Creare’s Roundup of WordCamp Manchester 2015

On 10th October 2015,  Creare attended WordCamp Manchester. As first time attendees of a WordPress conference, we were very excited at what looked to be a fantastic day of talk & networking.

And it didn’t disappoint. The day was very well organised and ran smoothly. There were two talk tracks throughout the day which led to the hard decision of deciding which talks to listen to! The good news is, most of the talks can be found on slidedeck (or something similar), and hopefully they should be uploaded on Youtube/

I’ll keep this blog updated with links to presentations as and when I find them – a lot I’ve linked up already which you can see below. I’ve also done a little write up on a couple of the talks I listened to which you can find below.

The Schedule

8:30am – 9:00am
– Registration

– Introduction

9:15am – 10:00am
– Developing your content strategy, Liz Hannaford
Managing WordPress with Ansible, David Murphy

10:00am – 10:45am
– Top tips for web agencies to collaborate with freelance content writers more efficiently, Chelsea Louise Haden
Building themes using the WP Customize, Dave Green

11:00am – 11:45am
– Tracking your content marketing results accurately, Michael Cropper
Using Composer to manage WP, Tom de Bruin

11:45am – 12:30pm
A year in freelancing – Lessons learned, Tips & Tricks, Mark Wilkinson
VPS hosting for speed and security, Mike Little

1:30pm – 2:15pm
Building our product – from a client agency to a product agency, Elliot Taylor
20 ways to improve the experience of content editing in WordPress, Jason King

2:15pm – 3:00pm
The ultimate guide to image optimisation, Steven Jones
– A very modern WordPress stack, Tim Nash

3:15pm – 4:00pm
– Lightning talks
Working in harmony – Optimise your WordPress development workflow, Edmund Turbin

4:00pm – 4:45pm
– Lightning talks
– Testing in WordPress: Building high quality products, Konstantinos Kouratoras

– Closing remarks

– End

Building themes using the WP Customize

Dave Green gave a really insightful talk about using WP Customize when building your WordPress themes. It was quite technical but went into great depth and the use of code demo’s really helped us to understand the process we should follow and reasons behind using this method. Dave discussed the differences between using ‘theme options’ as opposed to ‘WP Customize’. Personally, I still use the ‘theme options’ method to store theme details at the moment but listening to the talk and understanding what WP Customize can do, I’ll definitely be moving towards that. Another point to re-enforce using WP Customize is this:

In April 2015, the WordPress Theme Review Team decided to enforce the use of the Customizer for theme options in all newly submitted themes.

Overall it was a great talk with some really useful information – the slides can be found here.

Using Composer to manage WP

This talk was one I saw the title of beforehand and was interested in listening to. I’m not too familiar with Composer having not used it too many times previously, but thought the concept was interesting and would be good to see someone else’s set up. For those who don’t know Composer, here’s a little description:

Composer is a tool for dependency management in PHP. It allows you to declare the libraries your project depends on and it will manage (install/update) them for you.

Tom De Bruin

Using Composer to manage WP really seemed to have some great pro’s. Tom raised some interesting points throughout, many of which  I’m sure I’ll investigate further. You can see the presentation slides here.

A year in freelancing – lessons learned, tips and tricks

The next talk of the day was from Mark Wilkinson. Working for an agency, it was interesting listening to another perspective of how to work. I think that one of the biggest points in the presentation, and one that lends itself to both working for an agency & freelancing, is networking. The community provides a huge range of support and knowledge and going to conferences & web meet ups and engaging colleagues through social channels is a great way to do this. Slides from the talk can be found here.

Building our product – from a client agency to a product agency

Elliot Taylor

Elliot Taylor’s talk on building a product – from a client agency to a product agency – was great as he spoke about the journey Elliot & Raison took in developing their product. The key is knowing your audience but also making sure your ‘discovery phase’ is long enough for you to really plan what you want to achieve. Stay in this phase for as long as is necessary. As Elliot said, it’s much easier to throw away a piece of paper than to start developing your product again! Be sure to wireframe what your product is going to look like, the features you want to include, whether you want to release a free & premium version—there’s so much to think about. I’d definitely recommend giving this a read as I think a lot can be taken away and used in your day to day work – It’s certainly something I’ll be thinking of a lot more. A write up of Elliot’s talk can be found here.

The ultimate guide to image optimisation

Steven Jones

Steven Jones’ talk about how to use images on your website was really in-depth and covered some good case-by-case scenarios with different solutions to use. There are actually quite a few methods and plugins which I’d not heard of before, which are definitely worth taking a look at. Some of these plugins Steven discussed are: EWWW Image Optimiser, Kraken & RICG Responsive Images (I believe this plugin is going to be rolled into the core of WordPress in the not to distant future). There’s also other methods to optimise your images. Optimising before uploading them is one method, or using a task runner like GULP & Imageoptim can work well together. A new technique which is also worth considering is HTTP2 – There’s a demo of how this works at The slides can be found here.


All in all, it was a really great day and I would definitely recommend to all those that use WordPress on a regular basis to attend an event when you can! What better way to connect with other members of the WordPress community and share ideas/knowledge.

A few photos from the day

Question time
WordCamp Organisers