Speaker Highlights: Tom Willmot

If you are following the business trends in WordPress, the terms “Remote agency” and “100% distributed” are something you’re probably quite familiar with. It’s a curious and growing phenomenon around the WordPress ecosystem – employees are all over the place, no fixed hours or office to go to. That allows agencies to hire talent all over the world and do excellent work for clients in all time zones. Running a remote agency is a fascinating and challenging task. For some though, it’s the only way to go.

Today we’d like you to meet Tom Willmot – the CEO of Human Made, one of Europe’s 100% distributed WordPress agencies. Tom is coming to Seville to share his experience on running a remote company, but before you go to see his talk in June, read on to learn a bit more about him and his Humans.

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Tom Willmot. Photo by Margarit Ralev, Localancers.com

Hey Tom, could you introduce yourself in a few words?

I’m the founder and CEO of Human Made, I’ve been making a living on WordPress since 2007 and a user since sometime early 2005. I live in rural England with my wife Leanne and our cat McNulty (yep from The Wire).

How did you get started using WordPress?

I started freelancing at around 18 mostly as a front-end developer. I first started using WordPress to power my (now long dead) blog and then my business site (back then I called myself Edge Designs, no idea why :-). As a front-end developer I found WordPress far easier to get my head around than the other things out there, it really was the gateway drug that lead to my eventual addiction.

Why did you settle on WordPress?

After I’d built myself a the aforementioned blog and business site on WP I built a handful of sites for friends and family and then decided to call myself a WordPress developer. Turns out there weren’t a ton of people doing that back in 2007 and I quickly found my way into some pretty crazy (for me at the time) gigs. I built http://geek.com which was pretty cool.

How did Human Made get started?

My brother, Joe Hoyle started working with me; freelancing sometimes for his own clients and sometimes for clients we shared. By early 2010 we had some solid projects under our belt and things were going well. We decided to hire and realised we’d need a company, so we jointly founded Human Made and duly hired Matthew Haines-Young. We didn’t put a ton of thought into the name at the time, although I remember distinctly liking Made By Elephant at the time.

Glad you decided on humans instead of elephants! Can you tell us a bit more about HM as a company? What’s unique about it?

It’s somewhat clichéd, but I’ve always wanted Human Made to be the kind of company I want to work at. I didn’t spend a lot of time in “normal” jobs before going freelance but the time I did spend left me feeling that companies, even good ones, often approach employees from a position of distrust and ultimately that leads to frustration on the part of the employee and causes the company to miss out on a ton of things that person could offer if only they’d be given the freedom and support to pursue them. I try hard to ensure Human Made isn’t that. We’re 100% distributed, have a pretty flat structure and we try to optimise everything to ensure the good people we hire can do great work.

 What’s the secret of keeping everyone at the top of their game in a 100% distributed environment?

I actually think the answer to this is the same whether you’re distributed or not, although as with a lot of things, not all being in the same room makes it more important that you get it right. I’ve mostly found that people are at the top of their game when they are working on things they are passionate about and in a way which suits them. At Human Made we’re always striving for that. I think a lot about how we can structure the way we work to ensure people have the autonomy and support needed to do the great work they want to do.

Which are the most valuable tools HM uses in day to day communication?

We live in Slack, it replaces a lot of the features of being in the same physical location with the additional benefits of things like a searchable history of everything we’ve ever said, the ability to quickly catchup on conversations that happened whilst you were asleep (pretty useful with a team spread across the world) and integrations with nearly all the other tools and systems we use.

In addition to Slack we make liberal use of WordPress to run a bunch of internal blogs, we use Zoom for video calling (it can handle more people than Google Hangouts. We also use screenhero a bunch for 1-1 screensharing/co-working.)

A Human Made Company Hangout

A Human Made Company Hangout

Human Made has a huge chunk of people who contribute heavily to the project. How do you keep the balance between their company and community time?

Contributing back to the WordPress project and community is one of the highest value things we do, internally we treat contributing back as work and we plan it into future resource planning as such. Contributing back helps us hire better people, it helps us win better clients and it helps us charge more for our work, it’s a real no brainer. Even if all of those things weren’t true, we’ve built a business on-top of WordPress and so it would be silly not to invest heavily in it’s future success.

