Heather Acton, Lead Organizer, kicking off the weekend’s event.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of speaking at WordCamp Chicago. Like last year, this event this was well-organized and attended by avid WordPressers from around the greater Chicago area.

#WCCHI was held at the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, which proved to be a perfect location with ample room for the 400+ attendee list. They also provided an advanced AV system allowing the ability for presentation videos to be edited easily before there placement on WordPress.tv.

The Sessions

The entire weekend was jam-packed with informative and unique speakers and sessions. Although not officially a theme for the event, much of the content was focused on the future of WordPress and the technology surrounding it. The event also focused on returning to the tried and true techniques of creating well-formatted and easily consumable content. Here are a few of my favorites.

Voice is Becoming the New Keyboard: Voice Interfaces in 2018 and Beyond

Keanan Koppenhaver discussed the rise of voice technology like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana. He showed how business owners can take advantage of the voice search trend to better meet the needs of visitors and how that can impact your SEO efforts.

Currently, the process for creating voice interfaces requires coding knowledge, but it was clear that it won’t be long before voice interface product and service options become available to the average (non-developer) user.

Making Security Make Sense to Clients

This was my session. The focus of my presentation was to show freelancers how to build website security into their web development work from the very start. It may surprise you to know that because of time constraints and budgets, many clients choose to side-step website security, even though it’s one of the most important aspects of running a business online. My presentation provided simple recommendations such as prioritizing the discussion of security upon first contact with a potential client, and educating them on why and how websites get hacked.

I’m happy to report that I had a full room of freelancers and agency owners anxious to learn how to include security into their client projects. Everyone seemed very engaged with the advice I shared and the Q&A session at the end was informative for all, including me.

My talk will be featured on WordPress.tv eventually but if you’d like to read through an expanded version, head over to my Making Security Make Sense to Clients blog post series.

On a personal note, I was also very excited to have my Dad in attendance to see me speak for the first time and learn what this “WordPress Community” is all about!

Content for the Modern World

Machielle Thomas focused on “targeted content” in her engaging and informative session. She gave a deep dive into emerging content trends and advice on how the average website owner can duplicate these trends on their preferred content and social media platforms.

She then expertly transitioned into actionable steps for writing more click-worthy and engaging titles for blog posts and emails with a focus on getting users to take the exact action you want them to take.

Blogging for Business

Andy Nathan has been in the digital marketing industry for over 10 years. In that time, he’s revised his content strategy and processes with a focus on gaining traffic and clicks to drive businesses forward.

This session was standing room only and included everything a new content creator needs to know to be successful. Even old-timers like myself loved this presentation and the step-by-step process he laid out for getting started, or even revising your old content.

Roundtable Discussion: What is the GDPR and how to prepare your site

Susan Hayse and Heather Acton presented this timely discussion. If you’re not aware, the May 25, 2018 GDPR compliance deadline is looming, and if you own a WordPress website you’ll need to be prepared.

If you’re not sure what GDPR is, it stands for General Data Protection Regulation. It’s a regulation in the European Union which aims to provide data protection and privacy for all individuals in the region. It also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU. Stay tuned to this site for more information on the GDPR soon.

This presentation reviewed the basics of the GDPR and what’s required to comply. They then opened things up for discussion and questions. We discussed our options at length and it was a great conversation.

In Summary

WordCamp Chicago was an awesome event and one I’m certain to attend again. Did you attend #WCCHI too? I’d love to hear about your experiences there too!

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