WordCamp Croatia Recap

First WordCamp Croatia is over and we’re all happy with the final result. Of course, we could have done better in planning process, although – in the end, everything went splendidly and the general review from both attendees and speakers is extremely positive.

Planning

We started to plan WordCamp Croatia sometime in March 2015. We guided ourselves by general WordCamp organizer guidelines so we didn’t want to start planning too soon and we set the date for the first weekend in September. In the meantime we had to figure out how to choose the city that will host the first WordCamp and in the process we talked with both Split and Rijeka. I have to admit that both cities were generous in their support and in the end we had a tough decision to make.

Our application was sent on April 14th and before it got approved on June 10th, we had to go through some interviews to better explain our application. This has gone through without major problems since we prepared our application in details even before we applied. There were questions like “How is the Croatian community” and “How do you plan to change cities next year”. We wanted to get “WordCamp Croatia” because we believed that this would be helpful for the entire Croatian community and not WordCamp Zagreb (although there is a major community in Zagreb too).

So, we got ourselves WordCamp Croatia and we first announced it on June 17th just after we got location and venue confirmed.

Location

As I said earlier, we’ve been choosing between 2 cities – Split and Rijeka. We considered Zagreb and Pula as well but since Pula and Rijeka are really close and it was easier to arrive to Rijeka then to drive 100 more kilometers to Pula, we decided to support Rijeka. As for Zagreb – there is the strongest local community but we didn’t want to centralize everything in Zagreb, although we were aware that we’ll have less people in Split or Rijeka.

rijeka-center
Rijeka welcomed WordCamp Croatia attendees for 3 awesome days of fun, learning and networking

In the end, we all unanimously agreed that Rijeka would host the first Croatian WordCamp because of it’s location (close to Zagreb and Pula) and since the most people could help (and get) there.

Tickets

When you apply to host a WordCamp there is a thorough process that you have to go through. I would like to thank everyone in the WordPress community that helped us in the process, especially Brandon Dove and Kevin Cristiano, who were the first step in that direction since they conducted the first two interviews that got as approved (both WordCamp and budget/venue). Thank you guys.

Between announcing WordCamp and start of the ticket sales, two weeks passed. In that time we got in touch with both sponsors, volunteers and potential speakers. Our plan was to lunch ticket sales while announcing our two first speakers – Marko Dugonjić and Tomaž Zaman. (in the end Tomaž and Marko were selected as the most favorite speakers for the WordCamp Croatia 2015)

But even before the ticket sales started we received so many good talk submissions and we were sorry that we couldn’t have all of them on WordCamp Croatia. Nevertheless, we had 12 talks and 1 panel talk in our schedule – a lot of work had still to be done.

Summer

The biggest problem in the organization of WordCamp Croatia is that we didn’t know what will be the effect of summer to tickets sale.

This wasn’t going as good as we planned so we have to make this part better for the next year. At the end we sold 168 tickets and couple of news teams visited WordCamp Croatia (journalists, photographers, video journalists) during conference day. Somewhere around 160 people were at the conference. This is good but it could be better. Next year we will announce WordCamp Croatia before summer so we can sell more tickets.

Speakers

All the speakers were announced within 2 weeks after ticket sales started. In that time we closed speaker application form and announced two speakers at a time in separate blog posts.

This way we could make the most impact on social networks (Facebook + Twitter + (sometimes) LinkedIn) and media that covered WordCamp Croatia.

Sponsors

In the first few days we practically closed the entire budget with our awesome sponsors – Convertiv (platinum sponsor), Jetpack (global outstanding sponsor), Neuralab (gold sponsor) and Rijeka (our partner city).

We would also like to thank our silver and bronze sponsors.

While talking with sponsors we started to negotiate some discounts for our attendees. Everyone traveling to Rijeka with bus (within Croatia) had an additional 35% discount on their bus tickets with Autotrans. This was a major deal since 10% of people used this discount and we were really happy that Autotrans helped us provide this to our attendees. Other than travel discount we got special prices for the accommodation from some of the finest hotels in Rijeka like Hotel Bonavia and Hotel Continental as well as a #1 pick from many of our attendees – Botel (boat hotel) Marina that is docked in the Rijeka harbour.

