WordCamp US (WCUS) 2022 Recap

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Community and innovation reunite

WordCamp US (WCUS) 2022 was September 9-11. Read below for a recap of the event, how to get involved as a WordPress contributor, and what to prepare for future WordCamps.

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What is WordCamp and what are the benefits?

WordCamp 2022 flag posted in front of outdoor setting with palm trees-2
Photo credit: Justin Nealey

WordCamp is a meetup event for people interested in all things WordPress. Creators and innovators from all industries and backgrounds can collectively gather and share ideas that make WordPress’s open source software a much better tool for all to enjoy (aka the WordPress open source project).

Whether you’re setting up your first portfolio website as a freelance writer or developing a new widget as a seasoned coder, WordCamp is the place to learn and discover new opportunities through things like:

    • Networking opportunities
    • Workshops
    • Discussion panels
    • A sessions

You can also expect other fun benefits like free swag, cool prizes and after-hour parties as an extra bonus for attending.

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How WordCamp US differs from a typical convention

At WordCamp, you won’t find endless rows of vendors focused on selling their products.

Two people chatting at a table in the halls of WCUS 2022-2
Photo credit: Justin Nealey

Instead, you’ll find unofficial gatherings in the hallways between sessions — known as hallway tracks — where people network with one another to dish out their favorite trade secrets and chat about key happenings within their industries. While there is an active sponsors area, these brands are focused on relationship building and being part of the WordPress community.

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Learning from WordPress contributors

One of the biggest ways WordCamp empowers attendees is through Contributor Day. This is where WordPress users are gathered into different teams across the platform to discuss all the ways they contribute to the overall project. It’s also a great opportunity for people to ask questions and meet new faces from different industries.

Anyone can sign up to be a contributor and is encouraged to do so — no matter your skill level or background.

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Taking WordCamp US 2022 to San Diego

This year, WCUS headed to San Diego, California to celebrate the three-day events at the Town and Country Resort. Here, guests basked in the warm weather, took in all the sights from local beaches and chowed down on some of the best Mexican food in the nation.

Neon pink Pagely sign lit up at night with San Diego cityscape in background
Photo credit: Chris Edwards

One of the highlights from this year’s trip included a yacht party, hosted by Pagely, that set sail on the San Diego bay at night. Guests sipped on cocktails, dined on local cuisine, and danced the night away — all while taking in the picturesque skyline and marina views that the city has to offer.

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Meet the GoDaddy team on the ground

As a proud supporter of the WordPress community, the GoDaddy team was eager to join in on the action with over 40 representatives from various brands within the company.

We also announced our new Managed WooCommerce Stores product.

Here are some of the notable faces you might have recognized from this year’s events:

  • Adam Warner – Director of Field Marketing for GoDaddy
  • Courtney Robertson -Web Designer & Developer Advocate for GoDaddy Pro
  • Marcus Burnette – WooCommerce Specialist for GoDaddy Pro
  • Sandy Edwards – Senior Marketing Manager for GoDaddy
  • Evan Weiner – Global Director & Head of Social Marketing for GoDaddy
  • … and dozens more from four GoDaddy brands on the ground, including our WordPress contributors and folks working on our WordPress offerings.
GoDaddy Pro team posing and having fun at the sponsor booth
Photo credit: Brian Bautista

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Daily highlights and key happenings

Check out the discussion topics and bullet points below from our team, with notable quotes and live streams from industry leaders.

Day 1: Opening day

Opening day kicked off as attendees checked in and scoped out the sponsor booths. Kathy Drewien opened the event with opening remarks, reminding us all how to be together in person again.

View the full live streams below, and see the top comment on YouTube for time stamps to individual sessions.

 

Nathan Ingram – Taming the whirlwind

Nathan shared tips about growing a WordPress business while busy with client work and discussed how to spend time in different blocks.

Nathan Ingram speaking to audience about growing a WordPress business
Photo credit: Courtney Robertson
  • Strategy is important but urgency challenges achieving your strategy
  • Delaying strategy doesn’t work. The whirlwind never goes away
  • Your challenge is accomplishing your goals in the midst of the whirlwind. Strategy, execution, urgency clash
  • Do quarterly goal setting with weekly planning an execution
  • Find things that bring immediate impact and momentum into your business
  • It can be easier to do the client work that is easy to get done, rather than the strategy to grow our business
  • Sometimes good ideas have to be put on a shelf to bring the most immediate impact on my business

Chris Lubkert – How your small business can participate in five for the future

Chris addressed the following questions while championing WordPress development:

What is Five for the Future?

