Gutenberg Highlights

During WordCamp Europe this past Wednesday Matt and I gathered to discuss the latest developments of Gutenberg and to share a video with some of the current and upcoming highlights. The video is wonderfully narrated by @beafialho and it was a great opportunity to celebrate all the incredible work that contributors are doing around the globe to improve the editing and customization experience of WordPress. For those that weren’t able to attend live it’s now available for watching online.

Matt also opened a thread for questions on his blog, so be sure to chime in there if you have any!

WordCamp Asia Cancelled Due to COVID-19

I’ve arrived at the difficult decision to cancel the inaugural WordCamp Asia event, which was planned to take place in Bangkok on February 21st. The excitement and anticipation around this event have been huge, but there are too many unknowns around the health issues unfolding right now in the region to explicitly encourage a large public gathering bringing together over 1,300 people from around the world.

We’re going to explore if speakers — including myself — can do our sessions with the same content and at the same time that was originally planned, just online instead of in-person so we can achieve our goal of bringing the pan-Asian community closer together without putting anyone’s health at additional risk.

Regardless, I greatly appreciate the work everyone — from organizers to attendees,  speakers to sponsors — put into making this a big success. So many people have come together to create an event to inspire and connect WordPressers, and I am confident that this passion will carry through into the event next year. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the virus so far, and we sincerely hope that everything is resolved quickly so that this precaution looks unnecessary in hindsight.

WordCamp US 2019 dates announced

Save the date! The next WordCamp US will be held on November 1-3, 2019, in beautiful St Louis, Missouri. One of our largest events of the year, WordCamp US is a great chance to connect with WordPress enthusiasts from around the world. This is also the event that features Matt Mullenweg’s annual State of the Word address.

We’d love to see you in St. Louis next year, so mark your calendar now!

Contributing to WordPress as a designer

A few weeks ago, I went to my first proper WordCamp, in London. I went as a designer, and I wasn’t expecting to learn very much, but spoiler warning: I was wrong. In this post, I will explain why going to a WordCamp is worthwhile as a designer, why WordPress needs more designers, and how designers reading this can start applying their skills to the WordPress design right now.

Wordcamps are not just for programmers and bloggers

You may have noticed I said ‘proper WordCamp’ in the opening, because technically my first one was WordCamp NL last year, but I’m not counting that one since I only went because Yoast had a booth there. And back in 2016, I didn’t think I had much business being at a WordCamp neither. Not because I thought I knew everything, but precisely the opposite; I hardly used WordPress. I wasn’t writing content, I just used it to upload comics I had drawn. Terms like conversion rate and cornerstone content didn’t mean much to me. It all seemed very technical. And especially the thought of contributing to the core of WordPress seemed very daunting (even writing my own theme took me ages). But WCLDN17 proved that I was wrong about all these things. 

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There has never been a better time for design to shine

Almost a year after WCNL16, I became the UX designer at Yoast. I still didn’t know all the intricacies of WordPress, but I was using it a lot more, making sure our stuff integrated well and looked good. So maybe I could get some value out of a WordCamp this time around? I wasn’t sure yet. But off I went to WCLDN17.

Looking at the schedule, there were a lot more talks about design and UX than I had expected; Crispin Read talked about the value of testing and hard data over opinions; Sarah Semark talked about how modern web design all looks the same (and why); Graham Armfield talked about how some simple design measures can make sure your site is accessible to almost everyone; and Dave Walker‘s talk was especially interesting to me, because he’s also an illustrator using WordPress. It was clear that design was coming to the forefront, and rightly so.

This was all good info for me to apply at Yoast, but that I could be of value to WordPress was an unexpected discovery during Contributor Day.

WordPress needs designers too

Contributor Day is meant to focus the attention of everyone at a Wordcamp towards improving WordPress in some way. Naturally, I sat down at the Design table, and there I met Tammie Lister. She is a UX designer at Automattic – that’s the company behind WordPress.com, Akismet, Gravatar, WooCommerce, and Simplenote (which I drafted this in!). She was easy to talk to, and very enthusiastic about design. But more importantly, she had prepared a few simple tasks for us to tackle that day. It made my entrance into the whole WordPress ecosystem pretty smooth.

My chosen task was to make a mockup for the mobile image editor; Something had gone really wrong in there, lots of overlapping panels and redundant buttons. By simply designing a fix in Photoshop, I helped move this problem closer towards being solved.

In doing so, I started to understand why Tammie kept wishing that more designers would start to look at WordPress itself. There are many design issues like this hanging around, waiting for a designer to solve them. Doing so may not seem like a big contribution, but WordPress is used by nearly 80 million sites – that’s almost 30% of the web. So whatever you end up doing, it’s guaranteed that at least a few people are going to be happy with it.

