If there’s an event that’s synonymous with WordPress, it is WordCamp!
WordCamps are conferences where you can connect with fellow WordPress enthusiasts and be part of the community in the literal sense.
And I was looking forward to attending my very first WordCamp.
Having been a part of WisdmLabs- a WordPress focused company – for nearly a year now, I had heard a lot about WordCamps, about topics being discussed, about the opportunity to connect with people, who were linked to WordPress in some way or the other- people with stories like mine.
A few of my colleagues had attended WordCamp Pune last year, and their experience had gotten me gung ho about attending a WordCamp myself.
So, when tickets sales were open for WordCamp Mumbai this year, my colleagues and I were quick to book them. And this year was special for us here at WisdmLabs because not only were we attending, we were sponsoring as well.
— Rajiv Sathian (@SathianRajiv) March 12, 2016
12th March 2016, WordCamp Mumbai 2016- Day 1
On the first day, when we reached the venue, I was expecting a crowd of around 40 people, considering that I thought we had reached ahead of time.
But to my surprise, there was a long queue of more than a hundred WordCampers, waiting to collect their entry passes.
The crowd was buzzing, and filled with excitement.
Breakfast was more of a celebrity spotting experience. 😀
‘Look over there!’ ‘Wait a minute, is that….’ ‘I know him..’
For a few of us first-time goers, you couldn’t tell us apart from star-struck teens at the VMAs. *Ahem ahem!* I kept my cool though. :-p
It was soon time for the sessions to begin, so we quickly took our spots in the auditorium, excited and awaiting our speakers!
Shilpa Shah and Nirav Mehta spoke about handling customers and promoting products. As part of the products marketing team, these sessions got me thinking.
Nirav Mehta had by far the wittiest title – ‘Build and They Won’t Come’.
He explained simple tricks a developer could follow to market their products, and earn some recognition too. His session gradually gave way to the next session by Bryce Adams– building a freemium theme or plugin.
‘Open sourcing code requires the same confidence that is needed to take your shirt off at a formal dance’
– Bryce Adams
Now, Sam Hotchkiss has an overwhelming demeanor. But once you talk to him, you know he’s a friendly guy packed with valuable experience. Sam spoke about WP Plugin Development Best practices- a session that engrossed my developer colleagues.
“As a developer, Sam’s session was my favorite. He spoke about processes to scale a business, the SDLC, testing and review process and provided some useful insights. A line that resonated with me was – Time spent writing quality code is never time wasted; and I have to agree!”
Lunch was a time to chat with fellow WordCamp enthusiasts. See the sessions are the highlight of any WordCamp, but it’s these moments in between when you truly interact with the community, get to know their WordPress origin story and share your experiences. 🙂
Post lunch was the most awaited event for me and my colleagues- the Panel Discussion- because our dynamic founder Rohan Thakare was a part of it. Three cheers all around!! 😀
The discussion was about ‘Sustaining a WordPress Business’. The panelists shared their insights, and their perspectives. They discussed their experience from providing services in the open source domain which has a zero entry barrier, to common operation problems such as employee attrition rates.
For me, the panel discussion was truly the highlight of WordCamp Mumbai 2016. It was interactive and well received by the audience. It provided fodder for thought for all budding entrepreneurs.
superb practical advice by entrepreneurs actually based on their blood, sweat and tears #wcmumbai
— Shilpa Shah (@IdleGazer) March 12, 2016
But surely a good amount of credit goes to Karthik Magapu– the moderator- he was active, and kept the crowd engaged with his witty one liners; he conducted the session really well, making it the most interactive session of the day.
The sessions continued with Rahul Bansal, founder of rtCamp talking about scaling WooCommerce and Raghavendra Peri discussing WordPress Accessibility.
Raghavendra Peri’s session was truly altruistic in nature and a topic one rarely thinks about- making themes and plugins accessible to differently abled people.
Quick Accessibility Check List
- Have a 4.5:1 color contrast ratio for regular text
- Label form controls
- Provide hierarchical heading structures
- Add alt text for images
- Ensure all elements are keyboard operable
- Make focusable elements prominent
- Provide captions/transcripts for A/V content
— Rohan Thakare (@rohanthakare) March 12, 2016
The session to follow was one that tickled the web designer’s brain by Kshitij Patil. And the day ended with Saurabh Shukla’s session on Talent Retention, but not without us clicking some candid pics :-p
First day down, and I was already looking forward to the next.
13th March 2016, WordCamp Mumbai 2016- Day 2
On Day 2, I was a bit calmer, I knew what to expect; but my excitement was just as high. 😀
The day began with Ramya Pandyan’s session on blogging. My colleague Tahseen had raved about her session at WordCamp Pune, so I was looking forward to it. Ramya spoke about how bloggers have a social responsibility and can drive a discussion and control it’s course. A topic all bloggers need give a thought.
Fairy Dharawat was to follow, and spoke about using humor as a content writing tool, and how to use funny examples to connect with your readers. Due to some technical glitches, Fairy’s session started a bit late. But in the meanwhile, Alphabet sambar conducted an impromptu game which I thought was pretty cool.
— Kartik Bharadwaj (@kartik_12b) March 13, 2016
Vijay Nallawala’s session that followed was about using WordPress for a social cause. Mental illness is a subject that’s rarely spoken about. People do not understand it or think that it does not need actual treatment. Vijay shared his own experience, and blogging has helped him get help, and get people talking about this, and accepting it.
Naoko Takano- a globalizer at Automattic- spoke about WordPress’ popularity in Japan. The power of translating WordPress to a local language can increase it’s reach and benefit a larger community.
Post lunch, Michael Eisenwasser- founder of BuddyBoss- spoke about the BuddyPress ecosystem, and Sakin Shrestha took on the topic of theme development for newbies.
Darshan Sawardekar’s session on URLs that followed was interested by web development colleagues. He explained how URLs should be self explanatory comparing the URL Apple uses to those used by the Indian Railways :-p
A simple change, like constructing the right URL can improve SEO and grow your business. Something to think about isn’t it?!
Snacks were in order. I guess no event in Mumbai is complete without Mumbai’s all famous- go to comfort food- every Mumbaikar’s favorite burger- the Vada Pav!! :-p
We spent time reflecting on the sessions and before we knew it, it was time for the final talk.
Mahangu– the rockstar- ended WordCamp Mumbai 2016 on a high note. He spoke on a topic most Mumbaikars or rather Indians are familiar with- ‘Jugaad‘. :-p Talking about how non-technical people could contribute to WordPress development.
— Saurabh Shukla (@actual_saurabh) March 13, 2016
As a first time WordCamper, my expectations were more than exceeded. All I wanted to do was breathe in the atmosphere, and get to learn from industry thought leaders. But I got a lot more (no I’m not talking about the goody bag :-p ).
I got to connect, make friends, and be part of the community in the true sense. 🙂
Before I sign off, a big shout out to the organizers for doing an exceptional job! See you next WordCamp!!