WordCamp San Francisco 2012 Recap

WordCamps are held all over the place all year long.  Heck, we went to one ourselves this year!

But not all WordCamps are created equal.  One WordCamp beyond all the rest is the main centerpiece for all things WordPress.

WordCamp San Francisco 2012 marks the home appearance of many of the WordPress founders and curators as well as some of the most “in-the-know” people in the world of WordPress.  It is also the event where company progress is broadcast to the world and announcements are made.

This past weekend brought the 2012 version of said special event to the WordPress masses.

Here is a recap and analysis of what happened.

State of the Word

The State of the Word is the headlining speech at WordCamp San Francisco, as it sums up WordPress operations and provides a highlight reel of things to come.  WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg took the stage to update the world on his growing boy.

The State of the Word officially announced WordPress 3.5 with a December 5th release date.

Along with 3.5, the newest WordPress default theme “Twenty Twelve” was announced and quickly displayed.

Full Retina support was announced as coming for those of us with hiDPI devices.

It’s a shame Automattic isn’t publicly traded, because Matt also brought with him enough staggering statistics to make any shareholder shout!

  • There were 52 WordCamps last year, with a planned 75 this year!
  • WordPress powers an astonishing 16.7% of the web!
  • 20,000 people surveyed make money through WordPress!
  • 5,000,000 downloads of the WordPress mobile apps!

Sounds like a great time to be a WordPress developer or user!  WordPress is gaining an even stronger following, and with the new community focuses, will become stronger still.

Matt Mullenweg State of the Word

All the great numbers posted and new releases announced could not hold a candle to the most important piece of news in the WordPress world (in this writer’s opinion).  As has been eluded to recently, Matt took even more steps towards creating that true community feel.

He spoke about how he envies Google and their approach to constant live updates.  He specifically noted Google Docs, and is looking to make WordPress function like Google Docs, with easy and on-the-fly editing and sharing between different curators.

As the Internet, technology, and people’s expectations become more immediate, it would be nice to have immediate and remote sharing of content in an intuitive way.  Here is hoping Matt (or somebody else) makes good on the promise.

Shout out to Wptuts+ for posting a live twitter feed of the event as it was happening.

Sara Cannon – Designing for the Modern Web

Sara made one of the more compelling arguments during WordCamp with her emphasis on the mobile platform.  There was something for everyone, from the simplicity of design to the changes in marketing, to the front and back-end of making mobile websites through WordPress.

She began by talking about the fact that by 2015, there will be more mobile device use than laptop use, yet people are still late to the party on developing websites to support a mobile platform.

The second half of her presentation focused on key ways to improve image loading sizes on websites and also how to code and plan for Retina Display and HiDPI computers.  It was both fun and informative to both designers and coders.

I was very impressed with Sara’s presentation as it brought upon us the notion that technology does not sit still and that success in the digital space is all about being three years ahead of the competition.  You can’t look back, and, at least in Sara’s case, looking back means neglecting the largest digital audience the world is going to have.

Ryan Imel – The State of Themes

Ryan Imel, editor-in-chief of WPCandy, led a discussion on the current state of themes, and where he would like them to go.  In many ways, the presentation itself was designed like the vision Ryan had for themes in the future.

Slides were very simple, colorful, and elegant.

The main concern Ryan had with regards to the state of themes was that they were becoming too focused on developer specific plugins and a reliance of servicing by the creator of said theme.  His idea for themes in the future was to make them more focused around ease of use and simplicity of display.  He felt that making themes with an emphasis on harmony is the better way.

In short, the main call-to-action at the presentation was for developers and designers to make websites that could be run with the popular plugins that people like to use.

As someone who regularly tests plugins, I can tell you that the frustration of not being able to run a third-party plugin due to the limitations and restrictions of a theme is there.  Since WordPress is becoming more powerful in its own right and adding more features, there has probably never been a better time for developers to have a friendly disposition towards external forces.

I would buy a premium theme if it worked well yet was bare-boned, simply so I could add content as I pleased.  Though websites can offer solutions for certain clients (shops, bloggers, business, news, etc), without extensive support, they can never hope to personalize the experience to each individual’s needs.

Here is hoping people heed Ryan’s calling and start developing simpler.

Ilya Grigorik – Measure all the Things!

What would a technological type up be without mention of a Google employee!  Google’s very own web performance engineer Ilya Grigorik led a discussion about WordPress’s blessings and shortcomings, all while promoting the recent Google Developers platform.

Given the information for the 1,000 top WordPress powered websites, Ilya displayed statistics on performance.  There was a lot of technical information spewed pertaining to the loading of different elements on a website.

To make a long story short, it was found that WordPress-powered websites are running about average to most other websites, perhaps a bit on the slow side.

More importantly, and somewhat disjointedly, the numbers game was joined by a 5 step process to successfully run an idea or business.

The 5 Step Process outlined was…

1. Determine Terrain and Direction
2. Survey Recommended Routes
3. Determine your Route
4. Optimize, automate (mod_pagespeed)
5….Determine you Route

Ok so it was definitely a 4 step process stretched to 5, but the 5 steps are relevant from both a technical and personal level.

Ilya’s purpose was to talk about building a website and building a life plan with you and your audience in mind.  There is nothing else to worry or think about.

If you find your target market and build your content and website around the needs of the customer, you cut the fat out of the webpage and create a lean and beautiful experience.

By establishing your goals and clients, finding the right course of action, and going with it, you can be a success on the web, in your personal life, and in your business.

The List

Here is a list of the presenters and their topics for this year’s WordCamp San Francisco:

Special thanks to David Bissett for putting the slides from most of the presentations in one convenient space!

Those are quite a few names!  WordCamp San Francisco 2012 was a huge success!

Did we miss anything? Let us know below?

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