Speaker Spotlight: Kathryn Presner

88ff758a54124a679af2e4cdaae8ba62Kathryn thrives on helping people get the most out of WordPress. After a career designing and building websites for clients, she joined Automattic as a Happiness Engineer in 2012 and is currently a member of the Theme Team, where she help folks with all types of theme-related issues on both WordPress.com and self-hosted sites. She enjoys spreading her passion for WordPress at WordCamps, Girl Geeks, Ladies Learning Code, and other grassroots events. Non-WordPress hours are spent collecting vintage Pyrex mixing bowls, growing organic garlic, and cavorting with her four felines. @zoonini

Follow @zoonini on Twitter.

Kathryn will be giving a talk titled “Getting Comfortable With Child Themes“.


What is your favorite improvement to WordPress this past year?

The enhanced theme showcase in Appearance > Themes!

Why did you decide to speak at WordCamp Montreal?

Montreal is my hometown and I can’t resist giving back to the supportive WordPress community we’re so lucky to have here.

What is your talk going to be about?

If you’ve heard about child themes but never made one, or haven’t yet wrapped your head around them, this talk is for you. I’ll demystify child themes in plain language and show you how to set one up in just a few minutes.

What is the one thing you want people to walk away with from your talk?

Child themes are easy and useful once you understand how to make one.

Who in the WordPress community inspires you? Who do you follow?

All the people who volunteer their time on unglamorous tasks that don’t get you credits in a WordPress release, like answering forum & IRC support questions, writing handbooks, editing the Codex, advocating accessibility, and translating everything.

What new feature would you like to see in the future?

I would love to see some improvements to the theme repo on WordPress.org that would bring it more in line with the plugin repo, like the ability to display tabs for an FAQ and screenshots. Being able to give users more information up front about how to set up a theme properly – apart from the readme file – would be extremely helpful.

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Speaker Spotlight: Julie Cloutier!

93cf35579ed62e7569b9c83fc246f50bJulie Cloutier is a Web/Graphic designer with 15 years of experience. She founded JC design in 2004. Since 2011, she has been building WordPress websites using the Thesis theme. Aside from her work, she has a passion for trail running.

Follow @jcloutierdesign on Twitter.

Julie will be of panel titled “How To Get Started Building Custom Websites with WordPress“.


What is your favorite improvement to WordPress this past year?

The automatic update, I don’t know if it has been a year since it was implemented but I love this feature.

Why did you decide to speak at WordCamp Montreal?

When I started with WordPress I had trouble finding out how to create a custom design website with WordPress. I wish there had been more information about it then so I thought our panel of speakers could be very useful for a lot of people.

What is your talk going to be about?

How to create a custom design in WordPress using the Thesis theme Framework. I will be part of a panel of four designers and each of us is going to talk about its method of choice. Our method are all different, so anyone attending should find something they like.

What is the one thing you want people to walk away with from your talk?

A clear idea of what Thesis is all about and how it can help create custom design with WordPress. A desire to learn more about it and/or try it out.

Who in the WordPress community inspires you? Who do you follow?

Some of the most active people in the Montreal WordPress community and speakers at WordCamp’s like Kathryn Presner, Alexandre Simard, Brendan Sera-Shriar and Christine Rondeau. Some teachers from Lynda.com like Morten Rand-Hendriksen (which is actually a speaker here at the 2014 WordCamp) and Chris Coyier.

What new feature would you like to see in the future?

I would like to see improvement on how WordPress handles bilingual websites. I still feel it is a bit too complicated. It’s not that complicated to install a multi-site (which is my preferred choice for building bilingual WordPress website’s) but I sometimes run into troubles with themes updates and/or plugins compatibility because of the usage of the multi-site functionality. In my opinion, when someone is just starting out with WordPress, the multi-site install is a bit too hard to do. I wish there was a one-click install for making a site bilingual and a “core” function to add the bilingual navigation in the navigation menu instead of having to use a plugin. Although the plugin I use is working very well. I use the Multisite Language Switcher by realloc.

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Speaker Spotlight: Belinda Darcey!

f20550b92e5ca47e6daaacea775b8dddBorn inside a ring of volcanoes, and raised by a pair of entrepreneurs, Belinda is always up for a challenge and lives by the motto: “How hard can it be?” Naturally, she ended up in tech.

As the owner of Dolce Design for the past 15 years, she has worn more hats than Lady Gaga: art director, graphic designer, illustrator, copywriter, front-end developer, international rights’ negotiator and handler of nervous clients. She currently directs a remote team of freelance talent, creating websites and branding on a variety of platforms. Her first book, The Princess Guide To Rome, was recently published using Montreal’s own WP-based platform, PressBooks.

Follow @belindadarcey on Twitter.

Belinda will be part of the panel titled “How To Get Started Building Custom Websites with WordPress“.


What is your favorite improvement to WordPress this past year?

I appreciate the continuous improvements and additions to JetPack. Being able to install one plugin, and then selectively activate so many features, makes setup a breeze. It also reduces the likelihood of code conflicts between functions, since they are all part of the same eco-system. If there’s a problem, I’m confident it will be noticed by many other users and fixed quickly, since JetPack is being used by wordpress.com clients as well.

