As so much activity has moved online over the past few months, the digital experience and the human experience have truly overlapped.  

From retail to restaurants, eCommerce has kept businesses up and running. From universities to yoga studios, online courses are now the best way to keep people engaged. Every organization, across every industry, has had to adapt to a new digital reality, and in many cases, their website has become the most important piece of real estate they own. 

This shift to a digital-first economy was the focal point for WP Engine’s fifth annual conference, Summit/2020, which kicked off yesterday as a completely virtual event for attendees from around the world. The daylong event, which featured live presentations and breakout sessions from WP Engine’s senior leadership as well as leading entrepreneurs and digital innovators, will soon be made available on-demand. 

“Like never before, the website is the front door for every business,” said WP Engine CEO Heather Brunner, whose keynote address opened the summit. “Consumer spend is changing, and all businesses, across every industry and regardless of size, must adapt and engage in new ways.” 

As the WordPress technology company that powers more than a million digital experiences on our platform, Heather offered some insight into how we’re seeing our own customers and partners succeed.

“We are witnessing and supporting massive changes in the way our customers’ digital experiences are being used. Digital is the front door, but it’s also the new checkout line. In March, H-E-B saw a 20X spike in traffic and online orders, accelerating the adoption of curbside pickup,” she said, noting the efforts of the renowned Texas grocery chain. 

She also pointed to Stanford University, which needed a quick way to pivot its Welcome Weekend for accepted students to an online format, and did so by offering virtual tours of campus.  

“By leveraging the scale and integration of WordPress and WP Engine they were able to reach 50% more prospective students than if the event had been held on campus, keeping enrollment steady with last year.”

Citing a third example, Heather highlighted the Webbys, the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet, which had to pivot its always-anticipated live event to an online, virtual format. 

“The Webbys leaned into what makes digital so powerful,” Heather said, “and in two months, they took a live awards show and adapted it to a new reality, which generated 11 million page views!” 

The presentation also traced the history of WordPress, which was launched in 2003, as well as the trajectory of WP Engine, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in May.

“Over that time, we’ve grown alongside WordPress while influencing its market adoption, its viability in the enterprise, and it’s resiliency as the way to drive faster time to market and cost efficiencies for enterprises, enabling companies of all sizes to compete digitally,” she said. 

“Today, WordPress powers 37% of the web with more than more than 500 new sites built daily, and we’re proud to power more of the top 10 million WordPress sites than any other platform in the world.”

Heather also noted that while WP Engine provides service and support for WordPress, it’s the platform we use to fuel our own business. From our eCommerce efforts to content publications: our Blog, Torque (WordPress), Velocitize (digital marketing), and everything in between, WP Engine is built on WordPress, which has been a huge factor in our overall success.  

“Our platform powers all of our interactions with customers as they discover and purchase our products,” she said. “It also enables our eCommerce and marketing efforts and allows us to be storytellers.” 

Pointing to the recently released documentary make|SHIFT, which was produced by WP Engine, Heather noted that working alongside the creative technologists who use WordPress had even pushed us to become filmmakers. 

“In addition to being a technology company, we’re a media company, we’re filmmakers, we created make|SHIFT to highlight the incredible evolution of the advertising world and the agencies and creatives who have made that happen.”  

Going beyond WP Engine’s creative efforts, Heather also focused on our core values, which, she noted, have also played a huge role in the company’s success. 

“Our core values are the operating system of WP Engine, they guide everything we do, from the way we treat our employees to the way we lead in the WordPress community as well as the communities where we live and serve,’ she said. 

“We’re committed to providing an incredible environment for our employees, and we know that they take that positive energy and bring it back to our customers.” 

A big part of that environment, she added, comes from WP Engine’s corporate responsibility program Engine for Good, which focuses on supporting the open source and WordPress communities, fostering diversity and transparency inside and outside the workplace, and the company’s employee-led efforts to give back to the communities where they live and work.  

“The need for these efforts are amplified by what’s happening in today’s current events,“ Heather said. “It’s time for us all to come together—there’s only one race, the Human Race—and when we do, it will allow more people to thrive across all spectrums.”

Informing attendees that WP Engine employees had recently donated more than $24,000 towards Covid-19 relief efforts, Heather announced that WP Engine would also be taking all sponsorship fees from the day’s event and matching that sum to provide $115,000 in support of Covid-19 relief.   

In closing, Heather acknowledged the convergence of human and digital experiences but called out the need to distinguish both. 

“The human experience is the digital experience, more now than ever before,” she said. “Our challenge to you is to bring your humanity into your digital experience. How do you showcase what you stand for, your people, your passion for your products? That’s what we should be thinking about, that’s our challenge in digital, and we’re standing ready to help YOU do the same.” 

Carpe Diem! Thank you for helping us make this summit another incredible event, virtual or not. All summit sessions will be made available on-demand soon—stay tuned!