Powerful Local Development Environments with Vagrant and friends

In this talk we’ll walk through setting up a professional, powerful, and efficient local development environment.

We’ll discuss how to get set up, why, and the different things you can do with a great set up.

Field Notes: Running a Successful eCommerce Business on WordPress.

Running an eCommerce business is hard work, and none of it works without a solid foundation! Having an awesome theme, some great plugins and enterprise grade hosting are only the beginning. During this session, we’ll discuss what’s worked for the team at, diving into the partnerships we’ve developed, the reasoning behind some of the choices we’ve made and the realities of bootstrapping an eCommerce company. Part technical and part anecdotal, if you have any interest in running an eCommerce business on WordPress, you’ll likely find something of use in this session.

Content Doesn’t Grow on Trees – An Introduction to Content Strategy

Content is EVERYBODY’s problem: it’s a problem for the content creator, and a problem for the developer. Without content, there is no website. Without the website there is no client. Yet.. how is it content always gets left for last?

In this talk I will teach you the core practices of the field known as Content Strategy. Truly thinking “Content First” from the beginning will completely transform your workflow and give everyone a grasp on creating, managing and structuring content, in time and on budget. Get started on this process early so you have enough time to write engaging, thoughtful content and get it published on time. 

This talk is equally valuable for content creators, agencies and freelancers alike. Everyone wants to avoid the horror situation of scrambling to get content together two days before going live. It’s a nightmare for the author and a nightmare for the developer to implement. Learn how to integrate Content Strategy into your entire web process, resulting in quality content, organized and delivered on-time.

Content Architecture and Navigation

Posts vs. Pages and Categories vs. Tags. There is so much confusion about what types of things should be put on a page and what should be in a post. Static vs. Dynamic content is the best way to tackle this. An “About Us” page would be just that… A PAGE.

If you are talking about something that is more time sensitive, then you want to do a post. Connected to this would be Categories and Tags. What are they? When creating a website, you can edit a menu to include not only pages, but also category archives that can create a more complete experience for small businesses. This talk can also include (depending on time) how to incorporate this into your navigation. Make sure you bring your post it notes!

Power your Podcast with WordPress: Why Now Is the Time To Start

Podcasting is on the rise… again! WordPress is the perfect choice to power your budding media empire, and a podcast is a great place to start! This session will cover why now is the perfect time to start a podcast, how to get up and running quickly, strategy and monetization, and how to plan, publish, and promote your podcast.

Video For Small Businesses

Creating a Library of short videos can build your business and make you a leader in your field, regardless of size

We’ll go over how video, in many different ways, can help small businesses. Some things we’ll mention are: Testimonial videos, introductory videos, product benefit videos, how to videos and more.

There are many easy ways to use video to help build small businesses.

There are 5 essential elements every successful video needs:
1. Purpose
2. Message
3. Specific Audience
4. Call to Action
5. Drive that powers the call to action.

Video doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated to be good. It can be as easily done on a cell phone, iPad or laptop.

Marketing Secret Agents and Using Their Intel

There are a lot of secret agents willing to collect intel on your website. Each is specifically trained for a special skill; analytics, heatmaps, screen recordings, user surveys and more. They’re easy to deploy and efficient at their jobs.

But how do you act on the intel they provide? How can you be sure they’re delivering the right insights for you?

Deploying this team and getting the right intel is crucial to the success of your website. In this talk you’ll learn where to find your team of secret agents, how to deploy them, and more importantly, understand the insight they provide.

Author Experience in WordPress

WordPress has achieved its mission to democratize publishing, so any blogger, writer, or editor has access to a powerful publishing platform on the Web. So, how do we put all the awesome capabilities of WordPress to best use?

It’s a myth that any CMS is a silver bullet for online publishing. Incredible strides have been made for content management and user experience, yet the Author Experience has lagged in comparison. AX ≠ UX. How did this happen?

With the paradigm clash of digital publishing, authors can fall through virtual cracks, and online logjams can stymie editors. Let’s fix this. The WordPress interface is easily improved for authors, and editorial workflow can be customized for content managers.


  • Understand the Author Experience Dilemma
  • Improve the Author Interface in WordPress
  • Customize Editorial Workflow for Content Managers

Introduction to Optimizing WordPress for Website Speed

Google loves a speedy website, and well… your visitors like a speedy website too. This is not the dial-up days. Your content, plugins you run, and your host can be factors in slowing down your website.

I’m going to show you how to speed up your WordPress website using WordPress plugins, some services, and a little code. I’m also going to share what tools I like used in order to optimize website speed so that you can also use them too.

