A Recap of WordCamp Edmonton – November 18-19th, 2011

The hottest ticket in Edmonton this weekend wasn’t a music, film, or food festival – which is hard to believe given our city’s nickname, “Festival City”. No, this past Friday and Saturday, the Edmonton design and development community descended upon the Shaw conference center for two days of learning about WordPress. (I suppose you could call it a festival of nerds!)

Over the course of a day and a half, there were sixteen presentations on design, development and content. The goal of the conference was to bring together all the users and admirers of WordPress, from the casual blogger  to industry professionals. This conference advertised something for everyone. And they delivered. A group of five from Top Draw attended; each of us coming away with a better understanding of WordPress and the desire to return next year! Not bad, considering we truly fit the “something for everyone” mold. Our crew was comprised of 2 developers, a designer, an office manager and a project manager.

I spent most of my time in the content streams, so my observations from the weekend are a bit slanted. I am trying to convince the guys to write up a short recap from a design/development perspective, so stay tuned for those! For now, I leave you with my personal favorites by Kory Mathewson’s, Jeff Archibald, Dana DiTomaso, and Top Draw’s own Taylor Reese.

Kory Mathewson – What is WordPress and Why is it Great?

As one of the main organizers of WordCamp Edmonton, it was no surprise that Kory’s talks were filled with passion, poise and a great deal of knowledge – well, that and he’s an improv super star! Kory kicked off the conference with a general introduction to WordPress.  He covered a lot of very basic points about this platform, which was great for those in the audience who might not have been familiar with WordPress prior to this event. And for the rest of us, Kory’s  presentation served to solidify that WordPress is supported by a very cool community, and why we love it so much.

Jeff Archibald – Designing A Client-Focused WordPress Site & Typography and the State of the Web Today

Another cog in the machine that was WordCamp 2011, Jeff functioned as Kory’s right hand man for the duration of this conference. Not only that, but Jeff provided two solid presentations that I had the privilege of attending. The first talk was on the importance of designing WordPress sites with your clients in mind. While it may seem obvious, sometimes we do forget just how intimidating all this “web stuff” can be to clients. It was a solid presentation with a lot of tips and tricks to help support our client’s use of WordPress.

Jeff’s second presentation was about Typography and how its use on the web has changed through the years. From type’s humble beginnings on the web, with only a handful of system fonts, to today’s seemingly endless, and some potentially awful choices. Humorous, informative, and packed with key learning about the proper usage of type, Jeff’s resounding message was, “Don’t abuse your newfound power.”

Dana DiTomaso – Search Engine Optimization in WordPress

Until Dana’s presentation, I would never have personally considered SEO to fall under the entertainment category. Technical? Complex? Definitely. But Dana successfully led a room full of non-technical people through a dynamic presentation without losing too many of us. Frankly, she accomplished a verbal sprint in order to get through 45 slides of very detailed and technical information in a 45 minute window, but she did it. And she did it well. I’m basing my judgement of her efficacy on the sole fact that I was going through her presentation slide by slide the next day, to properly optimize my personal website. Her wicked sense of humor and passion for something as technical as SEO made her presentation one of my favorites.

Taylor Reese – A Notebook Like No Other

Okay, so Taylor didn’t actually present at WordCamp – that will be next year. But I did want to include Taylor in my post because I got to sit next to him for a few sessions and I  adore the visual note taking he was doing for the conference. I asked him if I could Tweet the images during the conference and they turned out to be some of the more popular images for WordCamp. He was also gracious enough to provide some great photos to share here. Enjoy!

“What is WP and Why is it Great?
Designing a Client Focused WP Site

Typography & the State of the Web Today

If you’re interested in seeing what you missed this year and why you cannot miss out next year, check out the archive of presentation slides over on the WordCamp Edmonton website. You can also check out the hash tag #wcyeg on Twitter for all of the Tweets from conference attendees – we were live tweeting from our Top Draw account.

As an active member of Edmonton’s dynamic web design and development community, Top Draw was proud to sponsor this event and we look forward to perhaps finding one or two of our team members behind the microphone next year. Hope to see you there!

  • Thanks for the great recap! It felt like a sprint, too. :)

    • Sarah

      You were born to sprint baby! Good work!

  • Taylor embodies the doodlers talk from TED http://www.ted.com/talks/sunni_brown.html

  • Great writeup – thanks for the kind words too. Excited to potentially have some Top Draw people presenting next year!

    • Anonymous

      Hopefully we can have more than one presentation for next year’s WordCamp.

    • Sarah

      Thanks. It was an awesome event to be a part of. We’re looking forward to next year already….oh, no? Just me? Okay then. ;)