Two of our colleagues, Jan Štětina and Dario Jazbec Hrvatin were at WordCamp Prague, the last weekend of February. Jan is the organizer of WordCamp Prague which was also his first WordCamp. Organizing such an event (it is the second biggest after London), takes a lot of time, with the time beginning the planning back in June last year. Jan had been active in the local WordPress community before then, by organizing small semi-regular monthly gatherings called “WordPress Beer”. In this post, we interview both Jan and Dario to find out more about WordCamp Prague.
Interview with Jan:
What do you like about WordCamp Prague the most?
I don’t even know where to begin, honestly. Besides enjoying the event itself, which I’ve been doing regularly since the first WordCamp Prague in 2014 (where I actually met Agnes which ultimately led to me being hired by OTGS), this time I was noticing that we’ve actually created something that brings a great value to most attendees, something that people enjoy very much.
The effect on our surprisingly little community was also very strong, it brought us closer together and gave us great motivation to continue organizing in the future. I think many of us – me included – couldn’t really imagine how rewarding all the work might actually be, despite the fact we had to face many unexpected obstacles, especially in the last month.
Finally, I am grateful for the experience from being part of a team that’s organizing such a big event.
WordCamp Prague is the second biggest WordCamp in Europe, how many people attended? What is the professional situation of most attendees? Eg are they freelance coders, are the developers working for a marketing agency, are they inhouse developers?
531 tickets have been purchased, which makes us second biggest regional WordCamp after London. Attendees could describe themselves as “users” or “developers” when buying their ticket, and this time the ratio was roughly 1:1.
We seem to have attracted much more advanced users than in previous years, perhaps because our marketing activities oriented in this direction have been very successful. One example for all, we did a “capture the flag” game with an insecure WordPress site, where you could find keys to free tickets if you managed to exploit one of the ten vulnerabilities. Having one of the most skilled WordPress security experts on our team helped a great deal.
I don’t have good statistics about our attendees yet, but from what I know, it was quite a balanced mix of all professions and types of employment, perhaps with a prevalence of freelancers in the developer track. But there was also a lot of beginners who are just trying to get familiar with WordPress. Especially for them, we had a series of lightning talks called “WordPress Cookbook”, given by people from the organizer team themselves.
What are the future plans for WordCamp Prague in 2019?
We’ve already started reflecting on our organizational efforts and on things we can improve for the next time. The general consensus is that we’ve set a very good direction for the event and we want to maintain it, while polishing some technical details and improving our planning time-wise, so that the organization can happen in a more calm fashion throughout the whole year. We’ll be discussing things like adding a third track for case studies and project management talks, or even turning the WordCamp into a two-day event. We also might need to look for a different venue if the number of attendees continues to grow at this rate, which might be a great challenge given our financial options. And many other things. But everything is still very open at this point.
Interview with Dario:
Dario spoke at WordCamp Prague last weekend. He was into WordPress for a long time before joining OnTheGoSystems, but at that time, there were not so many local WordPress events, let alone full-blown WordCamps. The major ones were WordCamps Europe. Dario had wanted to go to more WordPress events, but they were just too expensive for him. This changed when Dario joined the company who supported him at his first speaking gig, WordCamp Sofia in 2014.
How did WordCamp Prague compare against the other WordCamps you spoke at? For example, it was the biggest you have spoken at, there were more non-coders at the event than you expected.
Well, I found it quite similar to Croatian WordCamps actually. This means, they were very well organized, and everyone I met was extremely kind. Also, it was mostly in Czech language, so it was kind of limited to Czech people. I think it would be awesome to include more international speakers in the future. This is now the second-biggest WordCamp in Europe, so I think this could help bring it to a whole new level. But it was a very very nice event.
What did the audience think of your presentation?
Well, I think it was a very nice introduction to using Post Relationships in WordPress and of course, it wasn’t all about Toolset. Toolset is the best solution for Post Relationships in WordPress, hands-down, but naturally, I wanted to explain the whole idea and show people what they can do with it. Of course, there were follow-up questions and talking to other attendees while “mingling”.
If you were to speak at an upcoming WordCamp, what would you like to present?
I have an idea for a talk I pitched for WordCamp EU in Berlin this year, but it’s not Toolset or WPML related. Honestly, I think it would be nice to talk about multilingual e-commerce stores or translating content built using the WP Block editor. After finishing the current Toolset development cycle, I think also talking about custom types and WP Block editor will be a very interesting idea to cover in a talk.”
Thank you Dario and Jan for your time. We look forward to WordCamp Europe, in Berlin, just 3 months away.