The first live WPML workshop is behind us. At the end of September, Dat Hoang, normally working as a WPML supporter, got the opportunity to conduct a WPML workshop in Saigon, Vietnam. We selected the 21 most motivated respondents based on a preliminary survey, and 17 of them attended. The aim of the workshop was to let them learn the possibilities of the WPML plugin and the opportunities it opens for any WordPress site builder.
Now we share the full set of exercises and reveal what the preparation phase looked like, what the attendees liked most, and finally, what we learned about our product from their feedback.
Running a workshop, it starts with good preparation
To run a workshop successfully you basically need to focus on three aspects:
- you should know your attendees’ expectations and the level of their knowledge
- you must be well prepared
- you must share your attendees’ perspective
That’s why it all started weeks in advance.
How to select attendees
To make your workshop efficient the number of attendees should be limited.
They say “hunger is the best spice.” If you gather people hungry for knowledge, half the battle is won. We began with preparing a survey for potential attendees that helped us to form a group of about 20 WordPress users with similar knowledge and with good motivation.
The workshop, together with the survey form, was introduced and announced at ‘Saigon WordPress’ —a channel at the meetup.com service dedicated to WordPress fans from Saigon.
What to include in your agenda
When you work with your plugin on a regular basis you might fall into the trap of thinking that your experience is all you need to share your knowledge with others.
Being an expert in a field is a desirable skill to run a workshop, but the most important factor is the ability to see your plugin through the eyes of your users. Especially the newbies.
Putting yourself in your participants’ shoes will let you prepare yourself better.
It also pays off to combine different kinds of learning materials:
- presentation slides
- demo shows
A few hours of workshops spent staring at laptops will make your attendees tired and bored easily. Diversity helps to keep their interest.
It’s also best to include some simple exercises for covering basic concepts, even though they might seem very obvious, rather than omitting a key part without which your attendees will find themselves having difficulties.
Why your attendees are always right
Running a workshop with real users is like running a kind of usability testing for your product. If you take your attendees’ perspective you can learn a lot about your plugin. By being open to their feedback you will quickly see the strengths and weaknesses of your product.
“Tell me and I’ll forget,
show me and I may remember,
involve me and I’ll understand.”
It is essential for a workshop leader to demonstrate the plugin possibilities. But completing a single task successfully by themselves is what will make your attendees really happy. Start with easy exercises. If your trainees succeed, they will be eager to take the next challenge.
Here we include our final list of exercises. For sure, there were a couple of things that might have been done better, but 80% of attendees said in our post-event survey that the exercises were relevant, well prepared, and understandable for them. The rest said the exercises were OK, but a few things were missing or they had some problems understanding them.
What we learned about our WPML plugin from workshop attendees
After the workshop we asked the attendees to fill in a survey to gather more feedback from them. Here we summarize what we learned about our product.
What was most important for them to learn about WPML
- WPML installation and initial setup
- pages/post translating using different options (translate versus duplicate)
- image translations
- string translations
What was most difficult for them about making a site multilingual ready
- theme and plugin localization
- theme options translation
“One of the most challenging tasks for the WPML workshop attendees was to locate a particular string in the ‘String translation’ panel,”
reports Dat, who run the WPML workshop and accompanied the attendees during the exercise phase.
How they found our WPML plugin
In our survey we also asked the users to evaluate their overall work with the WPML plugin.
Most of the attendees said that the WPML plugin was intuitive enough, but they needed some extra help to manage settings and translate all the elements. Only one person found the plugin complex.
More thoughts from attendees
Here are some more thoughts about the WPML workshop:
“I feel ICanLocalize is very useful since it’s integrated with WPML. I hope that the next workshop will give us an introduction to how to use this service.”
“The workshop provided me a good overview of WPML. After this workshop, I feel confident in using WPML with my projects.
“I buy some themes and the introductions of the themes say that they support WPML very well. However, when activating WPML, I have got some errors. I wonder what the causes is and hope that there are some workarounds to resolve the errors.”
Nguyễn Duy Đại
One person, who asked to stay anonymous, indicated that due to limited time, the attendees could not ask all questions. This person suggested that for the next time the organizers should provide the learning materials before the workshop. This way people could have more time to get experience and then discuss more during the workshop.
More workshops are planned
Thank you once again to all the attendees for their presence and their feedback. For sure it will help us to make our WPML plugin better.
We plan to run more workshops, including Toolset plugins workshops in which we would like to focus on building Classifieds sites and more.
What workshops around our product would you be interested in? What form of workshop would be most desirable for you? Please share your ideas in comments.