Client Spotlight: Kurator at News Corp Australia

Peek behind the scenes with the WordPress team at News Corp Australia

We have had the pleasure of working with News Corp Australia (NCA) since early 2015. Today they host 21 sites with us, including market leaders News.com.au, Foxsports.com.au, and TheAustralian.com.au.

For NCA, WordPress represents one important application among others, within a complex and powerful systems architecture that predated their migration. They run their own massive content database and API (CAPI) and also use Méthode for print publishing. The smart ways they have integrated their existing components into WordPress as they migrated their flagship publications to it are a testament to their development vision and execution. They also point to one of WordPress’ great strengths. Its flexibility allows enterprise organizations with existing infrastructure to adapt and evolve with WordPress over time, rather than requiring a complete systems overhaul and mass migration all at once.

News Corp Australia Site Production Platform WordPress team
The SPP team at News Corp Australia

Kurator Lite is one of those powerful custom-built tools that NCA uses to bring external resources to authors and editors working in WordPress. After catching a glimpse of Kurator Lite in action, I chatted with Juan Zapata, head of the WordPress group, the Site Production Platform (SPP) team at News Corp Australia, to hear more about its history, how it works, and what’s in the pipeline for the SPP team.

You shared a really cool video that shows how an author or editor in WordPress at News Corp Australia can use Kurator Lite to work with all these different assets and content from all over the company. It looks like a really impressive piece of workflow. Tell me about its history.

Juan Zapata: Before we moved on to WordPress VIP we had two different platforms running. One was called FatWire, which was Oracle-based, for print and digital. The other one is Méthode, for print editions of newspapers. There was a disconnect between digital and print in which a user had to create the categories in both systems to be able to have them running correctly. This gap drove the company to create something to bridge the two.

That’s where the need for Kurator came about, a tool that manages whole sections of content in both. It’s a tool to help editorial tell the story a bit more easily and share it within these 2 worlds. After Kurator the team built Kurator Lite, which is that small panel you see in the video. That allows you to see the sections or the categories that you can assign to multiple stories. Then they embedded that thing into FatWire. And the same functionality was embedded into Méthode.

What year was that?

I started at News Corp Australia in 2015, and I think that project started in 2013.

How many publications and asset sources does Kurator search?

Kurator is basically an interface on our database, which is called CAPI, for Content API. At this stage, it has six million stories, last time I heard, like a month ago. The stories are syndicated across multiple sites, so it is basically a massive search on our database.

Really massive. So there was Kurator and you had versions of it implemented in these two CMS systems, FatWire and Méthode. Tell me about the WordPress implementation.

We decided, ‘okay, editors already know how to use this tool. Editors already are familiar with these interfaces. Let’s also embed it into WordPress, where they are managing digital publications.’ That’s the video that you saw in which you can basically find stories, search by section, drag and drop those assets from an external database, which is not within WordPress. Then WordPress will grab them and import them to be displayed and curated.

How recently was that embed for WordPress made available? When did the team finish that?

That needed to be done ASAP as we implemented WordPress…It went live at the end of 2015, so it had to be ready by that time because they need to be able to manage stories or curate stories within WordPress. They need to be able to search the stories that are not in WordPress to be able to import them and organize them and display that within the WordPress template. That had to go straight out.

The News Corp Australia Content API has over 6 million stories

How does it work? Can you walk me through some of the ways that an editor or an author would use it as they’re creating a story?

We tried to keep it as simple as possible. There are two ways of interacting with this thing. One of them is to rank or put collections into WordPress. Within WordPress, we created a custom post type that is a collection of items, of stories, of promos or whatever you want in there. It’s a collection of posts, basically.

You can go and open an interface for Kurator in your right panel. Then you search for whatever story you want. You drag it and drop it. You drop it into your container of the collection in that case. Then you can rank your collection in any place or your story in any part of the collection. It can be in the first location of that collection.

Then that collection is rendered in the website, for example, in the front page. It will be like the main stories in there. They can drop main stories in there directly, so they manage that concept of collections in there for that one. One way of doing it is through ranking stories into collections. You can open your Kurator panel, drag and drop, and pull your story directly in there.

The other way authors use Kurator Lite is, when you’re creating a story, basically you have your WordPress story in there. You create your title, your body. Within News Corp, we have the concept of containers. Container One is…if I translate that into WordPress, that will be your thumbnail image or your picture image. When you open the article page at the top you’ll see your featured image.

We have extended that functionality a little bit. What you can drop in there is multiple images and even videos. To keep it simple you just open your Kurator window on the right side, and then search for the image and then drop it into Container One. We have also extended this capability to the body of the article using this as oEmbeds elements.

Finally, we have something that is called Container Two right at the bottom, which is a container for related articles, things that you may be interested in that are related to these articles that you’re creating. The same functionality works there. You drag and drop and put it into that container. We tried to keep it as easy as possible as it helps to manually curate content.

The drag and drop looks really nice in the video. How does that work?

It took us a while to develop because the Kurator panel is an iframe. What we have to do is behind the scenes when you click on a drag event, it extends or puts a div that extends across the whole visible area of your editor. When you drag out of your iframe (visually as you are still within it), it starts sending post messages to that parent window, telling it, “Look, I’m in this position of that massive element.” Then it will be able to identify what to highlight behind the scenes.

Because there was no easy way of offering drag and dropping functionality between two iframes, we came with this approach. It’s all done through post messages going back and forth. Once you drop it, it sends another post message saying, “I drop it in this location.” Then we’ll add it and trigger the whole thing that is happening there.

It’s not the best implementation today because nowadays there are various different tools available that we can implement it with. There is now a way that we have figured out of integrating directly into WordPress, instead of using an iframe, but we tried to keep it as close as possible as it was implemented in the previous system because it was a known interaction and a business requirement. We knew what we were going to do in there at the time, basically, instead of going and trying different stuff with WordPress. But now we know a way of integrating more directly with WordPress, which will come later on.

What else does the full Kurator application do? What features are you most proud of?

Kurator does section management. If we translate that into WordPress terms, that will be category management. You can create categories in there. It does very good as it displays syndication rules in a very natural way. Kurator does not syndicate per se, but it has the rules of syndication. You can create a section within Kurator, and that section will say, “Okay, when somebody selects this specific section, I have to put it in this website in this category, in this other website in this category, in this website in this category.” It will tell CAPI, “You have to publish this information into all these sites.”

That’s one of the fantastic features that Kurator has in there, section management and syndication management.

The other one, of course, is Kurator Lite, which is for searching assets. That’s the part that’s integrated into WordPress.

The other one is legal kill. The whole concept of legally killing an asset is to remove it from any website as soon as possible for legal reasons. You say, “I want to legal kill this item,” but the problem is that the asset has been syndicated to multiple sites. You cannot say, “Yeah, it’s deleted from all the sites,” until you get confirmation from all the sites. To accomplish this Kurator verifies all the sites that it has been syndicated to and starts pulling information from there to see if everything was successful depending on the information that it has. It stays there until it finishes. If there is an error, it will notify people about it. It’s a very robust platform built in Node.js with AngularJS. It’s very interesting. It’s completely separate to WordPress, completely separate to CAPI. It’s its own beast.

How much of a team supports Kurator?

It’s three people. It’s a very small team. It was built long ago, and the core of it hasn’t needed to be touched since then. They built it as a plugin system – one plugin is search. Another plugin is the legal kill functionality. Another plugin is the section management piece. That core thing, they haven’t touched it since they built it. That’s how well they built it. It was a very good engineering task that they did in there for that one. Yeah. At this stage, it’s three people maintaining it.

Tell me about the SPP team, what does your team do and how do you work?

Within the company, we are the core team that powers WordPress and the teams that all the other product teams developed. We are responsible for ingesting content from our content API, CAPI into WordPress, getting that synced correctly in WordPress, Developing and maintaining our own editor and supporting theme developers with extra plugins within other functions of the team.

We are 4 WordPress PHP developers, 2 testers, and 1 automation tester, who is also a developer.

We actually have 52 different plugins that allow us to do a lot of stuff in our system within WordPress. To name some we have CAPI sync which controls the translation and ingestion of content to WordPress, Authoring which allows editors to create content within WordPress with all the different containers and integrations, Kurator integration, CHP integration which is our archive of images not hosted within WordPress, Legal Kill, Draft Post, Expire Post, Site Migration, I can go on…The list is massive.

What’s coming up on the SPP roadmap?

One big one is, we removed the previous liveblogging functionality that we were using, which was with a third party. We are bringing it into WordPress using VIP’s Liveblog plugin. We have been rolling that out this last month. Now we’re rolling out AMP support for live blogging which I’m really keen and looking forward to getting it out. Also, we are working on migrating to VIP Go to which our plugins need a bit of massaging but nothing that worries me.

That’s great. What kinds of use cases around News Corp is live blogging used for mostly? Is it sports? Is it entertainment?

Almost everything. Sports is the main one that you will see in there, but they have rolling stories around every morning that says, “Things that you need to know today.” Think of it like a live coverage story. They’re just churning stories in there into the Liveblog, and that appears in your homepage saying, “Things that you need to know today. This happened, or this happened yesterday.” They change that every 10 minutes, every 15 minutes. It’s like a live blogging functionality, but they use it in that part of the site. That’s used every day.

Political applications as well, they use it. Catastrophic events, like fires. Anything that needs a live blog, but basically the two main ones are sports, and then daily things that are happening in the city.

To learn more about our work with News Corp Australia, check out this case study

August VIP Roundup

August kicked off with the second annual WordCamp for Publishers in Chicago, IL, where presentations and discussions centered on how publishers can protect and nurture the open web and all of its core values.

Meanwhile, as awareness efforts kicked up a notch, the new WordPress editor Gutenberg plugin surpassed 100,000 active installs within a week (and is now past 300,000). It’s now a central component of many new enterprise site projects slated for Q4 launch.

Speaking of new site projects, here at VIP we’ve supported a flurry of diverse launches over the last several weeks across business sectors, too many to cram in to a friendly introductory paragraph. To name a handful, we’ve welcomed Wikimedia Foundation, Shionogi, The Online News Association (ONA), Facebook Connectivity and Politics, and Dentistry For Children.

Read on for news, updates, and this month’s profile with featured partner 10up.

A fitting signoff as WordCamp for Publishers 2018 drew to a close with a day at the ballpark

Gutenberg News and Notes

The latest tools, demos, and updates around the block-based editor coming to WordPress 5.0.

  • After several releases in August bringing issue fixes and user experience enhancements including the new “Spotlight Mode” and Unified Toolbar design, the Gutenberg plugin is now at version 3.7.
  • Currently at 300,000+ active installs, the plugin crossed the 100,000+ threshold just a week after the “Try Gutenberg” prompt appeared in the WordPress dashboard.
  • Prominent plugins announced Gutenberg readiness: Advanced Custom Fields as of ACF Free version 5, Yoast for Gutenberg,  Beaver Builder as of version 2.1, 10up’s Distributor at release.
  • Automattician and core contributor Gary Pendergast offered big picture thoughts on the long range vision and benefits of the Gutenberg project.

News and Releases

Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.

