WordCamp Chicago 2013

There’s something special about about WordPress users that promotes dialogue and selfless helping. For small business websites on WordPress, this community’s a repository of knowledge and churning innovation. People are the real operating system powering your website. WordCamps are the place to jump in and meet the smart ones.

At the end of June I joined a crowd of bloggers, developers and other WordPress people to get better. Together. Like other WordCamp weekends around the country, WordCamp Chicago 2013 gathered this community to hear national speakers and local professionals share their stories.

Here’s a quick roundup of my favorite speakers from WordCamp:

The Overlap of Emotion and Usability – Ross Johnson

As business owners and designers, we try to create logical websites. Page layouts have to makes sense and link to one another in very rational ways. Except people are highly irrational. They’ve got feelings, man. So the most rational website may actually prevent actions and be unusable to your audience because it triggers all the wrong emotions.

Consider how you want web visitors to feel on your site and carefully choose photographs and design elements to match. Gut feelings (visceral emotion) influence the next layer up: motivations, which lead to actions. And action is what every business owner wants and what most web visitors are looking to do.


Usable design powered by emotion leads to a great experience for website visitors. When your visitors have a great experience, you’re on your way to a successful site.


“Emotional Aspects of Usability” – Ross’ blog post on this topic.
Follow Ross Johnson on Twitter – @3pointross

Why Your Website Isn’t “Set It and Forget It” – Mika Epstein

There are three lights of WordPress: Your Content, Your Server, WordPress. All three lights have to be on, otherwise your site under performs and weird stuff starts happening. Keep your site up-to-date with proactive maintenance and fresh content.

What if you’re too busy to change up your website? You need to keep changing, especially if you have a competitive market. New features are attractive to customers old and new. You might cry, “but all this sounds like work!” and you’d be right. However, Mika reminded us of the example of Julia Child, proof that cooking with effort pays off.


Be engaged with your own website. Write amazingly good content and let people know your content is attended to by replying to comments and updating old posts with new information. Make your visitors feel like they’re in the kitchen with you.


Why WordPress Is Not “Set It and Forget It” – Mika’s presentation slides

WordCamp Chicago 2013 Speaker Interview: Mika Epstein 

No One Cares About Your Content (Yet) – Cliff Seal

With great humor and passion, Cliff led the crowd through three steps to encourage people to care about your content.

  1. Decide what you’re trying to say. This step is deceptively simple, but causes huge hangups when you skip it or don’t follow through.
  2. Understand your users’ experience. Figure out why anyone should care about your content.
  3. Get better by learning from your ignorance. You’re good at writing and promoting your writing, but you’ll never know everything.

There’s a lot more to Cliff’s story, including some really scary stock photography and data that reveals just how little time you have to persuade web visitors to stay. All of that’s in the slides on his website, linked to below.


Not to end on a down note, but “people know that most web pages are useless.” Including yours. At most, you have 10 seconds to clearly communicate your value proposition. People will only give you 10 seconds to prove your page is worth spending more time on. So, say what you need to say (quickly).


“No One Care About Your Content (Yet)” – Cliff’s presentation slides

WordCamp Chicago 2013 Speaker Interview: Cliff Seal

I highly recommend this event for folks working with WordPress. Whether you’re a blogger or a small business owner on this powerful website platform, you need to meet this community. It’s both the every-day users like you and the smarter-than-you people making your site better while you sleep. WordCamp is a fun way to jump in and get better with them. So, jump.

Want more information about future WordCamp weekends? Check WordCamp Central to find one in your area. Have questions about my experience or any of the speakers mentioned? Let me know in the comments.