Content Creation Ramblings from an Nerdy Elder Millennial

Or: Finding out how my plugins helped out a British celebrity, and yours can too.

Content creation is a weird phrase isn’t it? It can mean anything. From a well crafted blog post, to an hour video on how the Super Mario Brothers 3 record dropped over time, to those videos that crop up every 3 or 4 videos within my TikTok “For You” page that make me embarrassed to watch them in public, to those Facebook memes your racist auntie’s shares on Facebook. Every one of those things could be classed as “Content Creation”. Invariably when I see a talking head with job title of “Content Creator” mentioned in the media by I think one of these roles.

I may sneer a bit. Largely because like other things I sneer at like Formula One or Cody Rhodes’ booking strategy post Royal Rumble 2024 (NB: I wrote this sentence before Thursday 8th February, and publish it on the 9th. Holy shit it’s box office again and consider me a fully paid up member again the Cody Rhodes train again), I don’t really understand it. I yearn for a simpler time.

Rhys laments the old internet…again

Then I’m reminded how the old internet used to be. The one I’ve talked about on this site before. How as creators in any way shape or form we’re just a few steps from connecting with people. How it was a great time.

I saw a toot from Frank Goossens about how his plugin – Autoptimize – was used on Taylor Swift’s website. Taylor Swift! A content creator I have heard of! Using WordPress! There’s hope for me yet.

I remember the brush with celebrity I’ve had using my WordPress plugins. Stacey Solomon – an X-Factor contestant who has carved out a niche as a TV presenter in the UK – used WP Email Capture for a while on her (now defunct) website. Although I’m not an X-Factor or TV junkie, I did remember at the time I thought it was quite cool.

As I’ve gotten older, having somebody invest time as opposed to money into something I’ve created, fills me with a warmth that contracted work can never do. I did lament a few weeks ago (something I talk about in my 40th blog post) about the paradox of how this blog suffers when I’m mentally in a good place. However occasionally, a great read – “Why Personal Blogging Still Rules” by Mike Grindle – will provide me the inspiration to rattle off these few 100 words, such as these.

It may be harder for us to connect off the major platforms (and – if you decide not to pay Elon Musk $7 a month – on it as well). Hopefully something: be it a plugin, an article, a silly video or a meme, made by us, can light the day up and connect a bit closer. We connect, we may drift apart, but eventually remember.

Remembering Jase

I found out a few days ago that a bloke I knew online in my mid 20’s passed away in 2016. We connected through a TF2 community that had a server that was voice only. A ridiculous server with drunken Friday nights sniping on 2Fort. Never spoke to him after I moved to Manchester in 2010. There for a season and left. I knew very little of him, but what I remember sticks with me. He was Irish, and he used to sing karaoke over the server. He introduced me to The Velvet Underground and I knew his favourite song was “I’ll be Your Mirror”. I guess the above 600-odd words are for him. How somebody who entered my life for a few months, yet changed it for a lifetime.

And I guess that’s the power of blogging, or forming communities off of walled silos. Maybe in ways you’ll make something that does for somebody else. Be it a tribute singer from Ireland, or Taylor Swift. You won’t know until you try.

Header image: “IMG_0351 (Copy)” by paisleyorguk is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

First PicnicPress Meetup – 19th August, Mayfield Park

Organised on a bit of a shoestring, but let’s do it

So one factor to come out of WordCamp Europe for the UK crowd is/was “how to get face to face time with the community all together?”. Many of us it was the first time we saw each other since COVID and for 3 years and there hasn’t been much, if anything going ahead.

There didn’t seem to be much enthusiasm for creating a WordCamp as of yet*, as – well – life has gotten in the way of a lot of the volunteers. However it was good seeing the community again.

So a few people proposed an informal meetup, and I’m deciding to run with it. I’ll be sat in Mayfield Park, Manchester on the 19th August at about 11am (train times permitting). The aim is to be there until about 4 or 5pm where we’ll all go our separate ways.

I’ve been calling it PicnicPress as it’s an informal, social meetup to discuss WordPress stuff and get some community face to face time. Bring a picnic as well as any sort of things to make you comfortable (camping chairs, picnic blankets). Hopefully the day will be dry but we can play it by ear if not, and if we have to relocate so be it!