Everyone at Human Made is encouraged and empowered to dedicate some of their time to contributing back to the project, some dedicate more than others, some to the core code base, others to polyglots, organising WordCamps and meetups, documentation, BuddyPress etc.

Tell us a bit about yourself? Apart from running a WordPress business, what drives you?

Human Made certainly takes up a lot of my time and thought-space and at the moment it really embodies the things I care deeply about. I’m a huge believer in people and the idea that by treating people with respect and giving them support they can achieve great things.

When I step out of the day-to-day stresses of cashflow and clients I’m really driven to be a part of the amazing things that are happening in the world at the moment. I really believe we live in a pivotal time and there are so many amazing people striving for amazing things and concurrently so many huge challenges facing us, it’s really exciting. I also like to climb and read and hangout at home with Leanne. I’ll be a father soon 😅

What’s your wceu talk about? What should people expect?

I’m planning on talking about some of the things I’ve learned through the last few years growing and managing the team at Human Made, what management can look like in a distributed company, hiring, internal communication etc. I’m also interested to hear what other’s would like to hear me share, so if you have any thoughts, tweet me @tomwillmot!

Thanks Tom! Looking forward to your talk!

If you have any thoughts or questions on remote agency work for Tom, shoot him a question on Twitter. Don’t miss his talk Things I’ve Learned Managing a Team of 25 Humans Spread Across the Globe on Saturday afternoon. 

For more speaker highlights and announcements from the #WCEU team, follow us on TwitterFacebook and Google +  

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Welcome Microsoft Azure for Sponsoring as an Administrator

Azure

We’re very happy and honoured to welcome Microsoft Azure as a Administrator sponsor of WordCamp Europe 2015.

Thank you for your support!

Be sure to check them out online and in Sevilla.

Microsoft Azure App Service lets developers rapidly build, deploy and manage powerful websites and web apps. Build standards-based web apps and APIs using .NET, NodeJS, PHP, Python, and Java. Deliver both web and mobile apps for employees or customers using a single back-end. Securely deliver APIs enabling additional apps and devices.

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Thank You Yoast for Supporting WordCamp Europe as an Administrator

Yoast

Let’s say a big “Thank You” for Yoast supporting WordCamp Europe 2015 as a Administrator sponsor.

Yoast is the company behind hugely successful plugins such as WordPress SEO by Yoast and Google Analytics by Yoast. With over 5 million users worldwide, Yoast services an ever growing group of customers which they service with premium plugins, ebooks and website reviews. Being a Dutch company, Yoast is very proud to sponsor this WordCamp Europe.

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Speaker highlights: Amelia Andersdotter

In an effort to look outside the WordPress island and get fresh ideas from other communities, we have 4 prominent speakers from outside the WordPress community you’re going to meet at WordCamp Europe 2015. Today we want to introduce Amelia Andersdotter and have her share some of her experience and background with you before her talk in Seville. Amelia has been a Member of the European Parliament. She currently engages in privacy and data protection advocacy in Sweden.

Photo: https://ameliaandersdotter.eu

Photo: https://ameliaandersdotter.eu

Hey Amelia, could you introduce yourself in a few words?

I’m 27 years old and a student of mathematics. My side-gig is improving privacy and data protection for all. I used to be Member of the European Parliament.

What is your WordCamp Europe talk going to be about? What should people expect?

Together with Anders Jensen-Urstad, I’m developing methods to make privacy-preserving websites. We’ve split the task into ideological (like, why is it even important? what’s the law?) and what do we do technically? Our work is divided so that I mostly know the law and the intentions behind the law, and Anders is very good at giving the political ideas a technical form. So expect both practical and ideological!

What type of work did you do in the European Parliament?

I was a Member of the European Parliament, which means your formal duty is to vote on legislative proposals and enact them as laws. In a broader sense it means talking and listening a lot. I worked on telecoms policy, copyright policy (of course!) and privacy policy. Actually a lot on intersections between technical standards and legislation – it’s an area poorly understood by both political and technical communities.

 

What are the most common data privacy mistakes people make when creating websites?

Saying it’s impossible. There’s a very defeatist spirit around privacy concerns on the web. We hope to show that defeatism is not only unsexy, but also uncalled for.

 

How are data privacy laws created in Europe? Could you give us some insights into the process?

