Results are in for WordCamp Toronto 2014’s feedback survey!
We received a total of 63 feedback submissions. It’s the most we’ve had in the last four years by a wide margin.
Our key takeaways (first pass, list will be updated):
- Humber College: Great venue, if only it was closer to transit and the city.
- There’s too much crowding in the popular sessions. Need bigger rooms.
- Lunch was too long – shorten it to 1.5 hours, max.
- Vegetarian options need to be balanced with traditional fare.
- More coffee and water.
- Finalize and publish the schedule sooner.
- Start later, end earlier, have the afterparty close by.
- Live music at the afterparty shouldn’t be so darn loud.
Location: Travel & Geography
“Way too far out of downtown. Horrible for both driving and transit.”
“A little out of the way, a venue that’s closer to the subway would be easier to get to.”
“Great venue, would love to see something closer to the downtown core. But certainly no complaints about the venue.”
“A bit harder to get to than something that’s downtown, especially via Transit but the campus itself is fantastic.”
“Location was fine. A little ways from the core, but the facilities were excellent. I’m sure pricing would have been far greater in the core.”
“It’s not TTC accessible, so it’s really hard to get to for many people who live in Toronto and outside of it. I live near St Clair + Yonge, and it’s 1h 20 minutes by TTC. That’s not reasonable.”
“Sunday 9.30am start was a little difficult without subways.”
“Just takes a long time to get there via transit.”
“The space in the venue was great. Much better than Ryerson’s campus. The lack of local services and restaurant made the conference feel a bit isolated, especially during the 2 hour lunch break (see below).”
“Because of the venue’s remote location, it’s difficult to get there in time for Sunday morning sessions via TTC. Maybe bigger rooms next year, if they’re available? Lots of standing-room-only sessions.”
“It was a really nice facility. Other than being a bit far from downtown, and some of the sessions being a bit crowded, no complaints whatsoever.”
“The location was very out of the way—a bit frustrating for finding accommodations and the like.”
“A bit of a haul for those using public transit, but I understand venue cost must be managed. Some sessions were too crowded though with 20+ people standing.”
“Too out of the way. George Brown was much better.”
“Location was extremely inconvenient. Came from out of town and forced to rent a car because public transit and taxi options were not reasonable. Had to coordinate lifts and car pooling with others who did not have vehicles. A more central location would be a million times better. George Brown College was the best WC Toronto venue to date.”
“It’s a bummer that the venue isn’t located near anything. But the event space itself was very good.”
Venue: Layout & Facilities
“The venue was great- but there wasn’t enough oxygen in the rooms at the end of a full day of seminars. (That’s a common problem for many colleges so it’s hard to know what to do about that though.”
“My first time at that campus. I’m downtown-centric, so skeptical at first. But the facilities were excellent; doubt if you could do better elsewhere.”
“The campus is beautiful, though a little far for those without cars. Lucky we have one 😉 The rooms seem a bit small for the size of the attendees since there was standing room (or sitting on the floor room) only for many sessions.”
“Great location.…loved how the desks had electrical outlets for laptops.
Bit crowded at times. Some sessions had people standing at the back.”
“Location was great. Very tech friendly. The only problem I saw was That some of the session rooms were overcrowded but I know it’s hard to judge how many people will want to go to a particular one.”
“Some of the sessions were waaay too full! Not sure how to fix this?”
“Lovely grounds, great space. Probably could grab some extra chairs when the sessions get overfilled? I was on the floor for one (yes! In that photo!) and standing for one. That’s okay, but I bet there were chairs available somewhere – some of us should probably have volunteered to go get ’em. I didn’t even think of that ’til now!
Anyway, gorgeous place for my lunch walk. And comfortable surroundings. Really good choice of venue.”
“It’s a great venue, but I think we’ve outgrown it! ;)”
“(I’m sure you are already aware) but some of the rooms were too small for the crowds that the speakers attracted.”