PicnicPress Details

  • Where – Mayfield Park, 11 Baring Street, Manchester M1 2PY (Google Map). I’ll bring something loud and obnoxious so we’re easy to spot. Think a flag like at Glastonbury.
  • When – 11am until about 4-5pm ish. (Google Calendar Link).
  • How Much – Free (please bring your own refreshments).

There are no tickets, but drop me a comment or a message if you are attending or thinking of attending. Obviously if it turns out to be a success and something people want then we can go forward (and I am happy to take it out of my blog but…you know…I felt it was better to get something up and running).

I think I have everything. If I’ve forgotten something, or if you have any questions – then please drop me a message (or on Twitter, Linkedin or Mastodon – or if you have my phone number or my Facebook, then message me on there), and I’ll do my best to answer this and update this blog post if needed.

Hope to see you! Bring sandwiches!

Update – 11th July 2023

So I went to check out the Mayfield Park on Sunday to answer a few questions to myself, and I thought I’d share them. We’re likely going to meet on the big green flat area in front of the “Depot Mayfield” sign here.

There were a couple of additional things, it’s largely signposted from the taxi area of Manchester Piccadilly Station towards Fairfield Park.

There is a small kiosk that sells sandwiches and coffees, and the map suggests there’s a loo by the kids play area (I didn’t check it out).

One important thing is no alcohol or smoking in the park. There were signs around.

*Though that may have changed since I started writing this: waves in the direction of Whitley Bay.

Update – 14th August 2023

So as a couple of people have asked me, yes this is still going ahead 🙂. As said it was an informal meetup rather than anything formal so yes I’m planning on being there this week (I’ve a minor update on that towards the end of the post). So I’ll guess I’ll share a few questions and things that have been going around in my head.

  • Weather – Manchester is dodgy weather wise at the best of times, so please bring wet weather gear. It’s very changeable at the moment. I still plan to show up but if it’s chucking it down we may relocate to a cafe nearby (there’s a few cafe’s nearby), Foundation Coffee House on Whitworth Street is nearby. I’ll try and post updates as soon as I can.
  • Transport – No train strikes planned that day 🎉. Obviously there may be work on your area.
  • COVID – So for full disclosure I’ve a nasty cough I’ve been trying to shift. Every COVID test has come back negative. As it’s a public park I cannot insist on people taking tests beforehand, but I hope if you do have an illness you’d stay away, or at the very least take a COVID test. Thanks.

Should you need to get in touch with me the best way is on the UK WordPress slack, or Twitter DMs.

On Kadence WP – a commercial WordPress theme I can at the very least tolerate

This is big, everybody

Recently I’ve been looking at my offering as my freelance WordPress development business. Sure I am confident in my abilities, but I’m always looking for ways to improve.

It’s no secret the majority of my work is at a higher price point. It’s with good reason: it’s custom work, often built from scratch, to high standards. I’m confident in my code, and that’s what people pay for.

However, whilst this works for the majority of my clients, there are odd cases where quick, simple sites are a struggle to price. I’ve built sites on to top of other themes before, and happy to communicate that with a client that I am using a child theme.

However, they have a habit of looking the same, which is generally looking like a TwentyTwenty child theme. It’s fine, and the client is happy, but I’m not 100% satisfied myself.

Sure, there are other themes, but I tend to find they are bloated mess and I struggle using them, using custom admin setups and – more often than not – the demo doesn’t look like what it looks like out of the box.

Recently, however, I saw a question from noted newsletter peddler Remkus de Vries, and read the replies.

From the replies, one theme, from names that I trust and admire, kept cropping up. I also had a potential lead that came through that explicitly asked for help in that theme.

Kadence WP

So – with the philosophy shared in my last side project build – where I make sure each side project is a learning experience, I reached into my box of domains, pulled out one – Dad Joke Ipsum – and set aside a day to build it.

The side project – Dad Joke Ipsum

So the idea behind Dad Joke Ipsum is a tool for web designers to generate dummy text for their designs. However the dummy text will be all dad jokes. After crowdsourcing a bunch of dad jokes (as well as using ChatGPT – did you know ChatGPT knows only 25 dad jokes? Dads: you’re safe), there was a bit of developmental work to build the generator with a database behind it. Ideally I didn’t want to be spending a huge amount of time on the theme, so Kadence WP made sense.

