2016 WordCamp London - Photo by Mark Smallman
Pragmatic WordPress Developer Michael Rochester answering questions at WordCamp London 2016. Photo credit: Mark Smallman

On 8th April, the team headed up to the big smoke for WordCamp London 2016. We’re big fans of WordCamp London and have supported it in many different ways since inception. This year, we sponsored the event and sent up a large jar full of blue WordPress logo rock sweets so attendees could get a well-deserved sugar fix whilst brushing up their WordPress knowledge.

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Our rock sweets on the sponsorship swag table at WordCamp London 2016

Many of our team attended the event over the two days of conferences. They saw a range of WordPress-focused talks on business, development and design.

Here’s what the team had to say:

Tom Chute

TomChutewhiteLast year I was the new kid at school visiting my first ever WordCamp in London. Rather than having my lunch money stolen and home-cut hairstyle ridiculed, at this school I was welcomed into the cool kids crowd with open arms. I left buzzing with ideas, which I was instantly able to apply to current projects here at Pragmatic. I had high hopes for this year’s WordCamp London and wasn’t disappointed. London Met was again the host, and the venue, food, drinks and volunteers were all superb and accommodating. Pragmatic are helping organise WordCamp Brighton this summer, so we know the amount of effort that goes into these events. All who were involved in WordCamp London should be proud of running such a fantastic couple of days.

As one of the non-development team here at Pragmatic, I try and attend the community, digital marketing, operational and user focused talks. Here are my favourite bits and key takeaways:

  • You might not need a CSS Framework (Belén Albeza) – while flexbox and the imminent grid display CSS offer many ways to streamline layouts and tackle responsive issues, the nagging issues around compatibility with older browsers was a blocker that won’t go away. If we want to take advantage of these, we need to think about target user requirements – are they likely to be using IE9? After the event, I checked out a couple of options for graceful fallbacks: Chris Coyier’s article on compatibility and Ian Ebden’s article taking it further.
  • How WordPress Changed the Face of Croatian Politics (Emanuel Blagonic)this was my favourite talk of the weekend. I started using WordPress for an environmental campaign site and realised it could be a fantastic tool for engaging a community. That is exactly what Emanuel talked us through, describing his local Government site for the city of Rijeka. I understood all the challenges that Emanuel described, from stakeholder engagement to budget. It was a really candid talk using real figures, which was interesting, entertaining and left me wondering where else can the open source model be a force for good.
  • How to Make your WordPress Website Multilingual (Maciej Pilarski)we run a number of internationalised sites here at Pragmatic, and this was a really interesting talk detailing a load of ways to skin the multi-language cat. I was expecting a definitive ‘this is the best way to do it’, and, although we weren’t treated to that information, we were guided through a range of tools and some key questions to ask at the beginning of a project that will help identify the best approach.
  • The Myth of a Normal Brain: Rewiring conventional thinking and the benefits of embracing Neurodiversity (Leena Haque) – with the most intriguing title of the weekend, this talk was a visual explosion of eye-opening insights into the life of someone with autism. Leena gave a fascinating talk and gave practical ways we can all see differences as positive assets rather than a hindrance. I now have a better understanding of how to make situations less stressful for people with autism, and create a work environment that will enable them to flourish.
  • Top tools for WordPress SEO to use as well as Yoast stuff (Rhys Wynne)this was a big ticket event, and the room was packed. Here’s a list of the tools we were introduced to that work with our old friend Yoast rather than as an alternative (probably wise as the Yoast team were sat at the front in their team hoodies looking ready to intervene!).
    • Screaming Frog site crawler – I thought we could add this to our go-live checklist
    • Majestic – backlink checker
    • SERPLAB – a search rank checker
    • Answer the public – a wonderful wordmap to help users find keywords
    • HARO – help a reporter out. Offer to be a source of information for journalists (even write a blog to respond to their need!) and make sure they give you a backlink
    • Crystak – tells you how to communicate with a person. I thought this was a wind-up, but incredibly (scarily?) this tool tells you exactly how to communicate with someone based on their online activity (ie Tom likes to meet for a drink)
    • Accelerated Mobile Pages Project – AMP for WordPress. Serve content over mobile faster
    • PageFrog
  • Lightning Sessions – both sets of lightning sessions I attended were great, and I think the format works really well. Elliot from Raison’s was surprisingly frank about releasing a product on the Plugin Repository, and Tom Greenwood’s talk on Open source beyond WordPress was a nice followup from Emanuel’s Croatian talk the day before.
  • The Rebirth of the Italian Community (Francesca Marano)after being involved with the Brighton WordPress community, I have taken our buzzing local WordPress scene for granted. It was great to see that there are pioneers all over the world, and all it takes is a few committed people to get the community going. Big takeaway: the Italians loved to talk!

