WordCamp Orange County: Wizards, Paladins & Rogues, Oh My!

June 18, 2018 in Community

So WordCamp OC, pulling out all the stops this year!
Michael, CJ and I met up in Irvine, CA on June 9th & 10th to sponsor, speak, and just generally throw down at this year’s WordCamp OC, held again at the University of California Irvine.

David Margowski in wizard suit

Wizard David Margowski at WordCamp OC

The weekend began with local Wizard David Margowski introducing this year’s WordCamp theme: D&D!! And the organizers this year did NOT disappoint.

Speakers were treated to a fab baseball hat and goodie bag, and attendees got shirts, a fabulous WCOC pouch full of gamer dice, a pint glass and t-shirt. This was easily the more impressive display of swag that I have seen at a WordCamp, and the gaming theme was the icing on the cake.


WCOC also hosted the fourth annual Plugin-a-Palooza, a showdown of plugin developers competing for prizes and glory. Each team took to the stage to present their plugin and talk about the process they went through developing it. This year, 9 plugins were submitted for the contest and all were ultimately added to the plugins repo on WordPress.org.

Nathan Tyler and Natalie McLees took home first prize of $3,000 with their fabulous submission, Plugin Detective.

Plugin Detective

Plugin Detective uses Otto, a friendly assistant to help you identify the culprit of your broken site.

As a website owner or developer, you might have had a scenario where one of your themes or plugins did something unexpected – give you an error, break something on your site, or just flat out causing the white screen of death. The typical way to troubleshoot this is to deactivate all your plugins, one by one, and see which one is the culprit. This can be very time consuming and frustrating when you’re in a panic to fix your site. (You should not be doing updates or adding plugins directly to your live site without doing it on your staging site first, but I digress). Many site owners find this process too burdensome, and that’s where Plugin Detective comes in.

Nathan and Natalie’s new plugin was created to replace this manual troubleshooting process with something more user-friendly and dare I say, kind of fun. It starts with a friendly robot (Detective Otto, to you!) who helps you find the culprit via a “20 Questions” of sorts. The plugin guides you through your site to identify where the issue is, and narrows down the plugins accordingly until you’ve found the root of your issue and can take steps to fix it.

Check out this Plugin Detective demo to get a good understanding of the process!

For a list of all plugins submitted, have a look at the WCOC Plugin-a-palooza recap on the WCOC site.

Facebook Live Interviews

CJ with WordPress Disney art from Boldgrid

CJ Feierabend, our social media maven, came in from Scottsdale to do some coverage of the weekend. She did a few Facebook live interviews with WordCamp OC 2018 organizers Jason Tucker and Bridget Willard AND she won the Boldgrid raffle: a piece of custom, licensed Disney character WordPress art. Woo, congrats CJ!

Building and Launching a WooCommerce Store

WordCamp OC had a special treat in store for attendees: a full WooCommerce workshop, led by Famed WordPress mentor Chris Lema. In this multi-session talk, he covered everything from initial configurations for your WooCommerce site to strategies to get visitors to complete transactions on your website. Chris Lema has a TON of experience in the WordPress world, and any time he gives a talk like this, you are going to learn something, no matter how seasoned in the industry you may be. Predictably, this workshop was packed with standing room only. Because while you can easily do a Google search for WooCommerce tutorials, what you CAN’T get are the priceless anecdotes, personal insights and strategies from Chris himself.

Chris Lema, WCOC 2018

Chris Lema speaks WooCommerce to a packed room at WCOC

According to Chris, one of the biggest mistakes a WooCommerce store owner can do, is presume the audience has already been convinced to buy a product when they get to your site. Some examples of this include subscription email pop ups within seconds of arriving, and products with add-to-cart links right on the homepage. Chris argues that many users are hitting your site at the evaluation stage, and are not yet ready to make a purchase. So while you have made it easy for them to PURCHASE the product, that won’t help you if they are looking for information ABOUT the product or industry.

When you start by identifying the problem your customer is trying to solve, and then educating them on the topic, you effectively establish your site – and business – in the user’s mind as a trusted source of information. They will remember your site when they are further along the buyer journey, making them more likely to buy from you once they are ready. Concentrating on not only selling your products, but providing information on the topic will help you gain more customers in the end.

Project Management Panel

Drew Wilde (Bluehost), Jessi Gurr (Iceberg Web Design), Jamie Schmid (SiteLock)

Project Management panel, WCOC 2018

Project Management panel, WCOC 2018

In between talking with people at the sponsor booth and attending sessions, I had the opportunity to give two talks myself. The first was a Project Management Panel with Iceberg Design’s Jessi and fellow sponsor Bluehost’s Drew. We divided the session into three talks, and then sat down for a Q&A session with some great discussion afterward.

Jessi began by discussing strategies for the project management process itself, and Drew discussed his experience and processes in Enterprise project management. I ended the presentation with some tips for managing people remotely as a remote project manager.

Slides from my portion on managing people remotely are on Slideshare.

WooCommerce Security

WCOC was the inaugural presentation of my brand new talk, WooCommerce Security. And what better opportunity to discuss this than the day after Chris Lema’s WooCommerce Workshop?

Securing Your WooCommerce Site

I have been at SiteLock since February, and the hours upon hours of immersing myself in the web security world sort of culminated into this talk. I discussed a WooCommerce custom experience from start to end, and examined the potential vulnerability points along the way, all the while giving tips and tools on how to address them. Web security itself can be confusing enough, but add digital transactions into the mix and you’ve now got a huge potential for SOME security vulnerability to rear its head along the way.

Ecommerce User Journey

The Ecommerce user journey presents many points where security vulnerabilities could lead to a compromise on your site.

Don’t worry though – you can find my talk slides on Slideshare. Additionally, I will be writing a blog series and giving a webinar this summer on this very topic, so please stay tuned if WooCommerce is any part of your website business or services! We will get much more in-depth in a lot of areas I cover in my talk.

I will be giving this talk again at WordCamp Denver on July 28th —if you are in the area, I’d love to see you!

Until next time, Orange County!


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