[RAW] Notes from the 2016 Minneapolis Wordcamp, Day One #wcmpls

So I attended the 2016 Minneapolis Wordcamp, which was, as usual, a great experience.  I’ve decided to include my notes on the various sessions I attended.  Some of this might be useful, some of it might be a little confusion — there’s personal commentary peppered throughout the piece.  Hopefully you can find something you can use here.

9:00 Training Before Site Completion

You should train while you drop content, help teach them and support them to build more business.  Get them comfy with their sites.  Always factor in time for training.  Simple site = maybe 90 minute basic lesson at the start, with 90 minutes next week.  NEVER CLOSE THE DOOR.  Factor 3-4 hours for training; answer the short questions, use it as a springboard for more work.

How to handle ghosting clients that have forgotten everything when they return? With a contract, explain the maintenance afterward.  A website is never done.  Teach them to drive the car; if they want to do the maintenance (which is easy until something breaks) you can teach them that, too.

Contract for the final PSD.  Helps prevent “oh wait, new design tweaks” at the last minute.

Build writing services into the contract if needed.

Handoff process — providing documentation?

Chrome screencasts!  (Find simple screensharing program, too.  Join.Me.)

10:00 Build Site…Profit — Content Marketing

What is Step Two?

  1. Build it. Look pro. Install analytics
  2. ?????
  3. Profit!

Depends on you and who you’re trying to reach.  Don’t get lost in the noise.  Basics you should start immediately:

Social Media about the genuine moment. Don’t spam and don’t be awkward.  Just go talk.  Connect with people.

Email and Content Marketing. Present info via email. Best way to connect with someone quickly.  Share your content, don’t wait for the audience to go find them.

The content marketing is best delivered via Social and Email.  SEO is secondary to both of these.  GET EYEBALLS ON YOUR CONTENT, it may well NOT be searchable stuff.  Surprise them.

Find where your potential customers are and go to them. 

Analytics — measure everything! Need to be disciplined. Tag links (UTM) no matter what.  GA, Jetpack, Facebook Insights.  Unique visitors, time on site, bounce rate.  Standard on the web is about 70% (below = great).

Optimize.ly is worth looking into.


Metric should be whether a conversion event is triggered.

11:00 Designing for Intention

All communication is persuasive.  Good call.  10 questions called the “Road to Hell” for designers.  Where’s the line between persuasion and deception?  Slideshow has a list of rules — do no harm, don’t tell outright lies, etc.

When is it okay to outright LIE to your users?  Never?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Dusseldorf senior center lies to patients to keep them safe from wandering off.  Look up 1ESS for an example.  Placebo buttons (form auto-saves, save button doesn’t really do anything).

Pers. Design Model:

  1. Motivate
  2. Simplify
  3. Invite

MOTIVATE AND SIMPLIFY THE PROCESS = higher conversion rate!

Motivation. David McClellan, Maslow, ERG theory, Self-determination.  Five basic motivators:

  • Security — not literal protection, provide the idea of control, manage what works
  • Pleasure — remind of physical sensation, feeling
  • Affilliation — meet ups (groups), neighbors, people are a group, meet people, home, etc.
  • Aspiration — harder, better, faster, stronger, etc. Up your social ranking, move faster, volunteermatch.org,
  • Identity

Remind them of their existing motivations, you don’t need to create it.  BUT KNOW WHEN TO STOP TALKING.

11:21AM. I’m getting sleepy.  Adderall [note: have a legit perscription] and Red Bull aren’t enough. Toddlers need to sleep through the night.

Simplify. Stuff.

  1. Functionality first tier.
  2. Intuitiveness.  High annoyance threshold as web pros.  (“This is fine.” Dog in a burning room.) Users have a low threshold. (Spotify eliminated the hamburger in favor of a task bar at the bottom and 30% increase in click on menu items.)  DIE HAMBURGER MENU DIE.  Never hide the important stuff.  Second tier.
  3. Efficiency.  Time matters. Maybe pre-cached follow-up pages based on page actions.  Each additional click = 30-60% of users…even up to 95%.
  4. Comfort.  Tier four.  Physical, psychological, knowledge can help this. MarketDialer increased conversions by 100% by providing a price tag.
  5. Delight.  TOP TIER.  Human quirks, things that make it fun, friendly, humor.

Invite.  “See if you qualify” — think of it as courtship.  One step at a time.  ALWAYS MAKE SURE THERE IS A NEXT STEP.  Experiment.  Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale.



scalewp.io — this site


Page Caching —one single request instead of running queries.  Varnish vs. Batcache.  Challenges: Cache TTL/Expiration, Fragment caching, cookies. Be cognizant of these.

Object Caching — chunks instead of whole pages.  Memcache vs. Reddis(?).  Challenges: complexity, invalidation, optimization, eviction.  DO MORE RESEARCH ON THIS TOPIC.

Query Performance — query analyzer and debug bar tools. New Relic (paid).  These are all listed on the scalewp.io site.  HyperDB?  Challenges: query routing, explication lag, debug ability, etc.

Algorithm Performance — code quality.  Operating on the data you’ve pulled from the DB.  GOOD PERFORMING CODE.  SQL queries.  Active AJAX shit. Cha: mo data mo problems, test with big data sets, avoid bloating DOM/UX. Load data as you need it.

Searching for Scale — search is intersection between algorithm and query performance. Look at Apache Solr or ElasticSearch for any large scale projects. 10up might have this.  Chal: override wp_query, index rebuilds, complexity.