“Really liked that the parking was closer than last year, and FREEEEEE. This is so much better than being in the city with expensive parking.”
“Humber Lakeshore continues to be a great venue. Splitting the rooms used across the two hallways reduced the potential for crowding between sessions.”
“Venue was very nice…. just very crowded during some sessions. Some people had issues with the wi-fi but not many, I found it reliable and fast. One of only a few WordCamps that has had reliable wi-fi…. a good thing to since my data was very limited with the international plan.”
“The college had a great setup – the only drawback was that the rooms were overfilled.”
“The venue itself was pretty good, but it would’ve been nice to have a large room where all attendees could gather and have opening/closing remarks, just to bring everyone together at least once through the weekend.”
“Would recommend setting up a ‘coat check’ room for attendees given the event is late November.”
“Great Spot. Bigger room for the Admin/User class if possible. Overcrowded”
“I liked it how it’s TTC accessible even though it took me an hour.
Most of the session I was in, there was not enough room to sit.”
“So, the location was quite far from Toronto’s downtown core. George Brown was a much better location because it was easily accessible by transit, and I felt that it encouraged participation from a more diverse group including students from the nearby schools.
Humber College Lakeshore is a very beautiful location, but it takes upwards of an hour to get there from downtown via transit, and there’s very little to do anywhere near the campus. This is a hurdle for people who might just want to check out a few sessions and leave if they find themselves not liking it. When you hold a conference in such a relatively remote location, people feel trapped there.
I can see how people comfortable in the WordPress community might like this location, but I feel that it discourages new people from coming out.”
“It was a quite a commute from TO. There also wasn’t enough seating for everyone and the rooms were very hot.”
“Good location. Proximity of all the session rooms was very good. The tiered seating with desk space and convenient plug access was great. Logging in initially was a bit of a pain but solved.”
“Great venue- if only some of the rooms were larger!”
“Pro: EXCELLENT for everything but room space. I feel that WordCamp TO has outgrown its Humber space. Too often many of the WordCamp sessions were overfull creating room that was either too hot, or not conductive to writing down what was mentioned in the lecture.”
“Saturday was overcrowded for most of the sessions. Needed a bigger room.”
Content: Speakers & Sessions
“Great sessions, lots of diversity – more advanced dev stuff! ;)”
“I loved having so many different tracts this year! I think that it would have been helpful if the sessions were labelled with a level (beginner/intermediate/advanced) when it’s not obvious based on the tract name or the talk name.”
“Saturday I stayed the full day in the A11Y track. Loved it, would love to see more accessibility sessions. Other developers I know have grilled me on what I learned, they were very intrigued with A11Y track as its a requirement for their projects. Loved that Sunday was packed full of great speakers and panels. Other years I’ve skipped Sunday. ”
“I enjoyed all of the sessions, but I found that some of the design based presentations – were not as “rich” as I wanted them to be. I think some of the presenters wanted to present what they do and not what we need to do/know.
The dev sessions were really informative and sharing.
Overall, a great way to learn!!”
“Great content again. Tough to make choices between speakers for several rounds.”
“Great selection of sessions.
Some sessions overcrowded but I realize it can be hard to predict individual session attendance.”
“Terrific sessions, especially Saturday (for me). Wish I could be in two places at once! Something for everyone- from novice to expert.”
“Speakers were fabulous and the presentations were amazing. The lunch break was too long. Perhaps shorten that, start the day later or end it earlier and then people who want to discuss in the happiness bar can do so after.”
“I found this years sessions to be real “hit and miss”. Some sessions were fantastic and one could learn a lot. Others, I felt, were named incorrectly. (ie. “How to take a free theme and make it yours” was really just intro to HTML/CSS… we didn’t discuss items that he said he would cover, such as Create a basic child theme (optional), Insert their own graphics into a theme using CSS, etc.).”
“Need some more details on the learning level of the sessions. Some seemed like they would be cool, but then ended up being too basic.”
