WordCamp 2015 Columbus was filled with some great presentations and people. It was my first official WordCamp and I was excited about the diversity of the group and how welcoming the WordPress community is. It was a great place to absorb knowledge from more experienced WordPress developers and put it into practice. I learned a ton, but I have three major takeaways.

Takeaway 1: You don’t have to be a professional to format professional photos for your website.

Formatting photos is an important step in the web design process. If your photos are too large, it can slow down page speed and negatively affect your SEO. If you’ve ever wondered how to upload professional looking images to your WordPress site, Maria Averion explained the basics of preparing photos for the web. You don’t even have to have Photoshop, as there are several free versions of image editors. Consult with your web designer about the theme’s default image size and crop all your images consistently. In an image gallery, decide if you want to show your images vertically or horizontally and stay consistent.

After your photos are up, there are plugins like WP Smush or EWWW Image Optimizer in order to further optimize images on your site.

If you’re interested , you can find Maria’s step-by-step slides here.

Takeaway 2: It doesn’t take as much as you would think to make your site accessible.

John Hartley gave a great talk on Accessibility or the ability to navigate a website. It was an interesting talk because John himself is colorblind. If you’re not disabled, you might take surfing the internet for granted. So what does “disabled” mean when it comes to your website? Anything from blindness to low vision, deafness to hearing loss, and physical or cognitive disabilities. When you’re designing your site, or just uploading images think about people who may be using software to read your website to them.

One of the areas of the talk that I didn’t know much about was how people might hit the “Tab” key to browse your site. If a user has limited mobility, they may find it difficult to use a mouse and will only use a keyboard to move from page to page.

You can find John Hartley’s website here.

Takeaway 3: Everyone should have a blog

SEO, short for Search Engine Optimization is something many clients or website owners ask about when they come in for a redesign. But there’s no quick fix to getting to the first page of Google, you have to consider your Content and Page Design. Every site should have an “About”, “Service”, and “Contact” page. Every site should also have a blog.

No really. Angela Bergmann says you have no excuse to not write. I even tweeted about it at the conference:

Blogging is a huge part of your SEO. Aside from search engines, it also attracts customers by boosting credibility. If you’re a business owner you’re an expert in something. You can find Angela’s slides from SEO 101 here.

Want to know more about WordCamp 2015 in Columbus? You can view the official conference website here.