Tuesday Trainings: Tips for designing an online WordCamp

WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more. Europe concluded successfully this past weekend. This being an online flagship WordCamp of larger scale and reach, the WCEUWCEU WordCamp Europe. The European flagship WordCamp event. design team, which included Estela, Roberto and myself, wanted to share our lessons learned. We compiled the following collection of notes and tips curated during the event to share as a starting point to help those focusing on design during an online event. Let’s dive right in!

The experience

Creating an online event is very different from a physical one. What will be the experience for those attending falls down to the website, the streams, networking rooms (if you have them) and social media. This means considering even small details, such as what music can enhance the experience. WCEU ended up having an original music piece created and that truly helped make the event feel more unique and crafted.

Your event’s website becomes far more important as it moves online. A physical WordCamp will see the focus shift for design to the space itself. Think about the different sizes of screens and the fact that now your design will be in someone’s living room, perhaps on their TV. Many will be watching whilst viewing or interacting on their tablets.

TrelloTrello Project management system using the concepts of boards and cards to organize tasks in a sane way. This is what the make.wordpress.com/marketing team uses for example: https://trello.com/b/8UGHVBu8/wp-marketing.

Having a way to clearly report the myriad of tasks that will stack up is crucial to functioning. This team used Trello. After a few iterations, the team settled into using columns for:

  • Information: a column to collect all useful links.
  • Inbox: anything not sorted. This was triaged during the weekly meetings and a few times a week by the team.
  • This month: anything that was to do as a focus during the months leading up to the event.
  • Coming up: tasks that were in the future but for the event.
  • Not this year: this column was made once the event moved from physical to online, to keep record of everything for next year.
  • Icebox: ideas and inspiration not added for any year yet.
  • Done: everything once completed goes there.

Labels were used for specific roles within the design team, for example, visual or website and team lead to get decisions. As time progressed other teams were asked to follow the following format for adding a card:

  • Put it in the ‘Inbox’ column.
  • Where possible state deadlines and priority to enable focusing.

Before the event

  • Prepare slide decks before the event and share using Google slides. This way everyone can work on them and you can easily create a template for any team to use.
  • Test slides with the software to avoid duplication of frames, for example, double logos.
  • Make clear to speakers, sponsors, and even your organizing team, the ideal sizes of images and limits to the size of files. You likely will have to make multiple versions if using a combination of YouTube and SteamYard for example.
  • If you need music, YouTube has a free streaming library you can use.
  • Consider virtual swag for the event. This can be something people can then print out themselves. Personally, I would love to see this carry on for future, in-person events as it really offers options. Remember to also provide source files as this opens up where someone can get virtual swag printed.
  • Consider if your branding needs to adapt for digital screens when moving from a physical to online event.
  • Add a track link to each speaker slot so people can easily know where to go.

During the event

  • The event site is going to be a major focus of your attendees, speakers, sponsors, volunteers, and organizers. Be ready to update things. This is a big difference from a physical event.
  • Communicate with your teammates in advance to understand who will be around to help, and what roles and responsibilities are during the event. Share with each other when you are taking a break or watching a talk.
  • The first few hours will be intense, so prioritise tasks and focus.
  • Note each task in your team’s SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform https://slack.com/. The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at https://make.wordpress.org/chat/. channel. It’s strongly encouraged to have one on Slack (or another platform) to coordinate. Share when someone is owning a task so that you can easily support each other.
  • Designate one team member as the point of contact for all teams, so the others can focus on tasks.
  • Find out how many attendees are impacted by any request that comes in during the event, this helps to prioritise tasks and helps the team to move forward intentionally.
  • There is a chance that once all the bumps are smoothed out on day one, your second day will be calmer, so this may be a better day to watch talks or to work on last-minute adjustments to closing remark slides.
  • Video calls are great to focus work during the event, text works but to speed process hop on a video and share screens to just get it done.

So, those are the tips! We hope this helps as you design your own online event. If you have additional tips, thoughts, or any feedback to share based on your experience designing for an online WordCamp, we invite you to share that in the comments.