WordCamp Barcelona 2018 – Our Experience

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After a hectic weekend, we’re more than happy and proud to tell that WordCamp Barcelona was a complete success and attendees seemed to love it!

Organizing a WordCamp

Organizing a WordCamp is not easy. First, there’s some bureaucracy. These events are organized by (local) volunteers from the WordPress community upon WordCamp Central’s approval — if you want to become the organizer of “your own” WordCamp, you need to contribute to the community first and start small, organizing a few meetups and building a local community in your area. But then comes all the hard work itself. Especially if you think about our backgrounds…

Bear in mind none of us are experts in organizing events. Most of us work on software projects and taking us out from our comfort zone doesn’t make things any easier. Finding a venue, talking to swag providers, choosing the right catering, managing sponsors, volunteers and speakers, designing the event image, shirts, website and merchandising… it’s super complicated!

WordCamp Barcelona 2018 had eleven organizers. This might seem a lot, but when you think about the fact that we all have our full-time jobs, deadlines, and so on… you quickly realize that finding some spare time to work on such an event is not easy. It definitely takes a lot of time (usually more than expected) and, contrary to what some might believe, WordCamps are all about team work. And thank God it is!

But enough about the complexities of organizing WordCamps — you already know it’s complicated, right? Let’s talk about the event itself. As you may already know, local WordCamps usually last for two days. One day holds the main event, with several talks about speakers. The other day is focused on contributing to WordPress. Do you want to know how they went in Barcelona? Keep reading!

Contributor Day

One of the first decisions we made for our WordCamp was to open it with the Contributor Day. Other WordCamps hold the Contributor Day in the last day of the event, but David and Antonio thought that it’d be better if the order was reverted (as one can see in WordCamp Europe or even in WordCamp Barcelona 2015), because such a day is more relaxed and it’s easier to meet new people.

Some people thought it was a bad idea to have the Contributor Day on a Friday. After all, people have to work and wouldn’t be able to attend it, right? Well, luckily for us, there were 145 people in Barcelona’s Contributor Day!

The Contributor Day was held at Movistar Centre, in Barcelona’s city center. Javier Casares was the leading organizer of the day, helped by some amazing co-leaders in every table:

  • WordPress Core with Alain Schlesser,
  • Catalan and Spanish Translations with José Conti and Xavi Ivars,
  • Webdesign with Ana Cirujano,
  • Theme design and development with Darío BF and Juanka Díaz,
  • WordPress support with Fernando Tellado, and
  • WordPress community with Pablo Moratinos.

They all did an amazing job and the attendees had a lot to do and learn. Congrats!

The WordCamp

Venue

The WordCamp took place in the historical building of Universitat de Barcelona, built in 1863 by the architect Elías Rogent.

Paranimf Room in the Historical Building of Universitat de Barcelona
Paranimf Room in the Historical Building of Universitat de Barcelona. Image by Barcelona Film Commission.

We visited multiple venues before opting for this one, but this was clearly the best. Again, it’s in the city center (which makes it very convenient) and is a public university with multiple breath-taking spaces. Funny fact: because of its appearance (some say it resembles a church) we had to clearly state to WordCamp Central that the venue was completely secular and belonged to a public institution… And we even had Guttemberg with us!

Can you spot Guttemberg's name? He was among us!
Can you spot Guttemberg’s name? He was among us!

According to most of the attendees I talked to and what we’ve read in social media, the venue was also a complete success!

Attendees

Registration and attendance ratios were also fantastic. WordCamp Barcelona sold 374 tickets and there were 347 attendees. That is, we had a no-show rate smaller than 8%. Pretty cool, huh?

Talks and Speakers

The event started with Joan Artés welcoming everyone. Unfortunately, I was at the registration table at that moment and therefore missed Joan’s opening talk (that’s one of the issues of organizing an event… ).

One of the core components of a WordCamp is its talks and speakers. You have to make sure you choose a diverse, entertaining, and insightful programme so that you attendees have a good time and learn. We opened the call for speakers way before the event and received 127 proposals, a lot of which were just great. After a complicated selection process, the organizers came up with the final programme. The event was divided in two tracks. One track took place in the Paranimf Room and had Joan Boluda as the emcee. The talks there were:

  • Ya he hecho la famosa instalación de cinco minutos, ¿y ahora qué? by Carlos M. Díaz,
  • Crea tu tema-framework y despliega webs en pocos minutos by Darío Balbontín,
  • Tu WordPress es lento, y lo sabes… by Guillermo Tamborero,
  • WordPress Analytics para torpes by Pablo Moratinos,
  • Cómo crear tu estrategia de Email Marketing en 4 pasos by Vanesa Gómez del Río,
  • Chat Chronicles – (not so) usual day of Customer Happiness agent by Marko Nikolic,
  • Algunas herramientas gratuitas y molonas que nos facilitarán la vida en nuestros diseños by Javi Díaz Agudo,
  • SEO para WordPress: Hay vida más allá de Yoast by Estela Franco,
  • ¿Cómo sé si me han hackeado? Ejemplos y contramedidas by Néstor Angulo de Ugarte

The other room, Aula Magna, had Juanka Díaz as emcee and hold the following talks:

  • Gestión avanzada de assets en WordPress by Pablo López,
  • Niveles de escalado para WordPress by Fernando Puente,
  • Creación de cursos online en WordPress. Plugins y mejores prácticas by Julio de la Iglesia Trinidad,
  • Usando Sass y Gulp para el desarrollo de temas en WordPress by Núria Ramoneda,
  • WordPress Multinetwork, el gran desconocido by José Contí,
  • 10 things every developer should know about their database to run WordPress optimally by Otto Kekäläinen,
  • Sobrevivir como desarrollador web by Esther Solà,
  • Variables nativas CSS: front-end con superpoderes by Aleix Martí,

My organizing duties stopped me from attending to most of the talks I wanted to see… but I could see some nonetheless. One I enjoyed was Guillermo Tamborero’s, specially when he run a few tests in real time on questions from the audience. So brave! And, of course, I also loved the fact that Pablo Moratinos mentioned Nelio A/B Testing as the best plugin for running split tests on your website.

The last “talk” of the event wasn’t a talk per se, but a Q&A session. Fernando Tellado and Fernando Puente graciously directed Doctor WordPress, a funny and relaxed session where the attendees were able to ask anything in an informal manner. I honestly think this format worked perfectly! What do you think?

Other Things

These events wouldn’t be possible if there weren’t any sponsors, and so this time we made sure they had the importance they deserve. The sponsors area was placed between the two rooms, making it naturally for any attendee moving from one room to the other or taking a coffee to meet them and talk to them.

We also gave plenty of time between sessions to facilitate networking. The pace of the event was calmed and everyone could enjoy the venue and the company.

Networking, sponsors, and coffee breaks zone.
Networking, sponsors, and coffee breaks zone.

I could go on, and on, and on talking about the event and its ins and outs. But I hope this brief summary has given you an idea of what happened this past weekend in Barcelona and, more importantly, becomes one of the reasons for your coming next year. If you missed it, take a look at the official pictures of the event and stay tuned for the upcoming videos on WordPress TV.

Featured Image by enblancinegre.com.

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Ruth obtained her PhD in Software Engineering at UPC and did a Master of Information Systems at DePaul University (Chicago). She has professional experience in the business world and at the University. Ruth has been University Lecturer at UPC, Vice-Dean for Corporate Relations of the Barcelona School of Informatics, and Associate Lecturer at ESADE. She specializes in software engineering and information systems management. She is also certified in Inboud Marketing.

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