WordPress, an open source platform used for building dynamic websites, continues to steadily grow throughout the creative design and development industry and it is now one of the leading platforms and platform of choice for many agencies. As a result the WordPress community has now evolved and groups of people who use WordPress on a daily basis gather, meet up and discuss and share their skills, experiences, knowledge, best plugins and best practice at regular meetings up and down the country (as well as all across the world).
These meetings are called WordCamps.
The first WordCamp in the UK started back in 2008 in Birmingham. Since then, locations have included Cardiff (2009), Manchester (2010), Portsmouth (2011), Edinburgh (2012) and Lancaster (2013).
This year in 2014 I had the pleasure of putting in a bid to hold in on the south coast in Bournemouth, at the Executive Business Centre part of Bournemouth University. Our bid was up against Birmingham, so the choices were put to the vote – Birmingham or Bournemouth. By a whisker Bournemouth won 31 votes to 30. Brilliant.
Bournemouth University elected Naomi Kay to be our liaison contact person and thanks to her we had the whole of the 2nd, 3rd and 7th floor for our event – perfect.
With over 100 people booked, and some great talks lined up it was on target to be another cracking WordCamp. The talks this year included:
- The Why and How behind creating your own base theme – Ngaire Ackerley
- How to secure your WordPress website – Mike Pead
- WPUK Coding Challenge – Dave Coveney
- A beginners guide to web accessibility – Graham Armfield
- Customising the WordPress dashboard – Rachel McCollin
- Extensible plugins – a case study of Edupress – Mark Wilkinson
- Finding better quality clients with WordPress – Michael Killen
- Learning to sell your services as a Web designer when you come from a developer background – Kirsty Burgoine
- Designing with data – Jonny Allbut
- Lightning talks – Tony Scott
- How not to launch a startup – Rachel McCollin
- WordPress and web accessibility 2014 – Graham Armfield
- Secure from the start: the changing landscape – Kieran O’Shea
- From local to staging to live using version control and deployment tools – Mark Wilkinson
- Underscores – one theme to rule them all – Jack Lenox
- WOW Plugins – Kimb Jones
- WPUK Coding Challenge Results – Dave Coveney
This year too for the first time, I’ve looked at my personal journey with WordPress and what it has meant and done for me.
The first one I attended was Cardiff 2009, when we had the fortune of Matt Mullenweg attending (founder of Automattic). I was one of the newbies and found myself overwhelmed with information, knowledge and guidance. The talks then were also very technical so I was fairly out of my depth wondering what on earth I’d got myself into. But I did gain a huge amount of inspiration from here and I did realise that this was without a doubt the right path for our business. I remember leaving there completely inspired and excited.
By the following year in Manchester we had started to develop a few more sites in WordPress and were learning as we were going. I learnt more about the design, the layouts and how to structure a good website.
By Portsmouth, we had become even more established and my confidence was growing in what we were able to achieve with a WordPress site. I understood widgets, short-codes, responsive designs and using different frameworks.
Edinburgh and Lancaster reiterated to me that we were still on the right path. I was still learning new tips and tricks for getting the best out of a WordPress website.
This year was different. For some reason the topic of using WordPress as specialists and adapting your pricing to reflect this seemed hot and remained a big topic of debate throughout the weekend.
What I found more interesting was that there were a good handful of people too who were at the beginning of their WordPress journey, who had not long started out and were going through all the pain barriers I had been through. It was a good feeling to no longer be at this stage.
For me the weekend was a realisation of how far I’ve come, the knowledge I’ve gained and the skills I’ve learnt. I’ve met some amazing people, made some great friends and loved every minute of it. These people rock, and from the bottom of my heart I would like to extend my thanks for all their support, help and friendship.
So now over the coming months more changes will be happening – in a good way to ensure that we continue to provide the very best service in our WordPress community.