The WordCamp Pittsburgh conference only had one day of sessions, but one day was all I needed to absorb everything I could from the fantastic topics covered. The organizers behind WordCamp Pittsburgh made the most of Saturday the 9th and I came away with a wealth of information and new connections.

My only regret was not being able to sit in on three talks at once. Every session I attended included a speaker who was confident, prepared, and a topic that was relevant and contained worthwhile tips and takeaways for the audience. I’d also like to point out that my favorite talks (and the majority of talks I attended throughout the day) were given by some rad women who went in-depth on engineering, development, workflow and design, and mental health in tech. The speaker selection and programming left me impressed, and the keynote by Kevin Hoffman┬ácovered his journey in getting involved with the WordPress community which is always a worthwhile subject.

Tiffany Kuchta on Using Varnish Cache with WordPress

While I’ve dabbled in setting up my personal site and a few others “from scratch” on Digital Ocean servers, Tiffany made some great points about the benefits of Varnish Cache as well as caveats that come with it. Leveraging advanced caching can be so environment-specific, and I appreciated her approach to the subject: it provided food for thought to developers and potential system admins at multiple levels.

“Systems and Processes for Creatives”: Lauren Pittenger

Lauren walked us through her design workflow for websites, from style tiles to wireframing. It’s always beneficial to see how another professional makes their way through projects and works ahead of clients. There was some helpful time at the end of Lauren’s session where tools like Sketch and the use of Photoshop and InDesign were discussed, as well as a few alternatives.

“Empathy As A Service: Supporting Mental Health in the Tech Workplace” with Nara┬áKasbergen

Mental health in tech is an important topic that should be covered at every WordCamp if possible. When I mentioned to some of my friends that I went to a great session in Pittsburgh on the topic, several of them were thinking it was like Cory Miller’s well-known Iceberg talk, however Nara focused on sharing solutions to handling mental health in the workplace. She discussed resources like OSMI and pros and cons to work/life situations (like the benefits of working remotely versus moving for a job, for example). I noticed she also gave a talk at php[tek] this year, and I look forward to seeing people speak about OSMI and mental health in tech more frequently. As our culture, or to a greater extent as our society, draws further into our own little backlit screens and intensely “productive” workplaces, it’s incredibly important to keep the dialogue going on the state of our mental health and what we can do to improve it.

Travel, Friends, and Family Too

While in Pittsburgh I was also glad to see some friends along the way. It was wonderful to see and hang with Deborah Edwards-Onoro — one of the first wonderful women in the WordPress community I had the pleasure of meeting at my first WordCamp. Before and after the conference I also took some time with my family, including spending an afternoon kayaking at Moraine State Park with my brother and mom. I always treasure the lovely green summer days spent in Pennsylvania. When I only visit in the winter it’s easy for me to think a life full of palm trees in the desert is all I need, but I so enjoy being back east in the rolling hills.