Spoiler alert: WordCamp Europe 2017 was awesome! Not the biggest WordCamp Europe to date, but still awesome!

It’s been nearly two weeks since we left the halls of Les Docks de Paris and went back to our everyday lives. Having time to reflect, here are our thoughts on the event and everything that happened:

The numbers

Okay, first, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. This event has been advertised as the biggest WordCamp to date. Around 3000 tickets sold, and a venue ready to fit them all. Surprisingly, though, more than 1/3 of people didn’t show up.

Probably those numerous visa troubles had something to do with it…

Anyway, the final numbers were reported to be 1900 attendees from 79 countries, which is still a lot by any standard. And if you throw in the live-streamers, the numbers jump up to 2900 people from 92 countries.


The choice of Paris as the host city of WordCamp Europe #WCEU 2017 got people excited from the very beginning. It’s a truly global city, and on top of that, those who did show up and braved the scorching temperatures were rewarded with incredible summer days.

The location for the event was on the outskirts of Paris in the docklands, which turned out to be a great choice and helped keep the event more private – since there was basically no one there apart from the WordPress people. The spaces were large and accommodated everyone easily.

Contributor Day

Moving Contributor Day to lead the event was a good move. People were energized and full of pith and vinegar. Holding contributor day after an exhaustive two days is too demanding IMO. In the past, it felt more like Withholders Day. Overall, the calendar change allowed the day to thrive – it was more popular than ever.

Check out Rocio Valdivia’s excitement in this video:

With 500 people registering for 13 workshops the event could not have been more popular.

The downside is that some people reported registration rejection. However, it has to be said that the community stepped up and helped make sure all contributors got busy contributing.

Registrants came from every part of the WordPress rainbow. Developers were probably the biggest group there, but we also saw design, marketing, and accessibility teams. You don’t need to code to contribute, and Contributer Day was the perfect way to showcase this. The Marketing team were forced to relocate after their room burst at the seams (no marketers were hurt).

The diversity of the attendees was a good reflection on the overarching goal of growing WordPress via inclusion, as noted by WPTavern.

Inclusion means giving people a chance to evolve from ignorance to bliss; or in the, better, words of the WP REST API project co-lead Ryan McCue from “I know nothing” to “I know this stuff”.

The day’s big winner was JavaScript. The rooms were packed to the rafters. All of the JavaScript workshops were densely populated.

People were sitting on the floor, listening through the walls and crowding the door. Edmund Turbin was one of many people to take advantage of the JavaScript focus that drew in “a good mix of people from beginners to advanced developers”.

Speaker and Sponsor Event

Contributor Day was followed by an exclusive boat-hosted dinner for volunteers, speakers, and sponsors.

The boat was docked, fortunately, on the River Seine. The group who helped make the event happen were given one last night of peace before the bedlam to follow.

The Parisian skyline provided the tranquility they deserved, after all, the volunteers are the straw stirring the drink. This was the last moment of peace for these brave souls before the chaos.

WCEU Day 1

The excited buzz around the docks of Paris grew into a roar as people arrived at the event; high fives were distributed casually with love, Wapuus were hugged and photographed and #WCEU tweets from inside the speaker’s hall proliferated.

Calm before the storm #WCEU #Paris #France

A post shared by Ibon Azkoitia (@ibonazkoitia) on

There was a slight delay to proceedings but finally Jenny and Paolo delivered the opening remarks.

WordCamps are about two things; t-shirts and talks. We’ll consider the talks first because Day 1 had some presentations that destroyed the previous understanding of the word highlight. The full session recordings are available on the WordCamp Europe website and some are available on WordPress TV.

The Day 1 talks all hinted at the theme of inclusion with titles including words like caring, demystifying, empowered user experience, improving WordPress performance, win friends, security for all, how to grow, new to theme design. There is a sense of Day 1 that the talks are all about broadening the user base and energizing the community.

However, the breakout star of WCEU Day 1 was John Maeda with his talk on 3 Kinds of Design.

His high energy delivery coupled with incredible insight into changes required for design to evolve were crowd-pleasing with the words great, awesome, rocking, and inspiring associated with every tweet.

Maeda pushed the movement to Computational Design, which will make the most out of human-machine interaction. The talk happened at WordCamp, but the lessons are not WordPress-specific. It was all about delivering something to the user, to work with them.

Best quote:

I believe that creativity and inclusion are two sides of the same coin. They are necessary things. If you care about design, you have to care about inclusion.John Maeda

This is not to say that the Day 1 talks were not good, far from it, but Maeda was the speaker who encapsulated the theme, inclusivity, perfectly. He pushed us to consider the changing eco-system outside WordPress and allow it to influence our thinking that will drive the platform. For example, Snapchat and design in portrait mode, or the power of QR codes.

The highlights in tweets:

After a long first day, everyone returned to their hotels for rest. No beers were drunk. None at all…

Day 2

We are going to avoid controversy for Day 2 and say the talks were all equally brilliant. They were all dynamic and inspiring, challenging, thoughtful, innovative and hilarious. Again, you could see the inclusivity and community theme in the titles; “people over code”, “using WordPress for good”, “How WordPress communities are built”, and lightening round meant to inspire.

