WordCamp Cologne 2017: For us, this meant three days of full throttle in all areas that WordPress has to offer, many new insights and the feeling of having arrived in a certain way.
In 2015, when Raidboxes was not even a company of its own and was still in its infancy, we scraped together all the euros we were still earning from our agency business at the time and sponsored WordCamp in Cologne for the first time.
WordCamp Cologne - The ultimate inspiration for your business
Even then we realised how important the community is for our product and that WordPress is much more than just a CMS. Two months after countless people asked us for plugin and theme updates at our booth, our fully-managedplan was born. Today, it even makes us unique in the world and gives our customers the ultimate freedom to create something great in their field. Without the many requests at our first WordCamp, we might never have introduced this feature.
The example shows that only small impulses can bring about great things at WordCamps. WordCamp Cologne 2017 was no exception, but far exceeded our expectations. Also thanks to a great organizational team, where the experience was clearly noticeable in the processes and session design.
WordCamp Cologne: Great location for a great CMS
While the first WordCamp Cologne 2015 took place in the lecture halls of an old university building in Cologne, the Contributor Day on Friday on the premises of Microsoft and on the weekend on the premises of a University of Design & Communication was a perfect choice of location. The premises this time were bright, modern, well-structured - just right for a CMS with this significance 😉 A big thank you to Microsoft for sponsoring, which is not a matter of course! This shows that a change is also underway at the "old" corporation.
The WordCamp Cologne sessions in BarCamp style
WordCamp Cologne 2015 was still in the classic style. Speakers are recruited, evaluated, selected and briefed in an elaborate procedure that can take months. WordCamp Cologne 2017, on the other hand, was BarCamp-style.
BarCamp as an innovative session organization
While Jan and Tobias from the Raidboxes team had already become familiar with this type of session planning at WordCamp Cologne 2016, I was simply thrilled to experience this concept live for the first time at this year's WordCamp Cologne. The organization is as follows:
- Session short presentations of the potential speakers
- Show of hands in the large plenary on whether there is interest in a topic
- Distribution of the sessions across the venues and time blocks
The horror scenario for the organisers: too few speakers and sessions remain empty. What happened instead amazed me greatly. In a short time, a large crowd of potential speakers formed, so that my talk even had to be postponed until Sunday.
Productivity par excellence in session organization
A process that can take months was completely organised in 45 minutes and 19 sessions were planned. For me as a productivity lover, gigantic! The short presentations at the beginning also meant that the content of the sessions became much clearer. With a total of four slots, there was plenty of choice. So much so that some participants considered the agony of choice to be the biggest drawback 😉 You can get a thematic impression of the sessions here here.
Something for everyone in a total of almost 40 sessions
Those who, like me, thought that the speaker powder was now shot, were taught better on Sunday. Once again, 20 great sessions were planned in various formats, such as discussions, workshops, live demos, storytelling and lectures. From dev processes, to data protection, to the latest web trends. The spectrum between beginners and advanced was broadly mixed and techies also got their money's worth, e.g. with our Local-Dev Kit Lecture 😉
Two notes towards perfect organization
What we believe should become standard is the following:
- Thematic prioritisation of slots after all sessions have been pinned to the wall. This avoids two deployment topics taking place at the same time. It is also possible to divide into design, marketing and development. This was very good at WordCamp Cologne 2015.
- Each speaker should complement the level of their presentation: Beginner, Medium and Advanced. This makes it easier to choose the right lecture for you.
WordCamp Cologne: The Contributor Day
What really works extremely well in Germany is the Contributor Day. To be honest, this was the first time we took part. Whereas in Spain there is only a one-hour introduction to possible engagement, in Germany they work hard from 10 am to 5 pm. Anyone who thought, like me, that you had to master programming to get involved, is far from it..
Not only techies can take WordPress further
There are numerous topics where not only developers, but also designers, marketing people or organizational talents can participate. You can find work results and post-session reports here. From editing WordPress.tv to translating plugins and themes to core-commitment, the spectrum is wide.
Our tip for the Contributor Start
Just get involved in WordPress projects that are important to you. Do you have a plugin that you use a lot with your clients and it's in English? Then help with the translation into German. Or you want to put your own themeor plugininto the WordPress.org repository? Then have it controlled by the theme reviews. That way, both you and the community benefit.
The important thing: "What goes around, comes around". After all, you are already benefiting from the community. The more people get involved, the more ingenious WordPress becomes over time.
WordCamp Cologne: The WordPress Swag!
It is apparently due to the commitment of Marc Nilius that WordCamp Cologne 2017 was very well equipped with Swag. If you don't know Swag, you should watch this video watch this video. It probably has nothing to do with it, but it's funny 🙂 With WordPress, it's the giveaways you get e.g. at a WordCamp or in the official WP-Swag-Store can buy.
Specifically, there were Kölsch glasses with WordCamp imprints, a WordCamp scarf, Wapuus in Cologne style and a premiere: Carole, as a very dedicated organiser, received her own Wapuu with a purple hat and dog as her trademark. This shows: Outstanding commitment is also rewarded in an outstanding way 😉
WordCamp Cologne: A little more at home
So what is our conclusion for this WordCamp? We have again taken away a huge amount of value for ourselves. For example, the framework session will greatly enrich our template feature, the session on Webtrends has fuelled the internal discussion about our optimal infrastructure and the session on Mental Health has led us to introduce a holacracy role for "Mental Health". Plus lots of valuable contacts and information about the hosting industry that we can incorporate into our strategy.
It's worth taking the plunge
Almost most importantly, after this WordCamp we feel a little more at home. If you are attending a WordCamp for the first time, you may feel a bit left out as a newcomer. This is not because the people there don't want to have contact with you, but rather because there is already a strong community among the community. This is precisely why we advocate a round of introductions with 250 people, as at this WordCamp. This could also be divided into groups, but the basic principle of the introduction is indispensable.
WordCamp Retreat in Soltau as a great entry opportunity- Tickets from 26.11.18!
Another great opportunity to join the community is the WordCamp Retreat in Soltau in May 2018. This event is a world premiere! It combines free time and activities with lots of inspiration and knowledge in a unique location far away from the stress of everyday life. This is one of the reasons why we spontaneously decided at the WordCamp in Cologne to sponsor the retreat in Soltau with Gold.
For the future, we want to play an even more active role in the community and bring the first WordCamp to Münster or Osnabrück. Spain shows that there can be eight(!) very well organised WordCamps within a year with at least 100 participants. Germany can take a leaf out of the book here with greater consistency, as the planning effort is reduced immensely.
WordCamp Cologne: More impressions from the community
A detailed video report is available from Gerrit and Michael, who were at the WordCamp.
The WordCamp was also taken up in the form of podcasts. You can find Simon Kraft's contribution here.
WordCamp Cologne: Sessions on WordPress.tv
Last but not least, all session videos will be available on WordPress.tv. The sessions of WordCamp Cologne will probably be available here quite soon. As soon as they are online, you will hear about it via our WP-Newsletter or Twitter and Co. A thematic overview of all sessions can be found here. The slides of our presentations are already available under the following links: holacracy, advanced performance measurement and Local Dev Kit.