All About the AMA – Ask Me Anything Session

At the end of the day, we thought that it might be handy to have an Open Hall or Ask Me Anything session at the last session of WordCamp St. Louis. While we will have the Happiness bar, and we certainly encourage networking, we know sometimes people don’t know what to ask.

Instead of having panel sessions, we decided to invite our speakers to to floor, so you can ask them any question. This will maximize the feedback and you can get different points from different speakers, or be able to get some of those questions answered, that have been brewing in your mind throughout the day.

There are a couple ways to submit a question for the AMA:

  1. Ask at the session. We’ll have a few microphones going around so you can ask.
  2. Ask on Twitter. Make sure you use the hashtag #wcstl
  3. Use the contact form below:

What is the Happiness Bar?

Nearly every WordCamp has a Happiness Bar. No, it’s not about getting refreshments, and definitely has gotten plenty of jokes about that. It’s about getting answers to your WordPress questions. WordCamp St. Louis will once again, have the Happiness Bar. We love to help, and part of the reason why the WordPress community has grown throughout the years, is because of people helping each other.

The Happiness Bar is free,  however, we’ve noticed some things that need to be addressed on what is acceptable and not acceptable for gaining help. Our help, are volunteers, and are professionals in their field, but we certainly don’t want to abuse their time. WordPress Support, in the Support Forums is used as a method to showing or guiding people to their answer, because in the end, you are the one learning to take control of your website, and to fix it. The Happiness Bar is an in-personal version of that.

What the Happiness Bar Is:

  • If you’re having a problem understanding a feature for WordPress. (Example: Adding and editing images, or optimizing images, or customizing text in a post or page, or setting permalinks, understanding custom menus or widgets,…)
  • Guiding your thought process on how to accomplish a development process. We won’t do it for you, but we will guide you to answers or show you some possible methods to achieve what you may want to do with designing a plugin or theme.
  • Plugin or theme suggestions.
  • Guide you on how to troubleshoot a problem you’re having for WordPress.
  • Guide you to articles or existing information to solve other issues, like SEO or gaining traffic, or social media issues.
  • Guide you to existing information if you need to configure a plugin or theme properly.

Over the past few years, we’ve noticed some things happening with the questions being brought in, and this year, we’re addressing it.

(credit is from Chris Koerner – see link to album at bottom of post.)

 

What the Happiness Bar Isn’t:

  • Major SEO advice if you’re having problems getting traffic. A simple comb over of a website won’t solve deep underlying SEO issues. We advise you to seek a SEO professional to look into your issue more deeply.
  • Unhack your website. You may want to hire someone if you’ve been hacked. This isn’t a simple process.
  • Design your website for you.
  • Go into depth about social media marketing. We’ll certainly be happy to send you to some extremely reliable resources so you may learn that.
  • Advise you on how to make money blogging. Again, we’ll certainly be happy to send you to some extremely reliable resources so you may learn that.
  • Installing SSL for you
  • Fixing an underlying host problem (we can certainly send you to the right people to get help for your issue)
  • Migrating your website for you, from one web host to another

Some Happiness Bar volunteers may choose to share some of their own knowledge with you, that may be a little bit above and beyond what is normal for support at the Happiness Bar. We have enough people that have experience in design, development, blogging, and more, that can help, so if anyone scheduled to volunteer at the Happiness Bar, doesn’t know the answer, they will help guide you to someone at the event, who may be able to help.

Again, we’re here to help, but we ask that you be respectful of our time, and our volunteers.

(photo credit: from Chris Koerner on Flickr)

WCSTL Speaker Interview: Joe McGill

Joe McGill will be talking on Showing up: learning how to make a contribution. Joe is from St. Louis, Missouri.

Below is Joe’s interview.

NILE FLORES: What was it about WordPress that got you to start using it?

JOE MCGILL: I first started using WordPress as an alternative to Movable Type and really enjoyed how quickly I could publish content to the web and customize my own theme. I’ve since used WordPress as the content management system for many different kinds of projects and continue to find its ease of use and extensibility a great asset.

