Reading Time: 5 minutes

On 17th August, our home town of Brighton welcomed over 250 WordPress fanatics to its third WordCamp Brighton. Our very own Laura Nelson was the lead organiser and deserves a massive big up for running what appeared to be a very smooth event. This was the first year in a new venue, the Clarendon Centre, which allowed the WordCamp space to include workshops as well as the traditional main auditorium and social areas. Plenty of Pragmatists took part in either volunteering, organising or hosting workshops. Here are their takeaways and thoughts:

Tom Chute – People Operations Director

Tom ChuteI was looking after our fantastic sponsors this year. They not only kindly support financially, but also play a part in making the event go with a bang – I’m looking at you Keith from 34SP – some truly spectacular dancing at the after party!

Key takeaway: how to create more value for sponsors

I had some really interesting conversations about how we can take this WordCamp and others to the next level in terms of offering great value for both attendees and sponsors. We discussed creating more opportunities for sponsors to get in front of people and provide content that was linked to their products or services. Organisers would have to be careful about over-selling, but as a sponsor myself, I think there’s an opportunity to create value for attendees while also demonstrating what it is like to work with you or your product.

I think that with so many WordCamps popping up, it’s important to understand what sponsors want to get out of attending, and helping them achieve that.

Adam Lee – WordPress Developer

Adam LeeI attended the Saturday, spending the morning at the innovative and informative Gatsby & WordPress API workshop. I spent the afternoon manning the Pragmatic stand and networking whilst eating what was left of the cakes. The panel on scalability and growth and closing remarks were an interesting end to the event – it was especially exciting to hear from 4 women who had founded their own WordPress-based businesses to great success. After that I could mostly be found at the glitter table in Patterns being aggressively adorned by other WordCampers…

Key takeaway: Using the WordPress API & Gatsby.js to build a JAMstack website

This workshop with Louise Towler from Indigo Tree was easy to follow and the speakers demonstrated a great deal of expertise in using these technologies to create a static HTML site using React, Gatsby and the WordPress API. I got a version of their site working on my machine, a fantastic takeaway to unpick later and potentially reuse in the future. They even offered to open source a lot of the work they had done on their themes.

David Godleman – WordPress Developer

David GodlemanThe event had a relaxed and open vibe, with excellent management and amazing food and coffee – which is why there is so much good feedback about this WordCamp in particular. These are the things that matter most to delegates at any conference anywhere!

I found the ‘How I use WordPress to support the mental health of 11,653 children’ talk from Neil Gilmour particularly interesting and the speaker’s delivery to be very professional so I’ll summarise this talk:

Background:
ACE study – Adverse Childhood Experiences – Original study a multidisciplinary approach, involving initially 16k participants. ACE scores are calculated based on childhood trauma experiences and indicate strong correlations to problems in adulthood.

Childhood experiences, both positive and negative, have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration, and lifelong health and opportunity. As such, early experiences are an important public health issue. Much of the foundational research in this area has been referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

Project:
The goal of the project is to tackle this at the childhood level and provide a web app to administer the ACE questionnaires to children. Data from these could then be used to identify children in ‘at risk’ categories and get them mental health support before the problems develop into adulthood. This involved selling subscriptions/use of the app to schools and children services nationally. At the beginning of the project the monetary value was on the app was forecast at £660k.

Personally I thought that while this was an enterprising idea and offered promising research contributions in the field, there were big concerns for me around data protection and confidentiality as well as around the medical definition of ‘capacity’ of children and consent more generally. Ethical arguments would be raised in opposition to the lack of capacity a child, through immaturity and propensity to coercion. I am not sure this level of psychological profiling with children is valid, especially children who are facing trauma in any of its forms, and the associated parental consent.

I raised the concern around ‘consent’ more generally and the speaker stated this was a big problem they are trying to solve.

Overall a super interesting project which the speaker was very generous to share with obvious honesty around the challenges involved.

Shah Qureshi – Tech Lead

Shah QureshiI attended the WordCamp on the Saturday. As always I found myself in a wonderfully relaxed and inclusive environment, it’s good to be amongst my peers sharing knowledge and experiences. I attended 2 workshops on the Saturday:

Gutenberg Blocks for Bloggers workshop with Mika Epstein

I enjoyed this workshop and felt I came out of it with some new ideas. The workshop centered around workflow with the new Gutenberg blocks. Even though it was less technical I found it very rewarding and learnt a lot about how I think about data and reusability.