So, after soft launching the website at WordCamp Europe, I was impressed with Kadence WP, in a number of ways.

Kadence WP – Why I like it

1. It’s fast

So, the site is hosted on a bog standard SiteGround installation, and with a few images. Obviously other sites have a lot more images, but even using the SiteGround optimiser, it scores in the 90’s on mobile (though the largest contentful paint seems to be determined by the joke pulled from the database).

Check out the speed!

This bodes incredibly well as there isn’t a huge overhead from the theme itself, suggesting it is incredibly efficiently coded, with very little bloat. Also it scores highly in accessibility (the only error is me being odd with my heading tags placements). So it bodes well for a site that I’m trying to pick up traffic.

2. It doesn’t take over the admin

Honestly, I’m sick of themes that don’t use standard UI’s and take over the admin. Kadence WP very much does not. Logging in after installing and everything is either in the default Customiser, or within the posts. If anything I struggled to find where everything is located.

The theme uses the default customiser

It’s everything you need, though even though I could do most of what I wanted to without one. I do have a child theme. This is more for structuring the dad joke archive page and individual jokes.

Once you get your head around it (which is incredibly straightforward if you use Gutenberg on a daily basis), then you’re good.

3. Free is more than suitable

So everything you see on Dad Joke Ipsum is using the free version. I’ve not used the premium version, just a bit of basic customisation, and I can use the Gutenberg editor to build out the pages. There is a premium version which includes starter templates, infinite scroll, WooCommerce integration & a few other bells and whistles.

However, I’ve not needed it. It’s good enough to use on its own with the free version. I have recommended the premium to a client who I felt they needed it (the basic look is quite basic, but the starter themes do change the look of it quite a bit), but even for things like the WooCommerce additions and Infinite Scroll, I’d probably stick to the free version.


So yeah, I am a bit of a fan of Kadence WP, and have already recommended it to a couple of legacy clients who needed a site building rather quickly. I cannot really see myself using anything else for things like side projects where getting things out the door is paramount. For bigger projects, I’m still going to be building from scratch – if you pay for a custom WordPress theme, you’d get a custom WordPress theme for me, but for those that need something built quickly, this feels like a great compromise.

Disclaimer: There are a few affiliate links in here. But yeah, wanted to write here that I am a fan of Kadence WP. You can click on those links and give me a small commission if you decide to buy it. Or just Google it and play around with it. Do what you want, I’m not your real dad.

On Alexa, ChatGPT & AI Programming

Let me begin with a little story

On the day Donald Trump was formally arrested, I did what any sane person would do. I went out for a few beers.

After coming home, I popped a pizza in the oven, which took 13 minutes to cook. I have an Amazon Echo in the kitchen, so I said the words “Alexa – set a timer for 13 minutes”. Of course my comprehension skills weren’t great so I wasn’t sure if the confirmation timer was 13 minutes or 30 minutes, so quick as a flash I said “Alexa, reduce my timer by 1 minute”, before asking for how long was left.

Why? Well, if the timer was on 29 I’d hear “Twenty Nine”. If 12 minutes were left I’d hear “Twelve”. Easily to comprehend for my slightly sozzled celebrating a crap president being impeached.

Why am I telling you all this? Well I feel like it shows how my brain works to find a creative solutions to real world problems, something as a developer I do on a day to day basis. I’m not saying I’m the best developer in the world, but I’m pretty good.

Like most developers, I’ve been hit recently with the downturn in tech. Not as much as some, but I’ve felt it. Furthermore in the past six months we’ve seen the rise and rise of AI so I’ve been thinking – am I safe for a job? Or should I look to retrain?

What I think the future holds for developers

I don’t know what the future holds for developers, but I’d be silly if – as a luxury of being a business owner – I don’t diversify a little bit. I can’t remember who said it but I feel more secure as a business owner having 4 or 5 clients that cover the mortgage than working one place that does. It makes sense to look at other opportunities.

With that said, development is my bread and butter. Whether it’s my own site or clients, 5 days a week I come up to solutions to problems. Sure there are similarities, but nothing is ever quite the same. Is that safe?

