What and awesome weekend! I met some amazing people and learned a bunch of new things which I hope to put into practice. Here are some of my personal highlights:
Austin Gil has website performance down to a science
I gave a talk on WordPress performance optimization last year, but Austin dropped some bombs that exploded my mind! I loved his simple mantra of:
- Send fewer things
- Send smaller things
- Send things more efficiently
Key takeaways for me included:
- Using Fontello or Icomoon to generate a custom, low-bandwidth icon font library rather than loading everything included in FontAwesome.
- There are other image treatments that can be used to reduce image size beyond traditional compression tools. For example, you can blur the portions of an image that do not need to be in focus, or load a B&W or monochrome image if it fits with your design aesthetic. So simple and obvious, but totally not used enough!
Joseph Abraham got me stoked on flexbox
I’ve known about flexbox for years now and have played around with it on numerous occasions, but never put it into practice on a client website because I was concerned about compatibility issues with legacy browsers. Well, I’m pretty sure that’s a thing of the past now because flexbox is now supported by over 97% of browsers on the web. I plan on implementing flexbox for complex grid-based layouts on the next website that I develop.
Nathan Weller schooled me in content strategy
Nathan is the Content Manager for Elegant Themes, and he obviously has an expertise in developing an effective website content strategy. Here are some wisdom nuggets that I found helpful:
- Determine your objectives and your ROI before creating and planning your content. What am I putting into this? What do I expect to get out of it?
- Your brand is more than a logo. It is your story that you’re telling to the world. Good brands have strong values, and clarity/believability in their message.
- Practice advantageous positioning by finding an area of focus that gives you an advantage over the competition.
- When it comes to content promotion, you want something dependable, repeatable, and automated. You’ll find that 1-2 channels will likely generate 70-80% of your traffic. Often times, working those channels alone is enough.
- Take advantage of the metrics that each content system provides. Use those stats to inform future decisions.
Natalie Maclees gave me a pep-talk on time management and self care
Natalie gave a great talk that I think everyone can benefit from. Here key points were beautifully simple:
- Get new clients.
- Do good work for them.
- Focus on the wildly important. (Everything else is just extra.)
I found her “how to say no” slide particularly helpful, since it’s something I routinely struggle with. Here’s how to say “no” like a pro:
- Affirm the relationship
- Say “thank you” for thinking of me
- Clearly and firmly decline
- Keep the reason ambiguous
Natalie says that you need to schedule every minute of your day. That may seem extreme, but I see how it can help me remain focused and complete my daily/weekly/monthly goals. Creating a fixed schedule and sticking to it will lead to successful habits. I’m going to give it a shot.
Jennifer Bourne wants me to take more breaks, and make them more effective
I generally feel guilty about taking breaks from my work, but after seeing Jennifer’s talk I’m going to cut myself some slack. She provided plenty of compelling reasons why downtime is critical for productivity, creativity, energy levels, problem solving, and mental health. A few key takeaways for me included:
- Take a break before going down that “rabbit hole” trying to solve a problem. Oftentimes, you’ll find a solution during your time away that saves you hours of frustration.
- One study demonstrated that the most productive people work an average of 52 minutes and then take a 17 minute break. Or you can approximate that and say take a 16 minute break for every hour you work.
- Have a look at the next thing on your to-do list before taking a break so that you come back ready to focus.
- Take a real break! Doing dishes or laundry on your “break” is not a break. Jennifer likes to knit. I like to play music. I’ll do more of that.
Steve Zehngut knows sales
Steve has a ton of experience which he generously shared with us at WordCamp. His talk was about selling to strangers. Here are the points I found particularly helpful:
- You can eliminate “strangers” by building your brand. Have your branding in place before you start selling.
- Know yourself. What are your values? What is your mission? What is your unique selling proposition? Get to know your competition too by asking yourself these same questions about them.
- Slow your role when selling. Try to go as long as possible before making a pitch. Do this by asking questions and listening. Establish trust and build a relationship before selling.
- People buy you and people buy results. These purchases are all built on trust. Technology is just a means to an end. Don’t make it the focal point.
- Don’t try to corner a potential client for a sale on a Monday or Friday afternoon. And only sell when you’re feeling up to it. If you’re not at your best, reschedule that meeting.
Awesome people I met
- I got to talk more with the awesome (and local!) folks at Give, whose plugin I totally recommend. (Devin – Get on that native SalesForce integration!)
- I had a great time during the after-party hanging out with Karen Morrison, Marc Lyman, Arnold de Guzman, and many others.
- I love how people at WordCamp come from so many different backgrounds. Andy Fragen is a former trauma surgeon who works with WordPress as a hobby. He gave me some good advice about my fractured patella that I’m currently healing.
- I already knew Nathan Tyler, but what I didn’t know was that he and Natalie are launching a new appointment scheduling plugin which looks rad! Check out Simply Schedule Appointments.
- Special thanks to my buddy Justin Fortier for coming out to see my presentation!