Botel (boat hotel) Marina

Partners, rather than sponsors

None of this would be possible if we hadn’t the support from our partner city of Rijeka. They helped us by securing the venue of HKD Sušak that was given to us with no extra cost. Since this is usually a huge expense within budget, even WordPress Foundation encourages WordCamp applicants to find free venues like libraries or universities.

With Rijeka being a partner to Croatian WordPress community we also got on board Department of Informatics of Rijeka University. They provided us with 3 classrooms for Friday workshops and gave us more support with small things like a free parking for our speakers (which was actually a good thing since parking was a problem because of the limited parking spaces at the University Campus).

WordCamp Croatia 2015 – Photo by Neuralab

CARNet (Croatian Academic and Research Network) supported Croatian community for almost 2 years now and they gave us enormous support by providing assistance and their own contacts. They also provided the video coverage for the conference as well as live streaming solution.

It is of upmost importance to have partners rather than sponsors – while organizing every event especially those like WordCamp Croatia, that are community-organized and with limited budget. It is also important that the community realizes the importance of giving back. Because of that we organized pre–conference workshops that were free for everyone and we used local contractors (partly because our limited budget, partly because we wanted to give back to local companies wherever we could) to deliver needed services like WiFi and A/V equipment rental.

Media coverage

One of the main reasons to organize a nation-wide conference is to boost both the local community and the community in Croatia in general. By organizing WordCamp Croatia we wanted to give more credit to WordPress as well. Many people in Croatia use WordPress but there is still significant room for growth and we wanted to make both people, companies and the public sector to realize what can be done with WordPress.

Media coverage was essential to build awareness of WordPress and what can be done with it. We selected couple of media partners that covered WordCamp Croatia on local, national and regional level. Netokracija as the most influential Central–European blog with local editions for Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia, was selected as our regional media partner. MojaRijeka.hr was brought on board as the local media partner that gave us awesome media and social media coverage through their channels. This helped a lot when we promoted pre-conference workshops that were free for everyone.

WordCamp Croatia 2015 – Photo by Neuralab

In the end, a lot of local media covered WordCamp Croatia. Novi list (Croatian national daily newspaper) published articles covering workshops, conference and contributor day. Local television KanalRI broadcasted a video about the conference in their evening news and MojaRijeka published a video on YouTube about the conference, a few hours after the conference ended, with Goran Šerić, Petya Raykovska, Daniel Pataki and myself, talking about the importance of WordCamp Croatia and respective talks.

Some other media wrote about WordCamp Croatia including Bug – the oldest Croatian IT magazine with a wide audience as well as some mass-media like Tportal, Index.hr and Net.hr/Telegram.hr. Word about WordCamp Croatia (and by that word about WordPress) was seen on 4 of the TOP 10 portals in Croatia and with that was seen by many people outside the community. This way we could build awareness of WordPress and the importance of open source.

Here is a list of media coverage that we’re aware of (there were some other articles around, mostly quoted from some of these sources).

Pre-conference coverage

Post-conference coverage

Workshops, Conference and Contributor day

With all in place, speakers started to arrive in Rijeka from a week earlier to the Conference day (Saturday).

Workshops

As I said earlier, workshops were free for everyone and the idea was to get as many people on board as we could. Some of people that attended already bought a ticket for our WordCamp, some of the people bought a ticket after they signed up for the workshops. Around 120 people have gone through 3 workshops, from the beginner to medium to advanced, which was held by Daniel Pataki, editor of WordPress category at Smashing Magazine.

General reception for the workshops was positive although we had to change the beginner workshop host at the last moment. This proved to be a significant problem since a lot of people already registered for the workshop and we didn’t want to let them down. Anyhow, we plan to have more workshops in the future and we will certainly have workshops on WordCamp Croatia 2016.

Conference day

A day before the conference day we came to the venue to set everything up (that we could do a day before) inviting all of our speakers to come to see and to familiarize themselves with the stage. Some of them came to HKD Sušak with us.

On the conference day we started arriving at 7AM while the doors opened at 8AM. We anticipated the problem with WiFi so we created separate networks for visitors and speakers and everything was stress–tested couple of days before. Because of that we didn’t have any problems.

Our volunteers getting ready to welcome WCHR attendees
Our volunteers getting ready to welcome WCHR attendees

The strangest thing that happened (and never happened to me before WordCamp Croatia) was that everything went smoothly. We had every single bit under control (except the air–conditioning at the venue which was broken and we obviously couldn’t fix that).

