emagine is an active participant in the WordPress community. Many of our team members have spoken and attended WordCamps all over the United States (a conference focused on everything WordPress.) For the second year in a row, 16 emagine team members traveled to Philadelphia, PA to attend WordCamp U.S. Besides the delicious food, bowling, jenga, karaoke and dinosaurs, it was an awesome team-building experience. Here are some of the many takeaways our team got from WordCamp U.S. this year:

Dan McVay – Web Developer and Maintenance

  • I’ve learned that phone numbers shouldn’t be required on forms … as more and more people are moving away from phones to text messaging… in the year 2007, text messaging overtook phone calls as the primary means of communication and since then hasn’t relinquished the title.
  • I also learned some interesting things about AMP/html and a few tidbits about Google and SEO and all that.
  • Chris Lema was very engaging. The way he talks, he’d be a perfect pitchman for Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan.

Courtney Melo – Content Implementation Manager

  • I have to agree with Dan on the AMP plugin that we learned about during the Google talk, very cool and the stats that came along with that talk were real eye-openers in the vein of discussing how to write for the web to clients. 80% of b2c site content isn’t read and I think 60% of b2b content isn’t read. Along with that, we discussed https in depth in one talk. That really made it easier to discuss with clients the implications of using https and why it’s a good thing but not the end-all be-all to security. Also learned about an app called Zeplin that converts sketch files into CSS.

Craig Nedell – Web Support/Hosting Associate

  • I found the discussion about Accessibility interesting. They spoke about the importance of making sites disability-friendly. If you don’t consider the visually or hearing impaired, you’re neglecting an enormous number of users. Also, the discussion by Chris Lema I found very interesting. He did a great job of inspiring the audience to, when blogging, write as you speak. Your writing doesn’t need to be perfect. I know it wasn’t earth-shattering info.

Krystal Galewski – Business Development Specialist

  • Most tracks I attended were business or blogging related and they were all great. Chris Lema’s talk on blogging inspired me. I don’t ever think that I have good ideas when I want to write a post on emagine’s blog, but he made me realized that I do have my own unique ideas and I can use my personality to write.
  • It is always nice to “get away” with the emagine team members. We have a great group that always looks out for each other and everyone tries to come up with ideas that make emagine and even better place every day.

Ariel Sanchez – VP of Client Success

  • CC0 (https://creativecommons.org/faq/#what-is-creative-commons-and-what-do-you-do)
  • Fetch as Google: to see whether Googlebot can access a page on your site, how it renders the page, and whether any page resources (such as images or scripts) are blocked to Googlebot.
  • AMP (and AMP plugins for WP); testing access to AMP pages on my iPhone blew my mind!
  • SNI (Server Name Identification) and the myths about needing your own IP address for security or SEO purposes
  • Let’s Encrypt’s free SSL offering (though it probably isn’t provide enough “insurance” for our clients)
  • The ability to use Chrome’s Dev Tool to test speed of site/pages
  • Based on the newest sites “launched” within the last 3 months, WP sites load slower than others… new initiatives are being put in place to turn this around
  • Google’s impending crackdown on “intrusive interstitials”; i.e. sites that are not mobile-friendly (http://searchengineland.com/interstitialgeddon-google-warns-will-crack-intrusive-interstitials-next-january-257252)
  • Google’s coming shift to primarily indexing the mobile version of a site
  • PWAs (Progressive Web Apps)
  • Use of hreflang tag BuddyPress as a tool for building extensibility into member.

Marc Dunderdale – Director of Talent

  • I honestly thought I was going to be an outsider looking in the entire time. In a world of Development, Design, SEO, etc. I wondered if is there was a spot for Human Resources ‘a people person’. Surprisingly, I was wrong. Shayda Torabi and Chris Lema were just great.
  • Having us all together was a great opportunity for some team building was great. Working on the weekend is always better when you’re working with people you like

Scott Variano – Web Developer

  • Echoing what others have said about Chris Lema, his talk was pretty motivating even if you’re not a blogger, especially when he spoke on not allowing intimidation to stop you from getting your voice out there. I was also happy that accelerated mobile pages were discussed at Maile Ohye’s ‘View from Google’ talk as I’ve been noticing AMP sites at the top of my search results when Googling news stories on my phone. There’s a good 2-part article from Yoast that introduces the concept and their companion plugin to Automattic’s very simple AMP plugin: https://yoast.com/setting-up-wordpress-for-amp-accelerated-mobile-pages.

