Author Archives: Aaron Holbrook

About Aaron Holbrook

Aaron is a Chicago WordPress web developer/designer, gamer and father. He builds amazing WordPress themes and applications with his company A7 Web Design and has been working with WordPress since 2005. With clients across the globe, he has had the opportunity to work on many different types of WordPress sites and has discovered his passion for challenging the boundaries with custom functionality and WordPress. When Aaron’s not coding, he's probably on the floor playing cars with his two boys, or coming up with something new to blog about at Follow Aaron on Twitter: @aaronjholbrook.

WordCamp Chicago 2013 Speaker Interview: Stephanie Leary

Stephanie Leary – WordPress icon designed by Dan Leech twitter icon designed by Dan Leech LinkedIn icon designed by Dan Leech Google+ icon designed by Dan Leech

Stephanie LearyStephanie Leary is a freelance web consultant specializing in WordPress sites for the higher education and publishing industries. She has contributed more than a dozen plugins to the WordPress community. She is the author of Beginning WordPress 3 (2010) and WordPress for Web Developers (2013).

Stephanie spoke about Content Strategy for WordPress on Saturday. Her slides are included at the bottom of this page.

Her book WordPress for Web Developers was just published and is available on Amazon.

Interview with Stephanie Leary: Continue reading

WordCamp Chicago Afterparty

Join us! This is going to be a great event.

    • Great food & drink
    • Great venue
    • Walking distance from WordCamp Chicago
    • Great opportunity to get to know other WCCHI attendees

Bar Louie / Dearborn Station

Bar Louie | Chaicago WordCamp afterpartyThis year the afterparty is located at Bar Louie – Dearborn Station (47 W. Polk St.)

It’s just a short four block walk from the WCCHI University Center location. How convenient is that!

We’ll be gathering together Saturday evening at 6:30 pm, not that long after the the close of the last WC sessions. We’ll have ample food waiting for you including vegetarian fare so you can simply stroll on over and keep the conversations going.

More Info: Their Bar Louie – Dearborn Station FB page


On the Menu:

  • Drink tickets – Well liquor, Domestic bottles. We’ve got more than enough for one each for all attendees. After that, cash bar. 😉
  • “Build Your Own Burger Buffet”
    • Hamburgers
    • Assorted cheese
    • Grilled mushrooms
    • Lettuce, tomato, jalapeno, giardinera, pickles
    • Fries
  • Full salad bar for our vegetarian pals

The venue: Bar Louie | Dearborn Station

Bar Louie - Dearborn Station | pic credit google street view

Check this. This is one of our favorite downtown locations, firstly because Bar Louie has great food but also we’re huge architecture buffs. It’s in the DNA of many Chicagoans. The old Dearborn Station is a wonderful, historic, distinctly Chicago location. If you’re visiting Chicago you’ll enjoy the experience of entering this wonderful example of adaptive reuse of an important historic Chicago landmark. Curious what this landmark looked like back in the day? Chicago’s Dearborn Station: Circa 1910.

A Word about WordCamp After-Parties (by Rick and Ana)

So we’ve attended, nearly a dozen WordCamps across the Mid-west and as far away as Miami over the last five years. For us much of the value of WordCamps are in fact the after-parties. We, Ana says it’s just me. 🙂 generally attend WordCamps with some explicit stated objectives when we attend. Ana claims simply to want to have some fun, hang out and get out of town for a bit. I generally have in mind a specific problem we’re dealing with or burning question we’re sure someone has grappled with, getting some feedback on an idea etc. Of course we expect unexpected wonderfulness but we typically have a few things in mind. If we can gain X insight or relationship, WordCamp to the greatest extent will have been a success for us. Further, it’s the opportunity for us to experience some connectedness with the broader WordPress community.

We love the sessions. There’s always something more to learn. The make-or-break moment however for us typically comes down to that one or several conversations we had with someone or that breakthrough from acquaintance to friend. These are the conversations with the presenters, the organizers and other attendees. Frequently these conversations happen where? You guessed it… the after-party.

A tip or two

Personally, I’m in full possession of all those stereotypical geeky, nerdy introverted social skills or should I say lack-thereof. So this is coming not from suave expertise but rather struggling to make the best of it with the rest of you. A room full of strangers and particularly those arranged in fixed constellations of seeming old-friends and intimates can be daunting. You should take comfort in the expectation that the WordPress community is particularly warm and welcoming.

