Recap Of WordCamp North Canton 2014

WordCamp North Canton 2014 Featured Image

Held within the Business and Entrepreneurial Center on the Stark State College campus, WordCamp North Canton 2014 was a repeat success. Sessions ranged from Plugins 101 to the Science Of Design. I only attended two sessions throughout the day as I spent the majority of my time networking. The sessions I participated in only had about 10-12 attendees but that didn’t faze the speaker as they still delivered a great presentation.

Organizing The Second WordCamp Proved More Difficult Than The First

When I interviewed one of the primary organizers of the event Joe Rozsa, he said the event was difficult to put together despite it being the second event he’s organized. A large amount of ticket sales near the time of the event added complexity but the team was able to overcome the challenge and maintain a smooth running WordCamp.

In the following interview, Rosza tells me how he was able to secure the venue on a college campus and the challenges he faced while organizing the event. He also gives some great advice to first time WordCamp organizers.

There Is Room For Improvement

Main Session Room
Main Session Room

The room you see in the image above is the main session room. The front of room is where sessions were held while the tables in the back of the room were used for networking. Unfortunately during some of the sessions, there was a considerable amount of noise and chatter from the back of the room. Although some of the speakers didn’t mind, it felt rude to be talking and networking while a speaker was presenting.

I mentioned this to Rozsa who told me the facility would not allow him to close and open the room as needed. Hopefully next year, the building will allow this room to be sectioned off to keep the networking room and the presentation rooms separate.

WordCamp North Canton 2014 Schedule
WordCamp North Canton 2014 Schedule

This years event featured two tracks, one for users and developers. With under 200 attendees, I felt like having five sessions at the same time was too much. Some of the sessions I witnessed had under 10 people in the room while others were packed. I’d like to see the event scale back to three sessions at a time max. The event just doesn’t have the amount of attendees to justify five sessions at any given time.

There were also three sessions dedicated to security during the day. I attended the third session by Joseph Herbrandson of Sucuri and it seemed like folks were worn out by the topic. Herbrandson delivers his information in an energetic way but being the third security session of day lead attendees to check out other sessions. With fewer presentations going on at the same time, it will help prevent this scenario from happening.

Ermano’s Hits Another Home Run

One of the highlights for me was the lunch prepared by Ermannos pizza. Their Margherita pizza was just as good as last years. There were also plenty of salad dishes and beverages on hand. Lunch was capped off by Ermannos’ now famous WordCamp S’mores. WordCamp North Canton 2014 ended the day at a local hotel bar for the after party.

Looking Forward To Next Year

Overall, the event was a success albeit with a few things to work on for 2015. The sessions I attended were presented by people passionate about the subject they were talking about. Most of the people in the audience were either new to WordPress or had little to no development experience. When I asked some of the attendees who also attend my local WordPress meetup what they thought of the event, every one of them said it was worth every penny with big smiles on their faces.

Joe Rozsa and his team of volunteer staff members are to be commended for a job well done. Thanks to everyone who helped put on a fantastic event in my back yard. As long as North Canton keeps holding a WordCamp, I’ll keep coming. Meanwhile, keep an eye on the official WordCamp Columbus Ohio blog for information on the third WordCamp to be held in Ohio this year.

 

10 Comments


  1. Thanks for the write up Jeff. A couple of the things that you brought up in your article, we’ve already been discussing as a committee. The number of attendees vs the number of sessions. It’s a hard mix to try to figure out. If we don’t have the sessions that draw…. will we get the attendees. If we have the attendees and not enough sessions to peak interest, what do we do then?

    In 2013 we didn’t have Dev tracks, and trust me we heard about it, So this year we had both a User track and a Dev track and that seemed to make people happy. But like you said, we had a lot of sessions, but too many for the number of attendees. We’ve done our trial and error and we think we’ve found our magic number.

    We’ll be dialing it in for 2015. Everyone, like you said, said it was worth the investment, we just need to tweak it and as good as it already is, we’ll make it something really great next year.

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    1. Thanks again Joe for helping to put together a great event in my own backyard.

      You’ve only been doing this for two years so the third time should be the charm :) Can’t wait to see what you have in store for 2015 and I promise, I won’t forget to register!

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  2. Jeff thanks for the review! I’ve been a presenter and a member of the WCNC Committee both years and looking forward to next year. I know Joe has reached out already to core members on ways of enhancing it (he’s progressive like that). I spoke to a ton of people and they were all complimentary about the value they received. You know I presented in the big room and didn’t notice any background noise (and they were setting up lunch during that time) that room is so long I think it works fine. We need to find the sweet spot in regards to the number of people and sessions though.

    One thing I know for sure… #WCNC2015 will be even better. Year 1 we featured a Zero Waste Event. Year 2 we were still “green” but featured the marketing boot camp. Year 3 we are going to feature…. -I know but Joe won’t let me say;)

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    1. Hehe… that’s right. It will remain a secret for a while. But it will be worth the wait.

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    2. That’s awesome how you folks are already on the ball for WCNC 2015. Most organizers and groups need a month or two to recover before they event want to see or speak the word WordCamp lol.

      I guess if speakers didn’t complain about the noise in the back of the room, it must have been ok. Despite that, it still would have been a better room setup if the front and back of the center room was split up with that wall. It’s stupid that they don’t allow it to be opened and closed just a few times during the day.

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      1. Thank Jeff… I was already thinking about things the same night. A couple of us from the committee just started talking and we were off and running for the planning for 2015. We’ve got the Friday idea in place and many of the details for Saturday. Thanks so much for being at WordCamp… see you in Columbus?

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      2. Crap… I knew that. Well at least you’ve got some time to figure out what your presenting.

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  3. You felt that, ” There were also three sessions dedicated to security during the day. I attended the third session by Joseph Herbrandson of Sucuri and it seemed like folks were worn out by the topic. ”
    I had attended these same security sessions and I felt that Joe’s presentation was either to basic or to broad in the material presented especially after the two other presentations that seemed a bit more focused (in comparison).

    If Joe had been the first security presentation, I feel that it would have been received in a better light. I had attended all three of the presentations. After having heard each of these talks, I would suggest that the order in which these were scheduled, due to content, could have been done differently and this would have possibly improved the attendance of each of these talks.

    I also understand that this might not have been possibly done. I know that the first security presenter had to leave in the early afternoon in-order to travel a long distance for yet another event. So the order could have been done in reverse of this year’s order and it may have been appreciated by the attendees in a much different light, today. IMHO.

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    1. That’s a good point I hadn’t thought of. Makes sense to have basic information first then intermediate information after. Considering the breadth of topics and speakers available, maybe it would be better to just have one speaker/session on security instead of two or three. Then again, having a beginner’s security session in the User track and then Server level security in the Dev track would work out just as well.

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