I was up in Edinburgh this weekend, at WordCamp – the annual UK conference for “bloggers, designers, developers, code gurus, social media fans, startups, corporates, communications professionals or marketeers” who use WordPress. Well, actually, it was mostly developers and code gurus, and the line-up of sessions reflected that.
There’s a reasonable probability that, if I ever get a tattoo, it might read “I don’t do code”. So given the techie nature of a lot of the talks, this meant that I could see the sessions I really wanted to – and still have time to talk to people. I had a chance to get a feel for the wordpress developer community, and generally have a good old mingle.
Mingling is useful. I knew a handful of people at #wcuk – I’d come up with the guys from Interconnect/it, and there was decent smattering of delegates from Liverpool. But on the whole, it was brand new people, with brand new conversations to be had, and brand new thoughts to ponder.
And ponder I did.
I pondered while I was there, while I was driving back, and I’ve been pondering throughout the day. I’m still mighty tired, but sometimes, the fog of sleepyheadedness (I may have just made that word up) forces you to think in more basic, obvious terms – there’s less room for fudge and nuance.
And the fudgeless outcome of my pondering is that something has to change. In fact quite a few somethings are going to have to change.
Sometimes, you need to feel like an idiot, so you have an incentive to improve.
Several things happened over the course of the weekend:
- I found myself talking about consistency of voice and message to someone who was holding my brightly coloured business card in one hand, and navigating my grey and white website with the other hand.
- I realised that I’d given some really good advice about finding a niche that works for you, rather than trying to appeal to everyone, and by extension, no-one. And then I realised that this site puts almost equal focus on several services, each of which could be a full time gig in their own rights.
- I even had a conversation about how we are much better at giving advice than taking it, and that we are especially bad at taking our own advice.
I tell you something, if I wasn’t so tired right now, I’d be cringing with embarrassment.
So what does that mean?
Well it means I’m going to change things here, and try to take my own advice. I’m going to make sure that I really understand where my market is, and what they want.
Then I’m going all out for them… and just them.
And if you were at WordCamp this year, there’s a strong chance that when I say “them”, I mean “you”.
You have been warned!
Some last, random thoughts:
1) I gave my talk on writing for the web, to a small but select group of people. There were some interesting discussions afterwards about the ‘conflicts’ between best practice, and good SEO. And it reminded me about something that’s been bugging me for a while – about the different techniques you need when writing a post as opposed to a page. I’m going to do some more thinking and research about that, and try to put something together.
2) I also had not 1, but 2, long, in-depth conversations/debates about the meaning of art. Now, I’m not saying that either of the people I was talking to managed to convince me that I was wrong in my approach. But they both, in their own ways, made me think about things in new and interesting ways. I keep meaning to get something written about the differences between art and craft (IMHO), and these conversations might have been that last bit of grit that I needed to create a real pearl.
3) Tweed suits are excellent for wandering round Edinburgh in – 4 inch heels less so.
4) Several of the conversations I had with people kept coming back to ideas about homogeneity and diversity. And that there is comfort in the former, and difficulty in the latter. But also that there is danger in the false sense of security that ‘sameness’ can bring, and real value in looking beyond the things you think you already know. Something else for me to ponder – so it’s a good job I like pondering, isn’t it.
5) Finally, my pal Tom and I decided we’d put a website together of the course of the weekend. It’s not quite finished, but it does what it’s supposed to do – and we think it might appeal to the delegates of #wcuk. It’s called yourwebsiteishorrible.com (and yes, I am expecting to find my own site submitted on a regular basis).