Prestige Conference, WDS is Coming Your Way!

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Another spectacular Prestige Conference is coming up this weekend, August 1st-2nd, 2015, and we CANNOT WAIT to get ourselves to Minneapolis!

Like PressNomics, Prestige is a tech conference that focuses on business and career development, rather than tech itself; most of the presentations are focused on discussing how to run a business in the tech industry, rather than on improving technical skills.

One of the biggest benefits of conferences like this is, of course, the presentations from well-established professionals who know their stuff, but also, the conversations that happen in between the formal scheduling–the hallway chats, brainstorming over meals, and networking amongst other like-minded pros in the industry.

At the last Prestige, in Las Vegas, Brad gave his classic presentation on how to go from freelancer to agency by hiring the first employee, filled with true blue business trial and error based advice and WDS history. Since then, he’s given the talk a few other places, and now you can actually watch it on WordPress.tv.

This time around, both Lisa and Dre are there to talk business–when to go, when to stay, and what to consider when building a career. These presentations are pretty exciting for us, particularly since they share the personal trajectories of these professionally incredible people. If you want a little insight on how to make your business life better, you better get yourself there!

Check out the details below about both of their presentations, as well as a few other things you won’t want to miss:

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How to Produce a High Quality Screencast

video

No one likes reading, right? I mean, why are you even reading this sentence instead of surfing YouTube looking at cat videos? As a culture, we often to gravitate toward passive entertainment–information flung at us without us having to do a whole lot of work in the process. More active entertainment, which can describe actual physical activity but can also apply to activities that require you to actually think, is harder. Reading long blog posts is hard, playing soccer is hard, learning to ride a bike is hard. Listening to some talking head on the radio is easy, but actually discussing what they were talking about with a colleague might require you to consider not only what was said, but how you feel about it, which is harder.

These “hard” activities are ultimately more rewarding than any kind of passive activity. Talking about things with other people (or writing about them) is an active activity that reinforces your own ideas on the subject (or helps you to consider new ideas). You might learn a lot about tactics and formations and how soccer is played by sitting in front of your XBox and playing FIFA, but it doesn’t make you a better soccer player until you actually go out and use your body. You learn some interesting new fact or information that you can use in the future, you develop muscles or skills you didn’t have, you engage with a compelling story, all are results of active activities.

One of the things that I do when I’m not writing code is produce training videos for a company called Pluralsight. Pluralsight specializes in online IT pro and developer training and has a library of thousands of videos. I’ve been doing this for about three years, so everything I’m going to talk about here comes out of things I’ve learned along the way through trial and error, user feedback, and conversations with other Pluralsight authors.

Generally speaking, screencasts (and many other educational video formats) are a form of active entertainment disguising itself as passive entertainment. You’re sucked in because they are often short (faster than reading the source material, anyway) and presented in a compelling way meaning that completely by accident you end up learning something. Studies have proven that when you’re engaged or particularly interested in the content, you end up learning more, for example Minecraft leading to better literacy skills in kids. If you’re writing a lot of documentation or content, using video might be a way to make that content more digestible to a larger audience.

Video is also extremely searchable. It’s been known for quite a while among those in the SEO and SEM fields that videos on YouTube are indexed by Google almost instantaneously, making them show up in search results much faster than blog content. When you upload a video to YouTube, you’re entering it directly into Google’s infrastructure, so of course it’s going to be able to add that content to search results faster than it would take one of their crawlers to find your site, even if you’re pinging Google when you publish new content.

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Anticipating User Needs: Create a Better Contact Form

Website UX

Every company in the world is trying to sell an experience—from Apple to McDonalds to Disney World. Whether we’re truly aware of it all the time, we’re experiencing things every second. Someone is either selling us the experience itself, or that experience is leading to something we’re being sold.

Think back to the last time you waited in a room at the doctor’s office—had they planned in advance to make your wait as enjoyable as possible (well, as enjoyable as waiting for the doctor can be)? Was there a TV to watch, a decent magazine selection, and perhaps a water cooler? Were the staff organized and ready to get you to the place you needed to be? When the doctor entered the room, was she kind and professional?

That’s what I’m talking about. It probably wasn’t why you went to the doctor in the first place, but it was part of the package. In the same way the staff had planned to make your wait more bearable, you can anticipate the needs of your users and craft a better experience for them. Let’s look at a real world example of what this looks like, and talk about how to make your contact page even better by predicting what your users want and need.

