WordCamp (And BuddyCamp) Miami 2017: My Thoughts And Plans

WordCamp Miami 2017 dates were announced officially, and it’s happening on March 24th-26th.

This will be my ninth year involved in the organization of WordCamp Miami. WordCamps have been around for more than a decade, but the number of people on an organization team for a decade is rare.

In the past few years i’ve shared my personal thoughts about the upcoming organization, planning, and my general thoughts about the approaching WordCamp. I’m basing some of my thoughts on the past years, but particularly on the feedback we got from WordCamp Miami 2016 – I summarized the event from an organizer’s standpoint and the feedback we got from the event here.

We Don’t Try To Top Ourselves

While we do always wish to improve ourselves, out attitude in the last years hasn’t been to stress trying to “top ourselves” from the previous year. I hear this statement often enough from some people involved in WordCamp organization, but generally speaking it’s shouldn’t be a number one priority. Or even in your Top 5. If you had a great event before, just do another great event this year. For the most part attendees you don’t need to “top yourselves” to bring in attendees or justify your bragging about your event to others.

WordCamp Miami DOES try to do is strive to be unique and not be the exact same camp as the year before – and find a way in our budget to do that. You’ll see below what we are out to accomplish (at least this early in the planning) and if we can accomplish this, we’re happy.

WordCamp Miami 2016 brought our attendee record up to 850. I’m honestly not in a hurry to break that record – i’m expecting similar numbers for 2017

Priority On Networking

Two of top reasons people come to WordCamps are networking and education. Our thoughts that this year, we want to put more effort into making WordCamp Miami enjoyable for those wanting to meet new people.

So you might see this reflected in our schedule – more time for networking and meeting new people. Which might be different that what you’re used to seeing in previous years.

Adjustments To Speakers & Schedule

2016-02-21 10.06.21In previous years I think WCMIA tended to see how many speakers we could cram into 3 days. Last year we had more than 60 speakers. Even for a large three-day WordCamp I find that to be ALOT (and some speakers did technically speak in more than on session).

WordCamp Miami’s schedule is in flux until speaker calls are closed but I wouldn’t be surprised in 2017 we have LESS speakers than 2016 with longer or more deeply focused tracks.

Last year our “Learn JavaScript Deeply Track” was a BIG success, so we will definitely strive to bring this back with new (and old) speakers and a more planned out track that might resemble a workshop.

New Tools For Speakers And Attendees

IMG_4930Speaking of speakers, this year I hope to debut a new kind of speaker feedback tool. To my knowledge this is the first time ANYTHING like this has been offered at WordCamp. You can see an early prototype in action in the animated gif.

BuddyCamp Miami

This will be the 5th year we’ve hosted BuddyCamp Miami. There have been other BuddyCamps but thanks to support from the BuddyPress core team – in particular John James Jacoby – I personally think Miami is considered the un-official home conference for BuddyPress.

Typical track at BuddyCamp has been pretty much the same for the past years – do an intro session in the morning, then spend the rest of the day on various talks about design, development, or application of BuddyPress. There’s usually a “State of BuddyPress” talk in there too.

This coming year though I want to mix things up. It heavily depends on who is involved but here’s a possible approach:

Friday Morning – BuddyCamp “State of the Word”, then get into development talks on how to setup a simple BuddyPress application.

Friday Afternoon – Build a mobile app that communications with that BuddyPress application (via React or other technology).

This would effectively be a BuddyCamp + React (or whatever is ended up being used) Workshop. There could be a block of talks also on the weekend focused on BuddyPress application or other topics which would expose BuddyPress to a larger, weekend crowd. There’s also talk of a contributor day that could also include addressing BuddyPress tickets

If you have thoughts on this or another way BuddyCamp can be done differently please reach out to me.

Outside The WordPress Bubble

WordCamp Miami has been inviting Drupal and Joomla (among others) to our events for some time. That’s not stopping this year as we are actively inviting Drupal and Joomla groups in the Florida area to submit talks that the WordPress audience would appreciate. I would like to know what problems other communities have solved and how the WordPress community can learn from that.

Also outside of the WordPress circle are JavaScript (particularly React, Angular, and other groups) developers which we are reaching out to as well.

Contributor Day

WordCamp Miami has traditionally NOT had a contributor day, for a variety of reasons. There is more talk about it happening this year, so it should be interesting if that comes to pass.

What Else We Might Be Planning

2016-02-20 11.34.14Here’s a few things we’re thinking about:

– We are working out our workshops for this year (what rooms the venue has available plays a key part in the decisions). Every year we have a beginner’s workshop – the biggest part of the conference that’s focused on people that have never used WordPress before. However we have gotten requests for a “WordPress 102” class which would be for people that
– Two things people ask us alot before they get tickets: are you bringing back the BBQ and nitrogen frozen ice cream? I can’t see why we wouldn’t.
– In 2016 for the first time WordCamp Miami expanded it’s Kid Workshop to TWO days. There was coding and STEM/STEAM activities and we got ALOT of positive feedback… so i’m happy to report that plans are already in the works for another full workshop schedule for kids for ages as young as seven up into the teens.
– I would like to see another kids panel and make this an annual thing.
– Personally by now i’m getting bored with swag. There’s alot we did last year that was fun – Happiness Chocolate Bars, Wapuu buttons, coloring books, etc. It’s getting harder to find fun stuff… i mean, how many water bottles can you possibly own? PLUS a WordCamp Miami will happen in 2018 and there’s some ideas we are saving for the big 10th anniversary.
– I keep asking myself every year about the speaker collector cards… are these are going out of style? Should we do something new and interesting with the money spent? We’ve done them for the past five years. Maybe we should make them more like Pokémon cards instead of baseball cards?
– I think we might see the return again of the yellow Wapuu shirts. We only made them for the kids last year, but ALOT of adults were asking about them… we had a few serious offers of people wanting to BUY them. It was crazy. They were so cute – we usually retire shirts after an event, but we might make an exception for this one.

Screenshot 2016-03-06 10.32.00

Moving Forward

WordCamp Miami is just getting started, but we’ve made alot of announcements this week already. Sponsors and potential speakers are already reaching out. Our site will be updated visually in a few days. The first thing we did – even before applying a design to our site – is make the call for speakers. If you are interested please read the information already on the site… and remember EVERYONE has a story and I would love to see new and interesting speakers this year.

More updates to come!

What Would You Like For Me To Talk About Regarding Planning WCMIA?

Please leave a note in the comments!

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 5+ years.

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