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DeCode Conference

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DeCode Conference
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The DeCode 2022 conference just passed and it was nothing short of amazing. In this episode, Nyasha Green shares all the things she really loved about this virtual developer conference hosted with WP Engine.

Check out the original article here: https://masterwp.com/decode-2022-is-how-you-put-on-a-tech-conference/

This podcast was sponsored by LearnDash. Your expertise makes you money doing what you do. Now let it make you money teaching what you do. Create a course with LearnDash. Visit LearnDash.com.

Press the Issue is a production of MasterWP. It was produced by Allie Nimmons. It was hosted and edited by Monet Davenport and mixed and mastered by Teron Bullock. Please visit masterwp.com/presstheissue to find more episodes. Subscribe to our newsletter for more WordPress news at masterwp.com

Episode Transcript:

Monet Davenport:
Welcome to Press The Issue, a podcast for Master WP, your source for industry insights for WordPress professionals. Get show notes, transcripts, and more information about the show at masterwp.com/presstheissue. The DE{CODE} 2022 Conference just passed, and it was nothing short of amazing. In this episode, Nyasha Green shares all the things she really loved about this virtual developer conference hosted with WP Engine.

Teron Bullock:
How’s it going, Nyasha?

Nyasha Green:
Hey, it’s going well. How are you doing today?

Teron Bullock:
I’m well. So I know today we’re going to talk about The DE{CODE} Conference. And you attended as well as writing an article, so that’s going to be pretty exciting.

Nyasha Green:
Yeah.

Teron Bullock:
So for anybody that’s listening that is not familiar with DE{CODE}, can you explain what it is?

Nyasha Green:
Yes. So DE{CODE} is a tech conference that the people behind WP Engine put on. And it was the first time having it in a little while due to COVID, and it was completely virtual. So they talked about all things WordPress, they had it in different time zones so it could reach the maximum amount of people. And they talked about the present, the past, and the future of WordPress in terms of updates, where we were in WordPress, where we are now, and where we’re going. And it was just an excellent conference in terms of just the talks they had, the information they shared, the entertainment. They had a live DJ to keep people interested in what was going on. And then they just were so accepting of different sides of how people felt about the community. So it was really, really great to be a part of it, and it was just a very, very wonderful experience.

Teron Bullock:
I was able to tune in for the last maybe hour and a half to two hours. And from what I could see, it definitely was very entertaining. It was definitely something that I wish that I would see more in the universe, if I could say it that way. The conference to me, like I said having tuned in late, was spectacular. I loved it. I loved every minute of it. The DJ was, he definitely brought a different side to the conference that I’ve never seen before because a lot of times you go to… You watch these conferences or even if you go to them, let’s be honest, we want the information, but it’s kind of boring.

Nyasha Green:
Yeah.

Teron Bullock:
But the DJ was dancing. Even the DJ, I expect him just to play one record or play another, he’s dancing. And it was just very entertaining.

Nyasha Green:
Yeah, it definitely kept people’s attention. Normally when you go to an in-person conference you have outside rooms where you can kind of talk to people network, or you can kind of wonder outside. You pretty much got to find your own energy and find your own things to do in between conferences or in between panels. But it’s like they understood we all would be home or working from a specific place.

Nyasha Green:
So the DJ just was the life of it, and kept bringing energy back to us. We would sit there and listen to this information. And then instead of just piling on more and more information and maybe making people lose focus of what was going on, they had that DJ in between panels to get the party back up, and then a hour break, and then good music, good energy, good vibes. And it was just a great, great situation all the way around.

Teron Bullock:
Absolutely. Piggybacking off of something that you had just mentioned, you said, “When we normally attend in person conferences, we can go outside or remove ourselves just a little bit in order to network.” And I know that they had a tool in this conference that could be used in the same way, which was the chats. Would you like to speak on your experience with the chat?

Nyasha Green:
Yeah, so the chats were really good. While they had panels, they had chats where you could… Just a general chat. Well, they had a main chat and then they had smaller chats, where you could talk about what was going on in the panel. They weren’t taking questions in most of the panels, but it’s just a way to talk to other people. And they actually had other people in the chats that could answer some questions. Maybe not the speaker specifically, but other people, I believe, that were working at the conference.

Nyasha Green:
So that was great. You were able to meet people from all over the world. It was just a very excellent networking opportunity. And at the end of the conference, they just had a big networking event where everyone could talk to each other. I could not catch that part, but if it was anything like what was going on at the beginning, I don’t doubt that people were able to make a lot of good connections. And that was very beneficial to a lot of the people I’m mentoring because I told them, “Hey come on, check out this conference. Take a look.”