And I can understand why designers maybe don’t flock to this calling. Getting started can seem daunting – I was a prime example of this mindset. If that’s you too, then read on, I’ve outlined three simple steps to get you started.

Ways a designer can start improving WordPress

If you use WordPress and like designing interfaces, these are some quick ways to combine those two passions:

1. Go to a Contributor Day.

This may seem like a big first step, but I promise you it’s not. You’ll get set up way faster than you would at home by yourself, there are tons of people who can help, and everyone is super nice. I would have never known where to begin if it wasn’t for Tammy’s guidance. There are tons of WordCamps all around the world, so guaranteed that there is one near you and within your budget. If not, perhaps you’re lucky like me and your company works with WordPress, get them to send you out to one!

2. Join the design channel in the WordPress Slack.

I could tell you to go to make.wordpress.org/design, but to be honest that site could use a UX update itself. No, I feel like it’s better just to get in touch with the people on the frontlines of WordPress design on Slack. Slack is a chat app, and you can join the WordPress team on there by going to this page. And when you’re in, simply introduce yourself in the design channel and ask how you can help, and somebody will get you started.

3. If you’re not a designer…

…show a passionate designer some of the issues on this list. Hopefully, there’s a good chance they’ll get triggered to fix these little design problems. Sometimes even just posting feedback is enough to get the ball rolling again. Together with this article, I’m sure they can take it from there.

Bonus: Submit design tickets

If your own projects are keeping you busy enough (and I can relate), here’s a really simple way you can still help out: for every weird design issue you encounter, just make a ticket on the site I linked above. Leave the work to others, but at least let them know what they should fix. You’re helping them out, and when they fix it they’re helping you out. Everybody’s happy.

So if all this has motivated you to contribute your design expertise to WordPress: great! I hope to see you at a WordCamp or on Slack someday. Together, we can make WordPress even better, for everyone.

Photo by the talented Pradeep Singh.

Read more: ‘WordPress Core Contributions’ »

WordCamp US 2017-2018 in Nashville

The title says it all. We had some great applications for cities to host WordCamp US after we finish up in Philadelphia this year, and the city chosen for 2017-2018 is Nashville, Tennessee.

Based on the other great applications we got I’m also excited about the pipeline of communities that could host it in future years as WordCamp US travels across the United States and gives us an opportunity to learn and love a new city, as we have with Philadelphia.

By the way, if you haven’t yet, now is a great time to take the Annual WordPress Survey and ask your friends to as well.

Photo Credit.

Experiment: WordCamp Incubator

WordCamps are locally-organized WordPress conferences that happen all over the world (and are so fun). Sometimes people don’t realize that WordCamps are organized by local volunteers rather than a central organization, and they contact us asking, “Can you bring WordCamp to my city?” When this happens, we always suggest they start with a meetup group, and think about organizing a WordCamp themselves after their group has been active for a few months. We emphasize that WordCamps are locally-organized events, not something that the central community team plans from afar.

This has been successful in many areas — there are currently 241 meetup groups on our meetup.com chapter program! In some regions, though, enthusiastic volunteers have had more of a challenge getting things started. Because of this, we’re going to try an experiment this year called the WordCamp Incubator.

The intention of the incubator program is to help spread WordPress to underserved areas through providing more significant organizing support for a first event. In practical terms, this experiment means we’ll be choosing three cities in 2016 where there is not an active WordPress community — but where it seems like there is a lot of potential and where there are some people excited to become organizers — and will help to organize their first WordCamp. These WordCamps will be small, one-day, one-track events geared toward the goal of generating interest and getting people involved in creating an ongoing local community.*

So, where should we do these three events?  If you have always wanted a WordCamp in your city but haven’t been able to get a meetup group going, this is a great opportunity. We will be taking applications for the next week, then will get in touch with everyone who applied to discuss the possibilities. We will announce the  cities chosen by the end of March.

To apply, fill in the application by February 26, 2016. You don’t need to have any specific information handy, it’s just a form to let us know you’re interested. You can apply to nominate your city even if you don’t want to be the main organizer, but for this experiment  we will need local liaisons and volunteers, so please only nominate cities where you live or work so that we have at least one local connection to begin.

Thanks, and good luck!

For the record, that describes the ideal first WordCamp even if you have an active meetup — there’s no need to wait until your group is big enough to support a large multi-day event, and small events are a lot of fun because everyone has a chance to be involved and get to know most of the other attendees.

