Home » Blog » WordPress Community » Human Made at WCEU 2024
Share on

Human Made at WCEU 2024

Torino aerial photograph

WordCamps are always a highlight on the Human Made calendar, and this year’s WCEU 2024 in the gorgeous Italian city of Turin, 13-15 June, was no exception! A strong HM contingent was on the ground, and we wanted to hear from those of us whose experiences were a bit different from usual, including a few first-timers! Read on to find out how it all went…

Iliana Maratheftis

Digital Marketing Manager

During my trip to WordCamp Europe, I experienced so many firsts! Not only was it my first time attending a WordPress event, but it was also my first time meeting the team in person having joined Human Made just one month ago. I must admit, it was quite nerve-wracking at first. However, as expected, all of the Humans I met were super lovely, which meant I was able to settle in and find my stride quickly. While Human Made has a brilliant remote-first working culture, meeting some friendly faces from the team allowed me to see our amazing company culture in a new light.

What to expect when attending WordCamp for the first time

If you’re attending WordCamp (WC)  for the first time, prepare to learn plenty about key topics within the WordPress community, meet a whole host of new people, and, of course, take the time to explore a new city! If you’re like me, attending your first WC conference, you’ll quickly learn the WordPress community, while huge, is very tight-knit and welcoming.

I spent my first experience at Contributor Day sitting at the Marketing table, contributing WordPress case studies to the showcase. It was a great feeling to give back to the community with a collaborative goal of improving WordPress together and it was lovely to meet new Contributors and collaborate with others on the same table. For the remaining conference days, I spent most of my time attending talks. I must say (without any bias, of course!) that “Fixing the Ladder: Getting More Women into Leadership at WordPress Businesses” with Siobhan Mckeown and Dee Teal was definitely the most empowering. The topic and survey they are running are something I am super passionate about and they had some amazing advice for supporting and championing women for leadership roles.

Outside of the conference days, I attended the fun after-parties and had the opportunity to make awesome connections with my team at Human Made, as well as network with others in the industry.

How to prepare for your first WordCamp Europe

While I wouldn’t recommend planning every detail of your trip to WCEU in advance, I found it helpful to organise a few aspects that can help you prepare for all the excitement.

  • Review the schedule and highlight key topics and talks you want to attend: I attended insightful talks on sustainability in open source, SEO and website development, and boosting conversions, which I found useful for my role. I also attended accessibility talks to improve my knowledge on a topic I wasn’t too familiar with before. Don’t feel pressured to attend every single talk, if there’s a gap between your interests, there’s still plenty to do!
  • Allow yourself time to walk through the halls and the main expo: You can have great conversations with sponsors and like-minded people, plus enter plenty of competitions and grab some free swag along the way. There are also plenty of areas to sit, and WiFi on-site if you want to plug away at your to-do list.
  • Explore local cuisine: While WC offers onsite catering on each day of the conference, if you’re a foodie like me, I’d recommend checking out nearby restaurants or cafés if you fancy mixing things up or trying the local cuisine. You’re likely to be in a new exciting city after all!
  • Prebook side events in advance: They tend to fill up quickly, and there are plenty of parties and events that are well worth attending post-conference. During my time at WCEU 2024, I managed to attend several events, including our very own Human Made & Big Bite WCEU Party, SiteGround’s Dream Big Party, and the WCEU Pride Party celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community.
Urban, Clothing, Footwear

Attending WordCamp Europe for the first time was an unforgettable experience filled with learning, networking, and plenty of fun. From engaging talks and Contributor Day activities to exploring the local cuisine and attending vibrant after-parties, there was never a dull moment. If you’re gearing up for your first WordCamp, embrace the adventure, be open to meeting new people, and take in all the knowledge and inspiration the event has to offer. The WordPress community is incredibly welcoming, and you’ll leave with new connections, fresh ideas, and great memories. I can’t wait to see what the next WordCamp has in store!

Kirsty Burgoine

Engineering Manager

WordCamp Europe is one of my favourite events in the WordPress calendar, I always feel exceptionally lucky when I am able to go. It’s wonderful to meet up with so many friends from the WordPress community, both old and new. Even though the sheer scale of the event can seem intimidating, it never loses that feeling of openness and belonging. This year was even better, thanks to the incredible city of Turin with its beautiful architecture, truly awesome coffee, pastries, and deep-fried pasta!

Shop, Adult, Male

Diversity and inclusion at WCEU

I was really happy to see that, once again, the European flagship event focused on ensuring it was as diverse and inclusive as possible. The speaker lineup was the most diverse I’ve seen, with over 20 female speakers (approximately half of the main lineup), as well as many more people from a wide variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

And of course, there was a stellar Pride party as well! 🌈

Some of my favourite talks of the weekend also focused on this subject. Elena Panciera and Chiara Pennetta gave an eye-opening talk about accessibility strategies for deaf people, emphasising that adding captions or text alone doesn’t necessarily make content accessible to the deaf community. Often, English isn’t a person’s first language, and the opportunity to learn English is a privilege that shouldn’t be assumed everyone has. They also provided excellent tips on how to change the language used to make it more accessible without it seeming “dumbed down”.

Rian Rietveld gave a thorough explanation of the European Accessibility Act, who needs to comply, how we can comply, and what could happen if companies don’t comply. Different countries within the EU have different standards but essentially any website meeting WCAG, Level AA, version 2.2 standards will comply, unsurprisingly many don’t yet. 
Possibly the standout session of the weekend focussing on Diversity and Inclusion though was Dee Teal and HM’s Siobhan McKeown’s session Fixing the Ladder: Getting more women into leadership at WordPressbusinesses. They presented some truly disappointing statistics about the lack of women in leadership roles within WordPress businesses. It was a fascinating discussion, exploring the history of computer science and how women’s engagement with tech actually decreased with the introduction of home computers. (This reminded me of when we got a home computer for my brother, and I literally bullied him out of the way and wouldn’t let him near it. I later did the same when he got a PlayStation 😄). The session also offered many suggestions on how to support and champion other women within WordPress

Tips to make your WordCamp great!

