Here are the results of the survey we sent out to the attendees of WordCamp Milwaukee 2012
Now, for the speakers and sessions:
These sessions we received well by most or all attendees:
Aaron Holbrook – WordPress & Version Control: A Workflow
Aaron Saray – Secure WordPress Coding
Brad Parbs – Writing Your First Plugin
Joel Clermont – Contributing to Open Source Projects
Rachel Baker – WordPress Navigation Menu Styling
Scott Offord – SEO For WordPress
Trafton Esler – Hosting Showdown
Lisa Ghisolf – Creating a Site Structure
Lisa Sabin-Wilson – Exploring WordPress Multisite
Allan Fuelling, Mike Zielonka, Heather Acton – WordPress Framework Showdown
John Jacoby – Advanced Actions and Filters
Tracy Apps – How to Not Design Like a Developer
We asked: If there was a particularly good speaker or session, please tell us about it. And you Answered:
Tracy Apps — excellent presentation; right amount of content & depth; each slide presented a single idea & Tracy explained (didn’t just read bullet points) then offered tools to use & sites to go to for more info. Couldn’t ask for anything more.
Tracy Terry — tons of info (maybe too much b/c rushed thru last few slides). The Framework Showdown — enjoyed the format; Mike & Allan were great. Was impressed with Heather’s open & blunt assessment of Genesis.
Pete — learned where to get copyright free photos….
Jess Jurick – very informative, engaging, and a great speaker! Lisa Sabin-Wilson – similarly very informative and a great speaker! Wish I could have seen John Jacoby – heard he was amazing!
SheHeMedia — social media connecting. Nice overview & very entertaining.
Scott Offord — well organized presentation with lots of insights, tips, etc.
Rachel Baker’s and Brad Parb’s — I really liked. They were very clear with snippets, and they made it interesting/funny.
Trafton Esler, Scott Offord, Lisa Sabin-Wilson and Tracy Terry — were the best speakers. All communicated well and had informative, well planned sessions. Also liked Trafton’s and Lisa’s passion for their subjects.
Heather Acton and Lisa-Sabin Wilson — had power-packed information for the novice that did not need to be de-coded. To the point with clever humor spliced in.
Dan Pastori — killed it! Talked in english but resinated with the devs.
Scott — made SEO easy for beginners but I should have taken him up stairs to debate some Penguin facts with him…SEO vs SEO! lol
Lisa Sabin-Wilson and Jess Jurick — were my faves – knowledgeable, delivery was professional, and all of the information they shared was valuable.
Becky Davis and Rachel Baker’s — I really liked both sessions. There were three particularly useful elements to each of their presentations which made them stand out from the others I attended:
1) They each began by giving brief by appropriate background info/an overview for less experienced developers.
2) They each then moved on to demonstrating a clear and do-able task that could be easily followed by the audience, but was also very useful on a practical level to all of us.
3) They finished by providing highly useful resources (including their slides) which allowed us to repeat their tutorial and provided tools to expand on what we’d learned.
Brad Parbs — Loved it – he’s so relaxed and friendly. And his presentation was right at my level of expertise.
Dan Pastori — was awesome! I felt he provided more relevant information about plugins than Brad Parbs. I also liked Tracy Apps’ presentation. She was entertaining and presented ideas that made a lot of sense.
Aaron Holbrook — WordPress & Version Control: A Workflow – was very good and informative.
Aaron Saray — Secure WordPress Coding great subject for me.
Rachel Baker — WordPress Navigation Menu Styling good content, learned a few things I did not know.
Joel Clermont — Contributing to Open Source Projects
Heather Acton — was Solid, Scott with SEO was good too. I liked the hosting one with the WP engine guy as well as the frameworks with Heather and 2 other i dont rememeber. one of them was pushing Woo and the other pagelines.
Scott Offord — was better organized than most, and knew more, based on the fact that he filled his time with substance, but still had time for questions.
Tracy Apps — was a really good speaker and got the crowd engaged in the conversation.
JJJ — was fantastic, very educational and helpful.
Seemed be little snippets gleaned out of many sessions. But no one session made me completely thrilled about the material.
Jess Jurick, Vid Luther and Scott Offord — all had wonderful presentations and were beneficial for the user track.
Joel — his session was really great.
