I spent much of this weekend at WordCamp North Canton, a forum on everything WordPress.
A casual user of WordPress myself, I attended to meet other users and learn how to get more out of the software.
I particularly enjoyed how much of the conference was focused on business and entrepreneurship vis-a-vis WordPress. I learned about how successful businesspeople do market research, SEO, and content strategy for their sites.
Here are my lessons from Day 1.
1. Network in reverse. This one came from Joe Rosza of Trailer Trash Design. Joe said that when he first started freelancing, he didn’t understand the point of networking. What’s the point of chumming around with a bunch of people just like you? Then he looked at networking “in reverse.” This means heading not just where people know what you do, but where people need what you do. Find these people and give to them.
2. Persuade, Inform, Entertain. These are the three purposes of content, according to Sean Manion. When crafting your story online, think about which of these you’re targeting. (For example, the purpose of this piece is to inform about WCNC — although it could even persuade you to come!). Be clear in your intent.
3. Always give clear signals. Good websites will give the user clear signals about next steps. Do you want the user to join a mailing list? Buy an ebook? Don’t muddle your purpose — but give something to the user first.
4. Manipulation is not the answer. One way people try to look good in Google is by manipulating loopholes. Not a good idea, says Stoney deGeyter. The scores of PhDs at Google are smarter than you, and short-term mischief like this is only going to hurt you later on.
5. Don’t paralyze your customer with options. Some websites, especially in ecommerce, attempt to display a list of all their merchandise on the homepage. The designer thinks he’s being helpful by showing off the assortment, but this only leads to “analysis by paralysis.” A better design is to break the assortment into broader categories from which the customer chooses. Then drill down. Guide the customer, don’t just read him the bill of goods.
6. FInd your partner. I was surprised at how many attendees were small family affairs: husband-wife, mother-son, etc. This was a reminder that the most creative rarely work alone: they have a creativity partner. While it’s common for bloggers or web designers to work on a freelance basis, that does not mean they don’t collaborate.
7. Don’t try new ideas, combine old ones. A running joke of the conference was Taco Bell’s “Waffle Taco” (or now, the “Biscuit Taco.”) It would have been difficult for Taco Bell to create an entirely new category of fast food. But how about combining two of them? This is often how the ideas are born.
Makes you want to attend a WordCamp, right?
Check out my thoughts from Day 2.
Photo courtesy of user NatashaG on Pixabay.