NILE FLORES: What motivates you to give back to WordPress and its community?

JOE MCGILL: One of the best things about the web industry, in my opinion, is the way people freely share what they’ve learned. I’ve found the WordPress community, with its commitment to open source and the GPL, to be a stellar example of that philosophy in the way we all gain from sharing with each other.

NILE FLORES: How many WordCamps have you been to, and what was your best 1 or 2 experiences that you had when attending WordCamp?

JOE MCGILL: I think I’ve attended about 8 WordCamps, including two trips to WordCamp US. Each experience is unique in its own way, but probably my best experience was getting to be in the room at WordCamp US in 2015 when WordPress 4.4 was announced, which included responsive images—the first major feature I worked on.

NILE FLORES: What is your number 1 tip for WordPress users?

JOE MCGILL: Keep WordPress, your theme, and plugins up to date. If possible, turn on auto-updates and don’t worry about it. Also, when looking for a theme for your site, avoid the temptation to purchase a “premium” theme just because it’s packed full of specialty features. You probably don’t need many of them, and if you do, there’s probably a free plugin in the WordPress.org plugin directory that will do a better job.

NILE FLORES: What is your favorite feature in WordPress?

JOE MCGILL: Such a hard question, but I think I’d have to say the humble Post. The reality being that this deceptively simple feature is anything but—becoming the backbone for so many cool possibilities within WordPress.

NILE FLORES: What are your 3 most favorite WordPress plugins?

JOE MCGILL: Since I do a lot of developing and debugging, two of my favorite plugins are the Developer plugin and Debug Bar Console. I also always install a caching plugin like WP Super Cache on every site I create.

NILE FLORES: What is your favorite WordPress theme?

JOE MCGILL: Honestly, the latest default theme, Twenty Seventeen, designed by Mel Choyce has got to be one of the coolest themes I’ve seen in a while.

Want to meet Joe McGill, and sit in on his talk? Come on out to WordCamp St. Louis, on March, 18, 2017! However, don’t forget to buy your ticket today!

WCSTL Speaker Interview: Mike Hale

Mike Hale will be presenting Building a Developer Friendly WordPress Plugin. Mike is from Warrenville, Illinois.

Here’s his interview.

NILE FLORES: What was it about WordPress that got you to start using it?

MIKE HALE: My first WordPress site was in 2010. I was building custom .Net web apps for clients, and needed to spin up a new site for one of my own projects. Rather than building something from scratch, I decided to tip my toes into the WordPress waters. Most of the sites I built had some sort of CMS built in, so I wanted to try WordPress as a starting point and never looked back.

NILE FLORES: What motivates you to give back to WordPress and its community?

MIKE HALE: When I was getting started with WordPress I learned so much from what other people had shared I want to do the same for other people just getting started. I’ve never been a part of a community where people were so willing to share their experience, even with competitors.

NILE FLORES: How many WordCamps have you been to, and what was your best 1 or 2 experiences that you had when attending WordCamp?

MIKE HALE: I’ve been to 10 WordCamps so far. The first one I attended was in Chicago and went to lunch with a big group of Genesis Framework developers who I didn’t know at the time, but they were all very welcoming and friendly. That has been my favorite WordCamp experience so far.

NILE FLORES: What is your number 1 tip for WordPress users?

MIKE HALE: Go to your local WordPress meetup! It’s a great place to learn from other people’s experience and get answers to your questions.

NILE FLORES: What is your favorite feature in WordPress?

MIKE HALE: The WordPress REST API is what I’m most excited about. I’ve done a lot of work building and  integrating APIs into projects, and having that ability baked right into WordPress is great.

NILE FLORES: What are your 3 most favorite WordPress plugins?

MIKE HALE:

  • WP Migrate DB Pro
  • Genesis Simple Share
  • Seriously Simple Podcasting


NILE FLORES: What is your favorite WordPress theme?

