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WordCamp Orlando 2013On November 16-17, Ledwith Web Solutions attended WordCamp Orlando 2013. The event featured over thirty different sessions, each with a specific target audience. There were sessions geared for developers, designers, users, business owners, and even core contributors. Day one we spent most of our time in the developer track (with one venture into the designer track) and day two we gave our time exclusively to the business owner track. We want to share with you three key takeaways from our time this weekend.

Use Sliders Wisely

Sliders, also known as rotating banners or carousels, are extremely popular right now. There are literally hundreds of slider WordPress plugins available (and not all are created equal). However, the number that was truly astonishing was the unbelievably low click-through rate for sliders — roughly 1%! Meaning, a slider with several slides, auto-rotating for website visitors, each linking to a different page has statistically been shown not to perform well at bringing people to that content.

Session leader Tom Harrigan, creator of WooSlider, gave an example of how to use a slider wisely. Don’t include a call to action within a slider. Instead, use those slides as a way to highlight content, then include the call to action somewhere outside the slider.

Email is Still King

Syed Balkhi, founder of WPBeginner.com, gave a fantastic talk on lead generation. While the focus today seems to be on the power of social media, Mr. Balkhi stressed the indisputable power of a well-crafted email list. Yes, Facebook has over a billion users, but the user base for email is over three billion! It would be foolish to ignore the potential of tapping into this “network.” You can use email to capture users who might have otherwise only visited your website once and possibly turn them into customers down the road. You can also effectively use it to reward existing and past customers by segmenting your list into subcategories.

Mr. Balkhi cited numerous techniques for collecting email addresses that have worked for him and his clients. The transcript of the talk is now available if you’re interested in learning more on this subject.

Find Your Niche

Jesse Petersen of Petersen Media Group, one of this year’s speakers, has made a successful living as a WordPress developer for the past several years. Mr. Petersen only uses the Genesis Framework on his client’s websites and, having consistently crafted beautiful products with it, has become one of the Preferred Genesis Developers listed on StudioPress’s website. He’s a great example of someone who has found a niche within the market and made the most of it.

There were others such as Peter Ricci who develops WordPress websites for specific industries (in his case hospitality, medical, legal, and insurance). Pippin Williamson of Pippin’s Plugins, another of our speakers, has chosen to make WordPress plugins the sole concentration of his business. In short, many WordPress entrepreneurs in attendance had zeroed in on where to give their energies and be the very best in that space rather than work on anything and everything under the sun. That seems like good business sense to us!

What a great weekend! To all who worked so hard before and during the event, we want to thank you for putting together an extremely informative and fun WordCamp. Our clients are going to benefit tremendously from the experience. We can’t wait to come back next year!