Our Biggest Takeaways from WordCamp US 2023
Steve Erdelyi and I attended our first WordCamp and wow, what an amazing event! We went in unsure what to expect, but the sessions, workshops, networking and fun over three jam-packed days far exceeded expectations. We learned so much and left fired up to be a part of this community.
Let us walk you through the highlights that made it such a great experience.
What is WordCamp?
The 2023 WordCamp US welcomed its largest crowd ever — more than 1,700 WordPress devotees gathered for the occasion! For three days, enthusiasts, users, developers and pros from around the nation converged to learn, connect and revel in everything WordPress. We were able to soak up scheduled sessions led by experts on topics like site-building, security, Gutenberg editing and more.
Hands-on workshops let us build real skills and collaborate with others. Mixers and meetups facilitated connecting with new people equally passionate about WordPress. With presentations, workshops, networking and after parties, WordCamp gave us a total immersion into the WordPress community and inspired us to get out there. It was the perfect environment for new campers like us and lifelong attendees alike to engage with the platform and each other.
Major Takeaways from WordCamp 2023
WordPress Scales from Blog to NASA
A real eye-opener was seeing WordPress’ immense versatility in action, even running sensitive government sites like WhiteHouse.gov and NASA.gov. We knew WordPress powered the White House’s public site, but learning about NASA transitioning to it as well? Mind blown. During one of the sessions, we got to explore NASA’s WordPress-based beta site showcasing upcoming missions. Seeing WordPress streamline public engagement for these iconic institutions encapsulated what we already know, which is WordPress’ enterprise-level dependability. Far beyond a simple blogging platform, WordPress offers robust, flexible infrastructure even for the most complex applications. Its open source framework bakes in a community that intimately cares about cutting-edge security while continuing to stay flexible, intuitive and easy to use. For organizations managing multifaceted public communications, WordPress has it handled. Peeking behind the curtain at these major sites built on WordPress highlighted its maturity and growth across all sectors.
WordPress’ Future Looks Bright
In the closing session, we got a sneak preview of what’s ahead for WordPress. Version 6.4 will introduce slick new collaboration capabilities, allowing multiple users to edit the same post simultaneously, fulfilling the third phase of the Gutenberg project’s vision for seamless co-authoring. Phases 1 and 2 focused on the new block editor and full site editing. Another piece to what makes this 6.4 release so special is it “aims to galvanize participation and shared ownership for those that identify as gender-underrepresented in the WordPress open source project.” source
In this final keynote, we also saw early concept designs for a refreshed WordPress dashboard interface. The planned UI overhaul aims to streamline workflows and put key options front and center. Moving forward, Phase 4 will concentrate on multilingual sites to boost the community’s multi market needs. Ongoing improvements like the fonts API and navigation blocks will simplify site-building. Seeing the multi-phase roadmap firsthand showed us WordPress’ commitment to efficient workflows, customization and accessibility for all. These advancements will empower more diverse voices to publish their ideas online. This inside look at what’s ahead demonstrated WordPress’ dedication to open source progress.
WordPress Rules the Web
With more than 100 million websites built on WordPress, its status as the world’s most popular CMS makes perfect sense. Recent surveys confirm WordPress holds a staggering 43% of the global CMS market share. No other platform comes close to that level of adoption. Even established names like Joomla and Drupal seem tiny in comparison, each used by less than 5% of sites. So what explains WordPress’ meteoric rise to dominance? Its simplicity and flexibility attract individual bloggers and enterprise brands alike. Flexibility to customize enables anyone to build a polished online presence. Boundless extensibility through community plugins tailors to diverse needs. Top-tier security protocols offer robust protection. And the vibrant WordPress community provides support to keep sites thriving. For organizations chasing maximum reach, WordPress delivers in spades. It’s no wonder WordPress has become the world’s CMS of choice.
The People Make the Event
Beyond the insightful sessions, connecting with other passionate WordPress people was the real and unexpected highlight of the conference. Volunteering and exploring sponsor booths let us network face-to-face with existing partners and some potential new ones. The welcoming social vibe made every interaction rewarding. These organic connections, forged through informal support and encouragement, continued blossoming after the conference ended. The relationships we built at WordCamp US will keep rippling out in new ideas and collaborations. It reminded us how the WordPress community thrives by coming together.
