ExpressionEngine Conference 2014 Summary
When we approach our clients, we give them a run down of different CMS (Content Management Systems) and one of those is ExpressionEngine. It is developed by EllisLab and we've been using it for over 6 years. To us, it's like the operating system for websites. It's flexible, powerful, extensible and we highly recommend it. It's almost hard to say "no" to a client's request, when every feature is possible with this CMS - keeping in mind usability of course. The value is also in the community that develop add-ons, extensions and provide support. Every year there is a conference, and this year it was held in Alexandria, VA and we are happy to have joined in the 2 days of #EECONF.
We attended the following sessions and here is our feedback. Do take notice that there are two session per hour, we attended the sessions that were more business oriented.
1. Failure Is a Dumb Thing To Celebrate: How I Totally Screwed Up My Business - A talk from Kristina Halvorson about her experience in starting and growing her own business and failing. She explains that she grew her team too quickly - growing from 1-10 within just a few month of starting. She boils down to figuring out what works, taking time and which eventually leads to her success. The talk was really interesting and we do need to take time and understand growth.
2. Lessons from the Lemonade Stand, Why Kids are Better Entrepreneurs - A talk from Carl Smith about his experience with his business in comparison to his little girls' lemonade stand. Like a business, the "Lemonade Stand" has a clear purpose - to give out lemonade. In his case, "FREE" lemonade and "FREE" cookies. The kids are excited and have passion to drive themselves. When they've given out all the lemonade and cookies, it's wasn't about making more cookies and lemonade to give out, it was acknowledging their accomplishment and calling it a day. People actually gave tips and made enough money for a family get together. The lesson that I can take away is that we can each create clear tasks and not overwork ourselves - to keep the passion and drive to why we are doing what we love to do. Carl's slides are available online - click here
3. Business in Marriage: The Third Spouse - Erik Reagan talks about his business and relationships - his wife and children. He shares his experience with time management and setting aside business for time with Family. It's important and a good way to identify what drives business owners - long term goals, short term goals and purpose. View Erik's slides online - click here
4. Triple Digit Growth - How thinking differently can make it happen - Brad Parscale share his experience growing his business, understanding his strengths, hiring/acquiring other businesses, and expounding on horizontal and vertical growth. For Vertical Growth, we all have our processes - we do, rinse and repeat and we grow, and in Horizontal Growth, we expand take other lines of businesses and grow. Brad also makes a statement that he knows his strengths and weaknesses - which led him to partner with someone who makes up for those weaknesses - a designer. We can only do so much. We have to understand our capabilities and know the importance of growth and partnerships.
5. Panel - Growing a Web Agency - Leslie Camacho, former CEO of EllisLab, leads a panel of business owners and web professionals for a Q/A regarding their success and experiences in running a business. The panel consisted of Kristina Halvorson (Brain Traffic), Brad Parscale (Giles-Parscale), and Erik Reagan (Focus Lab). The panel boiled down to growing an agency based on your capacity and "lifestyle."
6. Rapid Prototyping Applications with ExpressionEngine - Noah Stokes talks about his experience in developing a web application with ExpressionEngine. He discusses his approach and shows how easy it is to create an application in just a few days, explaining how flexible and powerful ExpressionEngine is. Noah's slides are available online - click here
7. The Great Game of EE Business - Rebecca Taylor talks about being in the EE Business. She conducted a survey within the community and shared the results. It's really interesting how others in our community are doing.
8. The Best Secret Weapon for Finding ExpressionEngine Performance Issues - Anna Brown discusses her experience with a tool called New Relic to debug and understand what is making her EE site slow. New Relic looks like a great tool for accessing the inner workings of your database queries and code to improve a site's performance.
9. Web Design & Copyrights - Jeremy Sloan discusses the use of copyrights and how to protect your intellectual property. He goes through the process of registering a website at copyright.gov and the importance of hiring a lawyer when starting a business.
10. Content Strategy 101 for Your Web Agency - Krista Kotrla shares her experience in improving their website's content and pageviews by following a simple principle - "Questions = Content." Understanding what people are looking for provides a good strategy for content managers. She also talks about the importance of getting those people who are in the front of customer service involved in providing content - as they have a better understanding of users' needs. Her slides are available online - click here
11. Digital Project Managers - The Unsung Heroes of Healthy Teams and Successful Projects - Crystal Vitelli talks about the role of a Project Manager. She identifies the qualities that make up a great Project Manager and shares her experience.
12. Panel - Quit Your Day Job! - Leslie Camacho leads another panel of web professionals and company owners to discuss the benefits of quitting your day job and starting your own business. The panel consists of Anna Brown, Brad Parscale, Lodewijk Schutte, Philip Zaengle, and Matt Blackwell, and Rebecca Taylor. The panel provided us a well-rounded view of different approaches to business - Full/Part-time Employment, Freelance, Partnerships, Corporate, etc. They provided important insights to the steps and reasons to why they quit their day jobs. Not everyone is cut up for this.
There is always something new to learn and we appreciate the speakers sharing their experiences and topics. The ExpressionEngine Conference is held annually and you can follow the hashtag #EECONF on Twitter to learn more. It was great to see new and familiar faces in the community and we can't wait for next year!