Current challenges of WordPress Events. Shaping the future

In the Big Picture Goals 2024 post, Josepha called on the WordPress community to focus our energy on attracting new users to WordPress. Historically, our MeetupsMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook., WordCamps, and Flagship WordCamps have been instrumental in bringing in new WordPressers by fostering connections, sharing knowledge, and encouraging them to contribute. However, the Events program has seen significant challenges bringing new users and new attendees in recent years due to many factors. To that end, this conversation aims to examine the events program’s current state and explore what changes attract fresh users to the WordPress Project.

The Current State and Challenges

In recent years, the Community Team has revitalized the events program by encouraging experimentation and fresh event formats through Next Generation WordPress Events. However, the statistics show that while the number of events has increased significantly during our re-engagement project, the number of new attendees has also declined.

WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more./WP Events201620172018201920202021202220232024
Num. Events1071261441443419267022*
Unique attendees33,90738,26440,93641,69732,8305,582*11,08822,6376,425*
Tickets sold46,79453,04856,23457,89240,93920,93013,14926,0909,821*
First timerN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A4975*2,576*
*Partial numbers because we started tracking this in the middle of the year, the year has not finished, or due to other technical issues

New groups12711811390399357214
New members136,192107,45571,28036,14320,0193,8125,5327,2995,240*
Events hosted3,7034,6775,8945,9614,5073,1783,1233,8891,464*
*Partial numbers because we started tracking this in the middle of the year, the year has not finished, or due to other technical issues

Adding to this decline in new attendees, the Global Community TeamGlobal Community Team A group of community organizers and contributors who collaborate on local events about WordPress — monthly WordPress meetups and/or annual conferences called WordCamps. routinely hears the following from event participants:

  • While innovative events, like WordPress School Day and WordPress Web Challenge, have been held, most WordPress events still follow the same “one size fits all” strategy. The pandemic has altered people’s behaviors about in-person events, attendees want clear purpose and distinction in event formats and types that deliver value towards meeting their goals.
  • Organizer burnout has become increasingly prevalent. Organizing large events is an immense and time-consuming challenge. 
  • Sponsorship for events is increasingly challenging to raise, despite an increasing demand. Also, there needs to be clear value or additional benefit to sponsors.

While this may sound worrisome, never fear! WordPress community members still report enjoying the experience of participating in WordPress events, and there is a strong desire to continue having them. However, change is necessary to sustainably support organizers and sponsors, to meet users where they are, and to ensure that participation in events is purposeful and conducive to achieving personal and collective goals.

Let’s Discuss!

Addressing these challenges will require collective effort and input from the entire WordPress community. Our events program has immense, untapped potential to attract attendees and bolster WordPress’ visibility. Here are a few questions to inspire some thoughts, but feel free to share whatever comes to mind!

  1. What motivated you to attend your first WordPress event? What were you hoping to gain or experience?
  2. If you’ve organized an event in the past couple of years, what relevant feedback have you heard from new to WordPress attendees?
  3. What unique value or benefit do you find at other non-WordPress events that you think could bring value to our WordPress events? (for attendees, organizers, and sponsors)
  4. What type of new event or content do you think would be great for attracting and keeping new WordPress users (of any level) to WordPress events?

We encourage you to discuss and share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences in the comments below before June 28, 2024. Your feedback will be invaluable as we work together to shape a bright future of WordPress events for our global community.

Thanks to @chanthaboune @angelasjin @nao @juliarosia @devinmaeztri @courtneypk @sarahglenn @harmonyromo @peiraisotta @kcristiano @monchomad @unintended8 @samsuresh @nukaga @chaion07 @mpc @patricia70 for helping with this post

#2024-goals, #challenges, #discussion