Public Proposal For a South Florida Web Developer Conference

Update 12/23: Great feedback so far. I’ll be posting a follow-up within the next week.

A Little History… (Skip This If You Are In A Hurry)

For several years, South Florida has had the pleasure of being the host of numerous conferences (including the first official WordCamp Miami earlier this year at UM). For the past three years, that has included “Future of Web Apps” (FOWA) hosted by Carisonified. However, numerous potential attendees and developers were sadder to hear that in 2011, FOWA would be in Las Vegas. Nothing against FOWA (and I wish them well) or Las Vegas but that was about the only major annual conference that the majority of web developers and designers could enjoy.

Hence my proposal – South Florida needs it’s own annual conference deveoted to web design and development.

I brought this up on Twitter when I heard the news, and good some responses but now i’m desiring serious feedback. The endgame is hopefully to have a conference in Miami in early 2011.

The Pitch

This is my pitch to those interested in a one-day event in Miami (or Ft. Lauderdale if there is no Miami venue):

– The event would be for those who design, manage, or develop web sites/apps and mobile apps.
– The event will be for ANY skill level, even those who don’t consider themselves designers or developers.
– The event would be split into two tracks – one for coding, the other for design/UI/SEO/marketing.
– The first event will be structured similar to a “code camp” or WordCamp. Speakers and topics will be pre-selected and made available in plenty of time before the event starts. There’s a possibly of a “barcamp” open style block in the schedule time permitting.
– As with most camps and refresh-style meetings, speakers are not here to self promote themselves, their company, or their products. They are here to teach.
– A keynote is possible.
– Any speaker regardless of their hometown can submit a proposal but the overall event SHOULD represent/reflectt the vast local talent we have in South Florida.
– Cost of event will be VERY reasonable (think < $100 – and compare that to bigger conferences and you’ll see that certainly is reasonable).

What Do You Want To Learn?

Interested? Then this is what we need: suggestions for speakers and topics.

Here is a list to get started. Please leave a comment and let me know what YOU would like to speak about OR what you would like to see presented.

– HTML5
– CSS3
– Introduction to jQuery
– CMS Showdown: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, ExpressionEngine
– Introduction to Ruby on Rails
– Introduction to PHP
– PHP Frameworks (Or Intro To MVC)
– Building Your First iPhone App
– Building Mobile Web Sites
– Spice Up Your Website With Custom Fonts
– SEO 101

I know alot of that is aimed towards programmers and developers – but that’s because I am primarily a developer myself. Any reasonable topic is fair game. And hence why i’m asking for your $0.02.

What’s Next?

During November, i’m going to gauge the interest level in a more official capacity and if things look good, start nailing down potential topics and speakers.

How About A Venue?

Admittingly this is not a strong suit of mine. If you have a suggestion for a venue and know someone “on the inside”, please let me know. Usually events like this take place at collegues or universities. Keep in mind that funding will be coming directly from ticket sales, so the less the venue costs the less the ticket prices will be.

We will also announce ways local companies can sponsor the event for VERY reasonable prices. Sponsorship costs would go back into paying for the event. Everything here is basically non-profit.

What Do You Think?

That’s my proposal. Now let me know what you think. What do you want to see at WebDevMiami2 2011?

David Bisset

David is a full-time freelancer who specializes in WordPress (and BuddyPress) for startups, Fortune 500 companies, and everything in between. Organizer of WordCamp Miami for 10+ years.

20 thoughts on “Public Proposal For a South Florida Web Developer Conference

  1. I’m about an hour south of Tampa and would attend such an event in a heartbeat.

    I work with WP Multisite daily and am also developing apps recently although I don’t consider myself a programmer. I would be interested in all WP related tracks and app dev tracks as they relate to learning more advanced programming techniques.

    I might also be interested in speaking about how I use WP as my framework for creating mobile apps.

    1. Would love to have you Adam. I would think we could also draw some great attendees and speakers from Tampa – it’s not that long of a drive (for me anyway).

  2. AWESOME! The topics you list sound great, and I am especially pleased that it’s pitched as a conference for all skill levels at a relatively low cost. Please let me know what I can do to help make this happen!

  3. I thought you did a great job with WordCamp, and I really look forward to what you’re proposing here. I’m not entirely sold on the “design vs. development” 2-track idea though – as someone who straddles that divide, it would be very hard for me to pick one track. I think it might be more reasonable to look along the beginner / advanced divide. One track for people who want to learn more about making websites at a basic level, and another for highly focused niche topics for pros (optimization, bleeding-edge experimental techniques, etc.).