  • Catch up with notes and highlights from the second annual WordCamp for Publishers with co-organizer and Automattician Alexis Kulash’s comprehensive recap.
  • Get to know new VIP technical partner Setka and their print design-inspired, Gutenberg ready, content creation tools.
  • The Brightcove Video Connect plugin version 1.5 is now available, bringing multiple enhancements and bug fixes.
  • Matthew Ingram at Columbia Journalism Review interviewed VIP client Civil‘s founder Matthew Iles ahead of the CVL token sale coming up on September 18th.
  • Congratulations to the 10up team for the successful launch of nobelprize.org. Learn more about their origins and work in VIP’s latest partner profile. And check out the public release of Distributor, which uses the REST API to make it easy to reuse content across sites.
  • Austin Smith, CEO of Alley, authored an extended report and recommendations around the future of local news for Lenfest, also excerpted in a piece for Nieman Lab.
  • Reaktiv Studios wrote an ode to Bootstrap, their favorite CSS.
  • Congratulations to rtCamp for their contributions to WP-CLI v2!
  • XWP shared a case study on their work improving front end performance for Heavy.

Platform Updates

Spotlight

Group photo of 10up outside at the annual 10up summit

This month we profiled VIP agency partner 10up, whose work includes enterprise WordPress tools including Distributor and Ads.txt Manager. They have also contributed greatly to efforts around the new WordPress editor. 10up comprises more than 150 full-time staff members globally, and works with a wide array of clients including Facebook, Microsoft, Google, the State of California, ESPN, and AARP. Read the full profile to find out about 10up’s agency history, vision for the future, and why they chose the three words “Dedicated,” “Creative,” and “Welcoming” to describe their culture.

Media and Marketing Notes

Research and perspectives on the business of media and the practice of marketing.

“Unless we build in natural alternatives to ad revenue models we can’t be an honest authentic media brand.”

Frederik Anderson in Digiday explains Vice’s strategy to grow its revenue streams through ‘offline activations’ like music festivals and food courts.

“Even as they draw from journalism standards and training, podcasters seem to embrace the idea that their tone, style and motivations go beyond traditional techniques, defining their craft in non-journalistic terms such as intimacy and connection.”

Janet Saidi of the LA Times on how podcasts are changing journalism.

“The best parts of Chicagoist, the ones that Chance would be wise to preserve, were its broad editorial freedom and its focus on niche neighborhood stories that might escape the attention of larger outlets.”

Kim Bellware speculates on the implications of Chance the Rapper’s purchase of local news site Chicagoist.

Upcoming Events

#ONA18, the Online News Association‘s annual conference is just a few days away! Sept. 13-15 in Austin, Texas. Find us at the Midway when you get there. VIP is proud to support ONA as both a sponsor and the platform for ONA’s sites. You’ll find us in several spots on the schedule, including Steph Yiu’s Table Talk and a session with New York Times’ senior editor Hamilton Boardman called, “OMGWTFBBQ: Breaking News Without Breaking Your Site.”

The latest BigWP London is also just around the corner, September 13th at News UK headquarters in London at 6:30 pm. The four flashtalks are as follows: WordPress Multisite for large and high traffic multilingual websites by Giuseppe Mazzapica of Inpsyde; Rebuilding NobelPrize.org by Gabe Karp of 10up; How we won the World Cup by Joel Davis, News UK; and Using Gutenberg in production, by Jason Agnew, Big Bite. Space is limited and signups will close 24 hours before the event.

September WordCamps include Tokyo, Rome, and NYC, the latter featuring talks by John Eckman of 10up on privacy by design and Rick Viscomi of Google on site performance tools.

Look out, too, for a surprising amount of WordPress-related content at Drupal Europe! Automattic will again be sponsoring the event’s Open Web Lounge, to promote sharing and networking between open source projects, communities and influencers; and there are several familiar names from the WordPress world on the session program.

July VIP Roundup

The new WordPress editor Gutenberg hit a major milestone in July, completing its MVP feature goals and moving its focus to bug fixes and compatibility. VIP client Quartz shipped v.5 of their site, an incredible fifth full version in six years and this one faster than ever. We welcomed Slack’s SlackHq.com to the VIP family. And Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg joined Kara Swisher on her Recode Decode podcast to talk about WordPress, the future of the open web, and lots more.

Read on for updates from all over, including an in-depth client spotlight with the founders of Civil, and a talk by Airbnb content lead Hayley Nelson on the content strategy principles behind major brand marketing campaigns. We’ve also added a platform updates section, where you can get a quick summary of all of the changes to our platform in the last month.

 

A still from the Azores “Not Yet Trending” video, an Airbnb campaign Hayley Nelson featured in her talk at the 2018 VIP Workshop.

Gutenberg News and Notes

The latest tools, demos, and updates around the block-based editor coming to WordPress 5.0.

  • Gutenberg is officially considered ‘feature complete‘ as of version 3.2 released in early July! Two successive releases this month (July 20 and July 30) included a multitude of improvements, from strengthening the API surface to converting existing content to blocks.
  • We explored one of the more frequently asked questions about Gutenberg – plugin compatibility – and shared our findings and advice for evaluating your own plugins.
  • Gutenberg Times curated this list of 20 Gutenberg talks on WordPress.tv.
  • 10up CEO John Eckman gave a thoughtful presentation about Structured Content in the Age of Gutenberg.
  • Reaktiv walked through their approach to recommending Gutenberg to their clients
  • Inpsyde’s David Remer gave a talk on Gutenberg’s state management, introducing the Slot/Fill concept
  • Every other week, Zac Gordon and Joe Casabona get together and talk about the latest developments in Gutenberg and WordPress 5.0.

News and Releases

Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.

  • Congratulations to the entire Quartz team on their launch of the latest version of QZ.com, which we’re honored to host on VIP. Earlier this month, Elan Kiderman, senior product designer at Quartz, shared his approach to building ambitious editorial projects (Map of the Internet, anyone?).
  • The open source WordPress Coding Standards (WPCS) project released milestone version 1.0. This project has had 54 contributors in its 9 year span including 5 from VIP.
  • Kara Swisher interviewed Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg on the Recode Decode podcast, covering current industry issues like data privacy and advertising, the future of the open web, and our approach to distributed work at Automattic.
  • Facebook announced that starting in August, third-party tools like Publicize (the tool for WordPress.com and Jetpack-powered sites that connects your site to major social media platforms) will no longer share posts automatically to Facebook profiles. VIP clients can consult this Lobby post for details on navigating the change.
  • Airbnb content lead Hayley Nelson explored leading content-driven campaigns like Not Yet Trending in her talk, “Content Ecosystem Thinking” from this year’s VIP Workshop.
  • The Wikimedia Foundation announced a global collaboration to increase offline access to Wikipedia and the Wikimedia sites.
  • Adam Silverstein of 10up published a guest post on Google‘s Open Source Blog reflecting on his experiences as a contributor, and received a Google Open Source Peer Bonus for his work bringing MathML to AMP.
  • Alley released version 1.4.1 of Apple News and won a Knight Foundation grant to bring the museum experience to Amazon Echo. Brad Campeau-Laurion also shared some thoughts on what to expect at WordCamp for Publishers, which is coming up next week.
  • HumanMade helped UNISON tell a story of digital adoption inside a trade union. Libby Barker was interviewed at WordCamp Europe about how a decoupled WordPress admin can make enterprise sites more flexible and engaging.
  • Inpsyde launched a new composer package, Inpsyde Assets.
  • Efficiency was the name of the game at Reaktiv Studios this month. Nick Croft wrote about jumpstarting projects with WP CLI scaffolding and Chris Ford discussed her recipe mix of project management tools at the Dungeons & Dragons-themed WordCamp Orange County.
  • rtCamp sponsored the second edition of WordCamp Nagpur.
  • Earlier this year, Trew Knowledge and the Canadian Olympic Committee were named an official honoree in the 2018 Webby Awards for best Sports Team website.
  • XWP shared posts on speeding up PHPUnit tests, converting xwp.co to Native AMP with the AMP plugin, and an intro to native AMP.
Developers gathered around a table for Contributor Day
Contributor day at WordCamp Europe 2018

Platform Notes

July has been a busy month of enhancements, releases, and maintenance for our VIP Go platform. If you haven’t tried out our VIP CLI tool for our VIP Go platform yet, please give it a go. We also added support for using a continuous integration service to build Javascript, CSS, SVG, etc. If this floats your boat and would improve your workflow, we have some documentation for you.

  • Release: Made VIP CLI 1.1.0 available, introducing paging for application lists, and some bug fixes (Lobby postrelease notes, documentation)
  • Enhancement: Rolled out TLS v1.3, the latest, faster, and most secure version of TLS, on July 16 (more information to follow)
  • Enhancement: Rolled out support for WordPress multisites to optionally allow two segment paths and/or mapped domains for each subsite (documentation)
  • Enhancement: We added support for automated build and deploy of Javascript, CSS, SVG, and other static assets (Lobby post, documentation)
  • Release: Updated all sites to PHP 7.2.8 (security release) on August 3
  • Release: Updated Jetpack to 6.3.2 on July 5, and 6.3.3 on August 1 across our VIP Go platform
  • Release: Updated WordPress to 4.9.7 (security release) on July 5, and 4.9.8 (minor release) on August 2 across our VIP Go platform (Lobby post for 4.9.7, WordPress project announcement for 4.9.7, Lobby post for 4.9.8, WordPress project announcement for 4.9.8)
  • Maintenance: Removed TLS v1.0 from our VIP Go platform on July 11 (Lobby post)

Media and Marketing Notes

Research and perspectives on the business of media and the practice of marketing.

There’s a strong parallel between what Disney has accomplished and what today’s brands are trying to do: Find the intersection of strong stories, customer emotions, and constantly evolving technology. For marketers, that can be a hint—not only at how to approach creative problem solving—but also how to explore new approaches to your hiring and staffing strategies.

Liz Alton on what theme park designers can teach marketers about storytelling and brand loyalty.

Time and again tech reporting gets caught in the hype rather than reality; a super-fast but impractical rail alternative proposed by Elon Musk gets tons of coverage, but it’s difficult to get real rail projects funded … Maybe we should simply scrap the idea of a “tech desk” altogether.

James Ball makes the case for a new model of tech journalism.

Launch Spotlight

Photo by Alexander Svensson via CC by 2.0

Civil is a new WordPress-based platform using the blockchain to support, distribute and protect journalism, developed by partner Alley and launched recently on VIP. Civil’s first fleet of newsrooms launched earlier this summer and continues to grow. Read more about the project and its underpinnings in this extended spotlight interview. And watch for the CVL token launch, the token that allows a journalist to open a newsroom or a citizen to have a stake in challenges and votes, on September 18.

Upcoming Events

  • We’re starting to make packing lists for #ONA18, the Online News Association‘s annual conference, Sept. 13-15 in Austin, Texas. VIP is proud to support ONA as both a sponsor (look for our booth at the Midway!) and as a hosting and support provider for journalists.org and ONA’s other sites. Don’t miss our very own Steph Yiu serving up double the trouble at the event: she’ll be hosting a Table Talk and presenting alongside New York Times’ senior editor Hamilton Boardman in a session called, “OMGWTFBBQ: Breaking News Without Breaking Your Site.”
  • The next BigWP London meetup, our gathering of developers, product people, and editors who work on enterprise WordPress sites, is set for September 18 and will fill up fast. Reserve your place now. Here’s a YouTube playlist with talks from last December’s BigWP London event.
  • WordCamp for Publishers is right around the corner, August 8-10 in Chicago. The full tickets have closed, but you can still reserve your spot to attend without the guarantee of swag and evening social event attendance. It’s a fantastic event and we are proud to both sponsor and participate again this year. Hear directly from one of the organizers on what to expect.
  • Rumor has it Tracy Levesque will grace the stage at WordCamp Philly, which goes down October 27 and 28. Call for speakers closed this week, so keep a close eye as the first presentations get announced. In the meantime, you can enjoy Tracy’s talk, “Diversity Works” from this year’s VIP Workshop.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewDoWiUulfw&w=560&h=315]

  • Major WordCamps are going down this month in Montréal, Moscow, Minneapolis, Mexico City, Omaha, and so many more. Check out the full schedule for your next chance to join the fun.

