Recap It’s Tool Time 4 Tools You Cannot…

Recap: It’s Tool Time – 4 Tools You Cannot Live Without

At the latest PDXWP dev meetup, we had four speakers discuss four powerful development tools as part of “It’s Tool Time: 4 Tools You Cannot Live Without”. We had roughly 45 people attend the meetup, which is our best attended dev meetup to date.

Xdebug – Taylor Dewey (@tddewey)

We started the evening with 10up’s Taylor Dewey discussing the insight into a project that one can gain from using Xdebug, a debugging and profiling utility for PHP. He started by demonstrating the differences between a PHP error report with and without Xdebug. He further illustrated the utility of Xdebug by showing the difference between a var_dump of WP_Query with and without Xdebug. Taylor concluded his talk by demonstrating “step debugging” with a live execution of Xdebug. He showed how one can set breakpoints, inspect variables, and step through code using PHPStorm’s Xdebug integration. While it is impossible to bundle Taylor’s enthusiasm and demonstration in a slide deck, he has generously provided his slides for us.

Relevant Links:

WordPress Command Line Interface – Daniel Bachhuber (@danielbachhuber)

Daniel Bachhuber of Automattic, followed Taylor’s talk with a discussion and demonstration of the WordPress Command Line Interface (WP-CLI). WP-CLI is a powerful tool for manipulating WordPress from the command line. The tool allows you to execute arbitrary code, perform CRUD operations on content, manage themes and plugins, export data, scaffold projects, amongst many other things. Using his own WP-CLI powered slides as an example, Daniel demonstrated how to create custom extensions for WP-CLI. Daniel concluded his talk by demonstrating some of the functions discussed above. Daniel has also provided his slides and example custom WP-CLI extension.

Relevant Links

PHP Codesniffer – Weston Ruter (@westonruter)

For the third talk of the night, X-team’s Weston Ruter presented on PHP Codesniffer (phpcs). phpcs tokenizes PHP to validate it against a set of coding standards. Weston discussed how his team uses a custom set of WordPress “sniffs”, or individual code standard rules, to maintain a rigorous standard for their code. After a brief introduction to installing phpcs via PEAR, Weston demonstrated a number of sniffs that his team utilized, including validation of operator spacing, double quote usage, indentation, extra whitespace, array declaration, discouraged functions, and escaping output. Weston topped off his presentation by discussing how his team uses their set of sniffs as a git pre-commit hook to validate code before committing. Weston has shared his slides as a Google Presentation.

Relevant Links:

Grunt – Nathaniel Taintor (@goldenapples)

Nathaniel Taintor of Janrain rounded out the evening with an introduction to Grunt. Like Weston, Nathaniel discussed how his team uses Grunt to meet their development goals. Concatenating Javascript files is a tough problem to solve. Nathaniel discussed his team’s search for a solution that still works with WordPress’ enqueues system, plays well with third part plugins, as well as for handles of preprocessor languages (e.g., coffee script), minification and concatenation. Nathaniel reported that Grunt, a “task runner” module for NodeJS solved his problems. He also briefly touched on three other solutions that he explored before settling on Grunt (WordPhing, Forge, Yeoman). Nathaniel’s slides are forthcoming.

Relevant Links:

‘The Fundamentals of Content Strategy’ Presentation Recap


The presenter  at the Feb 25th Portland WordPress Users Meetup, Jim Woolfrey (@informative) demonstrated ‘The Fundamentals of Content Strategy.’ He covered content strategy from a seller, marketer and agency perspective. During the presentation we saw an actual content strategy brief and the process Jim uses to build a strategy plan.

The Fundamentals of Content Strategy

Jim introduced himself and his presentation. Ultimately he will answer why digital content, good content, is more important than ever.

What is content?

  • Info that delivers meaning, communicated via audio, picture, image, etc.
  • Anything that we use to communicate with each other. Here’s a big list that we won’t read to you

What is strategy?

  • Plan to reach a specific goal. Roots in military & politics. Also applies to business & organizational goals.

Content Strategy

A repeatable process for planning, creation, distribution and government of informational content–written or in other media–throughout the entire content life-cycle.

  • For planning, creation, & re-use of content: What content. How to produce. By whom. When & why
  • See Kristina Halvarson’s book, Content Strategy for the Web

Why? … due to how consumers & buyers are changing. They’re educating themselves & want to keep it that way – old way of doing sales is with dinosaurs. People avoid contact until late in the sales-cycle, once they know what they want.

Content Marketing

  • It’s now about using content to inform and educate people. Engage them & provide good info so they can become informed about our product.

