Categories
Automattic WordPress

See You At The Summit

I’m very excited to be involved with the first ever WordPress.com Growth Summit, a two-day conference taking place next week, over August 11-13. The event features blogging, business, and creative tracks, with over 50 speakers from around the world who use WordPress in different ways: from web development pro Chris Coyier of CSS-Tricks, to Smitten Kitchen’s food blogger extraordinaire, Deb Perelman, to wellness expert Millana Snow, who ran an incredible 1000+ person breathwork workshop at our company meetup last year. Live demos and Happiness Bars for personalized technical support round out the program.

Our amazing Events team at Automattic has planned the conference so that everything runs twice, to accommodate folks in just about any time zone – and the sessions will be recorded, too! (They’ve been learning a lot while organizing this event, and shared some of their insights in a recent post.)

I hope to see some of you there – and I’m pleased to provide a discount code for 20% off the registration fee: Kathryn20

Categories
WordPress

Optimize Your Business Website

Two weeks ago, my colleague Marjorie asked if I’d be interested in helping run a webinar for small businesses, with tips on getting the most out of their website. She knew I’d done a lot of public speaking and thought I might be interested. Even though we wouldn’t have a lot of time to prepare, it took me all of three seconds to accept.

Fast forward to yesterday, when my colleague Steve Dixon and I presented a one-hour online workshop called Optimize Your Business Website: Secrets from Web Design Pros. Topics included essential pages for business sites, layout templates, the WordPress block editor, and what it takes to optimize a site so it’s both easy to find in search engines – and easy for visitors to use. We also looked at how to make sure your site is both accessible and mobile-friendly, along with a few different ways to take online bookings and payments.

The video is already up on Automattic’s YouTube channel, so feel free to check it out:

Demo Sites

Chez Sophie and Casey & Finnegan Therapy

References

Categories
Personal Technology WordPress

Women of a Certain Age

11:30am – Two “older” women enjoy their crepes (one savoury, one sweet) and caffeinated beverages in the downtown Chocolate Restaurant.

12:15pm – They pull out a couple of knitting projects, and peer through glasses while one repairs the other’s dropped stitches and gets her Scarf That Took Over Five Years to Finish back on track. (Maybe 2020 will be the year it’s actually completed?)

1:30pm – The brunch table is now strewn with a PC, a NexDock 2, a Mac, and a Raspberry Pi serving up the Ngnix server software. WordPress back ends are loaded up on multiple screens, and there’s talk of choosing Gutenberg blocks, creating child themes, programming robots, and using Raspberry Pi to block web ads at the network level.

Zero idea what the restaurant servers thought of us, but I do hope we defied at least a few stereotypes today.

Update

The original version of this post mentioned two PCs, but my friend has clarified that there was only one PC, with the other being a NexDock 2.

Categories
WordPress

Twenty Twenty in 2020

New theme, who dis?

I’ve finally done it. As a chronic late adopter it did take me forever, but I finally changed themes on this site, which is now running Twenty Twenty, the latest WordPress default theme. It’s going to take me a while to get used to – I’ve been running my beloved Writr since first launching the blog in 2013 – but it was overdue, so here we are.

I also switched over to the block editor – aka Gutenberg – another embarrassingly late move to the modern WordPress world.

It’s been a good “empathy exercise.” As a full-time Happiness Engineer helping users build and customize their sites, it’s so easy for me to tell someone, “Go ahead and switch themes, it’ll be fine!” or “Oh yeah, activate the block editor, you’ll love it!”

Doing it myself is another story.

But… it’s been alright so far. No, really! OK, I’ve already encountered two small visual bugs that I’ll report when I’m back at work, but that’s what dogfooding is for, isn’t it?

Speaking of bugs, if you spot anything amiss, do feel feel free to let me know. In the meantime, I hope you like the new look.

May 2020 be good to you all, whether you decide to shake things up or not.

Categories
Personal WordPress

Librarians and Happiness Engineers

I don’t often get out to author readings, but my friend Sarah had an extra ticket to see venerable Canadian Broadcasting Corporation host Eleanor Wachtel interview Michael Ondaatje (of The English Patient fame) for her long-running radio show Writers & Company. While I’d never read any of his work, Wachtel is a compelling interviewer no matter who’s in the hot seat, so I figured why not.

I arrived early (as usual) and Sarah was running a bit late, so I scored great seats for us near the front and took out my phone to catch up on emails while killing time. An older woman asked if another seat next to me was available, and joined me at our table. As I age, my definition of “older woman” morphs upwards, but I would later find out she was in her late seventies.

When Sarah arrived, we somehow ended up in a conversation about Montreal’s BIXI bike-sharing program, and the woman next to us casually joined in our chat, opining about the best BIXI subscription formula, and whether the bikes were suitable for shorties like the three of us. (Apparently they are.)

In the course of our conversation, Sarah revealed that she’s a librarian at McGill University, and I instantly thought, “Oh, the lady is going to be so tickled to meet a librarian – she’s obviously very into books and reading.” But the woman barely reacted. She turned to me next, “And what do you do?”

“Well, I’m a Happiness Engineer, which means I do tech support.” A smile spread across her face. “Yeah, I help people with their WordPress websites, it’s a software for content management and blogging.”

The lady’s face lit up – I mean beamed. “WordPress? I know what that is, in fact I just took over managing a WordPress site for an association I belong to, I’m in the process of figuring it all out!”

In that moment I realized exactly what I’d done. My brain’s unconscious bias had taken over, and I’d totally stereotyped her interests and knowledge, based on her age and gender.

Although I’d disappointed myself, there was still time before the reading started to perhaps make amends a little bit. I pulled up her website on my phone and proceeded to try to engineer some happiness…

Flickr photo by Mac Juster. Canada. Department of Manpower and Immigration. Library and Archives Canada. Creative Commons 2.0