In circumstances such as this I turn to a favorite authority. The Art of Manliness where in their post The Art of Conversation is offered 5 Do’s, 5 Don’ts and 4 things Not to say.
(Yes, sorry ladies this is mostly addressed to your male colleagues. Like male patterned baldness this is an affliction borne more commonly by ourselves.)

Two things we would echo.

    • Tip One: I like having one or two question in mind, particularly if it dovetails from a session you attended. It invites others to talk and shine.
    • Tip Two: Sharing my lame-o secret weapon here. 🙂 Bring your wife as I do or your girlfriend. The innate social lubricant the fairer sex affords you cannot be matched at any price.

If you’re really in a pinch, find Ana-n-I. We’ll introduce you to some of the friends we’ve made.

So there you have it. When driving home from a WordCamp our conversation more often revolves around the people we’ve met and the conversations we’ve had. Don’t check-out early, reserve some energy and join us for the after-party. Chances are good it could be your best time spent at WCCHI.

After-after party?

Jazz ShowcaseIf you want to carry on the party still later we’ve another even later recommendations for you.

In the very same building and just steps away is one of the premier Chicago Jazz venues, The Jazz Showcase.

Keep in mind, get your sleep. You don’t want to miss the Sunday sessions. There are a lot of wonderful things planned for you.

So Saturday night, we’ve got you covered. See you there.

Afterparty Coordinators, WordCamp Chicago

WordCamp Chicago 2013 Speaker Interview: Joe Dolson

joe-dolsonJoe Dolson – WordPress icon designed by Dan Leech twitter icon designed by Dan Leech facebook icon designed by Dan Leech

Joe Dolson is a freelance WordPress developer and accessibility consultant. He’s the author of several WordPress plug-ins, with over 1.7 million downloads between them, and is active in promoting accessibility in WordPress core development and in theme development. He’s lived in Minneapolis/St Paul for most of the last 15 years, and is a classical violinist on the side.

Joe spoke on Sunday about “Accessibility & WordPress: Developing for the Whole World”. View his slides here:

Interview with Joe Dolson:
Why do you use WordPress?
WordPress has great usability and flexibility. The offering of power and ease of use in the same package is a must-use.

How do you stay up to date with new information about WordPress?

WordCamp Chicago 2013 Speaker Interview: Suzette Franck

Suzette Franck – twitter icon designed by Dan Leech facebook icon designed by Dan Leech LinkedIn icon designed by Dan Leech Google+ icon designed by Dan Leech

2430532625a8a541b0646256a2b505a8Suzette Franck is the WordPress Evangelist at (mt) Media Temple, where she educates and advocates for WordPress and the WordPress Community. She typically attends 2-3 WordPress Meetups a week, and has spoken/is speaking at 6 WordCamps so far his year: Phoenix, San Diego, Miami, Reno, Orange County, and Seattle. She blogs frequently at about WordPress and is a regular contributor on

She enjoys teaching about the wonders of WordPress and finding better ways to do things with it. She loves learning about web development and digging into code, which she has been doing for over 18 years. She discovered WordPress 5 years ago and has used it to create over 200 websites with a variety of designs and requirements, mostly with hand-coded custom themes, and is showing no signs of stopping.

She will be leading two introductory sessions in the 101 track on Foundation Friday, “Domains & Hosting” and “Resources For Reaching Your WordPress Potential.”

Interview with Suzette: Continue reading

WordCamp Chicago 2013 Speaker Interview: Mika Epstein

Mika Epstein – WordPress icon designed by Dan Leech twitter icon designed by Dan Leech Google+ icon designed by Dan Leech

f89ff4d2875d0805604a008423290384Mika Ariela Epstein is better known as Ipstenu, the Half-Elf Support Rogue. Working for DreamHost, she solves any WordPress problem that comes up, and still finds time to slash unasnwered forum threads by night and wrangle plugins by day. A self-taught guru on Multisite and .htaccess, she has a passion for writing and technology and blogs about them on her own site, as well as for DreamHost.

Mika’s session on Sunday was titled Why Your Website Isn’t ‘Set it and Forget it’.

You can view her slides online here:

Interview with Mika:

Why do you use WordPress?
I use WordPress because I enjoy using it to manage my sites. I keep using it because it rocks.

What do you like best about WordCamps?
The social aspect. Meeting people to talk about WordPress teaches me almost as much as debugging!