Schedule: Timing & Breaks
“Lunch break was too long.”
“Lunch was too long.”
“Great! Fantastic that you kept the start and end times so religiously. That’s huge. Only problem was that some of my top five sessions were held at the same time- but that’s where the videos will come in handy.”
“Would love a bit more info on how beginner/advanced sessions are. Could use a little less time for lunch.”
“Too many last-minute changes to the schedule – made it really hard to plan. It’s better to wait to publish a detailed and correct schedule instead of publishing one that changes as you go. That’s not helpful to anyone.”
“Schedule seemed to work just fine. I know for me personally the beginner sessions were a bit below my skill level and the intermediate ones were a bit above me but that’s ok because I considered myself a beginner.
I know it’s not strictly WP but I’d love to see a beginner/introduction to coding session/track. That one I would have stayed in all day.
I want to learn to code!”
“Start at 9:00, reduce lunch to 1 1/2 hours, so that last session starts at 4:30pm vs 5:30pm makes a big difference if you have an hour and a half and 120km drive ahead of one (back to Niagara-on-the-Lake )”
“The 2 hr lunch break was too long. Cut down to 1.5 hrs?”
“What a great weekend – thank you all so much for all the work you put in to creating this amazing event. I will definitely attend again! But… can Sunday sessions begin at 10 or 10:30? Subway starts at 9, and apparently same for Kipling bus (though only the former concerned me). I headed west from downtown as soon as I could (on very first subway train – I waited outside to be let in to the station!). But I was still 25 minutes late for my first session. It’s not really a big deal, but probably a good idea to delay the start, or mention this to folks so they can plan. For non-Torontonians, this was probably an unknown factor of our odd weekends here! I knew it would happen, but still hoped I’d get there on time. Sorta! Just didn’t manage.”
“There should have been more time between talks to get from A to B, and to give more time for questions. lunch time was unnecessarily long.”
“2h was really long for lunch. 1.5h might be more appropriate.”
“- Lunch was way too long; 1.5 hours probably would make more sense.
– Sessions went a later than was ideal; 5:30pm for the last slot means that people don’t leave until 6:30pm which is very late, especially for a Sunday.
– I really liked that Development talks were bundled together on the Sunday.”
“It was mostly great! However, the days were a tad too long. I have two suggestion for that:
– make lunch slighly shorter at 1h 30 minutes (it’s nice to have a long lunch to relax, meet people & actually get food without rushing, but 2 hours was too long)
– cut the last talk from the schedule”
“You packed a lot of content in there. Well done! Only suggestion would be to get the schedule confirmed, finalized and published sooner. But I understand there were challenges around that process.”
“Some of the presentations seemed to follow 30min presentation + questions, this sometimes meant that the actual presentation felt rushed or short, perhaps 90 min between presentations would alleviate this a bit?”
“The schedule was good, and I like that there was room to extend some sessions over 2 or 3 periods. The 2 hour lunch break was a bit too long without some structured elements. I attended WP Chicago in June and there were optional but highly valuable networking lunch groups. Different groups and discussions were organized at 4 different restaurants in the vicinity and attendees signed up to join the groups.”
“It was great…. not too long not too short.”
“I felt lunch could have been shorter, but for those leaving the building I’m sure they appreciated the 2 hours.”
“2 hours for lunch seemed long, but maybe it was necessary?”
“The two hour lunch was a bit much.”
“Some sessions are way more popular than others which causes over crowding and constant disruptions with people going/in out. If it’s possible it might be good to have attendees pre-indicate what sessions they are going to attend so it can be held in the appropriate sized room. Another idea is to put up signs – session full once capacity reached.”
“Lunch was a little long.”
“Two hours was too long for lunch, and the day was too long (going to 6:15 p.m.) The sessions I attended were excellent.”
“Lunch is too long — 1.5 hours is perfect.”
