Wordcamp Bristol 2019

It was a bit of a last minute decision to attend Wordcamp Bristol 2019 on behalf of EncodeDotHost, but one I’m so glad that I did. I only had the Saturday of the weekend free so had to journey down and back in one day, but the tips and tricks, the chance to network, and learn from peers was invaluable.

After driving down to the Chemistry Building of Bristol University, I arrived just as the opening remarks were being held to welcome everybody for the first of two days of talks on all things WordPress, from theme building to beating imposter syndrome, from building custom Guttenberg blocks to handling mental health with the community.

My Takeaways From The Talks

A Timesaver’s Guide to the Command Line

First up was a talk entitled “A Timesaver’s Guide to the Command Line” by Keith Hyde from 34SP.com which was right up my street. Keith ran through using Oh My Zsh to supercharge his terminal setup to get it looking and working to help productivity, and Alfred for Mac which allows you to build custom and powerful scripting rules that can change depending on the input. Alfred looked really useful and I need to research to see if there is an equivalent for my Ubuntu desktop.

Legacy systems in your head (and why they matter at work)

After a quick break for coffee, next up was Lizzie Darville talking about how built in threat response can work against our cognitive functions in the workplace and some great tips and tricks on how to get over them. One of my takeaways was that Lizzie said that threat response is very strong so we need a big reward system to make up for it, and to make this easier if we set our expectations realistically we will have a better chance to meeting them and not working against ourselves.

Another great idea for the workplace was that when holding 1-2-1’s a sit down environment can become confrontational as the usual setup is sitting face-to-face across a table. A better way could be to hold “walking 1-2-1’s” as this has several benefits as you are outside exercising, and it also removes the face-to-face setup.

Why Multisite? Uses for WordPress Multisite you may not have thought of

Before lunch I caught up with Sarah Sarkies from Mulberry Design and we stayed on track one to listen to Rachel McCollin showing off some great uses of WordPress Multisite. (For those that don’t know “out of the box” WordPress has the ability to turn your website from a site single site into managing a whole network of site from one admin panel.)

Rachel initially ran through how to get Multisite up and running, then went on to talk about the business cases that could benefit from either a sub-directory or sub-domain setup. It was great to see some sites that already use this to good effect including BBC America!


At this point we all needed a chance to re-cooperate and take in everything we had heard in the morning. The Wordcamp organisers had made a thoughtful decision to serve solely vegetarian buffet throughout the weekend to help keep down on the carbon footprint of the conference.

This break also gave a chance to visit the sponsor stands to find out more about how their different services can help to improve WordPress.

Custom theme building structures & techniques to save your sanity!

Next up it was back to to Track 1 to get technical with Jonny Allbut and see how he, as Technical Director @ Wider, approaches building custom WordPress themes. His approach was to make as much as he could automated to give every site a great base to build upon, from starting with a init script to remove standard content and plugins, to the theme scructure where his functions.php file is just filled with “includes” to bring in aptly named sub-functions files i.e. functions-scripts.php, functions-data.php, etc.

Building Intelligent Layouts

My final talk of the day was another technical one concerning the new Grid feature in CSS by Michelle Barker. This was a real eye opener. Michelle showed us how using the built in features with the CSS language you can not only cut down on the amount of file you need to load on each webpage, but you can build designs and layouts that are simpler to code and more flexible to customise. Really powerful stuff and I highly recommend reading through the slides.

The Social!

It wouldn’t be a Wordcamp without a Saturday Night Social, which was held in the Watershed in Bristol city centre, and a great chance to relax and make new connections. Not to mention the cracking bean chilli that was served!

What I Missed On Sunday

There were two talks I wished I could have caught on the Sunday which were Mark Wilkinson with “Build blocks without writing JavaScript” and Graham Armfield with “So what have the new HTML5 elements ever done for accessibility?”. That being said, I did get to catch up with them on the Saturday and had the chance to invite them to speak @wpcoventry, so fingers crossed and when scheduling allows, I will get to see the talk in the future.


This is now my second Wordcamp and I find them to always be well run, well attended, and a great community. A huge thank you to the organisers and the effort you put in to make it such an inclusive event.

Did you attend? Have you attended any others? How did you find them? Let us know if the comments below

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