Going Around The World Online: A Virtual WCEU

The first-ever virtual WordCamp Europe ran from June 4-6, with one contributor day and two session days. While organizers, sponsors, and attendees alike originally anticipated attending the event in Porto, Portugal, the COVID-19 pandemic forced a change of plans. Fortunately, when the WordPress community is faced with obstacles, they overcome them in a swift and efficient fashion.

In his keynote address, Matt Mullenweg, Automattic CEO and Co-Founder of WordPress addressed the unique situation with the following words: “It’s been really impressive to see how organizers have adapted to the current climate. Not just with WordCamp Europe, but with so many other WordCamps and meetups that have moved online. I feel like this is something that can strengthen the community quite a bit because folks who couldn’t travel to a meetup or WordCamp can now be a part of those communities and really connect with folks. I say technology is best when it brings people together and I’m seeing more people come together right now, albeit virtually, than in a while.”

Bluehost, among other global and local sponsors, had a virtual “booth” in the form of a Zoom room where attendees could come to speak with our representatives to ask questions about their website, get more information about Bluehost, or just have a casual conversation. We were happy to experience the same types of engaging and fun interactions with new and familiar faces as we did at our in-person booth. The only difference being that we weren’t bound by the restrictions of location. We could seamlessly interact with someone in Nairobi one minute, and someone in Mumbai the next.

In addition to our dedicated sponsor room, we were also given a 45-minute speaking slot. We utilized this by creating a three-part mini interview series titled “The Streamlined Future of Building Websites.” Devin Sears, Field Marketing Manager, led these interviews. To of the interviews were done with Bluehost employees Micah Wood and Simran Talreja. The first, “The Future of Block-Based Themes” with Micah Wood, Sr. Software Engineer, focused on the benefits and trends of utilizing block-based themes to enhance your website. Wood emphasized that blocks give users more control over their sites, in addition to highlighting full-site themes that one can install and play around with.

The next interview was “Streamlining Tools For The Modern Web Pro” with Simran Talreja, Group Products Manager. Talreja’s interview emphasized that we as Bluehost can empower modern web professionals, especially with Bluehost’s Maestro platform. Maestro is designed to help the modern Web Pro organize their web development business on a single dashboard so that they can focus on their clients and growing their business. Talreja highlighted a few key features including one-click access to the WordPress admin, the ability to manage websites no matter where they are hosted, and the fact that this tool is completely free.

The final interview was with WordPress community member and Sinatra co-author Branko Čonjić. The interview, “Site Design Simplified; ‘Sinatra’ Theme Explored,” was essentially a breakdown of what Sinatra is and what benefits it offers. This theme is populated with the demo product when you begin. Čonjić emphasized that the perfect users for the theme are those looking to launch their site at a faster pace and professionals looking for lightweight and customizable themes. While only one demo is available now, a “travel” theme, more themes will be added soon; this will streamline onboarding to site transitions where users can choose pre-designed pages to start with, eventually leading to full-site editing.

In addition to celebrating the adaptability of WordCamps in his yearly address, Mullenweg also addressed the status and updates of WordPress, Gutenberg, eCommerce, and other currently relevant topics in the community. Here are a few highlights for those who missed his talk:

  • Gutenberg is being implemented on iOS and Android.
  • Currently, over 45 million sites create content in Gutenberg.
  • Since the Gutenberg update to the WordPress platform, there have been 92 million posts created with Gutenberg. It’s anticipated that over 100 million posts will be created when Gutenberg 5.5 comes out later this year.
  • Websites and eCommerce are growing. WordPress has seen a huge boost on both. 20, 30, 40% year over year.
  • The WordPress ecosystem has a yearly revenue of $8-10 billion.
  • WordPress has 35% of the market share (source: https://joost.blog/cms-market-share-november-2019-analysis/)

The first-ever virtual WordCamp was a success, boasting 8,756 registered attendees from 140 countries, 40 sponsors, over 16,000 stream views, and over 293,000 website visits. When a virtual component to WordCamps is added, it opens up attendance and participation to anyone in the world. Educational information about security, AI, themes, marketing, design, eCommerce, and more was consumed by attendees in 140 countries around the globe. WordPress’ reach is consistently growing and stronger than ever.

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