WordCamp Toronto 2016 – Strength in Diversity

August 10, 2016 in Community

This past weekend I had the pleasure of representing SiteLock at WordCamp Toronto. I was also chosen as a speaker and presented a session named Contact Forms are Boring – 5 Creative Ways to Use Forms in WordPress.

It was a well-organized event attended by people from many parts of the world and of course, many from Canada.

  • Organizers – 11
  • Volunteers – 20
  • Sponsors – 38
  • Speakers – 44 (and 3 hands-on workshops)
  • Attendees – 360

Flying into Toronto afforded beautiful views like the one below that seemed fitting when you consider the city’s official motto of “Diversity Our Strength”, which refers to the combined strength of the seven municipalities and more.

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A unique rainbow and cloud formation

Toronto Tech

Toronto is a progressive city with a vibrant technology and startup community. Even at the hotel, they had a roving robot talking personally with the guests.

Sure it’s a great value-add for the families there, but it was also a metaphor for what I experienced while attending #WCTO16 and the people I engaged with and learned from while there.

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The wonder and amazement of technology

Version 2

View of the city of Toronto

The Sessions

It might sound surprising with so many WordCamps happening around the world, but I’ve found very little overlap in the topics discussed and the way in which they’re presented.

The talks at WordCamp Toronto were no exception and covered everything from web accessibility, mental health, better code practices and of course, tactics to help your contact forms convert better. ← see what I did there? 😉

Things I Wish I Knew When I Started in Accessibility

Billy Gregory is the Sr. Accessibility Engineer with The Paciello Group. It was an informative and engaging three-part talk including his experiences in the Digital Accessibility space.

He also highlighted his own successes and failures and audience participation gave attendees an opportunity to ask questions and share their own experiences.

If you’re interested in contributing to the accessibility of WordPress, see our how-to post here.

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Engaging the accessibility crowd

Running A Successful Business With WordPress

Business tracks are included in every WordCamp and I’ve seen a trend in presenting these as panels rather than the standard slide/talk format.

Listening to a panel of people who run successful WordPress businesses provides a relaxed and organic discussion that always seems to bring out “golden nuggets” of information.

Cory Miller (iThemes), Rebecca Gill (Web Savvy Marketing), John Eckman (10up), Brian Messenlehner (WebDevStudios) spoke openly about the challenges (and successes) of running a digital business. Tom Auger (Art & Science Agency) did an excellent job of guiding the discussion as moderator.

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A deep discussion into WordPress business

Fearlessly Creating, and Why It’s Important

WordCamps are always about inspiring others to succeed with WordPress. In Mendel Kurland’s session, he related a personal story that led him to living a fearless life and how that relates to creating websites and content.

His point was illustrated immediately by the lack of shoes and he used that as a starting off point to engage the audience. Attendees were left feeling confident that no matter what their personal fears, they too can create their own path using WordPress.

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Taking the leap into fearless creation

Next-generation Data-driven Plugin Development

Vova Feldman is a very smart guy. He saw a lack of data-driven decisions by plugin developers and created a solution with Freemius.

He states that although the WordPress.org plugin repository is an amazing place for your plugins, the data it provides back to developers is lacking. The problem, he proposes, is that development decisions are largely based on gut and guesswork and what sounds easy to the plugin developer, can be extremely hard and not user-friendly to end-users.

It was a unique talk that mixed development, marketing, business models and user interface/experience best practices. I hope to see more of this mix of related topics at future WordCamps.

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Helping plugin developers with a data driven business approach

The Power of a Video Library

In yet another unique session, Lauren Jeffcoat gave a well-rounded talk about using video galleries in WordPress. She handles customer support for WPML, the leading multilingual solution for WordPress, and was adept at covering all aspects of why you should be using video, how to do it, and tips for getting your visitors to fully engage with your video content.

It was also Lauren’s first WordCamp talk ever and that by letting your passion and first-hand experience guide your discussion, there’s no way it would go bad.

She was rushed by many from the audience afterward wanting to know more!

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Proving that video is a powerful engagement medium

Contact Forms are Boring – 5 Creative Ways to Use Contact Forms in WordPress

I’m happy to report that my session went well. I managed to get a few laughs and even some “ah ha” moments from the audience.

Adam Warner WordCamp Toronto

Mugging for the camera and then digging into my presentation

If you’d like to view the slides from all the sessions at WordCamp Toronto, you can see them all here.

A Big Thanks to the WordCamp Toronto 2016 Team

The power of the WordPress community never ceases to amaze me. Without the dedication of the entire organizing team, sponsors, speakers and attendees, WordCamps wouldn’t exist.

Thanks to all of you!

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Getting this image was like hearding cats!

Getting Back Home

If you hadn’t heard, Delta airlines had a worldwide system outage. This happened at 2:30am, just as I arrived at the Toronto airport to check-in for my return home.

It wasn’t all bad though. I met some great people and had interesting conversations, made it onto the local news, was comforted by Shaggy the traveling canine, and had a lot of time to get work done;)


The good, the bad, and the cute and fluffy

Who knows what the problem was that Delta experienced, but maybe they could use an advanced Web Application Firewall like what we offer?

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