WooCommerce is the most popular WordPress eCommerce plugin, powering roughly 18%, or more than 380,000, of websites across the Internet.
With this growing WooCommerce community in mind, the very first WooConf — a conference focused solely around WooCommerce — was held earlier this week in San Francisco. Just one week after WordCamp San Francisco, WooConf was a success, selling out with more than 300 attendees.
In the past year or so WooCommerce has experienced unyielding growth. For some perspective, consider this: there have been more than 1 million downloads since August, and more than 40 thousand downloads in the past three days. During WooConf, Mark Forrester, co-founder of WooThemes, talked a little about the growth and success of WooCommerce in The State of the Woo.
Unfortunately I was unable to attend WooConf, so I reached out to Forrester for an interview, and asked him to briefly explain the essence of this talk. He said:
. . .WooCommerce’s success is the result of a dynamic and hugely talented team at WooThemes, coupled with an active and engaged community of customers, developers, and integration partners. The WooCommerce platform provides that community with entrepreneurial opportunity that helps make all of us sustainable for many years to come.
He also indicated that there will be some core and product teasers, and the presentation videos coming soon to their blog.
The journey of WooCommerce has undoubtedly been filled with considerable growth and development. Curious about the predictability of this growth, I asked Forrester if he (and his team) had forecasted this type of proliferation. He said:
We’ve been analyzing data around all the merchant installations and been watching it blowing up over the last 18 months. The conference, although reflecting only a small percentage of our community, makes us really realize the impact it is having though. It was great to engage with everyone in a dedicated space – in one of the tech hubs of the world. We’re so excited about where we’re heading.
This growth and desire to celebrate it was at least part of the motivation behind WooConf. The conference also provided an opportunity to learn more about eCommerce more broadly, and to network with others in the field. Forrester gave insight into the success of WooConf:
We’ve had loads of really positive feedback over the last couple days from lots of the attendees (we sold out at 320 attendees) so there’s definitely good reason for a follow up in 2015. It’s been a huge logistical undertaking so we’ll enjoy some team time in San Francisco over the next few days before even contemplating it, but we’re really excited hearing from WooCommerce community members keen to organize local Meetups.
WordPress is so dynamic that part of its natural evolution will inevitably lead to more specialized conferences and events, similar to what we see happening with WooCommerce. Niche events allow people to hone their skills and knowledge within their respective fields. Similarly, meeting like-minded people facilitates greater collaboration and innovation. This only speaks to the maturation of WordPress, both as a community and a CMS.
On the topic of niche-WordPress conferences, Forrester indicated,
I think where there’s an engaged and passionate community built around a specific WordPress product, there’s good justification for more niche conferences, especially if you can provide real value for the community in terms of network opportunities and educational facilities.
The notion of niche-WordPress conferences has been trending lately, and the success of WooConf definitely speaks to the possibility that they could be a success. For years, WordCamps gave people in the WordPress community a place to come together. In an industry where people can work with each other for years without meeting in person, more events, niche or not, are important to maintain and further grow the WordPress community.