This weekend marked the 6th annual WordCamp Atlanta, and although it was my first WordCamp appearance I heard from many that this year’s conference was the best one yet. Over the course of 3 days, over 700 participants, ranging from seasoned developers to blogging newbies, came to the Loudermilk Center eager to learn what’s new with WordPress and how to use it effectively for their websites. With 49 different speakers, including our very own Mickey Mellen, 48 presentations and 3 workshops, there was something for everyone to take away from WordCamp 2016.
On Friday, there were three workshops held prior to the all-day Saturday and Sunday lectures. Mickey hosted the WordPress Design for Beginners seminar with our good friend Kathy Drewien. In the morning, he covered topics such as CSS, hex codes vs RGB vs CMYK and DPI/PPI, while walking through a live theme customization on a demo WordPress site. After his presentation, he, along with 9 other WordPress experts, offered one-on-one assistance to participants who were having design issues with their websites.
Saturday brought in a much bigger crowd to WordCamp Atlanta, along with sponsored booths full of free swag for the attendees. The Happiness Bar, a special room where people could receive personalized answers regarding WordPress design, plug-ins and other WordPress needs, was also open to all participants. While I didn’t attend the first half of day 2, I was lucky enough to make it to the afternoon sessions with Rich Owings and Brian Richards, as well as a question panel hosted by Mickey, Jenny Munn and Tom Nquyen.
Rich Owings’s talk about SEO Going Local was very informative and talked about a concerning topic with many WordCamp attendees: getting their website found by local viewers. He touched on key components of local SEO and explained how to use WordPress to strengthen their SEO presence. Brian Richards switched gears and talked about Awarding Behavior and Altering Businesses with WordPress. Using the Dallas Museum of Art as a case study, he illustrated how awarding badges for real-world participation created more engagement with the brand, all from altering their business model around visitor engagement and behavior. I was very fascinated that this solution became a win-win for both parties, especially since the museum scrapped their entry fees to test this model. Lastly, during the How to Get to the Top of Google Panel, Mickey, Jenny and Tom answered the audience’s questions and discussed the latest changes and techniques of Google. Together, they cleared the air about common misconceptions for Google rankings and shared best practices to get their site on the first page of Google. The day closed with an after party held at Sidebar, complete with drinks, appetizers and great conversation about all things WordPress (hey, that’s the name of our Meetup group).
On the third and final day of WordCamp Atlanta 2016, attendees came prepared with last-minute questions regarding their websites. I was able to attend 5 of the available 24 sessions that day, with most of them relating to my favorite topics: writing! Tom Tortorici kicked off the day with Smart Writing for Business Websites. He thoroughly explained why good marketing copy is just as much about the customer as it is about the company, and included very distinctive examples of good copy practices versus bad. As a fellow copywriter myself, it was wonderful to see his take on how a creative treatment of a strategic message makes a business stand out, as well as how to create a connection with website visitors through content. Needless to say, his talk was a stand-out to me this weekend and I have bookmarked his resources for future content/copywriting use.
Angel Yarde’s Creating Content Strategies for WordPress came next on my list of must-see sessions. She showed us several ways to create not just content strategies, but editorial calendars, blogs and content ideas with the best WordPress tools available. Her advice to attendees was very easy to follow and inspired the writer in all of us. Next on my list was Mickey’s Find the Best Tools to Make Things Happen. This session was like Deja-Vu for me, as he shared all the tools we use here at GreenMellen (which I just learned all about this past week). I can say, without a doubt, he turned many participants on to the many tools we use here everyday to make our lives a little easier.
After lunch (which was amazing…if anyone can tell me how to get those oatmeal raisin cookies delivered to me by the pound, you will become my new best friend), Julien Melissas hosted the Building Better Websites Through Collaboration, Communication and Consistency session in the main ballroom. His main theme was teamwork, and he talked about how perfecting your personal workflow can ramp up your professionalism, relationships with clients/colleagues and overall happiness with work. His session was very personalized and opened a lot of people’s eyes to how website creation can be anything other than a headache.
The last session I attended at WordCamp Atlanta 2016 was hosted by Melissa Eggelston, titled The Zombie Cure: Content Strategy for Better Websites. Her presentation was probably the most unique of the group, as she compared typical website content to zombies; it’s confusing, undistinguished and “lifeless.” Melissa spoke about the importance of brand identity, being consistent in messaging and identifying the root of your communication issues. She, like all the other speakers, was very inspiring to me and my line of work.
While I was impressed with the speakers, I was just as impressed and inspired by the attendees. They all came hungry for WordPress knowledge and wanting to make their website the best it could be. They came to understand the power of the WordPress resources out there and learn how they can manage their website for life. Thanks to the speakers of this year’s WordCamp, I know each and every one of them walked away with a WordPress confidence they’ll treasure for life.
Overall, I can proudly say that WordCamp Atlanta 2016 was a success for all who attended. I look forward to attending more in the future, inside and outside of Atlanta, and use the lessons learned in my daily operations here at GreenMellen. I strongly encourage anyone wanting to learn more about WordCamp to check out their website and attend any upcoming conference in your neck of the woods.
We want to hear from you! Did you attend WordCamp Atlanta 2016? If so, what were some stand out moments for you? If not, would you want to attend an upcoming WordCamp in the future?