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NERCOMP WordPress University 2010 Conference April 26, 2010

Posted by ficial in conference, NERCOMP, WPUNI2010.

On April 8 I went to the NERCOMP WordPress University conference. It covered a wide range of WordPress related topics, mostly from a functional standpoint rather than a technical one. Williams has been using WordPress for various projects for the past two years, so we (my co-worker Kate and I) came to this conference with a much richer background than we had for our first one of these. This let us concentrate more on what other people are doing with WP rather than spending all our attention on how to implement things at Williams. To that end, I did a little experiment with sketching notes for the various talks rather than taking more formal notes. The goal was to capture more of the general feel of the talks and my responses to them rather than picking out specific tricks / tactics to apply to the Williams systems.

I found this a useful and exciting conference. We got to see and hear about some really interesting things particular people (the presenters) are doing with WordPress, and we got to talk with our peers from other institutions to get a sense of what direction the (admittedly self-selected) community is heading. Over all there are quite a few schools that are rolling out WordPress on a wide-spread basis, driven by either bottom-up request or top-down direction. The consensus seems to be that from a support/technical side WordPress is fine (though Drupal might be slightly better), and from the user side (ease of creating and maintaining a good site with neither technical nor design knowledge) it’s excellent – the best option out there.

Here are a few especially tasty tidbits:

  • Jay Collier of Bates presents on their experience moving to WordPress on a large scale. This is a great topic as we’re contemplating something similar. He mentions a Drupal/Wordpress comparison chart Bates created in the process
  • Jay also writes great blog entries about the process; here’s a good starting point for learning about Bates’ CMS evaluation and choice
  • a spreadsheet showing the ways various schools are using wordpress (not sure who to contact to add info)
  • Digress It is a cool plugin that allows paragraph-specific comments (though if you use it be sure to turn off comment pagination)
  • Casey Bisson turns the entire wordpress site into a widget-driven system; this is VERY COOL
  • Casey says “a person who picks a CMS for themself picks WordPress; if they have to use a tool picked by IT they get Drupal” – interesting comment on the end-user appeal of WordPress vs. the techy-er orientation of Drupal…. but also implies that professionals who have to deal with web sites every day think Drupal is better. IMHO this just means an implementer has to carefully consider priorities, not that one should be a priori chosen over the other.
  • BuddyPress (a networking tool/overlay/lens/adaption for WordPress) walks the line between professional and personal. (I came in a BuddyPress skeptic and left convinced it really can be worth while) A buddypress install gives an intra-organization social framework; you’d friend people on BuddyPress that you wouldn’t on Facebook.
  • Boone Gorges and Matthew Gold have a lot of good things to say during their talk on The Social University, including “activity streams are the most powerful part of BuddyPress”, and “[our design goal is to] create order without putting up walls”
  • Randall Rode has more info about the conference in his blog


1. Williams People: Web Pages for the Masses : EphBlog - July 28, 2010

[…] Good stuff! Is genius WordPress maven Chris Warren ’96 behind this […]

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