WordCamp London 2016 is in the history books. Over this past weekend, hundreds of WordPress enthusiasts, hosting providers, developers and designers descended on London Metropolitan University to meet, learn, and grow as part of the greater WordPress community. The organisers and volunteers of WordCamp London offered a programme composed of educational sessions and panels mixed together with ample time for investigating the latest WordPress technology at the vendor tables, along with a retro video gaming after-party for fun and networking. The event was a great place to learn from both web hosting providers (specialising in WordPress hosting) and also many of their own UK customers in attendance. Among the hosting companies sponsoring WordCamp London were: 34SP.com (launching a new managed WordPress hosting product at the event), GoDaddy, Heart Internet, and WP Engine.
Looking around during the opening remarks from the event organisers, one could sense that the WordPress community in London is thriving. Listening intently were several hundred attendees packed into the Great Hall - which was built in 1897 and still retains many of the original architectural details. And so WordCamp London 2016 was officially underway!
There were some notable session details which made for a superior learning experience. For example, every single speaker providing an educational session in some aspect of WordPress was transcribed into text - in real time by a stenographer. It's a brilliant idea and means that if you didn't catch something important or simply couldn't clearly hear what was said - you could easily read the streaming text from the moment before. As is frequently the case - the sessions were captured via video camera. In the sessions where the room was already full, the organisers had set up couches, a large video monitor and a professional sound system to allow those who couldn't get into the room to view that session live via video. On that note, many of the sessions were completely full with an overflow audience viewing as well. Educational talks were slated at 40 minutes and ample time was built in for audience questions after each talk.
One of the standout presentations was delivered in the afternoon on Day 2 by Mr. Ross Wintle entitled, "User Experience: It's for Everyone". Delivered in a very relaxed manner, Mr. Wintle focused on what it means to give a great user experience to site visitors. The talk was filled with great resources, links and suggestions for those wanting to embrace the very best practices in UX (user experience). Of particular note was the example website application that Ross used to illustrate his points: www.hasyourbabyarrivedyet.com. It is a simple application that Ross developed to let friends and family know whether a newborn has been born already or is still on the way. It was a visual way of putting all his talk suggestions and advice to work. What's even more impressive is that with his time spent as a freelance website developer and communications consultant, Ross had never delivered a professional educational session in front of his peers.
A similarly well received session was presented by Mr. Ben Furfie and agency developer who has previously worked as a journalist and freelancer. Drawing on his real life experience as a freelance designer, Ben articulated a bit of sage advice in his talk entitled, "What I'd Do Differently If I Freelanced again". He jokingly added that it was really a list of things he'd done wrong.
Ben quickly reached his audience with these 6 points:
1. Outsource, outsource, outsource - Don't pretend to be an expert in everything;
2. Referrals are the lifeblood of business;
3. Don't spend money on tools you don't need;
4. Do not mess with the taxman;
5. Processes. aka Having some processes in place;
6. Know your 'shop rate'. He defined shop rate as your base rate +50%. You base rate is: (costs + pay) +10% .
Ben combined humour with solid advice and answered a number of revealing questions after his talk. Well worth attending for everyone there.
Claire Brotherton is a freelance web designer and front end developer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Claire delivered her educational session on the topic of "The How and Why of Business Blogging". This writer was not able to catch that talk, but caught up with Claire afterwards to get here thoughts on WordCamp London 2016, "It was my first time speaking, so that was exciting and gave me a different take on the weekend. I was lucky enough to do my talk - on business blogging - early on Saturday, so was able to relax afterwards and focus on the rest of the event. It was wonderful to learn so much and meet so many talented and interesting people. And Wapuu of course! (writer's note - a life sized Wapuu was seen walking around the venue throughout the weekend.) I had several people say they enjoyed my talk; it's great to have that kind of validation from my peers. I'm looking forward to catching up on the talks I missed on WordPress.tv. And kudos to the organisers. They moved heaven and earth to make an absolutely fantastic event. I'm looking forward to 2017."
Here's a final thought from the Marketing Executive at reseller web hosting company Heart Internet, "It was great to hear about people’s projects and websites and what they were hoping to create. We also met a lot of our own customers, and it was fantastic to connect with them and get their opinions on our hosting packages and WordPress. We had a wonderful time at WordCamp London, and we’re looking forward to sponsoring similar events in the future."
Many thanks and deep appreciation to the organisers and all the volunteers that helped make WordCamp London 2016 a great success. Keep your eyes open for another outstanding opportunity to learn about WordPress and meet personally with WordPress hosting providers at WordCamp London in 2017.