WordCamp, WordPress Retreat, WonderThemes and WOW Plugins

I’ve just got back home after an interesting week in Edinburgh, Scotland at the WordPress 2012 development retreat:

… and the annual WordCamp UK Conference which ended yesterday and marked the 5th year of WordCamps in the UK:

Big week

This was a big week for me for a few key reasons and has really helped me to move forward with some of my personal and professional projects, ideas and decisions.

Project Canopy – Practical & Simple NHS Intranet

My main priority for the week was to develop a basic prototype for a new NHS Intranet that we can use at Barnsley Hospital to improve the way we work and engage with staff and solve the following problems:

  • Users want to be able to find stuff
  • The way we publish ‘news’ is ineffective
  • What we use right now is old junk (some of which was written over 10 years ago)
  • It doesn’t have to be a perfect solution, it can evolve over time

To combat these problems I’ve proposed a taxonomy driven WordPress human-powered index tool (sounds complex but it’s not really) which is similar to the A-to-Z we use on our public website. Alongside this I’m building a fresh ‘news’ feed that will consist of context-driven information which can be easily better categorized and displayed into a sort-of ‘timeline’.

You can read more about the proposals for this Intranet on the Evolve blog.

I spent the first 2 days of the WordCamp Retreat working on a proof-of-concept for this with a little help from Matt Haines-Young a developer at Human Made who was able to come up with a quick (quick for him, slow for me) hack that improved the UI for separating Posts in WordPress based on the Alex King Post Format UI plugin:

It’s in very early stages yet and I’ve already worked out how to do it ‘better’ (different) but this will work great for initial testing.

The future of WonderThemes

My main talk at this years WordCamp was ‘How I made WonderThemes’ a title which misrepresents the bulk of the content – in fact this session was more of a ‘how I messed up’ session and ended with my proposal to either:

  • Kill WonderThemes (switch it off)
  • Refresh WonderThemes (keep slugging, get new partners, fix the problems)
  • Rework WonderThemes (come up with new ideas, re-use the brand and some of the framework)

Right now – no solid decision has been made on the future of WonderThemes. A week ago I was all set on turning the site off and moving on but after overwhelming positive support and feedback from the WordCamp delegates I’m now considering a blanket update to the back-end coupled with a refreshed marketing campaign aimed at bringing in more theme designers.


As usual I was called into action to present WOW! WordPress Plugins 2012:

This year I started with a quick break down of:

After this I live-demo’d 13 useful plugins to help add value to your WordPress site:

Hungry for more? Check out wowplugins.com!

That’s right – pop over to WOWPlugins.com – a new project were I’m going to publish information on every plugin I’ve ever recommended though the 4 years of WOW! Plugin talks, but that’s not all – the site will also serve in-depth reviews of plugins (based on my talk format) and tutorials on how to get the best out of these awesome plugins.

All for now

I’m pretty shattered after a 8-day-week and 6-hour journey after what was only about 5-hours sleep last night so I will flesh out the details about Canopy over on the Evolve blog over the next couple of days and post some updates about WonderThemes and WOW! Plugins once I’ve worked out the details.

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  1. says

    Awesome! I didn’t realise you had demo’d my plugin.

    I spent most of the conference standing outside chatting to people. It didn’t dawn on me that anyone would be talking about my own stuff in one of the presentations.

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