A couple of weeks ago, on May 6th and 7th (Friday and Saturday), I had the opportunity to attend WordCamp BCN 2023, my first in-person WordCamp experience. I was thrilled and honoured to participate as both a speaker and an attendee. But what is a WordCamp, you may ask? A WordCamp is an event/conference focusing on WordPress, the underlying software on many websites.
In general, WordCamps include talks which cater to various levels of experience using WordPress. For example, in WordCamp Barcelona, there were three different tracks: the main one, a beginner’s track, and the advanced one. So even if you are just a WordPress user, there may be a talk for you.
WordCamps take place all over the world. After attending WordCamp Santa Clarita virtually in 2021, I decided that if a WordCamp took place near me, I’d attend it. And so when WordCamp Barcelona was announced, I looked at the call for speakers, and decided to submit a proposal for a presentation.
Despite being a newcomer in the community, my proposal was accepted. I was very happy when I received the confirmation email.
Because of my love of languages and since this website is in Catalan, Spanish and English, I thought it would be interesting to share some insights and provide some tips for creating and running a multilingual website. Moreover, since Catalonia is a bilingual region, probably many website owners will probably face the decision of whether or not to have a website in several languages.
Bearing this in mind, I structured the talk into the following points:
- Introduction and goals
- Plugins that we can use to create a multilingual website
- Among these, a comparison between Polylang and TranslatePress, which have free versions that allow us to create a website in several languages
- The process I follow when I write posts for this website
- Tools for polyglots (i.e. people who run multilingual websites in WordPress)
The Mentorship Programme
As part of the speaker experience, I had the opportunity to take part in the mentorship programme offered by WordCamp BCN. Run mainly by Luis Miguel Climent, it was meant to guide and help us through the whole process: from creating the slides to the talk itself. At the start, Luis Miguel gave a talk about how to prepare a presentation and provided us with some key tips. Afterwards, we met with him individually several times in order to talk about our worries and give us feedback.
Contributor Day (Friday)
On contributor day, attendees contribute to various areas of WordPress, such as programming, translations, ideas for inclusiveness, training and accessibility, among others.
Unfortunately, I cannot say much about it, as I only joined in the afternoon for the mentorship programme. We had an in-person group meeting to, again, talk about our worries and help us prepare for the next day. This meeting really helped me lower my stress and anxiety.
However, I did attend the presentation at the end of the day, where the leaders for each of the contributor’s tables explained what they had done during the day. They also presented the results of the do_action project. In this case, a group of volunteers created a website for an animal shelter in Girona, starting from scratch. The result was impressive, considering that they even had to write the texts and choose the photos.
Overall, I felt the sense of community and inclusiveness that transpired. This left me eager to join in the next time.
Main Day (Saturday)
On the main day, presentations started at 9:00 and ended at 19:15, with breaks for breakfast, lunch and snacks in the afternoon. All food and drinks were included in the ticket price. There were 10-minute, 20-minute, 30-minute presentations and 1h 30min workshops.
The talks covered a variety of topics. From usability to plugin creation, including an analysis on .cat domain positioning or using ChatGPT for content creation. There was even a workshop for complete beginners. Note that most of these talks are either in Catalan or Spanish.
I attended talks in the beginner and main tracks. Unfortunately, some of the talks that interested me took place simultaneously, so I had to miss some of them. Those I’ll watch through WordPress.tv. I had fun listening to and learning from talks which dealt with more general topics, such as Míriam Paredes’s talk on using WordPress for cultural projects or Sonia Losada’s on how WordPress helped her run her dog training business.
My Experience as a Speaker
My talk (in Catalan) was at 13:00 and lasted for 30 minutes. It was part of the beginner’s track. There were quite a few questions at the end, and some attendees even approached me afterwards. The pity was that we had to take a group picture and I wasn’t able to talk to them. This is one of the few minor things that could be improved in future editions.
Apart from everything I learnt from attending the different presentations, my main takeaway from the event is all the amazing people I met. Kudos also to the organisers and volunteers, who did an amazing job and made sure that everything ran smoothly.
Another standout aspect of the event is how inclusive it felt. Being a shy introvert, I thought it was great that we were provided with a set of stickers in our swag bag. These stickers served as a way to signal our preferred social interaction style — whether we were open to meeting new people, preferred conversations with familiar faces, or simply desired to be alone. In addition to this, there was a designated “Silence Room”, where one could go to work or to just find some peace and quiet.
Last but not least, I want to send a special thanks to Xavi Galver, who acted as my shadow, and was incredibly supportive. Shadows are volunteers who are assigned to each speaker, and they help them get ready for the talk by solving any last minute issues and providing any kind of support. I’m truly grateful for his assistance.
In conclusion, WordCamp BCN 2023 was a remarkable experience. The talks, the welcoming community, and the outstanding organization made this event an incredible experience. I look forward to attending future WordCamps and continuing to be a part of this community.
To Nilo Vélez for taking all the official event photos, including the featured image (license CC-BY-SA) on this post.