I am looking forward to seeing some of the London crowd by the sea for WordCamp Brighton in July.

Tom Chute at WordCamp London 2016. Photo credit:
Tom Chute at WordCamp London 2016. Photo credit: Ian Stratton

Sean Blakeley

seanwhiteAfter 10 years flying (mostly) solo with WordPress, it was great to finally meet lots of like-minded people – passionate about WordPress and where it’s heading. WordCamp offered a wide variety of talks and discussions from across the community. A standout talk for me was Jason Agnew’s Guilt-free Code – helping developers navigate through the current explosion in web development tools. Mark Wilkinson also gave a good, practical talk on publishing a plugin to the WordPress repo.

As a WordCamp noobie, I had a great time – both the content and social side of things. I’m already looking forward to next year.

Summer Parmenter-Andrews

SummerWhiteBeing my first WordCamp I really wasn’t too sure what to expect. However, from the moment we arrived we were welcomed and prepped for the upcoming events and it was clear it was going to be an exciting and educational experience. It was so refreshing meeting so many friendly and approachable people within the WordPress community. This really made everyone (including me) feel so welcome. Overall, a great experience with many great takeaways.

Romy, Summer and Tom from left to right. Photo credit: Ian Stratton
Romy, Summer and Tom from left to right. Photo credit: Ian Stratton

Tom Still

Tomstill WhiteWordCamp London 2016 was a fantastic blend of great talks, networking and of course the after party!

My key highlights from WordCamp London 2016 were the accessibility and UX talks. Accessibility is an often undervalued, but yet such an important part of working with WordPress. To have two such fantastic talks on the subject was great to see, and very informative for those in the audience.

Similarly, UX is often restricted in thought to just designers. This is wrong, and the talk “UX is for everyone” did a great job in highlighting the importance of UX, and demonstrating that everybody is responsible for it, not just designers.

As ever, it was fantastic to spend time with the team and we all had great fun!

Michael Rochester

MichaelRwhite Being my first WordCamp, I had a lot to look forward to in WordCamp London, and it didn’t let down.

I found the talks I attended to all be extremely informative. It was great to see other, more experienced, developers talk about topics that interested me. The variety offered with three tracks of talks meant that there was always something on, for me, our front-end developers, project managers, and sales team.

Between the talks, I was able to meet a huge variety of developers – from 15-year web veterans to developers new to the scene like me. What struck me was that every person there shared an equal interest, and an equal desire to learn, share, and socialise.

From this experience, I would recommend WordCamp London to anyone interested in WordPress development, and it has made me even more excited to attend WordCamp Europe this Summer.

Michael answering a question at WordCamp London 2016. Photo credit: Ian Stratton
Michael answering a question at WordCamp London 2016. Photo credit: Ian Stratton

Angelo Giovino

AngelowhiteIt was amazing to see so many of the WordPress community, from all over the world, coming to London share their experiences and ideas with each other. Once again, it just confirms what a truly global platform WordPress is and how many wonderfully helpful and inventive people use it.

Our Director David Lockie on the Recruiting for your Business panel.

David’s panel talk:

On the Saturday afternoon, having just flown in from WooConf in Austin, Texas, our Founder & Director David Lockie was part of the Recruiting for your Business Panel where he discussed recruiting for WordPress businesses.

David Lockie speaking on the panel. Photo credit:
David Lockie speaking on the panel. Photo credit: Found Art Photography

David Lockie

_MG_1223 WordCamp London is always a great event and this year was no exception. Even though it was a flying visit, as soon as I walked in the front door, I saw friendly faces and felt the good vibes of the WordPress community. My main task for the day was to appear on the Recruiting for your WordPress business panel towards the end of the day, moderated by the charismatic Ant Miller.

I’ve always tried to make sure that Pragmatic is a team that people want to be a part of, and to stay a part of. All the other panellists were coming from the recruiter perspective – where their agenda is to place people with employers. It was interesting to see the picture they painted of their perspective and to feel a little challenged by some of their views and tactics. I did my best to tell the story from the view of a business that’s looking to hire the best people it can and to make sure they’re as fulfilled and happy as can be.

Hope to see you all at WordCamp Brighton in July.

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We’re currently on the lookout for new talent to join our team! Get in touch if you’d like to learn more.

What were your highlights from WordCamp London?