 

Looking back on WordCamp Paris 2016

The upside of being at a conference in a language you only speak a tad bit is that you get to meet and talk to all kind of people that have the same ‘problem’. WordCamp Paris had about 470 visitors, and I’m guessing 440 of them are native French. Don’t get me wrong, I like speaking French with French people, but it usually takes up to two or three days before I can keep up with the speed at which they talk. It’s like WP Rocket on acid. Luckily we ran into Bénard on the evening before the congress. This English-speaking Frenchman is always laughing out loud and that basically set the mood for our days in Paris.

Wordcamp Paris

Language barriers are real

Regardless of that we all speak WordPress, language barriers are real at this conference. I was at a sponsor booth. It had a huge bowl of snacks to lure people to their stand, and I walked up and said “So, everybody is coming to your booth for the snacks, right? How’s your WordCamp been so far?” The guy frowned and shrugged, looked at his shrugging colleague and I simply decided to walk to the next booth, with our friends Val and Joško of Sucuri. Very nice meeting the two of you!

The thing is, that we foreigners try to blend in anyway. We make it easy for the inhabitants of the country we are visiting. But we do like to talk to others that speak a language we do as well. And these conversations might be even more useful. We had a great lunch with Chris, talking about (WordPress) business. We hang out with Rarst to talk about plugin development, shitty bug reports and more. We talked about WordCamp Torino with Francesca and talked to Petya about WordCamps and WordPress in general. We caught up with a lot of people, which in the end is equally valuable to listening to all the talks.

Hanging out with other travellers

Friday evening we had a nice walk and dined in a very small, family-run restaurant called Le Cévennes. Robert and Heinz from Inpsyde joined Rarst, Taco and me and we had a really nice time talking about France, about home and WordPress in Germany.

WordCamp Paris 2016: Yoast at Arc de Triomphe

We joined the rest of WordCamp Paris at the party boat where the after party was. We had a nice conversation with Caspar who works at WP Media these days, for instance. We briefly met James from Ireland. We obviously had a beer with the always friendly Kristof from Belgium, and yes, Kasia, WordCamp Poland sounds like a blast ;-) WordCamp is about the people.

Drupal meets WordPress

On Saturday, we tried our best to understand the first talk by Claire Bizingre about accessibility, as Taco and both value the subject. You never know what a talk like that will bring, even at 9 in the morning. Claire pointed us to some automatic testing tools like Opquast Desktop and aXe DevTools. Although we sometimes had a hard time keeping up with the French words, luckily most slides told her story on their own. You don’t always need to talk to understand each other.

WordCamp Paris 2016: photo during one of the talks

Later on we met the very enthusiastic Léon Cros, who just did a talk about Drupal, and we talked about Open Source and why a Drupal guy was attending WordCamp Paris. He actually just felt like attending a WordCamp, found out they were having one at a ten minutes walk from his home in Lyon, attended and got asked to talk at WordCamp Paris. We discussed similarities in the communities and how we can learn from each other.

Right before lunch, we ended up at the Jetpack booth, talking to Cécile Rainon and the others of Jetpack. It seems our plugin is the number one requested plugin for WordPress.com. It only seems logical. WordPress.com is packed with a lot of all the other good stuff website owners need, and we’re in a high demand niche. It makes sense, as we offer an all-in-one SEO solution. Nevertheless, it was very nice to hear.

Paris, je t’aime

That pretty much rounds it up. We ended WordCamp Paris by joining a lot of the people mentioned above for a nice dinner and drinks and strolled back to the hotel for a good night sleep. We had a nice breakfast with Val en Joško in our hotel Eiffel Seine the next day and took the Thalys back to the Netherlands, where I’m wrapping up this post.

Bottom line: nous parlons WordPress. We obviously don’t speak the same language all the time, but just being here, talking to loads of people, making new friends, made WordCamp Paris 2016 very valuable to me.

Jenny and Julio and the rest of the organizers, thanks a lot for having us!

WordCamps Update

Last week saw the halfway point for 2015, yay! This seems like a good time to update you on WordCamp happenings in the first half of this year.

There have been 39 WordCamps in 2015 so far, with events organized in 17 different countries and on 5 continents. More than 14,000 people have registered for WordCamp tickets so far this year, isn’t that amazing?

WordCamp Europe was held in Seville, Spain just a few weeks ago, with close to 1,000 registered participants and over 500 live stream participants. You can watch  Matt Mullenweg’s keynote Q&A session from WordCamp Europe right now on WordPress.tv.