Special thanks goes to our hosts – Tomislav and Aleksandar, Croatian stand up comedians and UI designers that hosted the entire conference from start to end.

At the end we heard so many positive comments about the conference day and WordCamp in general and this makes us both proud and impatient to organize WordCamp Croatia 2016.

Contributor day

Total of 33 people signed up for the Contributor day. That’s around 20% of those who were at the conference day which is a good number. We split in two groups – core and localization. While Ante Šepić was talking about how to contribute to core, 13 of us joined the localization group led by Jurica Zuanović and Petya Raykovska – registered our accounts on WordPress.org (those who didn’t had one) and joined the Slack channel.

Talking about localization at WCHR Contributor day
Talking about localization at WCHR Contributor day

At the end, these 13 people contributed with their translations and we want to have at least some of them to continue contributing. For now – we’re on a good path.

After Contributor day ended we headed to grab some lunch and at 4PM enjoyed a walking tour of Rijeka where we heard stories about Rijeka history and legends. It was a nice day all together.

Feedback

In the week following WordCamp Croatia we sent out our feedback questionnaires to everyone that were at the conference and/or workshops. This was important to us because we wanted to get honest (and anonymous) feedback about the first WordCamp Croatia.

Favorite talks

We asked people to tell us which were there 3 favorite talks and here is the TOP 5 favorite talks:

Tomaž Zaman was selected as the best speaker by 70% of our attendees – congrats Tomaž
Tomaž Zaman was selected as the best speaker by 70% of our attendees – congrats Tomaž

Basically, all the talks got positive feedback so we’re more than satisfied with all of them.

Satisfaction

We asked our attendees all sort of questions so we could see what they liked and what could be better. We also asked them to write down their comments on everything they wanted. Here are the feedback results:

How was your experience of WordCamp Croatia?
Great (5), 81%
Very good (4), 14%

How was the location (Rijeka)?
Great (5), 86%

How were the speakers and the agenda?
Great (5), 60%
Very good (4), 28%

How were the hosts Tomislav Kozačinski and Aleks Curać Šarić?
Great (5), 71%
Very good (4), 22%

How was the venue?
Great (5), 66%
Very good (4), 26%

How was the registration?
Great (5), 90%

How was the food?
Great (5), 90%

How was the afterparty? (only those who came)
Great (5), 56%
Very good (4), 19%
Good (3), 22%

How was Contributor day?
Great (5), 63%
Very good (4), 21%
Good (3), 16%

Do you plan to attend WordCamp Croatia 2016?
Yes, 97%

Do you have a preferred city for WordCamp Croatia 2016?
Zagreb, 37%
Pula, 20%
Split, 17%

What people said?

First WordCamp was a blast. The atmosphere, the team, food, talks – everything was great. The only thing I expect for the next year is even more great speakers and more workshops.
Marina Krmpotić

Great speakers, great workshops. Congrats for the organization and atmosphere. It was great and it was only the first time.
Višeslav Račić

I would like to have more advanced talks and for people to speak and connect (network) even more. Maybe we can motivate them somehow.
Tomislav Leljak

Awesome WordCamp, I am impressed! Truly one of the most inspiring events of this type I attended.
Dario Jazbec Hrvatin

“Everything was awesome. Long live #whcr! Oh, I mean #wchr”
Ivan Paulin

Thanks for every thing! It was awesome!
Laszlo Farkas

As a guy who never worked with WordPress I had a lot of fun, and learned a lot. The enthusiasm of people in WP community is exceptional, and the conference was a blast!
Stjepan Štajduhar

Organizers on stage at the end of WordCamp Croatia 2015 conference day
Organizers on stage at the end of WordCamp Croatia 2015 conference day

WordCamp Croatia 2016

Now that 2015 edition of WordCamp Croatia is over it’s time to look at the next year. There will be WordCamp Croatia in 2016, the question is – where? Rijeka has been this year and although we had such a great support from everyone within the city, we have to go to another city. We will probably choose between Zagreb, Split and Pula. Stay tuned for more information and see you again in September of 2016.

Have something to add? Let us know in the comments 🙂

3 thoughts on “WordCamp Croatia Recap”

  1. Your team did a great job.

    The only thing I have to compare it with is WordCamp San Francisco, and Team CROATIA pulled off a great event. I hope more people come next year from all parts of Europe.

Comments are closed.