Systematic Holistic Speed

Slides as presented at WordCamp Toronto, 2015

We all have created the odd WordPress site that has turned out to be fast but how do we do this each and every time?

In this talk I explore some of the techniques and choices that will make your site feel fast and also talk about how to automate / streamline your development process so that you can do this each and every time, no matter how rushed you are.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Understand what slows code down.
  • Realise how an SQL calls slow the site.
  • Understand that perceived speed can be more important than real speed.
  • Learn how to automate deployment.
  • Discover that it’s the small items that count.
  • Know what caching is, know how cache works in WordPress.
  • Understand the problems that caching causes and how to work around them.

Fitt’s law

I discovered Fitt’s law back in 2011. It states that:

The farther you are and the smaller the target, the longer it takes to move the cursor and point at said target.

Tom Stafford said it best:

“Although the basic message is obvious (big things are easier to select) it is the precise mathematical characterization that is exciting, and that this characterization includes a logarithmic function – which means that the shape of the relationship between size and reaction time is curved so that small increases in size for small objects make it much easier to select them (whereas small increases in size for big objects don’t make that much difference). And the same applies for changes in target distance.”

Size and selection times: Fitts’s Law

 

or in maths speak    MT = a + b log2(2A/W)

I first came across this rule in the this post, The Opposite of Fitts’ Law by Jeff Atwood:

Unintended ejection seat lever consequences
Unintended ejection seat lever consequences

Jeff talks about not putting the the “Delete Forever” button too close to the “Save” button . . . just like you wouldn’t want to put the ejector seat switch next to the radio!

Here’s another good article on Fitts’s Law: Vizualizing Fitt’s Law

 

WCUS – passion, democratization, accessibility, community

It was almost with trepidation that we took off for  WCUS in Philadelphia at the end of November 2016. In the wake of the Trump election victory, even before his inauguration and what followed, US travel already seemed somehow less appealing.

Justice, equality and freedom of the press

The Liberty BellIn the event, I am really glad that we were there in that moment. It was a reminder of so much that is good in America. To stand beside the Liberty Bell was particularly poignant. To read of past success in the struggle against injustice and inequality was a heartening reminder that there always have been and still are many who will fight for the best of what it is to be human.

We had a day together in which to explore. The Liberty Bell was a ‘must see’. Benjamin Franklin’s printing press resonated well with our attendance at WCUS. After all, WordPress specifically seeks to democratize publishing. Franklin’s grandson’s statement on the freedom of the press is as relevant now as it as ever been.

His Press Shall be Free

WCUS itself was a fascinating experience for someone who functions at the edge of the WordPress community. What stays with me is the depth of commitment to making WordPress accessible to all. In 2016 there were 115 WordCamps in 41 countries, with close to 90% of the costs (though not the travel) covered by sponsors.

WordPress is available in 50 languages and there is a strong push for internationalization and accessibility. All this exists in the context of a code-base  written by volunteers (Paul has ‘core commits’ in a number of WordPress releases).

The third day of the conference was ‘Contributor Day’. Hundreds of people gave a full day of their time to coding, bug fix, testing, review, documentation, translation and more. In five years, the WordPress market share has grown from 13% to 27% of the web and this effort is what underpins it. What a fantastic model for social co-operation!

While Paul focused on the more technical sessions and networking, I tapped into the wider content. Topics included ‘Version Control Your Life’, ‘Five Newsroom Tips for Better Website Content’, ‘Care and Feeding of Your Passion’, as well as a really helpful session on releasing a WordPress product.

‘Darth Vader wins over Yoda every time!’

Perhaps most pertinent to world events was a great talk on ‘The Dark Side of Democratization’. It seems that content that elicits emotional response is what goes viral, particularly if it arouses anger (hence the headline quote!). Therefore we all need to cultivate an ability to evaluate both our emotional response to content and the ‘facts’ in a post-truth world. An interesting suggestion was the importance of monitoring ‘news’ from sources that reflect the people who don’t think like you, engaging with understanding and tolerance, not judgement.

You can find’ the full 40 min session at https://dennis.blog/democratization/,  together with a great set of resource links including fact checkers.

Partying with dinosaurs

WCUS - partying with dinosaurs at the Academy of Natural Sciences

The ‘corridor stream’ is always a key element of any WordCamp and the after-party is a fun extension of this. In this case, we partied with dinosaurs at the Academy of Natural Sciences, making some useful contacts while were were about it!

 

(This review of WCUS 2016 was originally published as part of a longer article on Gina’s personal blog.)