Born 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.