“Five for the Future encourages organizations to contribute five percent of their resources to WordPress development.”

Chris Lubkert discussing WordPress development
Photo credit: Courtney Robertson

What are the benefits for your business by participating?

  • Insights from where WordPress is going and how that relates to the business goals
  • Influence to shape WordPress. Contribute and help improve areas of WordPress that you want
  • Brand: building relationships and partnerships by networking as a contributor with other contributors

Pressing short-term needs that get in the way

  • Plan in advance
  • Give yourself permission to reschedule, if needed.

Alex Stine and Amber Hinds – Website accessibility testing workshop

Alex Stine and Amber Hinds presenting an accessibility workshop
Photo credit: Courtney Robertson

Alex and Amber co-presented an accessibility workshop and shared these slides. Amber walked attendees through:

  • Testing process
  • Automated accessibility testing
  • Keyboard testing
  • Screen reader testing

Alex followed up by demonstrating his screen reading app for the audience while navigating a website to pay a water utility bill.

Christina Deemer – Embracing minds of all kinds: Making digital content usable for people with cognitive disabilities

Christina talked about an empathetic and pragmatic look at making content accessible. These points spoke to us in particular:

  • “Don’t make users search for the start of a critical path.”
  • “Provide a login that doesn’t rely on memory.”
  • “Let users know when user content changes or moves.”

Cassandra Decker – An anthropologist, a WordPress developer, and a lawyer walk into a bar

Cassandra spoke sincerely about difficult questions surrounding trauma and neurodivergence and how we play a role as web creators. Our favorite question she posed was:

Is the internet the great hope? Or the great divide?

 

She also shared best practices that help make the web a hopeful place, like embracing your ignorance while communicating.

Sally Thoun – A rookie’s reflection: It is NEVER too late to learn

Nathan Ingram
Photo credit: Justin Nealey

Sally is a cancer survivor and advocate for accessibility in the community. Her method to make a difference is LDT (Learn, Do, and Teach).

Stephanie Bernal – Improving processes & website tracking with Google Tag Manager and WordPress

This session was one of our favorites and packed in tons of helpful insights. Here are some of the highlights:

Website speed is a Google ranking factor

  • Contributes to lower bounce rate
  • Speed contributes to conversions
  • It’s just expected by users now

What is Google Tag Manager?

  • Tag management system from Google
  • Install tracking on your site
  • Your march toolbox
  • Track events and conversions

Why use GTM?

  • All 3rd party code in one place
  • Less code = better performance
  • Reduced need for dev assistance
  • Recipes can be lifesavers
  • Pre-made Json files, plug and play (publish and move on)
  • For things like enhanced commerce tracking, and much more
  • It’s free!

Takeaways and tips

  • GTM can save you from overloading your side with code
  • Simple to advanced tracking capabilities
  • Plan before implementing
  • Test, test, test!
    • Provides format for more organized insights so you can test more and more efficiently

Nick Diego – Build custom blocks in 15 minutes

Sajid Islam – A cookie-less future with Google Analytics 4

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Day 2: Sessions

Day two was buzzing with excitement as attendees made their way into sessions that touched on cultural intelligence, design, commerce and much more. Peek the highlights below to learn more.

View the full live streams below, and see the top comment on YouTube for time stamps to individual sessions.

Peyta Raykovska – Developing cultural intelligence

Working with a multicultural team can often lead to unintentional miscommunication barriers. Peyta addressed some of these issues by examining how different cultures express themselves using a Culture Map, which maps out the world cultures in eight scales:

  • Communicating: low vs high context cultures
  • Evaluating: direct vs indirect negative feedback
  • Persuading: principles first vs applications first
  • Leading: egalitarian vs hierarchical structures
  • Deciding: consensual vs top down
  • Trusting: task based vs relationship-based trust
  • Disagreeing: confrontational vs avoids confrontations
  • Scheduling: linear time vs flexible time

To develop cultural intelligence, team leaders can practice these steps:

  • Be willing to listen
  • Be genuinely interested in other human beings and their experiences
  • Do not perceive the “otherness” as a threat, but as an opportunity

Sara Cannon – Designing for accessibility

Sara Cannon giving speech on Designing for Accessibility-2
Photo credit: Justin Nealey

Sara highlighted the importance of making the web accessible for all people with disabilities and to consider the following whenever we think about design and site audits:

  • People with visual impairments
  • People with auditory impairments
  • People with motor skill impairments
  • People with cognitive impairments
  • People in environmental factors

