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Our Experience at WordCamp Europe 2021

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For the second consecutive year, WordCamp Europe could not be a face-to-face event. Even so, and thanks to the great effort of its organizing team, we were able to enjoy WordCamp Europe 2021 online.

Last year, as we were looking forward to visit Porto, I signed up to give a talk about A/B testing and, as you know, we had no choice but to hold the event online. Still, if you want to learn more about A/B testing, you can watch the video of my talk. But this year, since we are at full capacity, our participation has been only as online attendees. Still, we missed seeing all our friends from the WordPress community, repeating our Berlin experience and we are looking forward to seeing a lot of friends next year in Porto.

What’s New in Content and Format

This year, after last year’s experience and being clear that it would be online again, we have seen that the format and type of talks have radically changed. If at the last in-person WordCamp Europe in Berlin we had 3 tracks and 3 workshops in parallel, and last year we moved to 2 presentation tracks, this year we had 2 tracks: one of presentations and interviews and another in which there were mainly Workshops. And the novelty is that in total there were 10 long presentations, 9 short ones, 16 interviews to WordCamp sponsors (super-admin and admin), 7 Workshops, and 2 discussion panels. That is, the number of presentations has been reduced a lot and the main novelty has been to incorporate this great set of interviews with the sponsors in which they share their contribution to WordPress.

Another novelty of this edition was the platform used, Hubilo, very easy and intuitive to connect to the sessions, chat, and ask questions. And if you had not been able to register, you could also watch the sessions live on YouTube.

Some Presentations of the Event

To get things off to a lively start, the WCEU began with a warm welcome from José Ramón Padrón and Lesley Molecke, whom we have had the pleasure of seeing during several interviews and in the moderation of track 1 for a large part of the event.

Of the various talks I listened to, I will discuss some of the ones that I particularly liked (I have probably missed many that are also very good and I hope to see them later on).

Client Management: Transition From a Vendor to a Consultant, by Mario Peshev

Mario Peshev is a business consultant expert in business strategy with extensive experience in entrepreneurship, marketing, and WordPress (Core contributor). In his short talk, Client Management: Transition From a Vendor to a Consultant, he explained the basic differences between being a vendor and a consultant and how you should become a consultant to sell. I think he just missed to add the video of Winston Wolf 😉.

Mario uses a quote from Jay Baer to emphasize where the key to business growth lies:

The gap between what’s expected and what you deliver is where the magic happens, in business and in life.

Jay Baer, founder of Convince and Convert

According to Mario Peshev, it is not about having a product ready to sell, but about adopting a consultant’s vision to establish the rules that will define your relationship with your customers. Focus on solving your customers’ problems and explaining what value (ROI) your product brings them (forget about technical functionalities and generic marketing services). Adjust the price of your product based on the value provided, not on time and resources spent. Forget about those customers who want a lot of custom-made things as they will waste too much of your time. Empower your capabilities, never limit the scope of your project to the initial requirements and grow with your best customers by understanding their needs.

Conversation with Marieke van de Rakt of Yoast

Marieke van de Rackt, CEO of Yoast, has had the privilege of being the first online interviewee at a European WordCamp. All the interviews with WCEU Super Admin and Admin sponsors have had more or less similar questions: what is their contribution to the community, why do they do it, what does it bring them, what do they value most from their participation in the WordCamps… The interview with Marieke was very nice and she highlighted that she loves meeting people at WordCamp, especially customers who are delighted with their product. On a day-to-day basis, contact with customers is usually about resolving an issue, so meeting people who comment on other positive aspects of your product is particularly motivating. I admit that although I had not reflected on this aspect, surely some of the best memories I have of the last WordCamp, apart from the amazing party, are precisely some conversations with customers who congratulated us on our work.

10 Ice-breakers and Energizers for Online Events with Taco Verdonschot and Angela Jin

On track 2, Taco Verdonschot, community manager of Yoast and Angela Jin, community organizer of Automattic, gave us a very funny talk in which they discussed different tricks or questions that you can ask to make online meetings and events much more lively. It was quite improvised and the funniest part was the different answers that they were giving themselves to the questions. Too bad that in this talk there were quite a few problems with the connection and at some points, it could not have the pace that the two speakers would have liked.

