We recently attended our first WordCamp conference, not just as attendees but as speakers too… and as parents! Well, Rachael went as mummy and I went as the evil lady who took away the mummy from time to time.
It was an excellent experience overall; good fun, friendly people, great talks and we learned lots from both web design and marketing points of view. If you’re a web designer, developer, agency owner or marketeer, then WordCamp London should be on your hit list.
Here are our top 6 lessons learned at WordCamp London.
- Conferences can be accessible and inclusive for all and the WordCamp London team worked around the clock to enable attendees and speakers to enjoy a great weekend. Some examples include live captioning for all talks, a multi-faith room, lactation room, quiet room and hello points for people to be able to meet others if they had come on their own. For us, it was the creche that enabled us both to come and take part. For a breastfeeding mummy needing an overnight stay in London, Rachael would have only come to half the conference (on our speaking day) if it had not have been for the creche. And despite what he might have thought, mummy said the creche experience was also a good learning curve for baby Zachary.
- Not all talks have to be techy and you can learn just as much from non-technical talks as a business owner or freelancer. For example “The WordPress Cartoonist – A User’s Perspective” by Dave Walker. I didn’t actually get to hear his talk but I chatted with Dave the previous day at the social when he told me what his talk was about. Plus, I had a look at his talk slides which can be seen here. Take ours as another example – “Website Design Pain Points for Clients and How to Help Them Through It”. We focused on how to help clients by sharing your process without overwhelming them with tech speak and to also be knowledgeable, confident and flexible in order to do a great job, have happy clients and build a 5 star reputation.
- Stay open minded, be friendly and connect with those who share your passion. WordCamp London is a great place to find collaborators and service partners. It’s also a great place to chat with people who do the same thing you do and share experiences. I had the pleasure of meeting Maja Benke and enjoyed hearing about all the other WordCamps she’s been to and about her business blog. In addition to talking about WordPress, clients and business we also chatted about kids and travelling. Being receptive and reciprocal will set you apart from those who aren’t. We always find that at events it’s much more worthwhile chatting to people who are interested in talking about what we do as well as talking about what they do.
- We’ll be putting into use many things we learned from these four talks in particular; “Designing for Accessibility” by Graham Armfield, “Introduction to Agile” by Jim Bowes, “Why and How to Use Screencasts to Train Users” by Ross Wintle, and “Ending Design Revision Hell” by Nela Dunato. But, we also enjoyed listening to David Lockie tell the story of his journey building Brighton-based Pragmatic and being able to ask him questions. In fact we enjoyed all the ones we went to and our only regret is that we couldn’t attend them all. We’ll need to bring more team members in future years so we can attend more talks!
- People travel from afar to come to WordCamp London! We met people from Germany, Switzerland, Croatia and New York. Not only did it make the conference eclectic and multi-cultural, but for us as first timers, it showed us just how important and global this conference is and just how vital WordPress is for us and for our own clients. We now know and have a better understanding of the local and global WordPress community (we also discovered there’s a WordCamp Brighton too!) and feel we’re a part of it, can contribute and can be supported by it as well.
- Great communication makes for a superb event. From our initial talk idea submission to the final group photograph at the conference, communication seemed to be the key to its success. Jenny, Ana and Diane were so helpful during the lead up – we had special dietary requirements, we were bringing a baby and we were speakers – so we had a fair amount of questions! It also gave the whole event a feeling of inclusivity, friendliness and generosity which you don’t always find at other events. How brilliant is that!
Huge thanks to the WordCamp London team of organisers and volunteers.
We hope to see you next year!