MIKE HALE: I’m a Genesis Framework guy, so I’m good with any Genesis Child theme. My favorite right now is the custom theme I’m building for one of my project.

If you’d like to meet Mike and sit in on his talk, you can see him at WordCamp St. Louis. Don’t forget to buy a ticket!

WCSTL Speaker Interview: Steve Stewart

Steve Steware will be talking about Podcasting 101. Steve is from St. Louis, Missouri.

Here is his interview:

 

NILE FLORES: What was it about WordPress that got you to start using it?

STEVE STEWART: I had heard about WordPress back in the mid-2000s from fellow personal finance bloggers and podcasters like Leo Laporte. Still not convinced I needed a CMS, I created a blog on WordPress.com. A couple years later I was YEARNING to add more functionality through plugins like PrettyLink and new I’d have to move to a self-hosted platform in order to podcast. So, in 2010, I launched my first real domain and started podcasting. I’ve seen other platforms like SquareSpace and Wix, but have never regretted sticking with the ‘ol WP.

NILE FLORES: What motivates you to give back to WordPress and its community?

STEVE STEWART: You want me to answer the question, “What motivates me to give back to WordPress and its community?” I’m a teacher at heart. I also know that the more successful others are, the better off I’ll be. They say, “The tide raises all ships”, so I know helping others in the WP community will help me in the long run.

NILE FLORES: How many WordCamps have you been to, and what was your best 1 or 2 experiences that you had when attending WordCamp?

STEVE STEWART: This will be my third WordCamp. Even though I’ve had the pleasure of speaking at two of them, my best experiences have always come from conversations in the hallways. Presenting valuable information is awesome, but being able to solve a person’s problem in a one-on-one conversation that took place over coffee is really impactful. At least I know for sure that person isn’t sleeping in the back row of my presentation.

NILE FLORES: What is your number 1 tip for WordPress users?

STEVE STEWART: My #1 tip for WP users is to install PrettyLink Lite or pay for PrettyLink Pro. This plugin allows you to create re-directs with your branded site as the base of the URL.

NILE FLORES: What is your favorite feature in WordPress?

STEVE STEWART: Plugins, plugins, plugins! There are thousands that offer all kinds of features.

NILE FLORES: What are your 3 most favorite WordPress plugins?

STEVE STEWART: Did I mention my favorite plugin is PrettyLink? I also love what Social Warfare does for customizing Tweets and Facebook sharing with images appropriate for their platforms. WP Courseware is a cool plugin that allows people who take my Audacity Workshop to keep track of which lessons they have already completed by placing a green check-mark by that lesson in the list. Very cool.

NILE FLORES: What is your favorite WordPress theme?

STEVE STEWART: I was using the LifeStyle Theme by StudioPress until it went goofy on me.

WCSTL Speaker Interview: Heather Acton

Heather Acton will be talking on Navigating a Career in WordPress. She’s from Chicago, Illinois.

Here’s Heather’s interview:

NILE FLORES: What was it about WordPress that got you to start using it?

HEATHER ACTON: My introduction to WordPress was in 2008 and was rather serendipitous. I had just learned HTML and CSS and wanted to integrate a blog, and a friend of mine was very involved in WordPress development. His posts on social networks about WordPress and the community were always positive and informative, so I did my own research and started my first project. I fell in love, and though I’ve “played” with other CMSs, I’ve never taken to one quite like WordPress.

NILE FLORES: What motivates you to give back to WordPress and its community?

HEATHER ACTON: Gratitude. I feel very thankful that I stumbled on WordPress in 2008. Sticking with the platform and the community has helped improve every facet of my life. I want others to be poised for a similar experience and know that support from those of us that have been around for years is key to keeping the platform and community healthy and growing.

NILE FLORES: How many WordCamps have you been to, and what was your best 1 or 2 experiences that you had when attending WordCamp?

