The event will be held at: Manta Ray Media Ltd., Finsbury Business Centre, Unit 42, 40 Bowling Green Lane, London, EC1R 0NE (map). Which is between 10 and 15 minutes walking distance from Angel, Barican, Farringdon and King’s Cross stations. It’s free, and there will be drinks and nibbles and time to network.
We’ll start with a drop in session from 5:30 to 6:30 for people that are new to CiviCRM and have specific questions that they want answered. We’ll run this on a first come first serve basis – so please arrive early if you’d like some help. We’ll then have our CiviCRM meetup from 6.30 to 8.30 with presentations suitable for new and existing users, implementors and developers. There will definitley be something to interest all levels of experience.
What is CiviCRM?
CiviCRM is web-based, open source, internationalized software that allows you to record and manage information about your members, clients, volunteers, activists, donors, staff, and vendors.
Unlike most other CRM software, CiviCRM was designed from the ground up for non-profits, membership and advocacy organizations. Rather than trying to adapt to a commercial sales-force automation model, CiviCRM gives you familiar terms and concepts. CiviCRM is freely downloadable without licensing fees making it an affordable and cost effective solution compared to most proprietary vendor offerings.
See you there?
Representatives from 2020Media will be along at the meetup so if you would like to have a face to face chat, please let us know you’ll be attending and we’ll arrange to meet.
The UK CiviCRM user group meeting took place last night in London. We were there, and this is our report.
The meetup was hosted at techhub, in London’s “Silicon Roundabout”, Old Street. Our host for the evening was Michael McAndrew of Third Sector Design, a company specialising in CiviCRM based in techhub.
Meet-ups are free and a great way to get to learn more about CiviCRM and are suitable for those that are new to CiviCRM as well as people that have been using it for years. There were two presentations, a mingle session and a case study report from a charity that’s successfully implemented CiviCRM.
CiviCRM in 2012
The keywords for 2012 are: mobile, scalable, community.
A code sprint (?) scheduled for later this month in London will be focusing on CiviMobile. CiviCRM for mobile devices includes iPhone, Android, iPad, Blackberry and more. This version will include the ability to view/search contacts and see most of the details of each contact. It will also allow users to create/edit contacts, and handle event attendee check-in. Several core developers will be in town and any developers are welcome to join.
CiviCon is taking place in San Fransisco on 2nd April. CiviCon is THE annual event bringing together the people who use, develop, design and implement CiviCRM. Good news for us in the UK though, a CiviCon Europe is planned for Autumn, although dates and location have not yet been finalised.
CiviCRM 4.1 News
Beta release for WordPress – along with Drupal and Joomla, CiviCRM will now work within WordPress. WordPress has emerged from it’s blogging roots to become one of the most widely used content managment systems in use today, powering an amazing 14% of the web.
Social plugins (Facebook, Twitter etc).
Better cron (simple for admins to setup).
Personalisation of campaign pages for events (think JustGiving).
Improvement to admin menu.
A couple of UK specific projects were mentioned, with a call for some help from developers or sponsors to get them completed. These are Direct Debit integration and Gift Aid. The Direct Debit integration is a “make it happen” project, which basically is a call for funding, and the Gift Aid module needs a bit of development help to fix some not too tricky bugs.
Dave Moreton, from Bristol based Circle Interactive, talked to the group about improving the marketing of CiviCRM. It’s apparent that next to the giant forces of SalesForce, Microsoft Dynamics etc, CiviCRM has a much lower profile. It’s also true that it’s a very different product. That said, the non-profit, membership, civic sector are often unaware of the existence of CiviCRM and end up using a commercial-focused CRM system that is less than ideal. David’s talk was about efforts within the CiviCRM community to increase awareness, talk up it’s successes and provide comparisons and marketing material for system integrators to use. He finished by showing us a sneak peak at the new CiviCRM website, which of course aims to solve these issues.
Finally we heard from Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research (LLR). Parvez Saleh from Veda Consulting, talked us through the tasks that were needed for migrate in just 2 hours a complete legacy system to CiviCRM.
LLR went from a system that was used by just a few users which specialist knowledge (and lots and lots of spreadsheets), to a website-integrated CiviCRM system that can be accessed by 80+ users, speeds up the financial reporting functions and will save the charity tens of thousands over the next few years, as well as enabling increased fundraising. Now one of the largest CiviCRM installations in the UK, the system serves the needs of 350,000 contacts, 90,000+ participants and over 1.2 million contributions a year. LLR are now holding a “spreadsheet amnesty” to move all data onto the system.
The event was attended by around 50 people. Most were new to CiviCRM but we also met with system integrators, developers, current users and administrators. The user group meeting showed that there is an established infrastructure of support for CiviCRM here the UK, and organisations considering it for themselves can be confident they will get the support they need. 2020Media provides complete hosting packages for CiviCRM, and our support is based around our hosting expertise. Therefore we can deal with the kind of problems you might have if you get a error on a page, emails not being sent, uploading images and so on. We can also help users get to grips with the basics of using Civi. We also have a network of developers and consultants so get in touch if you want to know more.
