WordCamp US 2023 Recap: Inspiring Days with the WordPress Community

WordPress US 2023 Recap with Inpsyde
Tammie Lister, Robert Windisch, Katerina Moody, Alex Frison, and Bernhard Kau at the Smithsonian Institution

Just a couple of weeks ago, several Inpsyders joined thousands of other enthusiastic WordPress community members as we descended on National Harbor, Maryland (just down the Potomac from Washington, D.C.).

We joined the WordPress Community Summit, WordCamp US Contributor Day, and WordCamp US 2023. We’re still excited about the people we met and the discussions we had! All the events were held at the impressive Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. The location featured accessibility, convenience, and amazing views of the Potomac River out of their massive glass-enclosed lower atrium (you could even see the large Ferris wheel the location is famous for!).

For those who don’t know, WordCamps are community-organized conferences focusing on everything WordPress, created by and for the global community of WordPress users – from casual users and newbies to experienced developers, agency partners, and enterprise clients.

First, Let’s Talk Community

WordPress and WordCamps are all about the community. The WordPress Community is a vibrant international community from all walks of life. We learn about WordPress from one another, but we also learn about each other!

“The mission of WordPress is to democratize publishing, and we are honored to empower this with our company.” Inpsyde CIO Robert Windisch said. Known as ‘the man with the hat,’ Windisch has attended many WordCamps. “Different views from all over the community help us grow, and we bring this knowledge back to our clients.”

WordPress wouldn’t be where it is today without the massive community behind it – thousands of WordPress users worldwide come together every day to make the software better. 

WordCamps are where WordPress enthusiasts meet, connect (and reconnect!), learn from, and teach each other. The sessions are thought-provoking and a big reason to attend, but the people you meet at WordCamps and the memories you make? That’s the heart of WordPress and WordCamps.

Let’s not forget to mention the ‘Hallway Track,’ where attendees have impromptu discussions with others (sometimes perfect strangers!) in between and instead of attending some sessions. 

Not Just WordCamp US

Washington Monument, D.C., United States

WordCamp US was preceded by the Community Summit this year, which hasn’t happened since WordCamp Europe in Paris in 2017. Contributor Day was also held before WCUS, a change from previous years when it was held afterward. Inpsyders joined discussions at the Summit and worked with different WordPress Make teams at the Contributor Day.

2023 WordPress Community Summit

Contributor Day offered a unique opportunity for hundreds of contributors from the WordPress community (in-person and online) to give hands-on help to the many different Make WordPress teams.

It was an opportunity for folks to give back, and Inpsyders were happy to participate. They joined hundreds of worldwide community members who contributed to 23 Make WordPress teams (including the newest Sustainability team).

“Some people think it’s a developer thing,” says Windisch, about how people can give their skills and time to the WordPress project. “But as everyone who works on development projects knows, you need more roles than just developers to work on these projects to make them a success.”

WordCamp US 2023

After spending the previous three days entrenched in WordPress culture and community, Inpsyders were excited to join thousands of WordPress aficionados and experts for WordCamp US 2023. It was the most attended WordCamp US ever. 

While Inpsyders attended several sessions across both days of WCUS, it was (sadly) impossible to see them all (except online!). We’ll share some highlights from some of our favorites below, but definitely watch WordPress.tv for individual sessions to be uploaded in the months to come or check out the live streams available by day and session room if you want to watch them now. 

For All Userkind Keynote

A hush of expectation fell over the crowd with the first keynote of the event, For All Userkind: NASA Web Modernization and WordPress. Presented by Abby Bowman, from NASA, and J.J. Toothman, from Lone Rock Point Agency, this keynote was an exciting introduction to NASA’s current web modernization project, which features the flexibility of WordPress. 

Bowman and Toothman spoke about the team’s work of revamping their primary NASA.gov (built in 1994) and science websites, adding their first on-demand streaming service, and creating a new app. 

“Build with your users, not for them.” One key point repeated throughout the keynote, as Toothman and Bowman explained their expectations for how users would use blocks (based on a year of user research!) went out the window once their users actually got their hands on those blocks. 

Their use of WordPress as a shared launch platform (at beta.NASA.gov) illustrated the flexibility of using WordPress for enterprise websites. Some of the project specifics are staggering:

  • Onboarded 440 users to the new site
  • Created 3,023 new landing pages
  • Migrated 68,006 pages from Drupal

All the President’s Websites

As if hearing about NASA’s use of WordPress wasn’t exciting enough, it was followed by a session all about the launch of whitehouse.gov. Andrew Nacin and Helen Hou-Sandí, WordPress Lead Developers and longtime community members, presented this session. They shared the process agency 10up and the White House’s creative agency went through as they led a monumental effort to build the new site in only six weeks.

“Our priority in this case was not flexibility. Our priority was being able to get stuff published and out there as quickly as possible. And custom blocks were the correct route for us.” Hou-Sandí emphasized how important custom blocks were in developing the new site. 

