The team has returned from WordCamp Europe 2023, which took place in Athens. From exploring the city’s iconic landmarks to immersing ourselves in engaging sessions and connecting with fellow WordPress enthusiasts, read on as we recap the highlights of WordCamp Europe 2023.
WordCamp Europe is an annual conference that brings together WordPress enthusiasts, developers, designers, bloggers, and professionals from all around the globe. It’s a celebration of everything WordPress, where attendees gather to learn, share knowledge, connect with like-minded individuals, and explore the latest trends and advancements in the WordPress ecosystem.
What is a WordCamp?
Usually scheduled around a series of presentations and workshops. WordCamps are conferences where people with an interest in WordPress—from beginners to experts—come together, share their knowledge and learn from each other.
WordCamps take place all over the world, organised by local WordPress communities. On a larger scale, flagship events such as WordCamp US, WordCamp Europe, and WordCamp Asia bring together WordPress users from broader geographic areas, fostering a sense of unity and collaboration.
Our journey with WordCamps began back in 2011 at WordCamp Portsmouth UK. The warm and inclusive atmosphere welcomes people from diverse backgrounds and skill levels. Since then, we have actively participated in and sponsored numerous WordCamp events throughout the United Kingdom, which have played an important role in our professional development and growth within the WordPress ecosystem.
WordCamp Europe 2023 – Athens
Athens provided the perfect backdrop for this year’s gathering of WordPress enthusiasts. WordCamp Europe 2023 was held at the Megaron Athens International Conference Centre, an impressive venue that provided ample space to spread out and make the most of the event. With an attendance of 2545 individuals from 94 countries, it was truly an international gathering of WordPress enthusiasts.
The conference boasted a lineup of 102 speakers from 29 countries, offering a diverse range of sessions over the course of two days. The schedule catered to various interests and skill levels, reflecting the inclusive ethos that WordPress and WordCamp events embrace. With multiple talks running concurrently across three tracks and two workshop tracks, attendees had a busy itinerary to choose from. Additionally, the WP Connect space and wellness track provided a more relaxed and informal atmosphere.
Beyond the presentations and workshops, the event offered opportunities to engage with sponsors, from the big names in WordPress plugins and services, down to smaller niche companies.
We caught up with the WooCommerce team at their booth, creatively designed with a WooCommerce purple storefront theme (there’s a clever WooCommerce pun in there somewhere). The team guided us through their demo WooCommerce store, where we had the chance to “purchase” some olive oil. This not only showed off the functionality of WooCommerce, it was also a surprisingly smooth way of capturing contact details and marketing consent. We were delighted to take home a travel-friendly bottle of olive oil, complete with oregano and a Greek salad recipe—a charming Greek-themed freebie.
We also spoke with the WPML team at their stand, another trusted plugin partner of ours. Our discussion proved to be highly productive as we delved into the challenges we encountered and the lessons learned from a recent enterprise-scale multilingual project. Together, we explored the solution we developed and shared insights on potential improvements for integrating WPML with the LearnDash LMS.
The community booth at the event was a hub of activity, providing props for taking selfies and a place to ask about the various WordPress project teams. A prominent feature was the map of Europe, where attendees could mark their locations with sticky dots, visually representing the community’s geographic diversity. This is where my colleague Laura discovered there was another attendee from her hometown of Valladolid. She took to Twitter and eventually successfully located the person with old-school offline networking skills!
In between sessions, whilst looking for the quiet room for a moment of calm… we accidentally stumbled into a Tai chi session, just as it was about to begin. Scheduled as part of the wellness track, we gave it a go—this impromptu experience offered an opportunity for team building, and served as a refreshing pause to relax and rejuvenate!
10 things that all WordPress plugin developers should avoid
David delivered a fun and informative talk, sharing his top 10 plugin annoyances. He emphasised the need to steer clear of aggressive promotion, to avoid inconsistent admin menu placement and appearance. Additionally, David encouraged developers to refrain from creating bloated custom UIs, ideally a plugin should seamlessly blend in with the native WordPress interface. While David’s talk may not have offered immediate solutions to all the challenges faced by WordPress users worldwide, his goal to open a discussion with the WordPress development community was successful. The Q&A session became a safe space for attendees to voice their own grievances!
Don’t sell WordPress like it’s 2016: the evolving landscape of WordPress marketing
WordPress has evolved from it’s early days as a blogging platform to a robust ecosystem capable of creating eCommerce, membership sites, and even mobile apps. Afshana emphasised the need for marketers to adapt their approaches to effectively sell WordPress in the ever-changing digital landscape.
Key takeaways from the talk include the importance of understanding the target audience, cultivating a passionate and dynamic team, creating compelling products, harnessing relevant technology and tools, staying updated with the latest trends and advancements, and adopting sustainable and ethical marketing practices.
