WordCamp Europe 2018 Banner hung on the ceiling during the afterparty and contributor day

WordCamp Europe 2018 in Belgrade

In June, WordCamp Europe 2018 took place in Belgrade. Since I first went to WordCamp Europe in Vienna in 2016, I've been hooked! Discover a new, European city every year and also learn a lot about WordPress. It is also a perfect opportunity to meet colleagues and friends. What more could a man want?

In this article a short summary of my experiences during WordCamp Europe 2018.

WordCamp Europe usually consists of the following days:

  • Day (? until) 0 - arrival
  • Day 1 - Contributor Day
  • Day 2 - The first conference day
  • Day 3 - The second conference day + afterparty

Day 0 - arrival

In the weeks leading up to WordCamp Europe, the city, this year Belgrade, is already filled with WordPress enthusiasts from all over the world. People work together, or go out to dinner together. In our case, the fun started in the plane: about half of the flight consisted of visitors of WordCamp Europe 2018!

Warm up events

This year, as vegetarians, we had studied the possibilities for vegetarian food in Belgrade in advance. A small challenge, because meat is just about the main ingredient of every meal in Belgrade. Because WordCamps are to a large extent a social event, I had said on Twitter that we were going to eat vegetarian on Wednesday. Whoever felt like it, could join us. This resulted in an international company consisting of Americans, Dutch, English and Indians. A successful warming up of the event!

Day 1 - Contributor Day

On Contributor Day people from the WordPress community come together to work on WordPress. It was the second time I had participated in such a large Contributor Day. This time I also had a special role: I was, together with Joshua Wold, co-lead of the design table. A report of our first experience in that role can be read on the design blog of WordPress. It may sound crazy to outsiders, working on WordPress for free. My motivation I wrote down in a separate blog "Why would you work for free for WordPress?".

The first conference day of WordCamp Europe 2018

WordPress conferences run on volunteers. I also volunteered in the role of emcee. On Friday morning I was scheduled in the Andromeda track of the SAVA Centar. My job was to announce speakers, make interim announcements and lead question and answer sessions after the presentations. In the Andromeda track, technical speakers were programmed, who mainly talked about WordPress development. I was able to announce Adam Silverstein, Sean Blakely and Maura Teal in succession. The presentations were sometimes a little too technical for me, so I don't know if I was really intelligent alongside these experts, but hey, you can't know everything, can you?

Matt Mullenweg - the launch of Gutenberg

After lunch it was time for the presentation of Matt Mullenweg. He is also the owner of Automattic and project lead for Gutenberg. Haven't you heard of Gutenberg? Then it's time to delve into it, because it's going to change a lot when you want to post a message in WordPress.

The big question of this presentation was: will there be a final launch date for WordPress 5.0 with Gutenberg as a fixed component? The answer was yes and no. No new functions will be added now. In the meantime, we are working hard on all the errors that are still in the software. Gutenberg is then integrated into the commercial version of WordPress, WordPress.com. And then from August you can expect the new editor on your own website.

At WordCamp Europe 2018, Matt Mullenweg tells us that WordPress 5 will be launched in August.

New at WordCamp Europe 2018: workshops

Maybe they'd been there before, but I'd missed them: workshops. I had two workshops planned for this Friday afternoon: one on accessibility and one on sketching.

Testing web accessibility for designers, developers and content managers

The first workshop I followed was an accessibility workshop. This three-hour workshop was given by Rian Rietveld, Sami Kejjonen, Andrea Fercia and Adrian Roselli. Through Rian (my co-organizer of the Leiden WordPress Meetup) I became much more aware of the need to make your websites accessible. It's a small effort to take this into account. In fact, it's a legal obligation and no, you don't just do it for 'that one blind visitor'. Approximately 20% of Internet users have a disability and are, for example, colour blind, dyslexic, partially sighted, hard of hearing or deaf. Or has a physical limitation such as not being able to work with a mouse due to paralysis or spasm.

However, try to take a broader view, because websites with good accessibility benefit all internet users. In addition, almost everyone wants to be found by search engines like Google and guess what: Google is actually deaf and blind. Accessibilty is therefore good for everyone and should be applied by default in your work.

Do you want to know more about the available tools and what to think about? Then visit the website created for this Accessibility Workshop and made available free of charge. The site is packed with valuable accessibility tips and is interesting for designers, developers and content managers. In addition, there is a handy set of cards with design tips for various restrictions made by Level Level. You can order them through the webshop for a small fee, or pick them up for free at their office in Rotterdam. They can also be downloaded for free from the Github page of UK Home office.

You need to sketch, yes you!

The second workshop I attended this afternoon was Joshua Wold's workshop on sketching. With a number of simple exercises Joshua taught us how we can, by means of a sketch, better explain to customers and developers what the intention is. It helps with clear communication and prevents misunderstandings at an early stage. No new things for me, but it is a good reminder that it is important to continue to use this in the development process of a website!

After the official programme, it was time for a number of parties, or if you like, network meetings ;). Thanks to Siteground and SAVVii for organizing and the invitation to two fun afterparties on day 1!

Saturday - the second conference day

Today's a day off for me, so I can do whatever I want, yeah! Started in the morning with a tour of the sponsors. Sponsors are important for WordPress congresses because they make sure that the price can stay low: for a few tens you get a lot of knowledge, free food a crazy afterparty with very nice people. So hereby: sponsors, thank you again for your contribution.

Workshop Prototyping accessibility

Because the day before had been good, I decided to follow a workshop on accessibility in the afternoon. This time by Adrian Rosselli, an accessibility specialist from America. In 3 hours we learned more about prototyping for accessibility. I've made personas before from a marketing perspective, but it was very interesting and instructive to create personas from an accessibility perspective.

Closing and Announcement WordCamp Europe 2019

At the end of WordCamp Europe 2018, some statistics were shared. With over 2000 participants from no less than 17 different countries, it was a successful conference.

Finally, it was eagerly awaiting the announcement of the next city where WordCamp Europe 2019 will be held. Rumour had it that it would be Berlin and it turned out to be so. I can already look forward to that!

The afterparty

And all good things come to an end... but not before we've had the afterparty. And during WordCamp Europe in Belgrade they knew how to organize an afterparty! The theme this time was retro futuristic, for which some had come up with really fantastic outfits.

In Belgrade they had done well with plenty of food, free non-alcoholic drinks and a live band that played the stars of heaven.

Because images say more than 1000 words (or, in this case, 1415 words), this is followed by the aftermovie of WordCamp Europe 2018. You can also view all presentations on WordPress.tv.


The day after

On Sunday I woke up with a nice and satisfied feeling; it had been a very nice edition of WordCamp Europe, where little could be said about it. I've had some nice conversations with old friends, but I've also met some nice new people who I'm sure will come back to at future WordPress conferences. I have learned a lot and am inspired to dive further into certain subjects. The icing on the cake finally came on Sunday morning, when I was invited by John Maeda to talk about the future of design and WordPress. That was an inspiring conversation which will certainly be continued, although I don't know in what form. Let's see it!

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