The White House site is hosted on WP VIP, and Inpsyde was especially proud to see our MultilingualPress plugin featured on this important website. MultilingualPress is VIP’s go-to solution for multilingual websites because it uses fewer resources and multisites for the heavy lifting.

So, You Pledged to Contribute to WordPress. What Next?

Our very own Tammie Lister joined Hari Shanker, Jonathan Desrosiers, and Femy Praseeth in this panel discussion about how businesses and individuals can contribute to the WordPress project by participating in the Five for the Future (5ftF) initiative.

The growth of WordPress comes down to the contributions of thousands of contributors from around the world. The panel members each discussed their paths, sharing how they became independent and sponsored contributors. While sponsored contributors are important, many contributors are independent or have a passion for WordPress independent of the sponsored work they can do. 

They shared a bit more about Five for the Future, emphasizing that every contribution is important to the longevity of WordPress. 

Inpsyde is proud to contribute to the 5 for the Future (5ftF) initiative, pledging to give at least 20 hours a week back to the WordPress project.

The Future of WordPress

WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg and Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy closed out WCUS, each sharing about what’s to come for WordPress. Then, they had a Q&A session using Slido so that folks could ask questions anonymously. This was a first at the flagship WordCamp and will empower future WordCamp attendees to share more questions with those involved with the WordPress project.

“The more people that know about WordPress,” Chomposy said. “…the more people can access the incredible opportunities that WordPress can provide.”

The community (as always) is essential in helping people know about WordPress and directly leading to its sustainability. She ended her talk by asking the audience what story WordPress can help them write. 

What’s Next for Gutenberg

Mullenweg took the stage with a quick look back, mentioning the comment (on his personal blog) that started the WordPress project just over 20 years ago. Then he turned to what’s next for WordPress and Gutenberg. 

He started with the upcoming WordPress 6.4 release, saying, “WordPress never rests, so right around the corner is WordPress 6.4…with some cool new features.”  

Next, he introduced the new default theme, Twenty Twenty-Four, with a video presentation featuring its versatility. He said it would be great for entrepreneurs, small businesses, photographers, artists, writers, and bloggers. He showed off the integrated font management and image block options (with a great new lightbox effect to show off single images).

Phase 3 of the Gutenberg project was his next focus, he said it would highlight workflows and collaboration. One goal of Phase 3 is for more than one person to be able to work on a page or post simultaneously, which will be a boon for content creators, especially the back-and-forth editing and collaboration process that can be problematic now. 

An intriguing announcement: Mullenweg said a new learning management systems (LMS) working group was formed at WCUS with the goal of improving web standards through a collaboration between different LMS plugins.

The Social Side to WCUS – Parties and People!

Meeting people and making connections – that’s the biggest part of attending any WordCamp. WCUS 2023 was no exception, with multiple sponsor mixers, celebrations, and get-togethers around town. There were so many events it would be impossible to list them all, so we thought we’d add a few highlights from our favorites below. 

Scale Consortium Social Event

As a part of the Scale Consortium, we hosted a social event and invited people from the ecosystem to join us. We discussed ideas to bring more enterprise perspectives into projects to help companies consider using WordPress when other solutions aren’t open-sourced. We know from experience WordPress can be far superior to other big-name options available. 

WooCommerce Meetup

As WooCommerce Experts, we attended the WooCommerce Meetup as we try to do whenever we make it to a WordCamp. We love speaking with users of our plugin partners like PayPal, Mollie, and Payoneer to see how we can help store owners and builders more. And we’re always looking for future solutions that might shake up the ecosystem.

Run With VIP: WordPress for Government Summit

We were excited to be invited to the Run with VIP: WordPress for Government Summit as a VIP Gold agency. Sessions on the government’s perspective toward using open-source software and WordPress, specifically, were intriguing. The summit was held in the historic Hotel Washington, where we had a bird’s eye view of the Washington Monument and the White House Rose Garden.

Pride Party

This year’s Pride Party was held at the Pose Rooftop Lounge at the Gaylord Hotel National Harbor. This party was fun and fabulous, with pumping music, bright lights, and energetic dancing (seriously – so much dancing!).

WCUS Social (previously called the After Party)

Walking around the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum after hours was an amazing experience for some of us. Add in drinks and treats and the amazing WordPress community, and this social was a great way to bring everyone together at the end of another amazing WordCamp.

Looking Forward

We’re sad to see the end of WordCamp US 2023, but it was such a success, marking the largest-ever WCUS event! As we look back on all the phenomenal people we met and sessions we listened to, what stands out is how much everything WordPress really comes down to everything community. The WordPress community is amazing, full of people who contribute to the project in significant ways every day.

Inpsyde is as excited as everyone else to see what is next for WordPress and the community in the coming year. We’re sure to see new ways people and agencies use WordPress to inspire, innovate, and connect this diverse community. As one of the largest WordPress agencies in Europe, we can’t wait!

Do you want to be part of our team?

We are always looking for enthusiastic, motivated, and talented people who love WordPress!