This month, I was part of WordCamp Brighton – a two-day conference about WordPress topics voluntarily organised by the community, for the community. Plesk was one of this year’s sponsors, so it was doubly exciting for me to experience this WordCamp for the first time as part of the Plesk team.
After WordCamp Europe in Paris, where I debuted as an on-stage emcee in front of almost 2,000 attendees, the cosy and laid-back atmosphere of WordCamp Brighton was just what I needed.
As this was my second WordCamp in the UK this year, where I was emcee-ing yet again, I was looking forward to reconnecting with fellow WordPress attendees from the previous event. And of course, to meeting new community members.
Warm WordCamp Welcome and Preparations
I touched down in Brighton on Thursday evening and headed straight to the volunteer’s dinner at Ohso Social Beach Bar. I got the golden invite as I was emcee-ing again at this event. It was great to meet my WordPress friends in such a relaxing beach atmosphere. Excellent food by the way – it was vegetarian and vegan during all the way. And after some nice drinks, it was time for my travel recover – bedtime.
Friday 8.30 AM, I was at The Old Market, the WordCamp venue, waiting for the doors to open at 9.00 AM. I was there setting up the swag table with all the best Plesk merchandise I had brought for the attendees. The sponsor area was at Tom’s Bar, a really nice spot to meet and chat, referred to as “The Hallway Track” at conferences. Check out this lovely spread:
The WordCamp organizers had decided not to produce branded WordCamp t-shirts as special swag this year, but branded reusable water bottles and coffee cups instead! What an exemplary and easy way to contribute to an eco-friendly environment – producing less waste. I really loved the idea.
The WordCamp Community Impresses Again
After the opening remarks at 9:45 AM , the first speaker Gabor Javorszky started with a very valuable talk: “Things you didn’t know you need to know about databases and WordPress.” He went into great detail and covered a lot of the more obscure database performance issues. Check him out in full-focus mode!
Then it was back to Tom’s Bar for me, meeting and chatting with the beloved WordPress community. It’s always so much fun at these WordCamps, no matter the country or city – I always experience an extraordinary and welcoming atmosphere. And I love the community for being 100% open-minded, inclusive and helpful.
WordCamp Brighton Talks for 2017
It was then time for me to get back on stage as an emcee or MC – Master of Ceremonies for the talks at WordCamp Brighton 2017. I covered 4 Lightning Talks (short talks of about 10 minutes each) and two workshops. My role was to introduce the speakers, to moderate the Q&As and to give additional information about the event to the audience.
What was special about the schedule of WordCamp Brighton was the fact, that there had been only one track. It seemed to contribute to the relaxed atmosphere – attendees didn’t have to change rooms or make difficult choices about which session to pick. No FOMO (“fear of missing out”). Regardless, the program was diverse. And there was high-quality and easy access ensured all round when it came to the talks.
On Friday afternoon, Franz Vitulli was the first speaker and during his talk “Product as a Mindset”, he was helping the audience to find out if they are or could be product persons too.
Next, Phil Ward held a very entertaining talk about “Coding Your Career.” The former professional wrestler turned Senior WordPress Developer has found a good work-life balance and gave advice to get what you want out of your career.
Tammie Lister led an interactive workshop with the theme “Design for Humans”. John Blackbourn then led the second workshop on “The A to Z of WordPress Multisite” for beginners in the afternoon.
Lightning talks continued shortly thereafter with an inspiring talk about “Dealing with Anxiety at the Workplace” by Laura Nelson. I can hardly imagine the courage it took for her to get on stage and talk about dealing with the struggles of anxiety that she faces every day. Laura was amazing and I truly hope that speaking publicly about this mental health issue will also help diminish the stigma around it.
Maja Benke followed Laura onstage to give valuable insight on “Accessible Web Design”. I must admit, I personally hadn’t delved that deeply into accessibility, so I really appreciated Maja’s crisp yet comprehensible way of presenting this important topic. There will be some work for me ahead regarding this.
