It has been three days now since I stood on stage at Urania Vienna, hearing Manuel close our very first conference. I'm still not really sure how we pulled that off.
I have been to quite a few web development conferences as an attendee, and lately even as a speaker. But the organization of such events always eluded me. I of course noticed when an event was particularly well put together, but I always assumed that the people running the show had a large team, lots of experience and were just very talented organizers.
That’s why it felt so weird to suddenly find myself in that group. Clearly we’re just a bunch of people who thought it would be cool to invite some of our heroes and heroines to Vienna, with little prior experience in creating an event at that scale.
But then it worked! We’d somehow gotten ourselves an absolutely incredible line-up of speakers and a sold out venue.
# Welcome to Webclerks Conference
Fast forward to last Monday, when months of work finally resulted in that one special day. Sleep had been rare in the days before, and the tension was high.
None of us really knew how this would turn out, so we just gave it our best shot. And the feedback so far from speakers and attendees alike has been great:
The @wearewebclerks conference today was seriously awesome! Great talks, great organization and great people! And all of that in Vienna ♥️ Looking forward to the next year #webclerks pic.twitter.com/GHOqfgzsNB— Lisa Gringl (@kringal) November 25, 2019
✅ brilliant speakers— Harald Atteneder (@urbantrout) November 25, 2019
✅ surprise acts
✅ live captions
✅ tasty food from "Speisen ohne Grenzen"
✅ water bottles to reduce waste
Congratulations to the organizers of a great #webclerks community conference pic.twitter.com/sOflfHkA1F
This conference was a great example of getting it right from the beginning. Amazing speakers, inclusive, accessible and with all details taken care of. Congratulations to the team! I'm really looking forward to next year's event #webclerks pic.twitter.com/YlRfzyt5kD— Magdalena Adrover (@madrovergaya) November 25, 2019
# Lessons Learned
Here are some of my personal takeaways from the experience:
It really pays off to have a good tech team. We could not have asked for a better crew than ALC, they handled the event flawlessly by themselves. A huge thing to get off your shoulders as an organizer.
If you want to livestream an event on youtube, that apparently requires a “brand account”. These take 24 hours to approve, so it’s best to not discover this the night before the conference. (Thankfully Joschi from a11yclub helped us out there!)
The glass water bottles we put into everyone’s goodie bag were a big hit. People liked that they could refill anytime. Less waste, more hydration!
You can make your own rules! Not all tech confs have to follow the same recipe. In fact some of the little differences are what makes you stand out.
We’re not a faceless recruiting event, but a community of humans, and we wanted to be as inclusive as possible. That thought went into a lot of aspects of our conference from ticket pricing to info emails to food choices. Definitely something to keep.
# Roll Credits
I really have to highlight the insane amount of work that Manuel and Claudi have put into this event. There’s an internal Trello board with about a gazillion tasks on it, and most of those had their names on them. It is beyond me how they did it.
Daniel has been an absolute beast as well - he did all the designs, printed badges, flags, shirts, stickers - you name it. If you thought webclerks looked like a professional brand, it’s because of him.
We also had lots of help from awesome volunteers who dedicated their time and energy to our event. Jeannine, Kerstin, Michel, Anne and Gregor have been incredibly helpful and I’m so glad they joined our team.
# Community Matters
I honestly can’t think of many industries where it would have been possible to put an event like this together from scratch. I believe the reason this worked at all is the incredible openness displayed in the web community.
Where international speakers come to a small local conference to share their knowledge. Where companies like mozilla support a relatively unknown event and fund inclusiveness. Where attendees pay it forward to enable underrepresented others to join.
I’m happy and proud to be a part of that community.
Thank you! 🎉