Author Archives: Pamela Coyle

Jon Henshaw of Raven Tools on WordPress, Slack

A brief Q & A with Jon Henshaw of Raven Tools, a Silver Sponsor of Nashville WordCamp 2015.

How would you describe the WordPress community at large? How about on a local level here in Nashville area?
When I think of the WordPress community, I think of it as being passionate and active. They have an amazing open source CMS that is continually improving and attracting more and more developers.

Locally, here in Nashville, most Web designers and developers appear to be using WordPress. In fact, there are very few people I know who don’t use it. I think it’s a win for companies, because it makes it easier to find talented people to design, build and maintain their sites. It’s also a win for coders, because it means there’s a lot of job opportunities in town.raven-wp

What is the biggest pain point the WordPress community faces? What challenges / trends do they face?
The biggest concern the WordPress community faces is security. As the platform continues to explode, it becomes an even bigger target for malicious coders. While Automattic (the creators of WordPress) and the open source community that helps maintain WordPress do a superb job of making it as secure as possible, vulnerabilities continue to be a concern.

Interestingly, many of the vulnerabilities don’t come from the base installation of WordPress. Instead, they come from third party plugins. One of the best ways to defend your site from these vulnerabilities – other than reducing the amount of plugins you use – is to have a hosting provider like WP Engine. They actively monitor and take action on plugins with vulnerabilities. They also keep multiple complete backups of your site, allowing easy restoration after an attack.

If you want monitoring and backups, but not the hosting, then I highly recommend using Automattic’s VaultPress.

Is there a tool or technology your company can’t live without?
Lately, the tool I can’t live without is Slack. It’s become an essential communication tool at Raven that’s replaced at least two to three other apps. It also supports third party integrations, including Raven.

For example, our software can now send notifications to anyone’s Slack account. Customers can automatically get updates when a new Site Auditor crawl is complete or be alerted when a scheduled marketing report has been delivered to their client.

Raven, based in Nashville, provides a suite of marketing and SEO tools. Follow @RavenTools and Jon Henshaw @RavenJon.

WP Ninjas is about building for the community

from James Laws of WP Ninjas

Let’s be clear. We sell WordPress plugins. That’s how we make our money, but it’s not our business.

Our business is about helping others be successful by providing the best tools, services, and resources available.

One tool we provide to accomplish this is Ninja Forms. It is fast becoming the WordPress communities form creation tool of choice for three main reasons.

It’s completely free. Not only is it free, it’s very powerful and flexible. Anyone can dive right in and start creating great forms for their WordPress website immediately.

It’s open source, in the truest sense, just like WordPress itself. Ninja Forms is on Github and anyone can contribute to make the plugin even better. To date we have had 46 different contributors to the plugin and that number is growing.

It’s super easy to extend. Ninja Forms is hands down the easiest form creation plugin to build on top of.  Just ask the developers of more than 31 add-ons they’ve built so far.

That’s our business.

WP Ninjas is a Gold Sponsor of Nashville Wordcamp. Follow the company, based in Cleveland, TN, @wpninjas.


A Media Company With A Deep Appreciation for Design and Technology

from Chris Lavergne at Thought Catalog

The Thought & Expression Co. is headquartered in New York City, however, we have employees all across the country. Founded in 2010, we pride ourselves on being a media company with a great appreciation for design and technology (particularly WordPress).

We are well-known for our property Thought Catalog, a WordPress-powered writing platform that receives over 30 million readers every month.

We’re in the process of revamping the entire Thought Catalog website, which is an exhilarating task given how much reach the site has and how every change will be seen instantaneously by millions of people.

We do more than just Thought Catalog, though.

  • We are a book publishing house that publishes books using a multisite plugin built on WordPress.
  • We recently launched another site — Shop Catalog, which is currently in beta and will launch in full on June 1, 2015.
  • We run an ad agency.

Check out our corporate website and our two WordPress sites, Thought Catalog and Shop Catalog.

Thought Catalog, part of The Thought & Expression Co., is a Gold Sponsor of WordCamp Nashville. Follow the company on Twitter @thoughtcatalog.

WordCamp Nashville 2015 Update

WordCamp Nashville 2015

Photo by Chelsie Goodwin, another awesome #wcn15 volunteer

Hello friends, attendees, sponsors and volunteers!

