Sacramento WordCamp 2017: Top Takeaways
Hats Off To All the Organizers and Volunteers!
For the third year, Sacramento hosted WordCamp, an event that brings WordPress users and vendors together to network, learn, and inspire. It would seem a simple thing top host an event designed to share technology focused on a single platform. My experience is that the organizers got “impossible” mostly right. Sacramento WordCamp 2017 presented a broad spectrum of content for an equally wide spectrum of WordPress users. As the most popular CMS in the world, WordPress attracts a diverse group of users. WordPress is popular because it offers a wide variety of web publishing solutions. Among attendees there were small business owners who came to learn how to build their first company website. Others focused on how to improve and monetize their blog. There were also plenty of professional developers, designers, and project managers seeking solutions to complex issues.
Minor Frustrations, But Overall, A Great Experience For WordPress Users
Besides the long lines at the lunch trucks, the biggest frustrations I heard were from attendees to the beginner track. Given that WordPress is robust content management system, it is easy to understand why some were frustrated. One gentleman’s sole mission was to sell a few thousand existing manuals. His concern was time and cost of getting an online store up. A session on building an eCommerce store with WordPress would have made his head crack in half.
Mission Impossible – A WordCamp To Satisfy All WordPress Users?
I did hear the occasional frustration, mainly focused on the “Beginner Track”. Some attendees were just not prepared. This isn’t on the WordCamp organizers. Scanning the “Sessions” page, you can find all the tools needed for the “WordPress Beginner Track Introduction”. Those tools included a computer with DesktopServer application installed, as well as a blueprint of all the files the track was going to reference.
Like many, the gent I was talking to did not bring a computer. I venture that many of those who did, were not able to configure their computer as a server for a WordPress application. A simple solution would have been to have a “Get Ready For the WordCamp Beginner Track” session. That session would be solely focused on preparing attendees computers to run WordPress offline.
The other two tracks had content designed for a range of WordPress users that included causal bloggers to developers that build custom apps. There was a lot of good information for casual and professional user alike. At the same time, a few sessions I attended suffered from trying to deliver the intended content in the time allowed.
A Few Tips to Create A Better Experience For WordCamp Attendees.
One suggestion would be that all slides to be shown sessions be accessible online prior to the event. Having the ability to download the slides prior to attending would have made following presentations easier. In my case, there were situations where slides changed faster than I could take notes. An attendee could have also downloaded files at the event or between sessions.
Another idea would be to structure the “WordPress Beginner Track” into a two day, “Learn and Apply” event. In other words, learn the first day, get hands on tutoring from volunteer WordPress users the second. I’d venture that this would also serve as an opportunity to increase participation by sponsors. For example, the second track day could include a package of premium tools for beginners.
I’d also suggest more lunch trucks and increase the amount of water offered during lunch.
An Idea That Might Not Belong In WordCamp?
If I had the ear of the big cheeses at WordCamp, (and WordPress), I’d suggest a dedicated WordCamp Business Incubator event. Otherwise, if WordCamp is going to offer sessions on how to turn WordPress into a business, create a dedicated sales and marketing track. The “How to build your WordPress business” track would have two main goals. The first is to help those interested in the industry to build sustainable WordPress businesses. Clearly the demand for WordPress professionals is growing. Helping incubate businesses that support WordPress is smart for everyone from user to plugin developer.
But there are other reasons to help build sustainable businesses focused on WordPress. I have met more than one client with a WordPress website that was treated poorly and in some cases, ripped off. In every case, the issue was the designer/developer, but it is WordPress that took the reputation hit. Helping build smarter business to service WordPress is just good common sense.
Finally if you didn’t go to Sacramento WordCamp, You Can Still Benefit!
The bottom line takeaway is that this was a great event for a wide spectrum of WordPress users. It deserves to grow, present more tracks and maybe even cost a little more.
Note: The organizers announced all slides will be available via the Sacramento WordCamp 2017 Twitter feed.