“I rather have 1 hour break for lunch and go home an hour early.
The each session were well timed and nice length.
I look forward to seeing the ones that I missed on the wordpress tv. ”
“The lunch break seemed a bit too long. It’s a good opportunity to meet people – but a 2+ hour lunch break kind of makes the day drag on too long, and people end of leaving before the last session.
Overall, however, I found the sessions to be very interesting, and the speakers as a whole really encouraged audience participation and discussion.”
“Lunch was way too long – absolutely no need for it to have been 2 hours! The extra hour was spent chatting and killing time, and it also made the day crazy long. With a 1-hour lunch we could have had a more reasonable 5:30pm end to the day. One hour is more than enough given that we didn’t even have to leave the premises to eat.”
“Big question: Would it work to start the sessions at 9am and make them 70 minutes? This gives a 60 minute presentation, and 10 minutes between sessions.
Then have lunch be 90 minutes rather than 120 minutes.
This starts the day 30 minutes earlier, and has it end at the same time.”
“Schedule: It was great! If there was any criticism, it would be that maybe the lunch was an hour too long. I, and many of my colleagues, found ourselves twittering our thumbs for an hour after lunch and then falling asleep in the last hour of the session.”
“Started a little too early, 10 am would have been better and end by 4:30 pm. Sunday seemed to drag on, a little lacking in sessions and content. Maybe end Sunday earlier than Saturday. Lunch break a little too long, maybe shave off 15 min.”
“Lunch was too long on Sunday. Liked having 2 hours for networking on Saturday, but wanted to get home Sunday so I ended up missing the last two sessions. Where if lunch was only one hour I might have been able to get in more sessions.”
Food & Refreshments (Overall)
“Too much vegetarian at lunch. Dessert was on main level, not in lunch area.”
“I thought the lunch was excellent quality, as were the snacks during the day. ”
“The onigiri is cool, but an alternative would be nice. Not enough coffee in the morning. Not enough water on Sunday.”
“The food was unique and nice to try something new.”
“Good food :)”
“Love the onigiri! Wraps were meh.”
“Didn’t manage to get to the party, but the food: wonderful!”
“Felt like there were practically ~only veg/vegan options. Whats wrong with just plain ol’ pizza?”
“Would have been nicer to have more normal meals that include meat. The food choices were a bit too out there for some people. I enjoyed, but thought it would have been more geared to people that eat meat.”
“Those sushi things were strange. There should have been tongs in the food, people were grabbing things with their hands. Not sanitary. The salad was wilty the 2nd day. The wraps on the 2nd day were decent.”
“Food, overall, was excellent.”
“For the price of the admission, no one should complain about the food! (apart from any obvious dietary issues, which that seemed to be well covered.) You can’t even get two days worth of coffee, snacks and lunch for double the price of the camp ticket.”
“The food was odd the first day. Since it wasn’t warm, it didn’t really feel like a full lunch. The second day’s food was much better.”
“Food was good. Grateful that the food was available on time this year. Suggest doing the after party directly after the sessions: once I head home in North York, after a full day, I’m not about to head downtown again. Too tired and too old.”
“Coffee service was hit and miss; overheard several complaints about availability. Lunches were good; not sure about doing Onigiri again for another time next year. That lineup for Saturday lunch was massive.”
- Not enough coffee. Most of the time when the urn was full, it wasn’t ready. Consider having 2 or 3 urns in a coffee station and rotating one as needed.
- The lunch by Abokichi was a nice snack. I ended up walking out to Lakeshore for a slice afterwards.”
“Let me first say that I am thankful to have food at all, but if you really want to know that was the worst food I’ve had at any WordCamp and what made it worst was that there were no really options walking distance.”
“I thought the food was great.”
“I wasn’t fond of the lunches. I’m OK with vegetarian, but the specific flavours were not my favorite – and left me hungry.”
“The food was great! No complaints.”
