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Wrap Up of WordCamp Orlando 2016

This weekend was the WordCamp that almost wasn’t. Due to a recent storm Hurricane Matthew that brushed all along the east coast of Florida that not only caused moderate damage to coastal property but cancelled many events and conferences that only happen once a year here. So a special shout-out goes to Lisa Melegari and the rest of WordPress Orlando Team for being nimble and dedicated to get this conference rescheduled with a pretty quick turnaround and still keep the same venue, sponsors, and amenities.

Some quick highlights of the weekend for us first that our own resident Social Media Marketing Strategist Nicole Perpillant did a talk on Facebook Integrations. This was a great talk for small businesses and entrepreneurs looking to use social media ads in spaces like Facebook and Instagram and ways to hone in on your target market and audience.

This year’s theme was on Lego’s and it was awesome. Probably brought out the kid in all of us. Thankfully there weren’t too many toys out for give-a-ways because I know most of us would have been building and playing instead of networking and learning. Both days were filled with speakers, talks, and panels anywhere from How to install WordPress, to Security best practices, Child Themes, and PHP Functionality. You can see the full schedule along with the speaker talks and information at this link.

While I will be posting the photos we took while on site for the weekend soon, know that it was a pleasure to talk and meet with so many new people. One of the things that is the same with each different WordCamp that we attend is the chance of meeting people who actually aren’t from your local area.

One of the biggest take-aways for me will actually be better explained in a coming blog post about your website being “Software”. There was a Panel Discussion and this was mentioned by one of the speakers Karena Kreger when she referenced WordPress as a software and it really resonated with me because while I know that it is, I don’t treat it like that. Let me explain; to me WordPress is a CMS (Content Management System) and kind of ecosystem. Being that it’s a hub that has extensions of functionality driven by other pieces to make a website work in a way intended by a developer for the end-user experience. Ok before I lose you, let me explain. See in the tech-bubble that most of us designers and developers live in, we understand how to WordPress lives in the sense of what makes it work, the vulnerabilities that it can be susceptible to, and how fragile it can be to core editing. But our clients and customers and users don’t know or understand all of that. In my mind I created a metaphor to best explain this; if you were to explain to a client of whom you are developing or created a WordPress website for, you’d have to tell them it is like having Windows 10 and that in order to keep it working well – there will need to be periodic updates. And along with those updates there will also need to be safety and security measures (and additional software) in place to keep “your software” working well. If ignored you can start to notice decreased performance among many other things.

Some of the best speakers like Josh Pollack, Scott Mann, Jeff Noel, and Elizabeth Pampalone (to name just a few) did great with metaphors. They were able to take what they’ve experienced and word it in a way that we could consume and reflect on. Like any good conference you should never walk away without your head filled with ideas, have some solutions to problems you’ve been dealing with, or a sense of empowerment that you too can be a hero like these presenters.

I look forward to reading other blog posts of other people’s experience with WordCamp Orlando in the coming days and weeks. And I’ll also see about accepting the challenge to attend WordCamp US in Philadelphia PA on December 2nd.