Simon Dickson at WordCampUK

Quick notes on Simon Dickson‘s presentation at WordCampUK:

  1. Make big change happen in a small way
  2. Didn’t intend to be a WP fanboy, but it just turned out to be the best way of doing things
  3. Need for a WP ecosystem – WP now mature enough to require/support a real community
  4. PHP geeks not enough – need to understand the simplicity of the platform
  5. Simon not a developer, or designer. Can get by, but could do with some help!
  6. Three threats: procurement teams, IT people and
  7. Big web projects cost far too much – hundreds of thousands, millions even. Not just the systems, but the project management etc
  8. Free platforms has benefits, including longevity and ongoing support
  9. Simon started using typepad mainly, as seemed easier. No need for IT depts to know about what people were doing. takes that to a new level.
  10. Typepad has limitations – too blog focused. Need WP’s flexibility especially that which you get from self-hosted
  11. Up to 30% of blogs now are custom domained / CSS etc
  12. Appeals of WP – zero cost (can send the wrong message), skills base (lots of local talent to draw on)
  13. Designed for use by the individual – no need for support, it’s so easy to use. Upgrade cycle the only glitch
  14. Focus on content – it’s NOT about the tech – also don’t have to wade through metadata fields before writing content. Make it like writing something in Word (sad but true)
  15. Power of RSS – category based, tag based, integrated wordpress mini sites into the big ugly corporate CMS. Use SimplePie and Google API
  16. Do you mention the word ‘blog’ in relation to WP? Initially no, but maybe mention it early then move on. Blog not as dirty a word as it was. Ingrained in culture. BBC news journalists are known by their blogs as much as anything
  17. ourNHS site – built 3 times in 12 months, but so what? Quick, easy and cheap. Lord Darzi’s blog – discussion at time about referring to it as that
  18. Incredible power in themes
  19. “can WordPress do X?” YES! It’s just HTML and PHP folks.
  20. Automate as much as possible through the WP loop
  21. With WP sites, build it then walk. Very very few support requests
  22. WordPress in Welsh with the Wales Office site
  23. New number 10 website is running on wordpress. Round of applause for Simon
  24. Number 10 – what they do is news. News is blogs. Hence, blogging the right medium.
  25. Blogging and political journalism are merging
  26. When dealing with big orgs, form a precedent quickly. No. 10 started using youtube first in uk gov, now everyone is at it!
  27. No. 10 Twitter feed – c3,500 followers – people wanting to be a part of the conversation re: uk gov. Amazing!
  28. No, 10 uses Brightcove for video hosting etc
  29. Key message: acceptance of lightweight, social tools
  30. Security testing of No. 10 – heavyweight testing going on. Will be fed back to Automattic
  31. Micro sites, sites within sites…Can be thrown together fast, run as long as you need them, then close
  32. Theme switching – WP allows one-click change of template. Have some themes developed for certain incidents, can turn on when needed
  33. WordPress as crisis site when required. Have sitting in the background til when needed.
  34. What’s needed in WordPress to get into enterprise environment: page ordering (need rag and drop built in), slicker workflow (better pending/drafts handling), new long term support version (like ubuntu, don’t call it legacy branch!) ie better upgrades, the ecosystem/community (we need people that understand WP available and on call!)
  35. Developers – need to understand content and designers need to understand the WP machinery
  36. WP generalists?

WordCamp UK

WordCamps are fairly unorganised events for lovers of the best blogging platform, like, eva: WordPress. The first one in the UK is taking place in Birmingham next month, and it’s going to be great. Get a ticket here.

Even better news is that Simon Dickson‘s going to be there, and running a session on non-blogging with WordPress. Simon’s also sponsoring the event, in his words:

It’s maybe unusual for a one-man company to sponsor a fairly large conference like this. But virtually everything Puffbox does at the moment is WordPress-based. It’s the content management platform I always dreamed of… and it’s free of charge. It’s time I gave something back.

Besides, it’s in Puffbox’s interests for this gathering to take place. It’ll be an enjoyable weekend of unashamed geekery. I’m hoping to meet some interesting people, learn some interesting things, and help create a support infrastructure for WordPress in the UK. A T-shirt with a big W on the front would be a bonus.

Well done him, a brilliant gesture, not least because Simon has already done more than anyone to progress the use of lightweight, low cost solutions like WordPress in UK government. I last saw Simon at the UK Gov barcamp aaaaaages ago, so will look forward to catching up with him – and a whole host of other top WordPress folk – at the WordCamp.

New Wales Office Website

Thanks to Simon Dickson, the Welsh Wales Office website has had a real facelift. It looks really good, nice and clean layout and a smart news layout. Simon covers it all in more detail on his blog.

And the best bit? It’s running on WordPress. Great work, Simon!

(And if any other government departments would like a WordPress site of their own, you know where I am 😉 )