This past weekend I found myself at the third annual WordCamp Asheville held at the University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA). Asheville is a truly unique place filled with beautiful nature, great food, and friendly people.

SiteLock was a sponsor and I volunteered at the PreCamp, a full day hands-on workshop for those brand new to WordPress.

PreCamp

 

WordCamp Asheville PreCamp

A great PreCamp crowd

The PreCamp was attended by more than 50 people and all were very excited to dig in. Each person was given access to a fresh install of WordPress so they could follow along step-by-step.

This was a great way to teach!

WordCamp Asheville PreCamp

Organizer, Boomer Sassman teaching WordPress

Boomer Sassman did an excellent job of walking users through each and every setting in WordPress while explaining not only the “How,” but also the “Why” of each decision made when saving settings.

WordCamp Asheville PreCamp

Mandy Gardner showing how to build a content strategy.

After you get your WordPress website up and running, what’s next? Content of course!

Mandy Gardner talked about content strategy and why it’s so important to have in order to actually create blog posts and other content on a regular basis.

Speaker Sessions

Each and every session I attended was informative and well worth it. Below are a few of my favorites.

The Keynote

Jack Lenox started off the event talking about the history of Open Source software and WordPress specifically. It was an excellent way to address both new users and experienced developers.

WordCamp Asheville PreCamp

Jack Lenox connecting with the entire crowd.

Leveling Up From Plugin Hacker to Plugin Dev

This session was very well-received and was talked about by many afterward. Chris Flannagan discussed the process of progressing from hacking existing plugins to starting a plugin from scratch.

Most importantly, he stressed the importance of being involved in the community and reaching out to find a mentor for continuous improvement of your coding skills.

WordCamp Asheville PreCamp

Chris Flannagan inspiring others to continue learning new coding skills.

Website Planning with LEGO Serious Play

This was the most unique session I’ve seen at any WordCamp, so far. Rather than simply speaking along with presentation slides, Russell Fair used LEGOS to immerse users in the planning of their websites.

Walking into this session was an immediate Zen moment. Everyone there had only great things to say about the experience and how useful it was.

Website Planning with LEGO serious play

Concentration abounds!

Website Planning with LEGO serious play

Russell Fair getting hands on with LEGOS.

Rapid Prototyping With WordPress Page Builders

Another unique session and indicative of the recent proliferation of “page builder” themes and plugins in the WordPress space.

Anthony D. Paul showed how his agency has been moving from standard mockups built in design software to page builders in order to streamline their workflow. Gone are the days of creating multiple versions of each design to display desktop, tablet and mobile versions of a site. Simply build it on a staging site so your clients can load on any device and point-and-click as needed.

Rapid Prototyping With WordPress Page Builders

Anthony D. Paul giving other designers an epiphany for streamlined workflow.

Landing Safely at Home

Getting home from WordCamp Asheville

Would I make it home on-time and safe?

Getting back home on time wasn’t a sure thing as warnings were released for my town due to Tropical Storm Colin. The flight left as expected and the discussion of passengers was all about the weather.

We circled our arrival destination for an extra 30 minutes but the pilots brought us in safely and it was a smooth landing. It was one of those landings where the sound of clapping and cheers were heard throughout the plane.

I’ll cherish my time in Asheville, North Carolina. The organizers, speakers, sponsors, and attendees all did an excellent job of making sure everyone learned from each other and connected personally. However, I’m also looking forward to sharing more about the other WordCamps we attend.