Europe saw its first Europe-wide WordCamp last weekend and we were thrilled to be on hand to take part. Skipping onto the continent from our London office, Ngaire Ackerley was happy to head to Leiden to be one of the 700 attendees at WordCamp Europe.
WordCamp Europe was always going to be different from other WordCamps. With its pan-European focus, the event drew a crowd from so many different countries — from all over the world — and offered a wide-ranging scope of talks. The presentations covered many WordPress topics, including insight into growing a business with WordPress. Of course, there were a number of great talks on the technical aspects of building websites with WordPress.
Smashing Magazine’s Vitaly Friedman kicked off the first day with a great overview of the life of Smashing Magazine and how it got started. One of Ngaire’s favourite quotes from his talk was ‘It’s not about traffic, it’s about good traffic’. Vitaly really emphasised the need for designers and developers to be more aware of the personas of visitors, and not just the number.
Ngaire ventured to a talk by Tammie Lister about her workflow in creating a theme. Like many design talks, it was encouraging to hear similarities between our design processes, while learning about different perspectives gave food for thought.
Monica Guerra Leiria spoke about her life as a designer and how she has learnt to distinguish between what her clients want and what they need. She described how important it is to really listen and learn about the project (and about what the client thinks they want) rather than just designing straight away. Ngaire found it useful when Monica mentioned asking for samples of content before you begin designing – because elements like images and content lengths can vary so much from project to project and really affect a design. According to Monica, it’s best to realise this before the design work begins.
Other talks on the first day included a overview of Git for beginners and a panel of speakers talking about Running a European WordPress Development Agency and finding out how WordPress is completely suitable for Enterprise and some of the impressive clients that use it around the world.
To end Saturday, Brad Williams gave a presentation on writing secure code, including many useful examples to consider.
Saturday night ended with a fantastic after-party. Ngaire enjoyed the opportunity to chat WordPress with the many attendees in a relaxed and fun environment.
Sunday kicked off with a great overview of the upcoming WordPress 3.7 by Andrew Nacin. WordPress 3.7 will contain more language and translation-related functionality and also include automatic updates for minor releases of WordPress that help keep websites up to date and secure.
Bram Duvigneau and his very cute guide-dog shared insight into the screen reader NVDA and how poorly-coded websites can struggle with accessibility. (Okay, his dog just laid down, but the dog is very personable with people).
Most people in the WordPress community will know the name Matt Mullenweg and Sunday gave people the chance to ask him questions about WordPress and being an entrepreneur. A very humble guy, Matt explained that good business can’t be done alone — that it’s better to hire people better than yourself to improve the company.
The rest of Sunday continued to impress with an insight into Happytables, and how Noel Tock and Human Made crafted an incredible restaurant website to make it super easy and affordable for restaurants to get online.
Security-buff Dre Armeda from Sucuri, expressed how the most important thing to prevent hacking attacks is keeping software up to date. Passwords (including FTP) are also vital to keep cryptic and having a secure hosting environment. An interesting point he made was to remove the amount of administrators on a site – if someone breaks into the site and has the admin privileges then they have free rein, whereas if they have a lower user setting it limits how much damage can be done. Therefore having everyday users set up as an editor or similar is more appropriate.
Finally Miriam Schwab and Joost de Valk (Yoast SEO) gave two very interesting and insightful talks about their businesses and thoughts about WordPress and being able to make a living from it.
On the whole WordCamp Europe 2013 was a brilliant success with a lovely venue, great audio setup and a vast array of interesting people. Ngaire felt privileged to go and hopes to attend again next year. In the meantime, she looks forward to the upcoming WordCamp London next month!