WordCamp US will soon be releasing its list of approved talks and speakers. They've also put out a call for volunteers. Helping out at WCUS is a great way to give back to the WordPress community, not to mention a fantastic way of networking with others. 🙋‍♂️

Meanwhile, WordCamp Asia has a “teaser site” online for 2020. It's happening February 21-23 in Bangkok, Thailand. 🌏

If you are interested in usability testing for Gutenberg, several tests have been conducted already, and the results are available. Mark Uraine presented the highlights from the testing done in June, with videos included. There are usability test results from WordCamp Europe as well: parts one and two. 📝

Thanks to the work of Sergey Biryukov and others there appear to be new filters available in the media library dropdown for WordPress 5.3.

Sandy Edwards wrote the latest HeroPress article about the mostly unsung heroes of Kids' Camps. Kids' Camps and other youth programs are becoming more common at WordCamps and other WordPress events. Sandy spent weeks putting together a near-perfect timeline of all the related WordPress youth events from 2010 to the present. 🚸

Here's a good post from Mike Pennisi where he argues the “web can't survive a monoculture” — and that is what Chrome's domination of the browser market means.

Mike says developers should help support other browsers like Firefox and WebKit. Developers should perform testing in all browsers too and be aware they have the power to prevent one from choking out the alternatives.

Joe Howard, the head buff at WPBuffs, talks about scaling WordPress maintenance tasks at the agency level. He covers “systemizing” everything — especially the boring stuff — documenting simple and complex tasks, and automating. 🤖

Here's an eye-opening study from Princeton University that analyzed over 53,000 product pages from 11,000 shopping websites. What they found was 1,818 instances of dark patterns, which are user interface design choices that benefit an online service by coercing, steering, or deceiving users. 💩

Mary Ann Azevedo from Crunchbase makes the case that the WordPress hosting space may simultaneously be one of the most lucrative — yet underfunded — industries. 💸

The Washington Post is preparing for a “post cookie” ad targeting future by developing a first-party data ad targeting tool. It is able to tell what article a person is looking at, what position they have scrolled to on a page, and what URL they used to get there.

Lindsay Rogers Cook explains how the digital transition team at the New York Times created a program to help reporters “learn to love spreadsheets.”

If you want to encourage non-coders on your team how to be more fluent with data and numbers, this looks like a great model, including the attention given to data ethics. 🗃️

Speaking of data ethics, check out the Times' Privacy Project if you haven't yet.

Seth Godin discusses his picks for the five best books on marketing. 📚

Christopher Schmitt shows how placeholder text in forms is problematic for real-world use. He suggests a method that includes positioning the label element, so it overlaps the input field.

Jem Turner shares ten solid micro-optimizations for faster WordPress. Suggestions include reducing WordPress HTTP requests, reducing code size by removing duplicate functionality, and tidying up menus as well as wp_head(). 💨

Speaking of performance boosts, SpinupWP has published a terrific introduction to WordPress caching. After reading this, you should have a better understanding of how the various layers of caching play a role in speeding up WordPress page load times.

Tidy Repo made a speed comparison of 100 WordPress themes. The tests were limited to free themes in the WordPress repo, so popular commercial themes were not featured.

Because of the variables involved — including your hosting and installed plugins — I take these tests with a few grains of salt. The advice given at the end of the post is always good: “try to pick a theme that suits your needs.”

I found some of Andy Priestner thoughts as a UX consultant in the UK and former librarian insightful. Andy says the phrase “Ask for forgiveness, not permission!” translates into trying things out and seeing where they lead, but when it comes to users we should “Listen more, watch more!” 👂

Survey results from WordCamp Europe have been published. Notably, with “the help of a whopping 60 sponsors, [WCEU] gathered over €700,000,” and the “total revenue from tickets sold was a little over €130,000.” 🙌

Rachel Andrew recently wrote an excellent guide to CSS Margins, including some things I had forgotten.

Ionut Neagu reviews the redesign of Themeisle, including the pros and cons of the decisions that went into it. The design itself cost $10,000-$15,000. Commenting on that Ionut writes:

While the design itself is something almost impossible to track the ROI of, I believe that it’s worth the investment. Frankly, considering that it took us five years before deciding to redesign the site, the cost only represents less than 0.5% of the revenues.

Here's a reminder that WPCampus 2019 is happening from July 25-27, and sessions will be live-streamed for free. 📹

WP Decoupled is a React theme boilerplate for WordPress, built with Next JS, Webpack, Babel, Node, Express, and WPGraphQL.

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here's my recommendation for video watching this week:

  • Alex Young has a great tutorial that will get you up and running with Gutenberg Blocks using the new Advanced Custom Fields plugin update (5.8).

🎙️ Here are the podcasts I've been listening to lately:

  • Joe Howard, via Matt Report, shares the origin of WPBuffs and why it's challenging to be in the 24/7 maintenance space. On his own WPMRR podcast, he also shares some great news about becoming a father and how that affects life — professionally and otherwise.
  • This extensive interview with Sara Golemon on the upcoming features of PHP 7.4 is a good listen for those writing any PHP or WordPress code.
  • Syed Balkhi, the founder of WPBeginner, is featured on the Elementor Blog podcast talking about his WordPress journey and sharing lessons from his acquisitions.
  • Women in WP interviews Michelle Ames about her role at GiveWP and as a WordCamp organizer.
  • Computer scientist and web standards pioneer Tantek Çelik is Jeffrey Zeldman’s guest on The Big Web Show #186.
  • If you use VSCode, this 20-minute Syntax podcast covers some helpful extensions and themes.
  • The latest Do The Woo podcast features topics such as WooCommerce Managed Hosting, CBD Products, and Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) with Christie Chirinos.