It is hard to believe WordCamp Nashville was a week ago. We wanted to let you know what to expect in coming weeks. WordPress learning and sharing doesn’t stop just because we picked up our trash and had some beer.

Stay tuned for the following:

  • Sponsor Posts: In which you will learn more about our Gold and Silver sponsors
  • Session Slides: In which we we assemble in a post for each “track” all links to available slide decks
  • Podcast Interviews: In which you will be able to hear and/or read edited interviews with speakers and sponsors interviewed by Clark Buckner of Technology Advice.
  • videos: In which you be able to view full sessions recorded and edited by some of our many awesome volunteers.

We’d add a gentle reminder that WordCamp Nashville, as other WordCamps across the world, is powered entirely by volunteer organizers and staffed by an army of more volunteers on The Big Day. After WordCamp, volunteers edit videos, write posts, put together surveys and check in with speakers and sponsors.

Follow us on Twitter @wordcampnash for #wcn15 updates. Please be patient. And please keep in touch with the new friends you made.

Welcome to WordCamp Nashville!

It is going to be a great day.

WordCamp Nashville opens for registration at 8 a.m. today with the first sessions starting at 9 a.m.  WordCamp Maine and WordCamp Lisboa (Lisbon, Portugal) are this weekend, too.

But if you are in Music City – a few reminders:

We still have a few dozen tickets available; walk-ins are welcome and we’ll be delighted to take your $20.

Volunteers are in green WordCamp t-shirts. Attendees will receive blue t-shirts. If you need anything, grab a volunteer.

flying-saucerThe painfully official hashtag is #wcn15.

Schedules are on your lanyards.. Three sessions are before lunch; three sessions are after lunch. We like the symmetry.

logo_small_silverThe nice folks at Lyft are offering one ride to attendees who are first-time Lyft users worth up to $20. The code is on your lanyard.

The after-party is at The Flying Saucer in downtown Nashville. You’ll get two drink tickets (maybe more if you know someone at the sessions who isn’t going) and light appetizers. Address is on your lanyard cards. We make excellent use of them and pack tons of print in a small space.

We have a separate room for sponsor swag, which is awesome because we have a record number of sponsors this year and a separate room means registration won’t back up.

And some random data just for fun:

San Francisco hosted the first WordCamp in 2006. Since then, there have been:

  • 470 WordCamps in
  • 197 cities in
  • 48 countries on
  • 6 continents

In taking part today – whether you are in Nashville, Maine or Portugal, you are part of something much, much bigger. The international WordPress community is generous, inclusive and growing.

With input from local organizers, sets standards and guidelines to keep these grassroots events about WordPress, learning and sharing best practices and new tricks with the platform many of us know and love.

And please thank our awesome sponsors for making this all possible.


Things to Know Before WordCamp

Nashville WordCamp Registration

This year, look for volunteers in green t-shirts. Attendees will receive shirts of another color. Photo by Morgan Bortz.

The Big Day is almost here! We’ve compiled some information to help make your WordCamp experience as seamlessly awesome as possible.

REGISTRATION: We open the doors at 8:00 and sessions start at 9:00 a.m. Please don’t come too early. There is plenty of time to check-in, get your t-shirt, grab some coffee and meet some folks.

LOCATION: The Nashville School of Law is located at 4013 Armory Oaks Drive, Nashville, TN 37204. The facility and parking lot are Wheelchair Accessible. Parking is ample and free.

FOOD & BEVERAGE: Coffee and water will be available throughout the day. Lunch service is included.

INTERNET / WIFI / POWER: All session rooms have stadium-style seating with individual power outlets. WiFi is available to everyone, but with many people on phones, tablets and laptops logged in at the same time, you may want to bring a hotspot if you have one.

SCHEDULE: If you want a printed copy of the schedule get it here before leaving home. The schedule also will be printed on the lanyard cards.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Please share your experiences at WordCamp Nashville on Twitter using the official hashtag, #wcn15.

WE STAND READY: If you have general questions, a volunteer can help. They’ll be wearing the green t-shirts. Don’t forget one-on-one help with WordPress questions – be sure to bring your laptop to the Help Desk. We will have a team of rotating WordPress experts to help you throughout the day.

GET A LYFT: Lyft, the paid ride-sharing service, has agreed to a partnership that gives first-time Lyft users one ride worth up to $20. The code will be printed on the lanyard card.

