Not only is this my first WooConf, it is my first solo trip for any WordPress-related event.  Normally, I am my wife’s trusty sidekick.  So, this has been quite a change.  One thing that’s not going to change is my reliable annual WordPress event post.1

In any case, I am going to try to do things a bit different this time, with a bit more of the overused ‘liveblog’ feel.  Without further ado, I present you WooConf 2017:

View out of my AirBnB Room

7:30 a.m.
Let’s start with the view out of my AirBnB… Apartment is beautiful, in a very Ikea sort of way.2  My only two beefs:  You have what is probably a $500,000 condo, and it’s rocking a 5-year-old Roku box that dies every 25 minutes watching Netflix and a coil spring mattress with no box spring.  Like, $400 on a new streaming box and a nice, 12″ foam mattress and we’d be close to perfection.  Of course, I slept on the futon anyways, because my head can’t fall asleep to silence, especially with my wife and dogs 2,500 miles away.

I’m going to sneak back to the breakfast spread to get a quick shot of it, because, well, I ate mine to fast for the lens to get focus.  Will check back in after the A.M. keynote =)


Just finished the a.m. keynote from Todd Wilkens, the head of Woo.  “Lead Janitor” as he calls himself.

The highlights:

  • They are aiming to de-fang the Squarespaces and Wixes of the world with a big focus on UI/UX and ease-of-deployment- brought in John Maeda to lead the effort.
  • For builders and developers, they are building increased flexibility, ability to scale, and a better, deeper API- less PHP hacks.
  • For everyone, they are working on increased release stability and a deeper testing program- Store Owners can’t be scared to upgrade.

One thing that always surprises me at events3 like this is that they almost always feature far more ‘users’ and ‘builders’ than hardcore ‘developers’, even at a ‘developers’ conference.  I think it is because it’s likely much more difficult to offer value at a public event for in terms of teaching code or methodology, than it is to offer the value of networking and inspiration.


Swag Store!4

So, this is a bit different than the Camps I’ve been to.  They gave me two tickets at check-in, to be redeemed at the Swag Store.  I just visited to select my items:

Woo water bottle and scarf

Also, here’s a shot of a view from the laptop lounge:

Seattle waterfront

One thing I wish every conference would do is provide tables for everyone.  Maybe can’t do that for the keynote, but it should be do-able for the sessions.  If I didn’t have my pen, I would be very, very annoyed.  It is pretty nice to be able to “‘type” up updates with my pen.  Also, it would be handy if sessions had posted end times for the talks.  Not entirely sure the speaker knows 😛


Enterprise E-commerce

David Lockie is talking about how to use multiple inter-connected platforms to allow best-in-breed tools as needed to meet a business’s needs.  He splits responsibilities into data, architecture, and experience.5

The big, driving goal of these integrations is personalization , and ultimately, to drive conversions.  In a non-commerce setting, this would translate to driving engagement.

  • Waterfall versus Agile: It can be tough to translate traditional business project management expectations to Agile development.
  • Find out who in the business can contribute in what role going forward.
  • Look for incremental wins.
  • Provide status reports- internal marketing- communicate value back (ROI).
  • Never forget that you need the framework before the specialization / features.

(I am going to back things up a bit and show a couple of cool things from before the conference started. Consider this the Benjamin Button section of this post.)

7:30 The Night Before

Last night, I was suffering from a tremendous case of jet lag, magnified by simple exhaustion. What I wanted, more than even sleep, though, was an excellent burger and a Coke. Luckily, there was a bar just around the corner from my AirBnB, The Wakefield.  Yelp said they had a good burger.  That was a lie.

They had a fantastic burger.  I asked for it medium, and by some manner of witchcraft, they actually cooked a 1/2-pound burger medium.  Part of me says I should go to a different place each night, but part of me6 is yelling to go back for two more burgers.  Oh yea- the Coke was delicious too- very, very carbonated.  Bars that aren’t trying to push Pepsi on us are proof of a higher power.  They were playing solid music, at a decent but not deafening level, and several other patrons had laptops out, even at the bar, so I would call the atmosphere ‘perfect nerd chill’.7

a delicious burger

1:30 PST The Day Before

So, I get off my last plane.  No TSA or serious ‘stranded in a strange state’ style deadlines to worry about.  I haven’t eaten or really drank anything since awakening 11 hours and three time zones before.  I needed the first closest place to eat that wasn’t a Subway or some other chain garbage.

Enter Biscuit Bitch.  A perfect place to let my stomach (is breakfast going to happen today?) catch up with my mind (I have to wait almost 2 hours before I can check in to my room?).  They served me a delicious blackberry tea and a Cheezy Pork-n-Bitch.  Not even gonna lie- that ‘Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe’ was their background music as I ate is a detail too perfect to make up.  A couple of huge biscuits buried in sausage gravy, cheddar cheese, and bacon is an excellent first meal of the day.

biscuits and gravy with bacon

A takeoff video of leaving O’Hare International Airport:

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