Disclaimer:
Most of my calendar entries actually were on the weekend before the conference. So I’ll let you in on what happened before Magento Imagine in chronological order. And then add my most inspirational moment from Imagine. For a review of Imagine and all major announcements, please see Andreas’ review.
This was the second Magento Imagine I have attended. The first one for me was 2017. Comparisons to previous Imagines refer to its 2017 edition.

The Community Engineering Team kicking off the Contribution Days

Raúl Watson shows his contribution to the Adobe Stock integration in Magento

Starting off with Contribution Days

This year‘s Magento Imagine started with Contribution Days on Saturday and Sunday before the event. Unlike a hackathon – which is organised by a third party – these Contribution Days were organised by Magento and moderated by David Manners from the Magento Community Engineering team.
With a great setting in the Wynn Country Club (part of the hotel where Imagine takes place) that offers daylight and a terrace (a lot nicer than the hackathon’s location in 2017), this was the place to meet people, work together on issues and to get in pull requests. The Magento Community Engineering team, including Max Yekaterynenko et al., was ready to assist people.
David Manners offered his help explicitly to those who are new to contributing to Magento and wanted to get started with their first pull request.

More than code

Since I‘m less into code and more into words, I chose to sit at a table with Lori Krell, who does a fantastic job of keeping the Magento DevDocs up-to-date and write about all the efforts and accomplishments of the community, and other writers of Adobe and Magento such as Jeanne Frontain and Leslie Tilling.

Announcement:

The Magento User Guides will be opened up to contributions. Currently, you can provide feedback on the guide pages themselves. Soon, you will be able to get in pull requests to improve the contents of the official Magento User Guides. For more info, head to the Community Engineering Slack and join the #merchdocs channel.

Translations

I spent the day working on German translations of Magento 2, discovering features of Magento B2B along the way. Translations have made a big step forward since the Contribution Day at Magento Live Europe in October 2018. Back then, several third party language packs for a single language were offered on Magento Marketplace. And the official translations on Crowdin were stuck on the platform and only half done.
Now, Volodymyr Kublytskyi and his team have established a fully automated process that takes the translations from Crowdin and makes them available on GitHub.
There are weekly status update calls for translations if you are interested in the particulars. Look for the #translations channel at Community Engineering Slack.

I very much enjoyed the atmosphere at the Contribution Days, even though I only really got to contribute on Saturday. People were friendly, helping each other and make time for chitchatting too.
In my opinion, the Contribution Days are one of the best ways to get to know people at Imagine. To further encourage people to connect, they had a happy hour on Sunday afternoon.

Magento Association

Starting Saturday, May 11, the newly established Magento Association opened up for members to sign up. Sharing the Wynn Country Club with the Contribution Days, the board members answered to all questions. It’s still vague where the Magento Association is heading. Everyone in the community has their own vision of a Magento Association. There are many good ideas, however, balancing idealism and business isn’t easy.
The board members are looking for feedback. You can join the discussions on the Magento Forums.

Ready to run – Big Dam Run

Brent Peterson and his team at Wagento organise a community run like no one else. Some things stay the same: There are busses to pick up people and bring them to Hoover Dam near Las Vegas. Since Imagine took place in May and not in April, temperatures were higher and sunshine was more intense than at previous editions. The run started early at 8:15 am. With water supply at the half way point and white hats (really helpful sponsor swag from Talesh of Cerbero), the organisers did their best to make it bearable.
Unless your competitive side comes through (guilty of this one), you can enjoy the run and meet plenty of people.

Magento Partner Summit

integer_net recently became a Magento Solution Partner (the backstory is here in German). For Andreas and me, it was the first time we attended a partner meeting. It offered interesting insights into the perspective of Magento’s sales team. In the past, I was very familiar with the community’s perspective, defending the Open Source edition and fighting for features to be included in Magento Open Source, too, and not just in the “evil Enterprise edition”.
Seeing that here at the Partner Summit, Magento Open Source is a competitor of Magento Commerce shows how much tension there is inside a company that offers both.
We know that the two editions complement each other. Both are necessary for Magento’s success. Still, this can be hard to see when one is heavily invested in only on side. Like siblings fighting for the attention of their parents.

As I expected, the Partner Summit offered a very positive outlook on Magento and the numbers of the ecosystem. That’s why I highly valued the talk about a survey among Magento partners. The self-critical analysis was my highlight of the Partner Summit.
Right after the Partner Summit it was time to deepdive back into the community and attend PreImagine.

PreImagine – Where the community reunites

If you are active on Twitter and know a few faces of the Magento community, chances are that you will see them at PreImagine. It is THE side-event you should attend at Imagine – or should have attended. The event’s future is currently unclear since Karen Baker, CEO of ShipperHQ, has announced that she will no longer be the guardian of PreImagine.
With more and more people wanting to attend PreImagine, the event grew quickly from year to year. That’s why this year they moved it to Intrigue nightclub at Wynn. With a waterfall outside and lots of space inside, PreImagine for me this year was ideal for catching up with people, starting right at the entrance.
Pro Tip: Coke Light bottles look similar to Coors Light bottles. One is not beer, the other hardly tastes like beer.

