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My Experience at WordCamp US 2022 in San Diego

I can’t believe it has been almost a month since I attended WordCamp US 2022 in San Diego. Life has been a blur since leaving for San Diego. I’d going to share some of what I got out of the conference that will improve my skills and benefit my clients. Where possible, I share links to the sessions and/or the presenters so you can do a deeper dive.

Fun Before WordCamp

Due to Hurricane Kay, I arrived in San Diego earlier than expected. This allowed me to have a little fun before the learning began. I knew I wanted to go to the Kansas City BBQ in downtown San Diego. Yes, of course they have yummy barbeque. But many of you know it is as the home of “Top Gun sleazy bar scenes” as they call it. Remember when Goose was playing piano at the bar? That’s the place and the piano is still there! I also love that they feature lots of Kansas Jayhawks and Kansas City Chiefs swag.

Kansas City BBQ

The next day started with getting work done and then running some errands. That evening we went to Mission Beach known for the Big Dipper roller coaster. No, I didn’t ride it. I had a tasty dinner, a nice walk along the beach and then some gelato to finish off the evening.

Belmont Park Big Dipper at Mission Beach

Day One of WordCamp

Friday was the first day of WordCamp and it was going to be a very long day that started extremely early. Nearly every Web site I build uses the Divi WordPress theme from Elegant Themes. Therefore it was very important for me to meet the team behind the theme. The team hosted the Divi WCUS Coffee Meet-&-Greet at the James Coffee Company before WordCamp officially began. If you want to read the Elegant Themes recap, visit WordCamp US 2022 Recap.

It was a rainy morning (darned Hurricane Kay followed me) so we had to have the event inside. Yummy hot coffee and pastries were enjoyed as I got to know members of the Elegant team and other Divi users. This was also the first chance to get some swag (t-shirt, pin and sticker). Since getting to know the team, I’ve already been in contact about some potential new collaboration in the future.

Now that I had some caffeine flowing in my veins, it was time to go to the Town and Country Resort where WordCamp US 2022 would take place. I got checked in and found my way to a seat for the welcome session. It just so happened I sat behind some friends/colleagues. I had met Cami several years back at another event, but I only knew Ann Marie and Philip from monthly Zoom meetings. Soon after I sat, I got a message from Cami asking if I was there and I told her to turn around. She was nice enough to give me some WebCami Cafe swag and we knew the group of us would spend more time together throughout the conference. Cami has written two recaps of WordCamp that you can read at What I learned at WordCamp US (for my clients) and What I learned at WordCamp US 2022 (for my business). Yes, you’ll see me in a few of her photos.

After the quick opening session, it was time to visit the sponsor hall to learn more about their offerings and to get some swag. I met with hosting companies that I work with currently such as GoDaddy, WP Engine and Siteground as well as some other hosting companies that I may consider in the future. There were also providers of plugins I currently use and a few that were of interest to me (or my clients) in the future. Overall it was time well spent for the connections at valued vendors and the swag I got. Some of the my swag haul from that initial session is shown below.

WordCamp Swag Part 1

For my first session, I chose Embracing Minds of All Kinds: Making Digital Content Usable for People with Cognitive Disabilities presented by Christina Deemer. Many designers (and clients) want to create something that looks really cool, but that could be done to the detriment of those with cognitive disabilities. Make it easy for all users to find what they don’t. Try to use a login that won’t require remembering something. In short, put yourselves in the place of others and try to create an experience that works for them.

I stayed in the same room for the next session, Blog to Video: Tapping into YouTube and Video SEO with Your Existing Content presented by Joey Daoud. As I wanted to do more video, this session was very useful. You’ll definitely see some videos in the future from me that will build on things I learned in this session.

One more session definitely stood out to me on the first day and that was Gamify Your Content presented by Ronnie Burt. While it may sound like we are trying to make WordPress sites into a video game, that isn’t really the goal. Instead we want to create pages that are designed for visitors to not only interact with the site, but have a desire to interact as much as possible. Sometimes that can be as simple as having a better label on a link!

While those were the sessions that stood out to me, there was just as much learned in what WordCamp refers to as the “hallway track”. This is where attendees interact with each other. It may be purely getting to know others or it could be a deep dive into the best way to accomplish a task. Overall, I felt very good with what I learned on day one and the day still wasn’t over.

GoDaddy Pro And Friends Take On San Diego

There were a variety of parties held by sponsors on the first evening and I chose to attend the party put on by GoDaddy Pro, Sucuri, Manage WP and Pagely held at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. You can also learn more about GoDaddy Pro at WordCamp in their WordCamp US (WCUS) 2022 Recap post.