How to Start Designing for WordPress, by Javier Arce

If you like design and would be interested in collaborating in WordPress design, Javier Arce, Automattic designer who is part of the WordPress.org Design team, has given us a very practical master class and, at the same time, with enough detail so you know what process to follow in order to contribute to the WordPress design team.

The first thing he has made clear in his workshop is that you don’t have to be a professional designer to contribute to this group. There are many types of design-related tasks that you can participate in as well. That said, if what you want do is to carry out design tasks with some idea that you have in mind, start by finding out if your idea makes sense. To do this, he has explained the different communication channels used in the team (Github, Slack, Zoom, make.wordpress.org/design), how to create an account in each of them, and how the Design Library of components and Figma work so you can contribute to the different design components.

Effective Tips to Establishing and Mantaining Successful Partnership, by Radost Dacheva

Radost Dacheva from SiteGround gave a short talk about partnerships and the different stages that make up a cooperation project with other partners. These are: prepare, outreach, negotiate, implement, and nurture.

The preparation consists, first, of identifying and getting to know your potential partners as much as possible (who are their customers?, what do they sell?, can I contact their customers?, details about their services and products). This knowledge is the basis for creating a good relationship. Next, do this same task on yourself and give the potential partner a short presentation about yourself so that they can easily get to know you without having to spend time searching for information.

The next step, when you contact the potential partner is the importance of getting to the point, showing the value it will bring to their customers, the benefits of the relationship, and, above all, figures and success stories. When you enter the negotiation phase, even if you have established objectives, be flexible, make sure to be nice to your interlocutor even if he or she is not who you expected. Do not take the negotiation personally as the world does not end if you do not reach an agreement.

In the implementation and subsequent nurturing phases of the relationship, don’t just deliver what you promised. Go further and surprise them. And if there is a problem, be honest and manage expectations well. Nurture the relationship and never forget to maintain regular communication to make the relationship works.

Conversation between Matías Ventura and Matt Mullenweg

WCEU 2021 has ended with two conversations with Matt Mullenweg. The first with Matías Ventura, engineer at Automattic and lead architect of the Gutenberg project, and the second with Brian Krogsgard, editor of Post Status, a news and information website for WordPress professionals.

Matías and Matt have told us about the construction of Gutenberg (which is about 5 years old, now). First, after a brief presentation, they showed us a video about what’s new with the latest version of the block editor:

  • The block design mode allows you to view the different containers of each block, move images between containers and crop images in the editor itself.
  • You can also add text to an image, converting the image block into a cover block automatically.
  • Many improvements have been made to the process of selecting, moving, dragging, and pasting blocks.
  • About transformations, now you can transform, for example, three paragraphs into three columns. And also, before making any transformation, you can preview the change that is going to be made.
  • More functionalities have been added to the cover block, such as directly dragging the image and you can superimpose images creating much more impressive designs.
  • You can modify the images by displaying them in duo-tones.
  • Different navigation customization options.
  • Pattern design is integrated into the block editor.
  • It incorporates an index, to the left of the editor, of the structure of blocks that make up your page or post.
  • And finally, you can also make global style modifications from the page editor.

Matías has remarked that patterns are increasingly gaining strength in the creation of much more creative designs. With patterns, we are encountering a very powerful block editor to create complex designs. I encourage you to especially see the part of questions that the audience asks and the answers.

Finally, the conversation between Brian and Matt became more focused on commenting and reflecting on the pros and cons of the balance between having Automattic’s private company and the free software community, WordPress.org.

We Are Left With…

WordCamp Europe 2021 has been totally different from what we have seen so far. Last year a face-to-face event was planned, the speakers had been confirmed and the pandemic forced an online event to be held, trying to mimic the face-to-face event as much as possible. We saw that having so many online talks for half an hour ended up being quite heavy.

This year, however, knowing that it would be online, a totally different format has been proposed: shorter presentations, entertaining conversations with sponsors, and practical workshops to learn. I think that WCEU 2021 has been a success on the part of the organizing team. Congratulations! This WordCamp Europe has served to see our faces a bit, keep in touch and make us all look forward to seeing each other in Porto next year.

Featured image: screenshot of conversation with Matt Mullenweg in WCEU 2021.

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