The lightening round deserves special mention for the involvement of the WordPress enthusiast Thabo Tswana. He has built the Zimbabwe WordPress community from scratch. He spoke of the first meetup where he was the only attendee. WordCamp Zimbabwe has its second event this November read about it here.

We heard why CSS grid changes are so amazing. You keep cleaner HTML, you make changes without changing HTML. Almost too easy. Plus it was really funny.

Why choose people over code? Brought the John Maeda talk to mind with its emphasis on people working together to solve a problem for other people. It is not a case of “I code therefore I am”, but “I code therefore the problem no longer exists”. If we place people and their goals at the center of our efforts then we will thrive.

Using WordPress for Good was all about choosing to be the change you want to see in the world. Work for the planet, and not against it. This was a talk littered with fantastic, community centered quotes. It was a fantastic tutorial on how to change tact and reach out to a niche audience. The non-profit and charity world presents its own challenges, but you will still get paid.

Boone Gorges brought Twitter down with his talk on mythology and code poetry. It was sure to be controversial, and in the hands of a mere mortal it may have been. Gorges developed a few new metaphors for how developers can imagine themselves. The artist is far removed from the collaborative developer building an entire eco-system.

Andrea Middleton was on fire. Taking us through the steps required to build a WordPress community to help it thrive. The requirements are fewer than you might imagine; 2 or more people, WordPress talk. And coffee. This was the most welcoming talk of all. Basically, anyone that uses WordPress anywhere is part of the community.

The Q and A between Om Malik, the crowd, and Matt Mullenweg was focused on the future and philosophy + the release of Gutenberg. We have embedded it here for you to watch.

Cool stuff

Swag is ever popular at WordCamps! Here are our picks.

Coolest T-Shirt:

A hotly contested field, but this one from YiThemes was the pick.

Coolest idea:

The blindfold puzzle challenge hosted by SiteGround.

Coolest character:

The irrepressible Manny from ManageWP who was adopted by hundreds. The team put together an entertaining page regarding Manny’s adoption here.

What people are saying about WordCamp Europe 2017

The guys at WPEngine “had a blast” and Edmund Turbin called it an “outstanding event” in his round-up. He specifically mentioned the organizers and the great people they met. The community aspect is highlighted by Antonio Villegas in his post, which specifically states that the best thing about the event is “getting to meet all the people who make WordPress”.

The people who make WordPress are the most important to its development, obvs, but the advantage is that the system is built globally, as noted by Torque in their post. This advantage allows WordPress to evolve as an inherently cross-cultural system, which is significantly better than tweaking a mono-cultural system into plurality. Torque focused heavily on this aspect of WordPress and its potential for cross-cultural communication.

WPTavern have a number of posts dissecting the event, but the most important detail regards the volunteers. As they highlight in their post the volunteer team was made up of 221 people. The 221 worked hard to ensure WordCamp Europe was a high functioning event with help, photos, organization, regular streams of coffee and croissants, and finally the incredible work of the live transcription team. As Rodolfo Melogli said “Putting 2,000 people in a room and keep them happy for a weekend is more difficult than getting a $100,000 freelancing contract.”

Our volunteer experience

A quick word for ThemeIsle’s tireless volunteers. This is our second year as volunteers at WCEU. Our team got involved working the door, tweeting from @WCEurope, and registering the registrants.

Now we are going to share our best insider tips with you.

Firstly, registration is the plum job because it is an easy way to meet almost everyone.

Secondly, volunteers get to go behind the scenes.

Thirdly, the communication team is all about those warm and fuzzies.

A special shout out for our chief, Ionut, who was selected to be part of the Community Summit that took place before the event kicked off.

I’m really happy I had this opportunity, I have to say, and I appreciate the time I spent with Ulrich, Carolyna and Sakin from the TRT, as well as Mika, and also Otto who works on the WordPress.org repo + as part of the plugins team.Ionut Neagu

He wrote about it in the latest Transparency Report here.

Overall, volunteering is an incredible experience. And we are pretty happy to say that the croissants and coffee were amazing. Who saw that coming?

Lastly, a word for the man who got the selfie that everyone was after…Great job.

You know we will be volunteering again next year in Belgrade, too.

Finally, WordCamp Europe 2018 will take place in Belgrade

The news that WordCamp Europe 2018 will be held in Serbia was greeted with joy by Milan Ivanović, who said, “Our community is awesome. I will never forget their faces, love, and support when Belgrade’s dot appeared on the screen.”

Here’s what else Milan had to say when asked about his thoughts on next year’s WordCamp Europe:

The Belgrade team organized three WordCamps so far, and a big part of this year’s team will be involved in the next year’s event as well.

Jenny went through a lot while leading the #WCEU2017 local team, and she already briefed me on a lot of things – that is why we started using the #gethelmet hashtag.

P.S So that you know, people already started booking 🙂Milan Ivanović

Here’s an interview with Milan and Jenny Beaumont over at WPTavern.

Au revoir Paris

Finally, let’s bid adieu to Paris, thanks for the memories! Watch the official WordCamp Europe 2017 aftermovie at WordPress.tv.

We look forward to seeing you next year!