April WordPress Meetup at Urbane Space

In April, we met at Urbane Space in Birmingham (thanks to Hubert and Eric!).

As we were waiting for WordPress 3.0 release, we talked about some new features especially the multisite feature. Devin from Austin, TX was visiting the area and joined us for the meetup. He shared a nice video on setting up multisite:

Links that were mentioned:

(Yes, that’s right – this is for the April meetup. The post was sitting as a draft and I had left it for so long. Sorry for the delay!)

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Notes & Video Clip from March Meetup

Here are some notes I took from the meetup last night.
Please read my previous post for details on this meetup topic – leukemiamichigan.org Case Study.

March WordPress Meetup

Site Overview

The site was developed by Futuramic Media (Tim Aten) and Trevor Fitzgerald for a local non-profit organization, Children’s Leukemia Foundation of Michigan using WordPress.

The site’s goal is to keep the look of the existing site while making it easy to update the site (especially the fundraising events & news) and promote donation.

Custom Features

Images with Custom Field

They used Custom Field Template plugin to create a field for static image on each pages (Version 2.9 has the post thumbnails & in-dashboard media editor feature to make this even easier. These were not fully available at the time of the development of the site)

Event Manager

Event Manger is a feature Trevor built especially for this site. This has the ability to add event title, date, description and link, upload an image for the event, Convio (event landing page) integration. By adding an event from a simple form, the client can update a home page block and calendar of event page.

He mentioned he would use custom post type with custom fields if he were to build this after Version 3.0. You can read Custom Post Types in WordPress 3.0 (kovshenin.com) to learn more.

E-commerce/Payment

The site currently use a simple Authorize.net gateway for the donate feature.

Their future plan is to use Shopp plugin to add a shop for fundraising merchandises. Anthony noted he likes Shopp plugin a lot because of the refined and integrated interface which feels continuous to WordPress dashboard. He also likes Shopp’s advanced coupon control features.

Tips on Training Users

Tim shared a printed manual they handed to the client. Noting basic things (e.g. pasting from Microsoft Word, shift + return/enter to create a new line) is really important for non-techie users. This sounds obvious but is often overlooked in documentation if it’s written from your perspective not the users.

Result

The client is very happy with the result they got using WordPress. It used to take months to update something on the site to add a new feature or even to make a simple update on the site. Compare that to the fact this whole renewal project spanned over 2 months or so, but their gross development time was about 3 weeks (note: the design and some frontend code was carried over from the existing site)!

Questions

Q: How/where did you set up an environment for testing?
A: Tim said they had a separate dev site on his company’s server. Anthony said he’s experimenting with Dev and Staging Environment Plugin – he’s liking it so far.

Q. Why did you use WordPress (as opposed to Joomla! or Drupal)?
A. WordPress has a nice admin interface for the client to work with. It is important that the user can keep updating the site without much help, and also they can hand over the task to anther person if they need to.

Q. Anything to note on the theme side?
A. They took the template from the existing site and made it into a WordPress theme. Theme setup is pretty basic other than a custom page template for the home page.

February WordPress Meetup at AJ’s Cafe

In our last meetup, Anthony Montalbano (@italianst4) gave us a presentation on “The Power of Plugins”.

Anthony on Plugins

The plugins he mentioned are listed is at Room3064.com, and titled “24 WordPress Plugins to extend WordPress beyond a blog“.

Everyone enjoyed hearing Anthony’s first-hand experience in using some of the popular plugins and other lesser-known yet useful ones. You can read descriptions and reviews about plugins, but sometimes it’s much more helpful when you can ask questions and compare usages.

I have a short video from this but it’s not ready yet. Coming soon… Update: Posted the video.

After the presentation each of us shared a couple of plugins that we like. I’ll just list them with a short descriptions.

Though it’s not a plugin, Press This was also mentioned as a very useful tool (FYI: Noel Jackson, another speaker from our past meetup worked on this!). If you don’t have it yet, go to the “Tools” panel on your WordPress dashboard. You can strat using it right away.

For March meetup, Tim will talk about some WordPress shopping cart solutions, and Trevor will shocase a non-profit organization site he worked on with Tim. I will post the date & details on the meetup site soon.

January Ferndale WordPress Meetup at AJ’s

January WordPress MeetupToday’s Ferndale WordPress Meetup had a nice turnout. I was happy to see lots of new people.

I am trying to schedule our meetups on more regular basis (same time, same week on every month). i3Detroit is a possibility (maybe after March) but let me know if you have any suggestions about the location.

Please join the Meetup.com group to get all updates about upcoming events. I also post things on Facebook and Twitter (@naokomc) time to time.

So in today’s meetup…

Developing a WordPress Theme

First, Trevor presented “Developing a WordPress Theme“. I posted the summary of it as another entry.

WordPress 3.0

Then we talked a little about WordPress 3.0.

  • WordPress MU merge is going well and a “pre-preview release” is coming soon.
  • There will be a new default theme called “2010” replacing Kubrick. You can read more about it on WordPress.org development blog’s entry 2010: A Theme Odyssey.
  • The project schedule for 3.0 is on WordPress Development Updates blog. For the latest updates, check that blog often. Currently, 3.0 release is scheduled for mid-April.
  • More new stuff: improved menu management, custom post type, core plugins… lots to look forward!

There were some questions about WordPress Foundation. The site explains its mission and purpose, but in short it’s a non-profit organization for open source WordPress projects. You can go to the site to check out the new default theme “2010”. The site is using a beta version of the theme.

WordCamp!

Some of us are planning trips to WordCamp Toronto and WordCamp Chicago. There is a discussion thread on Meetup.com message board about it, so post comments if you’re interested. Gary says get the ticket soon if you’re planning to go, because last year Chicago ticket got sold out quickly.

We are also going to kick off our WordCamp Detroit 2010 planning. If you are interested in volunteering or getting updates, please contact me. Speakers, sponsors, spreading the word – any help is appreciated! When I have more specific information, I’ll make sure to post it here.