Along with compliance, she also mentioned that we should practice empathy in everyday web practices. Some of the design elements she reviewed, included:

  • Color contrast ratios and tools to use
  • Best practices for typography
  • Accessibility checklist
  • Transcripts, descriptors, and alt tags
  • Dark Mode
  • Accessibility-focused handoff

Beka Rice – Connected commerce: Evolve to multichannel selling

Gosh, Beka is smart. She explained channel strategies succinctly, explaining the difference between single, multi and omni channels:

  • Beka Rice standing at podium and speaking to audience-2
    Photo credit: Justin Nealey

    Single is selling in one place, strategically or by happenstance

  • Multi is selling in multiple places but with limited or no connectivity
  • Omni is selling in multiple places but with a unified experience and a connected environment

She also shared incredible data that made several key insights very clear:

  • Multichannel retailers outperform their online only counterparts
  • 73% of shoppers used multiple channels during their shopping journeys

Ultimately, Beka wants to help small businesses succeed, and channeling strategies are a big part of her mission. She suggests riding the wave on different channels, gaining total retail share and not to sleep on in-person opportunities. Let your customers be your guide in choosing the right channels for you and your business.

Felix Arntz – Tackling performance in the WordPress ecosystem at scale

“WordPress websites are slow.” Felix started with that sad truth, but also explained the Core Web Vitals metrics and where WordPress sites can improve, specifically in LCP.

The goals of the WordPress performance team (which everyone is welcome to join):

  • Improve performance through core
  • Facilitate decision making based on performance metrics
  • Raise performance awareness in the ecosystem

Additionally, we can all be a part via the performance lab plugin that allows new features to be tested on live sites.

Rich Tabor – A new era of WordPress themes is here: Block themes

Rich makes a powerful case for block themes and full site editing saying:

“Patterns are the primary way [of] interacting with the editor. They’re the ultimate shortcut. In addition, styles and variations are the most interesting part of a block theme to make it your own.”

Adam Silverstein – Images on the web: past present and future

This was a fun and engaging look at image format history. He discussed the pros and cons, along with why we’ve arrived at the modern WebP, AVIF and JPEG XL formats.

It’s not just about image size, but also image quality. Context matters, and so does where and how an image is viewed.

Here were some suggested best practices:

  • Have an image CDN
  • Reduce blocking CSS
  • Upgrade PHP
  • Defer scripts
  • Prioritize images with prefetch

Phil Crumm Helen Hou-Sandí – Content creators are users, too: The crucial importance of carefully crafted editorial experiences

Phil started by telling some anecdotes that were summed up with a quote from a friend,

“We need to stop telling people that WordPress is easy to use.”

That’s not okay. This is meant to democratize the web, we need to do better.

A site editor that matches a live site builds user trust. However most block editor experiences don’t match and can sow distrust.

A great way to build trust is high-fidelity live previews.

 

Focus on content creators’ first 10 minutes. Keep configuration predictable and consistent. Blocks are an opportunity for us to build user trust in new and exciting ways.

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Day 3: Contributor Day

The final day went off without a hitch. Hundreds of attendees were invited to break into teams that were dedicated to improving the WordPress open source project. Beginners, experts, and all skillsets in between came together to work and learn in categories like design, accessibility, hosting and much more.

Attendees gathered around a table with laptops on Contributor Day
Photo credit: Marcus Burnette

Here’s what folks from the GoDaddy family of brands have to say about Contributor Day.

Courtney Robertson –  Web Designer and Developer Advocate

Having so many of us that were brand new to contributor day brought back the memories of my first time.  It was WCNYC 2014, and I was intimidated about being new and knowing no one else there, plus traveling alone in NYC.  I think often about our new contributors and how to welcome them. It was great to onboard five new contributors to the training team and see my coworkers make new connections to various teams.

I had the opportunity to be the Training Team Table Lead.  We reviewed what content is available on learn.wordpress.org and a large overview on the needs of Learn.  After an opportunity to get to know each other a bit, we broke into a variety of groups. The team created workflows for improving the quality of training materials in preparation for launching WordPress certification, brainstormed mentorship programs, spoke about cohort based learning and improved tracking contributions to the team.

Colton Zebe – Technical Program Manager

I thought it was really cool that people from various different companies who all compete against each other could sit at the same table and work with each other in such a positive manner. I’ve always heard how close and connected this community was but it was really cool to see it first hand.

