WP Engine Summit – 2018 Review


WP Engine Summit “Breakthrough” 2018 was one of the best one-day conferences they have put on(ok, it WPE Summit had grown and really spans 3 days now, but who’s counting). It is always well organized. And at a conference, it’s the little things that really do matter: good food, enough breaks, lots of outlets, and well thought out traffic flow. They did a great job in all these areas. The environment allows you to enjoy the education, rather than a quest to conquer an education.

The Summit aims to bring WordPress people together to understand the advantages of the platform as well as hear how WP Engine is a great backbone for small to enterprise level WordPress hosting and services. We use both, so it is a great event to come and agree with obvious intelligent people. As always, Founder Jason Cohen does a great job of explaining why so many companies choose WordPress as the web platform. Currently, about 31% of websites run on WordPress! Many enterprises are using because it is quick to MVP vs more complicated platforms such as Adobe Experience Manager.


One of our favorite talks was by Steven Moy of R/GA. He ran through a case study of the Jordan(Nike) brand. In it, he told not only of the great success they had but also the learning lessons along the way. I appreciated the stories on both sides. He was also very good at naturally using terms like team, them, us, we, group, etc. I was nice to hear a man be humble about a project rather than use the stage to brag.  Again, at some conferences egos can run larger than the content.

My key takeaway was the phrase he used illustrating that the mentality of marketers should shift from “client” to “member”.  With our always-on brands and thousands of signals, it becomes important to define the tribe, bring consistent value in many forms, and create ways for them to engage. I believe this is an accurate mental transformation to take in regards to how our culture is changing. The world loves to say “Team X” or “Team Y” and in all become as polarizing and extreme in position. The more we associate with one, and clearly turn our backs on the others, means we, as marketers, should also create our own cliques. Acquiring clients one at a time, that may be here today and leave tomorrow, is not as successful as defining the tribe and rallying together.

There is more to ponder here, and for that, we are very thankful to Mr. Moy for providing a good presentation to challenge us all. He also has the coolest shoes!


WP Engine exhibited a room called the Ideas Lab. It is a collection of fun toys, ideas, and musings on technology. Ryan Hoover and Chris Garret from WPEngine created analog interactive displays that bridged the digital to controlling and affecting websites. They used the popular Raspberry Pi and Arduino along with various sensors to make this happen. One of Ryan’s magical boxes even had a breathalyzer that could send a webpage into “drunk mode…True Story! Another hackathon internally created an arcade looking screen that overlaid the game Asteroids onto a browser so you could shoot the elements on the current webpage. (We’d like to see Missile Command with a trackball next year please!). While these interactive displays were fun, they also show that WordPress can go beyond just a website that lives in the cloud, you can build websites that interact with the analog world.


David Vogelpohl led a discussion on “Headless WordPress”. No that is not a Halloween Theme for WordPress! With headless WordPress, you can combine the WP backend with a Javascript frontend just as React.

And as much as we learned and were challenged in our own theories, our co-Founder Rich Plakas probably uncovered the greatest that WPESummit had to offer this week.


We were happy to run into some of our favorite WordPress people, such as Heather J. Brunner(WPEngine), Shawn Hesketh(WP101), Jason Cohen(WPEngine), David Vogelpohl and Bill Erickson.

Overall the Summit was a very good experience and would highly recommend someone to go if they haven’t yet.