I’ve just returned from WordCamp Minneapolis / St. Paul, and what a camp it was! This year’s event was held at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and Hanson Hall buildings at the University of Minnesota West Bank.

An impressive 450 attendees descended on the Twin Cities to learn and share all things WordPress. If you look close at the image below, you’ll see two planes in addition to the one I was on, all landing in Minneapolis. I’d like to think there were some other excited WordCampers coming in at the same time as my own flight.

SiteLock was among the 450 attendees, and we also  sponsored the event. We were there in full force with copious amounts of swag and a $200 Amazon gift card for our raffle.

Pre-Camp Networking

As with most events, there was a networking social held at the offices of Modern Tribe, a popular WordPress agency and creator of the Events Calendar Pro plugin. The evening was filled with great conversation and anticipation of WordCamp the next day.

There were also several people participating in  some light-hearted marketing and content production tasks, which included audio interviews from the Question of the Day podcast and BoldGrid’s introduction of their new “unofficial” mascot, Boldie the BoldGrid Banshee who had just arrived with his owner direct from Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney World.

New and Experienced WordCampers

As someone who works for a global sponsor of WordCamps, I end up attending A LOT of events. However, I’m always aware that for many people, this is their first WordCamp.  With that in mind, we do everything we can to make sure their introduction to the community at large is a great one, because it’s something we believe in deeply. It’s always great to see a large showing of hands when an organizer asks the crowd, “How many people are attending their first WordCamp?”

I also had the pleasure of reconnecting with Shawn Hooper, who traveled from Canada to run a workshop named Using the WordPress Rest API to Manage Content.  During travel as an evangelist for a Global WordCamp Sponsor, you’re bound to see people you’ve met previously, and I’m fortunate to have that opportunity.

The Sessions

While running a sponsor table, I don’t often get to attend as many sessions as I’d like, so I try to choose topics that seem unique or particularly useful. The two I chose  did not disappoint.

Nobody Cares About Your Feelings: How to Talk About Design

Reid Pfieffer is the co-owner of Modern Tribe and gave an entertaining and informative talk about the importance of design and how it affects your projects and the end goals of your clients. Specifically, he talked about ways not to ruin projects during the design process.

Myths and Facts About Securing Your Site

Aaron Campbell is the Security Team Lead for the WordPress.org project. SiteLock works closely with Aaron and the team when a vulnerability is found and needs to be fixed. To say the least, he knows a thing or two about the best practices for securing your websites. His talk gave actionable examples of what every website owner should be doing to protect their sites.

Having A Little Fun at WordCamp

Michelle Schulp, this year’s lead organizer is well-known for her contributions to the WordPress community and a very talented designer. It made complete sense that she took the extra step of creating a few Snapchat filters as a surprise for attendees, complete with two new Wapuus to represent the twin cities.

When sponsoring, speaking, or attending a WordCamp, it’s difficult to find time to explore the city. However, I was lucky enough to walk around the Target Field Stadium, home of the Minnesota Twins. On my walk I learned that Charles Schulz, creator of the comic strip Peanuts, was born in Minneapolis and grew up in Saint Paul. All of the familiar Peanuts characters were represented with these fun statues.

In Summary

WordCamp Minneapolis 2017 was an excellent event, and one we’ll continue to attend in the years to come. And who knows, maybe we’ll see you there too!

If you’re interested in learning more about the best practices for the security of your website, have a look at how SiteLock can make it easy.