I haven't told a lot of people, but I bet you can relate. I bet you won't judge me. And if you do, I won't know. So I can keep on with the pretense that you didn't. Right?
Here it is: I am drawn to complexity.
There, I said it. It's work to keep things simple. And even though I prefer relaxing, I find that my defaults draw me to the puzzles around me. I like to dig in and figure things out.
While we're being honest here, can I tell you that I still remember taking a day off work when Windows95 was released. I rebuilt my computer on that day. I installed the OS 4 times, picking different options each time. I wanted to know it from the inside out. I wanted to be the guy you could ask a question to on the second day after it's release and I would have an answer.
Are you like that in any of the areas you spend time on? Do you work, like me, to be a credible authority in some area of your life?
If so, let me just tell you, I can totally hear that. I appreciate the work you do. And I don't judge you.
You know where I don't want complexity?
Now with all that said, there are some places where I really don't want complexity. And that's in the WordPress plugins I use on my site.
I don't want plugins that take over my entire site. I don't want plugins that restrict the ways I want to use them. And I most certainly don't like large plugins.
I want plugins that are simple and focused. They do what they do, and nothing more.
That's why I love the plugins I love. Gravity Forms, for example, is not also a outbound email management system (or a word processor). I spent an afternoon talking with David Wells about his company, Inbound Now, and his plugins are like that too – simple and focused.
Event Plugins are another story.
When it comes to event plugins, however, it feels like it's always a different story completely. Because we want them to do so much – from showing me the upcoming events, to letting me look at events in my region, to showing me all the events where a presenter is talking.
No wonder these are huge plugins.
On our online show, WPwatercooler, we use Event Espresso. I own the license and bought it a year before we started the show for a different site. And man, it's hefty. I've met with the guys who develop and support it and they're some smart and nice guys. And I know, whenever you're the defacto plugin everyone uses for events, you get a ton of feature requests. So I don't doubt all those features are being used by someone.
But I'll be honest, it's big and complex, and every couple weeks Jason and I talk about moving on.
We want something simple. Small, fast and easy.
My New Challenge
I've written about it before but I want my site to be better understood by Google when it comes to specific data on my site. One of those areas is the events aspect of my upcoming talks.
So this week I set out to solve two different problems. The first was all about microdata and schemas and figuring out a way to drop that event data onto a page so that Google could “know” that these were events where I'd be speaking.
The second was a clean way for people to read/see my upcoming events. And that led me on the search.
I'll be honest. This was one place where I didn't want complexity. I wasn't drawn to it at all. In fact, I leave for vacation tomorrow and haven't packed. So I wanted to be able to move fast and drop in three upcoming talks. So here was my criteria:
- I wanted a solution that I could use on my site in less than 30 minutes.
- I wanted a solution that looked good right away, without tons of CSS work.
- I wanted a solution that didn't take over my Admin GUI.
- I wanted a solution that didn't require me to read a manual.
- I wanted a solution that didn't overshoot my need for simple events.
My Solution: Events Calendar Pro
Let me add one more bit of honesty to this post. I'm heading to Cabo San Lucas tomorrow. There's only one thing better than going to Cabo San Lucas. That's going with friends. Luckily we'll be doing that tomorrow.
But as I was thinking about my trip, I remembered a friend who often goes on vacations with friends. In fact, he takes his entire company. And they go to places like Cabo. And so Shane was top of mind as I started my search. So it's no shock that Events Calendar Pro was on my list – it's a product Modern Tribe makes.
Event Espresso was on the list. A couple of other free plugins that aren't even worth mentioning (remember, mom told you not to say anything if you couldn't say anything nice). And a non-plugin, Timely.
I'll tell you right now, the one thing that turned me off from all of these was that their features lists were HUGE!
I wanted simple. Each of these was telling me how it could do everything!
But where things were won over was in the speed and ease by which I could create and post events on a page for my three upcoming talks.
Timely was fast to create an event. Getting it to look good took me past 30 minutes.
Event Espresso took the 30 minutes to move thru all their settings (ok, almost, but not quite).
Events Calendar Pro let me configure it, create three events, and evaluate three different looks. In 27 minutes.
Not bad, huh?