The dust has settled on another WordCamp adventure so it is time for me to share my thoughts on WordCamp Edinburgh 2017.
In short, it was fantastic. The event was very well organised, the speakers were great, and I got to meet lots of amazing people from the WordPress community.
As I noted in my blog post last week, this was my 5th WordCamp event, so at this point I am a veritable ninja at drinking coffee and eating chocolate digestives.
Check out my video below for a recap of my time at WordCamp Edinburgh 2017.
If you would prefer to read my thoughts, keep reading on.
WordPress Under the Castle
Edinburgh is around an hour on the train from where I live. It's a beautiful city that is defined by a huge castle sitting on a dominating piece of rock in the centre of the city. WordCamp Edinburgh was situated just behind the castle in a tech hub called CodeBase.
Check out my video walk through of CodeBase to get an idea of how the venue was structured.
It is likely that CodeBase will be the venue for the next WordCamp Edinburgh. I think it is a great choice.
CodeBase is centrally located in the heart of the city. It is a modern venue that allowed me to upload the above video in a matter of seconds due to super fast 100MB upload speeds.
Everything was located on one floor too so finding people was easy. The whole event was really well organised so kudos need to be given to all the people who helped organise the event and keep it running smoothly.
My only criticism of the venue was that there was nowhere to talk at the event whilst talks were going on. Track 2 was located directly next to the area where people got coffee and chatted to each other. So when talks were going on, you had to sit and be quiet.
Whilst I do enjoy talks at WordCamp events, one of the main reasons that myself and many people within the WordPress community attend WordCamp events, is to connect with other WordPress people. We go to these events to meet new people, create new partnerships, and share ideas.
It was hard to do that at the event due to where track 2 was located so I hope we will see them address this in future events.
Fantastic Talks from Experienced WordPress Users
The downside to the CodeBase setup meant that there was nowhere to mingle whilst talks were going on. The upside to this was that it forced me to watch more talks.
I watched more talks at this WordCamp than any other I have attended. Track 1 was in the main hall. Track 2 felt a little less formal and a little more personal as it was located in the central area next to the drinks and biscuits. I watched a few talks in track 2 simply because I could stand there and have a coffee whilst watching the talk.
The organisers did the right thing by displaying all talks inside the name tag that was always around your neck. All you had to do was look down to see when it was time for a break and when a particular talk was on.
What I'd like to see in future is everyone's Twitter handle mentioned under their name. It would be good to list what people did too. For example, under your name it would state that you are a developer, designer, blogger, or whatever.
It's always hard to single out certain talks as I enjoyed them all.
CJ Andrew's talk about surviving as a service provider was really good. Whilst his talk focused on his experience as a developer, I drew a lot of parallels with my experiences doing freelance writing.
Mark Smallman's talk on getting a head start on designing websites for clients was really good too. It isn't really applicable to what I do online, but it was interesting to see how theme developers are using starter themes to speed up the process of designing themes for clients.
Whilst I always enjoy the talks at WordCamps, sometimes I don't take enough from them as they are not as relevant to what I do day in day out.
Tim's talk focused on website security. I consider myself someone who is fairly knowledgeable in this area, though he pointed out some things that I hadn't considered and reminded me that I need to change this blog from HTTP to HTTPS as soon as possible.
I was lucky enough to speak to Tim after his talk and asked him more about security and website attacks etc. I was very impressed with his knowledge on the subject.
Andres Cifuentes spoke about his work with the WordPress Multilingual Plugin and communities that use it. It has encouraged me to use the plugin on this website so that my content can reach a larger audience. Stay tuned as I plan on documenting my journey with WPML and seeing whether it does indeed increase the reach of this blog.
The After Party
Ahhh the famous WordCamp after party. A place to forget formalities and drink copious amounts of alcohol.
Despite the best efforts of organisers, getting to know people properly at WordCamps is not always as easy as it could be as everyone is being polite and professional. There is no denying that going somewhere less formal and having a few beers tends to relax people more and allow them to be themselves.
This always results in you getting to know people better. In fact, I would go as far as saying that my strongest connections made at WordCamps have been over a beer.
I am happy to say that the organisers got everything right for the WordCamp Edinburgh after party.
Those of you who have read my recaps of WordCamp Europe 2016 and WordCamp Europe 2017 will know that I have been disappointed with the after parties. They packed everyone into venues that were too small for the volume of people attending and forced people to queue in multiple locations due to a drinks token system (arrggghh I hate token systems for beer!).
I do appreciate it is more complicated organising a party for thousands of people compared to 50 to 100, but I think the organising team did everything right in Edinburgh.
The after party was in a cool little bar in Edinburgh called Sygn. We had the place to ourselves for the first three hours.
Food at the after party in Paris was an absolute shambles with people waiting 90 minutes for a hot dogs. In contrast, in Edinburgh we had a conveyor belt of good food being brought out to us. Every few minutes we were being offered pizzas, burgers, and other snacks. As a vegetarian, I always expect the worst in situations like this, but I was well catered for. They had veggy friendly pizzas, veggy burgers, veggy haggis, veggy cheese balls, and more.
The pub provided a relaxed atmosphere which helped everyone get to know each other better. I had a great time.
I had been up since 5.20am in the morning so hadn't planned on staying out too late, but those good intentions did not work out. We stayed in Sygn until late and then myself, Mike Stott, Olly Warren, and CJ Andrew, walked round to another bar and enjoyed more beers and more gin.
We stayed until 3am and I did not get home and then sleep to around 4am. I can't complain as I had a fantastic time and loved every minute of it.
All in all, I thought the after party was a lot of fun. Lots of good food in a nice bar which was located in a central location. What more can you ask for.
What I Got From WordCamp Edinburgh
I always approach WordCamps from the point of view that the worst thing that can happen by attending is that I have a great weekend.
I did obviously have a great weekend, but from a business point of view it was very beneficial too.
Going into the event, I knew Mark Smallman, Heather Burns and Luminus Alabi from previous WordCamp events, but I also met up for the first time with people I knew from Twitter such as Ahmed Khalifa. Others I was connecting with them for the first time, such as CJ Andrew, Olly Warren, Mike Stott, and Chris and Richard from Hero Themes.
I met many other great people from the event that I am sure I will meet again in the future (sorry for anyone I haven't mentioned here). Who knows what partnerships will arise from these connections in the future.
These new connections are already proving beneficial. This week I will be testing out Mike Stott's product Zero Bullsh*t CRM and the knowledge base theme and plugin from Hero Themes. I will be implementing WPML in the future and possibly changing my hosting solution too.
I hope you enjoyed this quick recap of WordCamp Edinburgh 2017.
Those of you who want to know what the event was like for someone who had never attended a WordCamp event before should read Mike Stott's article “Recap of attending my first WordCamp“.
Later this year we will see WordCamp events hosted in Dublin and in Manchester. I am going to try my best to attend one or both of these. I just need to see what else I have planned this year and see how they fit into my schedule.
Thanks for reading.