Speaking Engagements

If you are interested in having Curtiss Grymala speak at your next conference or professional development activity, please feel free to contact us. Following are a few of the topics on which Curtiss has spoken in the past.

WordPress Multisite2

Format: 45-minute presentation

When WPMU was first developed, it brought WordPress to a new level; it was so revolutionary that it was integrated into the WordPress core when WP3.0 was released. With the flexibility and control offered through WordPress Multisite (as WPMU is now known), and with the additional features introduced in 3.0, medium-sized organizations could begin to develop full-featured websites in WordPress. WordPress Multi-Network takes that to an even higher level, offering the ability to run multiple WordPress Multisite instances off of a single WordPress installation. At the University of Mary Washington, we implemented a large WordPress Multi-Network installation that currently houses more than 30 Multisite instances and close to 450 separate WordPress sites across those networks. This presentation touches on the various triumphs and challenges we encountered along the way, and gives a brief overview of how to get your own Multi-Network installation up and running.

WordPress to the nth Power: Multisite & Beyond from Curtiss Grymala

The 10 Minute WordPress Shortcode

Format: 45-minute presentation

In this session, you’ll learn how simple it is to create a new shortcode that can be used in WordPress.

As a bonus, you’ll also learn just how easily that shortcode can be turned into a widget.

10 Minute WordPress Shortcode from Curtiss Grymala

Plug It In: Writing Better WordPress Plugins

Format: 45-minute presentation or half-day workshop

Writing a WordPress plugin can be extremely simple, but in order to write a good WordPress plugin, it takes a little more work. I will walk you through five simple tips to make sure your WordPress plugin is more easily extendable, works on more WordPress installations and has a better chance of being future-proof.

Some of the topics covered in this presentation are:

  • Making your plugin extendable – allowing other developers to add functionality to your plugin without having to modify the plugin itself
  • Avoiding conflicts with other plugins
  • Making your plugin multisite (and even multi-network) compatible
  • Helping to future-proof your plugin
  • Spiffying up your readme file

Form Vs. Function: Should That Be a WordPress Theme Function or a WordPress Plugin?

Format: 45-minute presentation

Because WordPress is such a flexible platform, it’s extremely easy to add features through many different avenues. Just because you can, though, doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

I will briefly explain the difference between the functions.php file in a WordPress theme; a regular WordPress plugin; and a WordPress “Must-Use” plugin. I will then lay out some guidelines to help you determine which avenue you should take when adding a new feature to your WordPress installation.

Duct Tape & WD-40: A Manager’s Toolbelt

Format: 45-minute presentation

As higher ed professionals, we’re all in the business of project and personnel management; whether we want to be or not. I will share two tools to use when dealing with people and projects.

  • If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
    • Project Management – In our professional lives, we have a tendency to get bored with things the way they are. However, we need to make sure that the things we’re changing really need to be changed; and to ensure that we’re actually fixing a problem rather than just changing for change sake.
    • Personnel Management – As perfectionists, we have a tendency to want to go back and change things that aren’t done the way we’d do it. As a result, we end up taking on projects that other people are fully capable of handling. As a manager, you need to be able to recognize when to let other people do the jobs they can do, and step back to get your own work done.
  • You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken
    • Project Management – We need to be sure that we’re fixing the things that need to be fixed. You need to set up some solid metrics and measurements to track the things that are and are not working well on your website. Use A/B or multivariate testing, user testing, analytics data and more to figure out what isn’t working the way it should. Then, concentrate your efforts on those items rather than spinning your wheels on something that is working well.
    • Personnel Management – We often encounter the same issues when managing personnel; and they can, in many circumstances, be exponentially more frustrating. Our personality types tend to direct us to ignore things that frustrate  us, and to just keep plugging along in our own little world. This is a dangerous mindset, though. If someone is doing unsatisfactory work, or is doing something that is negatively effecting your productivity, you need to make that person aware of it. As the topic implies, you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. If the person with whom you’re working isn’t aware of the fact that s/he is impacting your work, s/he can’t do anything to make it better.
      This is especially important when you are responsible for managing employees. Most institutions will perform annual performance reviews. However, if you are doing your job as a supervisor effectively, nothing on those performance reviews should ever be a surprise to your employees. Any positive or negative things that need to be discussed should be discussed when they happen, not written down and filed away until the review.

Don’t Settle: A Guide To Choosing the Right CMS

Format: 45-minute presentation

When I was at Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC), we issued four unsuccessful RFPs for a new Web Content Management System (CMS). After we realized the RFP process wasn’t going to work for us, we reviewed our desired features and began building our own. Now, almost three years later, even after leaving LFCC, I’m confident that we made the right decision for that institution.

This session will explore the process of building a good list of wants and needs for a CMS and successfully evaluating whether you want to buy an enterprise system, modify an existing open-source solution or build your own. I will briefly review some of the pros and cons of building a custom solution. During this session, I will use examples of the process we used when I was at LFCC and the lessons we learned throughout.

The bottom line is that you have to choose what’s right for your institution.

The intended audience for this session would be both Web developers and the decision makers of the institution. Although I will discuss some technical aspects of the process, I will not be presenting or discussing any in-depth code, just general concepts.

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