WCEU: Paris is hot in the summer and you have to walk a lot. Who knew?

I ended up in Paris at the end of a two week vacation that didn’t exactly go as planned.  Parts of my vacation were amazing, like being in the middle of the ocean on the Queen Mary 2 and getting lost in a 1000 year old castle in Luxembourg.  Other parts were not so good, like the lack of sleep, blisters and some other calamities happening.   All in all I had a good time but I arrived back in Paris exhausted and just all sorts of out of it.
The amazing views and the always awesome WordCamp community were there to revive my soul and make my trip to WordCamp Europe 2017 unforgettable and a wonderful time.
So much went on that week, that it does not fit my normal format.  It would be at least 4000 words to capture, with any accuracy, my experience. So instead, I am going to make a top 10 list of my favorite memories and then just post a LOT of tweets with maybe a few comments in between.

 

  1. Getting to hang out with my team, Drew, Andrew and Matt, plus all our peers and friends from the WP world was amazing!
  2. Contributor day saw us get a lot of work done, including moving the WordPress Marketing Team to a Trello team for easier project management and tracking.
  3. I got to see the Mona Lisa and most all the other awesome stuff in the Louvre
  4. I learned a good chunk of the Paris Metro by heart and am confident I could get around that city without consulting my phone too much if I had to go again
  5. Getting to give my talk about Improv to a crowd of about 700 people. That was pretty cool.
  6. Inviting my friend on stage during my talk and getting to play and improv game with her.  (see tweets below)
  7. Chatting with camp leads about running workshops at two different, unrelated WordCamps later in 2017.  This blew my mind that I am seen as a subject matter expert.  So grateful
  8. Having very reasonable vegan options at lunch at the camp and about 1/2 the meals I ate in Paris.  The others were a bit of a challenge, but thank goodness for couscous.
  9. Meeting so many awesome new friends in Paris and singing WCKaraoke at a new karaoke club where I was their first US customer and we brought a larger crowd than they ever thought possible for their venue.  Was such an amazing time!
  10. Being part of the event where the Gutenberg plugin was released.  I used this amazing new editor to create this post (though I could not publish as a regular post using the still in Beta.  Instead I constructed what you see with the tool then copy/pasted) and will for all new posts moving ahead.  It is lightyears beyond the old editing experience and introduced the concept of ‘blocks’ to WP.  Everything is a block and these blocks can be moved around and reshaped at will making for a completely new posting experience.  I am proud to be one of the first 100 downloads of the plugin. I did it while Matt Mullenweg was on stage making the announcement about the plugin.

Onto The Tweets!

Exhausting but highly productive day with the marketing team at WordCamp Europe. Got some really useful content done!

I can’t believe. I’m here. My first WordCamp Europe and it’s starting…

A new feature project has been started by @schlessera to properly document the bootstrapping process

Wij investeren graag in de relatie met onze klanten. Het is dé sleutel tot een langdurige en prettige samenwerking. Bevestigd tijdens

Aujourd’hui c’est le Wordcamp Europe. Plusieurs conférences sur la sont proposées.

“Trust no one – don’t trust the people who wrote previous code, nor users that enter data.” @markjaquith

Next lightning @WCEurope talk: “Translating WordPress into a Language Nobody Speaks” @swissspidy

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Sitting here bursting with pride from so much awesome showcased work by the polyglots teams 🌎🌍🌏

.@alice_s_still on now at @WCEurope talking about how they started and developed her local WordPress meetup.

“You catch more flies with honey”. Thanks @strebel for sharing your experience. What an inspirational talk 🙂

Good talk by @McDwayne about @WCEurope . I particularly liked the “I love” & “Yes, and …” games. Also constructively!

Weaving threads between + , @mcdwayne delivers a magic carpet of empathy,humanity,and self-awareness. Coding? It’s This

Few things in life have made me as proud as having TinyMCE tweet about me.  Even though in this post I am abandoning their editor, the internet would NOT be as good as it is without their amazing work!  So happy!!

Living style guides from @sarahsemark can help you battles the monsters in your Code closet. Just make sure it’s not a zombie guide

.@michaelarestad states that a 12-year-old helped with the rest API. Mentoring, communicating, and patience are key.

In this talk of @mor10 gave an intro to CSS Grid and its impact on design Thank you Morten!

Very proud to be volunteers at the WCEU, une expérience si enrichissante, si émouvante, 92 pays différents réunis autour de WordPress

What an event, can’t get enough of it, see you at the after party WordCampers

You’ve been practicing your robot dance moves at and now the dance floor awaits @the after party @GoRobotNinja

WCJax: Driving around Jacksonville in circles

It might just be my experience, and it might be specific to the locations I found as destinations, but Jacksonville has a very circular road system. There was a lot of road construction as well. As one friend put it “You’ve got to make 3 rights to take a left. As you pass the place, the GPS still says 5 minutes remaining.”  This aspect had it’s positives.  I only remember a few left hand turns, which as UPS has proven, makes for overall more effective routes and fewer accidents.   It also gave me more time to hang out with the awesome folks who gave me lifts around town at WordCamp Jacksonville, #WCJAX.