“More traditional fare would probably please more people. If you didn’t like Kelp (Saturday), you were probably not happy.”
“I hated the food. I’ve liked the other breakfast, lunches, and desserts much better that were served at previous WordCamps in Toronto.”
“I wish it was warm food, but the food was great. Fruit snacks were great idea!”
“Lunch was terrible 🙁 60-75min would have been ample for lunch.”
“Lunch was “meh.” It was OK, but not filling enough (especially the first day) and not enough variety (i.e. 1 main thing + salad). Breakfast and snacks were great, all that fruit to munch on was appreciated.”
“The cost of WordCamp is ridiculously low. Being provided anything to eat is recognized as a gift. For this I thank you.
As a friend and fan of WCTO who has experienced other WordCamps I’ll share with you:
- Need multiple lines so that people can move through the line quicker. A single line was waaaaay too long.
- A vegetarian option is good and the cause noble. This however is not the time/place to change society. I, and it would seem many others were not keen on the limited and funky food options. Not a big deal if a WordCamp is near other local and convenient options. This was not the case though. The only real option was Tim Hortons, which sold out of everything because everyone else went there also to find something else.
- Coffee…. this is a basic, simple, inexpensive staple. This was flubbed both mornings.
- Water…. both lunches ran out long before I was able to get one. Lots of soda but no water both times.”
“Loved the lunches. Great ideas, something different than the usual fare.”
“The food available at the Happiness Bar area was amazing. I didn’t eat the lunches because I brought my own. Actually, I wan’t expecting to be given any food at the event. So I was totally surprised and pleased by what was made available. Thank you.”
“Loved the food. Not crazy about pop when everything else was pretty healthy.”
“EXCELLENT ALL AROUND.”
“Time to get back to more basics, i.e. sandwiches/subs. Would have liked some warm food instead of cold. I appreciated most of the items were vegetarian which accommodates most people dietary needs.”
“The weird food was not good. Not having another option wasn’t cool either.”
Saturday Afterparty (Overall)
“Great afterparty! Didn’t have the food.”
“Thanks for the hangover!! After party was amazing. The live band and photo booth were an excellent touch.”
“After party too far away from location and too much time between last session and after party.”
“I didn’t attend the after party. After a long day of sessions, if I go home, I’m not going out again. Back to WCCHI, they managed to have a buffet dinner and after party on site immediately after the last Saturday session. It was easy to keep attendees together, and provided a much better atmosphere than moving to a new venue and dealing with other conditions.”
“I did not attend the after party… reason being that there were 21/2 hours between the end of the sessions and the party… after a long the of sessions and traveling it was difficult to get out again. (maybe I am just getting old)”
“Wish the after party venue was less loud (lots of sore throats the next day due to shouting over music), but the Gladstone was a great choice otherwise – central, good food & drink, really nice space.”
“I think the Gladstone is great, but I did hear the live music was pretty loud which isn’t very conducive to meeting new people.”
“After party was fun too, great space and the live music was a nice touch.”
“After Party started too late. I didn’t want to hang around downtown that long.”
Overall Ratings & Other Comments
“Special thanks to the agency panel. Even though you were obviously very successful and dealt with high level clients and so on, you explained all important terms (like RFP and NDA). That was really nice to see. Professionals and newbies being able to co exist without having to feel talked down to or dumbed down.
This was my first WordCamp and I was positively surprised at the mix of people attending; the three people I spoke to at lunch Saturday was: a union worker running his local Union site on WordPress, one of the speakers (that I didn’t know or recognize) and a freelance developer/designer like myself. Great mix!”
“Thanks to everyone who volunteered and did the planning.”
“This is my second WC, first one was Buffalo in 2012, I like the two day format, and Humber is a good site (I am bisis as I use to teach COBOL in 1972 at Humber)”
“Thanks for organizing it! :)”
“Thank you — best WCTO yet! (This is my third.)”
“Thank you, everyone!”
“I love you!”