What to Expect at WordCamp for Publishers

This guest post was contributed by Brad Campeau-Laurion (@potatomaster) of featured partner Alley, and also one of the organizers of WordCamp for Publishers. VIP is proud to sponsor and participate in this great event.

WordCamp for Publishers is a community-organized event bringing together folks who use WordPress to manage publications, big or small. Our goal is to empower participants by coaching them on best practices, and encourage collaboration in building open source tools for publishers. Anyone who actively manages a publication with WordPress will benefit from attending.

Our schedule is up now and includes speakers from national media organizations, smaller publications, and agencies that work with media companies. We’ll have a main track of talks and panels that are all about 45 minutes each with time for Q&A and a separate track of 90 minute in-depth workshops around topics that will give you actionable takeways to bring back to your publications. There will also be openings for our unconference sessions which you can self-organize at the event with your fellow attendees.

For people that prefer the hallway track, there will be opportunities to connect with people from many top media organizations. We’ll be working to organize formal mentorship sessions especially for those from smaller publications and underrepresented markets. You can also chat with our sponsors who come from top agencies and media technology companies.

Of course, you can also expect a lot of fun at WordCamp for Publishers. We’ve arranged events including an architectural boat tour of Chicago and a White Sox game. If you’re able to stick around all three days, there’s also a Contributor Day on Friday where you can learn how to contribute to WordPress or any of the numerous plugins and projects that support publishing on the platform.

We encourage you to check out the videos and participant recaps from the first WordCamp for Publishers in 2017 to get a sense of what’s to come. We hope to see you in Chicago in a few weeks, and if you haven’t gotten a ticket, you can still get one today!

 

June VIP Roundup

There are lots of summer launches across the VIP family to celebrate, including Rolling Stone, Civil‘s First Fleet, and top Venezuelan news site La Patilla. A bigger, better, and bolder WordCamp Europe brought news of the next steps and roadmap for the Gutenberg project. And we released the first building block in our focus on empowering developers on VIP, the VIP CLI.

Read on for June highlights from across the enterprise WordPress community, including a look ahead at must-attend summer and fall events including ONA and WordCamp for Publishers.

June brought one of our favorite events of the year, SRCCON 2018

Gutenberg News and Notes
The latest tools, demos, and updates around the block-based editor coming to WordPress 5.0.

  • There are now 14,000 sites actively using Gutenberg. That’s according to WordPress.com co-founder and Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg, who shared the Gutenberg Roadmap as part of his keynote at WordCamp Europe. Watch the main keynote and Q&A, or read a summary and transcription.
  • As of June 21st, the Gutenberg plugin is at version 3.1, and includes a tips system for new users, improvements to the block sibling inserter, and much more as detailed in Matias’ latest What’s New post.
  • The public version of our Gutenberg Ramp plugin is now available (Lobby post for VIP clients). We created this version for anyone in the community with sites hosted elsewhere who want to take advantage of the same functionality we created for our users on the VIP platform (Lobby post about using Ramp on VIP Go). The plugin allows users to turn Gutenberg on for certain post IDs, page IDs or content text, making it easier to test and activate Gutenberg at your own pace, instead of flipping the switch site-wide in one go. We have lots of additional resources as well, including how-to videos and TestGutenberg.com where you can experiment with the latest version.
  • 10up published the results of a Gutenberg usability test, including heatmaps and verbatims from participants.

News and Releases
Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.

  • Earlier this month we released VIP CLI, a new and direct way for developers to interact with their applications hosted on the VIP Go platform. (Lobby post, announcement post)
  • The new automated build and deploy workflow for VIP Go means you no longer have to manually build, commit, and push your code (Lobby post).
  • We profiled agency partner Big Bite Creative in our latest Six Questions With…. Read all about their origin story, their values, and the impressive work they’re doing in enterprise application development using Gutenberg and React Native.
  • Our latest technical integration, LaterPay, is now available as a WordPress plugin (Lobby post).
  • Jetpack 6.2 has been deployed to all VIP Go sites. (Lobby post, announcement post). Jetpack 6.3 beta launched July 5 and is open for user testing (Lobby post).
  • SketchPress is 10up’s new library of WordPress admin interfaces, symbols, and icons aimed at saving designer’s time when wireframing. 10up also created Simple Podcasting, an intuitive and lightweight plugin that includes beta support for Gutenberg. Check out what went down at their annual summit in this video.
  • Alley joined the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) annual meeting to present their work with Freer|Sackler including TMS Connect, which allows museums to synchronize their collections and objects into WordPress, and an Alexa Skill that works with their VoiceWP plugin.
  • Big Bite Creative redeveloped PMC’s recent acquisition Sourcing Journal, integrating Vamp footwear and Rivet denim as well.
  • Siobhan McKeown of Human Made spoke on the Yonder podcast about hiring remote workers.
  • Inpsyde implemented an encryption feature in their plugin BackWPup Pro to make backups GDPR Compliant.
  • Reaktiv Studios wrote a prediction for the future of Gutenberg (tl;dr the ‘Gutenlook’ takes over the world).
  • rtCamp launched leading Venezuelan news site lapatilla.com on VIP this month, as well as helping LaterPay complete their VIP technical integration.
  • XWP launched AMP Plugin Release v1.0-alpha1, which includes “support for core themes, a big update to the compatibility tool and extended Gutenberg support! 🎉”
The Big Bite Creative team in their natural habitat. Read more on Big Bite in our partner profile.

Media and Marketing Notes
Research and perspectives on the business of media and the practice of marketing.

It’s hard to be transported to another world when you can still smell the salmon you had for dinner earlier that night.

Jonathan Crowell argues the trick to VR for marketers is creating a truly immersive experience.

One unintentional consequence of the tool is that advertisers will now be able to see what kind of ads their competitors are running.

Facebook released a new feature that allows users to see all active ads a Page is running. Twitter followed suit with its new Ad Transparency Center.

Humans like to test the limits of the technology, to stump it, break it, and get it to do things it wasn’t designed to do.

Nicholas Diakopoulos discussed the potential implications of using AI to help with interviews.

 

Upcoming Events

  • #NABJ18, hosted by the National Association of Black Journalists, goes down Aug. 1-5 in Detroit. This year’s theme is “Driving Journalism, Technology & Trust.” Drawing over 3,000 journalists, media executives, PR professionals, and students, this annual convention is part conference, part job fair and features special events with Tyler Perry, KEM, Tamar Braxton, and more.
  • Tickets are still available for the second annual WordCamp for Publishers, Aug. 8-10 in Chicago. This is a community-run event with organizers volunteering from Alley, Mother Jones, PMC, Dow Jones, iOne Digital, Hand Built, and here at VIP. The sessions listing is now available on the site and there are topics of interest to engineering, product, and editorial teams, with speakers from national media organizations, niche publications, and agencies. Last year’s event produced incredibly useful talks and materials, and this year’s is sure to offer the same.
  • We’re looking forward to seeing you at #ONA18, the Online News Association’s annual conference, Sept. 13-15 in Austin. Look for our booth at the Midway! Our own Steph Yiu will be hosting a Table Talk and speaking with New York Times’ Senior Editor Hamilton Boardman in a session titled “OMGWTFBBQ: Breaking News Without Breaking Your Site.”
  • Press on: Moving Forward Together” is the theme for this year’s Asian American Journalist Association conference, slated for Aug. 8-11 in Houston. #AAJA18 offers workshops with major cable news outlets; a screening of Crazy Rich Asians, and the second annual Story Slam. See the full schedule here.
  • Look out for WordCamps this month in Poland, Spain, Japan, Costa Rica, India, Australia and the US: WordCamp Central has the full schedule. Or for your viewing pleasure at home, the videos from last month’s WordCamp Europe are starting to appear at WordPress.TV.

Jumpstart your Testing and Transition Plans with Gutenberg Ramp

Introducing Gutenberg Ramp, a plugin to help you complete your testing plans ahead of time and transition smoothly to the new editor, code named Gutenberg, coming to WordPress 5.0.

Gutenberg itself is available as an actively developed plugin today, and is at version 3.0.1 currently. You can use Ramp along with the Gutenberg plugin to enable the new editor selectively by post ID (load only for specified posts) and post type (load only for specified post types), rather than all at once. We hope this makes it easier for you to get more hands-on experience in your own code base with all of the great features the Gutenberg project is producing ahead of WordPress 5.0. As always, we recommend you do your testing in a development environment.

Note: VIP Clients will follow a slightly different procedure for using Ramp and Gutenberg on VIP Go. Feel free to reach out to the VIP team if you need help getting it going.

While the Gutenberg editor will at some point become the default editor for WordPress, it is currently available as a plugin, and will continue to be available that way until it is merged in to WordPress 5.0 as part of the core software. To help you with a smooth transition, we plan to keep it in sync with WordPress 5.0, so that Ramp will work on both the plugin version of Gutenberg which you’d be using today and will continue to iterate, and the version that will be merged in to core as part of WordPress 5.0.

This video shows how you can use the UI to selectively enable the new editor:

We developed the initial version of this simple tool to help our clients selectively test their customizations, workflows, and plugins with Gutenberg in their development and production environments, well ahead of Gutenberg’s integration and release. It also allows for a more granular transition to the new editor, so that as specific post types and customizations pass testing, or as teams complete their workflow updates, the new editor can be turned on selectively and persistently.

We added some additional elements to create the public version, including a user interface, to account for a variety of hosting environments where it might be used.

We welcome your reports and proposed contributions via the GitHub repository.

Other helpful links:

Note: VIP Clients will follow a slightly different procedure for using Ramp and Gutenberg on VIP Go. Feel free to reach out to the VIP team if you need help getting it going.

 

May VIP Roundup

There’s been a lot to celebrate in the enterprise WordPress world this month: WordPress celebrated its 15th birthday, Gutenberg introduced its plugin API, AMP for WordPress introduced Native AMP, and we hosted our seventh annual VIP Workshop!

May’s update contains a host of new releases, partner updates, and envy-inducing summer event opportunities. Scroll on down for all that, plus a spotlight on Stand Up To Cancer and exciting news about our participation in WAN-IFRA.

Gutenberg News and Notes
The latest tools, demos, and updates around the block-based editor coming to WordPress 5.0

Gutenberg plugin v3.0 is out as of this week, with a long list of great enhancements including support for child blocks, updates to the block library, and opt-in registration for presentational styles. This followed on v.2.9 which, among other updates, introduced the new Plugin API.

Gutenberg and the Ramp plugin are now available on VIP Go (Lobby post for VIP clients and partners)! The latest Gutenberg plugin is available and defaulted to “off.” It’s easy to selectively enable it with a single line of code added to your theme. Remember that Gutenberg is still in active development and subject to regular updates and changes. We will be releasing a public version of the Ramp plugin shortly.

From our latest partner profile with rtCamp

News and Releases
Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.

