This year, WordCamp US 2021 occurred on Friday, October 1. Once per year, a continental-level event brings together people from all backgrounds in the WordPress community to learn, connect, and contribute to the open-source project.
What’s a WordCamp? See: WordCamps & the WordPress community
WordCamp is the coming together of WordPress enthusiasts and the building of new partnerships, project opportunities, job leads, and designer-developer collaborations. Although this year's event was online, it still had great knowledge and advice for all level users of WordPress.
The theme of this year's WordCamp was inspired by designer (and WordCamp US organizer) Mel Choyce-Dawn's recent travels to national parks. This was evident in the two concurrent streams of Yukon and Columbia. GoDaddy Pro supports the WordPress community via the Five for the Future project and as a top sponsor this year.
Attending WordCamp & its benefits
The benefits of attending this event, whether you are just beginning or an experienced professional, are numerous and give you the chance to learn what’s new in addition to tips and tricks you can use to improve your skillset and business.
As a beginner, attending events like these, even online, is a great way to network with others that offer similar services, create the plugins or themes you use, or even find job opportunities. For experienced WordPress community members, it is an opportunity to reconnect with friends and continue learning what is new in the WordPress ecosystem.
Things that were valuable and worth noting as a first-time attendee
For those who have attended multiple WordPress events, do you remember what it was like to participate for the first time? We invited Carlin Gibbs from GoDaddy Pro to join us and share his experience as a first-time attendee.
Some points that were valuable to him were featured in a talk on “Let Themes be Themes,”; in which Tammie Lister discussed the ever-changing nature of themes and how they became so intricate, that pro’s began to dislike the complexity of themes. And now, with new tools and experiences created, themes can get back to simplicity. Tammie especially highlighted block patterns as a tool that Pros will use in creating advanced website layouts.
The Columbia stream was a great place to spend a lot of time as a first-time attendee learning and wrapping your head around WordPress 5.8 features.
— Carlin Gibbs
As a Pro, hearing the opinions of well-known WordPress creators and users certainly helped create discussions in the live chat and being able to collaborate on their thoughts.
Another great talk for a first-time attendee to listen to was “Making Friends with Early Customers for Better Support, Product Knowledge and Marketing” by Lesley Sim. As a pro, this knowledge is invaluable as it emphasizes building networks and getting out there to collaborate with fellow pros but also to communicate and respond to customers to build relationships that will earn you continued business and success.
What new things are valuable to pros
The Columbia channel provided Pros with all knowledge WordPress all day and the afternoon sessions were insightful for understanding networking, getting involved in the community to learn and share knowledge with fellow Pros.
Being able to collaborate with other WordPress users and understanding the various features that have been released as well as knowing how they can help you provide great websites to your clients are important to consider as a Pro.
— Carlin Gibbs
How are people networking at WordPress Events
With WordPress powering over 42% of websites today, the community is quite large. There was a job board section where you could see who is hiring if looking for a new gig. The live chat allowed people to connect and there was even a Twitter feed for the #WCUS hashtag. There was a multitude of talks given by speakers who dropped tips on how to build your brand and network. As a pro, having these avenues and options can help you kick-start your business or give you food for thought to grow it.
I think back to my first WordCamps and how often much of the information presented felt way beyond my grasp. Still, I would sit in on sessions with a dream of grasping bits of what was said. The more often I stretched out of my comfort zone, the more I later was able to apprehend.
Often, this is still true for me. I intentionally focused on sessions that are considered on the cutting edge of where WordPress is going. I really enjoyed these presentations and plan to continue reviewing these to implement some of what each presentation shared:
- Building Modern WordPress Sites: The Interplay of Blocks, Patterns & Theme.json by Rich Tabor covered so much about the new Global Styles and Block-Based themes that were introduced in WordPress 5.8
- Creative Use of Block Styles by Kjell Reigstad inspired us with creative uses of CSS in visually interesting ways.
- A Voice for the New White House Administration with the Block Editor – Helen 侯-Sandí shared how the WhiteHouse.gov website was built in just 6 weeks using WordPress and custom Blocks.
Sounds of the community
In addition to the literal hours of WordPress, up-leveling was an hour dedicated solely to the musical talents of the community. Around a dozen members of the WordPress community shared their audio stylings — original works of singing, guitar, keyboard, and even a full genre-bending, Star Wars-themed band! According to this (albeit, relatively unscientific) Twitter poll from the WordCamp US folks themselves, there's at least some interest in an all-WordPress community music event. Count me in!
Although the event is primarily centered around WordPress design, development, and the business of site building, one of the largest benefits of the WordPress project is the community. This community—made up of web pros, plugin developers, entrepreneurs, site builders, agencies, freelancers, business people, and more — showcases its WordPress prowess each and every day. On occasion, though, it's nice to get a glimpse beyond the technical and see another part of what makes this community so special.
GoDaddy Pro’s speakers
WordCamp US wouldn’t be possible without the support of many generous contributors, as well as sponsors. With a focus on the job board, Adam Warner of the Events and Community Team was interviewed about why he loves working at GoDaddy.
Additionally, as part of the WordPress Training team, Hauwa Abashiya, Gary Kovar, Peter Ingersoll, and our Web Design and Developer Advocate, Courtney Roberton shared about “The Future of Learn.WordPress.org: Investing in Learner Achievements.”. This is a significant panel discussion that sheds light on improving the WordPress job pipeline and seeking feedback from employers in the WordPress industry. Learn.WordPress.org is the destination to learn how to use, develop, design, and more with WordPress. The team is proposing that each person’s WordPress.org profile would indicate individual competencies in various subjects by completing courses on Learn.
Grow your Story
Josepha Haden Chomphosy, the Executive Director of the WordPress project, shared the final presentation of the day. During the Q & A session, Josepha shared how Democratizing Publishing, the mission of WordPress, impacts so many. Reducing barriers to having your voice on the web is central to the purpose of the WordPress project. When asked about the recent WordPress mergers and acquisitions in the ecosystem, she cited the economy of scale and value for the business administration. As WordPress matures, the growth of companies within the WordPress world can be an encouraging trend.
When asked what excites Josepha about the future of WordPress, Josepha responded first with the people, followed by Gutenberg Phase 4 with Multilingual support, future WordPress users and developers, and furthering the project’s commitment to diversity and inclusion in an authentic manner, and related the many employment skills one receives by contributing to the WordPress project.
Many people have come into WordPress while all in-person events have been on a hiatus. We really do miss the ability to be together and look forward to in-person events resuming. Until then, it has been great to reconnect with friends and continue learning via online events like WordCamp US.