What is your favorite tip or resource for a new WordPress user?
Just breath! Everything is scary when you look at it all for the first time. Take it all one bite and a time, and you’ll eat the elephant just fine.

What is a common problem you see in WordPress sites, and how would you avoid it?
Too many sites try to do everything they can just because they can. Limit yourself. Start reasonable and build up!

How do you stay up to date with new information about WordPress?
I get emails for every trac comment and commit, as well as follow all the make/wordpress sites, and a ton of other WordPress sites.

Do you have any advice for a person who’s building a business around WordPress design/development?
Don’t be afraid to fire your customers!

WordCamp Chicago 2013 Speaker Interview: Tobias Bäthge

Tobias Bäthge – WordPress icon designed by Dan Leech twitter icon designed by Dan Leech Google+ icon designed by Dan Leech

c5f5c280b3835b3d226809405a52db83Tobias Bäthge is a PhD student in the field of “Control Theory and Engineering Cybernetics” from Magdeburg, Germany. He has been working with WordPress since 2006 and is the developer of two popular WordPress plugins. When he’s not on the computer, coding or supporting his plugins, he’s probably somewhere out on the baseball field, practicing with his team.

Tobias spoke on Saturday morning about his “Tales of a Plugin Developer, or Don’t repeat my mistakes, please!

Here are his slides:

Interview with Tobias: Continue reading

WordCamp Chicago 2013 Speaker: Tom Jenkins

Tom Jenkins – @techguytom

0494b79ecc95e94223b57adc41b269f7Tom is a Software Engineer at the Nerdery in Kansas City. He has been working with the WordPress platform since 2007 beginning as a theme developer and then moving to primarily plugin development.

With a work history that spans from freelancing, to agency management, to agency owner, the breadth and scope of his projects has been greatly varied. Ranging from the simple Mom and Pop Storefront to a Social Network built upon BuddyPress for a national sports franchise.

For fun if you can’t find him at the nearest movie theater, you’ll find him with the wind in his hair as he enjoys hitting the open road on his Harley.

Tom will be speaking Sunday morning on “Plugin Unit Testing for WordPress” in the developer track.

Introducing WordCamp Chicago’s All-Star Lineup!

I’m proud to announce our first round of confirmed speakers for this years WordCamp Chicago!

Andy Stratton – @theandystratton

b69a565d39fe1509beb6ee0e5f668178Andy is a freelance WordPress developer, founding principal of WordPress agency Sizeable Interactive, and founder of WordPress maintenance and support service WP Maintainer.

When he’s not busy perfecting websites, Andy is often found exercising his dog, learning about fitness and training at the gym and enjoying animals, art, film, music and philosophy. He fancies peanut butter and jelly more than he should.

Matt Medeiros – @mattmedeiros

b1819a3994eaa4304cc026ef0d792a76Matt Medeiros is the co-founder of and inteviews WordPress entrepreneurs on



Chris Lema – @chrislema

LemaHeadShotChris Lema is the VP of Software Engineering at Emphasys Software, where he manages high performers and oversees product development and innovation. He’s also a blogger, ebook author and runs a WordPress meetup in North County San Diego.

Matthew Boynes – @senyob

mboynesMatthew Boynes is a lead developer at Alley Interactive. The only thing Matt loves more than developing on WordPress is helping others develop and solve complex problems using WordPress. When he’s not coding, you’ll often find Matt engaged in some outdoor activity like hiking or skiing.

Michelle Schulp – @marktimemedia

michelle_bioMichelle is a graphic designer and co-founder of Marktime Media, a multimedia design and video production company based in Chicagoland that helps small-to-mid sized businesses effectively utilize digital media. She was formally schooled in many aspects of design including print, branding, packaging, etc., with additional education in Psychology and Sociology, all tying together in a love of How People Think. Lately she has been specializing in WordPress websites, infographics, and high-end presentations for my clients. She is a lover of WordCamps and the WordPress community, a WordCamp Chicago organizer, and loves meeting people who feel the same way.

Josh Broton – @joshbroton

i5hc6xxvrqldpgmwbd5qJosh Broton is the Interactive Design Lead and front-end developer at VistaComm in Sioux Falls, SD. He has a passion for making things both beautiful and usable, and his work has been described as “perfect” and “the cleanest code I’ve ever seen.” At any given time, you’ll find him tinkering with JavaScript, working on his responsive WordPress theme boilerplate, Twitter-ranting at @joshbroton, and speaking at various conferences.