  • In May, we had the distinct pleasure of hosting clients, partners, special guests, and Automatticians for our seventh annual VIP Workshop in Napa, California. Watch dozens of the sessions including speakers from Airbnb, Google, Cloudinary, the VIP team, our agency partners, and many more on this YouTube playlist. You can also read the recap and flip through many of the decks from the presentations.
  • WordPress 4.9.6 privacy and maintenance release was deployed in late May. This included new tools to support GDPR compliance. (Lobby post, official announcement post, update guide). Jetpack 6.1 privacy and maintenance release also went out in May (Lobby post).
  • Alley had a major presence at the American Alliance of Museum’s MuseumExpo 2018. Tom Harrigan spoke with the Freer Gallery of Art’s Courtney Dawn about using Alexa apps to augment museum collections. Pattie Reaves shared a post on rethinking accessibility for maximum benefit.
  • Peter Wilson from Human Made posted a thorough look at how they overhauled the edit screen for client Fairfax Media from the ground up with the WordPress REST API. Rian Rietveld wrote a piece on best practices for automating accessibility testing during development. Their team also celebrated WordPress’s 15th birthday by adding up their cumulative years of WordPress experience. Any guesses?
  • XWP announced initial support for AMP Native is now available in v0.7 of the AMP for WordPress plugin. Congrats to everyone who contributed to the project! Thierry Miller gave a talk at Google I/O alongside Google’s Albert Medina on building progressive websites in WordPress. Luke Cabris appeared on the WP Bosses podcast.
  • Read the latest edition of Six Questions, our partner profile series, to learn how rtCamp is strengthening WordPress training in educational institutions, part of a virtuous cycle that will keep the enterprise ecosystem strong. And check out their brand new office.
  • Trew Knowledge just released version 2 of its GDPR plugin, which helps a Controller, Data Processor, and Data Protection Officer (DPO) with compliance. It’s reached over 100,000 downloads and is now available in 11 languages.
  • 10Up is conducting a usability study for professional writers with Gutenberg. Their New Relic for WordPress plugin added support for the REST API. Anthony Garand contributed a bug fix for lazy loading to Jetpack 6.1. In the spirit of data privacy, they updated the popular Restricted Site Access plugin with more granular site security permissions. And in July, CEO John Eckman is speaking about CMS for higher education at WP Campus 2018 in St. Louis.
  • The Inpsyde team is growing. This month they welcomed two new employees, project manager Rich Winterstetter and developer Cristiano Baptista, and also released BackWPup 3.5 with the long-desired restore feature.
  • Communication Arts featured Hello Design’s work on the new Tillamook Cheese website, which shows how their famous cheese sauce comes together.
  • Skyword v.2.4.5 became available in May, adding integration with Co-Authors Plus and other enhancements(Lobby post).
  • Playbuzz v.1.1 is now available, including shortcode support and bug fixes. For information on updating, check out the Lobby post.
  • Apester v.2.1 is available, which brings functional and performance enhancements(Lobby post).

Media and Marketing Notes
Research and perspectives on the business of media and the practice of marketing.

“How important is privacy to the on-line community?”

This Wall Street Journal time capsule from 1996 shows we’ve been grappling with the same privacy questions for over 20 years. And that ‘online’ used to have a hyphen.

“Ad exchanges used by many news sites reportedly saw an immediate drop in demand of between 25 and 40 percent.”

The Columbia Journalism Review analyzed the initial effects of GDPR on publishers.

“Cameron, for example, a musician and video game enthusiast, put it succinctly when he suggested that “news should come looking for me, I shouldn’t go looking for it.”

Nieman Lab published a story on recent research studying the information intake behavior of so-called news avoiders.

Launch Spotlight: Stand Up To Cancer

Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C’s) mission is to raise funds to accelerate the pace of groundbreaking translational research that can get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now. SU2C brings together the best and the brightest researchers and mandates collaboration among the cancer community. By galvanizing the entertainment industry, SU2C has set out to generate awareness, educate the public on cancer prevention, and help more people diagnosed with cancer become long-term survivors. All of us across Automattic are particularly proud to power SU2C’s digital platform in their pursuit of scientific breakthroughs.

Upcoming Events

  • We are proud to participate this week as a lead sponsor in The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA)’s World News Media Congress in Cascais, Portugal. WAN-IFRA’s 80 member publisher associations represent 18,000 publications in 120 countries. VIP recently joined WAN-IFRA as members and we’re excited to partner with an organization passionate about media freedom and a sustainable news industry.
  • Next week, we will be in Boston to attend and support Forward, the brand storytelling conference hosted by VIP partner Skyword. Keynotes include author and entrepreneur Westley “Wes” Atendi Omari Moore; comic book author and artist Lynda Barry; CMO of Eastern Bank, Paul Alexander; and Storynomics founder Paul McKee.
  • WordCamp Europe is almost here! This year it goes down June 14-16 in Belgrade. Lots of folks from across the VIP family are contributing as speakers and organizers, including folks from Human Made, 10up, and XWP in addition to a strong showing from across Automattic. Check out #WCEU to follow along.
  • SRCCon takes place June 28-29 in Minneapolis, and they just released round two of tickets. Now in its fifth year, SRCCon attracts an eclectic mix of over 300 journalists, technologists, newsroom leaders, and others working to change journalism for the better. We’re thrilled to support it and think you should jump on those tickets.
  • The second annual WordCamp for Publishers will be August 8-10, 2018 at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in Chicago. Tickets are still available, and if you haven’t bought one yet, watch the videos from last year and you will see why this is such a special event. Applications for travel scholarships opened this week, and close June 15. If you know someone early in their career or who doesn’t have the means to get there, encourage them to apply!

April VIP Roundup

When you scroll through the list of updates from April, the projects, tools, and releases just keep coming. To highlight just a handful, there’s Gutenberg development and prep work in progress all over including at rtCamp and 10up, Alley‘s new feature rollouts for Kaiser Family Foundation, a new plugin from Human Made, and big updates to our Liveblog and Co-Authors Plus plugins.

We also cheered VIP client Explore Parts Unknown for taking home a Webby in a category near and dear to our hearts, Website Best Practices. And we welcomed Yoast as an official VIP technical integration. Read on for all of this and lots more.

Chris Scott introduces BigWP NYC at USA Today’s NY offices

Gutenberg News and Notes
The latest tools, demos, and updates around the block-based editor coming to WordPress 5.0

  • As we have shared in previous updates, we’re developing a plugin to help make it easy to test and implement Gutenberg at the Page and Post level, and so that teams can plan their own smooth transitions. We’ll have more to share on that soon!
  • We’ve released a second round of educational videos at Vipgutenberg.com, covering hands-on topics like converting shortcodes and ACF fields to blocks, and access control. These are free and available for everyone. Get the full details including a list of topics in this week’s spotlight, further down in this post.
  • As one of our BigWP flash talks, Andrew Fleming from the Dow Jones Media Group shared the story of how their publication Moneyish is approaching the transition to Gutenberg. You can view a highlight now, and the full video of Andrew’s talk is coming soon.
  • You can share the Gutenberg content creation experience with colleagues easily by sending them to our Testgutenberg.com site, which has been updated with the latest version of the plugin.
  • rtCamp has been focusing on all things Gutenberg over this month: They formally released their Fields Middleware project that makes registering fields for Gutenberg blocks less repetitive (GitHub here). They wrote about their experience of moving their website to Gutenberg. And Daniel Bachhuber gave a technical introduction for the WordPress community in North Jersey.
  • Daniel Bachhuber has also been extremely active in the community in helping collect and curate plugin readiness research and leading the development of a migration guide. If you’re interested in either of these initiatives, jump in and help.
  • Special thanks also to 10up for their work identifying and addressing plugin compatibility issues.
  • Keep up with everything having to do with Gutenberg at VIP and a list of helpful resources in this regularly updated doc.

News and Releases
Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.

  • Exciting updates on VIP plugins Liveblog and Co-Authors Plus! Both released updates this month, version 1.8 and 3.3 respectively. Liveblog introduced media library integration and enhancements to the editor interface, which VIP clients can read more about on this Lobby post. Co-Authors Plus v3.3 establishes a new foundation for development, reflecting months of work from 30 contributors across VIP, our clients, and partners (Lobby post).
  • We shared an update on our plans and preparations for implementing the GDPR‘s principles in this helpful Lobby post.
  • We’re thrilled to welcome SEO household name Yoast as an official VIP technical integration.
  • WordPress 4.9.5 security and maintenance release came out on April 3 (Announcement post, Lobby post for VIP clients.) Version 4.9.6, focusing on privacy and personal data tools in support of GDPR, is already in beta.
  • Jetpack 6.0 was deployed to VIP Go (Announcement, Lobby), bringing new privacy-related tools and settings among other enhancements.
  • PHP 7.2 was rolled out across VIP Go in early April as well (Lobby post.)
  • Watch highlights from April’s excellent BigWP NYC talks in this playlist. In addition to Andrew’s mentioned above, we had Paul Schreiber from FiveThirtyEight on the importance of U2F security keys, Bradford Campeau-Laurion from Alley with a proof of concept for using WP_Query to source remote data on the Hachette Book Group project, and Kevin Langley from Human Made with highlights from the Fairfax Media case study.
  • We couldn’t be more proud of VIP client Explore Parts Unknown for their Webby win! They took home the People’s Voice award in Website Best Practices, defined as “an industry benchmark for the most current, innovative, and advanced practices in web development.” Kudos to the team at ANML for the beautiful design.
  • Go in depth with XWP in the latest edition of our partner profile series, Six Questions. XWP is currently recruiting beta testers for the next release of the WordPress AMP plugin.
  • 10Up released ElasticPress 2.5 with a new faceting widget to make it easy to filter content and support Elasticsearch 6.2. Their popular container-based environment, WP Local Docker, now bundles WP Snapshots for really streamlined team-based development; they also added some detailed tutorials to make it even easier. Pete Nelson shared his slides and code tests from a talk on custom roles and capabilities for publishers, including tips for Gutenberg.
  • rtCamp’s Joel Abreo conducted a session titled “WordPress: An Overview of the Ecosystem & Opportunities” as part of FOSSMeet 2018, a two-day conference at the College of Engineering in their home city of Pune.
  • Alley launched two new features for the Kaiser Family Foundation last month, both hosted on VIP. The KFF State Data tool now allows users to create, share and download Custom Data Reports, whilst Pre$cription For Power is a searchable database allowing people to investigate the relationships between patient advocacy groups and Big Pharma.
  • The latest “Inside Inpsyde” features Tobias Zimpel on the challenges of remote work.
  • Human Made built a new plugin for SquareOffs, a social voting poll that helps publishers receive direct feedback from their audiences.
  • Aaron Jorbin created Cafe.com/100 in 2.5 days thanks in large part to open-sourced code from Human Made and Alley. The CAFE 100 is a group of one hundred change-makers taking action to address some of the most pressing problems in America and around the world.
  • Hello Design was nominated for a Webby for their work on the Electric Daisy Carnival event app.
  • Chris Ford of Reaktiv Studios joined the OfficeHours.FM podcast to share how she uses automation tools to save time on web development projects.
  • Trew Knowledge cooked up a fresh UX design for Chef’s Plate, an eco-friendly Canadian meal kit delivery service.

Media and Marketing Notes
Research and perspectives on the business of media and the practice of marketing.

“For news organizations, the GDPR may actually prompt a return to first principles, where a focus on quality content beats adapting to the latest social media algorithm.”

Susan McGregor, Assistant Professor at Columbia School of Journalism and Assistant Director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, in a Columbia Journalism Review article summarizing a report on the impact of Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation.

“Accessibility should be as important to your ongoing practice as good writing and content.”

Robert Stein, EVP and Chief Program Officer, American Alliance of Museums, at Museums and the Web 2018 in Vancouver. He spoke alongside Seema Rao, principal, Brilliant Creative Studio, in a talk titled, “To Journey In Twitter Canoes: Methods To Understand The Mechanisms And Meaning In Twitter Conversations.

“My numbers are lower, but in the long run more meaningful (interaction, retention rates/dwell times, uniques and so on).”

Esra Dogramaci, Senior Editor, Digital at Deutsche Welle, in ‘Metrics that matter,’ notes from her talk at the International Journalism Festival.

