybody.

Michael: We’re running two speaker tracks, one for content, which is designed for the users of WordPress, and another for the more technical aspects.

Claire: We have a variety of speakers so everybody from hard-core developers to brand-new bloggers should get something useful out of the day. We’re also having a social event in the evening so people can just relax and get to know other people in their local WordPress community.

Hugo: It’s also about sharing the wonders of WordPress and helping the community come together for positive reasons.

What do you hope your attendees will get out of WordCamp Manchester?

Michael: WordCamp Manchester has been designed to allow attendees to cut down on their learning time with WordPress by hearing from experts who can highlight how to avoid the same mistakes so many people make.

Claire: I hope they’ll find inspiration, knowledge, and some new contacts. But even if you leave WordCamp Manchester without those things, everybody gets lunch and a t-shirt featuring our adorable mascot Bumble Wapuu, so you really can’t lose.

Hugo: I would like attendees to walk away with a better sense of how they can use WordPress and also how they can contribute to it themselves. At the very least, I hope they have fun and learn something.

Rhys: I hope there’s something for everybody. Last year, I left the conference inspired, and had a lot of new connections. I hope the attendees this year feel the same.

All the speakers sound like they’re going to have really interesting talks – what are some of the talks you’re personally interested in?

Rhys: I couldn’t say! Unfortunately, being an organiser means I’ll probably be running around making sure everybody’s happy, but with that said, we’re fortunate in Manchester to have one of the founders of WordPress, Mike Little, being so close to the area – I think his talk will be popular. I’m also looking forward to Liz Hannaford’s talk when it appears on WordPress.tv later on in the year.

Claire: I’d like to see Dave Green’s talk on “Building Themes using the Customizer”. I live firmly at the front-end of web development, so I’m slightly more interested in the Content Track, but I’m likely to spend a lot of my time running around making sure things are going smoothly. Luckily, all the sessions are being recorded, so I’ll get a chance to catch up on anything I’ve missed.

Michael: There’s an excellent talk scheduled titled “Tracking Your Content Marketing Results Accurately”, but I’m a little biased, since I’m doing the talk! I’m also interested in Mike Little’s “VPS Hosting for Speed & Security”. Barely a day goes by without news related to the latest security breach, and ensuring your web hosting technology is fast and secure is of the upmost importance.

Hugo: I also strongly suspect I won’t get the chance to attend many of the speaker sessions, but I would like to attend Elliot Taylor’s “Building Our Product – From a Client Agency to a Product Agency”, Konstantinos Kouratoras’s “Testing in WordPress: Building High Quality Products”, Liz Hannaford’s “Developing Your Content Strategy”, and, of course, Mike Little’s “VPS Hosting for Speed & Security”!

What is Contributor Day about?

Hugo: Giving back to the WordPress community. I’m not a coder (but I do love CSS!) and it’s amazing how you can still help. We’ll give attendees the tools in order to help the WordPress community, and there’s a sense of achievement that anyone can get from helping others.

Claire: When we started talking about Contributor Day on Twitter, it became clear that a lot of people assume it’s only for back-end developers, but that’s not the case. Tim Nash, one of our speakers, described it as “when the community comes together to learn and give back to the community through support, documentation, and code.”

Rhys: The Contributor Day is a chance for the community to support the project as a whole. It’s important to say: It’s not just code. The WordPress project is run by a bunch of volunteers who give up their time to support the project and make it better, so if your skills lie elsewhere than writing code, you can still help run the project.

Michael: WordPress is a global open-source community, and the power of WordPress is all about getting involved, spending a bit of time, and helping out. There are many ways to get involved, such as writing content and useful guides, or supporting your local WordPress User Group.

Why WordPress?

Michael: WordPress is the only logical choice for 99% of businesses for a multitude of reasons. Time saving, cost saving, speed to market, ease of implementation, accessibility, security, ease of use, and more. Being an open-source platform also means you’re not tied into any proprietary software or technologies!

Rhys: It just feels so simple to make a website! Anything – set up correctly – can run on WordPress, from large news corporations to your local craft shop. The website doesn’t stand in the way of what you want to do, and its free and open-source nature makes it so easy to expand.

Claire: WordPress is really flexible, which makes it suitable for a wide range of different people. There are amazing sites and really complicated technical solutions all over the Internet that have been built by developers from all over the world, and at the other end of the scale, even straight out of the box, non-coders can create professional-looking websites and blogs.

Hugo: It’s clean and simple to use, and you slowly get drawn into doing more and more. The community makes it happen, and there’s a sense of belonging, even if you only participate from time to time.

What’s one thing about WordPress that you love?

Hugo: Good usability and so easy to learn.

Rhys: The community. I’ve met some great people through attending WordCamps and local meetups, all of which have been inspiring in their own way. Open-source software is only as strong as the community around it, and it’s one of the most welcoming and inclusive communities out there.

Claire: There are so many things to love about WordPress, but the main one is probably that it has a very supportive community, which makes it easy to get started. It’s also open-source and therefore free – and who doesn’t love cool free stuff?

Michael: The community, without a doubt. The people involved in all aspects of WordPress will go out of their way to help you in any way that they can. If you’re completely new to WordPress, just go and speak to anyone and say “I’ve been thinking about doing… What are your thoughts on the best way to do this?” I can guarantee you’ll get an insightful answer.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give someone just starting out using WordPress?

Rhys: It may sound obvious and predictable, but attend a WordCamp or a WordPress meetup. Along with getting your questions answered by knowledgeable people, you also get to meet some fascinating folks and connect with them. Most people who work with WordPress appear to be freelancers or work in small teams, so this is a great way to connect with like-minded enthusiasts.

Hugo: Fiddle with it, break it so you can mend it – it’s fine. The best way to learn how to use it well is to fiddle.

Claire: Join your local WordPress User Group. You’ll get lots of useful info and there is usually somebody there that can point you in the right direction when you get stuck.

Michael: Get involved and ask lots of questions. It’s only by getting involved with WordPress communities, peaking to people, and giving things a go, that you’ll learn all about the unbelievable power that comes with WordPress.

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