Why did you decide to speak at WordCamp Montreal?

Something I’d noticed at past WordCamps had stayed with me: there’s always been a bit of a chasm between the Beginner and Intermediate attendees. If you stand off to the side and look back over the audience, you can see their eyes glaze over as they struggle valiantly to understand the content of a more advanced talk. Then they turn to their phones and tune out. I knew exactly what that felt like, having been in that position myself. I felt it would be helpful to present something that bridges these two levels, something that encourages people to explore WordPress further, no matter what level they’re at, without them feeling as if they’ve been thrown in the deep end.

Having learned so much from other speakers, I wanted to share my knowledge in the hope that it shortens the learning curve for others. I also wanted to encourage some new speakers to find their public voices, particularly women, so I chose a panel format and recruited a mix of designers. I wanted to offer a presentation that was more oriented to the front-end of WordPress, to designing the UI, versus the back-end. Every year, we seem to have an abundance of back-end developer track talks, but fewer that focus on the visual design that is so critical if we want to persuade users to interact with all that amazing functionality.

What is your talk going to be about?

It’s called, “How to Get Started Building Custom Websites with WordPress” and it will cover four of the top methods used. Each panelist will give a brief overview to a particular method, including the cost and the learning curve, the pros and cons, and additional resources. Using Before and After screenshots, the audience will be able to see the amazing variety of design that is possible with each method.

What is the one thing you want people to walk away with from your talk?

My hope is that the audience will leave with the conviction that building a custom website with a unique look is not as hard as it seems. It’s vital that we continue to experiment with new layouts and UI design to avoid falling into a safe, generic mold. This can only happen if front-end designers are less intimidated and encouraged to try new layouts and theme designs of their own.

Who in the WordPress community inspires you? Who do you follow?

Shannon Smith, because her talks are lucid and extremely well-researched; Liesl Barrell, because she is hilarious and really knows her stuff; Brian Rotsztein, because he’s a seasoned pro and I trust his advice; Kathryn Presner, because she keeps it simple and will make you believe you can do anything; Al Davis, because he has mastered the art of edu-tainment, Brendan Sera-Shriar, because he keeps it real and his positive energy is contagious, Hugh McGuire, because he’s forging new paths in e-publishing using WordPress so we can all get rich; and Jeremy Clarke, because he is a flat-out genius.

What new feature would you like to see in the future?

A simple “Coming Soon” page in JetPack.

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Speaker Spotlight: Morten Rand-Hendriksen!

Morten Rand-Hendriksen Morten is a staff author with lynda.com where he focuses on WordPress, standards-based code, and front-end web development. He is also the director of Pink & Yellow Media Inc., a Burnaby, B.C. based design and development agency specializing in WordPress. Morten is an active member of the WordPress community and a co-organizer of the Vancouver WordPress Meetup Group as well as several previous WordCamps. He writes about WordPress and web design on his blog at mor10.com, at the lynda.com Article Centre, at the MediaTemple Blog, and elsewhere on the web.

Follow @mor10 on Twitter.

Morten will be giving a talk titled Building Themes from Scratch with Underscores.


What is your favorite improvement to WordPress this past year?

From a user perspective the addition of widget handling in the Customizer is a big step forward. I can see a time in the near future when all front-end actions are handled on the front end and this will be a major improvement for anyone using WordPress.

From a developer standpoint I love the commitment WordPress has made to icon fonts. The use of Dashicons is stellar and is paving the way for designers and developers to start using this technology in their plugins and themes.

Why did you decide to speak at WordCamp Montreal?

I live all the way on the west coast of Canada and rarely get a chance to interact with the community on the “other side” of the country. When I spoke at a conference in Montreal a few years ago I discovered its unique and thriving web community and I pitched a talk for WordCamp Montreal because I want to connect with this community and build a bridge across the provinces from east to west.

What is your talk going to be about?

My talk is about building themes from scratch using the _s (“Underscores”) starter theme. I’ve been designing and building custom WordPress themes from scratch for years and I’ve used pretty much every starter theme under the sun. _s is by far the best theme to start from in my opinion and in the talk I will show the audience a content- and mobile-first design and development approach built around this theme that allows them to quickly build standards-based, accessible, responsive, and content focussed themes that stand the test of time.

What is the one thing you want people to walk away with from your talk?

Start with _s and you have the freedom to build anything you want.

Who in the WordPress community inspires you? Who do you follow?

This is such a hard question to answer because there are so many inspiring people in our community and if I provided a list I’d end up leaving out too many people. Instead I’ll say my inspiration comes from all the people who are referred to as “users” – the ones that use WordPress to publish content but don’t do any code or design work. These are the people WordPress is for and these are the people that have propelled WordPress to become the most prevalent CMS.

What new feature would you like to see in the future?

The feature I most want to see is one that is already in development: The new JSON REST API which is slated for release later this year. This extension to WordPress will evolve the platform to something completely different and will allow designers and developers to do new and exciting things with WordPress that we’ve only dreamed of before. Great things lie ahead for the application and the community and that makes me excited!

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Welcome to WordCamp Montreal

We’re happy to announce that WordCamp Montreal 2014 is officially on the calendar!

WordCamp Montreal 2014 will be on August 16 and 17.

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