Spotlight: Gutenberg educational videos

We asked some of the biggest enterprise users of WordPress what they most wanted to know about the new Gutenberg editor. These videos, which include both overview and hands-on material, are the result. The topics listed below are available for anyone to view, whether or not you’re a VIP client. Register for free and watch them at www.vipgutenberg.com

Converting Custom Content to Gutenberg

  • Shortcodes to Blocks
  • ACF Fields to Blocks
  • CMB2 to Blocks

Access Control & User Permissions

  • Controlling access to blocks
  • Controlling access to blocks based on user roles
  • Creating Block Templates
  • Applying User Roles to Block Templates

There are additional videos available on the site as well, which will appear automatically for VIP clients.

Upcoming Events
We can’t wait to see many of your at our favorite event of the year, WordPress VIP Workshop, May 14-17 in Napa Valley, California! Joining the keynote and session leads, our recently announced line up of Flashtalks feature agency partners Dekode, Alley Interactive, 10up, rtCamp, and XWP on topics ranging from AMP to IoT. Take a look at the complete session list for more details. Attendees, look out for an email with travel instructions and make sure you’ve accepted the invite to our Slack channel to get this party started.

  • We are excited to participate in Brand Marketing Summit as a silver sponsor, May 30-31 in San Francisco. Designed to create the Chief Marketing Officer of the future, tracks include the science of storytelling, personalizing customer journeys and the next generation of social media. It’s not too late to register, and VIP clients and friends can use this discount code: VIP300
  • We hope to see you in Boston for Forward, the annual brand storytelling conference from technical partner Skyword, June 14 in Boston. Forward is adding an optional “Storynomics” seminar this year taught by Robert McKee, whose former students include 63 Academy Award winners (and Jimmy Fallon).
  • WordCamp Europe is just around the corner, June 14-16 in Belgrade. Our own Simon Dickson will be reprising his role as MC, and the schedule of speakers is chock full of folks from across the VIP extended family. Organizers recently released a fresh batch of tickets. They also compiled these tips for a night out on the town in Belgrade, in case you like to plan ahead.
  • SRCCon returns for its fifth year, this time in Minneapolis June 28-29. VIP is thrilled to sponsor and we always seek to send as many folks as we can to this event, which attracts over 300 journalism-technologists, newsroom leaders, and others working to change journalism for the better. Sound like your people? Here’s more about how to attend.
  • We are excited to support ONA Insights: Revenue and Engagement, a one-day deep dive into audience engagement for digital journalists, newsroom leaders, managers, executives and entrepreneurs. It all goes down in Toronto on May 11 at the Globe and Mail Headquarters.

March VIP Roundup

If you aren’t yet a part of the wave of activity around Gutenberg development, experimentation, and planning across the WordPress community, now is a great time to join in. We have a slew of March updates and tools to share on that front in this roundup, along with news from across the community, and a run-down of Spring and early Summer events including our own VIP Workshop!

Read on for all this, plus a spotlight on TechCrunch‘s redesign, rebuild, and relaunch on VIP.

From Enterprise Happiness Engineer Shannon Smith’s talk at the Montreal WordPress meetup

Gutenberg News and Notes
The latest tools, demos, and updates around the block-based editor coming to WordPress 5.0

  • Have teammates who haven’t yet played around with the Gutenberg editor? No problem! They can use our TestGutenberg.com site to try out the latest version on a standard WordPress site.
  • For VIP clients, we’ve partnered with well-known WordPress educators Zac Gordon and Joe Casabona to develop our own videos on the Gutenberg project. Get all the details on how to access these videos on the related Lobby post.
  • We are committed to helping all of our clients integrate the new editor into their workflow smoothly. We’re working on a tool that will help you incorporate Gutenberg in to your production environments by Page and Post. The Gutenberg Ramp plugin will allow you to make granular choices about where Gutenberg appears so that you can get teams working with it sooner on live sites, test all of your customizations, and get everything squared away ahead of WordPress 5.0 deployment. Once we have this tested and in place on our platform, we’ll release a public version as well that anyone can use. More on that soon!
  • Automattic Product Designer Mel Choyce presented at LoopConf on the future of Customization in the post-Gutenberg world. And Enterprise Happiness Engineer Shannon Smith gave a talk on Gutenberg and the future of WordPress, including a demo of our new TestGutenberg tool, for the Montreal WordPress community.
  • Jay Hoffman at Reaktiv posted a helpful step-by-step guide to getting started with Gutenberg block attributes.
  • In the month of April, rtCamp is offering complimentary 30 minute technical introductions to Gutenberg.
  • Keep up with everything having to do with Gutenberg at VIP and a list of helpful resources in this regularly updated doc.

News and Releases
Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.

  • Our new, streamlined Data Sync process for VIP Go allows you to easily and quickly replicate all of your production data to non-production environments. A self-service option is on the way soon!
  • We have an amazing group of speakers lined for VIP Workshop May 14-17th in Napa, California. Ticket sales end next Friday – more details below in Upcoming Events.
  • AMP version 0.6.2 rolled out across WordPress.com, including VIP sites hosted there (Lobby post).
  • Ads.txt manager, developed and maintained by featured partner 10up, is now available on VIP Go. This helpful tool allows you to manage and validate the contents of your ads.txt file through your admin interface (Lobby post).
  • Jetpack 5.9 General Maintenance rolled out this month (Lobby post, Announcement).
  • The PHP 7.2 upgrade has rolled out to all WordPress.com servers (Lobby post). It’s scheduled to deploy this week (#) on VIP Go.
  • Technical integration Ooyala version 3.0 is now available (Lobby post).
  • Trew Knowledge shared a look back at the work they did in collaboration with us at VIP in optimizing Olympic.ca and Olympique.ca for the heavy traffic expectations of the 2018 Games. The site’s visitors enjoyed gold medal performance throughout, despite it’s “exceeding projections by more than 200% and doubling what was generated in Rio 2016 with more than 17 million page views.”
  • Human Made released a trio of tools: React-wp-scripts for development tooling, Repress for smart Redux stores, and react-oembed-container to simplify oEmbed rendering. And Peter Wilson presented on a major media company replatforming at LoopConf.
  • 10up’s Helen Hou-Sandí was featured in NY Magazine’s “Ask A Tech Person” highlighting her favorite gadgets. And Adam Silverstein wrote up his experiences contributing MathML support to the AMP project. 10up has also made accessibility standard WCAG 2.0 Level A a baseline requirement for all projects, and updated their Engineering Best Practices to include specific standards.
  • Alley Interactive launched the 2018 State Science and Engineering Indicators data visualization project for the National Science Foundation.
  • rtCamp celebrated the company’s 9th anniversary at their annual team gathering in Goa.
  • Weston Ruter, CTO of XWP, and Alberto Medina, Developer Advocate with the Web Content Ecosystems team at Google, were featured in an episode of WPWeekly this month on the AMP Project.

Media and Marketing Notes
Research and perspectives on the business of media and the practice of marketing.

“One of the biggest challenges facing newsroom innovators is transferring one-off prototypes to product teams. This can be exacerbated when there are simply too many new experiments for any one team to take ownership of.”

-Allie Schultes, Social media and outreach producer at BBC Labs, in notes from the team’s first Media Innovation Unconference.

“We spent a lot of time literally watching them use it on their phone. When does their face light up because they love it, or their eyebrows scrunch up because they’re stuck?”

-Arizona Daily Star product manager Becky Pallack as quoted by Meg Heckman in the Columbia Journalism Review, on the research they did in developing and evolving chatbots.

Client Spotlight: TechCrunch


Big congratulations are in order for Nicole Wilke and the entire TechCrunch team, along with Human Made, for launching a brand new TechCrunch on VIP in March. It was a complete rebuild from the ground up, including design, user experience, and architecture. Nicole’s introductory post traces the project from first principles all the way through to launch, and explores the rationale behind the TechCrunch team’s choice of a decoupled setup.

Upcoming Events

Tickets sales for our favorite event of the year, VIP Workshop (May 14-17th in Napa California), will end April 13th. In addition to kickoff talks by Kinsey Wilson, Howard RheingoldMiguel Fonseca, and Tammie Lister, session leaders include VIP clients like TechCrunchNielsen, and FiveThirtyEight, agency partners DekodeAlley Interactive10uprtCamp, and XWP, and Automatticians Simon Wheatley and Matt Perry. We keep the event deliberately small to make sure there are lots of opportunities for chance conversations and informal breakout discussions. Book soon!

  • BigWP NYC is coming up on Wednesday, April 11th! If you’ll be in the area and want to attend, RSVP soon via the meetup group to hear talks by Paul Schreiber from FiveThirtyEight, Andrew Fleming from Dow Jones, Tom Harrigan from Alley Interactive, and Kevin Langley from Human Made. It will take place at USA Today’s new offices in Midtown. Doors will open at 6:30pm. Space is extremely limited.
  • SRCCON 2018 will be June 28-29 in Minneapolis and the call for participation of all kinds is open! It’s the fifth anniversary for the event that gathers over 300 journalism-technologists, newsroom leaders, and others working to change journalism for the better. VIP typically sends as many folks as we can to this event and it comes highly recommended.
  • VIP Happiness Engineer Shannon Smith will be giving a talk on code review April 11 at Web a Québec, the largest French-speaking digital event in North America.
  • rtCamp is sponsoring FOSSMeet at College of Engineering Pune (COEP), one of oldest and top engineering institutes in India, April 7-8. Rahul Bansal, rtCamp’s CEO, will be speaking there about the WordPress ecosystem.
  • We will be sponsoring ONA Insights: Revenue and Engagement in Toronto, May 11th at the Globe and Mail Headquarters.
  • The awesome WordCamp for Publishers returns August 8-10 in Chicago and ticket sales are now open. Follow the Twitter handle @WCPublishers for updates. Check out our post from last year’s inaugural event to get a sense of what to expect.

Getting Ready for Gutenberg

WordPress 5.0 will bring the biggest and most exciting change to the WordPress editor experience, ever, and we want you to be ready. Much of this post will be useful for anyone running enterprise WordPress applications, anywhere, but it also mentions some things we’re doing specifically on the VIP platform or for our customers. Wherever possible we’re taking the tools we’ve developed for our own systems, and making them available for the community to take advantage of as well.

  • Try out the Gutenberg editor as a front-end experience. At our TestGutenberg.com site, you can easily try out the latest version of the Gutenberg editor on a standard WordPress site to get a feel for what it’s like to compose and edit with blocks. If you don’t already have a test environment with Gutenberg set up, this is an easy way to introduce your whole team and everyone who touches the WordPress admin to the new interface. This site is free and available for anyone to use.
  • Prepare your teams.There are a wealth of learning materials across the community thanks to the work of countless creators, including both free resources and videos and courses offered for a fee. Our documentation page points to a number of community resources and write-ups, and Gutenberg.news tracks just about everything that comes out across the community.

    For VIP clients, we’ve partnered with well-known WordPress educators Zac Gordon and Joe Casabona to develop our own videos on the Gutenberg project. VIP clients can get all the details on how to access these videos on the related Lobby post.

  • Test your customizations. No matter where your projects are hosted, you’ll want to start testing and planning now. We recommend developers to set up a local testing environment in which you can test all customizations and integrations to see how they work with Gutenberg prior to exposing it to users. To assist with that effort, we are working on compiling Gutenberg readiness information from partners and will share it when available. There is also a recently released Gutenberg compatibility library that may be helpful: https://github.com/danielbachhuber/gutenberg-plugin-compatibility#gutenberg-plugin-compatibility
  • Plan for a smooth transition. Based on testing and conversations with your teams, determine how and when you want to implement the new interface in your workflows. As mentioned previously, installing the Classic Editor Plugin will allow you to maintain the legacy editing experience after you install WordPress 5.0.