P.J. Onori – @somerandomdude


P.J. Onori is a partner at Waybury and design technologist with nine years of professional experience. He has worked for companies such as Adaptive Path, Method and Current TV and worked with clients including the United Nations, Samsung, Adobe, and Foodspotting. P.J. is a vocal advocate of open source and its important role in society. He blogs about design and technology at

Zack Tollman – @tollmanz

bd101d11e94690c8096a8bbcb9226e2dResiding in Portland, Oregon, Zack longs for the cold, snowy days of his Alaskan youth. He enjoys strumming his guitar, playing hockey, and spending time with his fiancée and dog. Otherwise, you’ll find him at his computer meticulously spinning lines of clean WordPress code as a developer at The Theme Foundry.


John James Jacoby (JJJ) – @jjj

e99ebbba90b86de0dd45f3a8ec6f0a63Master of Alliteration at Automattic.
Vince Glortho of VIP.
Bee Keeper of BuddyPress and bbPress.
Father and friend to Paul the Puppy.
Cutter of Records; Shifter of Gears.


We have an amazing list of talent – both local and national and even international coming to share knowledge this year. We are confirming additional speakers right now and will be showcasing more speakers in the coming days. If you haven’t yet, make sure you get on the WordCamp Chicago mailing list or follow @wordcampchicago on Twitter.

And if you haven’t already done so, go register! Tickets are going fast!!

Get your ticket now!

Call for Volunteers!

Call for Volunteers

Here at WordCamp Chicago, we’re all about giving back to the community and fact is, we wouldn’t be able to do that successfully were it not for the commitment and support of our amazing WordCamp volunteers. Please accept our sincere gratitude in advance to all you would-be volunteers!

Register to Volunteer →

So you’re planning on attending WordCamp Chicago 2013 in June. Awesome! Maybe you’re a veteran and this is your 20th WordCamp but you love them so much you can’t stay away. Or maybe you’re a “newbie” but would love the opportunity to roll up your sleeves and get a “behind the scenes” look at what it takes to create a great WordCamp!  The only prerequisite to volunteering here at WordCamp Chicago is you are #1 reliable and #2 friendlyEasy peasy!

I can confidently say that volunteering your time and services to the WordCamp Chicago event will prove to be one of the smartest and rewarding decisions you’ll make. As in any non-profit organization, volunteers are the foundation of the community. WordCamp volunteers continue to volunteer because:

  1. They love to meet and have fun with other WordPress addicts or people new to the community!
  2. The learning opportunities double when you are behind the scenes! There are lots of core developers in attendance that really enjoy sitting down and helping other WP users out… gratis
  3. The brainstorming and networking opportunities are endless. Seriously.
  4. Enjoy the camaraderie and networking experienced not only during the conferences but at the after-parties as well!
  5. We’re in Chicago during the summer for goodness sake!
  6. You get a sweet extra ‘Volunteer’ shirt made just for you! (in addition to the regular WordCamp shirt)

Bottom line is that volunteering at WordCamp Chicago is like the gift that keeps on giving. There are always new things going on in the WordPress community. Simply by participating, you’ll have a great opportunity to learn even more about this dynamic group of people, establish solid relationships, stay up to date on future WordPress developments and become part of the diverse publishing culture that is WordPress.

Obviously volunteering for WordCamp Chicago is a win/win situation but we sincerely appreciate your time and commitment. As an expression of our gratitude we are extending a $20.00 coupon code to those that go above and beyond the call of duty. If you work more than 6 hours we will give you $20 off the regular ticket price.*

A volunteer coordinator will be contacting you with more details following receipt of application.
So what are the volunteer needs and time commitments and where do you sign up?

Register to Volunteer →

Thank you again and we look forward to seeing you in the trenches!

Sylvia Lima
WordCamp Chicago 2013
Volunteer Coordinator

* Please note that we are not able to refund the $20.00 in the event your ticket is purchased prior to volunteering. Make sure to hold off on registering for your ticket until you hear from our Volunteer Coordinator!
** Additionally, if you are planning to volunteer for Friday, please only register using the General Admission ticket. If you are planning to attend the tracks and not volunteer on Friday, then simply choose which track you want to attend (this helps us keep our capacity in check).