Challenge: uncertain value

WooCommerce is an online platform with an active community. Alongside community-led meetups, the team ran a semi-annual flagship conference.

While the conference felt like a meaningful experience, the leadership team questioned the value for the platform, and the impact for attendees.

Solution: data, data, data

I took the helm for WooConf 2017, with two main goals: improve attendee experience and increase value for WooCommerce.

Improving the attendee experience

Focus on what the data says we do well: Previous iterations of WooConf included a wide range of topics all around eCommerce, and aimed to serve both the developer and store owner audiences. From analytics around other content, I had a hypothesis that more niche, WooCommerce-specific content would have higher value for our audience, and that focusing on the developer audience (who was more invested in WooCommerce) would create a better experience.

Some other actions we took based on existing insights:

  • WooCommerce is community-based, so we used our existing community Slack instance to interact with attendees during the conference
  • WooCommerce is built on WordPress, so we specifically chose a location (Seattle) that had a robust WordPress community
  • Email and discounts were effective marketing channels for us previous, so we primarily utilized those channels to sell tickets

Ask attendees what they want: We didn’t have strong quantitative data from previous events around what attendees wanted. To fill this gap, we included qualitative interviews as part of our planning process. Our speaker coordinator spoke with ~10 target attendees to understand what they’d want from a conference like WooConf. The result was a list of topics and types of speakers we targeted.

From these interviews, we confirmed that speakers were a primary draw for attendees, so we focused on getting big-name, relevant speakers.

Design legend John Maeda on the main stage
Seattle-based SEO expert Rand Fishkin

Increase the value for the platform

Create opportunities to learn more about customers: Because being face-to-face with customers is a rare treat. To take advantage of this opportunity, we set up a customer research lab, where our design team conducted user interviews.

To improve our quantitative data about the event itself, we also used Slack to get attendees to give speaker feedback, and sent both a pre- and post-event survey, both in dedicated emails, with reminders.

Create memorable images, content that can be repackaged: We had two big headlines that we wanted to share: that WooCommerce is a large platform, and that we were opening the marketplace. We used WooConf to highlight those messages.

Todd Wilkens, Head of Woo, giving the opening keynote

We also wanted to highlight products sold by WooCommerce stores, again to show the breadth of WooCommerce. We gave customized Lego mini-figs to all our speakers and staff, made by a WooCommerce store.


WooConf 2017 yielded nearly 10x the amount of individual data points as previous years, proving clear value for the Woo team.

Attendees rated all aspects of the event highly, and were impressed with the big-name speakers:

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