Recap of WordCamp Bristol

Recap of WordCamp Bristol

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Last weekend we headed all the way up to the United Kingdom to take part in WordCamp Bristol. We had an amazing time, met lots of lovely people within the WordPress community and managed to learn a thing or two as well.

Bristol has a uniquely independent spirit and you can see that reflected in the local shops, bar, restaurants and in people’s dress sense. Their theme was street art. You can see incredible pieces of art on every street corner. Bristol is a very colorful and creative place!

This post will cover more around the event.
The organization was excellent, there were two tracks of talks. One was more technical and was aimed at developers, the other was not so technically heavy and was aimed more at user researchers, designers, and content manager. It’s fair to say that there was a talk for everyone there.

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Saturday, May 18th – ROOM 1


One of the first talks kicked off the weekend with the hot topic of the Gutenberg block editor.

09:45 AM David Darke – Gutenberg | How a WordPress studio adapted

The Gutenberg update was one of the most comprehensive overhauls to WordPress we’ve seen in years. The entire editing experience has been rebuilt for media-rich pages and posts. David Darke kicked off proceedings with an insight into how a small WordPress studio dealt with the huge core change and why internal processes were dismantled and rebuilt.

11:00 AM Lizzie Darville – Legacy Systems in Your Head (and why they matter at work)

Next up, we had a smart presentation that used a personal fear of flying to illustrate how a brain’s response to threat can impact cognitive functions in the workplace. In the creative or technical sphere, it’s important that the brain is functioning at a high level – unimpeded by external negative stimuli. More than this, Lizzie demonstrated how a good leader can effectively activate the brain’s reward system to trigger higher productivity and better output from workers.

12:00 PM Rachel McCollin – Why Multisite?

Just before lunch, Rachel gave us the lowdown on Multisite. Giving us a whole reel of varied examples – some more surprising than others – she taught us the value of using Multisite to create a network.

2:15 PM Jonny Allbut – Custom Theme Building Structures & Techniques to Save Your Sanity!

Are you having trouble with your custom theme build? Jonny Allbut has been wrestling with custom WordPress themes for well over a decade and he took to the floor to share his invaluable knowledge with us all. You’re going to need to organise your components and develop a consistent structure to theme building. With so much experience with countless iterations of the system, Jonny has picked up some amazing techniques and tricks and really helped us streamline the whole process.

3:15 PM Michelle Barker – Building Intelligent Layouts

The CSS Grid Layout Module Level 1 is an incredibly useful tool and can cut your workload in half if used correctly. However, this system gives us so much choice that it can get a little overwhelming. I mean, how do you narrow down a primo layout with so many customisable options?

Enter – Michelle Barker! She shed some light on the CSS Grid and went through the various new terminologies, properties, and functions that the system comes packaged with. She also busted some common myths and looked at how we can harness these new tools to build robust layouts, even with dynamic content. It was a hands-on talk with real-life examples – the best way to truly harness all the new tools and get better at building robust layouts.

4:30 PM Tammie Lister – Thinking in Patterns

The universe moves in patterns. Every design you can think of can be broken down into a workable formula and therefore chopped and changed to suit us. In the last talk of the day, Tammie showed us the power of patterns and how a fragmented approach to design can create an efficient workflow. Very illuminating!

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Saturday, May 18th – ROOM  2


9:45 AM – Keith Hyde – A Timesavers Guide to the Command Line

In Room 2’s first talk of the morning, Keith is gave us tips to help streamline our workload. There are so many ways we can consolidate those daily challenges that seem to eat up all our time. We need to utilise every shortcut in the book to streamline the command line within scripts and aliases, emails and other everyday tasks. We all want more time for coffee don’t we? This talk covered workflow and shortcuts on the Mac, introducing terminal, Alfred, Brew, ZSH/Oh My ZSH and shell scripting. While it focuses on Mac, most of the talk was applicable for anyone using or connecting to a Unix/Linux system as well.

