Putting better eCommerce sites into the world is something that benefits all of us. Building truly remarkable sites is hard work, and we want to make it a little easier.
So, we have created an entire virtual conference called WooSesh – taking place this October 18 and 19 – to help you:
- Improve your WooCommerce skills
- Be inspired by new ideas
- Forge meaningful connections that will help you build better eCommerce sites
The entire event is free to attend, you just need to register and make time to participate.
If you’re wondering if WooSesh is for you, here is an exploration of the four most common approaches to learning – ad hoc, focused, practical application and group – all of which will be present over the two-day lineup, as well as what else to expect at WooSesh.
Four ways to learn: What works for you?
There are a number of different strategies when it comes to growing and gaining skills. Some are more effective than others. How you learn best depends as much on the material and its application as it does to you as a learner. In fact, one style of learning may serve you extremely well in one case and quite poorly in another.
I’m going to unpack four different approaches to learning and then explain how we’re leveraging each of them to provide you with the best experience during WooSesh.
But first, let’s talk about specialization: Specialization creates better opportunities.
I’m a huge fan of specialization. Building an eCommerce site is much harder than building a regular WordPress site – and that’s not a bad thing! As a person who builds and sells websites for a living, it means I’m only competing with maybe 5 or 10 people for a project instead of 100. Specialization in building eCommerce sites dramatically improves my odds of signing a contract while also charging more for my specialization.
eCommerce is a huge revenue generator for many businesses the world over. This makes it easy to calculate the value of new features and enhancements and establish an appropriate budget. Furthermore, building eCommerce sites helps insulate you from most economic downturns because businesses will continue to develop their revenue generators even while cutting marketing expenses (e.g. standard website development)..
Of course, to get good with eCommerce and WooCommerce there’s a lot to learn. And that’s where these different learning approaches and WooSesh come in to play.
1. Ad hoc learning
Ad hoc learning is what we do every time we type something into Google:
- How many inches in a foot
- How do you pronounce gif
- How do you update WooCommerce
It’s when we’re looking for a specific piece of information to deal with a task at hand. Usually, we get pointed to a specific blog post that handles that one piece of information.
Benefits of ad hoc learning
It’s incredibly practical. There are always times we need a bit more information and typing something into Google, reading for a bit, and implementing a solution in 30 minutes is a fast, and efficient way to solve a one off problem.
It’s fast. This method is also fast. You don’t need to learn why something works the way it does. You don’t need to learn any principles, history, or fundamentals behind the actions you’re taking. If you want to know how to configure a contact form for your website you’ll find out exactly how to do that in a few minutes.
Disadvantages of ad hoc learning
You’re only ever looking at the next step. When you’re looking how to get over the next obstacle in your path you’re not looking if it’s the direction you actually want to go.
For example, if you need to know how to automatically export orders into Zapier you’re not necessarily asking if you should do it. Sometimes you clear the obstacle only to find another obstacle in your path.
And then you spend more time on that obstacle and so on. Sometimes you waste a whole day on these tiny problems.
It’s often in these scenarios that you realize: if you just looked up and changed the first step, you might have been able to avoid the whole situation.
2. Focused learning
Focused learning is when you sit down to understand a particular topic. Good examples would be taking an online course, reading a book, or listening to a longer podcast.
When you dedicate time to learning you understand the principles behind the decisions:
- Why do you want a backup in the first place?
- What are the differences between an open-source and a hosted solution?
- How and when do you scale your team?
Benefits of focused learning
The advantage of asking bigger questions is that you can understand how different pieces in a complex system interact with each other.
In the eCommerce world, this might mean understanding the difference between the common wisdom of “you need to offer free shipping” and “customers want free shipping – and « I can cover my costs by unlocking free shipping above my average order value (AOV)”.
The first store owner might run out of money and the next can actually make money while making customers happy.
The other benefit is that you can prevent problems before they come up. Years ago I attended a meetup about backups. I didn’t think I’d get much out of this session. After all, my web host already made monthly backups for me. I realized how wrong I was a month later when one of our sites was hacked. That one hour meetup saved my 8 hours of stress a month later.
Adhoc learning could only ever tell me how to fix a hacked site. It cannot prepare me with proper precautions or systems ahead of time.
Disadvantages of focused learning
While focused learning is essential, there are some problems. It almost never covers the edge cases. You might learn why and how you should backup your website but you won’t necessarily learn how to fix a specific hack. That’s usually done better with an adhoc method.
Multitasking kills the efficiency of focused learning. If you are trying to do a lot at once your retention rate is going to be pretty low. Even just answering emails while watching a video course will drastically reduce how much information you can absorb.
3. Practical application
Practical application is learning by doing. A great example would be learning how to ride a bike. You could watch a video, watch other people, and listen to tons of advice. But with some subjects, it’s just easiest to learn by doing. I find coding is one of those concepts that’s hard to explain unless someone follows along.
