This one time, I went to WordCamp Europe in Paris. I learned a lot of cool things, met some cool people and of course, saw some cool sights. In the next few posts, I’ll cover the highlights from sessions that I attended, interspersed with some personal theories and musings about what this all means for content creation, TinyMCE, and the world as we know it.
Paris by the numbers: 42 Speakers, 1900 attendees
I have lost count of the number of conferences I have attended, however, this was my very first WordCamp experience. Overall, I was totally wow’d! The quality of the presentations was outstanding: a really wide spectrum of talks from well-informed, interesting and engaging presenters. The presentations covered topics such as building WordPress communities, deconstructing the truth of “code is poetry”, questioning the way that gender-loaded words shape our behavior and create unconscious bias, all the way to the challenges of localization and inclusion.
— TinyMCE (@tinymce) June 16, 2017
While the presentations were quite diverse, I did get a really strong sense of a common thread that was binding all the talks together. I am not sure if this was intentional when the organizers planned the program, but it certainly came through strongly after about the first day of sessions.
To serve a global audience, you need to design for everyone
Words like “inclusive design”, “inclusion”, “accessibility” and “empathy” are often present in conversations about digital products. As a (highly overeducated) designer, I am no stranger to these words and concepts. However, until WordCamp Europe, these words existed in my mind as independent “thought islands”. WordCamp connected these islands for me in a really meaningful way.
The most exciting thing I learned is the beautifully simple, yet profound idea that in order to design for everyone, not only do we need to weave Design into the fabric of a product’s existence, but necessarily, we need to ensure that the designers themselves come from a wide range of backgrounds and life experiences. Without this, it’s impossible to feel the “other”. Thus, it is impossible to create product to serve the other.
In order to serve a global audience, your product needs to appeal to all types of people. (inclusion, accessibility)
In order to design for all types of people, you need to be one of all types of people*. (empathy)
To serve a global audience, technology needs to be created by all kinds of designers (inclusive design)
*All types of people means not just technologists
WordCamp Europe helped me to understand that in order to satisfy a global audience, such as WordPress, or TinyMCE users, it is no longer enough to treat design as a layer that gets sprayed on the week before shipping a product. In order to create products that have the ability to change people’s lives, technology needs to find a way to welcome in Design as a first-class citizen. This is not an overstatement. We only have to look around us to see examples of this… iPhone, Uber, AirBnB… possibly not Juicero.
#WCEU: the magic carpet of tomorrow is woven from tech, empathy, humanity, aesthetic, code…
The magic is not in the individual threads pic.twitter.com/o7W4LP3RQb
— Anna Harrison (@inplaneterms) June 17, 2017
Keep an eye out for highlights and notes from the sessions that I attended, they will pop up here on the TinyMCE blog over the next few weeks.