11 AM – Oliver Davies – Taking Flight with Tailwind CSS

A lot covered in Oliver Davies’ talk on utility class and component-based styling. He’s taught us to soar with Tailwind CSS.

Topics covered included:

  • utility/atomic/functional CSS
  • advantages and disadvantages to utility based styling and Tailwind
  • What we mean when we say “utility first”
  • How to customise Tailwind for your project
  • How to promote repeating classes into re-usable components

12 PM – Dan Maby – WordPress, the Community, and Your Mental Health

The importance of mental health cannot be overstated and building your own business can really pile on the pressure. Dan Maby is all about community and the WordPress community is the greatest in the world! We have such a rich support network of peers and friends and it’s OK to lean on them when things get too much. Dan launched the charity WP&UP to give the community a base for mental health support. Having founded, developed and sold his own business, Dan is well versed in all the positive and negative impacts this world can have on you. In his segment, he spoke openly of his trials and tribulations and reminded us that we’re not alone out there – no matter how isolated you might feel!

2:15 PM Joss Ford – Purpose=Profit

Karma is a powerful thing! Joss Ford spoke to us about the communications word and how web designers or digital advertisers can use their skills to better the world. By being a positive force, we naturally generate a sense of purpose and general good feeling that bleeds into productivity. Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword to bolster a company’s reputation; it’s a real springboard for heightening a company’s output – and profits.

Joss gave us some great examples of companies who have incorporated various social and environmental causes into their ethos – and all prospered because of it.

3:15 PM Ben Everard – The Art of Problem Solving

Problem solving may sound like a basic skill, but it’s these fundamental assets that are at the core of any successful business. It permeates every little thing we do and Ben Everard gave a fascinating talk exploring the mechanics of problem solving. He shared all he’d learned from overcoming challenges, bouncing back from failures and seeing opportunity in crises.

4:30 PM Richard Franklin – Collaboration is the Key to Success

Collaboration is a vital part of any business – hell, we need it in every aspect of life! Richard highlighted the importance of sharing ideas and how we can all benefit from each other in the WordPress community.

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Sunday, May 19th – ROOM1


10 AM – Graham Armfield – So What Have the New HTML5 Elements Ever Done for Accessibility?

Ten years ago, the HTML5 proposition changed the game. Once it launched, we gained access to extended APIs to support interactive pages, as well as a whole stack of new semantic elements to delight us.

After all this time, how well are these assets being utilized? Graham explored browser support, accessibility of websites and more – all in relation to HTML5.

11 AM Jesse van de Hulsbeek – The Magic (Key)Word: Why Your Site is Not Getting the Traffic it Deserves

Keywords are, well, key! Jesse van de Hulsbeek gave us a crash course in SEO strategy and to help sky rocket our Google page ranking. You need to be savvy with the user’s thinking. What words are they typing in most to find you? There’s no tool that’s going to do this for you – it is an art and it takes practice.  Jesse gave us the tools to help you think like the user and become a natural at SEO optimisation.

12:15 PM Lightning Talks. 

Tess Coughlan-AllenUsing WordPress to do_action.

Can one day’s work benefit thousands of people in the local community? Yes. For every do_action there is a positive and empowering re_action. We got to hear the inside scoop about the first do_action day to take place in Europe, a one-day hackathon where we created WordPress sites for 5 non-profits and charities in the South West. This talk provided a transparent account of why Bristol chose to do_action, what successes and challenges were faced, and how it made an impact. Rocking Remote Work: Living Your Best Life & Maintaining Your Sanity

Luminus Alabi – Rocking Remote Work: Living Your Best Life & Maintaining Your Sanity.

Remote work is all the rage these days. More and more companies have started to go remote or offer remote friendly positions, but not everyone knows how to adjust to this new reality. In this talk, we heard all about the fabulous benefits of remote work, the potential pitfalls and how to bring balance to work life at home. Creative confidence and shifting designers mindset

Rich Copping – Creative confidence and shifting designers mindset.