HEATHER ACTON: Oh my…I’m guessing I’ve been to around 14-18 WordCamps…I’ve lost count. My favorite experiences have been immediately after speaking, when a few people come up and say thank you and say that I’ve helped or inspired them in some way. If I make a difference for just one person each camp, then it was worth attending.

NILE FLORES: What is your number 1 tip for WordPress users?

HEATHER ACTON: Always be learning. Just when you think you know it all, you realize how much you still have to learn.

NILE FLORES: What is your favorite feature in WordPress?

HEATHER ACTON: Ability to add custom post types and taxonomies. I’m becoming a content architecture junkie and couldn’t organize content-heavy sites without them.

NILE FLORES: What are your 3 most favorite WordPress plugins?

HEATHER ACTON:

  1. Advanced Custom Fields Pro
  2. Gravity Forms
  3. WooCommerce

NILE FLORES: What is your favorite WordPress theme?

HEATHER ACTON: Sassified Underscores…with Bootstrap essentials integrated (grid system mostly.)

If you’d like to meet Heather and sit in on her presentation, you’ll need to buy a ticket. Hope to see you at WordCamp St. Louis!

WCSTL Speaker Interview: Jason Yingling

Jason Yingling will be presenting on How to Battle Google Page Speed Insights and Win. Jason is from St. Louis, Missouri.

Here is Jason’s interview:

 

NILE FLORES: What was it about WordPress that got you to start using it?

JASON YINGLING: I first started playing with WordPress out of a desire to share content I wanted to create, and figuring it out myself seemed like the cheapest way for how broke I was. Developing custom themes for work really took off once I implemented Advanced Custom Fields into my workflow. It allowed a noob like me to easily create WordPress sites that were more than a simple blog, but that was easy to maintain for the client as well.

NILE FLORES: What motivates you to give back to WordPress and its community?

JASON YINGLING: Since my first WordCamp I’ve been impressed with how supportive the community is of newcomers. I’ve even been allowed to speak at a few WordCamp’s myself which still amazes me. It’s that willingness of the rest of the community to share that makes me feel like my chipping in is wanted and helpful.

NILE FLORES: How many WordCamps have you been to, and what was your best 1 or 2 experiences that you had when attending WordCamp?

JASON YINGLING: This will be WordCamp number 7. I didn’t know what to expect from my first WordCamp, but after attending I was convinced I could contribute as well. This will mark my 5th WordCamp as a presenter. Each WordCamp I’ve attended I’ve come away with several different things that I could immediately implement into my own work. It’s great for finding new tools and ideas.

NILE FLORES: What is your number 1 tip for WordPress users?

JASON YINGLING: Just start playing with it. You’ll discover new things as you figure out new ways to build out projects. There isn’t one right way to do something in WordPress. If it works for you, it’s right. (And read the coding standards.)

NILE FLORES: What is your favorite feature in WordPress?

JASON YINGLING: Its flexibility. You can build anything with WordPress.

NILE FLORES: What are your 3 most favorite WordPress plugins?

JASON YINGLING: 

  1. Advanced Custom Fields – For developing custom websites.
  2. Easy Footnotes – Because it’s the first “good” plugin I released.
  3. Autoptimize – You’ll have to see my presentation for the why. 🙂

NILE FLORES: What is your favorite WordPress theme?

JASON YINGLING: Underscores. It’s a barebones starting point for developing custom themes quickly and the “WordPress way”.

If you’d like to meet Jason and sit in on his talk, then you’ll need to buy a ticket. Hope to see you at WordCamp St. Louis, on March 18th!

WCSTL Speaker Interview: Michele Butcher-Jones

Michele Butcher-Jones will be speaking on Demons In the Closet. Michele is from Carbondale, Illinois.

Here is Michele’s interview:

NILE FLORES: What was it about WordPress that got you to start using it?

MICHELE BUTCHER-JONES: The ease of use. It’s UI was simple to understand and easy to set up. Had I not understood WordPress as easy as I did, I would not still be around this many years later.

