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I Will Be at WordCamp Montreal 2013

WordCamp Montreal 2013

WordCamp Montréal 2013 is com­ing in late June and, as is becoming a tradition for me, I will be attend­ing this great event for the 4th time! It seems that the more experience I get with WordPress, the more I get out of WordCamp. There’s always an great roster of presenters every year and I always meet interesting people.

I was nowhere ready for it this year but I’m starting to think about presenting at WordCamp eventually. I’ve been working with WordPress almost exclusively for well over 3 years now and my experience with multisite used for multilingual sites could certainly help others. I know it’s a topic that will be touched upon this year but it’s a reality for almost every web site for me. We’ll see!

The talks schedule looks like the best I’ve seen so far this year so if you are near or in Montreal during the last weekend in June (29, 30), don’t miss it! As I’ve said before, the Montréal WordPress com­mu­nity is truly awesome!

See you there!

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The State of my 2013 WordPress Toolset – Themes

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When I wrote the 2012 version of this post last year, I did not expect it to become the most commented post on this blog ever. It made me realize that there is a real hunger for information about premium WordPress themes and frameworks out there, a need for opinions from people working with some of these products every day and who are not afraid to speak their mind. I like to think I do that here.

I also try to make a distinction between what frameworks would work well for professional WordPress designers and developers versus casual users. The former is what interests me and most reviews out there are targeted at the latter. Also, you often get a review from someone who tinkered with a framework on a test site for a few minutes or hours. I work with the themes I mention here all the time. Testing a theme framework for a couple hours will not give you a perspective on things like:

  • How well do upgrades and updates work? Do updates typically break client sites layouts? Do you need to tweak your child themes every time you upgrade the parent theme?
  • How does the framework perform on a real live site with real traffic? Is the site slower or faster with this framework compared to others?
  • How does the developer handle support? How fast, how helpful are they. This is key when your client work depends on a theme framework so heavily.
  • Etc…

This post is also a kind of intro to other posts I’ll write in the coming weeks and months where I explain in more detail the reasons I’d choose a WordPress theme framework over others and I’ll finally write some real in-depth theme framework reviews based on these criteria. That is already started.

But for now, here’s the state of my 2013 WordPress themes toolset…

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Learning from the Past and Looking Forward to 2013

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I have done a few end of year / start of new year posts in the past but this one will not be a look back at the past year. 2012 has been a great year for me and my business, a year of growth and the pain that often comes with it. But I prefer to look forward and distill those lessons into areas of focus for the new year so I can improve where I can and do better in 2013.

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The State of My 2012 WordPress Toolset – Themes

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The last few months have been my busiest since I started freelancing full time in August 2008 and I’ve also had to tackle some of my most complex WordPress projects. This means I had to re-evaluate parts of my WordPress toolset to be able to satisfy some of my increasingly demanding clients’ requirements and was forced to make some important changes to it.

I also learned a lot about WordPress as a development platform in the last two years and, after working with ColdFusion for a long time, I’m starting to get far more comfortable with PHP now. This enabled me to appreciate how powerful, elegant and flexible the WordPress platform really is and how much easier it makes things when you use the tools and APIs it provides correctly. This new understanding forced me to look at some of the tools I was using with new eyes and rethink some of the early decisions I made when I first started to work with WordPress. This includes rethinking Headway, the theme framework I’d been using as I was starting to have issues with it and the theme is the most important component of a WordPress site besides WordPress itself.

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Get Headway Before November 25

Note: I’m leaving this article up for “historical” purposes but, please note that I no longer recommend Headway. I’ve had far too many problems with it after I published this post. Try it if its feature set appeals to you but I no longer stand behind it.

Many of you know that, since I’ve started working with WordPress, the only theme I’ve used on any client project is Headway. Headway is not “just” a theme like the multitude of premade themes (free or paid) you can download and slap on a site with a few tweaks. Headway is a theme framework. It enables me to integrate any design I create or is given to me into a site. It affords me total flexibility as well as reliable tools I can count on project after project. To me, it’s not just a WordPress theme or a framework but a complete Web Site Design and Development System.

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