On Monday 24th of October, I attended a WordPress meet-up or rather “Word-up” event at the Barclay’s Eagle Lab building in Brighton. The event was in two parts, the first part was a talk by prolific blogger, Livia Farkas and the second part was a user testing presentation/discussion. It was good to hear about the different plugins that Farkas uses in order to best serve her audience of subscribers many of whom are Hungarian. This presents interesting translation challenges from WordPress core’s english, but also presents unique opportunities. She has managed to monetise her site through production of PDFs guides, print materials and short online courses related to women’s lifestyle interests. A large part of her success seems to be derived from her carefully maintained email list and this is one of the potential benefits of using a CMS like WordPress. The vast range of plugins allow for expansion and can provide very powerful tools for driving traffic to your web content. With a site coded from the ground-up it is harder to integrate these elements and you may end up having to pay for several external services in order to manage these functions.
With WordPress the content is married-up to a multitude of plugins, allowing for self-service functionality. Although the downside, as I have hinted at in earlier posts is that plugins can become deprecated when they are no longer actively maintained by developers. So you always need to choose wisely AND be ready to jump ship and use an alternative plugin, which may impact the breadth of functionality.
User testing and accessibility discussion
The second part of the evening featured a short presentation on user testing. This was followed by a discussion/critique of websites by the people in the room. The first site that we looked at was for copyrighting agency. It was a very well-considered site, although there was a bit too much white space and this raised the issue of accessibility.
This provided an ideal opportunity for me to show this site and discuss some of the issues that the recent trend towards sparse black or grey-on-white design can present in terms of readability, navigation and contrast perception for disabled end-users. I showed this site’s background colour switcher, as well as a code experiment from a couple of years ago showing what it is like for me to read black text on a white background (http://two-artists.com/Fiona_MacNeill/dyslexic-irlen/). I also showed the WordPress accessibility plugin (https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/wp-accessibility/), which I have installed on my work blog (see toolbar on the left: http://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/fjm15). Many folks had not heard of the plugin, so I felt like I was doing my bit to help promote awareness in this area. Overall the discussion was really interesting and I may consider talking at next year’s WordCamp Brighton on the topic of accessibility. Alas there was not enough time in the end to run any user testing on my site, but the feedback was helpful nonetheless.
Farkas, L. (2016, October). Building an audience with WordPress. A WordPress talk, a user testing workshop & pizza. Presentation at WordUp Brighton, Barclay’s Eagle labs. Abstract retrieved from https://www.meetup.com/WordUp-Brighton/events/234619730/