NILE FLORES:What motivates you to give back to WordPress and its community?

MICHELE BUTCHER-JONES: I have always loved to teach and giving back is my way of still being able to teach and do the things I love. Plus, we have the best occupational community on the planet. Not just in WordPress, but I have always been fond of sharing what you know, community service, and the basic want for others to succeed.

NILE FLORES: How many WordCamps have you been to, and what was your best 1 or 2 experiences that you had when attending WordCamp?

MICHELE BUTCHER-JONES: A whole lot! I would say probably around the 20-15 mark, however to pick one to be my favorite would be hard. My top 5 are St Louis, Chicago, Miami, Nashville, and Montreal. The top experiences would be simply all the awesome people that I have met and get to see returning to different camps plus traveling to WordCamps gave my my first experience of traveling outside of the country. Going to WordCamp Montreal 2016 was an experience I will never forget.

NILE FLORES: What is your number 1 tip for WordPress users?

MICHELE BUTCHER-JONES: Always remember to save or it didn’t happen. Also, always backup. If you have a backup, nothing is ever lost, broken, or ruined.

NILE FLORES: What is your favorite feature in WordPress?

MICHELE BUTCHER-JONES: Wow Nile! You are liking all the “make you think” questions. Hmmmmm… favorite feature… I would have to say my favorite feature would be (I am so going on a political answer) the versatility. I like that I can make a funny mom blog, an e-commerce site, not-profit donation site, and an informative historical site all in the same day using the same basic tools with a few site specific changes.

NILE FLORES: What are your 3 most favorite WordPress plugins?

  1. Jetpack – Love it for beginners because it covers most of the things a new-to-the-scene user will need. It is definitely a love it or hate it plugin, but I think it is awesome.
  2. WP Rocket – a solid caching- make your site super fast plugin.
  3. Give-  No one does better at donations than Give.

NILE FLORES: What is your favorite WordPress theme?

MICHELE BUTCHER-JONES: Can I just pick a framework and say that I am a Genesis girl? Right now I am really digging the Minimum Pro Theme.

Want to meet Michele and hear her talk? Well, then you’ll need to buy a ticket to WordCamp St. Louis!

WCSTL Speaker Interview: Joe Duffin

Joe Duffin will be presenting Wireframing for content: How to develop a content strategy for WordPress websites. Joe is from the St. Louis area.

Here is his interview:

NILE FLORES: What was it about WordPress that got you to start using it?

JOE DUFFIN: Its simplicity. In the early days, we were building custom admins for clients who needed the ability to easily update content. The open source movement was strong, and advancements in PHP content management systems opened a whole new world of agency efficiency and drastically lower client investment.

NILE FLORES: What motivates you to give back to WordPress and its community?

JOE DUFFIN: The open source community at large is all about sharing information, new and better ways of doing things. If people don’t contribute, it cannot grow.

NILE FLORES: How many WordCamps have you been to, and what was your best 1 or 2 experiences that you had when attending WordCamp?

JOE DUFFIN: This is my first!

NILE FLORES: What is your number 1 tip for WordPress users?

JOE DUFFIN: Communicate. Ask lots of questions and eliminate assumptions.

NILE FLORES: What is your favorite feature in WordPress?

JOE DUFFIN: The ease of use takes the headache out of training clients. It’s much easier for client to wrap their heads around WordPress than any other common CMS.

If you’d like to meet Joe, and hear his talk, please buy a ticket, and come on out to WordCamp St. Louis, on March 18th!

WCSTL Speaker Interview: Julia Eudy

Julia Eudy will be presenting on Implementation Strategy for the HTTPS Movement. Julia is from St. Peters, Missouri.

Here is her interview.

 

NILE FLORES: What was it about WordPress that got you to start using it?