WordPress.tv has published 537 videos so far in 2015 from WordCamps around the world. Some of the more popular 2015 WordCamp talks on WordPress.tv include Tammie Lister: Theme, Don’t Be My Everything from WordCamp Maui, Jenny Munn: SEO for 2015 – What’s In, What’s Out and How to Be In It to Win It (For Good) from WordCamp Atlanta, Fabrice Ducarme: Les Constructeurs de Page pour WordPress from WordCamp Paris, Ben Furfie: How to Value Price Websites from WordCamp London, and Morten Rand-Hendriksen: Building Themes From Scratch Using Underscores (_S) from WordCamp Seattle. Check them out!

Lots of great WordCamps are still to come

WordCamp US is currently in pre-planning, in the process of deciding on a host city. The following cities have proposed themselves as a great place to host the first WordCamp US: Chattanooga, Chicago, Detroit, Orlando, Philadelphia, and Phoenix. It’s possible the first WordCamp US will be held in 2016 so we can organize the best first WordCamp US imaginable.

At this time, there are 28 WordCamps, in 9 different countries, that have announced their dates for the rest of 2015. Twelve of these have tickets on sale:

The other 16 events don’t have tickets on sale yet, but they’ve set their dates! Subscribe to the sites to find out when registration opens:

On top of all those exciting community events, there are 26 WordCamps in pre-planning as they look for the right event space.  If you have a great idea for a free or cheap WordCamp venue in any of the below locations, get in touch with the organizers through the WordCamp sites:

Don’t see your city on the list, but yearning for a local WordCamp? WordCamps are organized by local volunteers from the WordPress community, and we have a whole team of people to support new organizers setting up a first-time WordCamp. If you want to bring WordCamp to town, check out how you can become a WordCamp organizer!

Watch WordCamp San Francisco Livestream

WordCamp San Francisco is the official annual WordPress conference, gathering the community every year since 2006. This is the time when Matt Mullenweg addresses the community in his annual State of the Word presentation – a recap of  the year in WordPress and giving us a glimpse into its future.

This year the speaker lineup is stellar. There will be talks by three of the lead WordPress developers: Andrew Nacin, Helen Hou-Sandí, and Mark Jaquith. We’re also looking forward to speakers like Jenny Lawson, also known as The Bloggess, and Chris Lema. If you’re at all interested in the web, you will appreciate the appearance of Jeff Veen – one of the creators of Google Analytics and co-founder of Typekit.

Even though San Francisco is far far away for most of you, you can still be part of the fun and watch all presentations in real-time via livestream:

Get a livestream ticket and watch all talks from WordCamp San Francisco live

If you hurry, you can get one of the special livestream tickets, including a WordCamp San Francisco 2104 t-shirt. You can find all the technical details and start times at the WordCamp San Francisco website.

Upcoming WordCamps

WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences that celebrate everything related to WordPress, and are a great opportunity to meet other WordPress users and professionals in your community. This has been a great year for WordCamps — there have been 56 so far in more than 20 countries, and there another 15 on the calendar before the year’s over. If there’s one near you, check it out! In addition to getting to know your local WordPress community, most WordCamps attract some traveling visitors a well, giving you the chance to meet contributors to the WordPress open source project and get involved yourself.

Here are the WordCamps on the schedule for the rest of this year.

October 25-27: WordCamp Boston, Boston, MA, USA
October 25-26: WordCamp Malaga, Spain
October 26: WordCamp Nepal, Kathmandu, Nepal
October 26: WordCamp Sofia, Bulgaria
November 7: WordCamp Cape Town, South Africa
November 9: WordCamp Porto, Portugal
November 9-10: WordCamp Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya
November 15: WordCamp Edmonton, AB, Canada
November 16-17: WordCamp Orlando, FL, USA
November 16: WordCamp Denver, CO, USA
November 23-24: WordCamp London, UK
November 23-24: WordCamp Raleigh, NC, USA
November 23: WordCamp São Paulo, Brazil
December 14: WordCamp Las Vegas, NV, USA
December 14-15: WordCamp Sevilla, Spain

No WordCamps on this list in your area? Not to worry! There are thriving WordPress meetups all over the world where you can meet like-minded people, and we maintain a library of WordCamp videos at WordPress.tv.

Get Involved

  • If you’re interested in organizing a WordCamp in your area, check out our WordCamp planning site.
  • If you’re interested in starting a WordPress meetup in your area, let us know and we can set up a group on meetup.com for you.
  • And speaking of WordCamp videos, we’ve recently enabled volunteer-generated subtitles/closed captioning of the videos on WordPress.tv to make them more accessible. Interested in helping? Check out the WordPress.tv subtitling instructions.