Security is an iIlusion


The weakest link in the security chain is between the keyboard and chair. We intuitively trust humans on their word. This talk will focus on social engineering, deceptive and abusive tactics to convince people to divulge confidential information, and what can be done to prevent this.

Let Me Tell You A Story: WordPress As A Storytelling Tool

Online storytelling continues to evolve, with more complex and engaging forms appearing almost daily. What began as long-form online news articles has branched off in diverse directions, from websites that expand the universe of an upcoming Hollywood movie, to a loose fabric of apps and sites that together reinterpret a classic Victorian novel.

This session will explore the boom in online storytelling and examine how both developers and users are leveraging WordPress to uniquely support such storytelling. We will touch on such WordPress solutions as the Aesop Story Engine plugin and themes such as Storyteller, Longform, Radcliffe and Editor.

After attending this session, I hope you will be inspired to use WordPress to empower your storytelling efforts.

Good WordPress Gone Bad – How To Troubleshoot WordPress When Things Go Wrong

We’ve all been there. Your finger is on the mouse, ready to click, but you pause. You think to yourself, “Will this click be the one that I regret? The one that can’t be undone?”

Sometimes you’re working away when you get the dreaded error message. Frustrated and confused you think, “Great, now what do I do?”

WordPress is an amazing platform that offers a lot of flexibility and control, but with that flexibility comes more complex problems. Many people who are unfamiliar with WordPress are often afraid of making a mistake. Fear and apprehension are common emotions when a WordPress site has an issue. Knowing how to solve a few of the most common problems can give even beginners the confidence to use WordPress without anxiety.

Some of the topics that will be covered include:

  • What is a good backup strategy for when things go wrong?
  • How do you use revision history to undo mistakes?
  • What should you do when you see, “Error establishing a database connection.”
  • What to do when you see only a blank white screen?

Breaking Up With “var_dump()”

Debugging in WordPress can be tricky. Usually the site you’re trying to work with is in a virtual machine or a remote server and has multitudes of plugins or customizations. Have you ever wanted to see exactly what was going on in a piece of code in your theme or plugin? We’ll go over how to properly debug WordPress and some of the nuances that come along the way.

The Fundamentals of Web/WordPress Accessibility

The focus of my presentation will be on WordPress and website accessibility; from a front-end and back-end perspective. First, I will explain what web accessibility is and why it is important. To continue, I will discuss AODA and Section 508 regulations for Canada and the United States.

Then, I will go over some key WCAG 2.0 compliance requirements a developer will need to ensure the websites they develop are fully accessible. From there, I will showcase a few web accessibility tools, then some WordPress accessibility tools and tips.

OOCSS, SMACSS & BEM for Modular, Scalable CSS

As your projects grow in size and complexity it’s important to keep your CSS well organized and documented. A failure to do so will make your CSS difficult to augment, modify and maintain. This talk will cover the three major conventions for organizing CSS: Object Oriented CSS (OOCS), Scalable and Modular Architecture for CSS (SMACSS) and Block Element Modifier (BEM).

We’ll discuss similarities, differences and use cases between the schools, as well as general tools that can be used to speed up and clean up the CSS development process.

WordPress Security for beginners

Setting up basic security for prevention going over the basics of how to harden WordPress.

  • Website Hosting not all are creating equal
    • Why listening to their sales person is a bad idea
    • True cost of being cheap on hosting
  • Updates
    • Backing Up before you update
    • Why you should be up to date
  • Permissions
    • Controls Why and Who should access
    • Defining controls beyond default roles
    • Passwords why your favorite passwords are bad and the time it takes to hack them (This may shock you)
  • Securing Site
    • File Permissions
    • Changing Defaults
    • How to change the admin password they say you can’t change
  • Monitoring Tools
    • What tools exist
    • Where you can get more info
  • Typical Hacks and what to look for.
    • Easy but scary
    • Getting better but easy to spot if you see it
    • Hard to determine but how to catch them anyways.

Linux for WordPress Developers / Administrators

A brief introduction to the LINUX file structure and useful commands for Developers and Administrators. The presentation will revolve around the most common LINUX related tasks that WordPress developers and administrators need to perform with instructions on how to perform them.

Accessible WordPress – Best Practices

WordPress is one of the most popular CMS/Blogging platforms on the web today, powering over 75 million sites. As WordPress developers, we have a great deal of power and can make a great impact by designing and developing accessible WordPress sites. Learn what is takes to make your WordPress sites as accessible as possible.

