In today’s extremely competitive and saturated digital environment, the stories you tell are the things that set you apart.
At WP Engine, we’re in the business of helping our customers tell better stories through incredible digital experiences. But to ensure we’re doing everything we can to help our customers grow, it’s also important for us to pause, reflect, and take stock of our own story, as well as the core values that underpin it.
All Hands offers the opportunity to do just that, as the bi-annual, companywide event focuses on internalizing where we’ve been over the past six months, and where we have our sights set for the future.
At All Hands Winter 2022, which took place last week as an all-virtual event for employees around the world, the headline story was WP Engine’s continued growth as the unified self-serve platform of choice for WordPress builders, designers, brands, and agencies of all sizes.
In this year’s All Hands keynote, WP Engine CEO Heather Brunner delivered a message of innovation and continued growth to more than 1,100 employees across the globe.
To tell our story, a look to the past helped set the stage for where we are now: a multi-product WordPress company that has optimized the WordPress experience from start to finish.
Our growing set of developer tools includes Local, the #1 local WordPress development tool; themes and frameworks such as Genesis and Frost; and beloved plugins like Advanced Custom Fields (ACF), WP Migrate, WP Offload Media, WP Offload SES, and Better Search Replace.
We’re able to invest in the future of these tools for the entire WordPress community while making it easier for our customers to take advantage of these tools to create highly-performant WordPress sites.
“Together, living our core values, we’re delivering amazing products, amazing innovations, and amazing service to our customers every day,” Brunner said.
“Today at WP Engine, we have such an incredible arsenal of products that help our customers design, build, manage, and grow with us.”
By investing in the developer assets WordPress users already love, and continuing to add to and optimize them, we can do our part to ensure the WordPress community keeps thriving.
WP Engine is a long-time partner of the Webby Awards. We support their efforts through sponsorship of the annual awards show, facilitating Crafted with Code (a project that shares a behind-the-scenes look at the process of building Webby-nominated sites), and powering the Webby Talks tour, during which the Webby team visits advertising, media, and technology companies to share insights into the emerging trends online.
This year’s Webby Talk is titled Never Niche Enough, and it’s an impressive deep dive into the ways in which Gen Z is reshaping the ways we connect online. The Webby Awards Managing Director Ciel VanderVeen joined us virtually to share observations gleaned from a survey of more than 3,000 Gen Z consumers about their habits and interests online.
After three months of compiling data, Webby experts found that Gen Z is disrupting the internet monoculture in favor of smaller, more unique and authentic experiences. Where Millennials were deemed the “me generation” online, using social media to showcase personal experiences and achievements, Gen Z is opting for a “we generation” mentality, creating connection and inclusive communities through shared interests and hobbies.
“We started seeing these really interesting new communities popping up, and it seemed like Gen Z was leading some of that charge,” said VanderVeen. “We noticed they’re flocking to these online communities, but not just any communities—they’re going niche. There are these online spaces that are hitting the sweet spot between who [members of Gen Z] are and what they love.”
VanderVeen closed her talk by reiterating that brands and businesses can lean into this new, niche future of the web by taking the time to learn about the audience they hope to target before marketing to them. Gaining a deeper understanding of your audience and their motivations is vital to attaining buy-in from younger generations, and appealing to both their radical individualism and emphasis on inclusivity is the only way to remain relevant for the long haul.
See how the team at Europe’s largest fintech company, 11Onze, worked with WP Engine Agency Partner WONDR to build an authentic Webby Award-winning digital experience—La Plaça. Built on the pillars of community, education, and trust, the personal social network (PSN) and learning portal empowers younger generations like Gen Z with financial tools and knowledge.
In this year’s All Hands breakout session, WP Engine Manager of Developer Relations Kellen Mace spoke about the evolution of WP Engine’s headless WordPress platform, Atlas. What began as a complete platform for headless WordPress has evolved into a comprehensive collection of headless WordPress tools, many of which are open source and available to anyone who wants to build headless sites with WordPress.
The Atlas ecosystem reduces friction for headless builders, offering fine grain control over the development experience as they navigate the ins and outs of headless architecture. The full list of Atlas tools and frameworks includes multiple pieces which, Mace explained, make headless WordPress development more accessible right out of the box for builders experimenting with this technology.
WPGraphQL is the free, open source plugin that turns any WordPress site into a GraphQL server, and the recently released WPGraphQL Smart Cache plugin creates a new way to cache commonly run queries to ensure users have lightning fast experiences.
While it can be used for traditional or headless WordPress sites, Advanced Custom Fields is the most popular custom fields plugin for WordPress, and makes it easy for builders to implement any necessary custom fields on their headless sites. Additionally, Local’s headless add-on (available in the Add-ons library) makes local development for headless sites a snap.
And finally, the Atlas Search plugin provides advanced search capabilities on all headless sites built with Atlas.
When combined, these tools make headless WordPress development faster, easier, and more powerful. So much so, in fact, that Mace was able to spin up a demo site in the last 10 minutes of his presentation!
WordPress continues to evolve thanks to its vibrant community of dedicated contributors. In his closing All Hands session, WP Engine Developer Advocate Nick Diego made this fact abundantly clear.
“WordPress will decline or stagnate without active community contributors,” he said. “WordPress is built and maintained by community members, and if we have a voice in those discussions, we can help direct the way that WordPress is built.”
Diego began his session with an overview of how much WordPress core has modernized within the last year alone. 2022 opened with the release of version 5.9 in January. This release brought the Site Editor to the fore, and it fundamentally shifted the way builders and designers can create and edit their sites.
Version 6.0 came around in May, and brought with it major improvements to users’ editing capabilities, including the ability to manage page and post template types. Most importantly, new content locking capabilities allow site admins to keep certain aspects under lock and key, preventing other site editors from unintentionally breaking important site features.
In November, version 6.1 came to be, thanks in no small part to the contributions of WP Engine employees. In fact, two of the 10 style variations available for the default theme in version 6.1 (Twenty Twenty-Three) were designed by WP Engine employees!
To fulfill the mission of WordPress and truly democratize publishing, WordPress core will continue full speed ahead with block editing, making it easier than ever to build beautiful, powerful sites on WordPress. And to that end, WP Engine is committed to providing even more contributor hours in 2023, putting direct time and effort into improving WordPress core for the entire community.
Looking forward, WordPress will continue to emphasize the importance of design—after all, Design Matters!—and WP Engine is Committed to Give Back to the WordPress community that has fueled our success.
Winter All Hands 2022 told the story of a company that’s quickly becoming the unified WordPress platform of choice for builders worldwide. With our core values top of mind and an amazing team behind us, the next chapter looks bright for WP Engine.