Brad Parbs, Dan Pastori and John Jacoby — on Plugins were fantastic because usually the speaker on Plugins make it too drawn out and complicated that a lot of people don’t get anything out of it. They also made it very interactive so the audience could see what was going on. Also an honorable mention to Rachel Baker, a great presenter that did a great job on a sometimes difficult topic – navigation menus.
Tracy Apps — was great — spot on.
Rachel Baker — was really good. She went at a great pace with perfect amount of detail. Aaron Saray was funny!
Rachel Baker and Tracy Apps — were good. They shared their specific tricks and resources. Wish I had taken my specific questions to the ‘Genius Bar’ upstairs. I gleaned useful tidbits from every session I attended.
Pete — Really liked how Pete created a conversation not a presentation.
Lisa Ghisolf — overall great presentation, I enjoyed learning about her process and approach to site design and structure.
Jess Jurick — did a great job, but it wasn’t clear to all that the customizations she showed were done by a developer, not a choice to be made within a template.
Scott Offord — I found particularily good value in Scott’s SEO presentation.
SEO for WordPress – my fav.
Aaron Saray’s presentation.
We also asked: If there was a particularly good speaker or session, please tell us about it. And you Answered (edited for kindness’ sake of course):
Only complaint was the poor preparation for the Saturday lunch session, it was a waste of time
Mike McCallister — didn’t get through half of his presentation (which I was really looking forward to), and seemed scattered.
Tracy Terry — her presentation was more of an advertisement for her company
I picked the sessions I attended carefully, and spent the rest of the time networking and helping at the WordPress Workbench.
Jim and Shelby needed to pick one approach, comedy or educate – trying to do both was not the best approach and it seemed ill-prepared for having done it before.
Most of the sessions had problems with people hearing everything and getting the presentation ready. Plus, none of them started on time and most were 15-30 minutes late. someone should be setting up next session before the current one is finished.
Mike McCallister didn’t start his presentation til after 10:30 due to starting late and not being able to getting his laptop online. Having presentation online or a hard copy would help to follow along instead of taking notes.
The following speakers were perhaps a little self-promoting, which was a turn-off: Vid Luther, Tracy Terry, and Shelby Sapusek.
Some went way over time…
Mike McCallister was having some technical problems … He was able to get to a couple of points of information but when he realized he was running out of time, he raced through the last 80% of his slides in less than five minutes. He used “um” repeatedly – I know it’s hard to get up there in front of people and speak, especially when you are having some technical problems. I was hoping for a tour of both .com and .org sites and felt like I got neither.
I found the user sessions I went to on Sat morning to be particularly weak and uninformative. Lisa’s was better (more focused on a useful task/skill: wireframing a site to help with planning), but Vid’s didn’t seem to have any tangible info to communicate and Jess’ felt like a presentation on how awesome her company is.
The animosity between Jim and Shelly actually seemed to go beyond joking, and was a bit uncomfortable. It was like being with a married couple having an argument.
Child Themes – the presenter was great but the topic seemed too basic for the dev track.
Jess Jurich wasn’t poor, but she only had enough content for 1/2 of her session, indicating that she may be creative but not expert.
Extremely disappointed that the first user session on Saturday was about analytics. Instead the session content made a great deal of assumptions about the level of knowledge people had about WordPress.
I was hoping to attend the uber beginner session. I was expecting some sessions in the user track directed to the newbie. As people asked questions throughout the day, it seems that explaining:
1.) the difference between wordpress.org and wordpress.com would have been helpful.
2.) Would have liked a walk through of the admin screens and all the parts.
3.) What are the best practices for doing the upgrading process? (someone in the wordbench area helped me through this process … how to back up… later someone else told me about the plug in for that).
4.) What is the strategy for using pages verses posts?
5.) What is it like / how to do it… to migrate a small static page personal site into WordPress?
6.) What are the best practices for using the media library? Anyway, I was hoping for stuff like that.
None – thought all of the sessions that I went to the speakers were very well prepared and got a lot of information and techniques from.
The “debate” by She/He media wasn’t really a debate… I expected to a few hear well-reasoned arguments on relevant and timely topics pertaining to WordPress websites. Jim and Shelby have great personalities and they can be entertaining speakers, but, overall they seemed unorganized and unprepared for the discussion.
Didn’t reap much from Raffel/Sapusek debate.
Some speakers were quite short for there presentations.
