Featured Speaker: Chip Bennett

Chip Bennett

Chip Bennett

Chip has been using WordPress since 2005, and has been a hobbyist web developer since the mid-90s. He has developed WordPress themes and plugins, and is a minor contributor to WordPress core. He is a member and administrator of the WordPress Theme Review Team that reviews/approves themes for inclusion in the WordPress Theme Repository. He can often be found in the WordPress.org support forums and at WordPress StackExchange. He is also a part-time freelance WordPress developer.

Why WordPress?

I love WordPress because of its speed, power, extensibility, and simplicity. I originally started using WordPress as a Blogger refugee in 2005, when I decided to find a self-hosted blogging solution. At the time, the blog was just a subdirectory of an otherwise static-HTML site. Now, WordPress manages all of the content for that same site. But most importantly, I love WordPress because of its community. From the support forum volunteers I encountered as a new user, to the core, Plugin, and Theme developer community with whom I became involved as I began to find ways to contribute to WordPress, quite simply: the community is WordPress’ single, greatest asset.

What are you most looking forward to at WordCamp Toronto?

On a personal level, I am looking forward to re-visiting, and introducing my family to, a city I first visited two decades ago. Regarding WordPress, I am always eager to interact with the developer community, to engage in Theme development- and review-related discussions, and to help others as I have been helped before.

Regarding the Theme Review Team, I look forward to encouraging others to join us as volunteers, and to further our objective to provide an educational resource to the developer community. Finally, I am incredibly excited to meet in person several people in the community whom I thus far know only “virtually”.

Why did you decide to speak at WordCamp Toronto?

I decided to speak at WordCamp Toronto quite simply because I was asked to do so! A fellow Theme Review Team member asked me to consider making the trip to Toronto to speak. I see WordCamps as a great opportunity to give back to the WordPress community, to solicit developer-community engagement in our Theme-review efforts, and to gain valuable feedback from both developers and users.

What is your talk going to be about?

My presentation will cover Theme-development best practices beyond the requirements in the Theme Review Guidelines.  In the year and a half since the inception of the Theme Review Team, the overall quality of repository-hosted Themes has improved tremendously, to the point where the free Themes in the official repository often compete on a code quality basis – if not functional and/or design basis – with many commercial Themes. But plenty of opportunity for continual improvement exists.

I will be discussing some areas that are largely outside the scope of the Theme Review Guidelines, but that would greatly enhance the quality of repository-hosted Themes.

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

If I were to summarize my presentation into a single objective, it would be for the audience to walk away from the presentation with an appreciation and desire for the official Theme repository to be the gold standard of WordPress Themes, and an understanding that such a goal is only possible through the combined effort of the Theme developer community.

What is your favourite WordPress plugin or theme? Why?

My favorite WordPress Theme is my own Oenology Theme. It is a “labor of love”, and something I view as a means of giving back to the community. It is my attempt to incorporate every Theme development best practice, and to serve as an example and a learning tool for other developers.

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About Andy McIlwain

Andy is a front-end dev and community guy (GoDaddy, Toronto's WordPress meetups, and WordCamp). Find him on Twitter and his personal blog.
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One Response to Featured Speaker: Chip Bennett

  1. Thanks, Chip! It will be great to meet in person, too. Especially after our many conversations and discussions regarding theme reviews and the WPTRT.

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