We’ll cover the basics of web accessibility, then deep-dive into creating and customizing accessible WordPress themes. We’ll then look at various WordPress plug-ins that will make your WordPress sites more accessible. Wrapping it up, we’ll look at various tools and resources to aid in your work to become more accessible.

Code Review for Teams

Code review is an important step in the deployment process that lets you find problems before they take your site down. On VIP, there are currently about 9.5 million lines of code that serve approximately 2.5 billion page views per month. We’ll add about 3 million lines of code to the VIP repository, all reviewed by the VIP team, which is a major factor in maintaining 100% uptime for VIP customers.

Creating an Engaging Community and Membership Site

I helped co-found a company that grew into more than 1,500 paid members that uses bbPress forums, courses, exclusive benefits, and an engaging community. I will share my experience on how I encouraged community engagement and built it all with WordPress, WooCommerce, Sensei, bbPress, WooCommerce Memberships, AffiliateWP, and more.

While I’m no longer co-founder of Travel Blog Success, it continues to rapidly grow today and is highly successful WordPress membership site.

By building an engaging community, your users will help promote your site further building an even larger community.

Exploring WooCommerce

With WordPress, you are empowered to easily create websites and publish your content to the world. But content only goes so far. WooCommerce can take your blog/website to the next level and help monetize your efforts.

I would bet that everybody has, at one point in their life, come up with a great idea of something they could sell. I mean, who didn’t want to make a lemonade stand as a child?

In this talk, we will explore WooCommerce and some of the awesome ways you can extend it. From membership sites to subscription services, by the end of this talk, you will be able to sell anything.

Fundamentals of eCommerce

People talk a lot about the technology of eCommerce but there’s so much more than that.

Have you thought about how you’re going to get traffic to your site? Do you know how much traffic you’re going to need to make a living running an e-commerce store?

Once you get traffic to your site you need to figure out ways to lower the acquisition cost (CoA) and increase the customer lifetime value (CLV).

Thinking about these ahead of time will make you much more likely to succeed in e-commerce regardless which platform you use to power your store.

You Have 2 Hands

Communities —like the one we have in WordPress— don’t just happen overnight. For them to be successful, they take people to show up, contribute back, grow with it and most importantly to incorporate new people into the fold. It is ongoing, it requires attention and it needs people like you and me to speak up. A small fraction of people carry the weight of helping it thrive, but the great thing is that despite all that, we all benefit from the community no matter who contributes. In this talk I will cover some known, and unknown tips and tools for making the community work for you and your business, and also help to put back more into the community than what you take from it.

The Importance of Estimating

The Importance of Estimating: An Exploration of Estimating Philosophy, Methodology, and Practical Application to Scalable Resource Planning.

This session will strive to shift common perceptions around estimating, encouraging more productive, strategic practices that improve project outcomes for freelancers and agencies alike.

Building on this philosophical shift, attendees will learn how to produce more reliable estimates based on granular tasks; how to use simple yet powerful estimation techniques such as the PERT method; and how to gather the information needed to produce an accurate estimate.

Finally, based on 4 years of experience managing the 10up production team, I’ll share best practices, tips, and tools for successfully communicating estimates internally and externally as well as how to leverage estimates to inform agency resource planning and growth.

Growth Hacking Your Way to Success With WordPress

Learn how to use 5 easy tools that integrate with WordPress to help take your new website from hobby to success with a little creativity and work. The best part? They are all free (or really really cheap)! Learn the basics of the newest hot topic in digital marketing where it’s all about working on a shoestring budget.

Financial Business Planning for Freelancers

The number one reason businesses in the US fail is profitability. After freelancing for 5 years and having solid revenue while “winging it” financially, I decided to firm up my financial processes and planning so that my business didn’t become one of the statistics.

I will share with other aspiring and established freelancers a financial model they can follow to help plan and predict sales, profit, salary, and more….so that they can keep doing what they love.

How to Write Dynamic Content For Your Blog

Writing great content for your blog can be challenging. This presentation talks about how to use WordPress to create the content that attracts engagement with your blog.

Additionally, writing content for your business does not have to be boring. Let us show you how to create content that is interesting and brings in business.

​Google Analytics Doesn’t Have to Suck

Google Analytics (GA) is the world’s leading software in god damn things to click on. It’s annoying, confusing and useless. Not anymore.

I’ll cover how to:

  • Setup GA in WordPress
  • Read your data
  • Find insightful reports
  • Save those reports for later
  • Create a few useful custom segments.

If you have a Google Analytics account collecting cobwebs this talk is perfect for you.

11 Things you should do with a new WordPress install

My talk will be based on a webinar that iTheme went to awhile back. I gave this talk at the Appleton WordPress Meetup and it was a big hit.