    For VIP clients, we’re developing a tool that will give our clients fine control over how Gutenberg surfaces at the Post and Page type level, both before and after 5.0 is deployed. This will give teams the ability to test more granularly ahead of time and phase the new editor in as needed based on team needs. It will also allow them to easily set a state that will persist after 5.0 launches, and we will have it set it to keep the legacy editor on by default.

    We are working on a public version of this plugin as well and will aim to release it shortly after we have it squared away for use on our own systems. More on this soon!

We’ll keep this documentation page updated with all of the latest information about Gutenberg at VIP.

An Amazing Slate of VIP Workshop Speakers

With ticket sales ending on April 13th, you’ll want to register soon for VIP Workshop, our annual enterprise WordPress gathering taking place May 14-17th. This marks the seventh year for a very special event that gets the whole extended VIP family together, including clients, partners, and community.

The speaker lineup is nearly complete, and it is shaping up to be a phenomenal three days in Napa, California. Topics run the gamut from big picture thoughts on organizational change, fostering diversity, and the future of digital, to the latest advanced topics with the Gutenberg project, to retrospectives, case studies, and best practices.

Throughout the week we’ll hear from VIP clients like TechCrunch, Nielsen, and FiveThirtyEight, agency partners Dekode, Alley Interactive, 10up, rtCamp, and XWP, and Automatticians Simon Wheatley, Miguel Fonseca, Tammie Lister, and Matt Perry.

And kicking us off will be WordPress.com President and veteran of The New York Times and National Public Radio Kinsey Wilson, and celebrated technology author and lecturer Howard Rheingold.

The schedule is split in to business and developer tracks, and includes ample opportunities for informal networking and conversations among the whole group. Session formats include joint-track full conference discussions, individual track case studies and featured topics, and flash talks.  Get the full details on speakers, formats, and topics, and all of the logistics on the Workshop site.

We keep the attendance deliberately small to make sure there are lots of opportunities for chance conversations and informal breakout discussions. Get your tickets soon!

February VIP Roundup

If you got through February without stumbling across the word “curling” once or twice, you clearly don’t follow Mr. T on Twitter. Kudos for podium performances from VIP clients Olympic.ca and Pyeongchang OlympicChannel (which also handily delivered content to the main Olympic.org homepage via widget), and to the FiveThirtyEight crew, who scored an Up Close And Personal shot with the victorious US Curling team. Read on for huge news on the AMP Project and WordPress plugin, loads of partner updates, and a special extended spotlight featuring VIP client Harry’s Five O’Clock.

Stylized shot of AMP Conf stage
From AMP Conf, February 13-14 in Amsterdam

News and Releases
Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.

  • At AMP Conf, we shared exciting news about the latest plugin, AMP for WordPress 0.7, co-created along with our partners XWP and Google. This version debuts a new AMP native mode that makes it much easier for publishers to create a single version of their content in WordPress and still take advantage of all of AMP’s benefits. (Additional thoughts from Alberto Medina, Developer Advocate at Google.)
  • VIP Enterprise Support team lead Klaus Harris provided a glimpse behind the scenes at a recent client onsite with Grupo Abril.
  • We kicked off our partner profile series, Six Questions with, starting with Trew Knowledge. Trew Knowledge released a GDPR plugin this month designed to help manage efforts to meet GDPR requirements and obligations.
  • WordPress 4.9.4 maintenance release rolled out this month. (lobby post, announcement) Jetpack version 5.8 deployed (lobby post), including updates to Jetpack Search, Lazy Images full availability (now out of beta), significant reduction in the JS and CSS footprint for certain features, and a new global filter to filter the list of active modules.
  • VIP client Quartz ran #Qzchartweek, with Managing Editor Kira Bindrim challenging the team to surface charts that are a story in themselves.
  • Alley Interactive completed a custom billing report and time tracking plugin for VIP client ThinkProgress. It allows their editorial staff to keep track of how and where their time is spent. Records are available for admins to export in bulk or review individually, along with advanced filtering options and basic analytics on data.
  • Dekode has some sort of a super top secret print project a’brewing. (We expect updates just as soon as they get back from Tobogganing Day at WordCamp Oslo.)
  • A month chock full of news from 10up included: integrating Amazon Polly technology to transform POLITICO in Europe’s daily newsletter into an engaging podcast, a core contribution to AMP which brings native support for MathML, by Lead Engineer Adam Silverstein, a tutorial authored by Engineer Nicholas Andre walking through 10up’s WP-Migration plugin for WP-CLI, featured on Smashing Magazine, a v1.1 update to their Ads.txt manager plugin, now in use on several VIP client sites, updates to their ElasticPress plugin now with full Elasticsearch 6.1 support, and a look back from the vantage point of their 7 year anniversary.
  • Marketing technology partner Sailthru released v.3.2 of their plugin. (lobby post for clients, GitHub repo).
  • Trevor Kaufman, CEO of monetization partner Piano sat down with Ricardo Bilton of NiemanLab for a conversation on the state of paywalls, revenue, and marketing in big media.

Gutenberg News and Notes
The latest tools, demos, and updates around the block-based editor coming to WordPress 5.0

Media and Marketing Notes
Research and perspectives on the business of media and the practice of marketing.

“The cornerstone of next-generation, sustainable business models for news, we believe, will be direct audience revenue supported by high levels of reader engagement.”

Elisabeth Hansen and Emily Goligoski, in the Tow Center’s Guide To Audience Revenue and Engagement.

“It’s not inexpensive to produce the content in all the different formats we produce it, so the fact that we’re investing this much into platforms like Facebook and Instagram and getting nothing in return is incredibly tough.”

-An anonymous snippet among many curated by Hilary Milnes from candid conversations at the Digiday Retail Summit in February.

Client Spotlight: Harry’s Five O’Clock


This month we are excited to share an extended spotlight featuring Harry’s Five O’Clock, which launched in January on VIP. This extended interview with Editor Caitlin Ganswindt covers the pioneering native brand publication’s evolution as a platform as well as the new social mission Harry’s has unveiled with a new short film last week.

Upcoming Events

  • VIP Director of Business Development Peter Slutsky will be featured on the Remote Work Summit this week. His talk will cover building and scaling remote teams.
  • VIP Happiness Engineer/Wrangler Shannon Smith will be giving a talk on code review April 11 at Web a Québec, the largest French-speaking digital event in North America.
  • We will be sponsoring and attending ONA Insights: Revenue and Engagement in Toronto, May 11th at the Globe and Mail Headquarters.
  • Kicking off VIP Workshop May 14-17 at the Carneros Resort in Napa will be new WordPress.com President Kinsey Wilson! Kinsey previously held executive roles at the New York Times and NPR and will share his insights on the future of digital and organizational change. We’ll be making more speaker and schedule announcements soon. Join us in Napa!

Client Spotlight: Harry’s Five O’Clock

Fresh from the January relaunch of Five O’Clock on VIP, men’s grooming brand Harry’s is in the process of launching a major initiative and set of partnerships that evolves the brand’s mission in culture and sharpens its editorial focus. Last week Harry’s released a new short film emblematic of the new approach, entitled “A Man Like You”:

We caught up with Caitlin Ganswindt, Editor at Harry’s, to hear about what’s in the works and the journey that brought her, and them, here.

Ganswindt came to Harry’s in late 2015 after serving as managing editor at Shinola and leading experiments with native, branded content at Urbandaddy. Since its origins in 2013, Five O’Clock has gone through a number of stages in its evolution from pioneering native brand magazine to the bigger cultural mission it is now embracing.

Tell us about the history of Five O’Clock and where you have taken it in since you joined.

We’re coming up on our 5th year anniversary at Harry’s in March. So you’re talking about, in 2013 starting a native publication with a very small group of people. Whatever story pitches we got pretty much went up on site. When I joined the team, they were looking for somebody who could figure out what the editorial strategy should be, and migrate the site on to a non-self-hosted solution. We just didn’t have the engineering resources to support a site, that we didn’t really know how to quantify yet, and didn’t really know the value of yet.

The original site was custom and proprietary, and very, very binary. There were only a couple of formats that we had to choose from. All of the assets were required and very finite. There was no tagging. There was no way to search on site. It was a rudimentary sort of blog…hole.

I spent the first couple of months, November and December of 2015, just doing a complete audit of the site. Everything we had run, things that worked, things that didn’t, and tried to hypothesize the what and the why. Then, in January of 2016, I made a proposal to migrate on to a customized WordPress theme, so that we could get away from the engineering constraints, and actually start testing against our point of view in real time. I started development of the second iteration of Five O’Clock using the Zuki theme, with a full custom CSS overlay of the existing theme templates.

On the last day of March 2016, the last day of Q1, which was a feather in my cap, we went live with that iteration of the site. We received a Webby nomination, and it was met with a lot of love from customers and industry folks. People were into it! They were really excited about the content that we were producing.

 What was the new editorial focus?

We started talking about grooming education. We started talking about brand happenings. Business initiatives. Iterations of our products. We introduced people to our factories. We started putting faces to the names behind our products.

And then in November of that year, 2016, we launched Five O’Clock News, which is a monthly newsletter of Five O’Clock content.

That’s also been doing really well. We have very consistent readership, with numbers firmly above industry averages. More than half of everybody who receives our emails are opening them, engaging with them, and sharing them on a regular basis.

Do you have a mental picture of what’s been most popular and what the profile of the readership looks like, based on what works and what doesn’t?

We’ve actually gone through another iteration with this new site launch, but the very clear things that are trending, and are still true today: first, grooming education. Actually learning the “how” and “why” behind the tools we make and products and practices. Highlighting ingredients – the differences between shave cream and shave gel and why you should care. How to match the grain patterns on your face to optimize your shave.

Then in January of 2017, we starting thinking as a brand and marketing team more seriously about our point of view as a company. And have been working over the past year to bring that brand mission and positioning to life in the real world.

In tandem, we realized that while the new Five O’Clock site was really beautiful and doing great things, it was also grounded in three categories: better grooming, better mornings, and better life. Because our original positioning of the brand was – “the shaving company that’s fixing shaving” – being really frustrated by the margins in between what it cost to make something, and how much people were actually paying for razors from the bigger guys. While that’s where our story started, and we realized that we can do a lot more with this microphone.

A conversation with Hamilton’s Javier Muñoz, on life, work, and his path to understanding his own masculinity

We started thinking about what we truly believed, and realized that our focus was really more about this idea of progressive masculinity. Harry’s is committed to amplifying the ongoing cultural conversation around what it means to be a man today. Because men can be both strong and nurturing, self-assured and accepting of others. The big overarching picture is that to be a good man is to be a good human. We’ve always felt that existing shave brands weren’t speaking to us in a way that resonated. And again, since launching, we’ve learned so much about our customer values. So we wanted to do our part in opening up that conversation and try to modernize ideas around masculinity, to better reflect who our customer really is.

Obviously we know that shaving is inherently masculine, and the category has been dominated by brands that have perpetuated this traditional idea of masculinity as “being the best, the strongest, the smartest, the toughest.” But in real life, guys are a lot more than those traditional stereotypes. There is no one box that can define a person, and we feel like it’s time for brands to promote a more progressive vision of masculinity. But, moreover, we want to help guys define what it is to be a man on their own terms. Embrace whatever attitude and behaviors actually are resonating with them, and have a safe space to be who they are, or who they’re not, and embrace the parts of themselves that have previously been off limits according to these outdated ideals.

