WordPress Coventry Meetup – Open Surgery

Wednesday 1st May was the second WordPress Coventry Meetup and we’d more than doubled in numbers since the first event!

The aim of these meetings? To come together, share issues about the popular platform and learn from each other – welcoming complete beginners through to WordPress pros. This session was an open surgery – inviting people to bring along any WordPress-related issues they wanted to raise with the group. Here’s a summary of the evening…

Initial discussions – talking plugins

As people arrived, we got talking about plugins (as you do) and Sarah Sarkies of Mulberry Design gave some useful tips in terms of choosing the right ones. Her expert advice? Before downloading a plugin, take a look at the number of installations (the higher the number, the better), the star rating, when it was last updated (the more recent, the better – avoid any that haven’t been updated in the last two years) and whether it’s compatible with your version of WordPress. This’ll give you a good indication of whether it’s a good one to download (or not).

Neil Batchelor, creator of WordPress Coventry and owner of EncodeDotHost, told us about WordPress 5.2 which is being released soon – more on that below.

Introductions and topics to cover

As there were lots of new faces, everyone gave a brief intro along with key topics they hope to learn about at the meetups. There was a real mix of experience in the room – from complete beginners to those who could do WordPress in their sleep!

Here are some of the topics mentioned – Facebook pixel, WordPress themes, analytics and SEO, web hosting, web security, page builders and the old favourite…the GDPR.

Updates from Neil

  • WordPress 5.2 will be released soon – it includes a new function, ‘site health,’ which highlights actions to improve your site security. For example, it’ll prompt you to remove any inactive plugins (which is good practice)
  • WordPress Coventry Meetup is now an official WordPress Meetup! This means all future meetups will now appear in the WordPress Dashboard which is great for exposure. Thanks to Neil for making this happen. Meetings will take place monthly, so be sure to get them booked in so you don’t miss out
  • On the structure of future meetings… The aim is to have a couple of speakers each month sharing their wisdom on anything WordPress-related – not just the technical stuff (e.g. website design, photography, social media, copywriting, etc.). If you have any ideas of talks you want to hear or give, please let Neil know
  • The plan over the next few years is to work towards hosting the very first WordCamp Coventy to coincide with Coventry 2021 City of Culture. More on WordCamps from Ronald…

Ronald Gijsel introducing WordCamp

Ronald owns Web bees, a digital agency in Evesham helping businesses grow their online presence. He’s co-organiser of WordPress Cheltenham and he’s also one of the organisers of WordCamp Bristol – an event that brings together 300-plus WordPress lovers. He shared his tips on organising an event like this and told us about the upcoming event which takes place 17th – 19th May at the University of Bristol. The lineup includes talks on a wide range of topics as well as plenty of opportunities to meet and socialise with like-minded people. Fancy going along? It’s not too late to book your ticket. He also kindly brought freebies for everyone which (unsurprisingly!) went down very well. Thanks, Ronald!

And the freebies didn’t stop there. Another member of the group, Jan Gillett, kindly brought us copies of his book – ‘Making Your Work Work’. So, thanks to Jan too!

Helping the room

The rest of the meeting was informal – there was the option to break off into smaller groups, but we ended up having a group-wide discussion which covered WordPress themes (specifically, the difficulties people face when choosing one), Facebook pixel and the GDPR (cookie and privacy policy).

Tip of the month

Before you choose your WordPress theme, be clear on what you want your site to do so you can pick a theme that’s right for your needs – this will save so much time (and faffing!) in the long run.

A busy session with plenty of discussion, as you can see! Fancy joining us for the next one? We’ll be at The Squirrel pub (upstairs) on Wednesday 5th June, 6-8pm. Let us know you’re coming via the WordPress Coventry Meetup page. Don’t forget to bring your laptop!

By Anna Lewin, a copywriter and content writer and owner of The QWERTY Keyboard.

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