WP-CLI for PHP developers
In this workshop session, Milana went beyond live demonstrations of WP-CLI commands and instead focused on exploring how WP-CLI can work with other tools to address the specific needs and everyday tasks of PHP developers. By leveraging WP-CLI’s command line capabilities, developers can streamline data processing tasks, optimise their workflows and enhance their productivity and efficiency in managing and transforming data within WordPress.
A panel discussion on the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as an accelerator within the WordPress ecosystem. The panelists discussed various use cases of AI, including how its already being utilised in production. Hosting companies are leveraging AI to enhance support and documentation. AI can eliminate the “blank canvas syndrome”—it’s easier to start with something rather than nothing. Themes are exploring ways to harness AI for kickstarting new site generation—generating a site structure based on the users specific use case.
WordPress extended: build unique websites on top of WP
Steer clear of cookie-cutter design and add a touch of uniqueness to make your website memorable. Petya emphasised that the visual appeal of a website plays a crucial role in making a positive first impression. Incorporate fluid animations, scrollytelling techniques, and a clear content structure to create engaging user experiences.
State of WordPress security – insights from 2022
Valuable insights into the security landscape of the WordPress ecosystem. Key takeaways included ongoing efforts to resolve old and easily exploitable bugs, the need to promptly address security issues in the software supply chain and the challenges in reporting vulnerabilities to plugin developers.
Oliver spoke about the risk posed by unsupported plugins in the WordPress ecosystem. When a security issue arises in an abandoned plugin, it can be removed from the WordPress.org plugin repository. However, website owners are left unaware of the vulnerability. He recommended that WordPress implement a visible security alert in the dashboard whenever a plugin is pulled from the repository due to a security concern.
Attendees were encouraged to take proactive steps in minimising security risks and strengthening the overall security of their WordPress websites.
The art of the code review
Tim emphasised the importance of code reviews in improving code reliability and fostering a collaborative work environment. Attendees learned that code reviews are not just a task to be completed, but opportunities for improvement. Key takeaways included recognising the significance of language in code reviews, understanding feedback as a continuous loop, and realising the benefits of pairing for code reviews, benefiting both senior and junior developers.
Variations on a theme: 20 years of WordPress
Matt Mullenweg, Josepha Haden Chomphosy & Matías Ventura
A panel discussion reviewing the accomplishments and learnings of the WordPress project in 2023. Key takeaways included the reactivation of WordCamps, the introduction of WordPress Playground, updates on the progress plan for Gutenberg, plans for a new approach to translating blocks, insight into the future influence of AI with Matt quipping “learn AI deeply”. Attendees gained valuable insights into the past, present, and future of WordPress and its continuing evolution.
WooExpert Happy Hour
As one of only three UK-based Platinum level WooExpert partners, we were delighted to be invited to the WooExpert Happy Hour event. Taking place after the first day of the conference, as the sun set, it provided a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy a drink or two and connect with the WooCommerce team and fellow WooExperts. We met some great people, including some lovely people from fellow agencies digicube and Atomic Smash.
The EU WooExpert Awards ceremony took place during the evening. Kanuka Digital was shortlisted for The Innovator Award for our work in the music space, building multi-format music stores on WooCommerce. While our journey to claim the Innovator Award may have fallen short, we enjoyed networking with the WooCommerce team and fellow WooExpert partners from across Europe.
A little sightseeing
During our time in Athens, we were fortunate enough to have a few moments to visit the main tourist attractions of the city. Athens has a rich cultural heritage and is known for its ancient monuments, such as the Acropolis, which is home to the Parthenon. The Acropolis Museum displays many of the sculptures from the Parthenon and other buildings on the site.
We took a walking tour of the iconic Acropolis and The Acropolis Museum. Our guide shared stories and historical insights along the way. We took the time to wander, and our explorations led us through the picturesque Anafiotika neighborhood, with its traditional Cycladic-style houses, before meandering through the bustling Monastiraki Flea Market.
We stumbled across the Ancient Agora of Athens, where we found the Temple of Hephaestus and Stoa of Attalos, which are among the best preserved monuments in Athens.
Our brief exploration of Athens, its architecture and history, food and culture made for a memorable visit.
We would like to express our thanks to the many organisers, volunteers, speakers, sponsors, and fellow attendees who played a significant role in making WordCamp Europe 2023 a truly memorable experience.
After a challenging period in which many events were either postponed or held virtually due to the pandemic, we were thrilled that WordCamp Europe 2023 was once again able to take place in person. Being able to gather together, face-to-face, with like-minded individuals from around the globe was a breath of fresh air. We left feeling inspired and reinvigorated, and with a newly discovered passion for Tai chi?
As we bid farewell to this remarkable city, we carry with us the memories of our explorations and the knowledge gained from WordCamp Europe 2023. It was a perfect fusion of learning, networking, and cultural immersion that will never be forgotten. As we look ahead, we are already eagerly anticipating WordCamp Europe 2024, which will take place in the enchanting city of Torino. Until next time!