This past weekend I attended WordCamp North East Ohio held in downtown Kent, OH, organized by Rich Robinkoff and Angela Bergmann. The Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center served as the venue and main hotel for the event. The convenience of having the hotel and venue be in the same building can not be overstated.
WordCamp NEO Day One
The event started off with a great keynote by Eric Meyer on adding more humanity to the web. The biggest thing I took away from his session is that developers should ask themselves, what would a human do? This question helps identify edge cases to create experiences that cater to more people.
— Deborah Edwards-Onoro (@redcrew) June 11, 2016
Next I learned about WordPress page builders from Adam Silver where he showed attendees how easy it is to create a basic site without knowing how to code. Although he had to quickly go through his material since the session started late, I think it gave people a good indication of what’s possible with page builders.
Lunch was not provided on the first day which makes sense considering the number of food options available within walking distance of the venue. This gave attendees an opportunity to walk around the city and support local businesses. Lunch was an hour and thirty minutes long allowing speakers and attendees to take their time.
Later in the afternoon, I attended Jeff Matson’s session where I learned how the WordPress community has changed his life. It was a great presentation and I noticed a lot of people in the room nodding their heads up and down when he described how the community has helped him out at various times in his life.
— Paul Oyler (@PappyOyler) June 11, 2016
The afterparty or social gathering was held at Kent Lanes – 11th Frame bowling alley. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks as well as appetizers were available. The venue was setup with two rooms: One for eating and socializing with music at a reasonable level and the other was the bowling alley.
Due to the low number of customers that night, we pretty much had the building to ourselves. I had a great time and it’s one of the most enjoyable afterparties I’ve attended in recent memory.
— Jeff (@jeffr0) June 12, 2016
WordCamp NEO Day Two
Day two started off with a great keynote by Chris Lema where he shared insights from 21 years in software, and how the future of WordPress relies on something that only users can provide. I spent most of the day in the hallway track meeting and talking to people I haven’t seen in years like Leland Fiegel of Themetry.
— Jeff (@jeffr0) June 11, 2016
Lunch was catered on the second day which consisted of an all-you-can-eat taco bar. The bar included chicken, rice, a number of vegetables, and black beans for vegans. Lunch was filling and was received well by the attendees I spoke with.
WordCamp NEO Organizers Had Reinforcements
While a number of volunteer organizers helped to make WordCamp NEO a success, a lot of credit goes to the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center staff. I watched them work tirelessly throughout the weekend making sure beverages were stocked, the ice bucket was full, and the coffee machines were hot.
The staff did a wonderful job refilling toppings for the taco bar during lunch and overall, enhanced the experience for attendees. There was also an employee or two always within arm’s reach to provide A/V technical support which limited delays between sessions.
WordCamp NEO Was a Great Time
There are a few small things the team can improve upon for next year’s event such as placing a schedule outside each room that speakers are assigned too. Other than that, the lead organizers, volunteers, and the venue’s staff are to be commended for putting on a great conference with little or no hiccups.
WordCamp Northeast Ohio is one of the best WordPress events I’ve attended so far this year. As for next year, organizers are taking a short break and will begin the preliminary planning stages in a few months.