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The 2019 WP Engine Summit Digital Breakthrough Conference was a stimulating, enlightening, and well-produced free event. It also came across to me as warm, inclusive, and diverse. The audience was intergenerational, which was also refreshing to witness, as was the significant number of women developers in attendance, more than I’m used to seeing at tech conferences. The event took place at the beautiful Fairmont Hotel, across from the Austin Convention Center. There were three breakout tracks to choose from: Agency, Brand, and Product.
Highlights for me included:
- Talks on the different applications of WordPress by diverse organizations, from small business to enterprise level, and from single to multisite installs.
- Deloitte’s Business Chemistry®, which uses science to improve the art of business relationships.
- Optimizing site design with the Genesis Framework in conjunction with Google AMP.
- The potential of WordPress’ Gutenberg and its use of blocks, a nod to Brad Frost’s Atomic Design.
I attended this summit on behalf of Polycot Associates as one of our Wordpress developers/designers, as we are always looking to expand our suite of tools and expertise. We are also WP Engine partners. I can also note I’ve had clients for over 10 years that have stayed with WordPress, and more and more they feel fully empowered and comfortable using these exciting tools, and developing new functionalities for their sites, on their own.
Beyond WordPress Case Studies
In a digital-first world where we are all constantly swimming in a sea of events, information, and news; people are craving interactive, engaging, and unique experiences. The WP Engine Summit included talks beyond the more common uses of WordPress. The conference content served everyone from individual users and small organizations to massive corporations. Several talks covered how we foster inclusive, creative, and thriving environments within businesses, as well as forming more constructive connections with both the WordPress community and potential clients and customers.
Many of the talks emphasized how content creation and web development can spark imagination and creativity. The event producers clearly went all out on creating an environment that sparked excitement and awe at the many possibilities WordPress can and does provide.
In upcoming posts, we will dive even deeper into the event to share the key takeaways and incredible potential for Wordpress Web Development that adds to our own continued growth and learning as an organization dedicated to quality web development.
Today’s post focuses on broader applications that benefit businesses looking to WordPress as a platform for creating engaging content, managing multiple projects, advertising, and PR projects.
WordPress for Damage Control
There are many points in web development, marketing, and content creation that can be a real headache tip-toeing towards a migraine every step of the way, but there are many ways to not only reduce that headache - but also to create a smooth efficient workflow that is far less stressful for everyone involved.
GLIDE CEO, Travis McAshan gave a talk offering real-world examples of breakthrough digital experiences using WordPress to empower startups, nonprofits, and “difference-makers”. Using WordPress as the “ultimate equalizer” and accelerator for brands and agencies, the time to launch can be reduced, cost efficiencies can increase, and marketing teams will feel empowered and supported.
RealDeal by RetailMeNot has dealt with the road-block of an inflexible CMS that limited traffic. It prohibited them from being able to share any larger media. They successfully used Gutenberg within Wordpress to allow the client to create rich, engaging content - and save that content to a library. As a result, they could embed supercharged, interactive content such as quizzes without complicated shortcodes. They could make their site mobile responsive in no time flat, and take their client “from frustrated to frictionless” via the Gutenberg Foundation.
The Gutenberg project was part of a major overhaul to the WordPress editor, integrated with the release of Wordpress 5.0, that promised content block-based editing - not unlike services like Wix or Squarespace. This could cut down on plugin bloat, which can severely reduce site performance. Finding ways to optimize your webpage speed is imperative in making sure site visitors don’t lose patience and move elsewhere to find what they're looking for.
The next case study comes from the H.E. Butt Foundation (not to be confused with the chain of grocery stores that you may be familiar with if you’re from Texas). The foundation primarily offers outdoor education experiences as well as retreat spaces throughout Texas. They were dealing with a plethora of programs that required nine separate websites to manage - inefficient, pricey, and a major headache to maintain. Each site needed to protect its own brand identity. This complex environment delayed initiatives for marketing. Needless to say, it was a mess. This was solved through the power of Wordpress’s multisite capability. Coherent development with WordPress was relatively swift and easy to deliver.
Does the multisite version of Wordpress have performance issues? Consider that wordpress.com hosts 37,000 multisites, and it has been a part of the platform for a decade. Using this tool for the H.E.Butt Foundation, a custom site was created from the ground up with 25 different content types. This supported the construction of six complete websites in six weeks, with a basic theme and library that drives all the multisites. The client saved two-hundred hours of maintenance in one year.
These abilities allow WordPress to do “damage control” in an efficient way. Managing several sites and helping to form a connection between the company, worker, and client, it’s easy to imagine the potential for PR and marketing. When advertising campaigns tend to be high risk/high reward, and results are needed as quickly as possible while still being engaging for the potential client, it’s incredibly important to have your site built on an engine that is efficient and user-friendly.
Art Meets Technology
We heard from internet veterans Joe Corr, Steven Moy, David Fossas, and John Eckman about combining creativity and technology, which creates a limitless potential for advertising and conveying unique experiences to a broad audience.
They stressed the importance of building an emotional relationship with clients. “You can’t just shout what you think people want to hear in the content world - you need to show value,” what I would call “embodying the message”. In building that emotional relationship with clients, honesty is of the utmost importance. Any dishonesty or inauthenticity and the client loses faith. At that point, you can be completely disregarded as a brand.