Data privacy is a human right, but human rights thinking doesn’t usually dominate people’s day-to-day concerns. It’s something we expect to “just work”. So legislators aren’t always mindful of how they implement these values in laws: laws end up unclear, or ambiguous.

There’s also a conflation with data security. But security might mean that a public administration or company is able to reliably exert control over a person. Data privacy means that the person can exercise control over such control. We can’t solve privacy and data protection only by security, we must also have the will to, say, decentralise power over how people are influenced.

Somehow, there’s also a fear that citizens, users or customers simply don’t know what’s good for them. In this way, politicians and system administrators are actually a bit similar: they do a lot of things and make a lot of rules to protect people from themselves. I guess somewhere I have an ambition to promote the view that we can allow people to make choices, even if those choices aren’t always optimal, because diversity is strength and anyway new and good things don’t happen if we homogenize everyone all the time.

What are you currently occupied with? What are your latest projects?

Me and Anders trying to make guidelines for public sector bodies on how to build privacy friendly websites. For the citizen, visiting a public authority, or even a company where one is customer, without telling lots of third-parties about it should be a given. We’re trying to show how it’s technically possible to achieve stuff that most people would anyway principally agree with, and to make it easier for public authorities to live up to a mission many of them feel committed to in either case: preserving democratic values and building good spaces for citizenship.

 

Anything else you’d like to share?

On a completely unrelated note, everyone should care about the European copyright reform. There has never been a better time to approach legislators in Europe about copyright reform than now. The anti-reform lobby is very strong and we may end up with a considerably more difficult and strict legislation unless there is balance in the messaging received by legislators.

Thank you!

Make sure you catch Amelia and Anders’ session “Building Privacy-Friendly Websites” on Saturday morning, June 27th.

For more speaker insights and interviews, follow #WCEU on TwitterFacebook and Google + .

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Welcome Jetpack / Automattic as a Super Admin Sponsor

116602299 - jetpack-logo-horizontal

We’re very happy and honoured to welcome Jetpack as a Super Admin sponsor of WordCamp Europe 2015.

Thank you for your support!

Everyone, you should definitely stop by their table at #WCEU and say “Hi”.

Your WordPress, Connected.

Connect your site to WordPress.com for traffic and customization tools, enhanced security, speed boosts, and more. With the new Site Management feature, Jetpack allows you to manage your self-hosted WordPress sites and your WordPress.com sites from a single dashboard on WordPress.com.

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The WordCamp Europe 2015 Schedule

It’s just over a month until WordCamp Europe! All over Europe, the organising team is working on all of those tiny details that make for a perfect WordCamp. Today we’re excited to share one of the big details with you – the schedule!

Numbers

We’ve got two days packed full of WordPress knowledge across two tracks and a total of 43 speakers from around the world. But don’t worry if you can’t decide – every session will be recorded and uploaded to WordPress.tv so you can catch up after the event and re-watch your favourite sessions over and over again.

For the first time at WordCamp Europe we’re introducing a new session form: the short talks (10min), thanks to which WCEU attendees will be able to get WordPress insights and know-how from 12 more speakers. The new format was introduced due to the huge amount of great quality applications we received and our commitment to give the #WCEU stage to as many great ideas as possible.

Demographics

Europe is represented by 29 speakers from 12 different countries. We have three speakers from Asia, one from Australia and one from Africa. Ten of our speakers come from North America.

In an effort to look outside the WordPress island, get fresh ideas and learn from other communities, we have 4 prominent speakers from outside the WordPress community.

Tickets

If you haven’t yet, now’s a great time to buy your ticket because when they’re gone they’re gone, and who wants to miss out on three days of WordPress in the gorgeous setting of Sevilla? There are less than 100 tickets left, 90% of all tickets are already gone.

Don’t forget that we have some awesome hotel deals for attendees: you can get a room at the Barcelo, our beautiful event venue, from just €85 per night.

To stay up to date with everything that’s happening with WordCamp Europe 2015, follow us on Twitter.


 

Programa de WordCamp Europa 2015

Falta un poco más de un mes para WordCamp Europa 2015. Por toda Europa, el equipo organizador está trabajando en todos los detalles que hacen una WordCamp perfecta. Hoy estamos muy contentos de compartir un gran detalle con vosotros: el programa.