It’s quite a maturation of vision from “fixing shaving” to this bigger, cultural piece, with a lot of area to explore.

Yeah, definitely. We’re rolling out our new social mission over the coming weeks as well. Harry’s is partnering with a few really wonderful charitable organizations, to donate a portion of our profits to, and join the movement behind the initiatives and the conversations that they are pushing forward.

But by and large, as far as Five O’Clock is concerned, we’ve realized there’s a real whitespace when it comes to men’s lifestyle content. With all these fights for gender, marriage, class, equality, all over, men are facing new dynamics that are having them question these traditional ideals of what it means to be a real man. We think that the tension between the past and the future are really important to highlight and have real, candid conversation around.

We feel that Five O’Clock is a microphone to amplify these voices and galvanize this new generation by cultivating a space for real discourse. I think what drives us most is to lead in culture and raise awareness by bringing positive attention to these progressive shifts, rather than just focusing on the negative.

Lena Waithe on the significance of her Emmy win, her career path, and the causes she supports

Tell us about where you are today with that mission and project. What has been shared so far?

We have a new brand campaign that came out on the 26th. It is a video called “A Man Like You.” I think that may bring to a finer point the goals of the messaging.

One of the partners we’re aligning with is The Representation Project. They’re focused on helping guys understand misrepresentation and breaking down barriers of harmful stereotypes. We worked with GSD&M, a creative agency out of Austin and The Representation Project to create this film. We’ve also rolled out on Five O’Clock, profiles with the founders of The Representation Project and A Call to Men, another organization that we’re partnering with for our social mission. In the UK we’re collaborating with an organization called CALM (Campaign against Living Miserably) that focuses on awareness on mental health and also suicide prevention among men. We’ll have a profile and some great initiatives coming out with them soon.

Over the next several weeks and months, you’ll definitely see us putting a bigger stake in the ground around these conversations for sure.

It all sounds amazing. How do Five O’Clock and Harry’s fit together? How does the one connect up with the larger organization?

We feel like Five O’Clock is the place where our point of view can be loudest. It’s the most concentrated as far as participating in these conversations. It serves as a point of discovery and inspiration for people who feel like they’re ethos and values are in line with this progressive future.

It definitely serves as a contrast, particularly if you look in the broader world of beauty across masculinity and femininity – having a strong magnetic pull that says ‘This is what we’re about. If you’re about this, become a part of our…of us.”

Totally, and I think that’s definitely the goal. And it’s not to say anybody else is doing it wrong. Brands have found, and will continue to find success in myriad ways. But taking two steps back and reflecting on the state of culture and the world right now, we feel like particularly that grooming—you can call it beauty, sure—it’s a lot deeper than that. Shaving is important for upkeep, but it’s also a moment to make you feel good. And there are so many other things that are important to feel good as a human.

A profile on Justin Baldoni and Man Enough, the new series exploring traditional masculinity

What do you think about the observation that in the current political moment, skincare is all of the sudden becoming a bigger piece of self care than it was before?

I don’t necessarily know if that is tied to a cultural moment. I think that care routines in general are becoming more center lane, and I think that that’s a little bit more of a technology thing. With social media, if you look at Glossier, Fenty Beauty—it’s the age of bloggers—we’ve never before had such democratized access to product reviews in real time.

If you think back to the original general store, if you needed a product, you went and you talked to the shopkeeper and said, “This is what’s going on and this is what I need.” And they would make a recommendation on the right product for you. You weren’t competing with branded advertorials. It wasn’t the guy who has the most money made the loudest boom, and that’s who you went with.

And now, in the age of bloggers, and independent brands, and direct to consumer, I think that we’re actually coming back to that original moment of …all of this information is available, so it’s about what you need and what you want and then you can find the product and brand that is most in line with that. I think it goes beyond just the quality of the products themselves and ladders up more to, “Is this brand for me in general?”

Tell us about the current iteration of the site, and the move to VIP.

As we were working on this updated brand positioning, we realized we’d also need to overhaul the Five O’Clock editorial mission to be in line with that. So we were thinking, yet again, of overhauling our content space. Part of the challenge we wanted to solve for was to be able to see the whole 360-degree user funnel. We wanted to improve our approach to data as far as who is using the site. Are they Harry’s customers? Are they more valuable because they are reading our content? Those kinds of questions, and that’s how we came to VIP.

In March of last year I put together a proposal for this migration. And then building all of the piping on our end to use the analytics we’re now able to use. We started development in September, and we launched live in January of this year. The whole site is fully custom. We’re doing some really cool things as far as styling on galleries. We have a really lovely dynamic scroll on the homepage as well as all of our article pages that have a gradient treatment, which is not something we see super often. Also, the entire site is set up super scalable to our business needs. For example, we built in hexadecimal code fields for every category on the site. Which means changing the look and feel of the homepage is as simple as changing the color scheme that’s aligned with a particular content category. So, if we had a big campaign or partnership we were rolling out that we wanted to do a whole new treatment for, we have that immediate flexibility without actually getting in to the code.

We’re also now running a reverse proxy for hosting, so the domain is now Harry’s.com/fiveoclock. We’ve also set up a child environment where we can theoretically host all of our acquisition/DR pages. So for the first time everything that we’re creating as a brand is all indexed against the same domain, providing that full 360 user funnel.

Over the next year, two years, and beyond, my focus is going to be figuring out what that attribution model looks like, understanding the real brass tacks – things like profitability of content on long term customer value. And that’s definitely where we’re heading next.

How does this new brand and site relaunch feel for you, to have done so much in evolving Five O’Clock multiple times in such a compressed period of time?

I think that this is a next step in one of the most exciting years for Harry’s as a brand, and Five O’Clock as a publication. I definitely feel lucky that, as an editor, we’ve had such confidence from our co-founders from the start, and that we were given the years necessary to hone in and prove out the channel. And I’m just really excited for the opportunities Five O’Clock has ahead.

You’ve built a very progressive case and grown this thing deliberately over time. Any advice for others who might be trying to develop similar evolutions for their publications?

I think the most important thing is to keep yourself in check. Particularly working at a brand, if you’re talking about native content, there tends to be one editorialist in a room. So that person needs to remember to take two steps back and ask themselves “Do I give a shit about this piece of content that I’m putting out in the world? Do I believe in it? Do I care personally?” If these answers are no, then you’re probably not on the right path. At the end of the day, even if it’s branded content, it’s still content, and as an editor, you’re wasting your mind if you’re putting things out into the world that you don’t feel are spurring or perpetuating culture or conversation.

Highlights from Five O’Clock:

January VIP Roundup

After the briefest of holiday breaks in many places, the new year roared to life across the enterprise WordPress community. Most recently, VIP client USA Today’s Ad Meter launched ahead of the Superb Owl of American sport, and just hours ago crowned Amazon this year’s advertising winner. With Alley Interactive, we completed a successful data migration of Women In The World from WordPress.com to VIP Go, helping to decouple it from The New York Times.

The Gutenberg editor plugin reached version 2.1 and gained lots of great enhancements. Featured Partner Human Made implemented it on their site and provided an inside look at how it went. Read on for lots more, as well as upcoming events.

Dekode’s Björn Johansen presenting at WordCamp Stockholm

News and Releases
Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.

  • New Relic application monitoring, the same tool set we use to monitor and optimize site performance, is now available for all clients on VIP Go. We also released Liveblog v.1.7, developed by partner agency Big Bite Creative, which includes a fully rebuilt React front end.
  • Early bird tickets are now available for everyone’s favorite gathering of the enterprise WordPress ecosystem, this year’s VIP Workshop, May 14-17th in Napa, California. We’re putting together the best lineup of speakers and sessions yet, and we’ll have updates to share on that soon.
  • WordPress 4.9.2 security and maintenance release came out this month (lobby post), as well as Jetpack 5.7 (lobby, public announcement), bringing easier customization for Jetpack Search among other improvements. Jetpack 5.7.1 maintenance release followed shortly thereafter (lobby.)
  • In early January Dekode published an expansive look back at their year, including projects, growth, goals, and their new office in the center of Oslo. From the post: “As we all know…Our work life consists of all the small things that happen as we move forward, the tiny breakthroughs in a complicated task, or a moment of clarity in a workshop with a client, or it could be the sun that blinds your vision as it reflects your computer screen, forcing you to go out for a deserved 2 minute break with your sunglasses on.”
  • Earlier this month, Alley Interactive completed a data migration for Women In The World (WITW) from WordPress.com to the VIP Go platform, which also involved a new url: https://womenintheworld.com.  This was an effort to effectively decouple WITW from the New York Times. After doing an initial data migration to the new Go hosting, Alley planned a specific date and time for the final migration. VIP hosted a launch session with Alley and WITW on Stormchat to ensure that all of the data was properly migrated. Daniel Gale-Rosen at Alley noted, “Everything went off without a hitch and VIP was even able to import WITW’s old site usage statistics to their new site’s WordPress Dashboard.”
  • New Relic is now featuring 10up’s advanced WordPress integration, New Relic Reporting for WordPresson their Connect Directory. Additional releases from an action-packed period for 10up include: Async Transients, an open source Composer library that improves handling of WordPress transient caches especially at enterprise scale, a significant update to Urban Airship Web Push Notifications, and Ads.txt Manager for WordPress, which adds validation and testing tool for the rapidly growing standard.
  • At XWP, Mike Crantea published a set of recommendations for improving Google Page Speed, and Luke Carbis offered a perspective on AMP’s role on the web. And as of January, the AMP plugin for WordPress, which XWP supports along with Google and Automattic, is now at version 0.6. Among other improvements, the new version has merged the AMP Customizer with the main Customizer, and has out-of-the-box support for Pages.
  • rtCamp was the Gold sponsor for the second edition of WordCamp Udaipur, the City of Lakes, January 27-8. Later in February, Rahul Bansal will be speaking at WordCamp Bangkok about the qualities and assurances that enterprises look for while choosing a content management systems. rtCamp is also one of the sponsors of this WordCamp.
  • Getty Images has deprecated plugin versions earlier than 2.4.4 (lobby). We recommend updating to the latest, currently version 3.0.

Gutenberg News and Notes
The latest tools, demos, and updates around the block-based editor coming to WordPress 5.0

We encourage everyone to install the Gutenberg plugin in a test environment and start working with it. For clients, your VIP support team is available as always to help. If you’re already developing blocks or related tools, let us know! We’d love to hear about them. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the highlights from across the community last month:

  • Gutenberg v2.0 came out January 12th with lots of big updates including refinements to copy and pasting, mobile usability, the block API, the block library, and accessibility. Matías ran down all of the changes and offered a demo video as well. As of this post, it’s at version 2.1.
  • Tammie shared a post outlining the basics of Gutenberg design piece by piece.
  • In a tweet, Matías showed off the ability to paste Markdown text directly into Gutenberg.
  • Matt Mullenweg stopped by a WordPress Orlando meetup and answered questions about the Gutenberg project in an open floor, town hall-style session. Here’s an unofficial recap of the questions and answers.
  • Matthew Haines-Young at Human Made wrote up his experiences in adding Gutenberg compatibility to their main site, including 13 custom blocks and a UI for editing them.
  • Aaron Jorbin reflected on six months of using Gutenberg so far, including eighteen posts.
  • Gutenberg.news, Mike McAlister‘s ongoing collection of resources and tutorials, came on line this month. It’s another great way to stay up to date.

Media and Marketing Notes
Research and perspectives on the business of media and the practice of marketing.

“Publishers are also using these Interactive Advertising Bureau-backed text files to organize inventory reports they share with advertisers, drive programmatic direct deals and shop for vendors.”

