Hyperlocal Websites Workshop w/ Will Perrin – Review

It’s just gone 1:00am and I’m sat on the coach going home after attending the Hyperlocal Websites Workshop being hosted by Movement for Change with guest speaker Will Perrin.

I’m fucking knackered, having spent the entire day traveling, making the trip from Birmingham down to London then dealing with the nightmare that is rush hour on the Underground.

After walking all the way up and down Blackfriers Street 4-5 times I eventually found the building the workshop was supposed to be being held in. It was all closed up – lights off, shutters down – but I was about 45mins early, so I went for a quick pint in a lovely little bar up the street. I can’t remember what it’s called, but if I could I would definitely recommend it!

By the time I finished my drink it was nearing 18:30 so I made my way back down to the venue. On arriving it was still all shut up, but there was a group of people gathering out the front who looked like they might be going to the workshop.

As I looked up the group started marching off. I wasn’t too sure what to do until a young lady asked if I was there for the workshop then told me to follow the group.

After walking for 10 minutes, we finally arrive at what is now known to be the actual venue. I’m not sure what went wrong but, somehow, everybody had managed to turn up at the wrong place!

I go in and take a seat at one of the faux Herman Miller chairs in front of a laptop and everybody’s offered a cup…

What the fuck am I doing, you don’t want to hear all this bullshit, I best get to the actual event!

Will takes the floor and introduces himself then gets on with the presentation.

The first half of the workshop consisted of Will talking about his experiences working with hyperlocal sites and covered a lot of good information with regards to the different types of site, finding a ‘voice’, dealing with potential issues, etc…

He showed a lot of example sites which I thought worked well to convey the points he was making.

I’ll be honest – A lot of the information I took away from this part was a result of ‘reading between the lines’, thinking more in depth about what he was saying, seeing how these things related to his examples and how I could implement them in an effective manner.

He’s a good public speaker and he knows his shit, so I don’t think he was being unintentionally vague or showing a lack of knowledge. I imagine it’s just a case of not being able to go into more depth in such a short space of time (something I’m learning all about with the SEO presentation I’m currently working on, trying to condense 12hrs worth of information into a 1hr slot).

He briefly touched on social media, in particular Facebook, before moving onto the second half, which was spent learning how to make very basic websites using WordPress and the like.

A few other people in the room already ran sites, but it seemed the majority didn’t so I expect they took something away from this. He explained clearly and concisely how to get setup on WordPress and get posting.

After about half an hor of this, just as I was getting ready to fall asleep, a few gems of info were given out as a result of somebody asking about embedding media content. I won’t say what they were (they weren’t about embedding content, lol), that would be unfair. I’m not even sure he intended to say what he did or even realise that he did. Again, this might just be me reading between the lines.

It was all wrapped up after a coupe of hours and I rushed out to find the nearest toilet – I shouldn’t have had that pint just before going in!

All-in-all it was a good presentation. While I didn’t learn a great deal from it, I took away a few useful tidbits that were definitely worth the journey down.

I would have been nice if he’d talked more about actually building the ‘communities’ rather than focusing on the ‘sites’, but I suppose, with the majority of the audience not knowing how to build a site, the former without the latter, for most people, would be pretty useless.

I seriously hope Movement for Change continue with this series of ‘new media workshops’. I’ll definitely be attending any and all that I can.

If anybody from M4C is reading this, here’s some suggestions for future topics:

  • Social Media (Facebook/Twitter/Google+)
  • List-Building
  • Content Development
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

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