Números

Serán 2 días llenos de conocimiento acerca de WordPress, en 2 pistas y un total de 43 ponentes procedentes de todo el mundo. No te preocupe si no puedes decidirte, todas las sesiones serán grabadas y subidas a WordPress.tv para que pueda ver todas las sesiones una y otra vez.

Por 1a vez en WordCamp Europa hemos introducido una nueva tipo de sesión: charlas cortas (10 minutos), gracias a la cual los asistentes a WCEU podrán obtener una amplia perspectiva de WordPress y el know-how de 12 ponentes más. Este nuevo formato se introdujo debido a la enorme cantidad de propuestas recibidas y el compromiso para que participen en #WCEU todos los que tienen grandes ideas.

Demografía

Europa está representada por 29 ponentes de 12 países. Hay 3 ponentes de Asia, 1 ponente de Australia y 1 ponente de Africa; además 10 ponentes proceden de América del Norte.

Buscando fuera de la comunidad WordPress, con el objetivo de obtener nuevas ideas y aprender de otros colectivos, hay 4 ponentes de otras comunidades.

Entradas

Si aún no tienes tu entrada, ahora es el mejor momento para comprarla porque cuando se hayan terminado no habrá más y ¿Quién quiere perderse la oportunidad de tres días de WordPress en el magnífico entorno de Sevilla? Quedan menos de 100 entradas, 90% de todas las entradas ya tienen dueño.

No olvides que tienes algunas ofertas increíbles de hoteles: puedes conseguir una habitación en el Barcelo, donde se celebra el evento, desde sólo € 85 por noche.

Para estar al día con todo lo que está pasando con Europa WordCamp 2015, sígenos en Twitter.

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Speaker highlights: Drew Jaynes

Drew Jaynes is a web engineer from the USA, working for 10up. He’s heavily involved in the WordPress community, contributing to the core, documentation, and meta teams. He’s a core docs committer, and has contributed to every major WordPress release since v3.3. In 2015, he was named the WordPress 4.2 release lead.

Drew is also one of our WordCamp Europe speakers this year (he’s first talk in Europe, yay!), so we’re excited to give you the opportunity to get to know him better before meeting him in person in Seville.

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Hey Drew, could you introduce yourself to everyone?

Hi, I’m Drew. I live in Denver, Colorado and work remotely as a web engineer at 10up and as a docs committer for WordPress core.

How did you get involved with WordPress? When did you make your first contribution?

I first got involved with WordPress about six years ago when I built a news site for my college newspaper. It wasn’t until about two years later that I really started to get involved in contributing to WordPress core, first with a simple patch and ticket (I was super intimidated) and my contributions sort of blossomed from there. I’ve been doing it ever since and I love it.

Could you tell us a bit more about the work the teams you are involved with do?

I recently lead the 4.2 release for core (the 10th release I’ve contributed to!) and I also contribute to the docs, meta, and support teams. Since the meta team pretty much supports anything having to do with WordPress.org, several of the projects I’ve been working on lately have actually been what are considered hybrids. The developer hub, for instance, is a hybrid of the docs and meta teams, just as the inline documentation effort I’ve been leading as the core docs committer sees contributions from both the docs and core teams.

The WordPress Docs team

The WordPress Docs team

What are your lessons learned from leading the 4.2 release that other release leads should follow?

Probably the biggest lesson I learned in leading the 4.2 release is that it’s all about staying organized. It’s amazing how much stress you can avoid by simply being organized and aware of all of the moving parts. I had a blast leading 4.2, and would absolutely do it again!

What was the most challenging thing about being a release lead?

The most challenging aspect of leading a release is definitely working with volunteers. WordPress, like many open source projects, is entirely dependent on volunteers. They don’t have to be there and they don’t necessarily have to do what they volunteer for. The best we can do is promote a sense of pride and community in getting contributors to stick around. Working within that dynamic is always a challenge because you have to be careful about not upsetting the balance while still trying to meet your goals.

What is your WordCamp Europe talk about? What will people learn from you?

My WordCamp Europe talk is all about examining the new user experience of setting up various areas of WordPress. I ran two sets of user tests, first with new users on setting up a variety of things in WordPress, then again using a proof of concept plugin that guides new users through the process. I doubt the results of the tests will that surprising to most people, but it’s worth having the conversation anyway. As we continue to try to drive adoption of WordPress, first impressions are everything, and we can certainly improve on it.