I think so, and whilst I did have my heart sink when I saw the Tom Scott video about AI, I was reassured when WordPress said that Use of Code Generators must remain GPL compatible. In short, if you write a plugin to put onto the WordPress plugin repository, you must be sure where every line of code comes from. I’m sure with mine, because I wrote it, but there is no guarantee that AI code is. Mika Epstein in their post then ended with the cheery line:-

Robots won’t take our jobs yet.

This reassured me as you see, code does go wrong. I prefer if it didn’t, but things do go wrong. Part of my job is putting things right. People will use your code in ways you’re not expecting to, or view your code on a Commodore Amiga, or (like I discovered in Neverspoons recently) that searching for Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch causes crashes. It can take time to figure out what goes wrong, and part of the joy (if the 25 thread email chain is anything to go by) is to figure out what the route of the problem is. AI can solve the problem, but may not be able to diagnose why it’s a problem to begin with.

Those problems need the human touch, and familiarity with the code. Familiarity that doesn’t exist when somebody typed “Code a Facebook clone” in ChatGPT. Sure ChatGPT may write code. However it doesn’t come with the learned and community knowledge that comes with developing it

Where I do use AI

I do however use AI for my business and programming. No more than I use automated tools to build CSS files and minify JavaScripts, or Google problems that I have that end up on Stack Overflow . Developers should at least look to use it to generate code and data structures quickly.

To give you an example, this was something similar I used for a project recently. I needed the international dialling code of every EU country, stored in an array.

A graphic of Rhys Wynne asking ChatGPT for an PHP associative array with the dialing code of every EU country, and an ISO 3166 alpha 3 code as the key

It’s simple code, but for me to build would take at least half an hour. Maybe I’d find a quicker way to do it, but even just finding a table, extracting all the EU countries, and putting it into a format I’d use would take time, and also be prone to mistakes. This was 30 seconds for the AI to build, and quick for me to check and cross reference.

Furthermore, my knowledge as a developer using the words “key”, “value” and “associative array” meant the AI Bot was able to build it to spec quickly. Similarly to knowing how to Google and what to Google makes problems easy to solve.

The Developer/Client Relationship with AI

So I guess I’ll end with the fact that this is an open admission I use AI for my job to deliver results for clients. Not much, but occasionally. Some things a computer is better at doing than my easily distracted brain, but I believe in being honest with people. After all, my freelance face is literally named after me.

AI is here, but at least with Dwi’n Rhys, you do speak to a human.

Sweary Thoughts on using WordPress’ new Full Site Editor for the first time

By an old crusty web developer

I must admit, I did wince at the thought of the idea of the Full Site Editor. I have my comfort blankets when it comes to WordPress and when things change I get a bit tetchy at times. Furthermore, I’m not one to give my clients total control. It seems a good thing to not overwhelm clients. Instead allowing them to be focussed on what they’re good at seems like a good thing.

With that said, I’ve been trying to embrace change a fair bit. Some elements will be needed to integrate within my themes. I’ve certainly been spending the last year building sites in the block editor. Overall the sites have been stable, but there’s always room for improvement.

So with the new site editor becoming a thing, I thought I’d take an afternoon out to spin up a website for a potential affiliate product. I have had a domain name – – for a while. It was bought during the depressing 2022 heatwave in the UK and Europe, when I was ridiculously hot sitting in a (shaded) area of a beer garden in Berlin. My house has weird insulation – it’s freezing in the winter when I write this and boiling in the summer. I remember a site that I loved the concept – (web archive here) – that emailed you once a year in the summer to reminder to buy a shovel. That side project has lived rent free in my head since I first saw it.

Sure enough, the summer, more expensive, edition of it was purchased.

And sat on.

With a quiet afternoon where I had a project that was beginning to drag, I decided to use my time more productively to try and build out the site in about an hour or two. Whenever I work on a new side project, to do something I’ve never done before to learn . I learn a lot by doing so even if the side project is a bust I’ll leave with knowledge.

So the goal was build a side project site, wholly in the in the new full site editor, in under 2 hours.

I documented my thoughts on a Twitter thread (which served as a bit of a precursor to this blog post, but here are my thoughts.

