WordCamp Detroit Was A Good Time

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the folks over at PollDaddy.com for sponsoring my trip to WordCamp Detroit. Without their support, I would not have been able to attend. If you’re looking for an easy to use service to poll your readers or conduct surveys, definitely give them a try. I suggest taking a look at their brand new product: PollDaddy Quizzes which is great for teachers, marketers, or trainers. Who’s going to be the first one to create a WordPress Quiz?

WordCamp Detroit was held this past weekend and for a first time event, went off quite well. The event was not held in Detroit itself but rather, a North West suburb called Novi. Novi seems like a happening place, especially at the town center. However, go two or three miles down the road and you’re back into farm country. The venue was called the Rock Financial Showplace and is built-in such a way that walls can be rearranged to provide as much or as little space as necessary to hold an event.

WordCamp Detroit Day 1

Pros:
Loved the catered food during breakfast and lunch. Not only was the food at the same location as the event, but the organizers gave a substantial amount of time for lunch so that everyone had a chance to network with folks and talk about presentations during the first half of the day.

Plenty of 15-20 minute breaks throughout the day to talk about presentations or ask additional questions to the presenter.

One room for all presentations which minimized moving around and the need to have a map.

Majority of presentations focused on the WordPress software itself instead of SEO, content generation, etc.

Very engaged audience. This is one of the first WordCamps I’ve attended where just about all of the attendees sat in their chairs for every presentation with a minimal amount of people walking around outside the room.

Based on what I saw, it looked like a half and half ratio of men to women which is a good sign.

Cons:
Within the conference hall, the only section that had power outlets was the left hand side of the room. For next year, I would set up a recharging station or ask volunteers to bring some power strips along with extension cords.

The conference hall held all of the attendees as presentations were all done in the same room but those who sat in the back or at a wrong angle from the presentation screen had a difficult time reading. If it was not for my glasses, I wouldn’t have been able to read anything on the screen. I suggest having the projector take up the entire white screen next year so things are larger and not confined to a little square.

Lack of a genius bar. For this particular WordCamp, a genius bar would have been a wonderful thing as most of the attendees were WordPress beginners. I hope to see a genius bar set up next year so beginners or anyone else can go to a central location to ask specific questions regarding WordPress.

WiFi. I’ve placed this in the Cons section but it’s more like an in-between. The free WiFi worked just fine until the start of the event when it became unusable. After the first two presentations, I was frustrated to the point where I paid $20.00 for a one day pass to use the Rock Financials paid access. This worked great albeit the outrageous price but later on in the day, Anthony fixed the problem by working with the venue to open up that section of their network for free and has worked with those who paid for WiFi to get reimbursed.

If it’s not too much trouble next year, I’d like to see the addition of an interview room so attendees have a dedicated quiet area to conduct video or audio interviews.

WordCamp Detroit Day 2

Conclusion:

Overall, I had a great time. The hotel was very accessible from the highway, plenty of places to shop and eat and only a mile and a half away from the venue location. I must give Anthony Montalbano and his team of volunteers credit for pulling off a great WordCamp, especially since it was the first one for the Detroit area. Thankfully, Anthony had attended a few WordCamps previous to creating one for Detroit which led him to do many things right the first time around.

I met a bunch of cool people and found out that many of them in the Detroit area listen to my WordPress Weekly podcast. I enjoyed talking to every one of you that stopped me to say hi and I look forward to starting the show again in November. Hope to see WordCamp Detroit 2011 become a reality!

8 Comments


  1. Thanks for the great review! Please add your comments and suggestions to the follow-up survey. (A link to your post here would be fine.)

    We are aware of some of the shortcomings you noted, and we will try hard to improve next year. Because it was a first-year conference we faced some funding challenges that limited what we could do. Hopefully we can find a few more sponsors next year to take things to the next level.

    I’m really glad you came to visit us. Please consider this a warm invitation to come back next year!

    Perhaps I’ll bump into you at another WordCamp down the road.

    Report


  2. I agree with everything you said. I found all of the information useful (even for a beginner); however, it would have been awesome to have a designated area for questions. The food and beverages were so yummy and plentiful I was wondering if the organizers were able to break even! I, too, would have liked more POWER, but ended up being fine.My only complaint is that even with my contacts affixed to my eyeballs, I couldn’t see a thing from the far back corner of the room (where the tardy are destined to be relegated). I think it was a very successful weekend. P.S. That’s my braided head in the bottom left of the Day 2 photo!

    Report


  3. Excellent writeup! It was definitely a great WordCamp, and I think next years attendance will be at least triple (and sold out as well)! I’m sure the videos will be up soon, and Anthony is to be commended for all his hard work – as well as all the volunteers who helped make this event possible.

    I also think that next year, the addition of some Q&A stations would be great.

    Report


  4. It was great meeting you there Jeff. Looking forward to the next season of WordPress Weekly! And thank you Polldaddy: my kids are enjoying the stickers.

    Report


  5. This was my first WordCamp so I have no comparison but I thought it was excellent. My only wish is that it gets successful enough to have two tracks: beginners and advanced.

    Report


  6. Hi Jeff,

    I was sitting at the same table with you on day one. It was nice to meet you too. Great review.

    Report


  7. Isn’t Polldaddy owned by Automattic? I’d think that it means a heck of a lot for the company that basically runs WP to help pay for you to attend.

    Will there be more coverage of the event from you? Or can you point out other posts people have done about it? I missed out on speaking and attending because of some personal stuff, so I’d love to live vicariously through others…

    Report


  8. Thanks for writing a great review. WordCamp Detroit had something for everyone whether you were a beginner or advance user of WordPress. I took lots of notes and came home with many ideas for improving my WordPress sites. I met a lot of other great WordPress users and I’m looking forward to next year. I hope some of the video footage will be available as I’d love to be able to watch the speakers all over again.

    Report

Comments are closed.