Last weekend, I attended my first WordCamp, a volunteer-run conference centered around WordPress, the free and open-source software that powers about one-third of all websites on the internet (including this blog)!
Here are some notes from WordCamp Sacramento (#wcsac), which was held in Roseville, California from September 21-22, 2019.
The theme was Star Wars!
I don’t know a whole lot about Star Wars, so I looked up the significance of the names used for each of the breakout session rooms:
Dagobah – home of Yoda
Endor – home of the Ewoks
Tatooine – desert planet
Sessions & Speakers
There were 14 time slots. During each 40-minute time slot, there were three talks happening simultaneously – one for each of the tracks: beginner (for those of us just starting out); intermediate (for designers or those with more WordPress experience); and advanced (for developers).
However, if a topic interested you, you were allowed and even encouraged to move freely across the three tracks.
I attended the following 14 sessions:
Topic: WordPress Users, Tools, and Settings overview (Speaker: Mario Cano)
Takeaway: Before you import/export, shut-off plugins
Topic: WordPress Themes, Widgets, and Plugins overview (Speaker: Ginger Wiseman)
Takeaway: Use the Pretty Links plugin to shorten URLs
Topic: How to Make Your Blog Attractive to Brands and Media Professionals (Speaker: Natalie Bourn)
Takeaway: Take clear pictures, write good content, and have a clean design (see Natalie’s website here)
Topic: Intro to the Block Editor (aka Gutenberg) (Speaker: Matt Cromwell)
Takeaway: For now, Gutenberg works with most (not yet all) themes
Topic: Blocks – How to Find Them, Install Them, and Use Them (Speaker: Verious Smith)
Takeaway: Gutenberg 6.5 will be released with WordPress 5.3
Topic: Getting into Position Zero: How to Leverage Content to Rise Above the Competition (Speaker: Lindsay Halsey)
Takeaways: Zero is the new #1; identifying keywords is an important step in search engine optimization (SEO); it can help your content rank high and help you establish brand expertise
Topic: 13 Blogging Tips from a 13-year-old (Speaker: Emily Lema)
Takeaway: Tip #5 – Always be helpful (find Emily’s blog here)
Topic: What to Do Post-Launch: How to Care for Your Brand New WordPress Site (Speaker: Michele Butcher-Jones)
Takeaway: Do a Google search on your site and make sure it hasn’t been linked to undesirable sites
Topic: Confessions of a Type Nut: Quick Tricks to Get Great Type on Your Site, and Why It Matters (Speaker: Mary Baum)
Takeaways: for greater accessibility, consider using bold for links (using a different color is not enough); stay within font family (use one sans, one serif, and one weird)
Topic: Creating an Effective Design Process (Speaker: Justin Doyle)
Takeaway: Design process order should be sitemap, wireframe, mockup, prototype
Topic: Website Metrics That Matter (Speaker: Tabitha Turton)
Takeaways: Bounce rate measures the percentage of website visitors who leave after viewing one page; Marketing is useless unless it produces conversions
Topic: WordPress Security 101: Four Ways to Make Your Site Safer Today (aka Jedi Tricks!) (Speaker: Kathy Zant)
Takeaways: Most hackers attack via plugins, so don’t just de-activate plugins you no longer use, delete them; watch episodes of the Think Like a Hacker podcast here
Topic: Empower Your Storytelling with Gutenberg: How to Use Blocks to Boost Your Communication (Speaker: Andrea Zoellner)
Takeaway: Gutenberg is responsive and accessible
Topic: Visual Stimuli: Using Images in WordPress (Speaker: Cate DeRosia)
Takeaway: Images always slow down your site, so decrease image size (avoid using full size)Many (if not all) of these sessions were recorded and will be available on WordPress.tv shortly, so stay tuned!
Lunch was provided on Saturday. There were four food trucks to choose from and I used my lunch ticket for juicy beef sliders (no cheese) with bacon and fries from the Bacon Mania/Slider Nation truck:
Snacks were provided on both days. But on Sunday, we enjoyed an assortment of sweet and savory baked goods. There was a make-your-own trail mix bar, too:
The time in between sessions was affectionately dubbed the Hallway Track. During this time, WordCampers met up with fellow attendees, speakers, and organizers, or dropped by the Happiness Bar for tech support.
Event sponsors handed out a ton of cute, but useful sponsor-branded items, like t-shirts, pens, tote bags, notebooks, pins, stickers, mint tins, phone ring holders, metal reusable straws, eyeglass cleaning wipes, stress balls, sunglasses, and USB charging cables with multiple adapters:
Attending WordCamp Sacramento has inspired me to learn more about SEO, the Gutenberg block editor, and optimizing images, to name a few.
WordCamps take place throughout the year all around the world! I think I’ve caught the WordCamp bug – I can’t wait to go to another one!
Have you been to a WordCamp before? Tell me all about it in the comments below!