ExtDN meeting

After PreImagine, I joined the ExtDN dinner to represent integer_net there. ExtDN is the Magento Extension Developer Network.
Extensions are a vital part of the Magento ecosystem as they add value to the Magento platform. However, bad quality extensions can be real trouble makers (e.g. with regards to performance and security) and thus diminish trust in Magento extensions, Magento itself or the ecosystem.
In the last year, ExtDN has made great progress expanding their presence at events, for example at Meet Magento NL in 2018. And they continued to do so at Imagine: Flyers with best practices, open ears for all kinds of troubles with Magento extensions in general and the Magento Marketplace, and some swag helped spread the word about the initiative.

Monday at Imagine

I didn’t attend a single talk except for the general session & keynote. The hallway track – that’s where it’s at.
The most important meal of the day is breakfast – the statement was invented to sell cereal but it holds true when you have breaktfast with the Magento Masters and some of the most influential people of Magento and Adobe. Plenty of good vibes, good food and open conversations to get you started on the right foot.

Pro tip for the networking event on Monday evening: get bottled water at the bar. Compared to many other bottled waters in the US, the taste was great.

Meeting Adobe in the middle: Magento in the center of Adobe’s products that cover the whole customer journey

Tuesday at Imagine

On Tuesday, I attended the general sessions, keynotes, a talk about personalisation by Adobe’s Director of Commerce Strategy John Glasgow and a session on what’s new in Magento 2.3.1.
Also, not to forget the extensive session on Magento Product Roadmap for 2019. At Magento Live Europe when Magento offered a look into their plans the room was so crowded you could hardly get a standing room along the walls. This time, they picked a much bigger room with lots of chairs which was more appropriate for the number of people in the audience.

Magento Master awards

On Tuesday morning during the general session, the Magento Masters 2019 were officially awarded. As in 2017, it was the most exciting moment for me. To be among this group of individuals who contribute tremendously to the community means a lot to me. It is both a recognition of last year’s actions and an incentive to keep the momentum. Since this was the third and thus last Magento Master title for quite a few of the 2019 class, including me, I’m curious to see who we will see on stage next year.

Legendary Party

Three words: Walk The Moon.
They have been on my playlists for quite some time and I was really happy to see them perform live. For me, that was a much better choice over any kind of fire / grinder / stilt artist. However, most people I talked to didn’t know Walk The Moon at all. Well, now they do.

Inspiration

My most inspirational moment happened on Tuesday morning when Aubrey Bergauer took the stage. Her talk on how the California Symphony revamped the user experience was impressive. I loved the passionate way she told the story, more expressive than a conductor. The audience was fascinated as became clear in the WhatsApp group commentary. (yes, there is a 100+ people WhatsApp group chat that basically comments on everything. It was less noise than in 2017)

The Problem

The California Symphony struggled with a low customer loyalty. As their customer research showed, it’s not the programme that is not appealing enough to the audience. It’s the culture shock you may experience when you first attend a concert.

The first time at a symphony concert can be a unique experience of uneasiness: First, you may not be sure if your outfit is appropriate. Then, it may not be clear if the musicians will start soon or if they still wait for a VIP colleague to enter the stage. And when the music stops it may be a big mistake to start applauding. Sometimes a pause and the length of a pause aren’t communicated. Most websites of concert halls don’t prepare you for this experience.
And upon your return from the concert, the machinery to win you as a subscriber and donor is started (fortunately, this usually doesn’t happen in Germany).

The Solution

So what’s the message?
Prepare your customers for what they will experience. If you look at their website, the California Symphony is ready to welcome new attendees: They have a guide for first-time attendees answering all those weird questions you might have. Photos of attendees are included too so you get an image of what to expect. Compared to traditional concert halls, they have a very different approach which becomes evident on their website. I’d say it’s a promise of a better experience.

Also, you don’t propose on a first date. Win your customer’s trust and loyalty step by step. A first time visitor may turn into a returning visitor. A returning visitor may become a subscriber. And finally, a subscriber may opt to donate. 
See the analogy to the Magento 2 checkout? First, you place your order. Then, you are asked if you’d like to register.

Plus: A result of their focus groups was that first-time attendees who expected a cultural experience were actually turned off by the lack of diversity, which they thought was un-cultural. Aubrey Bergauer showed that they tackled this issue, raising the numbers of diverse groups to better match the actual presentation in the population.

I’ll take this as an inspiration how to build customer loyalty in our own online store, as well as how to create and market events.

Conducting the audience’ attention: Aubrey Bergauer on stage of Magento Imagine

Wednesday

I didn’t forget about the last day of the conference. But since I had to leave right after the general session, I didn’t experience much that day – except for some cool up-and-coming technologies from Magento’s Innovation Lab at the Sneaks session and great conversations while watching people go crazy over puppies.

Next year

Magento Imagine 2020 will take place alongside Adobe Summit March 29 – April 2 in Las Vegas. More details on what “alongside” are yet to be published.

Any regrets?

I wish I had

  • more space left in my luggage for swag.
  • picked up a LADIES SHIRT at Atwix’ booth. These people get it <3
    Instead, I brought too many “unisex” shirts home with me.
  • made an effort to meet more people. With so many familiar faces, I spent a lot of time catching up. Time well spent, but still… I’ll try to do better at Meet Magento Germany.
Sonja Riesterer

Author: Sonja Riesterer

Sonja Riesterer is the Marketing Manager at integer_net. She especially enjoys organising events. She is a Magento Certified Solution Specialist for Magento 1 and Magento 2 and has been awarded as a Magento Master in the category “Maker” in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

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