This past weekend we had a wonderful time in St. Louis, MO for WordCamp US 2019. We came, we saw, we ate, we survived! This WordCamp US, we had a large group of iThemes employees attend as well as Liquid Web employees. Let’s dig into the weekend.

During the weekend, we spent a decent amount of time in or around the Liquid Web booth. It was good to meet customers, hear what they were looking for and to meet with some old friends.

What We Heard

Several of us had conversations with our iThemes customers. For those who sought us out, thank you! We appreciate feedback and an opportunity to chat with you. Matt was even lucky enough to meet a customer whose daughter graduated with him from high school!

Timothy had a chance to work on fixing a customer’s issue where iThemes Security Pro was blocking GiveWP from generating a PDF invoice. It also gave us a chance to help her keep her plugins updated (she was running a very old version!).

A common theme I heard around the conference seemed to be how grateful our customers are of iThemes and the products and services we offer. There were some quick chats around our new Sync Pro plans and even our Web Designer’s Toolkit.

What We Saw

A unique opportunity at WordCamp US is that we get to see a lot of plugin and theme developers all in one place. This provided us the ability to see what others were doing.

It is great to see a year post-Gutenberg, so many plugin developers are embracing it. Some are going really deep, providing new and interesting ways to think about how they can incorporate their older plugins to take advantage of new UI enhancements Gutenberg provides content producers.

There were two plugin companies you should check out that are doing some pretty interesting things with the Block Editor (Gutenberg):

  • KadenceWP – KadenceWP is a plugin company that builds plugins and themes. They have recently started to re-evaluate their approach to how they use shortcodes and blocks. Instead of making their shortcodes work as blocks, they rebuilt the plugins with Blocks in mind. This creates a much better experience for the content creator and I have to say, they do a phenomenal job. Their themes look amazing as well!

  • Qubely – Qubely is designed to be a visual Gutenberg block toolkit. If you are looking to create beautifully designed sites with Gutenberg, check out Qubely. Their idea of starter packs is a pretty interesting take at how to approach templates and themes.

State of the Word Recap

As has been the case since the inaugural WordCamp US, on Saturday afternoon, Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of WordPress, delivered the 2019 State of the Word. This talk provides the WordPress community an idea of what is on the horizon for the next year for the platform.

WordCamp US 2019 was made possible by 47 organizers, 122 volunteers and 90 speakers. This event is an enormous amount of work done by just a small percentage of people that make up the WordPress community. Not to mention the generous sponsors (which Liquid Web, our parent company was one) that contributed.


This year’s State of the Word started with a premier of Open: The Community Code, which is a film about the open source WordPress community. Open is a look into the power of the people that run the CMS. And it set the tone for the rest of the talk.

There were more than 5,000 WordCamp events including new events from the do_action charity hackathon community. It was also reported that next year’s WordCamp US will be during the workweek, which I am thankful for as an avid WordCamp speaker/attendee. There were 141 WordCamps and 17 KidsCamps that happened in 2019.


It’s been a year since Gutenberg was released so it made sense that Matt would highlight all that has been accomplished and what is coming down the pipe. Of course it wouldn’t be a Gutenberg talk without talking about it negatively. Mullenweg started reminiscing about the negative reviews Gutenberg received after it was merged into Core last December.

I understand why we got a lot of this feedback but we got through it together.” Mullenweg said. Since that release, there were more than 20 new releases since 5.0 and the number of Gutenberg contributors has grown from 200 to 480. Probably the biggest milestone reached this year was 1,122 people contributing to WordPress, which is the most we’ve had in a single release.

A couple of highlights on Gutenberg improvements are:

  • The average seconds to load has been cut in half. The time to type has also been reduced from 170ms to 53ms.
  • Gutenberg now has a smoother scrolling motion.
  • Guternberg is fully mobile compatible and many of the core blocks are fully integrated.
  • Block previews allow you to see what blocks may insert looks likes and also allows you to see more detailed information about the block.

Bonus: Gutenberg even powered the State of the Word presentation this year. it now has a WordPress plugin repo.

Getting Involved

Matt did highlight several ways that you can get involved with WordPress:

  • Check out the Design Experiments feature plugin, a new plugin to help test UI experiments.
  • Using and Installing the Gutenberg plugin, that is now the feature plugin to test new features of Gutenberg before they are released into Core.
  • Taking part in contributor days at any WordCamps you attend.
  • Building WordPress blocks.
  • Teaching others in the community.
  • Take part in the annual survey.

Core Release

WordPress 5.3 will be released on November 12th and includes more than 150 block editor improvements. We’re also going to be getting a new default theme, Twenty Twenty theme.

An interesting feature in this release will be the introduction of the administrator email field. This will allow WordPress to automatically email every 6 or so months to send an email verification to help ensure you are keeping WordPress up to date

The minimum version of PHP is moving to 5.6.20 and more than 80% of WordPress sites are already running on PHP7 or higher. (Thank you hosts!)

Want some commentary on the State of the Word? Check out this video where Jason Tucker and Bridget Willard spend almost 2 hours discussing it.

Wrapping up

WordCamp US 2019 was an amazing time to interact with customers and friends and even meet new ones. We were able to do so much in the short time we were there! If you attended WordCamp US, let us know in the comments what were some of your favorite moments of camp!

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