WordCamps are amazing, but they can be overwhelming, especially if you are shy or at all introverted.

Don’t rely on bumping into the people you want to catch up with at the event. WCEU has around 3,000 attendees, and although it is probable you will see people, it is likely you will miss someone or won’t find time to be able to have the proper catch up that you wanted. If there are specific people that you’d really like to sit and have a chat with, make sure you reach out to them and make a plan to make that happen.

Attend Contributor Day. As someone who can be exceptionally introverted, I find it very difficult to meet new people, especially at conferences as large as WCEU. I’m not the type to just start randomly chatting to whoever is standing next to me in the lunch queue if I don’t know them. Therefore, I find Contributor Day to be an exceptionally valuable way to meet new people and spark conversations. There are fewer attendees, so it is less overwhelming, and you get the opportunity to work with others who share a passion for the same area of WordPress that you do. And of course, you get to contribute back to the project.

Be selective about the talks you want to attend, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to attend every session. It’s okay to take some time for yourself—go back to your hotel, chill out at the venue, find your bearings, talk to the sponsors and blag some swag, or simply enjoy the coffee. All of the talks are live-streamed and will be available after the event as well. If you miss anything, you can always catch up later.

Enjoy the parties and other side events! They are a great opportunity to meet smaller groups of people in a much more relaxed, social setting where it’s easier to strike up conversations. 

Rufaro Madamombe

Web Engineer

18. 3. 1. These numbers aren’t just random. They represent my unforgettable journey from Zimbabwe to Italy: 18 hours of travel, 3 flights, and 1 amazing trip. So, what made it so unforgettable?

Despite the long journey, I arrived a day before Contributor Day, giving me some time to settle in and prepare for the conference. With that being said, I would highly recommend arriving 2 or 3 days early if possible, to get familiar with your surroundings and learn how to navigate the new city you’re in.

Throughout my trip, I often felt anxious about finding my way around. It wasn’t until the last day of the conference that I truly understood how the three types of transportation—buses, trams, and the metro—worked and interconnected. I wish I had taken the time to explore them beforehand.

So, here’s a pro tip: don’t underestimate the importance of understanding local transportation unless you’re willing to spend a lot on taxis. Embrace the adventure, plan ahead, and make the most of your experience!

Taking part at Contributor Day

Now let’s talk about the actual conference. Contributor day was such a good way to ease into the conference. It allowed me to interact with a lot of people without feeling overwhelmed by the full scope of attendees. It was a great way to socially prepare for the larger crowd to come.

Participating in contributor day really showed me how easy it is to contribute to WordPress. It’s not as complicated or intimidating as I had thought, and everyone is incredibly happy to help you figure out where you can contribute and how to get started.

I worked on the Core Performance team and while I didn’t get any new code merged in WordPress core, I did manage to help test and review an existing piece of work. I believe that the work I did will help shape that work and get it merged in some future WordPress release.

It’s important to remember that contributing doesn’t have to end with WCEU Contributor Day. In fact, it shouldn’t! If, like me, you don’t see your contribution fully realised by the end of the event, you can always continue your efforts afterwards.

After Contributor Day, we had a Human Made team dinner, which I really appreciated. Living so far from the rest of the team, I don’t often get the chance for face-to-face interactions, so this was a wonderful opportunity to connect personally.

WCEU Day 1: Embracing Open Source and Accessibility

On the first day of WCEU, I started my morning with a delicious hot chocolate and sandwich at a nearby café having explored the venue the previous day. The opening talk focused on the sustainability of open source, highlighting the crucial role of funding. I appreciated the speaker’s honesty in addressing this often overlooked aspect. You can check out some key points I shared on my thread here.

While I initially intended to keep live blogging the event, I found it challenging to balance engagement with the talks and real-time updates. Instead, I focused on sessions outside my usual areas of interest, particularly those centred on accessibility. One major takeaway was that accessibility extends beyond disabilities. For instance, complex language can render content inaccessible to those who can’t fully comprehend it, even if they can physically access it.

WCEU Day 2: Inspiring Talks and Practical Techniques

Day 2 opened up with a talk from Abraham Waita titled “Diverse and sustainable future: How high school teachers in Uganda are nurturing a young WordPress community”. It was a really inspiring talk showcasing how WordPress is far reaching and being used to solve problems in different communities.

“Practical Techniques for Sustainable Web Development with WordPress” was also another favourite of mine from the second day.  Security is one of the things I’m currently learning about so I thoroughly enjoyed the practical demo and the walkthrough of the thought process that hackers can take from the talk “Think like a hacker: Attack your WordPress”. 

Crowd, Person, Clothing

Sadly the conference ended with me back at the apartment as I failed to get back to the venue in time for the closing remarks from Matt. However, I did manage to make it for the after party which was as loud as I expected. Generally, I’d say the conference is loud because of the number of people attending, but whilst it’s bustling, there are plenty of opportunities to take a break out of the schedule in quieter spots such as the coffee areas or  for a walk outside. 

If you’re attending WCEU for the first time, take it easy, enjoy the talks, and meet new people. It’s a lot to take in, but it’s also a lot of fun, and you’ll be just fine.

What was your highlight from WCEU 2024? We love to hear it! Let us know on X.