Become a WordPress boffin at WordCamp London! | Heart Internet Blog – Focusing on all aspects of the web

We’re proud to sponsor the 2016 WordCamp London, held on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 8-10 April, at London Metropolitan University.

WordCamp London is bigger and better than ever, with three tracks of speakers on Saturday and Sunday, and a Contributor Day on Friday, WordCamp is a great way to learn new and exciting ways to use WordPress, whether building the latest plug-in, creating new templates, managing multiple websites, or running your own blog.

We managed to grab the WordCamp organisers, Jenny Wong, Stef Mattana, Ana Silva, Diane Wallace, Barbara Marcantonio, Jo Waltham, and Gary Jones, and ask them a few questions about the event.

The 2016 WordCamp London logo

Who are you? Tell us a little about yourselves.

Jenny: I’m a Community Engineer at Human Made, where we build WordPress solutions for our clients. I’m the lead organiser of WordCamp London this year.

Stef: I’m self-employed in digital marketing, and I write mystery and detective novels in my spare time. At WordCamp London, I’m responsible for sponsorships – like Heart Internet!

Ana: I work in the Products team at Human Made on products such as Nomadbase and Happytables. I’m looking after all the external communications for WordCamp London 2016, as well as organising our generous volunteers who’ll help us run the event on the ground.

Diane: I’m a freelance WordPress developer, making plug-ins and custom themes. When I get the chance, I love to wander around London, looking for things I haven’t seen or noticed before. At WordCamp London, I’ll be looking after our wonderful speakers.

Barbara: I’m a freelance UX/UI designer and I’ve designed this year’s theme for WordCamp London. I’m also addicted to travelling and I’m currently on my quest to become a digital nomad.

Jo: I run a small agency called Callia Web, where we specialise in WordPress websites for small businesses and individuals. At WordCamp London, I’m organising the crèche and assisting with the swag all attendees will get.

Gary: I’m a UK-based WordPress engineer and code consultant, focusing on creating elegant WordPress plug-ins and theme solutions for clients, including projects for SiteGround, Yoast, StudiioPress, Rolls-Royce, and many more. I’m a proud father of twins, and my role for WordCamp London is to organise and lead the Contributor Day on Friday, 8 April.

What happens at WordCamp London?

Jenny: WordCamp London, to me, is a celebration of the WordPress community in and around London. We celebrate this by sharing knowledge in talk sessions, panel sessions, and the conversations that happen in the hallway – the “hallway track”!

Stef: People who are interested in all things WordPress gather together and celebrate the local and national communities. There are also many people coming from outside the UK, which makes the event even more interesting and rich. At WordCamps, you have the chance to hear great talks and meet new people.

Ana: WordCamp London is a community-organised event which aims to bring together the wider WordPress community of users – both beginners and professionals. We share ideas, meet like-minded people, and celebrate our love for WordPress. As well as a two-day conference, we also hold a Contributor Day where we encourage people to make WordPress with us.

Diane: There’s a fantastic range of talks by people from the WordPress and wider web community, but there’s also a lot of chances to meet and talk to people – I always think it’s more like a festival than a conference!

Barbara: WordCamp is all about the amazing community that creates, works with, or simply loves WordPress on a daily basis. It’s a community of passionate and hard-working people, and this event is the ultimate celebration of everyone’s efforts.

Jo: There are talks and Q&A panels, then there’s coffee, lunch, and the after-party for meeting other attendees and sharing experiences, not to mention visiting the sponsor stands!

Gary: Community happens. Members of the community come together to share their understanding and experiences, learn from others, and give back to a project that powers their career or hobby. As well as individual and panel talks, there’s plenty of time for the “hallway track”, and all our attendees are well supported in terms of essentials like food and refreshments!

One of WordCamp London's header images, with a man on a penny farthing and a dirigible

What do you hope your attendees will get out of WordCamp London?

Jenny: I hope our attendees go home filled with new friendships and inspiration. If they go home filled with ideas of where WordPress could take them, I’ll call it a job well done.

Stef: I hope people will go back home wanting to improve their own skills and contribute to this open source project.