San Diego Air & Space Museum

We had full run of the museum, a taco bar, a nacho bar, an ice cream bar and even a bar for drinks. Of course there was even more swag to be had (see photo below of the GoDaddy swag). Most of all it was a time to sit down with Cami, Ann Marie and Philip to talk about our businesses. Yes, my fiancée Katie was also there and her digital marketing business was included in the discussion.

GoDaddy Pro Party Swag

After we had filled our bellies with yummy food, it was time to explore the museum. There were planes and helicopters from many eras, flight simulators, a 4D theater, spacecraft and even an astronaut who posed with our group. OK, it was just a space suit.

Philip, Cami, Ann Marie, Katie and Foster with Spaceman

By the time I returned to the hotel after the party, I was absolutely exhausted. At least the second day wouldn’t start as early as the first day!

Day Two of WordCamp

One of my favorite things to do on WordPress sites is e-commerce so I definitely wanted to see Connected Commerce: Evolving to Multichannel Selling presented by Beka Rice. My own sites sell in a single channel, online. Multichannel means selling products online and at retail or even on a variety of online platforms. Companies who sell multichannel easily outperform those who don’t. Definitely something to explore for my own products and great info to pass along to my clients who are already online and at retail.

One of the biggest topics these days in WordPress is accessibility and so I was pretty excited for Designing for Accessibility presented by Sara Cannon. I knew Alt tags were important and she mentioned how to best use them. From my CorelDRAW days, I had a good handle on typography. Too many Web sites have small text or use frilly fonts that may look “cool” but make the site harder to use and/or read. One of the biggest things I got from the talk was using tools to measure contrast ratios so a color palette works for everyone, even those who are color blind.

Next up for me were three shorter talks and I found all of them filled with good information. George Woodard shared Build Your Social Media Posting Application with WordPress and Zapier. He created custom fields for blog posts that include social media posts and then automates those posts using Zapier. I don’t know that his exact tactic is the right strategy for me, but it definitely gave me some good ideas for ways I could do things differently.

How Live Streaming Can Level Up Your Career presented by Ebonie Butler was just plain interesting. She shared how she had live streamed while writing code and it had helped her get a great job and write better code. Again, not something that directly relates to me though it can help me to look at some things differently going forward to see how I can enhance my own career.

I really enjoyed Images on the Web — past present and future presented by Adam Silverstein. Parts of it were very similar to what I’ve presented numerous times at my CorelDRAW Unleashed seminars and Boot Camps. But Adam also covered some newer image formats and other ways to optimize how images are presented on a Web site.

My last session was A Chat with Matt Mullenweg. For those who don’t know anything about Matt, he describes himself with “I am a founding developer of WordPress, the Open Source software used by over 40% of the web, including this site.” on his personal site. Probably the hottest topic he discussed was the fate of Classic Editor. WordPress has been trying to move everyone to their “Gutenberg” editor for several years now and not all users want to do that. I detest Gutenberg and disable it on almost every site I build. Why? Because I use the Divi Builder instead of Gutenberg. Other users rely on Elementor, Beaver Builder and other more powerful builders. Matt said support for Classic Editor would end before much longer. As the classic editor is built into the core of WordPress and I don’t use the Classic Editor plugin, I doubt this end of support will affect my sites. Divi is fully compatible with Gutenberg and it is their options that allow me to disable it.

There was also talk about new features being released as plugins rather than being added in WordPress core. Great, I love that idea. If we don’t want a new feature, we don’t have to have it bloating our sites. Matt answered questions for about an hour and then the second day of content was over.

WCUS Social…or Not

The last part of day two was the WCUS Social, otherwise known as the after party. I had planned to go, but instead went with Cami, Ann Marie and Philip for dinner at another restaurant. This gave us more of a chance to chat amongst ourselves and we definitely got a better dinner that way. We did return to WordCamp after dinner and I spent maybe ten minutes at the social. After two long days and given that it was a less than ideal setting, I decided it was time to end my time at WordCamp and returned to my hotel.

Overall it was a great experience. I learned a lot that will help me to build better sites and that helps my clients to be more successful. Spending time with my existing network of contacts allowed us to get to know more about each other and this allows us to share our knowledge if we run into something in the future. Many new contacts were made and I’m excited at what will come from them. My closet definitely got an overhaul from all the swag. I don’t know when I’ll attend my next WordCamp, but I know I’m looking forward to the next one whenever that may be.

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Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III is author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences. His first Web site was built in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013.
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