Packing my bag ready for the 4 hour journey to Edinburgh on the train. This is my first ever WordCamp or any kind of WordPress meet-up, so I’m not sure what to expect.
I’ve been using WordPress and developing custom themes for around 3-4 years and I’m all too aware how quickly things are moving with the platform, and how easy it is to get left behind. So, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to take some time out from the SEO consultancy work I’ve been doing and surround myself with code and likeminded coders for a couple of days.
Saturday 14th July
Time to make my way to Surgeon’s Hall for registration. What a fantastic venue! Edinburgh is brimming with fantastic architecture whichever way you look, and the conference halls are no different.
Being a 3 – 4 track event, there was bound to be some crossover and clashing of talks that I wanted to hear, but rather that than gaps where there was nothing I wanted to hear!
I was really impressed with all the speakers on day one. I learned a lot about security and making sure my WordPress installations aren’t vulnerable to hackers thanks to Kieran O’Shea.
Rachel McCollin had some great advice on building responsive WordPress sites that work on mobiles too. Among other things, I learned that we need to take into account button sizes and fat fingers on touch screen devices as well as how navigation is displayed and being open to adapting our content strategy for specific devices.
Sunday 15th July
Second day, and I’m anticipating more of the same. I’m not disappointed, with Kevinjohn Gallager kicking off the proceedings with his ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ talk on knowing the different between what’s cool and what’s right. Although I was slightly disappointed with the innumerable references to Star Wars, Star Trek and comic book characters – I don’t think I’ve been to a web related conference without such references, but I wonder if the stereotype is getting a bit old now? No? Just me then…
I loved Jonny Allbut’s presentation on turbo-charging your theme development. I learned a lot from this session and really got a sense of his enthusiasm for WordPress. Now I just need a week off to play around with what I learned!
Having checked out the schedule for the afternoon, I was particularly looking forward to the session on why accessibility is important in our WordPress sites. Graham Armfield had some great stats on the number of disabled people in the UK and the kinds of disabilities we need to cater for.
Although a lot of people associate web accessibility with blind people and screen readers, we need to be thinking about those with learning disabilities, motor disabilities, colour blindness and even epilepsy. It was certainly food for thought and something that requires further research and implementation when I get back to the office.
The day was rounded off with a site clinic, with experts on hand to offer advice on delegates’ own WordPress sites.
I really enjoyed the two days in Edinburgh – such a beautiful city. The conference was unlike the others I’ve attended. This was run for WordPress users of all levels by other WordPress users keen to share their knowledge. There was no strict break times or the sense that you were being corralled to and from different rooms. Although no refreshments were provided, this meant the ticket price remained low and we were free to choose from the huge number of cafes, restaurants and coffee shops in the immediate vicinity, meaning we got see some of the sights and stretch our legs. Plus, our money goes into the local economy too.
Although this was my first WordCamp, I really felt part of a community. A community where our feedback is valued and one in which you’re welcomed to get involved in – keeping the spirit of the open source WordPress community alive!
Best bit: knowledge shared, knowledge gained
Worst bit: uncomfortable seats
(okay, I find all seats uncomfortable, but I was struggling to find a negative here)
Will I go again?: Yes!