Ana: I hope our attendees will learn something new, fall in love with WordPress (if they aren’t already!), and realise that a user-driven platform like WordPress is empowering to all. There are endless ways to get involved with WordPress, and I hope anyone searching for a route in finds it at WordCamp London.

Diane: I hope they’re inspired to get more involved with WordPress. I also hope they come away with new ideas and skills, and a lot of new friends.

Barbara: Definitely knowledge and loads of fun! With this year’s theme inspired by Victorian London – a truly amazing era filled with big technological developers, scientific discoveries, and quirky experiments – we want to always move forward, inspiring people as well as give everyone the chance to share knowledge, learn new things, and meet other members of the community.

Jo: Inspiration. It’s good to take time out from the day-to-day running of the business and be inspired by other people in the community, whether it’s from the speakers or talking with other attendees. You’re going to meet new people and learn something new.

Gary: Knowledge, confidence, and friends. A large proportion of us are freelancers or work in small teams, and that can be somewhat isolating. Having the chance to attend presentations relevant to our working day and socialising at an event like WordCamp is important in building relationships – both professional and personal.

One great thing about WordCamps are the Contributor Days. What do you hope will happen at your Contributor Day?

Jenny: Contributor Days are where people can contribute to the WordPress project. It can sometimes be daunting to do this at home alone, or you may not have time in your personal lives to do this, so a Contributor Day serves to help people get the support they need to contribute to WordPress and also give you the time you need to support the project. The aim is to facilitate people to give back to WordPress – in any way they want.

Stef: The Contributor Day is one of my favourite parts of WordCamp. Not only will you have the chance to give back to the community, you can also learn tons of things about the WordPress project. The vibe you feel at Contribution Days is really amazing, as it makes you feel the real core of the project. Since it’s managed by volunteers who allocate some of their free out-of-work time for it, it’s really inspiring.

Ana: The Contributor Day provides an open and welcoming space for WordPress users, lowers, and professionals to come together and give back to WordPress, in whichever way that suits them. I hope our Contributor Day is filled with many faces – new and old! I really look forward to seeing a diverse group of people with a wide range of skills coming together and working towards making WordPress the amazing platform it is.

Diane: The Contributor Day is such a great experience. I hope that lots of people that wanted to contribute but weren’t sure how come to it, as there’s a lot of camaraderie and practical support. There are so many ways to contribute to WordPress, so there’s something for everyone who wants to get involved.

Barbara: On Contributor Days, you can easily get involved in improving WordPress’s experience and I personally believe there’s nothing more exciting than working together to build something you’ll use and be proud of.

Gary: For those who have never contributed before, it’s a chance to get a little more involved with WordPress. Even if you can’t design or develop, there are still ways you can contribute, like translating to other languages or improving user documentation.

The day starts with an introduction, including an introduction from each team lead, and then we split into teams. If individuals need support in getting a local development environment up and running, there’s a session available for that as well, regardless of which team they then join up with. Contributions are made during the day, everything from patches for WordPress core, accessibility testing, theme review approval and feedback, user interface mock-ups, etc. There are breaks as well as lunch, and at the end of the day, we wrap up to find out what progress has been made in each team.

One of the header images from the WordCamp London website, including a police box, a lamp post, and an umbrella

Your speakers sound amazing – what are some of the talks you’re personally interested in?

Jenny: I’m really excited about the three lightning talks – I prefer taking information in bite-size chunks, so they really suit me.

Stef: All the marketing, business, and blogging talks. I wish I could attend all of it! Luckily, all the talks will be uploaded on WordPress TV after the event!

Ana: I’m thrilled to have an entire panel dedicated to Web Accessibility, and really eager to learn more about Neurodiversity. I’m also looking forward to finding out about the impact WordPress has had on Croatian politics, as this embodies the essence of WordPress for me – positive and impactful change on a large scale.

Diane: Gosh, so many! Definitely the Core and Accessibility panels, as well as “Accessible Accordions for Your WordPress Theme”, as we really need to make the web accessible for everyone.

