WordCamps are community organized conferences focused on WordPress. I am part of the WordCamp San Diego organizing team and one of my tasks was to help design and develop the website. During my design and development process I reviewed many WordCamp websites and found some pretty great looking sites.
Have you noticed how a lot of WordCamp websites look a lot like each other? That’s because nearly all WordCamp sites are built from only CSS edits to one of the default WordPress themes. That means you can’t use any fancy sliders, your favorite mapping plugin, or custom calendars. You have to use only the plugins that the WordCamp multisite makes available to all it’s child sites. While many of these are good in quality, you are limited in choice. The only tool in your shed is a stylesheet which you use to overwrite the default styles of whichever default theme you choose.
Keeping this in mind, building a WordCamp website that stands out above the crowd can be pretty difficult. You have to get really creative with styles. WordCamp Planning has the complete details about building your WordCamp website. On that site they provide organizers with a lot of good information about how to get their sites off to a good start. You will see that many organizers around the world have created some really great looking WordCamp websites.
About the Showcase
The following WordCamp websites are the ones that stood out to me by having unique functionality and/or design. Specifically I am judging on:
- How much does the site NOT look like a default WordPress theme (twenty*)
- Are the expected WordCamp sections cleanly laid out (schedule, speakers, location, attendees)
- Are the sponsors’ logos treated with care?
- Logo and color palette
- Fonts choices
- Overall theme of the conference
- Unique header, footer and sidebar
- Unique animations and hover effects
- Is the site translated/accessible?
- Is it responsive?
I’m am NOT judging based on who the speakers are, where the location is at, or the overall WordCamp quality. Every WordCamp I have been to has been great, regardless of how their website looks. That being said, let’s get on to showcasing the best looking WordCamp websites of 2014:
Brad Williams of WebDevStudios and his fellow organizers have for a long time been holding some of the best WordCamps in the USA. His team goes the extra mile to bring true value to their Camps’ attendees. Their website (using Twenty Fourteen) is no exception. The logo make playful use of the iconic “LOVE” statue and they have spent extra time adding unique backgrounds of the city across the site’s interior pages. Personally, I would like to see more cheese steaks.
Providence may be in a tiny state, but their WordPress Community is anything but small. The WordCamp website (Twenty Fourteen) has a large and prominent header featured throughout the site. Arguably, this is the best feature of the site. The homepage has main links to the location, after party, and schedule – useful for many new camp attendees. The use of ocean and nautical elements is a cool theme that I feel represents the city well.
Move over Microsoft, Seattle is WordPress territory! WordCamp Seattle has made the WordPress community proud. Their website (based on Twenty Twelve) is professional, makes a strong impression, and is content rich. The sidebar has a nice textured background and the main content container is positioned nicely over the main header image. I also like the logo with the WordPress icon within a cog.
The Netherlands’ WordCamp website struck me as having a very cool logo and main navigation. I couldn’t immediately tell what theme they were using on their site (Twenty Twelve by the way). This is a good thing. When I think of the Netherlands I don’t immediately think of beaches, but the full width and height background image makes me feel like I’ve been missing something. It’s cool they also incorporated the hashtag #WCNL in the header to promote social interaction.
Brazil and South America as a whole have a well-established WordPress community. Belo Horizonte’s website (Twenty Thirteen) proves that they also have the chops to design and develop a very nice WordCamp website. Standout features of this WordCamp website include the main header image which fades into white and has opaque elements overlayed. The interior pages are nicely styled with attention to detail. For instance, the speakers page has avatars that are circular. A small touch that goes a long way.
WordCamp Austin has taken Twenty Fourteen and made it their own. I know this was not an easy endeavour. The organizers have successfully combined a unique header image, logo, navigation, and call-to-action area all above the fold to make an impactful first impression on their users. Clicking and scrolling through the site you will notice that the content is well curated and organized. I also like how the header becomes sticky when scrolling down.
Another stunning header design out of Japan. This time it’s for WordCamp Kansai using Twenty Thirteen. Despite not being able to read much on the site, I really enjoyed how this site was built. They also took the time to make a separate interior page header. Attention to detail always scores extra points with me.
Some serious WordPress folks are known to dwell in Los Angeles. It’s only right that they have a great looking WordCamp website. Sure we’ve seen plenty of headers with city skylines, but this one is different. It has the iconic SoCal palm trees, a beautiful sunset, and Greg Douglas designed WCLA 14′ logo.
Examining the homepage you will see the circle icons enlarge on hover and there’s a subtle background gradient coupled with the navigation drop shadow which prevents the design from falling flat (get it?). The header also reduces in height on the interior pages, a nice touch. Like WordCamp Kansai, they have a separate interior page header which makes a much nicer viewing experience.
Ryan Cowles and Joe Chellman developed the site from Greg Douglas’ design. I believe they are using _s to develop this site. Looking back, I should have used this to develop the WordCamp San Diego 2015 site. I would like to see more Camps using _s and more in the future.
Do you like cows and WordPress? I heard WordCamp Milwaukee 2014 had some Camp attendees actually show up dressed as cows. Perhaps they were inspired by the website? It’s a very nice site built off Twenty Fourteen. The homepage is especially cool with the clouds animating in the header and the differently textured hills. There are also some neat hover effects in addition to the animations. For instance, when you scroll down and view the informative links section:
The hover animation is great! Pure CSS baby. The icon animates as well as the color. Scrolling along further you see other sections that stand out including a fixed cow background and Google map with a WordPress marker indicating the WordCamp’s location. Here’s the cow section:
Overall, this site was very fun to click through and the effort that went into it stood out. I’m sure the actual Camp was just as good!
WordPress is thriving in Japan. Tokyo’s WordCamp 2014 website is the best I have seen in all of 2014 (and it’s based on Twenty Fourteen). Upon visiting the site, immediately you see a well designed header and then unexpectedly a WordPress mascot starts levitating into view. Did you know that Japan has their own WordPress mascot? It’s true! His name is “Wapuu” and he’s actually pretty popular. Check out his website and plugins. He makes a great addition to Tokyo’s 2014 WordCamp site. It’s not just the header that shines for this site. The sidebar has uniquely designed elements, the footer has a nice flat skyline (which inspired me for WCSD 2015’s site) and did I mention the entire site is translated into English? The effort that went into the website for this WordCamp is more than noticeable. Everything from the top down looks original with close attention to detail. Even the footer:
Is that Wapuu I see in the skyline protecting the city? How kawaii. Tokyo is a city known for being on the cutting edge of technology and the WordPress community there is represented well by this website.
What to Expect in 2015
All these great examples influenced how I built this years WordCamp San Diego website. It’s scheduled for March 28-29, 2015. Tickets are currently sold out, but keep your eye out for any of our sponsors (WordImpress included) doing some sort of WordCamp ticket giveaway.
WordPress is more popular than ever. WordCamps are thriving alongside the platform and we are seeing new WordCamps sprouting out all over the globe. WordCamp Maui is one such camp that comes to mind (they have a great website too). Hopefully soon WordCamp Central will provide more possibilities for organizers who are tasked with building out the website. This would allow the community to really create sites that are more valuable to our attendees and keep up with all the other non-WordPress sanctioned conferences. Take a look at the site’s of LoopConf and Prestige Conference. Hopefully one day, us in the WordCamp organizing community will be able to create sites at this caliber.