WordCamp Lancaster 2014 – Notes and Links

WordCamp Lancaster 2014 was my first (and I don’t intend on it being my last!) WordCamp. I took several pages of notes and came away gaining plenty of knowledge. Many thanks to all those responsible for organizing and hosting the event. It took me awhile (WordPress Lancaster took place on March 1st), but I finally got around to posting my notes from the conference.

Here is my roundup post of all the presentations with links.

t-shirt from WordCamp Lancaster 2014
T-shirt from WordCamp Lancaster 2014

Your Website Checklist

Courtney Engle Robertson
Twitter:  @courtneyengle
Website: courtneyengle.com
Presentation: Your Ultimate Website Checklist – WordCamp Lancaster

One of the important “take-aways” from the WordCamp was not just learning new things, but re-enforcing some of the things I already do. Much of the “Your Website Checklist” talk falls into the latter category, but it also gave me a few things to look into a little further. Check out the presentation link above as Courtney has a slideshow and YouTube video of her entire presentation.

So, you want to build and release a plugin?

Ryan Duff
Twitter: @ryancduff
Presentation: So, you want to build and release a plugin? – Slideshow

Some of the highlights of Ryan’s talk were to use apply_filters() and do_action(); use string wrapping, follow WordPress coding standards, documentation (Amen!!), use DEBUG to check for errors during development. He also briefly discussed plugin licensing and plugin hosting (WordPress.org, GitHub, or both?).

Aaron Struck By Lightening

Aaron Jorbin 
Twitter: @aaronjorbin

This talk was nothing if not fascinating. Aaron began his talk explaining why he choose his format, why challenges are important, and embracing the gift of failure. The presentation was rapid-fire style (5 minutes per subject) on a handful of topics picked by the audience. Talks included Why Photoshop sucks, and Contributing to WordPress…

Responsive Design with WordPress

Joe Casabona 
Website: casabona.org
Twitter: @jcasabona

I was anxious to see Joe’s presentation because I have his book “Building WordPress Themes From Scratch,” which I used to learn to build my first WordPress theme. His talk focused on the subject of his latest book, “Responsive Design with WordPress.” (which I’ve also since purchased) Some of the main topics he touched on included “considering connections speeds,” RESSwp_is_mobile(), various ways to handle images, such as picturefill.js, workflow, and handling navigation. Joe also mentioned the picture element recently announced by the W3C.

Build a WordPress Theme from Scratch

Amy Hendrix
Twitter: @sabreuse

Another talk I was very anxious to see. Here are some of the main points from Amy’s presentation:

Set up your development environment locally

Use a fresh install every time

Use version control!

  • save history and roll back changes
  • branch off and experiment
  • merge branches into project (if needed)
  • Save a good base theme like Underscores

Know how themes “think”

  • Understand queries and loops
  • Know how to build a good query (WP_Query class)
  • Use the Template Hierarchy (Diagrams available online)
  • Know Your Conditionals

Theme Unit Test

Theme Check Plugin

Lessons from Building an Accessible WordPress Theme

David A. Kennedy
Website: davidakennedy.com
Twitter: @davidakennedy
Presentation: Lessons from Building an Accessible WordPress Theme

I really enjoyed this talk for a variety of reasons. First, accessibility isn’t something I tend to think much about. Also, David pointed out that accessibility is more than just dealing with screen readers. It means accessibility for people with poor vision, colorblindness, and more. It’s important to use high contrast colors, skip links, relative text which helps with text resizing, and of course, well-structured HTML. He also spoke of using “Underscores” as a starter theme for building accessible WordPress themes.

WTF?!? WordPress Typography Fundamentals

Mary Waldman
Twitter: @updatediva
WTF!? Web Typography Fundamentals: What you need to know about typography on the web today.

I found myself much more interested in this talk than I anticipated. Mary packed a lot of info into a very short presentation. She discussed popular fonts as well as those that need to  “go away,” font resources, and tools. Perhaps the thing I found most interesting is that Comics Sans, the much-maligned font, is actually really good for people with dyslexia. Also, the Ramones used Franklin Gothic.

