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The Power of WordPress: My Experience at WordCamp Rochester 2023

On the WordCamp Central webpage, which serves as the main hub for worldwide WordCamp events, the WordCamp organizers proudly state that “WordCamps are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users like you.”

Before attending WordCamp Rochester, I wouldn’t have understood what this group was talking about. I also couldn’t imagine how something with such a large presence in many places around the world claims to be just a casual hangout. But after attending this year’s event, I can confidently say they nailed their promise.

It’s a promise perfected over the years, with the first WordCamp event taking place in San Francisco in 2006. Since then, they have expanded to 394 cities across 65 countries and organized over 1,100 WordCamps. It’s safe to say that they know what they’re doing.

ITX is dedicated to thriving together, within our team and our communities. From local conferences to small meetups, we understand the benefit that comes from collaboration. We delivered on this promise as proud sponsors of WordCamp Rochester 2023.

I’m always searching for similar opportunities to learn alongside my developer peers. Our team talks daily about the nuances of our jobs, but with our remote workforce it’s not as easy to meet up with my co-workers at a coffee shop to bounce ideas off each other in person. It was an easy decision to take the chance to talk to new individuals and share a lot about my job.

A Strong Community in Rochester

On September 30, I showed up at the Rochester School of the Arts, eager to see what would happen. The environment was distinct from our previous ITX Product + Design Conferences, which draw up to 300 guests, or the smaller Upstate Meetups that my colleagues on the Innovation and UX Design teams arrange. It turned out to be the best of both of those worlds.

The WordPress community is a lot more tightknit than I originally thought. People came from all over the country (and the world!) to attend the event here in Rochester. In addition to traveling to celebrate and learn about WordPress, I took note of the friendships fostered through this community – everyone seemed to know everyone else. A friendly and energetic atmosphere that contrasted the stuffy and boring conferences frequently portrayed in media.

I made great connections with other WordPress professionals. It didn’t matter that it was my first time meeting these people or my first time at a WordCamp. I bonded with others through our mutual appreciation of WordPress. These connections will be easy to cultivate as time goes on.

Deep Appreciation for WordPress

From healthcare institutions to publicly accessible personal blogs, many have discovered WordPress to be a useful platform for building their websites. Choosing topics to address and finding WordPress thought leaders to speak was likely a challenge for the conference organizers. But the variety of topics was fantastic. I learned how to harness the many tools open to WordPress users through the lens of professionals outside of ITX.

Speakers were actively conversing and participating in other talks besides their own. From Jonathan Desrosiers, I learned exactly how WordPress’s “pluggable” functions work in terms of hooks and filters for manipulating core functionality. After his session, I had the chance to speak with him about the work we’re doing at ITX with WordPress. He was so excited to hear about it, and it was easy to match his enthusiasm!

One of the speakers that stood out to me was Robbie Adair, a proficient WordPress specialist with over 25 years of experience creating media and web solutions for her clients. Her presentation, titled “Using AI To Speed Up Your WordPress Builds”, shared different ways developers can use Artificial Intelligence in WordPress. My approach to working with AI aligns with others in our industry, as I prefer to have a clear understanding of how a tool will enhance my work and support my objectives. I was curious how it can be used to spruce up builds for our clients.

Robbie totally delivered on her presentation! She provided various ways we can incorporate AI platforms into mockup work. When we present new features to clients in code demonstrations, we often show them the bare bones of the feature. This is not as detailed as the final product, and it’s difficult for our clients to visualize how they will use the feature we are providing.

By using AI, Robbie explained how we can provide mock images and content in our features that are tailored to our clients. This provides a much clearer look as to what their finished product will look like, adding to the excitement in a delivery update.

The Best Part of WordCamp Rochester

I was almost sad to see WordCamp Rochester end, but I was itching to get behind my keyboard and work through some of the new ideas shared. Having these opportunities to learn and expand my skills cannot be overstated. I can only wait for the next event that brings a similar level of collaboration and community that WordCamp Rochester delivered on.

And the end, if I had to choose one of the best things about WordCamp, it would easily be the people I met. It sounds corny, but it was refreshing to talk shop in person. It’s a different level of comradery from working with a remote team. Amongst the attendees and speakers at WordCamp, we share the same passion of using technology to make things better and learning how to leverage these tools to create a better, smarter tomorrow.

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Claire Beringer is a Frontend Developer for ITX. She uses her knowledge in various programming languages to make meaningful contributions to projects for our diverse clientele. Claire earned her Computer Science degree from Allegheny College located in Meadville, PA.

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