AFTER PARTY: The WordCamp after-party will be in downtown Nashville from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at The Flying Saucer, a literal Beer Emporium. We will be offering two drinks per attendee as well as some light appetizers. Feel free to invite significant others. The address is 111 10th Ave. S, Nashville, TN, 37203. There is (paid) parking available behind the venue, which is down a ramp and near the train tracks.

GET TO KNOW YOUR COMMUNITY: We hope you love the sessions, yet much of what comes out of going to a WordCamp happens between sessions. Take the time to meet people and learn about what they do. You will not find a more open and available community – WordPressers are a friendly lot.

See you Saturday!

WordCamp Nashville Party

Join us again this year at The Flying Saucer for the WordCamp Nashville after-party. Photo by Visual Coma.

Faces of WordPress: Ahmed Mustufa

Ahmed Mustafa

Ahmed Mustafa

How were you first introduced to WordPress?
I was first introduced to WordPress when trying to learn front-end development.

What do you like about it?
It’s easy to use and can make beautiful websites in absolutely no time.

What do you do with WP now?
I use WordPress to make simple blogs for hackathons and other events for innovators.

Did learning WP lead to any significant changes in your life?
It showed me a new side of website creation and strengthened by front-end development skills.

What would you tell a new user? A new developer?
I would tell them to mess around and try to have as much fun as possible with WordPress!

Anything else we should we know?
I’m a Professional Life Liver.

Faces of WordPress: Bryan Belanger (2015 Speaker)

Bryan Belanger

How were you first introduced to WordPress?
I was first introduced to WordPress around 2007. I was just starting to get into web development and was using WordPress for my personal site and a couple of freelance projects. Instantly loved it and how the dashboard was set up compared to other CMS’s I had used.

What do you like about it?
The community first and foremost. It’s easily one of the most giving and nurturing communities around when it comes to web development. From helping out small business owners, or development discussions on the forums or at meetups, the community is incredibly helpful and accepting. I’ve worked in several other frameworks and communities where an elitist attitude can arise, but I have not experienced that in the WordPress world. Also WordPress has come so far in how you can extend it for large scale websites. It’s an incredible tool to have when building for the web.

What do you do with WP now?
I design and build custom themes for different clients at Snapshot Interactive. A large majority of our client’s websites are built and maintained on WordPress, so I’m in the code for it pretty much every day.

How as the WP community helped you?
I learned WordPress sort of in tandem with learning PHP. My general mentality is to dive in and break things and see how it all works, and so the WordPress community in a sense really helped me grow my development skill-set. Anytime I’ve had questions about how to approach different scenarios, WordPress community has been instrumental in helping me figure out how to tackle it, and grow as a developer in general.

Did learning WP lead to any significant changes in your life?
It’s helped me grow my development chops, as well as opened a lot of professional doors for me. WordPress is widely used, and being able to develop custom themes has helped me find incredible opportunities I wouldn’t have had before.

What would you tell a new user? A new developer?
Have fun with it and reach out to the community. Whether you’re a new user, or a new WordPress developer it never hurts to try new things with it to see what works and what doesn’t. If you’ve hit a roadblock, more than likely someone has encountered that as well and would be happy to give some feedback. Also if you’re a new developer, the documentation is some of the most organized out there, take time to search and read through it and see the example code. Don’t be afraid to dive right in to the deep end.

Anything else we should we know?
Snowboarding is one of my favorite things in the world. One day I would love to do a heli-drop in Alaska! Oh also I love the Green Bay Packers and they shall rise to glory again!

Faces of WordPress: Taylor Lovett (2015 Speaker)

Taylor Lovett

Taylor Lovett

How were you first introduced to WordPress?
An employer in 2007 asked me to build his website in WordPress. I resisted at first because I preferred to build things from scratch.

What do you like about it?
I like that WordPress has without a doubt (to me) the best publishing experience of any content management system, and that WordPress’s extensive APIs allow it to serve as an application framework.

What do you do with WP now?
I work for 10up where we build amazing web experiences for enterprise using WordPress.

How as the WP community helped you?
Local meetups and WordCamps have helped me learn more about the platform and introduced me to like minded people.

What would you tell a new user? A new developer?
WordPress is not just a blogging platform; be open-minded.