I’ve just landed back in the UK from an exciting trip to Belgrade, where the amazing Serbian city hosted this year’s WordCamp Europe. It was a super fun, inspiring, knowledge-cramming and (not to lie) an exhausting time away from the office and I loved it so much.
Now that I’m back in the office I’m buzzing about the WordPress community, which is my normal reaction, so I wanted to write about how WordCamp conferences make me feel and why, as an agency, we love them so deeply.
Aaaand I’ve slotted in some images of WordCamp Europe by the very talented Dragan Miljkovic, Ivan Gatic, Mark Smallmann.
What is a WordCamp?
WordCamps are conferences that focus on everything WordPress.
WordCamps are informal, community-organised events that are put together by WordPress users like us. They’re for everyone from casual users, developers, designers, project managers to bloggers or marketers. The structure is usually a 2 day conference where you can attend talks, workshops and meet other WordPress enthusiasts, share ideas and get to know each other.
WordCamps currently take place in 65 different countries and 70 different cities around the world (and growing).
The first WordCamp was organised in San Francisco by the co-founder of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg in 2006, and since then local communities around the world have organised hundreds of others (861 others to be precise).
So far I’ve been to 4 WordCamps. 2 in the UK and 2 in Europe, and each of them have been memorable, beneficial and fun. It’s a bit of an understatement to say we love WordCamps here at Illustrate, which is why every year we make sure we can all go to at least one event each – ideally as many as possible. 😉
So why do we love WordCamps?
WordPress is a free and open-source content management system and it’s software designed for everyone, emphasising accessibility, performance, security, and ease of use.
The freedom of being open source and sharing is at the heart of WordPress, this means there’s a large community of people continuously collaborating and contributing and that’s how the platform grows and functions. And in the grand scheme of things very few people are getting paid to do this – WordPress has been the passion project of various volunteers since it was made.
Having the chance to meet the global community of contributors, plugin authors, other development agencies and people from local communities is great! We genuinely make friends with WordPress geeks all around the world, share a cup of coffee and experiences between breaks or socials and get to meet the incredible people who are actively working for WordPress to release its latest updates.
We get to learn the latest trends, industry applications and focuses. We get to listen to the latest plans for WordPress from the team who run the Foundation and the product designers themselves.
What do we walk away with?
Loads of free swag from sponsorship stands… Yay!
Oh sorry, yeah, we get these other cool things as well…
- We often find that listening to talks that relate to our specific industry not only helps us individually, but it also feeds through to the rest of the team in our agency with a wider impact on clients and projects. As a designer I usually go to design and UX related talks and workshops, though I usually walk away with tips and tools for the whole team including content management and development.
- For those attending the WordCamps, we end up having great discussions between us as a result of things that we heard or learned, which pushes us to improve the way we run things in our agency. If a group of people come back feeling fired up about something, it brings so much impact. Sometimes this may be finding a solution to things we’ve been struggling with, or introducing new processes to a specific type of project that we’re working on.
- We get to meet our agency partners like WP Engine, WooCommerce and loads more and have a good old catch-up with them. It’s nice to see the people behind the phone calls and web chats in real life, even more-so when it’s in a chilled, non-work environment.
- As there are so many different sized agencies and brands at each event, we get to understand where our company is placed within the community and to align our growth plans. We get to understand what may be ahead of us, how we get there and what we should expect, by talking to people who are in, or have been in, the same position as us. It’s so great being able to learn from each other in such a casual and lovely environment, where everyone is open to sharing.
- Flattering feedback. I must admit I absolutely love the feedback on our t-shirts. It tells us how we’re able to really communicate who we are through our branding. And it’s a great conversation starter!
If you are reading this and getting curious or excited about the WordPress Community, I suggest you pop down to the Cardiff WordPress Meetups which are run by Josh & Dan from our team (yep, we try to do our bit 😉).
You can also check out the list of WordCamp’s around the world here: central.wordcamp.org/schedule