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Help Needed with WebVisions WordPress Theme Developers Panel

webvisions web technology conference in portland oregonWebvisions is in Portland, Oregon, May 16-18, 2012, and I’ll be there again this year leading an awesome panel of WordPress Theme designers and developers, and I need your help.

For over eleven years, Webvisions has been the go to conference for exploring the future of design, content creation, user experience, and business strategies on the web. The world flocked to Portland, Oregon, to enjoy the multi-day WebVisions event with thousands of attendees and dozens of top notch developers and designers sharing their visionary expertise. This year, WebVisions was in New York in January, and will be in Barcelona July 5-7, and Chicago and Atlanta this fall. Executive Director Brad Smith is making his personal vision and dream come true and bringing his innovative creative web conference to an international audience eager to help shape the future of the web.

Registration is open with an early bird discount ending very soon, so put this on your schedule, vacation plans, and agenda now. Portland is a great place to visit, too.

I will be hosting a panel of WordPress Theme designers and developers covering the cutting edge techniques of design and development. We’ll be talking about how design meets code to generate powerful integration and content management with WordPress.

The panel of local web developers and designers will specifically cover:

  • Understanding and defining the “dynamic” elements in a WordPress Theme.
  • Examples of truly rule breaking design tips and tricks in WordPress Theme development.
  • How WordPress Plugins influence design and functionality and when to code within a Theme and when not.
  • Exploring the process of Wireframes to Frameworks to WordPress Themes.
  • Exploring the future of WordPress Theme development, integrating mobile, HTML5, CSS3, and beyond.

How Can You Help?

The recent Portland WordPress Meetup discussed how to hire a WordPress developers and a lively part of the discussion was on defining the differences between a designer, developer, programmer, and coder. Is it possible to specialize in WordPress Themes without familiarity with the code?

I’d like your help in defining the spirit and skills of a WordPress Theme designer versus developer to add to the conversation for this panel.

How do you decide to choose a WordPress designer or developer? What are the skills that qualify someone to be one or the other? Do you have a checklist that defines a web designer or developer? If you call yourself a WordPress designer, developer, programmers, or coder, how did you make that decision? Do you specialize or do it all? What defines these titles?

Your input will help to define the panel topics and help us give WebVisions a rousing dose of the BEST of the WordPress Community.

Register Now for WebVisions

WebVisions Registration is open now, and if you register by March 30, you can get the early bird discount and save some serious money on the tickets.

If you haven’t attended WebVisions, let me take you on a quick tour of this unique event.

It begins with studio tours and networking parties of top web design and development companies in Portland. It’s a rare opportunity to meet the movers and shakers in web development behind the scenes.

Wednesday is filled with amazing workshops such as The Device is More Than a Display: Responsive Web Design is Only the Beginning with Gino Zahnd and John Bragg, Nathan Shedroff and Chris Noessel expanding on their 2011 presentation on How to Use Scifi to Create Better Interfaces, Kevin Hoyt introducing the open source electronics prototyping platform, Arduino, Thomas Phinney presenting CSS 3 Web Fonts & Typography, Jason Cranford Teague and HTML5 + CSS3 = Your Web Design Future, and Lyza Danger Gardner and Jason Grigsby taking us deep into The Definitive Guide to Mobile Device Preparedness.

adaptive web design book by aaron gustafsonA workshop you will find me at is by my new hero, Aaron Gustafson, discussing Adaptive Web Design and his book, of the same name. Three copies are sitting on my desk right now which I am giving as gifts – that’s how much I love his book and his work.

He is the founder and owner of Easy Designs, a web development, design, and consulting firm. He is also the co-founder of Retreats 4 Geeks and wrote the JavaScript library eCSStender, changing how web designers can say good-bye to cross browser garbage. He is also the Group Manager and major contributor to The Web Standards Project, and where he started the Web Standards Sherpa project. You can find his columns and regular contributions on A List Apart and .net magazine.

When I heard him speak at last year’s WebVisions, I was literally jumping out of my chair with enthusiasm. Rarely do web designers and developers “get it.” Get the point that we have to be forward thinking not constantly backwards compatible. If we aren’t creating web designs and code that will grow with our site, we are constantly looking over our shoulders and playing catch up. While this might help job security, it doesn’t advance web development. You spend so much time cleaning up your mess, you don’t get a chance to make new, bigger messes.

The WebVisions Schedule for Portland is packed. There is a hackathon Tuesday, the workshops on Wednesday, and Thursday and Friday are packed with amazing presentations, so many, I’m having trouble deciding. The ones of immediate interest are:

It’s going to be tough deciding. Which would you choose?

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.


  1. kenhoward142
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think you can be/there is a WordPress web designer that doesn’t code. You have to know front end and backend to know what the client is going to be touching. How much of your pixel perfect design are you willing to leave in the control of your client? Any of us can be ‘web designers’, but in the WordPress world you need to know the power of the parent theme, framework or just plain PHP programming.

    I am a WordPress designer/developer and choose to be.

    I hope to see you at WebVisions Lorelle.

    • Posted March 29, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      Ken, I used to think you were right but I’ve met too many “web designers” who really don’t know WordPress code or more than they need to for painting a WordPress Theme. They work from frameworks and other Themes, changing them enough to make them “their own,” but they don’t understand nor want to know much about how the inner workings actually work in WordPress. Child Themes don’t need much more than familiarity with CSS and HTML and a lot of graphic design skills. I agree that they should know the code, but often the code knowers are classified as developers.

      The magic of a WordPress Theme is in the code without a doubt, which is why I’m describing the panel’s topic as where design meets code to put emphasis on it, but it still leaves me questioning titles and skill sets.

  2. Posted March 30, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    As a professional developer, I don’t think a designer needs to know code. In fact, some of the best designs I’ve worked with are from people who *don’t* don’t any CSS/HTML… why?

    They break the rules!

    Designers who code create designs that are easier to code. But, that often means they stay inside the invisible box lines. Even if you can’t afford to hire a front end developer, PSD to WordPress theme services are affordable.

    Another reason a designer shouldn’t need to code… Because that’s the developers job. Sure, a designer can be a dev, and I can do design. But, when an artist and a programmer collaborate, do you really want your programmer doing the art and your artist writing the code?

  3. Samrat
    Posted December 18, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think a designer needs to be knowledge of coding . he should be the basic knowledge.
    Designers who code create designs that are easier to code.

    developers on the other hand deal with writing the functional code.

    • Posted December 19, 2012 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      Then you haven’t really done web design. HTML is code. CSS is code. Today’s dynamic sites require PHP, JavaScript, and jQuery to really design well. It’s all code. The fear of code must die. You cannot design a site without touching code. The more code you know, the better you design.

      We like dividing the two jobs, designer and developer. There is a difference, but both know code. A developer has to deal with the design elements of what he or she is developing, but that comes after the functionality is created. Designers have to design the functionality. The more the other knows about their skill set, the better the results all around.

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