Nyasha Green:
And they’re trying to build those connections because they’re trying to get a job. They’re trying to get that first tech job. And as we all know, and what we’ve talked about a lot at Master WP is, unfortunately it’s sometimes who you know, not what you know, so the chats were just a wonderful networking opportunity and a chance to connect with some of the best minds in WordPress.

Teron Bullock:
Absolutely. I know they broke us out into different rooms. I don’t recall if you had said that, but there were different rooms that you would go in to hear about different topics. And the room that I was in, the chat was on fire. It was surreal because on one hand you have the conversation that is going on about the topic, but then in the chat, they were having almost a different conversation, but about the topic itself. And it’s like, you just never know where the chat will go.

Teron Bullock:
And I kind of like that experience. It almost reminds me of going to a theater. At least, in my neighborhood, you can go to a movie theater and just somebody would say something at the screen and it’s just at the right time. I love those experiences when it comes to movies. I’m not a person that wants to sit in the movie and be quiet. I think the energy of the theater is just as important as going to see the movie.

Teron Bullock:

And that’s how I felt the chat was, is like it was on point. It was on target with the message, but it was just its own thing. And there were certain things that weren’t being covered, or maybe something was said and the person didn’t understand exactly what that topic was about, and so they went into more detail and the chat. And I just thought the chat was very beneficial.

Nyasha Green:
Yeah, I agree. I definitely agree.

Monet Davenport:
Thank you for listening up to this point. Press The Issue by Master WP is sponsored by LearnDash. Your expertise makes you money doing what you do. Now, let it make you money teaching what you do. To create a course with LearnDash, visit learndash.com. Now, back to the podcast.

Teron Bullock:
So as far as the way that they handled this conference, would you think that this is now a challenge that might be brought up compared to the rest of the WordPress community? Should this be the standard? Did they raise the bar on what conferences should be like?

Nyasha Green:
Yes, they definitely did. Especially in the time of COVID, just going through the last… The last few years have been hard on everyone, and I don’t want to diminish what any of these organizers or organizations are going through. They are, in my opinion, still doing a phenomenal job with everything that’s stacked against them. So I want to say that first and foremost, I think no matter what, for you to put on and, or to organize a conference right now with everything going on, I think that takes a lot and you deserve your props for it definitely.

Nyasha Green:
However, DE{CODE} really, really, really set a high standard. First of all, they made it completely virtual. I know we’re all pretending like COVID has gone away, but it’s still here, and it’s still affecting us. And by them making it completely virtual outside of COVID, they made it very accessible. Before COVID, during COVID, and after COVID, we’re going to have people in our community that want to participate in these type of conferences, but they can’t. Whether it be because of money, because of ability or disability, accessibility, first step is making it virtual.

Nyasha Green:
Making it virtual, opening the doors for a lot of people. And not just people already in the community, again, newbies. A lot of my newbies were able to join this conference because another great thing about it was, it was recorded. It was recorded and all of the panels were put up. So people could go to them and digest them in their own way. I have a few people who told me, they were like, “I just cannot sit there and listen to someone speak. I won’t retain the information. I won’t digest it. It just will go out my other ear, or I won’t be able to focus. I just can’t do it.”

Nyasha Green:
And when I told them it’ll be recorded, you can stop it and you can come back to it whenever you like, they were so ecstatic. It’s people who would’ve never checked it out. They would’ve never gotten this good information if it wasn’t for the work they put in to make it accessible, to make it easily picked up or paused or just made it easy for people to get to. And we don’t see that as… We have the technology. We’re not seeing that at a lot of conferences these days, but DE{CODE} didn’t care. They didn’t care at all. They definitely set a high standard. They’re just doing amazing, and WP Engine is amazing.

Teron Bullock:
I would definitely agree. I think that one of the biggest benefits to DE{CODE} was the fact that they have the recordings so that you can go back to them. Not just for anybody who may have missed it, but sometimes you need to repeat the things that you have learned, to hear more than once in order for you to retain it, or even to take notes from it. And just the fact that you can go back later, to me, it speaks to their attention to detail, as far as making sure that they make their information accessible to the community at large. And so I commend them and I also think that the bar has been raised. Anybody who’s trying to hold a conference now, just know we’ve already experienced DE{CODE} and we’re paying attention.

Nyasha Green:
We definitely are.

Teron Bullock:
What was the one thing you would say stood out to you the most about the conference?