Rich took to the floor to imbue us with a bunch of tips and tools to boost creative confidence and cultivate positive mindfulness. Sharing some anecdotal knowledge straight out various creative industries, Rich gave some great support to improve design input.

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2 PM Mitko Kochkovski – Building Websites Using React.js and WordPress API

Mitko told us all about how you can leverage WordPress REST API to build awesome websites. React.js are a vital tool for rendering the frontend outside of WordPress Theme implementation. Using the processor class inside the React.js will help handle all the layouts your website might need.

3 PM Scott Jones – Selling WordPress

What happens when WordPress comes up against other CMS and DXP platforms, especially when they have such great presence and marketing behind them? Why is WordPress a sellable CMS? How easy is it to endorse WordPress when a client is asking about other platforms?

The CMS we all love is flexible, expandable, fast, well-supported, great for content editors and ultimately great for business. It’s not just a small blogging platform anymore; it’s a product that suits tiny businesses and enterprise businesses alike, depending on the experience of the designers and developers working with it.

Selling WordPress is a discussion Scott has been having with Joost de Valk and others on his marketing team since last December. It’s a challenge that he faces in his business life each day.

Scott readily admits that his company isn’t doing enough to show off who they are and why they’re the best. He opened up a riveting discussion and shared ideas with the WordPress community, doing wonders to connect the company to the user and by extension, the clients – improving the system for everyone.


Sunday, May 19th – ROOM 2


10 PM Wholegrain Team – A Study in Green

Believe it or not, the internet produces 2% of global carbon emissions and this figure is rising. Reducing our emissions is something every facet of society needs to be working towards and the Wholegrain Team gave a wonderful presentation to show us what we can do to help.

Having developed a carbon calculator to measure the carbon footprint of websites, the team found that encouraging clients to embrace efficiency and commit to reducing their website emissions was surprisingly challenging – but they persevered.

This is the story about how a 75% reduction in carbon emissions was achieved and how their process even improved page load speed and upped the user experience.

11 AM Mark Wilkinson – Build Blocks Without Writing Javascript

When the new block-based editor was released earlier this year, WordPress development got a little more complicated. Instead of the low barrier to entry PHP we’re used to, React and javascript based development practices were thrown into the mix.

How is the “traditional” developer supposed to adapt to such big changes? Don’t fret! Mark Wilkinson was on hand to show how he develops custom blocks to build WordPress sites. He outlined how he standardized block-based development into a streamlined plugin and made the whole process easier. Once you get to grips with the block editor, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.

12:15 PM Karla Campos – Meet Your Friends the Gutenberg Blocks

With the launch of the Gutenberg editor came a lot of misgivings and the need to adapt. Karla Campos did a great job to ease our transition and show you how useful Gutenberg Blocks can be. She proved how easy it is to build beautiful, media-rich pages and posts with GBs. Before long, it will come as naturally as any other aspect of website building.

2 PM Becky Taylor – Making a CMS For Humans

Becky Taylor is acutely aware of the impact the CMS will have on admin users. A majority of users just don’t conceptualise content in the way that UXers, designers, and developers do. Us digital types understand that a webpage is made of five separate content types and have an ability to break down content from the information architecture – to the design – to a set of fields and posts in the CMS. Easy for us, sure! But we have to appreciate a client’s difficulty grasping this concept. Dialogue with the client is so important and Becky discussed some ways we can bring the client in on our thought process in a way they can understand. An engaged client is a happy client. A happy client is a regular client!

3 PM Nicola Heald – What Can WordPress Learn from the Way OpenStack Communicates?

OpenStack is a free and open-source software platform for cloud computing. It is made up of many smaller projects that each look after a specific aspect of the stack.

Nicola showed us how projects structure their communication to make sure everything works together as one in a final release, how decisions are made transparently, and what we might be able to learn from the above.

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We had a great time catching up with attendees about WordPress, web hosting, and everything in between. Meetups like WordCamp are brilliant chances for building closer relationships with our customers and likeminded people throughout the tech industry.

We already eagerly await our next WordPress event!


Photo credits goes to Lorena and Aleks