The Un-Conference Conference
Unlike stiff corporate tech conferences, WordCamp maintains an informal, community-focused feel. Rather than rigid schedules and bland ballrooms, WordCamp feels more like a friends’ reunion. Attendees, speakers and volunteers mingle freely with plenty of spaces to hang out without focusing on professional status. While old-school conferences play up individual egos and can feel like large sales competitions, WordCamp cultivates a cooperative vibe where everyone contributes to collective learning. This inclusive, welcoming spirit has become a defining part of the event. What was surprising, in a great way, was the LACK of business cards shared. Rather, we used websites, social channels, and Slack workspaces to connect.
Volunteering at WordCamp was incredibly rewarding. We used Slack to coordinate smoothly with other volunteers and met so many wonderful people from the WordPress community. Volunteers are the lifeblood of WordCamp – without people generously donating their time, these community conferences simply wouldn’t happen. In return, we volunteers forged new friendships, expanded our networks, scored free admission and enjoyed the satisfaction of being a part of what makes WordCamp successful. Volunteering allowed us to connect more deeply with speakers and the passionate people who make these events possible.
To ease conversations in the bustling setting, this year, WordCamp introduced interaction badges — pins allowing attendees to share their current social bandwidth subtly. Green means you’re openly seeking interactions, yellow is for conversations with people you know and red signals you don’t want to be approached. These visible cues allow people to communicate their real-time preferences, making this large event feel more accessible.
Spotlight on Inclusion
A standout was the BlackPress Summit, dedicated to connecting and uplifting Black WordPress pros. Participants supported each other personally and professionally while promoting broader inclusion in the WordPress ecosystem. Relevant sessions covered topics like imposter syndrome, branding and networking as a minority in tech. Attendees found camaraderie and left feeling recognized, empowered and connected to new opportunities. This critical venue enabled Black creators to help each other navigate tech careers and maximize their impact. By ensuring traditionally marginalized groups feel welcomed and valued, the BlackPress Summit exemplified WordCamp’s commitment to diversity.
WordCamp also highlighted the vibrant LGBTQIA+ community. The lively Pride Party celebrated queer creativity and culture while bringing folks together. Sponsor booths showed support for LGBTQIA-owned businesses and organizations. Main sessions included topics like designing inclusive interfaces and ensuring accessibility for diverse users. Displaying gender pronouns on name tags and bios made LGBTQIA+ attendees feel represented. These thoughtful touches modeled how tech gatherings can better embrace traditionally marginalized identities and just how diverse this community is. When we embrace our differences, our common passions shine even brighter.
Giving Back to the WordPress Community
Steve lent his WordPress expertise during the Contributor Day, which kicks off at the start of each WordCamp. This special event unites the community to improve the open-source WordPress software in real time with both in-person and virtual attendees alike.
Contributing allowed Steve to enhance the software alongside passionate users worldwide meaningfully. His efforts helped ensure WordPress can empower anyone to publish online, aligning with its founding vision. Rolling up his sleeves and collaborating gave Steve a deeper connection to the community powering the tools we rely on. He experienced firsthand how working together strengthens WordPress for all. And he expanded his professional network by engaging with mission-driven developers.
Through this focused contribution, Steve championed Noble Studio’s values of inclusion, learning and community. His work, however technical, helped create a better WordPress for everyone, everywhere. Contributor Day provided professional development while affirming Noble Studio’s vital role in the WordPress ecosystem.
Relive the Action
Can’t make it to WordCamp in person? You can still tap into the valuable insights through full-day video streams, which are all available on YouTube. Staying true to its open-source roots, the WordPress community prioritizes free access to knowledge. Organizers ensure the events get captured in real-time for those who were unable to be there in person. The YouTube channel essentially offers a virtual ticket to experience multiple days worth of presentations and panels:
The Power of Open Source
Attending 2023 WordCampUS showed us the open source ethos that allows WordPress to flourish. The collaborative spirit was palpable, with thousands working together to enrich the community. Rather than isolation or competition, the event cultivated an environment of knowledge sharing for collective benefit. Sessions and discussions centered on empowering people through transparent, accessible technology.
Regardless of background, passionate attendees eagerly supported each other’s growth. This symbiotic nurturing of ideas reflects the power of open source at its best. It reaffirmed why WordPress spearheads an inclusive technological future. We left with a visceral sense of what becomes possible when technology brings people together rather than divides us. WordCamp embodied the open source heart that will keep propelling WordPress forward.