WordCamp US 2023 was held in Washington D.C. this year. All the websites we design are built on the WordPress platform. So, it only seemed fitting that we send some representation to experience our first WordCamp. This article is a review of Austyn’s (our owners) experience.
Day 1 and 2
I arrived in DC on Wednesday evening. My plan was to settle in before my early morning start on Thursday. The official start of WordCamp US 2023 was scheduled for Friday, but Thursday was Contributor Day. I figured this would be a great way to get my feet wet and see what this community had to offer, or better yet, what our company could offer the community. Within 10 minutes of arriving at the venue on Thursday morning, I had already met a group of guys who were preparing to attend Contributor Day as well. The interactions I had that first day were definitely memories I will not forget. Everyone I met was super friendly and genuinely curious about what I did. I exchanged contact information with many individuals who wanted to stay updated with what Exalto Designs was doing. I ended Thursday with a greater respect for the volunteers and contributors to WordPress. If you didn’t know, WordPress is completely open source and relies on contributors from all over the world to make it better. A larger group of these contributors was hard at work on Thursday.
Friday morning was an exciting time – the official start of the conference. Now, I think I need to preface this by saying that the conference took place at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. If you’ve never heard or seen of this place, it’s quite large. Three different conventions were happening around the same time, but the WordCamp organizers did an excellent job of placing signage all around the facility. Friday marked the beginning of the main talks. I attended talks about how NASA is redesigning their entire website on WordPress – that’s right, NASA. So, for those of you who ask me if WordPress will be around for a while, I would have to say yes. Other talks included website accessibility and how this is becoming a significant topic in our industry. Believe it or not, but most websites out there are not accessible to everyone. I learned techniques that will help us build new websites to ensure our clients’ websites are as accessible as possible.
Friday was also the day that the majority of people showed up to the conference. Boy, did I have people on my list to meet. This included many members of a web designer group I’m a part of. It was so great to meet these people I converse with weekly over Zoom and email. We attended talks and had dinner together on Friday night.
Saturday was day 2 of the conference and the fourth day of the trip. The day started off with talks and meetings with different plugin and tools companies that our agency uses. The setup was great. The room they used for the sponsor hall was massive and could hold many people. Along with visiting the companies we use, I had the opportunity to visit companies we don’t use. I was able to learn about new tools and processes that are something I will want to investigate in the future. The second half of Saturday included a visit to D.C. A group of us decided to check out the Smithsonian National Museum of American History before dinner. Later that night, WordCamp put on a social event to end the night at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. This concluded the trip.
My overall experience with WordCamp US 2023 was amazing. I believe that the conference was well-organized and put together. The WordPress community is so invested and inviting. I didn’t meet a single unfriendly person. From the talks to those who served lunch, everyone was just so happy and genuinely seemed like they wanted to be there. I believe the talks were super useful. I do hope that in the future they limit the number of talks on the same topic. There were a few topics that had multiple talks. I would have liked to see more variety in talks. But overall, I enjoyed my time and brought back multiple notebooks filled with notes. This experience is something I will never forget, and I can’t wait for WordCamp US 2024. Depending on circumstances, I may even consider experiencing WordCamp EU sometime soon.
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