Nyasha Green:
The one thing that stood out to me the most would be how accepting the conference was to newbies and to new people, to the WordPress community. Brian Garners, he’s a principal developer at WP Engine, his talk was basically on the past, present, and future of WordPress and how the updates affected and changed WordPress and where they were going. And he started off the conference, not talking like “Okay, you guys have been in the community a long time. You guys know who we are. You know what this is. This is what we’re doing.”

Nyasha Green:
It was more so like, “Hey, I’ll, explain who I am, who I work for, what we do, what WordPress is.” It’s a WordPress conference, but still I’m sure he was like, “Hey, there might be people who are tuning in who don’t know.”I feel like a lot of us bypass that when we’re speaking on the WordPress community. Even if you think you’re speaking to a group of people who should know everything, you don’t know that, but he was very open with everything. He explained WordPress, the origins, where it’s going. He explained the naming patterns, which we talked about.

Nyasha Green:
I had no idea that the updates were named after jazz musicians. I just thought that was a coincidence, so that was very interesting to learn. And I’ve been in the WordPress community for years. It was just something I didn’t pay attention to. So even me being someone who’s not a newbie to the community, I was able to learn by him just taking the time to go slow and explain. And my newbies who did jump into the chats are as well, they were blown away. They were like, “No one’s ever broken it down like this for me.”

Nyasha Green:
And that wasn’t his… I won’t say that wasn’t his goal. I’m not sure if that was, but he was just talking about WordPress in general. I don’t know if he knew he would enlighten so many people to it. And that was just the biggest takeaway. That’s how you get more people into the community. You talk to them, you explain to them, you teach them, you’re patient with them. And you’re calm, relaxed and cool. And that’s what he was. And that talk was just amazing to me.

Teron Bullock:
That’s awesome, and I just learned something new myself, because having been in the community for a while as well, I never realized that.

Nyasha Green:
Yeah.

Teron Bullock:
So that’s something I will definitely look forward to now looking for the next release, I will look forward to who’s it going to be named after this time? So why do you think that approach is so important for conferences to take for the new developer to slow, I guess, the pace down and not treat anyone as if this information should already be understood?

Nyasha Green:
Yeah. Well, Rob and I talked a little bit about that, about how in our community, we have people who think you should already know a certain amount of WordPress knowledge before we let you into the community. It’s been explained to me, and I’ve also seen that most WordPress jobs, you have to have already been in WordPress to get. So where are these people getting this entry level or beginner’s WordPress knowledge? Where are they learning about WordPress? It’s like there’s these barriers up, you must already know so when people come to learn, they’re like, “Why would I learn this? If they’re making it this hard, why do I want to get into this community?”

Nyasha Green:
So I think it was very important because these newbies and even someone like myself, I haven’t been in it for a long time, but I’m not new either, but I felt so much more enlightened on the WordPress systems and how it works in the future of it. I felt so much more optimistic listening to Brian. And outside of a few things, it wasn’t that much new information, it was just the way he conveyed it. And I think that’s very beneficial to the future. We’re telling these people, “Hey don’t worry if you don’t know everything, we are here for you.” And I am a WordPress developer, so I try to convince more people to get into the community.

Nyasha Green:
And this has probably been the best way. Everyone who went to that conference is now interested in WordPress development. Talking to me and me showing them what I do, they were a little interested, but actually hearing these big names and these really, really nice and important people in the community talk about it in a way that’s not, I don’t want to say threatening, but in a way that’s just like, “Hey, I’m talking to a friend, I’m talking to… Using kindness to spread positivity and show you the great things about this community.” It made them want to be a part of it. I think we can’t ask for anything more.

Teron Bullock:
Absolutely. I think accessibility, like you said, is the biggest benefit to that approach. If you’re assuming that you should automatically know this amount of information and you teach from that perspective, it could become off-putting, and it definitely will close the door on the amount of people who would be interested in learning. So I definitely agree with you. And I think that even if you know something, it doesn’t hurt to go back over it again anyway, because like we just said, having heard it again will just solidify it for you.

Teron Bullock:
So I agree. I think that I didn’t get a chance to hear that particular talk, but I definitely need to go back because I think that that’s inspiring to know that we’re continuing to help more people getting into the community, which will only make it better. So Nyasha, it’s been great talking to you about The DE{CODE} Conference. I looked forward to us having many other discussions about other great topics. And so thank you for joining me.

Nyasha Green:
You’re so welcome.

Monet Davenport:
Thank you for listening to this episode. Press The Issue is a production of Master WP. It was produced by Allie Nimmons, hosted and mixed by Monet Davenport and mastered by Teron Bullock. Please visit masterwp.com/presstheissue to find more episodes. Subscribe to our newsletter for more WordPress news at masterwp.com.