Thoughts on branding, design, writing and life by Kevin Potts. Established 2003.

WordCamp Kansas City 2011

WordCamp is getting its first Kansas City appearance, and yours truly will be speaking on performance optimization. Here’s what you can expect, and why you should go, whether you use WordPress or not.

For my regular readers, god bless all four of you, this may come as a strange announcement, but I wanted to let everyone know I’ll be speaking at WordCamp Kansas City in June, 2011. Yes, I am an ardent supporter of Textpattern, but more broadly, I am a supporter of all good content management systems, including WordPress.

But Kevin, you ask, what do you possibly have to offer to the WP community? Well, when it comes to advanced plugin development or custom theming or any other fancy WordPress thing, precisely jack shit. But I do have a lot to say about web development, especially on the front end. My talk is about website performance on a broad level with a distinct WordPress angle. Here’s the description:

Speed has become an inherently critical component of website development. As more and more content is accessed through wireless networks, and as search engines now favor pages that render faster, the axiom of “everyone has a high-speed connection” is no longer such a black and white statement.

More than 80% of loading lag happens on the client side, not on the server, so it is the front-end developer’s responsibility to craft web pages that use tools such as compression and minification in conjunction with HTTP request reduction, image sprites, DOM simplification and other development tactics. Combined together, these simple steps can greatly reduce load time and make for a much better end-user experience.

My expertise is in making shit go fast. And while WordPress is a nice platform, it leaves a lot to be desired in basic optimization — the core templates and plugin architecture compile in ways that leave sites slow-loading.

So I’ll be covering the two basic sets of tactics. First, adopting general front-end methodologies that are independent of any CMS. Second, covering specific tactics for what you can do in WordPress, including altering template files. The first will be the heaviest of the two, because you can’t put a turd design into any CMS and expect gold to plop out the other end. For that reason, my 50 minutes of soapboxing is useful to just about anyone working on the web.

What can you expect when you see me speak? To your surprise, I am sure, I am not a mumbling, shuffling, incoherent lump with eleventy billion bullets on every slide. You can expect simple slides, an articulate story (I know, right?), and probably a bunch of cursing. Also, useful information, not just a rehash of others’ blog posts.

For those in the KC area, or those within a reasonable driving distance (I’m looking at you Topeka, Omaha and St. Louis), this is a very inexpensive event well worth your attention.

Right now registration is only $40. After April 1, it jumps to $65. This is pennies for a day and a half of awesomeness, and an easy cost to absorb for small agencies and internal development/design groups. So get on it.

Hell, if you’re not willing to spend $40 just to come and see me speak … well, I’m not sure I can be your friend anymore.

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