WordUp Glasgow 2012

Automattician Dan Roundhill

Saturday 4 February saw WPScotland’s second one day WordPress conference take place in Glasgow – the first of it’s kind in the city. I learned more in a day than I have in the last year, which is why I love these events so much. However, rather than document all the happenings of the day (as this has been done brilliantly elsewhere) I thought I’d try and do a “Ten Thoughts” blog, as inspired by a few of the guys who were at UKGovCamp earlier this year. I learned just as much about organising events as I did about WordPress, so this is a better way of portraying what I took away from the day. Unfortunately I can only convey eight thoughts coherently, so here goes!

1. We need to find new ways of marketing WPScotland.

While the WordPress community in Scotland has been growing (or at least we’re reaching more and more people) there’s always more we can do. Would running WordUps for particular user groups be effective, or is it better to have everyone in the same room, regardless of knowledge and experience so they can learn more from each other?

2. I wonder why so many people buy tickets then don’t turn up.

I don’t want to start on a negative, but I was pretty disappointed that we had sold 50 tickets but only just over 30 people came along on the day. I’d like to get to the bottom of it, even if only to see if it’s our fault as organisers that almost 40% of people who sign up don’t come along on the day. Obviously there’s no requirement to come along, I’m searching more for peace of mind.

3. There’s a huge amount of support out there for what we’re doing – harness it!

I was overwhelmed by the number of people who thanked us for running the event and offered their help. It’s time to get more people involved in running WordUps, meetups and generally helping to grow the community. We’re already getting started on this.

4. We all need to pay close attention to the EU Cookie Directive.

Heather Burns’ presentation was one of the most informative I’ve seen since leaving uni. There is so much we need to learn to make sure that we’re compliant it’s unreal. Must start doing more research and put the lessons we learned from Heather into practise.

5. Original artwork can make interesting websites.

Jim Convey showed us some really cool hand-drawn and painted websites. With my background in usability I generally think “arty” web designs are just self indulgent nonsense that make life harder for the user, but Jim’s examples changed my mind. They looked awesome and in many ways the art helped draw the user into the site, rather than confusing them.

6. I’m still two minds about mobile web design

I’m of the opinion that unless a website offers content or functionality that would be useful on a smartphone or tablet then it should be designed purely for desktop/laptop screens. This is mainly because I have no issue with zooming and scrolling around full sized websites on my phone, but also because I’m uncomfortable with designers telling users what’s best for them. On the other hand, I’m aware that more and more people are using smartphones/tablets as their primary browsing media, and perhaps I should be doing more to make sure they are catered for.

Kevinjohn Gallagher led a discussion about why responsive web design is irresponsible, and I pretty much agree. It’d be nice if there could be some sort of consensus in the community as to the best approach to take when balancing the needs of desktop users and mobile users.

7. There are alternatives to WordPress.

Controversial. Kimb Jones gave a great explanation of why WordPress is the most popular open source content management system, but it took an unexpected turn when he started showing us lots of other CMS, many of which I’d never come across before. One in particular stuck in my mind – Unify – because it offered true WYSIWYG editing and was really lightweight. It’d be ideal for small sites where the content is displayed in largely static pages. Thankfully, everyone seemed to enjoy looking at others, so while we’re all gathered to promote and support each other in using WordPress it’s great to see that we’re all open minded about other options. It’s pretty refreshing to see after some recent unsavoury episodes in the WordPress community.

8. The quickfire “show us how you did that” session was a good format.

In Edinburgh I felt that the show and tell session felt a bit too like the rest of the day, and didn’t really break the rhythm. This time however, John Adams ran a really slick show, cutting down each slot to ten minutes and keeping things moving along nicely. It might be good to split it up next time and have it at different times of the day to try and keep things fresh all day long.

WordUp Glasgow 2012 was a terrific success, and it really reinforced my belief in the community in Scotland. We gained some important feedback and learned from each other – what more can you ask for!?