WordCamp Phoenix 2011 – A Developers Take

WordCamp Phoenix was amazing. The event was huge and well organized, thanks to Amanda Blum and Chuck Reynolds. I didn’t experience the event like most people, but here’s my take on it.

Design/Developer Speed Meet

Thursday there was a brand new event. Basically, it applied the speed dating concept to connecting clients with designers/developers. It was held at Co+Hoots and went pretty well. Designers and developers were separated based on whether they usually worked on projects over or under $3000, and the hirers were divided up likewise. Chairs were positioned in lines facing one another, with developers/designers on one side and potential clients on the other. Every five minutes the designers/developers moved one seat left. All in all I thought it went quite well. There were several problems, but only one could really be fixed. The issues I had:

  1. Five minutes is really short
    • This was actually someone I heard a lot of people saying, but this is the whole point of the event. My recommendation is just to show up early and stay late. Use the time before and after to augment your five minute segments.
  2. People talk big
    • There were people that weren’t truthful about their budgets. I’m assuming (although I wasn’t hiring so I don’t know for sure) there were developers that misrepresented their usual project size as well. There’s not a lot you can do about this (at least no that I can think of). People lie. Still, it didn’t seem like an excessive percentage of the people. Most seemed pretty legitimate.
  3. Loud music isn’t helpful
    • I know that the music was supposed to help break the ice and keep things upbeat, but unfortunately it made it nearly impossible to communicate well. There is already a lot of noise just from all the voices going at once, so adding the music made it extra difficult. To be fair, I happened to be on the side of the room with the speakers (this wasn’t by choice, it’s where I was supposed to be), but less music would be better.
  4. Friday Free Classes

    There were several class options. I dropped in on the class Boone Gorges was teaching and it looked like things were going well, but I was only there for about two minutes. However, I spent the first half of the day at the Intro to WordPress for Beginners class taught by Shayne Sanderson. I had several friends local to Phoenix, who would consider themselves beginners, that attended the class as well. The classes were quite long (both the teachers that I talked to were concerned about that), but the most difficult thing seemed to be that the audience was so diverse. For example, even though my friends all considered themselves to be beginners, they seemed to be more advanced than the majority of the people there. When we went to lunch they were saying that they really hadn’t got anything out of the class up to that point and were worried that unless the pace drastically changed they wouldn’t. The solution seemed simple. We went back to the hotel lobby and I have a mini-class. It seemed to work out quite well.

    I do want to stress that there was nothing wrong with the class. Shayne was doing a great job, and most of the people in the class seemed to be learning a ton. Maybe next time we could list things you can expect to learn from the class, so people can make sure it’s something that would work well for them.

    Pub Crawl

    Friday night there was a pub crawl. The idea was great, but the location was a bummer. My wife and I had a blast hanging out with Andrew Nacin, Daryl Koopersmith, Matt Martz, Aaron Jorbin, and Pete Mall. The only bummer was that we ended up at a bar that was about 30 minutes away from the hotel, where everyone else was. It ended up spitting the group in two, which was a bummer.

    The Main Event

    I was at the Chandler Center for the Arts at 6am to help set up. All the volunteers were absolutely amazing. There was a lot to do in order to make this event happen, and everyone did it with smiles on their faces (once they woke up completely). Chairs were moved, equipment set up, food prepared, coffee made, check-in organized, etc.

    Once check-in started, I started my main job for the day, which was running the genius bar. The genius bar actually went REALLY well. We had enough geniuses to go around, so even though we helped around 60-80 people, only 3 people ever had to wait for a genius! The geniuses answered questions about everything from setting up your first WordPress site, to Shopp specific questions, to CSS, to traffic building.

    Photo Booth at WordCamp Phoenix After Party

    Photo Booth at WordCamp Phoenix After Party - Notice the handcuffs hanging over Chelsea's name badge?

    JJJ Handcuffed at WordCamp Phoenix After Party

    Next time JJJ will watch out for Sally...she handcuffed him to the tree, then made him do shots from the ice luge to get out!

    The After Party

    You really have to hand it to Amanda and Chuck. Not only did they pull off a truly great after party, but it was held at the Chandler City Hall! There was plenty of alcohol and food, thanks to Four Peaks Brewery and Famous Dave’s BBQ…and of course plenty of partying. They set up a red carpet style photo booth, with plenty of props. At first it was just photos, then the photos got funny as people continued to drink, then the props began to circulate (there were some really interesting red glasses with LEDs on them), and finally the handcuffs started circulating. I saw no less than 4 people handcuffed throughout the night.

    At midnight we cleaned up and headed out.

    The After After Party

    With the official after party over, several of us headed over to San Tan Brewing Co next door to the hotel. Many of the WordPress developers (myself included) only get to meet up a few times a year at various conferences, so we sat outside in the cold and continued the party until we closed down San Tan at a little after 2am.

    Dev Day – How to Contribute to WordPress

    Sunday afternoon we held a developer day. The purpose was to show designers and developers how they could begin contributing to WordPress. People learned about SVN, TRAC, etc, and even how the WordPress community works. Hopefully we’ll have some brand new contributors soon!

    WordCamp Phoenix Speaker/Organizer Appreciation Dinner

    The WordCamp Phoenix speaker/organizer appreciation dinner was held at this really cool urban farm in Central Phoenix

    Speaker/Organizer Dinner

    The event ended on a high note. There was a speaker/organizer appreciation dinner that was held at MyFarmYard, an urban farm in Central Phoenix. The vegetables came from the urban farm, the meats were locally sourced, and even the wine was from an Arizona Winery. The chef does pop-up restaurants all over Phoenix, offering amazing themed one-time menus at each location. We dined outside, and there was a fire that made the crisp night enjoyable. It was great food and great company, and a great way to end WordCamp Phoenix.

About Aaron D. Campbell

Owner and lead developer at BlueDog, Aaron has 10+ years of web development experience, it a regular core contributor to the WordPress project, and has released many WordPress plugins.
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3 thoughts on “WordCamp Phoenix 2011 – A Developers Take

  1. shayne says:

    Thanks for the writeup….and I do agree on the beginner class. It’s so hard to gauge the level of person that will be attending and form a class around that. But like you said, I think the majority of the folks got a lot out of it (i hope) and thank you for taking the others under your wing, I appreciate that!

    • Yeah, I think you did a great job. I think next year might benefit from one beginner class and one intermediate class rather than two beginner classes. It was so hard to gauge the people on this first attempt though. I think the real problem was that people said “I don’t need to learn about child themes, don’t know what multi-site or buddy press is, so I should attend the beginner class”. Ideally maybe we can put the beginner and intermediate classes near each other so that users that start in the beginner class and realize it’s too basic can move up (and of course vice versa).

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