Ryan Holmes – Web Developer

  • My biggest takeaways were on the topics of security and performance. Google announced that they will start highlighting if a site is secure, or not, within search results. This means a user can pass your site by out of fear, which could have a big impact on a client’s brand. “If Google doesn’t trust this brand, why should I?” Matt Mullenweg also stated that, from now on, WordPress will only be recommending hosts that provide SSL certificates by default and is encouraging everyone to switch to HTTPS. With free services like “Let’s Encrypt”, the only barrier left standing is the effort of setting things up, which is minimal.
  • As for performance, it needs to be at the forefront of every project. A beautiful design is great, but if a user bounces before it loads, it’s worthless. Design considerations need to be taken, especially for mobile, where data is king. With mobile traffic outweighing desktop traffic, we need to ensure that sites load fast on mobile devices, and not just at optimal connection speeds. Google mentioned in their talk that the average mobile connection speed is 2G. We need to test our sites at slower connection speeds to make sure every user has a great experience. The AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) Project, is a great way to get started with this initiative. AMP optimized pages appear at the top of Google’s search results, which has obvious SEO benefits, and load super-fast. Best of all, there are already some great plugins that allows us to set this up with minimal effort. (https://wordpress.org/plugins/accelerated-mobile-pages/)
  • Oh, and yea, Chris Lema rocked. I could listen to that guy present anything.

Todd Milliken – Web Developer

  • Last year’s WordCamp U.S. emphasized emerging trends in Web Development such as HTTP/2, SSL certificates, and the proposed WordPress REST API.
  • This year’s WordCamp U.S. demonstrated how the trends of last year are becoming standards in today’s web industry. A large portion of the REST API plugin is merged into Core; the latest release of WordPress 4.7 now features the long-awaited content endpoints. Google is continuing to reward sites with SSL, and is now taking page-speed into consideration when ranking sites with their open-sourced AMP project which was featured heavily in this year’s talks. The AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) project delivers high-performant user experience by utilizing Google’s proxy-based content delivery network. Luckily, there are WordPress plugins to help content authors with this. https://wordpress.org/plugins/amp/
  • Lisa Sabin-Wilson’s talk on the latest Buddypress release https://buddypress.org/ was especially helpful to users who want to add a community layer to their websites. Similar to JetPack, Buddypress is essentially a “suite” of plugins that can be toggled on or off depending on the needs of projects. User groups can be easily created for engagements that require a company intranet or portal; user profile pages, activity feeds, and forums can be enabled to create engagement among users. Buddypress can be easily extendable with other popular WordPress plugins such as bbpress.

Lauren Hanson – Web Strategist

The most valuable thing I got out of WordCamp U.S. that relates to me is to know who you are and create who you want to be seen as online. Connect with people online and.. take that off line and sell them something.

Kathryn Findlay – Project Manager

  • Scoping with clients – establishing the total value of the project work vs hourly billable project time can be a better prediction of the overall client satisfaction as we scope, clients won’t get fixated on the minutia but instead focus (rightly so) on the bigger deliverable, the site!
  • I happen to sit in two talks which both focused on dealing with difficult clients. The speakers had similar advice. Step away, be objective, and try to find a positive middle ground outcome!
  • My favorite talk which I took the most from was Luca Sartoni’s which was the negotiations talk. He advised to be okay with saying no, at least initially in client discussions. That working with clients and establishing the end-no-point sets up the boundaries of which to have your agreement of work met in the middle,  the outcome being understood expectations on both sides.
  • I also thought Matt Mullenweg’s announcements for the new default templates were super cool!

Joanne D’Adamo – Project Manager

  • I thought a lot of the talk topics weren’t applicable to me, but was so pleasantly surprised. Many of the speakers spoke to a broader audience, and I picked up lots of random info. Maile Ohye’s Google talk was great – encryption, AMP, surprising stats on viewing content and mobile users. We/PM’s get asked about https all the time, and while it’s part of a larger hosting discussion, I feel more informed to share information with clients.
  • Chris Lema was so inspiring.. almost made me want to write a post about it!! Lastly, Being outside the office with no distractions, the conferenced prompted some great discussions and brainstorming. And just hanging out with emagineers, getting to know our colleagues better – we have an awesome group!

Melanie Brozek – Content Implementation Manager

It’s very important now more than ever to ensure that you have a responsive site. Maile Ohye’s presentation A View from Google: The Latest in search and Mobile brought up that Google is shifting to make their index mobile-first. Users that have separate mobile and desktop sites where their primary content is different will need to consider making changes across their site. This is why using WordPress to build your site is very beneficial because users with a responsive site will not have to worry about making drastic updates for Google’s more mobile-focused index.

emagine team at WordCamp
The emagine team already has several WordCamps planned throughout the United States for 2017. Keep on the lookout for us!