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The Custom Post Type UI Million Download Celebration

Custom Post Types UI, WebDevStudios, WebDevStudios plugins, WordPress plugins,

In the spring of 2013, I was moved into a “Plugin Czar” position within WebDevStudios. This meant that I was now in charge of the support, maintenance, and development of many of our free plugins available on our WordPress.org account.

Custom Post Type UI is one of our many plugins, and undoubtedly our most popular one. So popular, that it is the first WebDevStudio plugin that has reached one million downloads with an active install count above 200,000. Not only that, but it maintains a 4.6 out of 5 stars rating with an impressive 87 5-stars at the time of this writing. This is quite an impressive feat to achieve since Brad Williams first tagged version 0.1.0 five years ago.

Lord of the Rings Meme.

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WordCamp Milwaukee 2015! We see you rounding the bend!

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Oh snap! It’s summer and some of our rad WDS-ers are prepping for WordCamp Milwaukee 2015, which is July 24th-26th! Several of our rockstar folks will be speaking, and you won’t want to miss it!

Although I find it hard to believe that any of our regular readers are unfamiliar with WordCamp (come on, now!), for those of you that are completely green: WordCamps are events held all over the world where WordPress nerds unite to share their skills, insights, and learn a whole lot from a bunch of other smarties.

Parbs, Dusty, and one of our newest, Zach S, will be not only attending, but speaking!

Here are the details for their awesome sessions–don’t miss ‘em!

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Staging Websites for Safe Development

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Imagine you have been evaluating your web presence and have determined that there are tasks you need to work on to improve your website. After careful deliberation, your team has identified points A, B, and C are all either not working, or not working as effectively as they could be, and need to be removed or revised. However, you know these are big changes, with a lot of potential to break your existing website, wrecking the user experience for visitors. What do you do?

Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ddohler/ Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Credit: DDohler on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Not a literal stage!

The answer is to set up what is known as a staging, or development site. What is that you ask? It’s a duplicate copy of your existing site that is located in a place that visitors are not going to know about, and not be able to access. This will allow you and others to develop and revise the website safely without risk of real visitors knowing anything is going on.

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A Few Friday Announcements!

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HAPPY FRIDAY, FRIENDS!

Zach Stepek, Maintainn, WebDevStudios, WordPress developer, hire a developer, hire a web designer, hire a graphic designerFirst of all, please join us in welcoming yet ANOTHER DEVELOPER to WebDevStudios, and, more specifically, the Maintainn team!

Zach Stepek is the newest member of our goofy and talented group! Pop over to the Maintainn blog to find out more about him and make sure you follow him over @zstepek!

Second of all, if you’re looking for a smart and informative way to keep yourself entertained on Friday afternoon (are you ready for the weekend? We sure are!), listen to Brian on the Conscious Millionaire podcast! He talks about how to create a big brand with WordPress–wise words from a wise man, so listen up!

Third of all, have a fantastic weekend!

Comic courtesy of xkcd

Create a Simple JSON Endpoint in WordPress

WordPress tutorial, JSON, WP-API, JSON tutorial, WebDevStudios,

As you may or may not know, the WordPress JSON REST API is on the horizon for a future version of WordPress. This will be one of the most important and influential additions to WordPress core we may see, especially for those using WordPress as a framework to create web and mobile applications. The inclusion of a standard, easy to use and extendable API for WordPress opens up a myriad of new possibilities on how we build applications with WordPress in the future

But what if you don’t want to wait for inclusion of the WP-API or use the official plugin version of the WP-API, where do you go? Maybe you just have a small bit of information that you would like to access in a JSON format. This could be needed for an AJAX call within your site or to allow a third-party to access some of your data. I will show you a quick way to set up your own endpoint and return your data in JSON format.

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Another Developer? Heck yes! Meet Cameron!

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And another one aboard! Meet our newest developer Cameron Campbell!

Here’s a little bit about him:

Cameron comes from a traditional design background but fell in love with code somewhere along the way after learning HTML and CSS. Not long after that, a developer friend encouraged him to check out WordPress and he was overwhelmed by the helpful community and passionate developers working on core.

Cameron has worked at design agencies and most recently been a successful freelancer but was drawn to WebDevStudios by the immense talent and friendly people. He has a passion for learning and is currently exploring every resource he can to further his design and development knowledge.

When he’s not working, Cameron enjoys spending time with his wonderful wife, Charity and their dog, Frothy. Cameron and Charity are expecting their first child and couldn’t be happier!

You can follow Cameron @bezierer and find more ways to stay in touch here. As we said last week, if you want to join our amazing team, we’re still accepting applications! Check out our jobs page for more details.

Oh, and happy Fourth of July to our US-ians! Have a great weekend everyone!