Should I Use QR Codes for My Marketing Campaign?

No.

I hate QR codes and rail against them whenever they come up, because no one scans QR codes. And yet we want to augment physical experiences with digital information.

Apparently my flat “no” isn’t nuanced enough for some, so here are a few thoughts I’ve developed over years of begging people not to create them:

  1. If you must use them, point them to a URL you can control, like example.com/qr/destination and redirect that link to whatever landing page or 3rd-party site you use for the content. Then when the contract expires and you no longer want to pay for it (true story), you can redirect it to a sensible location. I would do this even if you are redirecting to a landing page you own. It gives you flexibility.
  2. Use short URLs instead. example.com/keyword is just as likely to get typed in as a QR code is to get scanned…at least in the U.S., which leads me to:
  3. Asia-Pacific. There is a very different set of expectations here. Smartphone use is extremely high, and popular apps like WeChat include QR code scanners. At a recent C-level event in Hong Kong, nearly everyone used their phones to either scan QR codes or to connect to Bluetooth iBeacons for more info (partially due to this functionality being a part of the popular WeChat platform).

So now my advice is “run away” except for maybe in AP, where I am only able to share 2nd-hand experience. I’d look into the bluetooth beacons first though.

WordCamp Grand Rapids

2012. The year in which our little WordPress group brought WordCamp to Grand Rapids. And it rocked. Due in large part to the energies of Brian Richards, a few co-coordinators, and a bunch of volunteers – WordCamp Grand Rapids was born. It a pretty big inaugural event.

Day 1 went really well, as speakers gave talks in 4 tracks (User, Community, Themer, and Dev). Speakers traveled to Grand Rapids from all over the country, and over 130 tickets sold by the time the event started.

Day 2 was really cool though I missed the morning session. Mark Jaquith and John James Jacoby led a really cool session on contributing to the WordPress core, and several patches were submitted! I also helped three different WordPress users learn about the platform during the “WordPress Study Hall,” and found out makes them tick.

The planning…

A strong subset of the WPGR monthly meetup got together to make a plan of attach for Saturday and Sunday. A lot of time went in, and it showed in how smoothly the event ran. I am also thankful to my employer, Steelcase, who supported the WordPress community by sponsoring the event.

The WordCamp Volunteer Crew
The WordCamp Volunteer Crew

And so it begins…

Grand Valley was a great venue, perfect for the number of people we had involved.

Welcome to WordCamp Grand Rapids, Hosted at GVSU
WordCamp Grand Rapids, Hosted at GVSU

The speakers…

What a lineup! Mark Jaquith, John James Jacoby, Brad Parbs, Benjamin Lotter, Kimanzi Constable, David Scott Tufts, Paul Kortman, and so on. I hopped from session to session capturing photos and tweeting on behalf of @WCGrandRapids, so I had the benefit of catching a lot of topics and yet I was unable to sit through any one talk. I look forward to catching up on the talks as they get posted to WordPress.tv.

Reid Peifer, of Modern Tribe, talks design patterns
Reid Peifer, of Modern Tribe, talks design patterns

The talk of the town…

Everyone really seemed to enjoy the event and the out-of-towners raved about Grand Rapids.

All the slides and speakers were covered in a more thorough recap over on WPCandy, so I won’t dive too deep. It always feels good to be a part of something new and truly helpful to a lot of people. It’s officially time to take down my “attending” badge, so I’ll immortalize it below. 🙂

I'm attending WordCamp Grand Rapids 2012!
**I attended!

