WordCamp Nashville 2015 Highlights – Part 2
WordCamp Nashville 2015 – Afternoon Session:
In my post last Monday covering the highlights of WordCamp, we went over the morning session. In this post we’ll briefly be going over some highlights of the afternoon session of WordCamp.
I’ll also be covering some other cool benefits of going to WordCamp, and why I believe everyone who uses WordPress in their professional or personal lives should attend at least one WordCamp.
Getting Hired as a WordPress Developer – Corey Maass
The first presentation for the afternoon session was centered around finding work as a WordPress developer. Although this may not sound like it applies to non-developers, Corey also covered how to make sure you hire the right WordPress developer for your site or agency.
Since Corey has worked on both ends of the spectrum – hiring and being hired as a WordPress developer – he knows how to present himself to a potential employer as well as what he wants to see when considering a job candidate.
The first thing Corey highlighted was that finding work as a WordPress developer is not usually easy. Both freelancers and full-time developers face the issue that there is no one good place to find WordPress jobs.
Typically job boards do not work out very well, either for the employee or the employer. Corey actually recommended looking on Craigslist, since there will be fewer international workers (no currency conversion rate advantage to undercut your quote). Corey also recommends looking at sites like Sensational Jobs or WP Hired.
Another option for finding work as a WordPress developer is to look for job openings at agencies or organizations you admire. Look for job openings on their website and send them your resume if job openings come up. Alternatively, you can try listening to popular podcasts in your field and listen for guests to mention job openings at their companies. You could even look up the guest’s company website and search for job postings there.
The next thing Corey talked about was deciding what your role is. In the past, anyone who created websites was a “Webmaster.” Corey was a fan of this since it sounded like a sweet D&D class where you get to wear wizard hats and earn charisma points. I appreciate Corey’s sense of humour.
Nowadays though, there are so many titles for different roles in our field that our actual skills and responsibilities can become obscure.
To remedy this, Corey recommends doing research to find out exactly what role you fit into and advertising yourself as such. If no real role exists for what you do, make up a name for it. The most important part is to be crystal clear in communicating exactly what you do in your role. Miscommunications like this can result in a lot of lost job opportunities and plenty of frustration for the person doing the hiring.
Next, Corey covered the importance of having an overall knowledge of your field. Even if certain skills do not directly apply to your job, it is highly beneficial to at least be familiar with these technologies. And it you are unfamiliar with something – just say so. Honesty and transparency in both your strengths AND your weaknesses will go a long way toward landing a good job.
If you do not have a professional portfolio built up yet, Corey recommends building one or two fake sites to showcase your skills. Create sites with things like event calendars, booking systems, guest books and contact forms to show that you have a well-rounded skill set and are able to solve problems yourself.
Finally, Corey recommends being engaged in the conversation during an interview. Ask questions, even if those questions seem a bit uncomfortable to you. Staying engaged shows the employer that you are interested and want to make sure the job is the right fit for both of you. Go in knowing exactly what you want, and dont’ be afraid to ask questions to ensure this job will fit that description.
Modernizing WordPress Search with ElasticSearch – Taylor Lovett
Even though I’m not much of a server guy, I found this WordCamp presentation pretty interesting. Some of it went over my head, but Taylor did a great job of putting everything in layman’s (front-end developer’s?) terms.
First off Taylor highlighted some of the limitations of WordPress’s built-in search functionality. Taylor noted three main weaknesses of the built in WordPress search:
- WordPress search only queries post, content and excerpt
- WordPress search runs on MySQL, and thus is fairly slow
- WordPress’s relevancy calculations are simplistic and limited
The best solutions to these problems is ElasticSearch.
ElasticSearch is an open-source search server technology written in Java. It is designed to be used as a standalone database that provides data through a RESTful interface that is optimized for accepting and storing data for search.
ElasticSearch offers features like AutoSuggest, better relevancy calculations, ‘fuzzy matching,’ geographic searches, improved search filters and more. Elastic search is very flexible and and customizable, but there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all solution. Each instance of ElasticSearch has to be custom-fitted to your needs.
That’s about all I can highlight on this topic since if I try to go deeper on the subject, I will probably give misinformation. If you’re interested in learning more about ElasticSearch, I recommend checking out their website!
Building an Enterprise Application with WordPress – Josiah Goff
Josiah’s WordCamp presentation was about Jetty. Jetty uses WordPress to create enterprise applications for conversation management.
The example Josiah used in his presentation was a site launched to help coordinate cleanup efforts after the gulf oil spill a few years back. A solution was needed that would allow the coordination of relief efforts as well as press releases and interaction with the public concerning the issue.
WordPress may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you are looking to build an enterprise application. However WordPress itself has many features built in that are integral parts of any application like this. Most of the features that are not built into WordPress can be added using third-party plugins.
Again, this isn’t really my area of expertise. If you would like to learn more about Jetty, check out the Jetty website here.
Why you should go to WordCamp at least once
After going to my first WordCamp, it is easy to see the value in attending these events. WordCamp provides a laid-back environment that can help developers and business owners alike to expand their knowledge of WordPress and how to leverage it to further their business.
All of the fine people who organize and present talks at WordCamp are super friendly and willing to answer your questions. There is a dedicated help desk set up at every WordCamp that is designed to help people who are currently having problems working with WordPress.
Plus there’s lots of free stuff, and free stuff rocks.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post! Have you attended a WordCamp or are you planning to attend one soon? What are you looking forward to or what is your favorite part about WordCamp? Let me know down in the comments!