Elastic Architecture — horizontal scalability.  Shared vs. Single VMs vs. Clusters.  Shared is not great for performance. Clusters = awesome.Next gen: same design, just add more. (Heroku is an example.)  Challenges: load balancing, shared media, consistency of environments.

Dev and Workflow — workflow consistency is HUGE.  Control code/deployments (Git).  I need to learn Git.  NO COWBOY BEHAVIORS.  Dev/Staging/Production.  Challenges: environmental consistency, site configuration, local dev, automation.

RW Scalable Architecture — slide shows modern stack.  should be on scalewp.io

PHP opcode caching — not in presentation.  Just turn it on.  Not on in Dev environments.

Need to look into PHP7.

wp-cfm plugin

13:30 Why is your site slow?

Points related to speed:

  • Server-side.
  • Client-side
  • Underlying ‘why’

Server-side: highest level, server not shipping HTML fast enough.  No full-page cache frequently an issue.  Or no reverse proxy/CDN/batcache/total cache.

WP issues: too many files, too many plugins, too many queries, slow queries, too many function calls, etc. PHP issues…  NEW RELIC WILL HELP YOU FIND THESE ISSUES.


High number of plugins?  Probably not — most likely overlapping/duplicate plugins.

Compare git history to page load speeds over time. PM tickets?  Testing.  Dev documentation on what each plugin is used for?

What was the intention?  No intentionality = performance problems.

Client Side: # of HTTP requests needed.


google page speed

first level for front-end slow: CSS — too damn much

Wraith for nuking CSS stuff…

Need an analysis tool that

Know where CSS is enqueued.  Options:

  • Serve all individually
    • each cached separately
    • lots of http requests = downside
  • Package all CSS/JS per web page
    • 1 http request
    • poor caching, though…
  • Split the difference — create mid-sized units.

Who owns that decision?  grunt or gulp good for controlling this.

Plugins for minification/concatenations — for WP.

Too many 3rd party widgets?  No one feels responsible for them.

Orgs that design systems are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations. —  Conway’s Law.

Too many sets of analytics codes?

Two groups in org that don’t share tools?  Human-level problem.

AMP?! Accelerated Mobile Pages.  New standard championed by Google and WaPo and others.  Need to be loaded fast on phones.

Need a copy of this deck!

Right direction:

  • you’re able to describe how the website is being built
  • you can track changes over time
  • you estimate the performance impact of a feature
  • you can start projects with performance limits
  • decisions that make site and team faster
  • when performance is a boring topic


Everyone on a project is in every client meeting, no matter what.

PM not an assistant, secretary, google, the developer, the designer.

True role = team leader.  Accept/take responsibility for the outcomes of a project.  Negotiate good outcomes with everyone. Team, client, suppliers. Never shy away from the difficult issues. Bring hard conversations to the forefront. Need to be able to focus/guide/lead people.  Great PMs make things happen.

Know who you’re talking to and how you’re talking to them.

(30% of their time is for PM work.)


  • review every project
  • schedule all client calls
  • run all client meetings
  • take notes from client calls
  • make/update tickets
  • follow up with everyone
  • weekly recap emails
  • run reports
  • deal with roadblocks (daily)

Short List of Skills:

  • multitasking
  • project lifecycle
  • scope definition
  • scope management
  • planning
  • estimating
  • budgeting
  • resource planning
  • communications skills (read/write)
  • quick response times
  • know who is going what
  • have a basic understanding of how to do everyone else’s job
  • step in when needed; finding resources or doing busywork
  • be a problem solver and quick on your feet
  • learn to craft the message to the person and their role
  • risk management (and how)
  • self awareness is important
  • have self-confidence
  • a bit of ego
  • influencing skills
  • good judgement skills
  • diplomacy — be able to talk to anyone
  • be able to see/manage the big picture and the tiny details at any point
  • ask questions as to why people on your team did what they did — for the purpose of learning
  • ask lots of questions, but not always have the answer
  • reading systems — see and hear what’s going on without heaving to ask
  • always keep learning
  • try more things
  • go to word camps and meet ups
  • help answer support questions
  • do your 10000 hours in all areas of practice


  • make sure they have the tools they need
  • clear roadblocks
  • words of encouragement
  • make sure you’re freely available for your team
  • do your job correctly

Do a lot of hard work and care about your team.

Google Hangout for distributed team management.  SLACK.  Trillo?

@jamestryon at valet.io


(sous vie machine?)

Push WP outside of its comfort zone.  What needs to change.

Modern Tribe — hiring!

Make: The Events Calendar

Do a lot of agency work.  MIT, Harvard, MSFT, eBay, steel case, MTB, Nike Foundation, etc.


Weird art rules.

Weird design sucks.

Weird code really sucks.

Strange for strange’s sake has no place in our work.

(The Grid. Prelaunch $4.6M in VC, $5.1M in crowdsourced funding.)  26% of the internet means we’re irrelevant in 2 years instead of 6 months.

Push your existing tools out to the edge.  WP works for you, not the other way around.  Think about how you can push it to the limit.

INTERFACE MATTERS.  Tools inform output.  Tools must evolve.

Content versus Presentation — separation of layers doesn’t mean they’re independent of one another.

Toolset isn’t evolving at the admin interface.

Continually be investing in the future and development of these tools.

Future is more connected, versatile, faster, richer.


  • suck data into ElasticSeartch, get the data up quickly

P2P tool for defining relationship between post types.

Build the capacity into the tool.  Foundations.


Field Manager plugin?

Loop can look like anything you need it to.

16:30 Closing Remarks

Image Credits: condesign/.