On April 21 WordCamp Helsinki 2017 gathered together WordPress experts and enthusiasts to learn and share knowledge. The organizer did a great job at gathering together an awesome mixture of speakers ranging from developers to marketers to CEOs and owners of agencies.

All the talks are now available online. You can watch them here!

I had the honor be the first speaker of the day with my presentation on How to build your website like a mall (and how to do it). I consider a mall to be a good analogy for a website as both of them are generally visited for a limited period of time and during that time we are carried towards the end goal – conversion. I also found that the design processes for malls and website have a lot in common. To learn more about the mall design process, I encourage you to read this great LinkedIn post from Susil S. Dungarwal How to Design a Mall – Inside-out. Another interesting commonality between a website and a mall is that they often have the same amount of potential customers visiting each month.

What kind of a website would you build with a budget of a mall?

After my speech, we enjoyed some great lighting speeches by Sauli Rajala from Valu Digital, Daniel Koskinen from Zeeland Family and Jaakkko Alajoki from Evermade.

Sauli presented a method called visual regression testing and a tool called Wraith. Basically, the tool takes screenshots of the pages and compares before the change and after the change images to determine how much they differ – a good trick to test he site after a major WordPress update.

The second lighting talk from Daniel gave us a look at the WordPress Customizer and how to customize it for better user experience. Daniel’s presentation can be found on his blog. After Daniel, Jaakko gave us a presentation on the growing pains of a WordPress agency. It was interesting to hear how their decision to focus on their core competency really kick-started their growth.

The next longer speech was from Edmund Turbin of WP Engine who flew all the way from London to give us tips on how the development workflow can be bettered by proper configuration management.

After the lunch, Miika Vento from G-Works introduced an interesting EU directive called the “Accessibility Directive”. Directives are not always that exciting, but this one will certainly stir up the web design field. The new directive requires that all of the web services from the public sector need to be accessible for people with vision impairment or other kinds of restrictions. Miika gave great tips on how to make your site to fit into the new EU guidelines and also pointed out from experience that some of the guidelines are leaving designers into an awkward position as they might not align with the best practices that you would get from user feedback.

The new EU directive requires that all of the web services from the public sector need to be accessible for people with vision impairment or other kinds of restrictions.

Before the afternoon break, we got a chance to hear Alexandra Draghici from CaptainForm who presented us the presents that she has received from her clients. Now, these weren’t the usual ballpoint pen, wine bottle, anything-under-20-euros-that-you-can-buy-nearby-the-office stuff. Instead, she talked about client feedback and how that has made her better at building roadmaps, helped her to teach more efficiently and taught her how to build a happy team.

In the beginning of the afternoon session, last minute speaker replacement Petya Raykovska made an interesting presentation about the REST API that provides a handy way transferring WordPress data over HTTP. After her, Danny Hobo from Exove thought us a few tricks with WP-CLI that can help us to save time by executing tasks directly from the terminal.

Onni Hakala helped us to solve the WordPress dilemma of automated updates

One of the most interesting talks of the event came from Genim’s Onni Hakala who discussed how to solve the dilemma of automated updates. Without automated updates, your WordPress site is left vulnerable for hacker attacks, but with automated updates might suddenly stop functioning in the midst of the most valuable business hours thanks to compatibility issues with plugins and themes. Onni had a solution for this problem, where the update is first installed on the development version of the site, then automatically tested and after the tests finally released to production.

Another burning issue, the user experience of multilingual WordPress sites, was covered by Thomas Hurd from Pixel. In the end, the most suitable structure depends whether we have a multi-country setting with multiple languages, one country with multiple languages or multiple countries with one language. One thing is for sure – dump the Briefly in English sections and have some properly localized content instead.

To end the first day, founder of Zeeland Family, Aki Björklund, had a great presentation where he shared his personal experiences throughout his career. After this presentation, I’m sure we all remember the importance of backups.

Unfortunately, I had to skip the after-party and workshops on Saturday. Maybe next time. Until then, I’d like to thank all of the organizers, speakers and everybody who visited for making WordCamp Helsinki such a great event.

I’ll try to provide links to other presentations as well in this post as soon as I can get my hands on them. If you follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, I’ll make sure to notify you when they are available.