Probably a lot of the development talks such as “A World Without Bugs”, “Hacked Off: Dealing with a Hacked WordPress Site”, “Debugging: Past, Present, and Future”, “Angular Word: WordPress and AngularJS”, and design talks such as “Design Patterns” and “How I Learnt To Stop Using Icon Fonts and Love SVG”, but also “How WordPress Changed the Face of Croatian Politics”, as I love the fact that WordPress is changing the world, not just the web!

Barbara: I’ll definitely be interested in the design, user experience, and accessibility talks, as well as hearing more about how WordPress influenced and changed lives and careers (thinking about all the digital nomads out there!).

Jo: With my move from self-employed to a small agency, I’m very much interested in the business talks, such as “Building an Innovative WordPress Agency: Mooves’ 5 Year Journey, What I’d Do Differently If I Freelanced Again, and the “Recruiting for Your Business” panel. But I’m also very interested in the Accessibility Panel.

Gary: I’m involved in the Accessibility Panel, so the other accessibility talks are an obvious interest. I’m also keen to see “How I Learnt to Stop Using Icon Fonts and Love SVG”, “Guilt-Free Coding”, “What I’d Do Differently If I Freelanced Again”, and “The Art of Writing a Great WordPress Tutorial”. Each covers a different facet of what I do during my working week.

What’s one thing you love about WordPress?

Jenny: The community. The people you get to meet and their passion to improve is addictive!

Stef: The people. Just being in the same place and talking about WordPress (and non-WordPress topics) face to face while most of our day-to-day communications happen online.

Ana: The fact that WordPress is a user-driven platform with a big aim – enabling anyone, anywhere, to have access to online publishing.

Diane: I love working with WordPress, but I really love the community and the fact you can get involved at every level – from joining user groups to contributing to the core code.

Barbara: I like how versatile and simple it is to understand, which makes it accessible to everyone. And, obviously, I’m a fan of open-source!

Jo: The low barrier to entry, meaning that anyone can take advantage of getting their voice and their message out there on the Internet. But the community has to be the best thing – it’s such a supportive and inclusive community. Developers are willing to help you out, even though, in theory, you’re the competition!

Gary: Its ubiquitousness. The sheer number of sites it powers means there are a huge number of people who use it as a tool in some way every day. That means there’s a large support community – writing tutorials, creating video courses, doing WordCamp talks, answering support forum questions, or answering quick questions on Twitter or Slack. If I’m stuck on how to complete a specific task, it’s rare that someone else hasn’t already solved it and is already sharing their solution. That makes my job considerably easier.

One of the header images from the WordCamp London website, including a woman, an automobile, and a hot air balloon

What advice would you give to someone just starting out using WordPress?

Jenny: Find your local user group or your local WordCamp. There are groups and WordCamps all over the world, and if not, join in the digital groups. Don’t be shy and ask questions – lots of questions. There isn’t a question that’s too silly or too simple.

Stef: Experiment. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes and ask for advice and tips. Our community is particularly welcoming and supportive towards new users and contributors.

Ana: Do the things you don’t think you know how to. And give back, in whatever way you can. The more you give back, the better you’ll be able to understand how things work, where to ask for help, and how to find answers quickly. Plus, the more you contribute, the less you’ll feel like a beginner – people will even turn to you with questions!

Diane: There’s lots of help online in the WordPress Forums or in places like Stack Exchange, but I really advise people to go to a local meetup or WordCamp and make connections. The WordPress community is so welcoming.

Barbara: There’s nothing to panic about. There are plenty of resources out there, and you are backed by zillions of users that will help you out.

Jo: Do it. Give it a go. Google your question – there are loads of tutorials at all levels. And if you’re stuck – just ask! Post a question on the WordPress support forums, ask on Twitter or Facebook, and go along to WordPress meetups and WordCamps – don’t be shy! And if you can help someone out, do so!

Gary: Go to a meetup or WordCamp. You’ll find others who are, or were, in the same situation. Even core developers had a day where they first used WordPress! And when you’re among peers, you’ll know some tidbit of information that someone else doesn’t. Be open with your knowledge, and open-minded when listening to others.

The footer image from the WordCamp London website, including the WordPress logo

Tickets are still available, starting at just £30 for two days, and we hope to see you there!

Images designed by Barbara Marcantonio and taken from the 2016 WordCamp London website.


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