Wordcamp London 2016: A first timer’s perspective

Mim has written about what it's like to attend WordCamp for the first time. Read on to find out what she took from the experience and whether she'll be attending again.


Last weekend I attended my first WordCamp in London. Although most of the rest of the team have been to many over the years, I always had prior engagements and had been unable to attend. When a tweet from @WordCampLondon appeared in my timeline, I decided this year was the perfect opportunity to attend.

The venue and the volunteers

Attendees relaxing on sofas.
Informal relaxation space. A chance to chat or grab some tea or coffee.

WordCamp London 2016 took place at the London Metropolitan University over three adjacent buildings. This year there was live captioning at the front of each room. Although presumably mainly intended for the hearing impaired, I found the captions genuinely useful to glance at when I couldn’t quite make out what the speaker had said. Food and drink were provided throughout both days, including a plentiful supply of tea and coffee – good for those of us who like our caffeine! I think the helpfulness of the volunteers is also worth mentioning here, who were on hand to give directions and answer any questions.

Schedule of speakers

Alex Denning presenting at WordCamp London.
An interesting talk by Alex Denning on the art of writing a great WordPress tutorial.

Before travelling to London I had checked out the schedule of speakers and knew there were a number of talks that were going to be of interest to me. For those who have never been to a WordCamp and are wondering whether the talks will be of use to you, you will find there are talks for all user levels split over three tracks. Some talks are more technical in nature, whereas others come from more of a business perspective. The benefit of this is that there is something to appeal to everyone in the industry and indeed I met people from many career backgrounds at WordCamp.

stand out talks

Looking back I think there was something to take away from every talk I attended this weekend and hats off to those who gave up their free time to speak. There isn’t time to mention every talk, but I’ve included some notable sessions below:

Sarah Semark
Sarah Semark answering questions at WordCamp London.
Sarah Semark answering questions at the end of her talk.

Sarah is a designer and developer working at Automattic, where she makes themes for WordPress.com.

Sarah’s talk focused on her preference for SVG over icon fonts and how one can make the switch, drawing on examples of tools to use, some handy tips and potential challenges that could be faced. If this is something that may be of interest to you, more info and resources on Sarah’s talk can be found on her website.

Leena Haque

Leena’s talk in the afternoon of day one was entitled ‘The Myth of a Normal Brain.’ Having read an article in Creative Review not long before WordCamp on the topic of embracing neurodiversity, I was looking forward to this particular talk.

Leena works at the BBC, where she heads a project looking into neurodiversity in employment. Leena’s session offered an insightful glance into the life of a lady with autism and the benefits of embracing neurodiversity. Probably one of the standout sessions of the weekend for me.

Sponsors at WordCamp London.
Space downstairs in track A to chat to some of the sponsors.
Tammie Lister

The final talk of day one in track one was given by Tammie Lister. Tammie works at Automattic and comes from a varied background in design, front-end and user experience.

Tammie’s presentation concentrated on the patterns in websites, sharing examples of the BBC website and food blogs. The session explained the benefits of using design pattern libraries to speed up production and enable consistency and user experience. This was an interesting talk and something I intend to read into further.

Ross Wintle

Ross is a freelance web developer, who delivered his talk on the benefits of user experience (UX). As well as this being a funny and informal talk (essential for a post-lunch day two slot!), Ross made some important points on the value and importance of user experience. One such question Ross asked, was how users navigate to the home page when using a website? Do people know to click the company logo to return to the homepage? The answers he received were surprisingly varied, and highlighted a discussion I had recently had with one of our PMs here at icit, on whether websites should include a ‘home’ link in the main navigation.

This talk was also a great prelude to the NUX Camp (Northern User Experience) myself and a few other members of the team will be attending later this month.

Will I be going back?

Waiting for the closing remarks in the main room.
Waiting for the closing remarks.

The answer is yes. Before I attended WordCamp I was not quite sure what to expect from the weekend. It’s fair to say WordCamp exceeded my expectations. The talks were varied and interesting, prompting questions and further investigation. The weekend was a great opportunity to meet with and talk to other people in the industry from different backgrounds and share experiences.

What were your experiences of attending WordCamp London 2016? Feel free to let me know in the comments. And thanks WordCamp London 2016 for a great event!


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