The weekend that had just past was the 2013 Joomla World Conference held in Boston, USA.
As this was my very first large Joomla conference I decided to do a reflection article instead of pushing out a social media review or a conference report day by day to hopefully inspire others to go.
A reflection piece is something to make me think more about the messages that were put to the community rather than anything else and besides, I have to report back to the Joomla User Group Sydney as well and this can only help with my review of the weekend.
Overall the weekend was quite an amazing experience and far from what I was expecting. The organisers did an amazing job of putting it all together and I can't thank them enough for making it all so smooth and a flawless event.
The many people that I had met over the years online via Skype, Twitter, Facebook and on the forums have suddenly turned into real people. People that I have watched online delivering amazing presentations, sharing their knowledge to a global audience, and collaborating to make the Joomla community a better place were all there in front of me. People that I never thought I'd get to meet that I had interviewed on the podcast like Oduor Jagero from Kenya and so many more were all there. I was thankful that I took the chance to be there and also be able to watch it all unfold in front of me, (when I wasn't hung over).
The event started amongst friends 300+ and ended the same way. With social nights and networking opportunities every evening there was always plenty of chatter, networkings and socializing to be done.
Key Messages and My Take Aways
Creating for Community
There were a few key messages that I took away from the weekend and David Hurley's speech at the end of the last day really summed it up for me. All about not forgetting who we were building Joomla for, the end users.
How can we bring new faces into the Joomla Community and how can we reach new people to increase its reputation and its placement in the business and enterprise space.
The Joomla World Conference is not a JoomlaDay in a JoomlaDay. It is much more than that. People need to come in and enjoy JoomlaDays.
And lastly, I have to agree, JoomlaDay and events are addictive!
Be respectful, nurture the fun, get other involved, pay attention to cultural differences, be appropriate in our fun, be a pro, have fun and rock on.
Rod Martin's Ignite presentation, only a 5 minute Ignite presentation, about potentially paying various key members of the community for work that is done, so that there is more accountability for particular roles in the community. An interesting and controversial topic that can create a split in the community.
Sander Potjer's Volunteer portal, and his explanation of Holland, or was that the Netherlands.... The new portal looks like it will have the potential to really fill in some gaps in the Joomla space in regards to tasks and roles that volunteers can work on. It will act as a match-making services between obsessed Joomla fanatics that want to chip in and help, and the working groups and core volunteers that are struggling to keep up with work.
Discussions that sprung up in the community as well related to marketing of Joomla. Unfortunately I didn't get to attend Jessica Dunbar's presentation about the new marketing plan for Joomla but there will be big moves made to market and position Joomla in the right spot to bring new ideas, new users and new life into the project.
Tenko Nikolov's presentation about security and 8 ways to hack a Joomla website was an eye opener. Tenko went through some really easy ways on how to hack a website including how a brute force attempt works and the security flaw that was found in versions below Joomla 2.5.14. Tenko demonstrated just how to hack the website and it was quite scary how easy it was to do, only taking a few minutes to gain full access to a website's file structure.
Make sure that all of our websites are up to date and that all of your Joomla 1.5 sites have the additional patch to make sure that the security issue that is in Joomla 1.5 is covered as well.
Creating Enterprise Level Applications
Ronni K. G. Christiansen from RedWeb/RedComponent is now in charge of the largest Joomla agency in the world with 60 employees in RedWeb. Ronnie talked about using Joomla to run and power web services, lots of which I didn't understand but a very popular session overall. Meeting Ronni and talking to his team made me realise that I still have a lot to learn and a long way to grow my own agency but it is possible and a goal to compete against Ronni in size and services would be an interesting goal.
That's size in terms of agency size and not size in terms of stature or size of drives that can be guzzelled. Ronni is indeed the huge viking he claims to be and at least three times my size in height and weight.
Besides all of the main presentations and break out sessions, there were also lots of general chatter and whispers amongst each other, comparing what other extension developers are doing and how we're running our businesses.
A vast majority of people are still running and managing Joomla service based businesses but in talking to some of the extensions developers, I believe there are holes that need to be filled in the extensions market and that is is the best way to go in terms of residual income and online product sales. Digital products are definitely a must for any Joomla related business as I was told a few of the numbers others were making on a good or bad month from extension sales.
Looking back and reflecting on companies like RedWeb/RedComopnent, they have this structure with digital products and applications that are sold on one layer, with their services and support on another. This indeed is something that I personally can achieve at PB Web Development and will be striving for.