 

Food and Fun:

Speaker Dinner:

I went to The Blue Bamboo almost as soon as I arrived, meeting the other speakers for the camp.  It was great to see so many folks, who, in some cases, I had not seen in a long while and who, in other cases, I had seen last only a couple weeks ago.  Most dinners I attend have an open lounge style seating, with a mixture of high and low top tables.  Here we chose banquet tables at the start for our seats to remain in throughout service.  It was cozy and friendly.  Country fried chicken and crab won tons were on the menu and I had salad, broccoli and rolls.

Here we also got some lovely speaker swag including some locally made taffy!

Sunday Lunch:

We didn’t have to leave the premises to find our food at noon time. We had wonderfully prepared BBQ on the first day from Sonny’s BBQ.

While most folks got down on something that looked like this:

They also had some pretty awesome veggie options:

After Party:

We returned to The Blue Bamboo for the after party.  This time we were treated with veggie spring rolls and potato croquettes as well as two different type of dumpling, pork and shrimp.  Board games were out and folks had broken off into various factions battling for Park Place or the coveted moment when you connect four.  Many a good conversation were had.

Unfortunately my phone died while on my way to the after party.  While I did get to charge it there, I was not able to take any pics when I first arrived and the thing was in full swing.  So instead, here is a nice picture of the camp folks in the morning:

We did make an attempt at #WCKaraoke. But alas, the laws of that area made the bar we had chosen a ‘smoking only’ lounge and we couldn’t find group agreement on an alternative.  It was still a good attempt in my opinion and I had a very nice time.

 Sunday lunch:

The picture below is not the exact lunch we had, but it is pretty close.  The best parts were the Soyrizo from a local awesome producer and various hot sauces which I had not seen before.  Unfortunately, no photos I can find exist of this meal.  It was a good one where I got to meet a few new folks, so I am a little bummed at that.  I am also bummed that I didn’t catch the name of the caterer, I will try to update this with that info.

 

The Happiness Bar was in full effect as well.  There were many a good conversation and problem gotten to the bottom of in that little room.  There were also a lot of mini Slim Jims, oranges, nuts and snack mixes to go with the gallons of coffee.

The Sessions

There was no keynote, just opening remarks from the good folks at Keiser University, which was playing host to us that weekend.  “At Keiser University, You Receive Your Education One Class at a Time”. This educational approach is one of intent focus on a single problem set, which I think fits in well with some of the better development practices I have observed over time.  Their website is also WordPress, which make us feel right at home.

Mental Health for Everyone, Esp. WordPress Professionals
Laura Lane

We started with a mindfulness exercise.  A seated dead head roll with focused breathing.  This was a very great way to start the day.  It turns out that this is a great way to start every morning, since Cortisol levels are the highest in the morning. She said you could argue that you really don’t need coffee in the morning, that it would be the afternoon that you might need to step on the gas pedal.

It is important to recenter at least once a day.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate or time consuming.  She suggested using apps to give it a try.  Secret is consistency, trying just 5 minutes a day for 30 days.  That pattern is the key to success with this.

Team Publishing in WordPress
Steve Burge

Let’s face it.  The built in WP default editor is kinda lacking.  Even as I write this here in my editor I am wishing I was just writing in a Google Doc.  Even our beloved Matt Mullenweg called it “the best collaborative document editor on the planet right now.”  Which is exactly why Steve was excited to talk about the idea of leveraging it and other tools to make the team collaboration better for publishing, including tools to publish directly from Google to your WP pages.  PublishPress is another one of the tools making amazing strides in this direction.  Permissions is another area where there is room for improvement and we are seeing some advancements on the horizon.  I had not considered before this talk the possible role of Calypso with the rise of Guttenberg, but there is a compelling case to be made for the future where better page design on a local is the norm.  I left with a lot to think about and a lot of things on the horizon to be excited about.

The Biggest WordPress Myths Debunked
Lauren Jeffcoat
MYTH! It is just for blogs
It is not just for blogs, it got popular that way since it was easy to publish. But you don’t have to just publish blogs.
MYTH! Plugins are bad or cause trouble.
False: Bad plugins are bad and too many overlapping bad plugins are bad. Only use what you need.  Plugins are good. But if you don’t use it, just lose it! Delete those inactive plugins, or keep them up to date.
MYTH! WP is too complex
This is not true, lot of easy ways to get started and many tools and training resources to help. Best practices around standard processes solves a lot of these issues.  Yes there is a learning curve, like with anything else.
MYTH! it is not secure
WP is a big target, that is true, but it certainly can be secure.  It is up to good practices around security from you, your hosting and the code itself.
A good hosting company can help boost your site’s security. (I personally believe this a lot!)
MYTH! You get what you pay for…free = no quality. no support!
Wrong! While there is no no 1-800-wordpress (that domain was available at time of publication by the way) but there is a whole community to help.  Tons of free help options out there if you are willing to learn.

