Claire, web developer at graphics.coop travelled to WordCamp Manchester 2017 last weekend. WordCamps are conferences for WordPress users. Designers, developers, bloggers and others join to share their knowledge of WordPress, network and make friends in the community.
As a supporter and promoter of open-source technology, it’s important to be involved. Here are some of the key highlights that were of most relevance to graphics.coop and our clients:
Preceding the conference day was a meetup for Genesis Framework users. Genesis is what we use to build all our sites as it is well coded, supported and highly adaptable. Genesis is also endorsed by major sites such as WP Beginner.
We were lucky enough to be joined during the day by Brian Gardner, the founder of StudioPress, who made Genesis. He gave us some pointers on where Genesis development is headed.
A number of the meetup attendees gave talks. Angie Vale of Purple Hippo Design spoke about the GDPR – a EU updating of data protection laws. You’ll hear a lot more about this from us shortly.
Working with the third sector
Nick Wilmot spoke about the advantages of working with third sector organisations.
He made a number of points which we’ve also found to be true.
Several charities have clued-up staff who know what they want, but need someone to take the work off their plate.
Third sector organisations are committed to people’s rights: they value web accessibility, whereas many businesses do not.
Unlike private businesses, charities tend not to have a single owner. Decisions are made by committee. There’s much less chance of excessive ‘moon on a stick’ requests.
Once a project has been agreed upon charities usually want to get on with it. Sometimes there’s a deadline by which funders want to see their money put to good use.
Third sector staff make great networkers. Delivering good work on time and budget often generates referrals. Long-term business relationships are common.
Finally, the third sector is just rewarding to work for. It’s gratifying to know that you’re changing the world for the better.
The WordCamp took place on Saturday 28 October at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Business School. The university generously gave the use of the building for free. We were also lucky to have major sponsors for the event. The sponsorship kept ticket prices low and they also brought a lot of swag! Our office is now blessed with a new collection of notebooks, mugs, stickers and more.
The NHS and WordPress
One of the most interesting talks of the day was Richard Carter’s on Building a Website for the NHS on WordPress.
Richard’s agency Peacock Carter have a case study on the NHS Operational Delivery Networks site.
The purpose of the site was to allow the content to be:
Part of the specification was to provide information not just for the public and clinicians, but to create a members’ area for professionals.
Richard’s team approached the site by first planning the structure with a sitemap. The specification was deliberately kept loose to allow for changes later on.
The design was simplified from the original wireframe, which had a lot of content packed into the home page.
WordPress was chosen as a content management system as it is easy for clients to learn and manage.
The initial deadline was quite short, but was extended as the project went on.
The visual design had to conform to the NHS brand guidelines. Richard’s original suggested colours were orange, red and purple. (Two of the networks covered burn care and critical care, so it seemed appropriate.) The final choices were yellow, green and blue.
Scope creep was an issue, as it often is in web design projects. We love our clients and often go the extra mile, but when one request turns into ten, it can be a problem.
Security was taken seriously. All admin passwords had to be audited so they were judged secure. In a talk earlier in the day, Tim Nash explained how passphrases were easier to remember than passwords, but they have to be genuinely random.
The staff churn rate was high. For this reason, two-factor authentication wasn’t used as a security feature, as it often relies on logins linked to personal mobile phones.
Terminology: The team had to understand what Operational Delivery Networks were. ODNs are for “coordinating patient pathways between providers over a wide geographical area to ensure access to specialist resources and expertise”.
Bureaucracy. It took a few months and approval by committee to use a nhs.uk domain name.
Content input: A lot of the content was transcribed from Word documents and existing PDFs. The Paste without formatting option in WordPress came in really handy here.
Legal requirements: The site had to be hosted using a UK or European data centre. In the end, it was agreed that Peacock Carter would host the site.
The end product
See the site here: Operational Delivery Networks.
WordCamp Manchester 2017 was a worthwhile expedition and always good to get together with others, learn about different approaches, share ideas and discuss how WordPress can make the world a better place.