Opportunity to acquire IT skills abundant throughout Tri-Cities

It’s Thursday night and a diverse group of participants have gathered at Brandcraft Media on Gage Boulevard. in Richland to hear Sara and Brendan Quinn of Squid & Crow, a local web development firm, talk about creating template-based websites using WordPress.

WordPress Tri-Cities, a monthly meet-up group organized the event. The group regularly offers local presentations and workshops related to the WordPress content management system and web development.

WordPress Tri-Cities is a professional track group dedicated to advancing the technical skills needed to build and manage WordPress websites. The group members include business owners, web designers, scientists, programmers, writers, and WordPress users, and those hoping to pick up a few web development skills. Not all of them are there for the same reason, or share the same skill level, but all leave the group having learned something new.

Abigail Jones, a freelance writer from Hermiston, Ore., attended the presentation. It was her first time there, she said she’ll definitely attend future WordPress Tri-Cities meetings. As a writer, she says she needs to learn WordPress to market herself better.

“Specifically, I wanted to launch a website for my writing and photography and wanted to get together with like-minded people who know the technical aspect of building a website,” she said. “Wordpress is a little bit more challenging of a platform to build a website, but it has way better functionality. So for someone who is a newbie, it’s encouraging to be in a group that has people of all different skills levels, and get the resources you need.”

For digital content creators, it’s an opportunity to learn best practices to maximize the exposure of their content.

“I have approached WordPress as a user and I have been grabbing all the things I can get,” said Ivan Fernando Gonzalez, a bilingual scientist and science communicator who owns fives websites related to science. “Going to these meetings has given me the point of view of those who actually build websites. I have learned best policies when dealing with several websites and how to best manage my website as an end user.”

WordPress Tri-Cities is just one of many local opportunities available to those who want to better understand technical topics or learn marketable IT skills.

Fuse, the coworking space on George Washington Way in Richland, offers monthly Tuestorials — or tutorials —on the second Tuesday of each month. Although topics are not always technical in nature, Fuse members often give presentations on building and hosting websites, database management and programming.

The next one will be May 10 and the topic is how to deploy and host a website in less than 30 minutes using Amazon Web Services, an Amazon cloud computing service.

Quinn, who coordinates Fuse’s monthly tutorials, says the biggest benefit is tapping into the knowledge of technical talent.

“Having a community of people that are happy to help is awesome — it’s phenomenal,” she said. “Everybody at one point in their career has gotten stuck on a problem and usually what helps is having another human to walk you through it. We’re very lucky have these groups available locally.”

She said the biggest obstacle to getting started is fear of not getting it right the first time. But that is setting an unrealistic expectation, Quinn added.

“If anyone wants to try and build their own website, it doesn’t have to be perfect. You’ll learn as you go. Just build it and play around with it. That’s the best way to learn,” Quinn said.

Quinn also suggests pairing local learning opportunities with free online classes through websites such as Codecademy, Udemy, Coursera, and edX. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) provide students completely free advanced courses in computer science, IT, digital marketing, and business from top universities.

The Richland Public Library offers free access to the Microsoft Imagine Academy. Adults can get access to over 400 courses in Microsoft desktop applications, coding courses, server applications, and other digital skills.

“For the size of our library, we have registered an incredible amount of people,” said Earlene Mokler, Library technical support specialist.

Library patrons can register through the Richland Public Library website.

For those interested in learning practical IT, digital, and web skills are encouraged to register through meetup.com to stay informed on future events hosted by WordPress Tri-Cities and FUSE. Users can RSVP and participate in a forum of event attendees.

For more information about WordPress Tri-Cities visit www.meetup.com/WordpressTriCities.

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