The last workshop – and the last session for the first day – was held by David Lockie, founder of Pragmatic, the UK’s leading WordPress agency. He presented the “WordPress Business Toolkit”. David wants to help people avoid painful mistakes from growing a business. Sharing their business learnings and processes is one of Pragmatic’s core ways of giving back to the WordPress community.
Networking at WordCamp Brighton
I closed the first conference day on stage and later celebrated with the WordCamp community in one of Brighton’s English pubs, readying myself for the next day of networking. My second conference day was mostly spent at Tom’s Bar, full of interesting discussions with the network, photographs and interviews. Unfortunately I was so busy collecting WordCamp Brighton impressions that I only got to listen to one talk in the end.
While getting in touch with more WordCamp sponsors, I found out that 34SP have been satisfied Plesk partners for over 14 years now! What a great time I had with Daniel, Keith, Siobhan, Kayleigh, and their amazing crew. Later, I even got video-interviewed by Siobhan for 34SP and am already looking forward to the finished result.
This wasn’t my only interview that day – the youngest attendee of WordCamp Brighton also had a few questions for me! And as a reward, I got a unicorn Wapuu-sticker from WordCamp Edinburgh. I couldn’t be happier to see children involved in WordCamp.
At the Pragmatic booth, I picked up free limited edition “Brighton Rocks” screen prints by Simon Cooke. I even discovered that Pragmatic is launching the International WordPress Awards (IWP), a non-profit organization for the WordPress community, providing a way to recognize and celebrate the highest achievements in the industry. The IWP Innovation prize is endowed with 30,000 USD. So I’m very much looking forward to seeing this project grow. Elliot Taylor and Tom Chute even helped me contribute to a new podcast for the WordPress Community, as you can see. So stay tuned for more information about this project!
The day passed very quickly and I joined Rian Rietveld’s session about web accessibility at the very end. As usual, the audience was captivated by Rian’s presentation and the Q&A session I saw was so interesting too. This talk was the last for WordCamp Brighton. Elliot closed the conference at 5.40PM and during the closing remarks, all the organizers, speakers, volunteers and emcees joined Elliot and Alice Still, the lead organizer, on stage for a final goodbye. It was an immense pleasure being part of this great event and special thanks to the organizers for entrusting the WordCamp emcee responsibility onto me!
The venue was then ready for the afterparty – one final chance to chat with the attendees, organizers, speakers and generous sponsors. Of course, I was also one of the people rocking the dance floor – because that’s what I do. Plesk lightening yo-yos also made a feature, allowing people’s inner child to come out and play.
Capping WordCamp Brighton: Contributor Day
On Sunday 10.30AM, 35 WordPress users came together at Eagle Labs to contribute to the open-source project of this WordCamp Brighton’s Contributor Day. Here, you could join different teams and work on WordPress together. After Tammie Lister’s intro, we split into teams: Design, Accessibility, Marketing, Core and Community. This was followed by an afternoon presentation on Gutenberg, the new WordPress editor, plus a Q&A session on Accessibility with Rian Rietveld.
I’d already heard about the Gutenberg Editor but hadn’t installed it or seen any presentations about it. As a non-technical person, I really liked what they did. In my eyes, the editor is more beginner-friendly and I look forward to having contact with it, even if I continue to use my actual Page Builder.
WordCamp Brighton was a Blast
I had to leave Brighton bright and early on Monday morning with a heavy heart, because I really loved everything I was part of at this WordCamp. My only regret is not having enough time to explore this beautiful place. So far, I’ve enjoyed every WordCamp I’ve attended, but this one will definitely go down as one of my all-time favourites. Sign me up for the next edition in 2018! So long Brighton, you’ve been wonderful!
WordCamp Bright 2017 Highlights
- The relaxed atmosphere present throughout the whole event
- Eco-friendly water bottles and cups
- The emphasis on the WordCamp Code of Conduct
- The great vegetarian food at the venues and at Brighton’s restaurants
- The Gutenberg presentation by Tammie Lister on Contributor Day
- The amazing WordPress community <3
Want to see more photos from the event? Check out our gallery here.