The buzz in the air was palpable as soon as you entered the Town and Country Resort in San Diego. After almost three years apart, stepping into an in-person WordCamp US was nothing short of magical. Organizer Topher DeRosia likened the lobby to the arrivals area at an airport. People were hugging and laughing. It truly felt like coming home.
The entire weekend was an electric and energized feel. It wasn’t just a conference, it was a family reunion. After being stuck online since March 2020, being in person to talk about WordPress was inspiring.
The WordPress community is unlike any I’ve ever been a part of. There is so much support and kindness from people you may have only seen on Twitter. People were hungry to learn and improve WordPress and the web as a whole. It was a weekend unlike any other.
The organizers did an incredible job at providing two full days jam-packed with content. There was something for everyone.
Build Better Faster
On Saturday, Developer Advocate at WP Engine, Nick Diego set out to prove just how easy developing a block can be. In just 15 minutes, Diego created an automatic Hello Dolly block from start to finish.
The block editor can still feel very intimidating for some people but Diego’s talk proved just how powerful the community built tools and resources can be. If you missed it, check out his entire talk here:
Kicking off Sunday, Petya Raykovksa, Director of Agency Ops at Human Made, talked about the need for cultural intelligence. Though an entire company speaks the same language, if they are coming from different countries or communities, there may be huge communication gaps. Understanding and embracing those is the only way to run a multi-cultural company.
“You can’t know all things about all people,” Raykovksa said. “Cultural Intelligence is being able to suspend judgment before acting.”
Another fascinating talk was Design for Accessibility with Sara Cannon. It can feel overwhelming when someone tells you your site needs to be more accessible. Where do you even start? Cannon broke the idea down into easy design fixes anyone can do that will make a huge difference.
By paying attention to paragraph widths and simplifying body text, more people will be able to enjoy your site. It may seem like a lot of work but it is so worth it in the end.
“We are champions and creators of the internet and we have a moral obligation to make the web accessible to everybody,” Cannon said. “At the end of the day, great accessibility is empathy.”
A Chat with Matt
One of the highlights of the weekend was a Q and A with WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg. This is a staple of WordCamp US.
The hour started with a quick look at the upcoming 6.1. The new default theme will come with 10 different style variations. It’s something that will be included in future releases so if you have a design you want to see included be looking out for the 2024 default theme.
Shortly after that, Mullenweg began taking questions from the audience. People were eager to talk with him and a variety of topics were covered.
A Growing Ecosystem
As WordPress continues to grow and conquer more of the web, more and more companies will merge or be acquired. Especially in times of financial insecurity. Mullenweg was asked for his thoughts on this phenomenon in the WordPress space.
“I think mergers and acquisitions are value neutral and it’s more about what happens afterwards,” he said. “When we enter moments of economic uncertainty or when markets are super hot for there to be consolidation.”
Because companies have so much philosophical alignment, they can be a very good influence on each other. Though it can be incredibly hard to combine two companies, Mullenweg urged everyone to learn from each other. Make sure that the work doesn’t end when the deal is signed, but that both companies work to combine in a way that benefits each other.
Accessibility is Key
When the Gutenberg project was first introduced there were many concerns with accessibility. That has been a huge focus for the team and great strides have been made. One community member wanted to know what more will be done in the future.
A huge amount of work is being done on the block editor. He then urged for feedback from anyone who uses assistive devices with Gutenberg. We can’t know what needs to be improved if we aren’t seeing it ourselves, so use cases are huge.
A Global Community
WordPress is a global product but one community member was concerned translations aren’t enough of a priority seeing as they are slated to go in Phase 4 of Gutenberg which is the next phase.
According to Mullenweg, he is focused on getting more foundation laid before translations can be considered. There are many great plugins doing translations and they all use different models of data. There are a lot of moving parts when translating a site, and if the framework isn’t correctly, it won’t work.
The theme running through the entire weekend was the power of the community.
“When people ask me what the best part of WordPress is, my answer is always the people,” Mullenweg said.
Torque’s Doctor Popular conducting amazing interviews with great folks from around WordPress. You can watch them all here.
From start to finish, it was an incredible weekend. A hurricane couldn’t even stop the momentum!
If you missed a talk, the livestream is up and you can go back and watch as many times as you want.
Thank you so much to the organizers, volunteers and sponsors for creating such an incredible weekend. Next year’s WordCamp US will take place in New Harbor, Maryland. Can’t wait to see everyone there!