WordPress Event Site

WordPressThe honeymoon phase has never ended with WordPress. After seven years or so using it, I finally got to put it through some paces for a high profile, mission critical application: the CALBIO2012 Annual Conference. This is a signature event for BayBio, with an international C-Level executive attendees list. A month or so before launching the site back in September 2011, I installed WordPress MU after having launched a string of other event sites: some shoehorned into our existing proprietary content management system plus a couple built entirely from scratch using HTML/CSS/jQuery (such as the 2011 California Industrial Biotech Conference and 2011 California Biotech CEO Conference, which were fun exercises, but it was time to get scalable. WordPress exceeded my expectations, and I was optimistic to begin with.

Our main site runs on a proprietary content management system which has been working very well for us thus far, which would be a solid year and a half. There have been some additions and tweaks here and there, which we’ve partnered with our contracted development team to implement. There’s the comfort level of having a team of developers, of course, which is kind of what we’re paying for. As we were going through the original site redesign when I first joined the company, I had mentioned WordPress as a potential platform, but I was not confident enough to get on a soapbox about it. I still have reservations about using it for our primary site, though there is still time for me to be won over completely. That’s a distinct possibility, especially as I try to accomplish more elaborate schemes using WordPress, such as the interactive floor plan, or custom post types, which I used to organize event sessions and participants. I’m still working through the kinks.

In this case, WordPress functioned as a content delivery system. This has been my sweet spot for sure, making content look pretty, adding some interactivity, continually striving to make information easily accessible. There was a fair amount of work that had to take place outside of WordPress, so I’ll be examining the gap that exists between what can be done within the framework and what requires other tools.

Coming up:

  • Designing and building the interactive floor plan using a mix of HTML, CSS, jQuery, SVG, and Adobe Illustrator
  • Choosing the right Javascript library to deal with displaying lots of logos
  • Using a child theme along with Aptana
  • Phasing out the use of a plugin (MaxButtons) using CSS
  • Maintaining and testing using Dreamweaver
  • Looking ahead: sharing content between WPMU sites

SEO and CMS: Proof Your Custom URLs

Any content management system (CMS) these days should enable you to tailor your search engine optimization (SEO) on a per page (or post, if you’re publishing an article or blog in WordPress) basis. Permalinks are often overlooked, as a CMS will generally create one based on the page title. It is worth noting that a CMS may also strip out commonly used or single-letter words, often replacing them with hyphens if anything at all. Thus, a URL can easily contain a string of 3 or 4 hyphens in a row, such as:


This is suboptimal for a number of reasons:

  • It’s immediately obvious to anyone familiar with content management systems that you were either too lazy to take the extra step and optimize your URL, or you simply overlooked it.
  • The URL stub will not be conducive to any human-readable, “URL’s as Sentences” scheme (check your address bar for a live example).
  • The URL will be a challenge at best to speak to someone over the phone or voice recognition software.
  • Perhaps most importantly, it looks ugly.

yourli.st WordPress Plugin 6

Update: yourli.st is no longer available.

Yourli.st is a smooth, registration-free online service for sending yourself reminder e-mails. The concept for this plugin came about as I was developing my cooking website, ScreamingSaucepan.com. It occurred to me it might be nice to be able to remind myself about recipes in some way other than tagging them on del.icio.us, perhaps at a time when I might be wandering around the aisles of the grocery store. This plugin has only the most basic functionality, no administration panel, no options. It simply opens the yourli.st page and prepopulates the Event Title field with the title of the blog posting and inserts the permalink in the Event Summary. All you need to do is fill in your e-mail address, target date, and whatever other options you’d like to adjust.

I’d like to thank Alan over at YourLi.st for building this service and his positive feedback on the plugin.

I’d also like to thank Ronald Huereca for his great series How to Write a WordPress Plugin. If you have any intention of developing your own plugins for WordPress, go there immediately.

Download the plugin here.