JULIA EUDY: I have a background in marketing and communications. Back when HTML was the only thing that powered websites, I was impatient. So much so that I taught myself HTML so I could make updates to the company website myself instead of waiting on someone from IT to help me do it. This opened doors for me in marketing. Not only did I know how to market and communicate, but I had the technical knowledge to support what needed to be done. Blew people in my field away. Seeing the impact this made on my own career, I always sought ways to encourage others to step outside their comfort zone and get to know the technical side of themselves.

At some point, I stumbled across WordPress and thought it was the best thing since sliced bread! Seeing how user-friendly it was, I knew this was a great way for those hesitant marketers to earn some confidence in technology and get more involved in their budding online presence.

NILE FLORES: What motivates you to give back to WordPress and its community?

JULIA EUDY: When I see how the simplicity of WordPress motivates others to open doors to achieve their dreams, I get fired-up. In my experience, technology in general is a scary thought for many people. Outside of pushing a few buttons to turn something on or off, many live in fear of “breaking something” if they touch anything else. That’s sad.

I personally discovered how empowering it was to learn something new and how it opened doors in my career that have had a huge impact in my life. Helping people break through this fear and find within themselves the ability to do much more with technology really motivates me in general. WordPress developers and the WP community that supports them are a perfect environment for those fearful to find confidence. They are so supportive and down-to-earth, it allows even the novice to take baby-steps to do some really cool things. I’m honored to be part of that community and help inspire change and success for small business owners

NILE FLORES: How many WordCamps have you been to, and what was your best 1 or 2 experiences that you had when attending WordCamp?.

JULIA EUDY: To be completely honest, I’m a WordCamp virgin. I spoke to Mary Baum a couple of years ago regarding the St. Louis event, but was unable to attend over the past few years. I have been a proactive supporter of them though, recommending to students, clients and colleagues to go because of what I have learned from event highlights or videos shared post-event by coordinators around the globe. This year, I had it in my plan – no matter what – to attend and connect with others who had the same passion as I do for WordPress. I can’t wait!

NILE FLORES: What is your number 1 tip for WordPress users?

JULIA EUDY: Don’t hesitate to dig into the code or database features. I always do a “Copy and Paste” of any code I plan to mess with or a back-up of the Database before I make any changes. To keep it simple, I’ll use notepad doc. This gives me a “manual undo” so-to-speak that is clean from the code other programs might interject. Then I just dig in. Change one thing then Test. This gives you a easy way to determine if what you are thinking will work or not. If not, you know exactly what to change back and determine a plan B.

NILE FLORES: What is your favorite feature in WordPress?

JULIA EUDY: Saving as Draft. I use Posts or Pages to create widget layouts for my non-technical clients. I tell them to title the page “Widget:_______” and “Save as Draft” This gives them a platform to layout what they want using the WISYWIG editor while providing the underlying HTML code needed. When done, they just copy and paste the HTML code into the widget and save! This makes it easy for them to make updates to content and functionality without needing to rely on me as often. This frees my time to do other things more technical while helping them build more confidence in their own abilities.

NILE FLORES: What are your 3 most favorite WordPress plugins?

JULIA EUDY: Just 3? Hmmm, that’s tough. I’ll go with Wordfence, Yoast SEO and Backup Buddy.

NILE FLORES: What is your favorite WordPress theme?

JULIA EUDY: With cyber attacks on WordPress, I’ve been much more more selective in this area to make sure the core code is being managed. The final decision I make really depends on the end-user for whom I’m creating the site. I use AVADA a great deal of the time. It’s supercharged with a ton of features and their support is awesome allowing me to become super efficient in development and

maintenance. It is also a great stepping stone for those clients I work with who are transitioning from drag-n-drop builders like GoDaddy or Wix and want to stay involved in page/post development. Their built-in page builder is user friendly with very creative elements. For projects where the client has very little or no desire to be involved in site management; I’ll often use OptimizePress or Genesis. Just depends on how creative I need to be in the design.

If you’d like to meet Julia, or get a chance to hear her talk, you’ll need to buy a ticket to WordCamp St. Louis, which is happening March 18th!