Wordcamp Hamilton 2013Yesterday, June 23, I had the chance to attend Wordcamp, a one-day conference in Hamilton, Ontario. It was a gathering of enthusiasts of the WordPress website content management system. Wordcamps take place all over the world and this was the first one for Hamilton.

WordPress is one of the easiest to use content management systems for websites that’s out there. It is incredibly flexible, thanks to a huge global community of developers and users who offer support and create plugins that give the base system a great deal of added functionality. WordPress was originally created as a blogging system, but now it’s a suitable platform for many different website development needs. It doesn’t do everything, but I’m always amazed by what it can do. Some very large and reputable sites run on WordPress, including the National Post and canoe.ca.

Although a website’s goals will dictate the content management system chosen, WordPress is able to easily meet the needs of most of our clients.

While this was a conference specifically about WordPress, many of the comments were true for any website. By the end of the day, I had five big take-aways:

  1. Find your own voice when developing content. This is your style of writing and way of presenting yourself. It is what will define your business, whatever kind of website you have. (Sounds like building an identity, doesn’t it?) Keep it real. You may be representing your business, but you are writing as a person. Your site’s humanity will keep people coming back to read more.
  2. Keep your content fresh. People will come back to your site only if they have a reason for coming back. New content – updates, newsletters, blog posts – is a big part of what makes people want to come back.
  3. It’s only one piece of the marketing pie. Your website is only most effective if it’s part of a bigger marketing and communications plan, including social media, face-to-face networking and conventional media. They all work together and cross-fertilize each other.
  4. Build your website with mobile devices in mind. Here’s a staggering statistic: web-capable mobile devices are selling at the rate of 3.6 million units each day! Most websites out there were designed for desktop computers only, but the mobile phone and the tablet, with their smaller screen sizes, are taking over. Websites must now be able to look good regardless of the device being used for browsing. There are a number of techniques emerging, but a responsive website design is currently the most common. Responsive websites change the layout to keep text size legible, depending on the size of the display screen.
  5. Security is vital. An ugly fact of life is that hackers and scammers are getting sophisticated in co-opting a website to spread malware, promote pornography and generate spam. Security measures are essential for any website to stay active. They include using difficult to guess passwords and not using default installation settings. Your security measures are not a one-time fix, either. Regularly updating the core system and plugins is vital.

What do you think? Join the conversation.