Using the REST API for WordPRess-driven Apps workshop with Sean Blakeley & Alain Schlesser

Absolutely my favourite part of the day. The workshop was very well thought through and managed. Within minutes we had created new custom endpoints in the REST API for custom post types (CPT’s) we had created. These endpoints were then used to power a mobile app. It all worked very well !!!

I haven’t used REST API since it’s been rolled into WordPress core so it was nice to see the new functionality available to register CPT’s on REST and really rewarding to see the data come through to the app. Great work Sean Blakeley, Alain Schlesser, Luca Ricci, and Nic Fusciardi.

Luca Ricci – WordPress Developer

Luca RicciOn Friday morning I attended the Building applications in WP using an MVC framework” workshop by Hazlitt Eastman which showed us how to build MVC application with WordPress and ProdPress, a framework built by Elliot Taylor and him. I think it is a great way to start writing more modular and robust code in WordPress.

Then after a very good vegan lunch (I’m a meat lover and I have to admit that the food was delicious) I spent the rest of the day networking and following a few talks. One of them being Component and style guide driven development or WordPress themes for developers by Oscar Duignan which was amazing and it reminded me how style guides can make our job easier both for devs and designers.

On Saturday morning I spent some time at our sponsor stand and then went to the Using the WordPress API & Gatsby.js to build a JAMstack website by Louise Towler, it was great to see how other agencies are using WordPress as a headless CMS to build static websites even if it felt more like a talk than a workshop. In the afternoon, Nic and I offered our help to Alain & Sean on their workshop “Using the REST API for WordPress-driven Apps” although the attendees were very well prepared and our help wasn’t needed.

Superb organisation and high-level talks made this WordCamp probably one of the best I’ve been to. A huge big up to the organisers.

Tom Doidge – Web Designer

Tom DoidgeI spent the first half of the day on our sponsor stand chatting and networking with all the friendly WordCampers. The event was relaxed and laid back, food was great, and the talks which I managed to see were all of a really high standard.

Key takeaway: Colour on the web: colour theory, usability and accessibility

Piccia Neri’s was a guide to using colour in the right way on the web. She briefly dipped into the history of the colour wheel and touched upon colour psychology and theory. Colour is an essential design element and it’s not always something that’s considered enough or tested, especially when it comes to accessibility. A great talk, which has changed the way I make my colour choices.

Tommy Ferry – WordPress Developer

Tommy FerryAt this year’s WordCamp I was lucky enough to be part of the volunteer team which was a great way to give back to the community as I’ve attended several WordCamps all across the UK.

On both days I was signing attendees in as they arrived and generally floated around trying to be as helpful as possible. Big shout outs go to Pragmatic’s Marketing Manager Laura Nelson who went above and beyond to make this the best WordCamp Brighton yet, and also Neil Hart who organised all the volunteers; briefing us all on what to do, where we needed to be, and also making sure everyone got the chance to attend a few of the talks (where possible) over the weekend.

I also helped co-run the Core Contribution team on the Sunday with my fellow Pragmatician Edd Hurst, which saw several core tickets get resolved, and the beginnings of a development setup checklist was created to help new contributors get started more quickly.

Key takeaway: How much work goes into a successful WordCamp(!)

So it turns out that volunteers and organisers put in an incredible amount of effort to make sure the WordCamp runs smoothly! Every year WordCamp volunteers work with the organisers to set up and decorate the conference space, welcome attendees, herd stray speakers to the right places on time, and do their very best to help anyone with a question or a problem. WordCamps are run by the community, for the community, and it’s great to see the dedication that goes into it!

Nic Fusciardi – WordPress Developer

Nic FusciardiThis years WordCamp Brighton was definitely one of my favourites. It was well organised and had a good diversity in the talks and workshops.

‘Building applications in WP using an MVC framework’ by Hazlitt Eastman, demonstrated and taught the use of an MVC framework that isn’t commonly seen in WordPress development. It was well put together and easy to follow from the basics and even up to more advanced methodologies.

Sean Blakely and Alain Schlesser’s workshop also took a step in the direction of pushing WordPress’ functionality by taking advantage of the built in REST api to power an app powered by the Ionic framework.

The venue was in a great location and the staff were smiling and helpful. There was very little to fault this year and I look forward to WCBTN 2019!