Anything we missed asking you and you’d like to share?

This will be the first time I’m presenting overseas, something I’ve been working toward for the last couple of years. So go easy on me!

———————

Make sure you add Drew Jaynes’ talk “Getting WordPress Out of its Own Way: A NUX Case Study” on your #wceu calendar!

For the full schedule and more speaker highlights, follow #WCEU on TwitterFacebook and Google + 

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Your final group of WordCamp Europe speakers!

This post completes our speaker roster for WordCamp Europe. We’re thrilled to have such talented people taking to the stage for WordCamp Europe in June. Watch this space for the schedule which we’ll be releasing over the coming weeks and the speaker highlights that will let you in on some of our speakers’ WordPress stories and will give you more insights into their talks at WordCamp Europe in Seville.

 

Pascal Birchler is a 21-year-old computer science student and web developer from Switzerland. He contributes to WordPress wherever he can, whether it’s by organizing the local meetups, WordCamp Switzerland, or by writing on his blog SpinPress. Follow him on twitter @swissspidy.

Jeni Tennison is Technical Director of the Open Data Institute. After having originally trained as a psychologist and knowledge engineer and gaining a PhD in collaborative ontology development from the University of Nottingham, she went on to work as an independent consultant and practitioner, specialising in open data publishing and consumption, including XML, JSON and linked data APIs. Before joining the ODI, Jeni was the technical architect and lead developer for legislation.gov.uk. Within the wider UK public sector, she worked on the early linked data work on data.gov.uk helping to engineer new standards for the publication of statistics as linked data. She continues her work within the UK’s public sector as a member of both the UK Government Linked Data Group and the Open Data User Group.

Mark Forrester is the proud Capetonian co-founder of WooThemes. From humble beginnings building commercial themes to helping steer the WooCommerce ship, and the team that empowers 24% of all online shops, Mark is passionate about WordPress and community building. He’s also a husband, father, photographer, football fanatic and wannabe surfer.

Thijs de Valk joined team Yoast in December 2012. He is currently Marketing & Sales Manager, which makes him responsible for the flow of sales and improvements in the conversion department. At Yoast, Thijs is doing website and conversion reviews, working on support and performing conversion optimization (A/B) tests on yoast.com.

Lilyana Yakimova is the Marketing Director at WordPress hosting specialist SiteGround.com. Joining the company since its very foundation, Lilyana has led all marketing and communication strategies of the company to date. Effectively communicating SiteGround strengths, Lilyana’s vision has helped grow the company from a single client to an international business and build the strong brand that SiteGround is today.

Ilona Filipi is the co-founder and MD of an Innovative WordPress Agency Moove specialising in the planning, production, and post-launch support of bespoke WordPress websites. She blogs at IlonaFilipi.com about the business side of running a WordPress agency.

David Aguilera got his PhD in Computer Science (he specialized in Quality in Conceptual Modeling) and co-founded Nelio Software, a start-up focused on offering WordPress-related services. He’s the lead developer of Nelio A/B Testing, a split testing service for WordPress.

 There are less than 100 tickets left, so get your #WCEU ticket today. Follow #WCEU on TwitterFacebook and Google +, to stay on top of things. 

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Sign up for WordCamp Europe 2015 contributor day

Sign up for the Contributor Day at WordCamp Europe 2015 on Sunday, June 28!

WordPress is created by thousands of people around the globe

Did you know that? And not all of them are developers or designers. All you need to start giving back to the project is to know and love WordPress.

Contributor days are a great way to learn how to do that. In addition Contributor days around global WordCamps give you the opportunity to meet and work alongside seasoned contributors from all teams as a lot of them attend.

We encourage you to take part of Contributor day especially if you have never contributed before and you’re looking for a way to get started.

Become a WordPress Contributor!

If you’ve never contributed to WordPress before, WordCamp Europe would be a great place to start. There are plenty of opportunities for everyone to help the projects, such as:

  • Accessibility – test and improve the accessibility of the WordPress project
  • BuddyPress & bbPress – grow the community building group by helping each of these projects
  • Community – improve the WordCamp and meetup organization processes
  • Core – improve the main WordPress platform
  • Design – UI and UX updates
  • Docs – improve the Codex, handbooks and other online resources for WordPress users and developers
  • Meta – help the main WordPress websites such as WordPress.org or WordPress.tv
  • Mobile – with the growing number of mobile devices on a daily basis, let’s make WordPress more mobile-friendy
  • Polyglots – make WordPress and its accompanying resources available in your language
  • Support – spread some happiness by helping out WordPress users in the support forums
  • Theme Review – join the team responsible for the high quality in the Themes Directory on WordPress.org
  • Training – the group of educators teaching WordPress around the globe

See? There’s plenty of room for everyone, and we’re more than happy to welcome newcomers to each of the WordPress Contributors team!

