From the current state of the WordPress Economy to the exciting future of Headless WordPress, innovation, ingenuity, and inspiration were on display at WP Engine’s signature event, Summit/2021, which took place on June 24.
With thousands of attendees from all over the world, it was WP Engine’s most-attended event to date, and the agenda was chock-full of informative sessions covering everything from security and performance to agency growth and eCommerce integrations.
The Power of WordPress
SVP and GM, Enterprise for WP Engine Lisa Box provided some opening remarks to welcome everyone to the fifth annual Summit. Then WP Engine Chairwoman and CEO Heather Brunner kicked things off with a look at the power of the WordPress Economy—a driving force within the larger digital economy, comprised of the makers, builders, and entrepreneurs who are leading the way amid rapid digital acceleration.
“We’re all part of a thriving, dynamic, global community that is the power of WordPress. And WordPress is much more than technology and tools, it is really the power of the people. What’s truly a force multiplier are the people of WordPress.”Heather Brunner
From the rapid growth of WordPress, which is now used by more than 40% of all websites, to the massive ecosystem of plugin, theme and hosting providers, to the hundreds of dedicated contributors to WordPress Core, Heather outlined WP Engine’s recently-released research on the global WordPress Economy, which is estimated to reach $636 billion by the end of 2021.
A Customer-Inspired Roadmap
Following Heather’s presentation, WP Engine COO Jason Teichman, along with VP of SMB Growth, David Vogelpohl and VP of Enterprise Marketing Monica Cravotta, presented a product showcase highlighting WP Engine’s latest customer-inspired innovations.
Jason took time to outline one of the largest challenges we face as a provider for WordPress innovation, and that’s the vast array of organizations we serve. From large enterprises like Volvo and FindLaw to SMBs like Tacodeli and the MS International Federation to our agency partners large and small, we create powerful solutions and build relationships with our partners that allow us to continue innovating the WordPress platform in ways that meet their needs.
For SMBs and smaller agencies, our Foundation and Flywheel product lines are making waves as the easy-to-use, intuitive web platforms growing organizations can use to thrive online. For enterprises and larger agencies, Premier and our new Headless WordPress platform, Atlas, are the best tools to power larger sites.
From there, Jason handed the mic to David and Monica who dove into the specifics of those product lines and how they’re being used successfully all across the globe.
David spoke about recent updates to Foundation that help boost speed and user experience, including Smart Plugin Manager that’s optimized for WooCommerce, a new caching dashboard that allows you to clear caches anywhere on your site from one convenient dashboard.
For Flywheel, the Growth Suite dashboard provides an all-in-one platform that can create branded client reports, a branded client portal, automated recurring and one-time billing, and more. Plus, he was able to announce that WP Engine is releasing Local Pro, previously a paid service, for free to all WordPress users!
Monica then took the digital stage to talk about enterprise-focused product lines, and Premier was first on-deck. Scalable solutions are a requirement for larger organizations, and Premier is built for scalability, performance, security, and quality customer experiences. She covered new updates to Premier that help detect and disrupt DDOS attacks at the edge of the infrastructure network, keeping large sites better protected as well as the importance of our award-winning customer experience team.
Finally, Monica outlined the newest in our suite of products, Atlas, which enables secure, scalable headless websites for enterprises. Headless is the future of the internet, and 90% of enterprises who are not currently using headless have stated they plan to look into it within the year.
By decoupling the front and back ends of your site with Atlas, you can give both developers and content creators access to the tools they love, create dramatic performance gains, and more easily publish your content across multiple channels.
Fit for the Future
Continuing the discussion around product innovation and Headless WordPress, WP Engine Founder and CTO Jason Cohen led the next session, which focused on the future of the web and the rapid changes to the digital ecosystem brands and agencies must navigate to stay ahead of the competition.
Detailing WP Engine’s recent innovations built to address these challenges, Jason spoke about our suite of Genesis Themes, which have been used to create more than 1 million websites, and Local, a local development platform that allows developers, designers, and marketers to collaboratively build sites faster.
He also noted WP Engine’s recently launched eCommerce solution and its Instant Store Search feature, which provides an incredibly fast product search experience, including auto-suggest as you type. Stores that enable Instant Store Search see an 18% lift in conversion rate.
“With relentless product innovation from WP Engine your company can embrace the complexity of change and even use it to grow and to thrive,” Jason said.
Using WordPress to manage content while tapping into the tools listed above is part of being fit for the future, but as speed, performance and a site’s overall user experience become increasingly important (Core Web Vitals are a testament to this), headless approaches are also soaring in popularity.
Finally, as site owners increasingly need to adapt to specific users, their locations, and the devices they prefer to use, Jason also announced the alpha launch of Atlas Content Engine, which allows headless sites to pull content 10x faster, opening the door to deeper personalization, and integration with analytics.
For more detail on all of the above, check out the entire session here.
In a powerful and insightful final keynote address, author and activist Reshma Saujani presented a look into the future of the digital landscape by explaining how the desire for perfection is a hindrance, not a help, in the quest for personal and professional development.
Speaking from her experience as the Founder of Girls Who Code, an author of a best-selling novel, and an activist for women’s equality globally, she spoke about the importance of bravery before perfection and how fear is the greatest obstacle to innovation.
“It’s this idea of perfection or bust,” Reshma said. “Somewhere along the line, you learned how to delete the code of your life.”
“What I mean by that is somewhere along the line, you learned how to give up before you tried. So I wrote ‘Brave Not Perfect’ to understand is that true? Do we socialize our daughters to be perfect and our boys to be brave? And if it is true, how does it happen? When does it happen? And most importantly, can we unlearn that? And if we unlock ourselves for bravery, what could the world look like?”
She ended her discussion with Ramadass Prabhakar, SVP Global Engineering at WP Engine with a bravery challenge for everyone in attendance: What is a dream that you have, just one thing you really want for yourself? She then encouraged us, this weekend, to just take one step toward realizing that dream. Because sometimes, just going for it is the secret to success.
Thank you to all the sponsors who made Summit/2021 our most attended event ever! We look forward to partnering with all of you again in the future as we continue to build the WordPress community together.