Understanding SASS

Suzette Franck
Twitter: @mt_Suzette
Presentation: Understanding SASS (Slide show)

An overview of the CSS Preprocessor SASS (Syntactically Awesome Stylesheets). Suzette explained what SASS is and went into some basics that SASS can do such as variables, compatibility with CSS, calculating values, code efficiency, reduced HTTP requests, inline media queries, and conditional statements.

Recommendation: SASS for Web Designers by Dan Cederholm


Joseph Herbrandson
@Joseph Herbrandson

Pillars of Security

  • Backups
  • Access Control
  • WP Updates


  • Have a backup Plan
  • Store remotely
  • Have more than one backup
  • Schedule and Automated backups

Check with your web host for backup options, or use VaultPress (3rd Party vendor).

Free Website Malware and Security Scanner from Sucuri

Jetpack for Jetpack Haters

Rami Abraham
Jetpack for Jetpack Haters (Slides)

Jetpack brings WordPress.com features to WordPress.org sites. I’ve never used Jetpack, so I don’t know enough to like or hate it. Rami’s talk did give me enough background to come to the conclusion that it’s something I’d like to look into a little further.

 Local SEO for Small Local Business

Chad Eisenhart
Local SEO for SMall Business

Keyword Research

  • Use Keyword Tool (Adwords Account)
  • Add Geographic modifier to keywords (Ex: Lancaster, PA)
  • Check average monthly search terms

Yoast SEO Plugin

  • add meta descriptions
  • title tags
  • Sitemap.xml

Install Social Sharing

Google and Bing Webmaster Tools

Google & Bing Places for Business

A11Y? I18N? L10N? UTF8? WTF? Understanding the connections between accessibility, internationalization, localization, and character sets

Michael Toppa 

Twitter: @mtoppa
Presentation: Slide Show and Notes

Making a WordPress site accessible to an international audience, as well as disabled users, older users, new users, etc, involves several design, content, and technical concerns.

Perhaps the biggest thing I took away from this talk was on using the “lang” attribute. Declare the language of a WordPress theme in header.php: language_attributes();

WordPress & Enterprise: Building a Community of Practice for Family Medicine

Bryan Peach, Michael Zigmund, Tim McKenna

Presentation: Slide show and notes

I wasn’t sure how much interest I would have in this talk, but I ended up finding it extremely interesting. I didn’t take notes, I just sat back and listened. You can find the full notes and slideshow, which probably explain the process much better than I could, on slidehare.com. A video of the presentation is embedded below:

Keynote: Getting from GitHub to WordPress

Scott Gonzalez

Twitter: @scott_gonzalez
Getting from GitHub to WordPress (blog post on jquery.com)

This one was pretty awesome. Scott Gonzalez of the jQuery UI team explained how they manage their site(s) and move content from GitHub to WordPress. I could do no justice to this talk by trying to summarize in my own words, so check out the presentation link above to Scott’s blog post on the topic.

 Additional Links of Interest

3 Designs Lesson I Learned From WordCamp Lancaster (Webkite.com)

2014 WordCamp Lancaster (Azrael Group)


Order Joe Casabona’s book “Responsive Design with WordPress: How to make great responsive themes and plugins” from Peachpit  – use the code RWDWP for 35% off.

Get 20% off Your Guide to Becoming a Freelance Web Designer by Eric Karkovack with coupon code 20percent (Twitter)


I really enjoyed the event despite being a bit under the weather. I felt fine in the morning, but as the day wore on, I really was starting to feel a bit out of it. Sadly, I never made it to the after party and went straight home to bed. Sure enough, I spent the next few days down and out with a cold. I still got plenty out of the event. The fee of $20 is paltry when compared to the amount of quality information you can pick up on a variety of WordPress topics. A huge thanks to all those involved in bringing this event to Lancaster and I’m looking forward to next year.

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