“Great job overall! I had fun and learned tons :)”
“Great great conference. Fantastic job to the organizers and volunteers.”
“Meeting new people was wonderful. Interesting, fun, informative. Thank you, thank you!!”
“I feel we missed something when we didn’t have at least opening remarks, where the volunteers and sponsors could be recognized. But that’s just me.”
“It was my first time at a WordCamp and it was a great experience, I left full of new ideas and information that I look forward putting to good use.”
“Generally, I think the event went well. I’ve attended WCTO since the beginning (missed last year) and I’d say it’s getting better each time.
To create a better community around the event, consider collecting a bit of profile info from attendees during registration, including Twitter handles, how long they’ve used WP, what for, etc. Then put these profiles up on the website for attendees to get familiar with each other before the event.
Budget must play a big part of the schedule and venue, but a Friday night kick off would be a great way to collect everyone and set a tone for the event. How about a keynote speaker session for the whole WC audience – not for any developer, designer or user. Someone like Troy Dean, who speaks to WP users about how to improve their WP business.
“Wonderful people… very organized, and most of all I really appreciated the way the organizers were calm and very laid back. Thank you.”
“Responsive schedule would be useful on phones (this was a good alternative: http://wcto.jessplease.com).”
“This was my first WordCamp and I thought it was great! The price was fantastic, the people were fantastic. Thanks so much for all your hard work!
One comment about the free shirt. Really good quality, nice colour, but like most free shirts the back turns it into a walking billboard, so I probably won’t wear it much. If it only had the tasteful WordCamp on the front, I’d never take it off! That’s just my 2 cents.”
“I learned SO MUCH from so many wonderful people. Everyone was so helpful and knowledgeable. Thank you for a wonderful event.”
“Great job. Relaxed. Well run. Unbelievable value for money.”
“Only small quibbles. Event was good overall and certainly worth the small fee.”
“Special thanks to the organizers for doing such a wonder job!”
“Overall, very pleasant and well worth of weekend to attend. I will highly recommend to others. Since I’ve been one in 2010, you guys came so far and it was an excellent event. Thank you so much for organizing.”
“A coat check would have been nice for our winter coats.”
“As an experienced WordCampers, I was impressed with overall quality of talks and speakers, so kudos on speaker selection. Many rooms were overflowing well before the session began, though, and I think it’s time to find a venue with larger rooms to accommodate everyone better. Signage around the venue was terrific and volunteers were plentiful and helpful.”
“After Party: 8:00 IMO is way too late IMO. Wrapping up at 6:30 is a little late but fine. As such though we’re hungry so find some place to eat and have to kill a full hour and a half for the After Party.
The primary purpose of the WCTO is the sessions and conversations with other attendees. The sessions were great. The conversations were great. It was a wonderful event. Would highly recommend it and hope to attend next year. The above offered in the spirit of hoping it may help make it even more amazing. It was a great event! Thanks to the organizers for a job well done.”
“I do a lot of speaking engagements, and am generally rated as engaging, entertaining and educational. Would presenters like to have an opportunity to chat with a professional speaker during a 2 week period before the next camp?
I’m always happy to answer questions at an event, but I’m thinking a conversation in advance might help them put finishing touches on a presentation. in the spirit of Word Camp, I’m happy to offer this without charging the presenters. (But only in relation to Word Camp, and for a defined period in advance of the event and at the event.)”
“Thanks to everyone who put this together. It was excellent.”
“I feel like WordCamp TO is really picking up. It’s always exciting to fly in for, and I don’t regret coming this year. I do think there are smaller issues which take away from the overall experience (detailed above), but otherwise, I will be coming back next year in hopes that those issues can be resolved.”
“Would have like an overall welcome or keynote speaker on Sat & Sun morning.
The content for beginners and intermediate was better last year.
Still a great value for the money.
Would have like some hands on labs and more demos.
Would have like to have some session duplicated on Sun.”