WordCamp Europe 2013, Leiden

The Pragmatic team has just returned from WordCamp 2013 in Leiden, the Netherlands. Before the weekend’s experience starts to fade, here’s our takeaways.

Matt Mullenweg at WordCamp Europe 2013
Matt Mullenweg at WordCamp Europe 2013

It’s all about WordPress

  • If you think WordPress powering 20% of the world’s websites is impressive, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Matt Mullenweg is optimistic that open source software will power over 50% of the world’s websites within the next five years. Extrapolating from current market shares, that means the number of sites running WordPress over the next five years will at least double. That’s another 35 million WordPress sites. At least.
  • The WordPress industry is still immature. Whilst we’ve come a long way, the market is still growing and extremely fluid. There are plenty of significant niches that are yet to be filled or dominated. There’s a lot more on the way from the core WP software itself, let alone from plugins, themes and applications running the WP platform.
  • The most lucrative niche of large, enterprise clients is ripe for penetration.

It’s not all about WordPress

  • I heard time and again that the way to differentiate, succeed and grow a WordPress business isn’t by doing the best coding around, but by being the best at doing business. Most WordPress shops are relatively small and young. Agencies and enterprise are looking for solid WordPress agencies that have their shop in order: business terms, best-practice standards, effective comms and project management, service-level agreements. It’s time to get serious about the business of WordPress.
  • Smart WordPress businesses cooperate on tech but compete on business (phrased perfectly by Simon Dickson of Code for the People). Strengthening the WordPress ecosystem makes it easier for everyone to win more business.
  • Partnerships are key. Suppliers, collaborators and clients you can trust and work effectively with will strengthen your WordPress business. Relationships cannot be copied easily.

WordPress people are great

We met some inspiring people: global giants of achievement and thought. Everyone was approachable, open, friendly and accepting. I felt very privileged to spend time with you all – thanks.

A lot of them are really young. Andrew Nacin, WordPress’ lead developer is 25. 25. Many of the core contributors he leads are younger still.

WordCamps are really important

WordPress is a distributed community so getting face to face with peers, influencers and competitors is really valuable. You can go a long way with chat, email, blogs and forums. You can get a lot further with a pint of beer and a comfy pub.

Leiden is nice

Leiden is _really_ nice.

Victory of the commons means victory for all

Yoast gave the final talk of WordCamp, talking about the victory of the commons – or how to avoid the tragedy of the commons. He talked about the importance of looking after the commons – of contributing and using the resource wisely, but also of the importance of using it for individual benefit. He talked about the optimal situation being when every individual does what’s best for themselves, and the group – the need to balance contributing to and profiting from WordPress.

Some find it easy to use WordPress for their own benefit without contributing, others love contributing but find it much harder to ask to be paid for their time, energy and ideas. Both are dangerous for the commons – only by contributing and profiting in balance will the community achieve a sustainable and resilient equilibrium.

Wifi is important

If you’re running a tech event, stress-test the WiFi first. The WordCamp Europe organisers did an amazing job of organising but the WiFi let the event down as so often happens at tech events. I feel like the event and contributor day would have been even more valuable with effective internet connections.

So what does this mean for Pragmatic?

  1. We’re even more positive about the future of WordPress and the future of Pragmatic. We’re going to become a world-class agency and to ride the WordPress wave.
  2. We’re going to contribute more to WordPress as part of our normal business strategy.
  3. We’re going to go to more WordCamps and I aim to talk at one soon.
  4. We’re going to try to put on a WordCamp in Brighton next year.

See you at WordCamp London.

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