Content Across the Lifecycle

Lifecycle Stages:

  1. Awareness
  2. Exploration
  3. Decision-Making
  4. Post-Decision


Think about customer’s view of who you are.
The people we’re targeting may not be aware of who you are or that they even have a need for your product/service. Content can help to let them what to solve.
Content also helps to push them to explore


Help steer consumers to more information about what you solve, how you help


More exploration leads to more of your information in decision process
Content should provide value


Maintain engagement

Biggest Challenges in Content Marketing

(or any content production, especially recurring basis)

  • Create breakthrough content
  • Provide value
  • Compelling content is a necessity
  • Balance business objectives & buyer needs
  • Success is rooted in developing a repeatable process to keep content going

Why Content Marketing Fails

  • Lack of goals
  • Lack of planning
  • Poor messaging
  • Bad quality, lack of talent, etc

Why a Strategic Approach?

  • Align organization with audience needs
  • Enables organization to better deliver to needs of different roles

The Fundamentals

  • Identify
  • Create
  • Distribute (Publish)
  • Govern (and maintenance) – Governance is about the macro process of repeating production & the stuff including maintenance

Establish Goals & Objectives

  • Go back to what is at the core of the organization … what are we doing, selling, etc
  • Identify & prioritize the target audience – map it to a buying life cycle

Research the target, make sure they’re aware of the need or figure out how to create awareness. Then, prioritize & map those

Buyer Personas

  • Champion
  • Influencer
  • Evaluator/Biz User
  • Decision-maker

Remember, there will be more people & personas involved in more-complex sales (ie: Boeing)


  • Create personas or mental models
  • Framework for establishing need mapped to customer life cycle
  • Ingredients:
    • Narrative Overview (ie: is this a “SysAdmin”)
    • Keywords that resonate
    • Objectives, priorities, orientation, obstacles
      • Q: Are personas “fluffy”?
      • A: Not when they help you refine the voice of the content, but they need to match the customer life cycle. The important part is the next question…
    • Define the questions you need to answer

Q: Should we create personas using a blog?
A: Not necessarily, a PPT or Word doc works. Anywhere you can create lists and add some thumbnails

Example Docs

  • Persona “buyer’s Journey”
  • Persona Questions: Buying Stage > Questions Content must Answer

Identify Content

  • Content Inventory
  • Content Audit
    • Get a value of what you have and understand if it answers questions in your persona
  • Gap Analysis
    • The “blank spots” in the Excel grid of questions & content
  • Content Maps (persona-specific)
    • Look at what you need to create
    • Do a flowchart of the customer life cycle & make sure you have something to get each persona through all the steps of the buying process
  • Content Plan (prioritized)
    • Figure out what’s the most-important, the most-quickly
  • Editorial Calendar
    • Build this from the Map & Plan, and assign resources to the needed items

Note that we go from a conceptual level, to a structured matrix, to execution

Q: How do you create or define a life cycle for your content?
A: This is where governance comes in (later in presentation). In terms of life cycle of the target audience — amount of content per-persona should pay attention to how long the sales cycle is.

Content Creation Guidelines

Reason for this is to think about how & who will produce the content

This isn’t typical in web dev cycles, which tend to rush the content-production or give it low priority & end up late


WordPress is the tool, but think about: (1) How the team will get content into the site, (2) How users will consume the content (* This is where design fits-in)


  • Maintain, Measure, & Update
  • Build a team who have a defined workflow about how to go through and revise content plans/maps quarterly (or whatever)


  • Quantitative – analytics, etc
  • Qualitative – how people answer surveys, positive comments, ratio of +/- comments, number of referrals, etc

Analyze & Optimize:

  • Compare performance w/ organizational goals
    • More awareness?
    • Changed attitude?
    • Stimulated taking a trial, viewing a demo?
    • Influenced a purchase decision?
    • Signed up new subscribers?

The sooner you connect content to org-goals, the sooner you can change & refine what you’re doing


Big client did a lot of getting people to webinars & ebooks. Found that ebooks were 10x better at generating sales than the high-effort webinars


Best sales came from people who didn’t watch the webinar live … instead they downloaded & watched it later (* This was the busy decision-makers at-home when they had time)

Promises of Content Strategy…

  • Why content strategy should be the foundation for UX design, social strategy
    • Someone from IBM had great success applying this to the sales-cycle

How to execute on this:

  1. Step away from the CMS
  2. Identify goals
  3. Map & plan
  4. Put a team together, identify who does what
  5. Develop metrics & Create!
  • Why focusing on hot topics may not be the best strategy:
    • People get excited about new topics, but that may not be the best idea b/c it doesn’t answer the fundamental questions. Don’t skip those.
    • Lesson: Keep hot topics to a minimum & remember they’re only for buzz

Further Resources

  • Google, really. Search for ‘content strategy’
  • Kristin Halvorson book ‘Content Strategy for the Web’
  • Jonathan Colman – REI – post “The Epic List of Content Strategy Resources”
  • Strategy & Creation: Margaret
  • Quality & Measurement: Colleen Jones book “clout”
  • Marketing side: Ardath Albee book “eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale”
  • Marketing: Joe Pulizzi started The Content Marketing Institute
  • CMS side: Structure content Sara Wachter-Boettcher
  • CMS/Technical side: Cleve Gibbon
  • CMS:
  • James Mathewson – Global content strategy for IBM
  • Karen McGrane book “Content Strategy for Mobile”