Justin Nealey – Senior Product Manager

I was able to be a part of the Photos team. I got to learn the processes the moderators go through when approving photos and we even went on a photo walk as a group to get more content for the photos directory. If you’re looking for great photos to add to your website or wanting to add your own, you can head to WordPress.org/photos.

Marcus Burnette – Marketing Specialist

It’s always interesting to see the variety of ways that folks can contribute. There’s some coding happening, sure, but others are planning events and features, some are helping folks make new connections, and the Photos team even went on a photo walk!

Ken Crockett – Senior Marketing Specialist

This was my first contributor day and as part of the community team. It was great to see how it all comes together […] with each group and their respective sub groups. To echo what [Colton Zebe] said, many are competitors but we all put that aside to contribute to WordPress.

Gaurav Nakul – Senior Manager, Marketing

Contributors day was a befitting finale to WCUS 22. Coming together to brainstorm on ideas, problems, sharing perspective and just getting to know people was an amazing experience.

Patrick Maginn – Senior Manger, Care Product Operations

For almost 20 years while supporting WordPress, I have sent countless customers to the WordPress Support Forums with confidence that they would find an answer to their questions. Working the forums during Contributor Day was my first experience being on the other side. The way the team collaborated and helped each other showed me that the customers I sent their way, over the last two decades, really were in good hands!

Randy Enos – Senior Manager, Product Marketing

For my first Contributor Day, I had the opportunity to sit with the Marketing Team. One of the topics we discussed was how to improve/up-level the press releases for WordPress’ new versions and/or features. One key takeaway was to not only focus on ‘tech specs,’  but also what the new versions or features mean in terms of value and benefits as relevant (i.e., for sites, WP community, clients, site visitors, etc.). It was interesting to see the ‘behind the scenes’ inner-workings of the community to better understand how they get things done (and their challenges).

Chris Edwards – Senior Product Marketing Manager, Commerce

Seeing hundreds of talented developers, designers, marketers, writers coming together in one room to improve a platform that runs over 40% of the web is inspiring. We had folks from all over the globe with many different skill sets, different companies, and different stages of life, joining forces to contribute to open source.

Chris LaNasa – Senior Director, Product Marketing

Very action oriented. When we didn’t have enough photos coming in for review, the team went out and took their own!

Brian Bautista – Associate Art Director

I also assisted in taking photos on Contributor Day. Got to meet some of the photographers who volunteered. Here are the photos I took during our Photo Walk.

Matthew Clancy – Senior Product Manager

It’s amazing how quickly 3 years went by, but when I walked in to contributor day at WordCamp US it was like no time had passed at all. In every corner, long time and new friends were together making WordPress. While many of our roads went in different directions, they merged together to show how amazing  and resilient this Community can be. The road ahead is unknown but the people that make WordPress will make sure it’s traveled together.Sandy and I worked with the Community Team on sponsorships and new organizer pain points. Since some of the WordCamp deputies were unavailable many of our topics will continue in larger deputy conversations.

Sandy and I worked with the Community Team on sponsorships and new organizer pain points. Since some of the WordCamp deputies were unavailable many of our topics will continue in larger deputy conversations.

David Smith – Senior DevOps Engineer

Made my first contributions ever to the Hosting team, who were working on documentation all day. (Only was able to contribute for a couple hours, I also had a volunteer shift on Sunday).

J.M. Channell – Sr. Marketing Specialist

This was my first Contributor Day, and it felt more like fun than work to sit with other marketing volunteers and discuss sustainable plans for creating and distributing educational marketing videos. Having a creative discussion about the future of WordPress was a fantastic way to cap off the conference.

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WordCamp US 2022 event recap at a glance

Looking for a breakdown of this year’s events? Check out the stats below.

  • How many people attended WCUS 2022? This year’s sold-out event was capped to 650 tickets and was a more intimate atmosphere compared to the thousands of tickets sold in prior years.
  • How many contributors were there at WCUS 2022? There were around 300 people at contributor day or about 50% of total attendees.
  • How many speakers are at WordCamp US? There are over 40 speakers, including a few from GoDaddy! You can find the full list of speakers and schedule posted on the WCUS 2022 website.
  • How many sponsors are at WCUS? There were 13 media partners and 34 sponsors including GoDaddy Pro and GoDaddy family brands, Pagely, Sucuri, and ManageWP.
  • What kinds of sessions are there at WordCamp US? In addition to lightning sessions (15 min) and regular sessions, there were a number of workshops where attendees can follow along.

And that’s a wrap on this year’s WCUS! We hope you enjoyed all the action and can’t wait to do it all again in 2023.

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