If you’re not sure which team is best for you, check out the Make WordPress website and all of the active teams.

What do I need?

Don’t forget your laptop and charger – you’ll need them during the contributing process.

Sign up for (or make sure that you already have):

Currently the main communication medium for contributors is Slack, so download a desktop version or use the web one with your credentials.

If you have any questions regarding the Contributors day, reach out to any organizer or use the #wceu hashtag on Twitter.

For Experienced Contributors

If you’re an experienced WordPress contributor, join the Contributor Day! We are looking for more mentors for the people starting out, and your experience would be a great asset for the day.

We will announce the main team leaders soon, but if you are interested in helping out with a specific team, let us know.

Plan For the Day

The Contributor Day will start at 11am at the Barceló Gran Hotel Renacimiento and we will wrap up at 6pm. Make sure that you are present at 11am when we will introduce the team leaders and the room that each team would be using for brainstorming and work.

Lunch would be available, so don’t forget to mark your dietary requirements (if any) in the form below.

In addition to the contributing teams, workshops would also be given at a separate room at the hotel. Nothing is set in stone and you will be able to switch teams or attend some of the workshops.

Sign Up Now

Fill in the form below to secure your place. The places are limited so act fast and reserve your slot!

See you there!

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Welcome to another group of WordCamp Europe speakers

We have another group of speakers to introduce you to today. They come from across the WordPress community and around the world. We hope you’re as excited as we are about seeing them in Seville in just a few months!

Aaron Jorbin is a Polyhistoric man of the web. Currently a WordPress guest committer and Technical Architect At Conde Nast. He is an ally to many and knows the world is better with Bow Ties and Whisky. He has pent the last 5 years as a core contributor to WordPress including the last ~6 months as a committer. One of his passions is keeping WordPress a “gateway drug” to both web development and open source. His passion for education extends beyond technology. He also organises an educational simulation of international relations for 1500 university students from around the world.

Tenko Nikolov is the Chief Executive Officer of WordPress hosting specialist SiteGround.com. With more than 9 years of experience in the hosting industry, Tenko has been successfully managing and overseeing SiteGround’s development to date. Joining the company in its very dawn, he started as a Support Team member but soon became Support Team manager, then VP of technology, and later was appointed CEO of the company.

Silvan Hagen is co-founder of the UX and WordPress agency required+ and one of the organisers for WordCamp Switzerland. He helps his clients to build long-lasting and maintainable solutions, using UX to in the process of building WordPress solutions and plugins. Silvan keeps his mind open with travelling. He surfs and snowboards, takes photographs, and builds self-sustaining permaculture gardens.

Wouter Groenewold is a social geek, on the sharp on the edge of humanity and innovation who is always looking for ways to make technology available and more refined for every person.

Juliette Reinders Folmer is an independent business consultant with wicked IT skills. You might encounter her as a speaker at PHP or WordPress conferences. She is a Zend Certified Engineer (ZCE) and has been contributing to numerous open source projects since the beginning of this century.

Eric Mann is a seasoned web developer with experience in languages from JavaScript to Ruby to C#. He has been building websites of all shapes and sizes for the better part of a decade and continues to experiment with new technologies and techniques. Eric is a Lead Web Engineer at 10up (http://10up.com) where he focuses on developing high-end web solutions powered by WordPress.

Daniel Pataki builds things for WordPress and writes about them. He is the editor of the WordPress section on Smashing Magazine and he writes for WPMU DEV, Hongkiat, Tuts+ and other websites regularly. His goal is to make great tools that enhance the lives of people who use them.

Bryce Adams is a nomadic coder working for WooThemes.com. He loves open source, building useful products and interacting with the community! In his spare time, he’s either travelling the world and attending WordPress events or building small start-ups that try to push the boundaries of everyday WordPress development.

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