Every year, an international event brings people together to learn, connect, and just share stories about the open-source project that is WordPress.
After WordCamp US 2020, which was cancelled due to the pandemic, the organizers decided to bring it back. And they really pulled off an online event that thousands of people would sign up for and learn from. That’s none other than WordCamp US 2021.
With the desire to be there and support the WordPress community, we at domain.ME have been one of the sponsors for this conference. And that with great joy! We ourselves had the privilege to learn much from this conference. So we can’t wait to share some things we learnt with you. More specifically – what we learnt on how to build your online presence.
So let us start.
Online Presence Tip 1#: Realize Everyone Is Not Your Customer
I know, I know. Your product/service is awesome and you want to tell everyone with an internet connection about it. We’ve all been there!
Lax Mariappan addressed that temptation too. And really, if you’re running an eCommerce site, his talk was definitely a good presentation to watch. Lax highlighted many things during his lecture and we can’t hope to lay them all out. But here’s one that stuck out to us – not everyone is your customer.
And we have to realize that. When we do that, we can focus on our niche. And really, we can begin understanding why customers buy and use our products/services. Among other things, this ensures that we will know how to improve our products/services and make them better for our customers.
Online Presence Tip 2#: Embrace The Awkwardness
Next comes Lesley Sim of Newsletter Glue.
Some presentations are dull even with dozens of neat slides whereas others are just engaging with no slides at all. Lesley did the latter! And we were so sorry it didn’t last longer. Her no-slide presentation was about how to make friends with early customers.
Lesly reminded the product builders to “create the expectation you’re helpful and easy to reach.” Be there for your customers when they’re facing an issue – even if that issue isn’t strictly related to your product and/or service. Customers will love and remember that.
She also reminded us that “anything you do for the first time [in marketing or business] is going to be awkward.” Lesley even spoke about how she was worried if customers would reply harshly or aggressively when she tried to contact them. And their true reaction was quite different!
So embrace the awkwardness. It has to be awkward the first time, and that’s how life is. Allowing awkwardness to hinder us in connecting with customers will only leave us disconnected from our customers.
Online Presence Tip 3#: Allocate Time To Experimentation
Kjell Reigstad is a designer who works with design and code. He’s developed dozens of WordPress themes, designed dozens of objects, and even created the so-called Anxiety Hat.
He uses block styles to creatively customize blocks using (mostly) CSS. In his presentation he showed how Gutenberg can be a great medium for design and art. What’s more, he shared examples of block styles that turn standard WordPress blocks into art pieces!
Clearly, Kjell does a lot of innovative creative work. Doing that, and doing that consistently, and being at the top of the game is what every creative strives for.
When asked about how he goes on about that, Kjell said this. He allocates a predefined time (once a week, every Monday) to experimenting. Allocating a predefined time (even if it’s just one hour a week) does wonders. Firstly, he knows he’s free to experiment at that time, so his day job doesn’t distract him. Secondly, he has a constant reminder that he should be experimenting at that time. And thirdly – he avoids the “I’ll do it tomorrow” trap and actually does it (this is the most important one).
Experimentation allows us to be creative and come up with new ideas without being limited by project goals. If you want to be different, and make your online presence stand out, it couldn’t hurt to try that out.
Speaking of standing out, let’s talk about how you can make your online presence truly unique.
Online Presence Tip 4#: Let Themes Be Themes (Make Your Website Unique)
Website themes allowed professionals to create their own websites without having to spend too much time on customization or design.
However, there’s much to be said on using unique themes and just letting them be artistic.
And that’s where Tammie Lister comes in. She spoke about problems that encountered themes, why the approach she talks about is essential, and the future of themes.
Tammie really spoke to us on the ever-changing nature of themes and how they became just intricate. But then she went on to say how WordPress professionals began to dislike the complexity of themes. However, she says that themes can get back to simplicity with new tools and experiences. Tammie highlighted block patterns as a tool that developers will use in creating advanced website layouts.
Why is this important? Well, for long, themes were forced to be everything they weren’t supposed to be in the first place. They started to be about mere functionality and buttons. But now, with new tools and experience, they can return to their essence.
Put simply, themes should be themes – not templates, not functions. Themes should once again feel like art and less like buttons we press to access a bunch of links.
To wit, themes can return to being artistic, free from having to do everything, and just about style. While this happens, even more opportunities will grow for how we use themes. And the possibilities are endless.
Bonus Tip: Know When To Take A Rest (And When Not To)
Even when working a 9-5 job, chances are – you won’t work for exactly 8 hours every single working day. Sometimes you’re in that time of the year when you have to work less. And sometimes you might need to work double hours to get that important project done.
Take Helen Hou-Sandi. She and her small team worked on WhiteHouse.gov for the Biden-Harris Administration. They had to build that website from scratch, test it, and migrate it, all in just six weeks.
So how did they do that? Helen shared one tip that can be useful for all of us: know when to take rest and when to work hard. According to Helen, her team members did just that. They knew when to stop and when to hit the wheel. When to work overtime, and when to burn up. After a period of hard work, they knew how to take appropriate rest and be prepared for future ambitious endeavors.
That way, her colleagues avoided both the downfall of clockwatching (not being able to do much) and of overworking (burnout). Ultimately, that’s how they developed one of the most visited websites in the country.
WordCamp organizers pulled off a superb online event with an engaging group of speakers. They highlighted important topics and gave us all something of value.
All in all, we can’t wait to see them again next year. And if you liked these tips, stay tuned – you can join us on the next WordCamp!