Taming the Whirlwind
Nathan Ingram

This is one of those MUST SEE presentations.  I highly encourage you to find a version of this online.  I will likely update this post when this version gets posted. Meanwhile his slides are here.

No one has all of it under control. You are not alone. The common struggle is real! We understand the need for strategy, but doing it gets messy.  We get distracted and caught up in the day to day emergencies that confront us.
Putting a name to your problems help to understanding and defeating them.
He calls this flurry of distractions “The Whirlwind”, defined as the energy and attention needed to run your business. The Whirlwind is the URGENT!  When urgency and importance clash, urgency wins every time. The whirlwind never goes away! The whirlwind isn’t bad, it just is.
Delaying strategy doesn’t work. You need a plan to accomplish your goals in the middle of the whirlwind.  Without a plan, the whirlwind always wins.
He spends the rest of the talk explaining how to build and execute a plan. Your best friend in this is momentum, plan action items. Rather than try to re-explain it here, just go look at the slides.  This was a fantastic presentation and I am so glad I got the chance to see it.

Connecting in a Digital World
Jodie Riccelli
Like most people I meet in the WP space, her background is not a dev or a designer, nor a true agency model.  However, an agency, WebDev Studios, is where she works interacting with devs and designers all day.  More importantly she works with the clients doing something very near and dear to my heart, helping them implement their dreams.  Interpreting what the client wants into docs, some of which are very long and complex.
Through her experience she has noticed that there is a perception that ‘sales’ has became a bit of a dirty word.  She aims to change that.
“We don’t know how to engage, we want to be at a distance”. Apps do this for us and this is partly why we hide behind screens.
One of the things that made a difference for her cognition of this was a The Atlantic article from Paul Barnwell “My Students don’t know how to have a conversation“. He really illustrates that the main thing people what their children to learn to survive and thrive in the world is communication.  This is vital!
Sales really breaks down to the act of providing solutions the challenges the client might be having while being conscious of their budget.  That is all.  Really engage at every chance because everyone has something to teach you, if you will listen.  Let’s use words that entice engagement. Keep Informed!

You Created A Plugin. Now What?
Adam Warner
So you have a plugin.  Awesome.  Get that thing on the directory! It all starts with wordpress.org. This is the largest collected pool of users in the world.  Getting it out there is step one, but upgrades and extensions are the way to monetize!
Once you have that sorted, increasing sales is next goal.  Repo reputation really matters. 5 star reviews are great but replying to the 1 star reviews is super important too.  If your plugin is seen as having really good support then people will trust it more and be more willing to buy things.
Take care with how you write.  Good copy will drive installs. Good marketing content and good docs are equally important.  Content marketing is important!
THink about discounting and presenting the messaging at key junctures.  Things like exit discounts (when you get a pop up offer as you are about to leave a page really do work.  Cross promotions are a win-win situation.  Get your product and service associated with another reputable plugin to reach an even wider audience and build that credibility.
What will you charge, what will the market bare?  It turns out this just takes the courage to try what you think you can get and not be afraid to raise price, or lower them, as the market responds.  No secret magic formula.

 

A/B Testing, Which Way Does Your Duck Face?
Mike “Demo” Demopoulos

Yes I am going to still write this up, but stop reading this for 45 minutes (even if you don’t think you have the time to spare) and go watch this video.

A/B Testing is:
-Controlled – you can explain how things relate to one another
-Statistically Relevant – educated guessing
-Uses Micro Testing – changing one thing at a time

Don’t try to assign reason to user actions, you can’t. It will drive you batty. Let the data drive all decisions.
What to test?  Tese the buttons shape, drop shadows, color, size, font, text, images.  Basically test everything!! Everything!!!
But at this is your chance to play and have fun too.

 

My Session:

WP-CLI: wp yes you –can (AKA Don’t Fear The Command Line)

People were really engaged and asked questions throughout.  While time sorta got away from me, I felt as though I had a better conversation throughout.  This was my favorite time giving this talk yet and I am really looking forward to getting to do this again.

 Wrapping up

This camp was actually a lot of fun.  I know I started out with a complaint about the roads, but Jacksonville had some really cool parts and some really nice and interesting people.  One of my favorite moments though came from seeing how happy this man was because of finally getting his CalderaWP “Catdera Wapuu” Sticker.

Quick note: This was actually the second time I had made it to Florida in 2 weeks.  The previous week I was fortunate enough to attend my sister’s wedding.  It was a beautiful ceremony on the beach at sunset.  I could not be happier for her or her wife!  However, I am not going to miss the sand of that beach, since it is in all of my stuff still, almost 2 weeks later.

I might not make it back to Florida any time soon, but I am glad I went.  Winding streets and endless road construction aside, the Jacksonville WP community seems pretty good.