Working on a WordCamp Website: Tips and Tricks

Last winter, I joined the team organising the WordCamp Torino 2017 as the lead for the website group. In this post, I’d like to write some tips and tricks for managing a WordCamp website, considering the challenges that we had to face.

A screenshot of the header of WordCamp Torino 2017 website, with logo and picture of Torino
The website for WordCamp Torino 2017. The logo has been realised by Carmen Tortorella.

The reference is the Web Presence section of the WordCamp Organizer Handbook.

Setting Up the Environment

The first thing to do when starting working on a WordCamp website is setting up a local environment. WordCamp.org is part of the WordPress Meta Environment. You can choose to install either the whole Meta project or just the WordCamp website.

Here you can find some useful resources:

Choosing a Theme

WordCamp websites are bundled with a bunch of themes you can choose from. Remember that you’re not allowed to load your own theme or change the code of any WordCamp theme.

You can find the WordPress default themes from Twenty Ten on, a boosted version of Twenty Eleven called WordCamp Base, P2 and the newcomer, awesome CampSite 2017, designed and developed by the Design Team of WordCamp Europe 2017.

Customise a Theme

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, you’re not allowed to change the code of any WordCamp theme, but the CSS. You can use your own styles either through the Custom CSS feature or by loading an external CSS file. This last option provides the possibility to load it remotely. Moreover, you can load it either in addition to the existing CSS or as a replacement for it.

Custom fonts can be used as long as they come from Typekit or Google Web Fonts.

For WordCamp Torino 2017, we customised the CSS on a dedicated GitHub repository and loaded it into the website using the Remote CSS tool. Due to cache, if you want to check your changes in real time, you may need to manually update the style fetched from GitHub by clicking on the Update button from Appearance > Remote CSS, even though you set up the automatic synchronisation.

Since we were working on GitHub, we could take advantage of the Project Board functionality provided by the platform, defining cards and columns in Kanban style.

Cloning a WordCamp Site

Another way you can proceed setting up a theme is by cloning the website of another WordCamp.

Cloning operation does two things:

  1. Activates the theme used by the cloned website;
  2. Clones the CSS style of that site.

Even though you use the clone option, you can still customise the CSS as explained before.

Tickets and CampTix

The Tickets section is one of the most critical of a WordCamp website. It is the CampTix plugin to provide the ticketing system.

My suggestion is to test it locally by setting up a PayPal sandbox. If you test the payment feature in production, be aware that you don’t have the required permissions to delete fake payers/attendees from your WordCamp website: you would need to ask someone with administrative privileges in the #meta-wordcamp Slack channel to do that for you.

When you create a new coupon type, make sure that from the Coupon Options you select which ticket applies to. Otherwise, it won’t work. For this reason, I suggest you create first the tickets types and then the coupons.

If you also plan a Contributor Day, I suggest you create a ticket type specific for that, even though is free: it will make easier the organisation.

Sessions and Speakers

Each session has a Speakers meta box where you can define who will be the author. You could think to enter the speaker username on WordPress.org, but in that way, there will be no link between the session page and the speaker page. To activate this link, you need to write the full name as reported in the title of the speaker page. They must match.

Contributing to WordCamp.org

One of the things I liked the most while working on the website for WordCamp Torino 2017, was having the possibility to contribute to the WordCamp project.

For example, since several parts of the Budget section were not internationalised and we need it in Italian, I wrote a patch to make every string in it translatable.

I also found this curious bug inside CampTix. Maybe you will be the one solving it!

Content and Menus

While discussing which content and information to include on the website for WordCamp Torino 2017, I identified some common sections. I’ll report them here, in case they can be helpful to organise the information architecture for your WordCamp website.

  • Home
  • News
  • Event
    • Code of Conduct
    • Organisers
    • Volunteers
    • Attendees
    • Photography & Video Policy
  • Schedule
    • Conference
    • Contributor Day
  • Speakers
  • Sponsors
  • Tickets
  • Location
    • Conference
    • Contributor Day
    • After Party
    • City: travel, hotels, eating, sightseeing
  • Contacts.

Other sections that you can place, for example, in the sidebar are:

  • Recent Posts
  • Follow Us
  • Subscribe
  • Twitter Stream
  • Facebook Box.

Finally, three important pages are the following:

  • Call for sponsors
  • Call for speaker
  • Call for organisers. 

Conclusion

I hope this post will be useful to manage your WordCamp website better. Do you have other tips? Leave a comment and let me know about it!

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