1. Have a Solid Backup Strategy
2. Take Important Security Measures
3. Delete Default Content
4. Combat Spam
5. Optimize Your Site’s SEO
6. Change the Site Tagline
7. Set Up a Contact Form
8. Don’t Forget Settings
9. Connect Email Lists
10. Start Tracking Metrics with Analytics
11. Make Site Updates Easy

Getting ‘Real’ with Hue: Using Color and Noise to Make Design Feel Tangible

This talk aims to explore some of the perceptual effects color brings to the web, especially highlighting those that bring a desirable sense of “realness” or “tangibility” to the components. We’ll see how different design paradigms (flat UI/skeumorphic/photographic/etc) approach the problem, and then identify small techniques common to all of them. In particular, we’ll touch on manipulating color quickly using natural color spaces, defining components using gradients & overlays, and ‘cheating’ at textures using noise.

The content covers both theory and real-world techniques & code snippets, and aims to be accessible to all levels, but some previous knowledge of styling or CSS may be helpful.

Getting Help for your WordPress Site

The basics of how to get the best help possible for your WordPress site, from vetting a developer/designer, picking a place to get your theme/plugin, what kind of info to include in support requests, and what the support agents need to help you.

Montagues and Capulets: Ending the Feud Between Designers and Developers

Building anything for the web is a daunting task. Not only does one need to wrangle code languages, information architecture, data relationships, visual appeal, brand & messaging, browser / resolution support, but there’s also times when the biggest challenge is communicating with other people on your team who seem to be speaking another language.

We will look at the phases of a typical project through the eyes of both a designer and a developer, identifying pain points that can crop up throughout the process. We’ll also demonstrate how to channel these seemingly opposing viewpoints into building something great for your client.

Organizing a large site – posts, taxonomies & facets, oh my!

Ever been on Amazon, searched for shoes and then filtered results to show women’s and red? Yep, WordPress can do that.

How do you set up an informational site that has over 700 pages and is constantly growing? How will anybody find anything? By crafting the menu and template pages to show categories of items and allowing the user to filter the results. Through the use of custom taxonomies, template pages with custom queries and a faceted search result, we’ll walk through how a site can be setup so that it can grow and maintain it’s consistent structure. Even if your project only has 70 posts, being able to cross-reference them with multiple terms so that no matter how they look for things, the information will be found, is very powerful.

This session will be useful for site owners, designers, devs and UX people who are looking for new ways to organize content that go beyond endless hierarchical dropdown menus.

A HeroPress Case Study

This HeroPress is a collection of essays written by people who used WordPress to overcome obstacles in their lives.

This will essentially be the story of HeroPress; how it began, how it struggled, where it succeeded and where it failed.

Top 10 WordPress hacks

This talk will be a number of “hacks” that you can do with WordPress for solutions to common problems, increased efficiency or better operation.

Directed to people who are not developers, but, are WordPress power users.

Business in the Front, Party in the Back: Lessons in Admin UX

In the years I’ve spent making websites for clients I have learned that the importance of admin user experience cannot be under-emphasized. Providing clients with sites they can actually understand, use and be productive with is equally as important as providing something that looks nice on the front end. In this session, we’ll cover some great examples of improving the user experience for clients and walk through specific actions we can take to reduce confusion, improve usability and increase productivity for all /wp-admin users.

Theming WooCommerce

WooCommerce is highly customizable if you know the ins and outs of its templates, actions and filters. I’ll touch on overriding WooCommerce’s templates, and also illustrate how to hook into WooCommerce to add custom pieces of content, or remove/edit default pieces of content.

Finally, I’ll discuss ways to keep an eye on maintainability to keep your WooCommerce plugin updates as smooth as possible.

WordPress 4.3

I’ll talk about what’s coming in WordPress 4.3, and share some experiences from contributing to multisite improvements during this release cycle.

Building Better Themes

In this session we will cover effective theme design, theme development standards, coding best practices, Retina and responsive styling, and theme optimization.

This talk will give beginning theme developers a solid foundation of knowledge that they can use to make more informed decisions about how they can build their themes, and theme development knowledge, in the future.

Child Themes, Starter Themes, and Theme Frameworks

Design Principles

Your First Theme

Setting Up a Local WordPress Site

Using WP_Query

Actions and Filters

Custom Fields and Metaboxes

Custom Post Types

Setting Up a Local WordPress Site

Choosing and Customizing Themes

Intro to the Dashboard

What’s Next? Hosting, Backup, Themes, Plugin, Images, Media…

What is WordPress and what can it do for me?