Although summer was coming to an end, the weather and the people at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center were equally sunny thanks to WordCamp US 2023!
The flagship event – held in National Harbor, Maryland, from August 24-26, 2023 – drew over 2,000 WordPress enthusiasts. Since the first-ever WordCamp was held in the US, it’s always nice to see the WordPress community come together in the region.
This year, Hostinger participated as a Super Admin sponsor. Some of our team members also attended the Community Summit, participated in Contributors Day, and volunteered for the event. Read on as we walk down the memory lane and relive the good times.
Before WordCamp’s three-day main event began, there was the Community Summit. Participants gathered in person at the Summit for cross-project discussions to advance the WordPress open-source project.
The Community Summit took place on August 22-23, 2023, at the same venue as the rest of WordCamp US 2023. Not every WordCamp has a Community Summit, so this year’s WordCamp US was even more special.
The Summit was an invitation-only event to ensure everyone present could actively participate. The organizers attempted to include WordPress contributors from various backgrounds to cover as many perspectives as possible. This year, it was attended by 125 participants.
It’s worth noting that the Summit is not intended to be a space to see “who’s who” in WordPress. The participants were a mix of new and experienced contributors, facilitating more inclusive dialogues.
The topics discussed during these two days were pretty comprehensive. They ranged from technical ones like aligning processes and contributions between WordPress Core and Gutenberg to human-oriented issues like ensuring Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) for all contribution teams.
No decisions were made at the Summit. Instead, the event focused on identifying issues the community should address in the project’s future.
Fortunately, notes about each discussion are available on the Make WordPress website so that contributors who couldn’t attend the Summit can catch up with the conversations.
Next, it was time for the WordCamp US 2023 main event!
As usual, WordCamp kicked off with Contributors Day. Here, attendees could join any of the 22 Make WordPress contributor teams and get actively involved in the project.
What’s wonderful about Contributors Day is that it’s open to everyone, regardless of skill level. So, the more experienced contributors could help newcomers onboard and share hands-on guidance to navigate the tasks. Attendees could also join multiple tables and were highly encouraged to explore their interests.
What was new about Contributors Day at WordCamp US 2023 was the room setup. Instead of everybody gathering in one big room, they were spread into multiple rooms.
Closely related teams were put in the same room to encourage deeper cross-collaboration initiatives. Although the camaraderie of being in the same room with all the other contributors is unrivaled, it was nice to have a more focused space to elaborate on an initiative.
Hostinger has some sponsored contributors involved in the Five for the Future initiative. Some of them attended this Contributors Day alongside other Hostingerians.
“I joined the chat about cross-team collaboration to translate WordPress documentation and training material,” says Leonardus Nugraha, our WordPress Content Specialist and a Documentation team contributor. “This idea had been brewing for a while. At the WordCamp US Contributors Day, we had all the reps from the different teams we needed.”
Meanwhile, Aditya Remy Shah, our Affiliate Partnerships Manager, joined the Sustainability team’s table. “We had a discussion from the hosting brand’s point of view. We brainstormed ways WordPress can become more sustainable from four angles – social, economical, event, and environmental,” he says.
By day’s end, contributors connected and gathered actionable ideas. As contribution is at the heart of WordPress, Contributors Day is surely one of the most effective ways to strengthen the collective effort.
Moving to the second and third day of WordCamp US 2023 – the Conference Days! This is when attendees got to join various talks and workshops.
More than 30 talks and workshops covered a broad spectrum of WordPress-related topics, from core web vitals to community building.
One talk wasn’t directly related to WordPress, but it spoke to the anxiety surrounding AI and the future of the writing profession. Ken Liu, an award-winning fiction writer, delivered “Tell the Story You Want To Tell”, where he talked about rediscovering storytelling’s meaning in human lives. His session challenged attendees to rethink how and why we, humans, tell stories.
Another interesting talk was “For All Userkind: NASA Web Modernization and WordPress”. During this talk, Abby Bowman and J.J. Toothman discussed the beta.nasa.gov website redesign, which uses WordPress.
In a breakout session afterward, they took attendees on a site tour, including its back end. Some people still think WordPress only suits small businesses or personal websites, so it was fascinating to learn how big organizations like NASA utilize the platform.
And since the WordCamp US 2023 venue is only around a 30-minute drive from the nation’s capital, it’s only fitting that we had a session about the most high-profile WordPress website in the US – whitehouse.gov.
Presented by Andrew Nacin and Helen Hou-Sandí, the session chronicled the behind-the-scenes story of the site’s launch by those who led the project themselves.
All the talks are now available to watch on the official WordPress YouTube channel. The presentation slides will also be available shortly on the WordCamp US 2023 website’s session pages. And like other WordCamps, the talks will also be public on WordPress.tv.
Standing tall in the Sponsor Hall with our signature violet-and-black colorways, attendees stopped by the Hostinger booth to chat about our services, try our features, or collect merchandise.
Opening a booth is one way to connect better with our customers, IT professionals, and tech enthusiasts. “WordCamp is a perfect opportunity to hear our customers’ feedback directly so we can continue to deliver the best managed WordPress hosting experience,” says Domantas Gudeliauskas, WordPress Marketing Manager at Hostinger.
Among the features attendees could try at our booth, they were mostly excited about Hostinger’s WordPress AI Assistant. Most attendees said they loved the way it can speed up the website creation process.
Another crowd favorite was hPanel, Hostinger’s own custom control panel. We were glad many customers and attendees found hPanel easy to navigate and informative. Advanced users were also enthusiastic about Pro Panel, which empowers users to handle multiple websites efficiently.
The Future of WordPress
In a recognized WordCamp tradition, Conference Days usually wrap up with two signature sessions.
The first session by WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy reviewed important conversations and ways to drive the project forward.
During “Josepha Haden Chomphosy on the future of WordPress”, Josepha reflected on how WordPress has evolved in the past 20 years and how it keeps growing thanks to the WordPress community.
Josepha emphasized the importance of making WordPress accessible for everyone, so that it can thrive in the future and last longer than the community who builds it. “We deserve an open web that is secure in the future,” she says, highlighting WordPress’ vision to democratize publishing and give voice to the voiceless.
Next, WordPress co-founder and Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg’s session, to discuss current and upcoming technical improvements, followed by a live Q&A.
During “Gutenberg: Next with Matt Mullenweg.”, Matt discussed the then-newly released WordPress 6.3, and highlighted improvements on the upcoming WordPress 6.4.
This next WordPress release is being led by a squad of gender-underrepresented contributors, which only happened once before with the historic WordPress 5.6, code-named “Simone.”
WordPress 6.4 will come with a new default theme, Twenty Twenty-Four. Unlike past default themes, Twenty Twenty-Four is a multipurpose theme. It can look equally beautiful for displaying lots of images or chunks of text.
Matt also highlighted that Gutenberg is now entering the third phase of its development, which will focus on collaborative workflow. Users will soon be able to work simultaneously with their team on the same post or page and see who made which edit. This could be a game changer for a team of remote workers.
As Josepha said in her talk, “We exist for as long as people want to use our software.” Indeed, the upcoming collaborative improvements can be one more reason for people to stay with WordPress.