The Telegraph were hosting this month’s London WordPress meetup at their headquarters in Victoria.
BuddyPress core developer Paul Gibbs talked about how the Telegraph uses WordPress.
WordPress and Web Accessibility: Why it’s Important
Graham Armfield talked about accessibility. The presentation covered some issues that disabled and elderly users experience with websites, then discussed steps that we all can take to improve accessibility – and why it makes business sense.
How the Telegraph uses WordPress.
The Telegraph media group have two websites running WordPress. There is Telegraph Blogs, which is where 40 or so journalists have their own blogs; and MyTelegraph which is where the public have their say.
Telegraph blogsuses WordPress multisite install to host a blog for each of the journalists. In turn these are split into several headings such as News, Sport, Culture, so that an editor can manage the content for each section. For speed, they use memcached and Akamai content delivery. The Akamai network in particular helps with spikes in traffic when a particular topic gets a lot of traffic in a short space of time. The themes are fairly static, but new plugins are added regularly and comprise a mix of off-the-shelf contributed WordPress plugins, and in-house plugins that have been built to meet a specific need for Telegraph Blogs. All undergo thorough manual and automated testing for security and scalability and are usually tweaked in some way. Some of the plugins used include: yoast breadcrumbs, WordPress SEO, Widget Logic.
MyTelegraph is probably the largest BuddyPress installation in the UK, with over 90,000 users. It’s no surprise then that Paul is a lead developer of BuddyPress. The MyTelegraph is a mix of groups and personal member blogs. The groups section includes categories such as Politics, Travel, Book Club and Football and uses the power of niche communities to maintain focus and engagement with members. Community managers guide the site and help new users find their feet. Groups are a feature of BuddyPress. Users can also create their own blogs, which is deployed with WordPress Multisite. The sitewide tags plugin allows their posts to appear on the MyTelegraph home page. Other plugin used include yoast breadcrumbs, blackbird pie (a twitter integrator), WP report posts, BuddyPress group blog, and of course BuddyPress itself.
You can listed to Paul’s talk on our podcast – the audio quality isn’t great as no-one told Paul to use the mic until 30 seconds before he finished!
WordPress and Web Accessibility
52% of people who meet the legal definition of having a disablilty prefer not to describe themselves as disabled. There are around 10 million people in the UK with some kind of impairment – if your website doesn’t address basic accessibility then you could be losing money and clicks.
Graham used Tesco as an example – a redesign of their website to improve accessibility cost £35,000, but after the relaunch, the website turnover was up £1.6million.
Accessibility – why it matters
Graham’s interesting and informative talk covered what WordPress does well and not so well when it comes to helping the disabled access your content. Screen readers are commonly used by those with a visual impairment (they convert the text to speech). The other common accessibility method is tab – instead of using a mouse, users will hit the tab key to move around a web page.
With these two tools in mind, Graham demonstrated how some WordPress generated sites could be severely lacking in usability if you looked at them without a mouse or only a screen reader. Some drop-down menus weren’t showing up when hitting tab, meaning those sections of the website would be totally inaccessible. Screen readers can give misleading information due to over-use of the title tag (which is extensive in WordPress).
3 interesting talks encouraged members of the London WordPress Meetup group to fill the venue to capacity on Thursday evening.
Core developer Paul Gibbs talked us through the new release of BuddyPress, the social network “out of the box” plugin for WordPress. BuddyPress 1.5 is an almost complete recoding of the plugin, taking advantage of the new features in WordPress 3 and above. It includes a new theme with a fresher look (as many users never attempted to create their own), more complete documentation so that developers and designers can take and extend the core plugin code, and the ability to embed media from sites such as YouTube directly in your site.
Jeff Ghazally, one of the developers of the WordPress e-commerce plugin called WP e-commerce spoke about the new version of this plugin, and demo-ed setting up a online music store for digital music downloads in under 5 minutes. Although the core plugin is free, most users need to purchase a plugin add-on to give them the functionality they require. Add-ons range from $10-$195. Community plugins add more specific tasks. WP-ecommerce downloads total over 1.3 million to date, making it one of the all-time most popular plugins.
Better WordPress Search
Developer Shakur Shidane gave us an overview of using Apache SOLR project to add a full featured search to WordPress sites. Search in WordPress is pretty simply – for example it can’t recognise the similarity between “smile” and “smiling”. The SOLR project includes and much more. Although not suitable for most small WordPress users on shared hosting, due to the technology requirements, Shakur’s talk showed us the WordPress can be used for the biggest of sites when required.
Hosting for WordPress
The talks this week at WordPress London showed us just how powerful WordPress can be. From a fully featured social network for your specific group, to extensive e-commerce ability, to high powered search, WordPress is ready for heavy lifting.
If you have a WordPress project coming up that may need specialist support, why not get in touch with us? 2020Media offers specialist hosting support for WordPress for all sizes of website. With ‘no-click’ WordPress install, experienced and friendly technical help and free support, the team at 2020Media are waiting to hear from you.