Here’s what you said about the conference overall, the venue and what you’d like to change for next year:
If you stay at Bucketworks, look into rotating the layout of the presentation rooms 90 degrees. This would require setting up large screens, rather than projecting on the wall. The screens would be easier to see since sight-lines would be more direct even though people would be further back.
Noise from other rooms was a problem and I’m not sure how that is completely eliminated since there are no doors. I know you tried to some solutions and those did help.
Overall, I had a very good experience. My thanks to all of the organizers and sponsors. Job well done!
Even more awesome t-shirts, wouldn’t change too much…..
It was GREAT! Wish I could’ve stayed for more
In particular, the biggest improvement I could suggest would be having more physical separation between the tracks. We could hear each other, and it was very distracting at times. If the developer track finished first, they would walk through the user track room, sometimes having side conversations on their way through, which made it hard to hear the user track presenter. If BucketWorks is chosen as the venue again next year (and it was a great venue), I would suggest having one track upstairs and one downstairs, perhaps moving the WorkBench/Unconference to the room where the user track was located this year. Also (and this is a minor complaint …), a little lighting in the hallway to the ladies restroom would be appreciated – it was a little creepy! More tables in the common area would be nice, especially for lunch. All in all, it was a great conference – these are just cosmetic suggestions to make things a little more comfy! Thanks for an awesome conference! 🙂
A better venue with more restrooms, parking, quieter areas where you don’t have interference from other speakers, no creaking floors & stairs, etc.
Wow. Hard question, as this was literally the best WordCamp I’ve been to, and I’ve been to some great WordCamps.
So I’ll be super-picky. Bathrooms were rough – only a few for all of those people. I can’t even come up with another change…
Have sessions start on time and better prep on slideshow setups. Have them actually setup a blog, a blog w/framework, site structure for a blog, etc(actually do for a blog what they are trying teach, might need longer sessions too). Something on actual marketing campaigns using social media, email, guest blogging, etc. Maybe a class or handout just on resources and available training online/offline or on publishing options for eBooks. Also, I don’t mind a sales pitch from these companies to explain their product/service better as long as it’s not in your face(and since I assume they did this for free, they should get one pitch). All in all I thought it was very good, people were every nice and I look forward to returning next year.
more light in the areas directly outside the downstairs restrooms.
More bathrooms. Big name headliners!
I love the building and concept of the building’s purpose but it wasn’t conducive to having a conference. The inability to hear speaker sessions for the first and last 15 minutes of the hour due to the conversations from the other room was frustrating. While the food was great, it was hard to eat with a plate in your lap as the few tables were being used by laptop users. I had a great time, however, and it was overall a very worthwhile trip. Thank you to all of the hard work and donations by many!!
– Would like clearer communication beforehand on what to bring and about the content of sessions (info on website was sparse at best).
– less focus on soundbites and jargon, more focus on tangible tasks users and developers can do. (To be fair, the developer sessions I went to all seemed to do a *much* better job at this.)
– Similarly, a focused keynote trying to communicate a few clear ideas.
I was really hoping to see businesses there looking to hire people with WordPress or other web design/dev experience. I saw some people promoting a plugin there and some stuff for WP Engine, but nobody looking for new hires.
I would like to see more meat in the dev track.
Seemed to be geared to more middle – beginner level development. Perhaps that was the level of most of the participants, and then you were right on track.
e.g a session on child themes, seems most developers would already know this. Many more basic stuff is available on WordPress.TV.
I suggest more problem/solutions sessions.
I would like to see more in-depth on custom post type and taxonomy architecture.
Something else I think would be helpful is a session on understanding the WP codex. I find the codex is hard to understand because there is not a lot of descriptive directions or instructions. I go outside of the WP codex and learn first from more in-depth tutorials and then go back to the codex and hope I get it. NOTE to self- get involved in documentation of the codex. (Thanks Joel for the enlightenment!)
Although I did not attend any of the user track the list of session seemed a good mix of information.
Also I gather the speakers had a set time of 35 minutes. Some sessions no one engaged in questions so there was a lot of unused instruction time.
Just my option but I would have liked more information from the speakers and less q&a time. Maybe add 10 more minutes for the presenter.
I had a great learning time and fun meeting a like minded community. I would definitely attend again. I did travel 2 hours and spend two nights.
Great job to the organizer! If any thing went amiss, I did not know it and it did not effect my experience.
The venue had a very funky vibe, loved the second level as it had many gathering areas.
