Ten Lessons from Wordcamp UK 2009

I very much enjoyed Wordcamp UK in Cardiff at the weekend. It was a real pleasure meeting interesting and passionate people, turning Twitter IDs into real human beings, hearing some stunning stories about how WordPress has made a difference to organisations, and even meeting Matt in the Hat. I’m sure his hair will grow again after his Montreal experience!

Many thanks go to Tony and Hayley for organising such a packed and varied meeting.

I follow a habit to try to capture Ten Lessons from each conference I go to. I’m happy to share that with everyone:

  1. Although my experience of WordPress so far is in support of sites for my personal use and for small voluntary organisation, my day job is within a large organisation. I am therefore please to see that WordPress is maturing well beyond a personal blogging platform and is now a mature CMS solution. The WordPress Showcase displays a number of public sites using WordPress including some key examples from public sector, media and music.
  2. WordPress is now used in a lot of government sites, including No 10 and DFID bloggers. There has been a big takeup of specific commentable WordPress sites, such as Eliminating World Poverty, with some interesting work going on for DWP.

    After the recent reshuffle, a new website was created for the new BIS department in 72 hours at zero cash outlay, using RSS feeds to deliver content from existing sites.

    People to follow for WordPress in govt: Simon Dickson, Simon Wheatley, Mike Little.

  3. Enterprise CMS using WordPress:
    • WordPress can be used to deliver complex enterprise CMS solutions in a very short time frame. An excellent example was Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, developed in 6 weeks with one developer and one content creator. Credit to Kimb Jones.
    • The Role Scoper plugin can allow individual editors to see/edit only the posts that are relevant to them. This makes the application a lot more scalable with multiple section editors.
    • Good LDAP (Active Directory) integration is required to move WordPress to the next stage. Some plugins are available but need development to make them more enterprise-friendly.
    • For some, the biggest challenge is to introduce PHP and MySQL into organisations that otherwise depend on Microsoft.
    • What is WordPress in the enterprise for? Communication/content management/newsletters/blogs. WordPress is not an enterprise scale document repository and is not analogous to Sharepoint. We need to be careful not to position WordPress as the answer to everything; it obviously isn’t.
  4. I’m learning to develop my own themes. A good start seems to be Ian Stewart’s framework and template sites – Themeshaper.com.
  5. Some recommended plugins:
  6. Useful development tools mentioned during the weekend:
  7. Wordhackuk was a brilliant experience – the team delivered a new plugin in 3 hours that allows visibility of versions and plugins of multiple WordPress installs from a Unified Dashboard. The presentation captures the essence of this plugin/widget (although it’s not finished yet).
  8. The WordPress community is extremely supportive and helpful. This may be because the co-founders Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little are modest, unassuming and nice blokes. Something interesting can be achieved by co-operation.
  9. WordPress.tv is a great resource for WordPress training and knowledge transfer.
  10. Cardiff Bay is a great place to hold a weekend conference, buzzing on a Saturday night, but fortunately no strange paranormal happenings or blokes in RAF greatcoats.