The following is a guest post by Stephen Wu who attended WordCamp London 2013. Steven Wu is a freelance WordPress Theme Developer and specialises in Magento Ecommerce development. He frequently writes for online and well-known print publications. You can follow him over at Twitter.
WordCamp finally came to London for the first time in history! Last weekend on November 23rd – 24th, we saw hundreds of WordPress users, fans, supporters, agencies developers, and designers all come together for this giant WordPress gathering.
It was a real pleasure to attend, being able to meet legendary characters who make WordPress truly what it is, it was a real opportunity to interact with the community.
Doors Fly Open
Early attenders started the road trip from up and down the country, there were attenders all around the world as far as New York. As the door opens at 9am registration was heaving. WooCommerce delightfully offered free t-shirts to everyone. You get to receive a complementary WordCamp London branded t-shirt. All printed for women sizes only. The organisers laughingly apologised and reassured to post everyone a new t-shirt in men sizes after this event.
The organisers did a fantastic job setting up this event and volunteers happily directed everyone to the correct rooms. Many of the volunteers were familiar faces from the usual WordPress Meetup Group in London. Personally I wanted to volunteer but felt I would miss out listening to all the awesome presentations.
This venue was held at Bishopgate Institute in East London a large enough establishment to house all of the excited guests. It was a spacious and comfortable venue. Although WiFi reception was slightly poor. Particular popular talks meant seats were fully filled and some attendees had to stand.
Speakers the Hub of WordCamp
This year’s WordCamp had 2 stellar tracks, including one workshop track. Sadly to say it was not physically possible to attend all these wonderful talks as they run parallel. The tracks are equally split for users and designers/developers. But you could likely attend either and still follow. What attracted so many people to attend WordCamp is the amazing cast of speakers. A few highlighted talks below:
Big Media Strategies for WordPress
WordPress isn’t just a blogging platform that’s for sure. Austin Smith demonstrates when it comes to choosing a reliable platform for newsroom the giant publishing houses quickly opt for WordPress.com VIP. Recently New York Post launched their new WordPress site in September, throwing out their old archaic CMS. New York Post is now by far America’s most popular online newspaper site running on WordPress.
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GovIntranet WordPress Theme UK
Not just newsroom and giant content publishers all queuing to have their sites revamped with WordPress, the UK government had a large database of content that made searching, categorising and layering content difficult with their internal systems. Helpful Technology in turn developed a new WordPress theme called Helpful Intranet (available freely on GitHub), with improved user experience and cleaner UI which totally helped to eradicate Gov UK’s horrid internal site with this new and improved Intranet. Plus with the added Relevanssi plugin it provided more relevant search results.
Magic of WordPress
Thunderous applause openly greed Andrew Nacin as he appeared on stage, lead developer at WordPress and recent contribution to the new release of 3.7. Personally I was extremely excited to see this man’s presentation, being a long follower of his on Twitter. He was a real wizard with a wave of his wand, Andrew demonstrated the ins and outs of WordPress how this application just works, just like magic! He was so confident in WordPress’ stability you could upgrade WordPress without breaking any plugins and existing functionality and future proof this architecture by serving security updates automatically.
Need for Speed: Gearing Up WordPress
SiteGround gave an in-depth consultation on how to leverage performance for faster load time. This was one of the most popular presentations at WordCamp, many guests had to stand all the chairs were fully seated. When it comes to speed these talks always mention the benefits of speed improvements: increase SEO performance, better user experience and increase conversions. Checkout the full list of best practices on their slides: http://www.slideshare.net/siteground/speedup-28318488.
10 years of WordPress
This was definitely a fascinating insight on the autobiography of Mike Little and history of WordPress. It all started in the beginning when Mike initially forked an existing CMS called b2 which ceased release, following this he came upon a blog post who requested support from anyone in the community to help continue the development of b2 as a new platform. Mike immediately replied with a comment, turns out this was Matt Mullenweg blog and they went on to co-found WordPress and so a legend was born. As his talk ended there was an overwhelming proud respect for Mike.
Lessons From WordPress 3.6
Entertaining talk from Mark Jaquith as he shares his experience and lessons learned from the release of 3.6. When your plan never quite plans out and the release becomes later and later. Mark offers his experience as a teaching advice. Building a feature is not a goal, understanding how this feature will benefit other is the actual goal. Failing is useful. But fail early. Make sure you clearly define your goal and understand its true purpose. These remorse are a great teaching and how we can apply this to our own daily projects when working with WordPress or on any type of projects.
WordPress Guided Support
Whilst speakers continuing to speak, attendees could go to the front desk and ask for any WordPress support they needed. There was a mini genius bar to help with your queries or bug fixing problems. Extremely helpful for anyone who had a burning question or two.
Food and Drink for Everyone
Food was graciously provided by the sponsors. There were snacks, hots drinks at breaks and a full feast for everyone who could fill their stomachs up. Best part was the cakes, enough sugar to keep you up all the way through WordCamp.
Special thanks to the sponsors WP Engine, WooThemes, Webzilla and Deploy for supporting this event. I went home with so many t-shirts and stickers. I was really great to meet the leading managed WordPress hosting company WP Engine, the sales teams were so friendly and approachable.
A massive thumbs up to volunteers and organisers for organising such a huge event and enjoyable time.
It didn’t end there, the following day was Contributor Day. Anyone who would come along to help contribute to WordPress, this was not exclusive to developers but to everyone else from testers, writers, designers and others. I felt this was a great idea to get everyone contributing back to WordPress and making it better directly from the community.
We can’t forget the amazing after party located just around the corner. Free food and drinks for everyone! This was the best moment to mingle and get to know the attendees and have a conversation with the speakers directly.
I thoroughly enjoyed this event, being able to interact with the community, seeing some familiar faces and new ones. Particularly enjoyed face to face speaking to so many talented developers around the world, which I would not have done if it wasn’t for WordCamp.
Hopeful to see you all again at next year’s WordCamp.
What did you think of the weekend at WordCamp? Leave your thoughts below.