Until WordCamp Grand Rapids 2013 then…

Local Mac WordPress Development Environment

Imagine if…

Let me start this post with the disclaimer that I have not set up my perfect local WordPress development environment yet, partly due to a lack of know-how and partly due to the cobbler’s kids needing shoes. I recently switched from a 74lb Dell laptop to a sweet Macbook Air, and I thought I should take the opportunity to streamline the way I build WordPress sites and plugins locally. Ideally, I would have:

  • All local files linked via SVN to the latest stable release of WordPress (support for multiple versions of WordPress would be good practice as well)
  • A single copy of the WordPress software
  • A symlinked copy of each theme and plugin folder in another physical location (by project, presumably), that WordPress would recognize
  • A quick and easy way to swap out wp-config.php files to point at different sets of db tables
  • Support for WordPress networks
  • Ability to keep my code in sync between my computer and the production server

I am sure I would tire of this if I ever wanted to work on a couple of projects at once, but that is my ideal for now…can it be done?

Hair-pulling…

I’ve tried MAMP. I’ve tried XAMPP. I’ve even tried them with a LAMP. But I digress. All the server setup details get in my way of producing websites.

Current solution…

DesktopServer

I landed on DesktopServer after reading about it on WPMU.org, and quickly moved to the $49 paid version for WordPress multi-site support, better support options, and unlimited virtual hosts. The support was phenomenal when I needed it, BTW. One of the coolest features is the automatic creation of .dev domains, so I can work offline at http://lukerumley.dev and move code to production with ease.

I am currently swapping back and forth between Aptana Studio and Sublime Text as my code editor of choice, and there are pros/cons of each.

Have you found your local WordPress development happy place? Have any brave souls setup Nginx instead of Apache for local dev?

What do you do with WordPress?

WordPress LogoWordPress is the blogging engine and content management system that powers this blog, most of the sites I’ve created over the years, and more than 54 million sites that power the internet.

Each year, I take part in a survey of WordPress users and developers (you should too!). I was pretty proud of what I was able to check as “things I’ve done with WordPress” on question 18:

Things I've done with WordPress
Things I’ve done with WordPress

The results of this survey are shared at WordCamp San Fransisco each year, then published. I’m always excited to see the averages that freelancers charge, the demographics of WordPress developers, and the crazy cool things people do with the platform.

One of the coolest things about WordPress is the community of users, developers, designers, entrepreneurs, and support folks that make it better all the time. Anyone can do any one of the things listed above. Check out this real-life, real-time example of the WordPress community: Tim, who maintains the popular podPress podcasting plugin is actually helping me to make my plugin better after helping resolve a code conflict between our plugins. Totally above and beyond what was required of him to simply resolve the conflict!

What are you doing with WordPress to make the platform and community better?

Announcing WordCamp Grand Rapids 2012!

WordCamp Grand Rapids 2012

For those in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area (yep, I’m looking at you Holland, Traverse City, Detroit, Chicago, Indy, Dayton, etc), the WordPress Grand Rapids crew is proud to announce that we are bringing WordCamp to Grand Rapids on August 18-19. This will be a packed weekend of learning, networking, and idea sharing as speakers give talks on how to use and build upon WordPress.

WordPress is what powers this blog, but it can also be a powerful content management system, capable of running complex business websites.

Bringing a new event to Grand Rapids generates a lot of opportunities to help build something from the ground up. It brings energy to an already thriving community. Here are some things you can do:

Attend

Whether you are a blogger, a web designer, or a hard-core PHP ninja, there will be good content to grow your WordPress knowledge. There will be 4 tracks: beginner, experienced user/entrepreneur, developer, and designer.

Speak

We need quality speakers to make this event a success. If you are a WordPress plugin developer, consultant, theme designer, or uber-blogger, your knowledge will benefit the WordPress community. Do it!

Volunteer

Many many many hands make light bearable work, and a great event! Administrative tasks, fundraising, A/V, party and travel planning, and the list goes on…all needed to pull this off.

Sponsor

Last, but not least! If your business does WordPress consulting/developing, provides WordPress-based products or services, or saves money by using WordPress, please consider giving back to the WordPress community by sponsoring the event. There are different levels of sponsorship, and all come with the great feeling of doing something good for local entrepreneurs, bloggers, and techies.

I will be doing at least two of the four, if not all four. How about you?