Getting started with the new site editor

Beginning you have to have a theme that has to use it. So I’ve been using Twenty Twenty-Three. I was using a WordPress installation that was installed via my host (Siteground), and I deleted the default page and post. First view of the site editor was this.

I feel like the deletion of the default post and page was a bit of a mistake with the menu breaking and there being no information on the home page could confuse people. I also was confused with the “Mindblown” tagline and the talk of book recommendations. As this wasn’t any way related to the site. It feels like it’s both the placeholder content that WordPress has (“Hello World” with an encouragement to delete the post), or irrelevant content. Irrelevant content is fine or content that encourages users is fine, but I find mix and match a bit confusing.

I backed out and created a page with N7 Ipsum on it, and set it as the home page and there was a lot of change. A thumbnail space was added and everything appeared a lot different.

The interesting thing was that – even though it’s the front page – we don’t use the “front page”, but the page layout. It’s valid (if you look at the WordPress template hierarchy you can use page templates on the home page), but confused me a bit. I’m not sure if it was the Twenty Twenty Three lacked it or it was an issue with the full site editor as I expected a front page template.

Far, starting up does seem a bit confusing, but it perked up when I clicked on “Templates” as I could see the templates available and how to edit it. That’s incredibly welcome and probable more useful for developers to use if they use the Full Site Editor on a more regular basis.

The delight was in the template parts. As well as the header and footer, you can edit the comment template, which is great as it’s an absolute nightmare to edit.

But, I got there. A bit slower than I would have liked, now to build an actual site. Or something useful.

Ongoing Building

The first job was to clean up the home page layout. We won’t need a title tag, nor a featured image, we’d need to remove them.

Sure enough, selecting them, and hitting “delete” removes them. Nice and simple.

Obviously now we’ll need to change the header. We don’t need the menu as we stated above it’s a one page website. The goal then is to make the title text central, a h1, and make the menu stand out.

A massive positive at this point was switching between templates. I’m changing from the page template to the sitewide header template. It’s intuitive (you click, it loads) and it’s quick. Seriously. I have WP Bakery & Elementor running on instances on my Siteground server, and this is quicker than all of them.

The first issue was changing colours. The default palette didn’t have many colours and I wanted to change the theme colours. Alas I couldn’t, as there were “styles”. So I picked one that I didn’t particularly find offensive (the red one). There are custom colours by default in WordPress. I don’t know if this was switched off in Twenty TwentyThree or this is how things are now with the full site editor.

The next couple of issues were traps that I fell in and my clients fall in all the time and it’s something I’m not sure how to fix – selecting the element. As the site title is an element that exists as the header. I was able to edit it but not sure how to change it to a H1. It took me a while to realise that the paragraph symbol needs to be clicked and then changed to a H1.

I then wanted to centrally align the logo, and couldn’t. Eventually by clicking on the row and going up the element tree I was able to change the item justification.

We then changed the footer. Changing the footer was largely fine, though removing the WordPress link and replace with my freelance link to Dwi’n Rhys was a bit of a faff.

In the end, we had with something like this.

My next goals was change the header a bit. Get the header flush to the top of the screen, and remove the white gaps at the top and bottom of the page(s).

And this is where I tapped out, and had to use CSS. The issues were that the white line you see was a border. I couldn’t work out how to remove it. Furthermore there was an issue with how the form (Mailpoet) was displaying on mobile. Simple fixes really, but outside of the FSE. There was a problem with using CSS, and I share that in the goals.


Let’s look if I achieved my goals.


I did want to shout out a resource. Full Site Editing with WordPress is a site I landed on that talked through some of the issues I had again and again. A big thanks to Carolina Nymark for putting the resource together.


Am I going to be building themes in it professionally? Probably not. When you approach me for WordPress development my rates and experience will mean that I operate at the price point that you get coded themes, rather than thrown together code. With that said, I can possibly use it professionally for those clients that just need a simple solution built quickly. Those quick sites for a retainer that I get asked? Perfect for this.

But for quick side projects? Getting a site up and out and ranking? Sure. For your own personal blog? Sure. Especially with Twitter being a dumpster fire, owning your own content will become more and more popular again, or so I hope.

Oh, and buy a fucking air-con. Your summer self will thank you.