As a member of the Strategy team at Mediacurrent, going to DrupalCon was not top of my list for things to do this year. I was under the impression that DrupalCon was built for, and focused only on, Developers in the Drupal community… man, was I wrong!
My journey to DrupalCon started a few months ago when members of my team encouraged me to submit a session proposal to the conference. Again, I was hesitant because why would Developers be interested in what I had to say about search engine optimization or user personas? They tried to convince me that topics like International SEO were in high demand among attendees at DrupalCon… I wasn’t convinced, but I went ahead and submitted a session proposal anyway. I was pleasantly surprised a few weeks later when I heard my session had been accepted. Maybe they were right after all!
Now I had to prepare, not just my presentation, but my schedule for DrupalCon. What sessions do I go to? What in the world are BOFs? I had so much to learn! As a relatively new member of the Drupal community, I was admittedly overwhelmed. If it hadn’t been for the unbelievable support from my Mediacurrent family, and the larger Drupal community, I am not sure what I would have done. It was also reassuring to learn that I wasn’t the only new face in the crowd. Of the 3,000+ attendees at this year’s DrupalCon, 29% were first-timers like me.
To summarize, I learned there are four main aspects of DrupalCon:
- BOFs (which stands for Bird of a Feather) — these are smaller, informal gatherings where people openly discuss real problems or topics of interest with others in the community.
- Sessions — these provide a great opportunity to learn from leaders in the industry. While it’s nice to attend what you can in person, they will be recorded and posted online after the event.
- Networking — from off-the-cuff conversations to after parties, networking opportunities were everywhere. This year, the Drupal Association made it a top goal to bring together a more diverse group of attendees, speakers, and sponsors - an important way of promoting diversity in the open source community.
- The Exhibit Hall — free t-shirts…need I say more?
So I didn’t need to figure out a way to clone myself in order to get to every session and BOF I was interested in, and I would have the opportunity to meet and share knowledge with others in the community? Wow. I was beginning to think everyone was right… maybe this would be a valuable trip after all!
Valuable doesn’t even begin to describe my three days in Baltimore. I left the conference feeling thankful and incredibly inspired by the community. I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to speak about International SEO, a topic I am very passionate about, with Calvin Scharffs from Lingotek (check out the video recording below). But I was even more fortunate to be at a conference filled with individuals with such a great breadth of knowledge and passion. In addition to learning more about CMS’s in general and best practices for running a timely and effective project, I had countless productive conversations with co-workers, clients, and prospective clients who had a problem to solve. I can’t think of another setting where all of this would have been possible in such a short time frame.
DrupalCon is not just for Developers… there is value for Project Managers, Designers, Themers, Business Owners, Strategists like myself and more! If you haven’t been, give DrupalCon a shot next year - I promise it won’t disappoint.
In the meantime, check out some of my favorite sessions from this year:
Future of the CMS: Decoupled, Multichannel, and Content-as-a-Service
The Right Tool for the Job: Content Layout in Drupal 8
Buzzword Blitz: What You Need to Know about Digital Transformation and Drupal
Data Driven Design for Better Business