This One Time at WordCamp…

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The Backstory

In November of 2007, I released my first WordPress theme, Visualization, on my personal website.  Little did I know this would become a truly life-altering event for me.

At the time, I was the director of photography for a publication near Kansas City and I saw great potential for using WordPress as a CMS (content management system) for my photos, video, panoramas and writing.  The problem was, WordPress was largely a blogging platform at the time and all WordPress themes were simple tubular, blog-focused designs. So one month after launching Visualization, I decided to launch Graph Paper Press to help push WordPress theme development into new directions so that photographers, videographers, multimedia producers and other visual artists would see it as a viable platform for their websites.

Graph Paper Press grew quickly during the first year, so quickly in fact, that running it solo was impossible.  Luckily, I connected with Chandra Maharzan, an amazingly talented web designer from Nepal, to help customers with web design and WordPress questions.  I can’t imagine what GPP would look like without Chandra’s help.  Soon thereafter, I got married, moved to Washington, D.C. for a new multimedia job at USA Today and continued to use what little free time I had to build WordPress themes.  Life was accelerating at lightning speed.  In late 2009, I left my full-time job to focus 100-percent on Graph Paper Press.  Philip Arthur Moore joined the team soon thereafter.  His ability to help users with support questions while simultaneously squashing bugs, doing QA testing and making our themes translatable into other languages has proven invaluable.  Today, the Graph Paper Press team has grown to seven WordPressers.

The Meetup

Two weeks ago an amazing thing happened.

Chandra Philip and Thad from Graph Paper Press
From left, Chandra Maharzan, Philip Arthur Moore and Thad Allender in San Francisco, CA.

Three members of Graph Paper Press — all who live in different countries and who had never met each other in person — flew to California to attend WordCamp San Francisco 2011.  Most of the Graph Paper Press team has relied on Skype, email, Facebook profiles, and photographs of each other to put faces and personalities to names. We’ve grown closer over the years but have always felt that we were missing something by not meeting in person. Under normal circumstances this would be easy but I live in Washington, D.C., Chandra lives in Kathmandu, Nepal, and Philip lives in Hanoi, Vietnam.  Time zone coordination for weekly meetings is tough enough; imagine our horror trying to figure out plane tickets and work schedules.

The Highlights

The sheer number of quality speakers and topics at this year’s WordCamp was mind-blowing. The enthusiasm for WordPress and open source technologies was palpable. Each day there were a few talks that left us feeling like we’d left them much more educated about the WordPress ecosystem than before.  Our favorite presentations from WordCamp were:

Highlights from our escapades exploring San Francisco were:

  • Chandra commenting that “I’ve always heard you had to do things fast in America” after getting stuck in the subway turnstile two times in a row.
  • Philip intimidating WordCampers with his 6’4″ frame, that is, until they found out he’s one of the nicest guys ever.
  • Me (Thad) pretending to be a confused Russian traveler to an even more confused Japanese taxi cab driver.
  • Chandra inviting Matt Mullenweg (WordPress co-founder) to attend an upcoming WordCamp Nepal.  “If you can get 150 people to attend, I’ll come,” said Mullenweg. Woohoo!
  • Philip striking it up fellow Graph Paper Press users while manning the Happiness Bar.
  • Me (Thad) realizing that he still holds the title of World’s Shortest Graph Paper Press Teammate. (Insert statement confirming little man complex here.)

The Future

Individually we left the conference with renewed vigor for WordPress and collectively felt that Graph Paper Press is headed in the right direction.  What direction, you might ask?  We plan on focusing on the following during the next six months:

  • Responsive WordPress Themes – Each day, the number of devices, platforms, and browsers that need to work with your site grows. Our future themes will adapt to each device to deliver optimal viewing experiences to your site visitors, regardless of which device they are viewing your site from.
  • HTML5 and CSS3 – We are updating Base and it’s child themes to support HTML5 and CSS3.  All future themes will embrace these technologies.
  • Niche Themes & Vertical Platforms – We’ll be launching more niche themes for photographers and other visual artists and also provide hosting platforms for each niche theme we release.  Building WordPress sites will get easier and easier.

A Shocking Revelation

One of the best things about using WordPress isn’t the code: It’s the community.  Whether you are a WordPress user or aspiring WordPress theme developer, there are many ways to get involved with WordPress.  You can attend one of the many upcoming WordCamps by checking out the WordCamp Central website.  You can also check Meetup.com for WordPress groups in your area.  Graph Paper Press sponsors the WordPress DC meetup group so if you are located in the DC metro area, we’d love for you to attend!

Philip Arthur Moore contributed to this article. Chandra Maharzan’s Canon 7D shot the photo.

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Posted by , at Graph Paper Press

Thad is the founder of Theme.Works and Graph Paper Press. Previously, he produced online multimedia and documentary projects for USA Today including the inauguration of President Barack Obama and many others. He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife Abby.

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8 thoughts on “This One Time at WordCamp…”

  1. It’s good to see your faces together. You guys are ‘virtually’ a new kind of world company. I for one expect great(er) things from you now.

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