Video: Empathy and User-centered Design

Here’s a short talk I gave at WordCamp London 2015 on the topic of empathy and user-centered design. Reblogging from the vault of yesteryear since I haven’t published it previously.

The big difference between good and bad designers (and developers, copywriters—all of us) is how they handle people struggling with their design. In this lightning session Lance will argue why empathy is important to beautiful, engaging, and useful products.

View full-screen video starting at 17:04 minute mark, and read the description on

Full text below.

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WordPress Edinburgh

I spoke with the Edinburgh WordPress meetup today via Skype video. It was a fun and engaging group! Thanks to Iain Taylor for inviting me to share about Automattic products and WordPress happenings, and for everyone’s questions and discussion.

Discussing everything from the new dashboard, Jetpack and Photon, to the Underscores theme and good plugins for custom post types, to the WP REST API.

Notes and slides on the WordPress Edinburgh page.

Speaking at ThemeConf

Update: see my slides and notes here, and a full text write-up here.

I’m thrilled to announce my part in ThemeConf, an exciting new conference “for developers and designers who make themes,” organized by Automattic and set in the beautiful landscape of the Lake District (Keswick, UK on September 2–4, 2015).

Recognizing the fact that I don’t make WordPress themes any more, I’m honored to attend, speak, and share a bit of a retrospective on my career in web design and development, including a few stories about how my career in WordPress themes kicked off in 2010.

On a sunny summer day in Winnipeg I sit in The Forks dining area eating delicious fish and chips, the proper way, straight from the newspaper cone. I’m here for the first ever meeting of the Automattic Theme Team.

I’ll talk about my journey of theme craftsmanship—the ups, the downs, the unexpected results. From meeting Ian Stewart for the first time on that hot and humid August day in Manitoba, to my first theme launch on, getting a premium theme marketplace off the ground, shepherding default themes for, to building a team of 30 people strong.

A journey of adventure and learning where my skills have expanded beyond what I’d expected—not just the technical path from web designer and developer to “front-end expert” and WordPress themer—but also writing, speaking, and leading.

I’ll share how in 2015 I’ve now become an apprentice again, in the field of software quality and testing. Working hard at finding tools, skills, patterns, workflow, and process in my new craft. Discovering myself, my passion, my community, and opportunities to learn.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 12.11.33

A special discount for my readers: use code lancetheme for 25% off the ThemeConf registration cost—which at only £49 for the conference and £99 with the workshop is quite a bargain!

WordCamp Buenos Aires 2015

I gave a talk at WordCamp Buenos Aires in May 2015 on finding and choosing the perfect theme.

Slides (in Spanish) are available here: Encontrar el diseño perfecto para tu sitio WordPress. For similar information in English, check out these Jumpstart resources on ThemeShaper.

It was a great event! Well organized and well attended; I was also impressed with the quality level of the presentations: from project management to extending the Customizer to web development psychology. Met a few people I’d emailed or seen online a bit in the community, and I’m very happy to see the WordPress community in South America growing and strong, and it was great to connect with the Argentinean open source community a bit more.

To see more about the event, here’s the #wcba15 hashtag on Twitter and the official WordCampBsAs stream.

(Photo credit: Zulema Ayala.)

Video: State of Themes Panel

Lance Willett, Tiago Noronha, Ben Gillbanks, Tammie Lister: State of Themes Panel from WordCamp London 2015 — now on WordPress TV.

Press Publish

Announcing Press Publish with two upcoming dates in Portland, OR in March 2015 and Phoenix, AZ in April 2015.

A new, one-day conference for bloggers who use WordPress — or want to switch. With inspirational talks by successful bloggers and workshops by the people who make and Jetpack — all designed to help you level up your skills and get fired up about your blog.

We’re ridiculously excited about the speakers we have lined up, from personal bloggers to published authors from all over the country. Their successes and unique points of view represent a diverse range of the possibilities that come with sharing your voice with WordPress.

Want to attend the Phoenix event and save a bit off the conference price? Use discount code PHX40 for 40% off. The price includes a one-year subscription to the Premium upgrade, a $99 value.

Hope to see you there! (I’ll be giving a tutorial in Phoenix on how to pick the perfect theme.)

WordPress Barcelona December Recap

Tuve el placer de presentar sobre los temas de WordPress en la meetup de WordPress Barcelona para diciembre 2014. Joan Artés hizo un buen resúmen aquí: Ahorra 1000 Horas Con Underscores (con fotos).