This past weekend, more than 300 people attended WordCamp St. Louis, MO, 2015 on the campus of Washington University. For more than half of the attendees, this was their first WordCamp. With four tracks going on at the same time, attendees had plenty of opportunities to learn.
As to be expected, WiFi coverage was great throughout the event. I didn’t hear anyone complain about connection problems or speed. In my experience, WordCamps held on college campuses usually have great speed and are built to handle a large number of concurrent connections. WordCamp St. Louis was no exception.
Outside of a few sessions and keynotes in the main auditorium, sessions were held in classrooms that can fit 20-30 people comfortably. Some sessions were more popular than others where there was standing and sitting room only. Not only did some attendees have to sit on the floor or stand up during the session, it caused the room’s temperature to significantly increase.
It’s hard to predict how popular a given session is going to be without some sort of survey before hand. I hope the organizing team sends out a post event survey to find out which sessions were the most popular so they can assign them to larger rooms next year.
My Favorite Session
My favorite session was by Sara Cannon on the WordPress User Experience and how it can be improved. She shared a number of plugins to improve the user experience for publishers, site owners, and content creators.
Some of the plugins mentioned include Simple Page Ordering, Featured Image Column, and Drag and Drop Featured Image. Here are the slides from her presentation and expect reviews of these plugins in future posts on the Tavern.
KidsCamp featured children between the ages of 9-13 years old learning WordPress inside and out. Russell Fair, Chris Koerner, Lucas Lima, and Eric Juden taught them the following:
- What is WordPress?
- How is it being used?
- Let’s create our blog! (using a free account on wordpress.com)
- How to add new posts and pages
- How to add multimedia (photos, video)
- Talk about privacy and security
- Copyright and fair use
- Free and open source software (like WordPress!)
- Talk about the public nature of the web.
Based on my observations, the children did well. One child in particular noticed that the admin bar looked similar to the top navigation bar provided by the theme and asked how to remove it. There were few questions asked as the children picked up on WordPress rather quickly.
To my surprise, KidsCamp touched on copyright law and explained the public nature of the web. I didn’t interview any of the children to find out what they thought about the class, but I’m happy to see these subjects taught at an early age. I hope other WordCamps adopt a similar strategy.
I spoke to a woman who was with her husband and son who has a business built on WordPress. Not only was she thrilled with KidsCamp, but she loved that there was time to learn WordPress as a family.
On the second day of WordCamp, one of the day long sessions focused on contributing back to WordPress. There were sessions on updating documentation, helping the theme review team, answering questions, providing new designs, hosting a local WordPress-related event, and contributing code to WordPress.
Konstantin Obenland did a 45 minute session where anyone in the room could ask him a question on topics related to WordPress core. Pippin Williamson gave a demonstration on how to put a plugin up for adoption and showed the audience how he reviews plugins before they’re approved to be on the official plugin directory.
Overall, WordCamp St. Louis was a great event. There were plenty of volunteers to help guide people around, something that is a necessity when multiple tracks, floors, and classrooms are involved. The catered food was excellent and the after party held at City Museum was a blast. One person I talked to described WordCamp St. Louis as an incredible value and several other first-time WordCamper’s shared the same sentiment.
The organizers did a great job putting this event together. However, if WordCamp St. Louis wants to cater to a larger audience next year, it’s going to have to find a venue with rooms that hold 30-50 people comfortably.