Benefits of practical application
Practical application is the only way to get paid for learning. Often times it’s not our best work (since we’re learning as we go!) but it can be one of the fastest ways to accomplish the task. Especially if you know it’s possible to improve the work at a later time.
Learning by doing is often supplemented by ad hoc learning. You run into problems and have to figure them out on the fly.
Practical application cements the learning objective. I could tell you over and over again why you need to add x, y, and z to your site. But until you do it and see the benefits yourself, it’s merely advice. Once you’ve done it yourself it’s now part of your experience and you have a much greater understanding of when and where you need to use that learning.
Disadvantages of practical application
If you’re quoting client projects with lots of unknowns and you plan to learn why doing you could be setting yourself up for failure. Learning while doing is risky for any business. You don’t want to have too many variables in your projects because you could accidentally overcommit to a project and not pay yourself enough. Or, worse, not be able to complete the project.
4. Group learning
Group learning is one of my favorite ways to learn. You spend time discussing concepts with other people which gives you new ideas, helps refine your ideas, and cement them.
Group learning can happen anywhere but here are a few common examples:
- Conferences (e.g. WordCamps, WooConf, etc.)
- Online events (e.g. webinars, online conferences, etc.)
Benefits of group learning
When you’re reading a blog post or a book you’re only seeing one person’s point of view. By talking to many people on a specific topic you get a comprehensive understanding. Discussing the perspectives many others provides you with a nuanced answer that is more difficult to achieve independently.
Building relationships is one of the things that propels me forward. When my work friends know what I’m working on we can encourage each other, we can send referrals to each other, we can share news, and we can ask each other for advice. One of the best-kept secrets of the WordPress world is how friendly the people are. You’d be amazed how many of my friends are people I met at my very first WordCamp.
Disadvantages of group learning
Unfortunately, many events are expensive both in terms of time and money. By the time you pay for the event ticket, travel, lodging, and meals, a physical event may cost over $1,000 – even when you’re trying to be frugal.
In addition to the raw costs of attendance you have to consider the opportunity costs: time away from friends, family, and work. I love going to conferences but my productivity usually plummets when I travel for work.
WooSesh is four learning strategies in one digital event.
What to expect at WooSesh | October 18-19, 2018
WooSesh is designed to bring the same high-caliber experts and attendees you find at a physical conference together for an online event.
We provide focused learning with each session and, because this is a live event with an active chat, there is group learning too. The interactive Q&A at the end of each session will help address edge case issues (ad hoc learning). And, since you’ll have your computer in front of you, you can follow along with the speakers and do some of the suggestions as they make them (practical application).
We have packed the two-day schedule full of content that should prove most useful to nearly everyone.
WooSesh Day 1 (October 18): Day one is for store builders. You could be a coder or not. The sessions cover all of the following topics:
- Exclusive two-hour keynote from the WooCommerce team, including case studies and future-focused content
- How to sell WooCommerce to clients
- Secrets to maintaining WooCommerce websites
- eCommerce SEO
- Understanding and using data to build better WooCommerce sites
- How to create better content and increase sales
- Replatforming to WooCommerce
WooSesh Day 2 (October 19): Day two is for coders. All of the talks are about code or are closely related to code with sessions on:
- Speeding up WooCommerce
- Performance testing
- Creating WooCommerce extensions
- Building better UX in WooCommerce extensions
- Tips for improving subscription sites
- Creating a WooCommerce App in React Native
- Building a Software as a service (SaaS) around WooCommerce
- Lessons learned building WC Subscriptions, Robot Ninja, and managing a distributed team
Register for WooSesh today, sign in on October 18-19
WooSesh is an entirely remote conference. All you need is your computer and an internet connection.
Tickets originally cost $200.00 per person. Instead, we are grateful to partner with WooCommerce and accept their offer to pay for everybody’s ticket. This means you can participate in the live event for free. All you need to do is make the time.
Register right now for a ticket and mark your calendar for October 18 and 19. At a minimum, you’ll want to tune in for the 2-hour keynote on October 18th and learn about all the new things WooCommerce is doing.
Are you ready to level-up your WooCommerce skills?
The ability to create eCommerce sites is an invaluable skill. It helps you stand out from other developers in your area and charge more for your projects. It’s a great thing to specialize in because it pays you back for the time you invest.
Everyone learns differently and, at times, we all use different learning models. You should know how you learn best and you should try the different models. Then, see what happens when you combine models – that’s often where the magic happens.
My biggest piece of advice is to set aside time to learn. Multitasking ruins every learning model. Even if you only set aside one hour a week it will be so much more useful to you than five hours where you were distracted.
My second biggest piece of advice to you is to attend WooSesh and participate in each of the live sessions. You never know which one will provide you with a moment of inspiration, a timely piece of advice, a most-trusted new colleague, or something that proves useful months or years later.
Keep on learning, and I hope to see you October 18 and 19!