I would definitely call this a success! Great job to all involved! BTW my very first trip to MKE!
i guess the only real issue i saw was the bathrooms. Nothing you can do, maybe throw a few portable toilets outside?
internet was solid and reliable….i really liked all of it.
one thing actually…i would not have such a long break in between the last session saturday and the party. i wasnt staying locally so the reason i didnt stay for the party is i was done networking at 445 and it didnt start till 7 but i assume people who were local liked that. not a real issue, just came to mind.
thanks for organizing! the effort really showed and you deserve a big THANK YOU!!!!
Bathroom facilities literally stunk and were both dirty and over utilized. The “north suite” as I called it, had water on the floor, and was running out of toilette paper. there were complaints that the bathrooms did not have enough soap!
Have the speakers provide their slides for download linked on the WordCamp site.
A middle ground track. I came in know most of the user stuff, but some of the developer stuff was over my head. A middle ground track for more front end designers/developers would be awesome.
less music at after-party/speaker dinner – throat was raw trying to talk to people.
after-party was hot and stuffy, better outside, but would’ve preferred a different environment
1.) if possible with speaker’s schedules and such… arrange the sessions in a logical order. first download/install… organize… design site… then do a session on analytics (not stats as the first thing);
2.) the noise level between the two session rooms was terrible at times, One session in particular was a disaster for folks sitting near the door between session rooms. (Saturday). The sound was a little better on Sunday.
3.) a single combined resource location to put the many web references each of the presenters shared (name, URL, and with a description of why and what they are/do.) If possible to get from speakers, make posters of the list in advance of camp to hang on the wall, categorized by the purpose (stats, themes, etc.)
An improvement on the facilities, need to have more than one bathroom per gender for that large of crowd. Also having a microphone for the audience when there is a question and answer session with speaker’s question and answer session.
I wouldn’t put the sessions next to each other. The ambient noise from each space was a bit distracting if you ended up on the outer rows of the seating.
better bathrooms, quieter rooms
A central place (WordCamp Website) to find all speakers with contact info and slides/resources (or links to their slides). More soda/water available throughout the entire 2 days.
The local food and venue choices for the entire weekend were great! Good idea too.
Saturday lunch was great. The hotdogs were OK. Thank you so much for organizing this very affordable and stimulating event.
Overall this was a great event. The entire event had a very positive and enthusiastic vibe, and I learned a ton about WordPress and the local community of web professionals. My hope for next year would only this: more great speakers of the same caliber from whom we can all learn.
Session for users and developers to interact. Users could benefit a hands-on demo, but are afraid to approach the Wordbench. As a designer, I’m looking for talented developers to work with.
Would love to see a follow-up training session offered (like the one Scott Offord had put on via WPMeetUp in May) for $20. Or possibly get C2 to offer discounted class and promote here.
Would prefer Friday/Saturday schedule over Saturday/Sunday
First of all, awesome work on the event! This was my first WC, and I can’t wait to attend more.
It seems that my opinion is in the minority, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the location. The bathroom situation was awful. Apparently there were other bathrooms in the facility, but I could never find them. No soap (both days), No TP on Sunday. It was almost as disgusting as a tavern bathroom! Parking was a problem too (at least on Saturday). I would gladly pay more for a nicer venue.
What about nicer name tags? Not a huge deal, but a typical lanyard type name tag with the attendees name and Twitter avatar and handle would have been nice. Many of these people I know only through Twitter, and it would have helped to make connections easier with their Twitter info clearly displayed.
More swag from the sponsors?
Again, great job and my comments above are not intended to be a criticism of your hard work!!
Gluten-free options for lunch (even if it is just a “build your own” option with the choice of bread/wraps or lettuce!) I am not gluten intolerant but make a point not to eat it, and I know there was at least one other GF person there. Otherwise, way awesome!
didnt see anything poor, the ones i didn’t rate as high were because they were more beginner, but there’s nothing wrong with that….all in all this was an outstanding event and even better given that it was a fist conference there, it was outstanding. I have run and created conferences in other areas in college and i know what it takes to do it so kudos to you and your team for running such a solid event. loved bucketworks too….no idea what to expect and it really delivered.
I greatly appreciated the lunches, rather than searching for a place on my own (Saturdays was better). I don’t see how they didn’t lose money on just the lunches alone-Thanx again. Great location, but better acoustics would have helped.