The anatomy of a website – WordCamp PHX experts delve into design and engagement

This past weekend WordCamp Phoenix held a sold out event for developers, designers, hobbyists, and WordPress users everywhere. WordCamp Phoenix is a non-profit event, led by volunteers who organized conferences, seminars, workshops, presentations, and networking events in order to celebrate the WordPress community.
During the event GoDaddy launched its new web hosting platform dedicated to optimizing WordPress. GoDaddy Director of Hosting Product Management, Bill Watt said, “GoDaddy is committed to supporting the WordPress community with one of the fastest, most secure and reliable hosting platforms.”

The event offered seminars for various levels of users, designers and developers. To highlight some of the experts, in the advanced developers category, the amusing and engaging duo of Konstantin Obenland and Michael Cain demonstrated how to customize the WordPress anatomy with title, description, and control sections that range from custom theme mods and options for API.
Obenland and Cain’s top 5 pieces of advice for developers included:

  1. Use resources – some such resources are plugins and individual tools that can take the hassle out of testing
  2. Don’t start from scratch – try to rewrite or build on top of existing sites so you don’t have to redo a lot of the ground work and you will start further ahead
  3. Read! – follow maker blogs, twitter, news, Core, and the developer and WordPress community
  4. Find a local host developer environment
  5. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to screw up

Joe Casabona presented in the designer track and focused heavily on responsive design which he defined as “the idea that your website will automatically adapt to the device it’s being viewed on.” He explained that websites cannot be designed that look good on all devices (desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.) so designers have to develop responsive pages with EM-based breakpoints, and breakpoints based on content, varying connection speeds and browsers. He suggested starting with mobile because it is easier to scale up than scale down and helps designers assess the overall look with images, content, and navigation.
Casabona’s top 5 pieces of advice for designers included:

  1. Talk to your users – don’t assume what the users know, but ask them what they need and what type of experience they want
  2. Collaborate with others – discuss, ask questions, and work with other designers, friends, and users
  3. Test early and test often – this way the designer can define the scope needed and not have to redo the process
  4. Communicate with the client – get as much information as possible including the target market and what they need and want from the website
  5. Bridge the gap between designers, developers, clients, and users – ask real questions about what they want and what is possible to do

The event ended with an award ceremony where two winners of the website design contest were announced.

  • Quinn Whissen’s website,, that focuses on the revitalization of downtown Phoenix and community projects. She asks, “How can this empty lot revitalize Phoenix?” She also stated that she uses WordPress for all of her clients and for projects that help the community.
  • Matt Adams was the other winner for This non-profit organization helps build wells in Africa. He explained that they “built a custom theme from the ground up so that visitors can see every project in Asia and Africa.”

Overall the event was a great way for members inside and outside of the Phoenix and Chandler community to meet and discuss WordPress. Lead organizer, April Holle, states that the event was a success, “We see previous users moving up and learning in the advanced classes this year.This is bringing money into the community and helping the community’s education and empowerment. They will have the tools to prosper and have confidence in that.”
Learn more about WordCamp PHX here.