Creating a Marketing Plan
The last thing that stood out was the need for a marketing strategy for the new Joomla. Jessica Dunbar was leading a conversation and work group called "The Future of the New Joomla! Marketing Team" which I unfortunately missed as I was doing interviews for the podcast but overall they're looking for a new plan and a leader to take Joomla in the new direction. The right person that can work on large scale marketing plans, work with designers and planners, as well as front end developers to reach goals and directives everyone as a whole wants to achieve.
This overall is something I'd like to look more into and see what is going on in regards to the space to make sure that Joomla still thrives and grows from the ground up.
Creating Grass Roots Growth
In a chat I had with Mark Lee from StackIdeas over the weekend, he mentioned to me that he gets the best returns on investment and best reactions to his product and services from users at the grass roots level. That is the very beginners and people that haven't been exposed or don't know about Joomla.
Looking at Google trends for Joomla in general, it looks like it is dropping in usage and dropping in growth. Now this might not be the case but from what I've heard personally it is affecting sales and traffic stats.
We discussed the search terms of WordPress and Joomla and we could see WordPress climbing and hovering where it is now where as Joomla is dropping month after month. Are the changes that we are doing to Joomla itself destroying the traffic or is it the fact that Joomla is now a different best and has grown from where it was before when the traffic started to drop.
Perhaps we need to do a comparison in regards to average income as well, but at the end of the conversation we came up with the fact that we need more of a grass routes community growing the user group base with funded meetups and promotion of Joomla to complete newbies, whether they are new developers, implementers or designers. What ever the situation, we need to see more people getting into Joomla and using it to create demand as that will drive future development from the extension, template and service shops in the community.
I would love to see Open Source Matters contribute more into the running of the local events with financing as many local meetups and user group meetings in 2014.
I'd also push for an online guide to how to run and organise a user group / meetup as well as good collaborative ideas around the world on topics and presentations that can be done at this level.
Creator of "Responsive Web Design"
Ethan Marcotte keynotes the lunch time session on the second day with an inspiring presentation about responsive design. Just watch it!
Creating Cross Community Opportunity
It was great to see Matt Mullenweg from WordPress and Automatic come along and give a presentation on the WordPress community. As some people know, I still help out and attend WordPress events around Sydney and am a strong believer that we can learn a lot from each other's communities. I think Joomla people are one of the only communities that really embraces others and will look at other open source communities as well.
Creating Podcast Content
My own goal other than meeting others at the event was to feed my own obsession of interviewing people from the Joomla community and that goal I did indeed achieve. Here is a quick run down list of all the people that I managed to interview and the topics covered.
- Gabe and Luke from Savvy Panda - Inbound Marketing
- Gary Brooks - His start up story at CloudAccess.net
- Phil Locke from Fast Net Web Design and Joostrap
- Dianne Henning, Jacques Rentzke, Phil Locke - Long ago retired, newly retired and current Open Source Matters board members.
- Bug squash session - Matt Thomas - Between Brain, Daniele - Weble, Havier Gomez - Production Leadership Team, Carlos Olivares Pérez from Mexico City,
- Michael Babker - Joomla Production Leadership team, talking about his experience and new Joomla Issue tracker
- Matt Baylor and Tessa Mero from the Joomla Extension Directory team
- Mark Lee from Stack Ideas
- Robert Jacobi - Arc Technology Group
- Dawn Russel - My Artisan Web
- Robbie Adair - Media A Team
- Alice Grevet and Dianne Henning - Joomla Community Magazine
- TJ Baker - Red Component / Red Web
- Nicholas Dionysopoulos from Akeeba Backup
- Matt Mullenweg - Creator of WordPress and founder of Automatic
- Paul Orwig - President of Open Source Matters
- Peter Martin - from DB8 in the Netherlands
It was also good to see an old face like Brian Teeman buzzing around which also had to be the first person I bumped into when I got to the hotel. Meeting and watching one of Tenko Nikolov's, from SiteGround, presentations in person was also pretty cool.
The thing that threw me the most about the whole conference was the amount of people that new me and the podcast. I wasn't expecting many people to have heard of it or have even listened to many of the episodes, but to my surprise, there were lots of fans at the conference and if they weren't fans before, they are now.
So I have to thank everyone that had given me feedback on the podcast. I don't think I got one single negative comment about it and that positive feedback will keep me going for at least another year ;).
Overall I have to say it was an amazing experience and would always love to see it grow and improve over the next year. I heard whispers of where it will be next year at the same time and I definately be there next year!