Speaker Spotlight: Shannon Smith!

Shannon Smith

WordCamp Montreal starts tomorrow and we’re excited to bring you a new speaker spotlight series this year!

Our next spotlight is Shannon Smith!

Shannon is the founder of Café Noir Design, a boutique Montreal web design company specializing in multilingual web development. She builds beautiful, functional websites that her clients can update themselves and that are easy for search engines to find. She support things like making the web accessible for everyone, using open source software, helping organizations find greener more sustainable ways to operate through online technology and helping non-profits with online community organizing. Also foodie and mother of four.

Shannon will be giving two talks titled A Beginner’s Guide to WordPress and Responsive Design for WordPress.

What is your favorite improvement to WordPress this past year?

I don’t think there is one single improvement that I can point to. What I appreciate most is that there is more and more communication between the people using WordPress and the people building it. The community keeps growing, which is great. Part of that is just because WordPress is a great tool. But another part is that the way WordPress development is organized means that when something new is needed, whether it’s a simple bug fix, or a completely new feature, people are listening.

And I like that the people using WordPress and the people building it are often, the same people. Like many open source projects, there’s room for everyone to get involved in making WordPress better, but I find the WordPress community to be a lot more welcoming than other projects.

Why did you decide to speak at WordCamp Montreal?

WordCamps are a lot of fun, and I love attending. But I think it’s important to contribute to the open source community and to WordPress specifically. WordPress is a great tool and I’m happy to share what I’ve learned. Speaking is one way I do that.

What is your talk going to be about?

In “Responsive Design for WordPress”, I’ll be talking about making WordPress sites responsive, so that they work with many different devices from cell phones to tablets to laptops. I’ll be talking about screen size, of course, but also about what people are doing differently with each of those devices and how to design for that. I’ll look at some of the trickier design challenges, like responsive grids and typography. But I’ll also be showing examples of the code I use. And of course, I’ll be talking about how to do this with WordPress specifically.

What is the one thing you want people to walk away with from your talk?

The entire Web is about to become responsive. Very soon, it isn’t going to be an “extra” that designers can throw in as an additional service for their clients. It used to be that if you designed a site that was 960 pixels wide, you could be sure of providing a reasonable experience to a majority of your visitors. However, the entire Web is becoming more and more fragmented across a range of screens. They aren’t the same size anymore, they don’t show things the same way, but more importantly, they aren’t being used in the same context. Behaviour is changing as well. As designers and developers, we need to be prepared for this change.

Who in the WordPress community inspires you? Who do you follow?

Everyone inspires me! One of my favourite things about WordPress is discovering all the different ways that people are using it. From beginners to old-school programmers, everyone is contributing.

What new feature would you like to see in the future?

Truly multilingual sites. Right now it’s quite easy to localize WordPress sites, that is make them work in a language other than English. But they still only work in one language at a time. After that, you still need to rely on a plugin, or a multisite installation to operate a website in more than one language simultaneously. It’s time consuming and often buggy. Most people in the world speak multiple languages and WordPress should too.

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