    That said, I would be interested in speaking on jQuery or CSS3. I could talk either from a designer perspective (people who do very little work with actual markup / code, to show them what’s possible) or an overview for developers new to the topic.

    1. I think it might be more reasonable to look along the beginner / advanced divide. One track for people who want to learn more about making websites at a basic level, and another for highly focused niche topics

      Agreed with this!

  4. Thoughts: Finding good sponsors I think will be important, this will keep ticket sales affordable and hopefully enable the conference get some more well known speakers in for the conference.

    Venue: Something central between Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties would be optimal. Maybe get Nova involved to use a venue on their campus?

    Topics: I’m designer and would love to hear more on advanced topics like CSS3 and HTML but also interested in Python and Django. Something Expression Engine related would be good as well.

    1. I’m looking at any venues that can accomodate two nice sized rooms. Does anyone happen to have contacts at Nova to inquire?

  5. David, sounds like a great idea. WordCamp 2010 was great. If this happens, count me in.

    More central to South Florida – Broward rather than Miami – would be my preference and probably easier for most people to reach whether they were on the west coast or coming from the Orlando area or treasure coast, if there are appropriate venues.

    I’m not terribly interested in a lot of beginner stuff (sorry) – more in how already experienced developers or designers can get even better and perhaps explore things they haven’t had time to delve into. So an overview of other languages I haven’t tried yet, or new standards, might be interesting – I normally just buy a book or two for that, convince me in 30 minutes why I should read a Rails book for example.

    I’d agree with Kevin somewhat on tracks, software engineering for the web to me encompasses more than coding in a single language, so end to end and cross-functional stuff is of interest. (eg: AJAX techniques; using CSS3 animations instead of ActionScript), and more specific topics (eg: architecture; integrating social media; performance-related presentations; how to do cross-platform mobile and desktop video), (I’d be happy to present on either of the last 2, I have been doing a lot of browser and server performance optimization lately).

  6. David, great idea!!

    I agree with some of the comments here, and I believe Broward county would be a more neutral place for people coming for north.

    I would be interested in subjects about HTML5 and Jquery, and I think it would be good to divide it in beginners and advance levels to be able to attend to the most of them based on your necessities.

    I know there are many plugins / addons to create e-commerce solutions based in WordPress or Joomla, but maybe it would be a good idea to have a topic about an e-commerce framework. I have been using Opencart with some project, and probably an invitation to the developers or something similar would be good to have.

    If you need some help with the event, please let me know, I would really love to have more events like this in South Florida.

  7. Overall i think the topics are right in-line with what people are interested and the price looks right. A couple of things things just wanted to mention, that others have as well…

    If a topic is basic/beginner or even general overview – it should be clearly labels as that so expectations can be set ahead of time. It sucks leaving a session and saying you learned jack. The “code camp” is right on, it is a lot harder to find the right presenters for it, but the more interactive the better.

    Also I think there should be opportunities for sponsors or business to get the most out of the conference. Including a “employment/job hiring” networking time – this influences the sponsors to also promote the event. This works real well for companies at SXSW.

    1. Alex, excellant points (we need to clearly label if a track is beginner or advanced). I’m liking the “networking time” concept alot and definitely needs to be organized once we get going. Nice!

  8. If possible get @codepo8 to come speak. I had the pleasure of working with him while we were at Yahoo. He is awesome.

    There needs to be some coverage on the financial side of web development. Freelance models that work. Managing clients. How to bill. Site monetization. Investors.

  9. Alex, excellant points (we need to clearly label if a track is beginner or advanced). I’m liking the “networking time” concept alot and definitely needs to be organized once we get going. Nice!

  10. Thoughts: Finding good sponsors I think will be important, this will keep ticket sales affordable and hopefully enable the conference get some more well known speakers in for the conference. Venue: Something central between Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties would be optimal. Maybe get Nova involved to use a venue on their campus? Topics: I’m designer and would love to hear more on advanced topics like CSS3 and HTML but also interested in Python and Django. Something Expression Engine related would be good as well.

  11. Alex, excellant points (we need to clearly label if a track is beginner or advanced). I’m liking the “networking time” concept alot and definitely needs to be organized once we get going. Nice!

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