Ross Benes at Digiday, in a story exploring additional uses publishers have found for ads.txt.

“When you create a subscription business model, your incentives change significantly,” [he said.] “You’re trying to build a really deep relationship with your reader. No one is going to subscribe if they think that what you’re doing is not unique … You do want as many readers as possible. You do want people to come frequently. But what you really want them to do is love your stories.”

-Wired Editor In Chief Nick Thompson, in an article and podcast conversation with Peter Kafka at Recode about Wired’s newly unveiled paywall.

Upcoming Events

  • As mentioned up top, we’re excited to share the dates for VIP Workshop, May 14-17, and have opened up early bird ticketing. It’s our favorite time of the year! We hope to see you all there.
  • LoopConf is happening February 21-24 in Salt Lake City, Utah and Automattic will be participating as a sponsor. Automatticians Mel Choyce and Dennis Snell will also be presenting, along with Human Made’s John Blackbourn. Tickets are still available.
  • Recode’s Code Media, an immersive, two-day media and technology event hosted by Peter Kafka and Kara Swisher, is coming up February 12-13 in Huntington Beach, CA.
  • AMPConf is coming up February 13-14 in Amsterdam. Alberto Medina from Google along with XWP’s Thierry Muller will be presenting on AMP powering WordPress on the first day, and Gil Birman and Brian Ta from Airbnb will be on a panel on monetization and retail on the second.
  • Dekode, WooCommerce, and Jetpack are all diamond sponsors of WordCamp Oslo March 2-3. Speakers include our own Tess Needham, Scott Baasgard and Magne Ilsaas from Dekode, and John Blackbourn from Human Made.

Send us your news, events, awards, and other info for the next issue. And sign up below to receive these roundups via email:

Independent Speed and Performance Analysis Finds VIP Fastest among Top Tier Hosts

WordPress.com VIP has once again been acknowledged as a top-tier provider of enterprise-level WordPress hosting, posting the fastest average response times from a range of global testing locations in independent analysis carried out by Review Signal.

Each year Kevin Ohashi at Review Signal evaluates enterprise WordPress hosts, and again in 2018 WordPress.com VIP joins a strong top tier. In the language of the review system, top tier means, “companies who maintain 99.9% uptime throughout the entire testing and show little to no performance degradation during load testing.”

After putting up “the absolute fastest scores [I’ve seen] by a wide margin” in our first participation in the rankings last year, this year VIP’s performance shone again. In addition to meeting each metric for top tier status, our scores in the WebPageTest.org tests showed off the speed of our content delivery network in accomplishing its main function – serving content as fast as possible to end users all over the world. Of the 11 locations used to test, VIP came out ahead in 9 of them, and we scored second in the two others. In his review, Ohashi concluded “[VIP] were delivering content the fastest on average around the world in the WebPageTest tests. Another Top Tier Performance award easily earned for WordPress.com VIP.”

Raw speed and performance is more than just an area for bragging rights. In terms of both search algorithm ranking factors and the behaviors and bounce rate of site visitors, it translates to real business value.

 

Liveblog 1.7 Brings a React Front End and More

We’re pleased to announce the release of Liveblog v1.7, which introduces a completely new React-powered front end, adds new features and provides improved support for liveblogging from mobile devices.

Our Liveblog plugin offers a powerful and easy to use way to cover high profile events on an owned channel. With it you can host frequently updated real time event coverage pages, drawing in collaboration from multiple contributors who may be in multiple places. Many of our clients use Liveblog in their newsrooms to cover awards shows, big sporting events, and breaking news.

The new front end, rebuilt from the ground up, offers the enhanced performance and simplicity of React while retaining the existing Liveblog feature set, including:

  • Key events
  • Hashtags
  • Lazy loading of events
  • Slash commands

Check out the added autocomplete and emoji rendering features in action:

And it adds some of our most frequently requested enhancements:

  • A more mobile-friendly interface
  • Easier image insertion, including on mobile
  • Better formatting tools
  • Pagination of entries
  • Performance improvements for high-traffic liveblogs

Here’s a quick run-through of what’s new for editors:

[wpvideo eit7R2eq]

And for users:

[wpvideo gEZvCwf9]

Special thanks to our development partner on the project, VIP featured partner Big Bite Creative, who with this great release have set a new foundation for continued enhancements to a critical newsroom tool.

“It’s been a rewarding few months working with the VIP team on what has been the biggest update since the original release. And it doesn’t stop here! With 1.8 already in works, we’re excited to demonstrate how easy it is to extend the new UI with some exciting new features.” said Liam Defty, Release Lead at Big Bite.

In this talk from BigWP London in December, you can hear Jason from Big Bite introduce the context behind this new release and a share a bit about what’s coming next.

If you’re a VIP client and have any questions about how to upgrade, check the Lobby post for specific instructions, or get in touch with your VIP support team.

Bugs, feature requests, and contributions are more than welcome on GitHub. And anyone can download and use the plugin via WordPress.org.

December VIP Roundup

For many, December was a frenzy of activity kicking off with WordCamp US (more in last month’s special edition roundup) and continuing from there, followed by a good chunk of quiet heading in to 2018. As the year turns, once again we share a look back at news and updates from across the enterprise WordPress ecosystem.

From December’s BigWP London, at Twitter HQ (photo by @scottsweb)

News and Releases
Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.

  • There has been a flurry of Gutenberg-related activity across the community since the exciting updates and live demo at the State of the Word, including new resources, demos, and videos. WP Tavern has gathered many of them in one central post for easy discovery. Human Made published a white paper on Gutenberg with a wide range of contributors including Tammie Lister, Anna Harrison of TinyMCE, Greg Priday of SiteOrigin, and their own Ant Miller, Joe McGill, and Matthew Haines-Young. And 10up‘s Helen Hou-Sandi explored how Gutenberg could bring better integration between ads and content. Also, don’t miss our overview of what’s coming in the Gutenberg editor, and how to best prepare for the transition.
  • Jetpack 5.6 was released in early December (Announcement, Lobby post), followed up by 5.7 earlier this week (Announcement, Lobby). Updates include enhancements to Elasticsearch-based Search, JavaScript minifcation, and various other improvements and bug fixes.
  • You can now find full videos of the talks from December’s BigWP London meetup on VIP News: Tammie Lister on Gutenberg, Jason Agnew from Big Bite on the Liveblog project, Parker Ward from Capgemini on their migration from Drupal to WordPress and VIP, and Dan Drave from Sotic on their work with the Lions tour.
  • Automattic updated our user privacy policy, with changes going in to effect as of January 3, 2018. This policy affects users of our services, but does not apply to the information we collect on our VIP clients’ behalf about their site visitors – that information is covered under our existing agreements with our VIP Clients.
  • Dekode‘s Magne Ilsaas published Modularity by Design, an essay on what modular design and development means at Dekode and how it informs their entire approach.
  • Urban Airship released a WordPress integration for web notifications, developed with 10up.
  • SailThru released version 3.1 of their plugin (VIP News, Lobby post), bringing finer controls for developers and users.
  • Storify notified its users of its sunsetting timeline, with the service and web site going offline for good as of May 18, 2018. (Lobby post, Storify’s FAQ)

Media and Marketing Notes
Research and perspectives on the business of media and the practice of marketing.

“The good news: Of those who are not paying for online news now, younger Americans are more willing to pay in the future, possibly because they often already pay for other forms of digital media. The bad news: No more than 2 percent of people surveyed in any country said they are “very likely” to pay for news in the future.”

-Denise-Marie Ordway summarizing a University of Oxford study on paying for news online, in a roundup of the most important digital and social media research from 2017.

 In addition to using the platform as a reporter’s notebook or to fact-check statements, some people used tweets to really explain the journalism they were doing in a really human way. The explanations were amazing, clear and necessary. But Twitter is the worst place for them.

-Melody Kramer evaluates the value and limitations of journalistic tweetstorms as they became a much bigger part of the landscape in 2017.

Featured Launch(es)

With the year drawing to a close and a new one just beginning, this month we wanted to recognize all of the fantastic work done across the VIP family this year. We are proud to celebrate all of you, our clients, partners, colleagues, and community members. This post from the WordPress.com blog highlights some of this year’s moments and launches from across the Automattic family.

Upcoming Events

  • O’Reilly’s OSCON, which takes place July 18-19 in Portland, OR, is accepting speaker submissions until January 30.
  • LoopConf, an annual WordPress developer conference, is happening February 21-24 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Automatticians Mel Choyce and Dennis Snell will be presenting, along with Human Made’s John Blackbourn. Early bird tickets are still available.
  • Recode’s Code Media, an immersive, two-day media and technology event hosted by Peter Kafka and Kara Swisher, will take place February 12-13 in Huntington Beach, CA.

Send us your news, events, awards, and other info for the next issue. And sign up below to receive these roundups via email:

The WordPress Tool Set Powering the Lions Tour

Note: This is part of a series of posts highlighting talks from the BigWP London meetup at Twitter HQ on the evening of December 7. 

Sotic are a digital agency focused solely on sport, who recently adopted WordPress as their strategic development platform of choice. Senior front-end developer Dan Drave peeled back the curtain on the specialized knowledge and experience they have gained in building digital platforms for some of the biggest brands and governing bodies in European sport. Specifically, Dan’s talk shared the approaches and tools they used to support the British and Irish Lions as they faced the mighty All Blacks (now also running WordPress, by the way) earlier this summer.

The key elements that define Sotic’s approach include:

  • A custom WordPress theme built specifically as a sports CMS foundation
  • Custom Post Types that support unique formats such as quotes and fun facts
  • Advanced Custom Fields to weave the post type fields into templates
  • Sotic Metadata and Widgets that work with their customized API
  • The WordPress REST API

In this clip, Dan explains the mission and functional requirements involved in supporting a high scale sport site such as the Lions Tour:

Watch Dan’s talk in full:

More from this month’s BigWP London:

Capgemini’s Move from Drupal to WordPress

Note: This is part of a series of posts highlighting talks from the BigWP London meetup at Twitter HQ on the evening of December 7. 

Earlier this year, global consulting and technology leader Capgemini completed an impressive replatforming from Drupal to WordPress and to WordPress.com VIP, supported by agency partner Human Made. Parker Ward, global head of digital and content at Capgemini, took to the BigWP podium last week to share highlights of the case study.

The initiative successfully addressed a number of shortcomings of the previous system, from administrative bottlenecks in making changes to a challenging and unfriendly interface that itself caused churn within teams who were required to use it. Where previously the site was dependent on 4 Drupal webmasters, their new WordPress build already had 70 people managing content across 40 markets, with more to follow.

The new WordPress platform also put in place new functionality that will better support the needs of Capgemini’s 200,000 employee global operation. Adding a simple, powerful shared publishing calendar has allowed teams of marketers globally to free up their email inboxes and share an always updated canonical record of what content each team is running, day after day.  Another new feature Parker highlighted involves customized syndication tools that empower local editors to manage their own use of global content and also share content laterally.

In this clip, you’ll hear Parker describe the state of the previous Drupal system and the processes around it, at the time when he was brought on board, and some of the challenges the new WordPress system solved for:

Watch Parker’s talk in full:

More from this month’s BigWP London:

What’s Next for the Liveblog Plugin

Note: This is part of a series of posts highlighting talks from the BigWP London meetup at Twitter HQ on the evening of December 7. 

Jason Agnew, technical director at our agency partner Big Bite, presented an overview of the work they’re doing with us to rebuild and update our popular and powerful Liveblog WordPress plugin, initially released in 2012 and up for a re-release soon.

He started with some perspective on how and why big media companies use Liveblog, to create rolling coverage of breaking news (see: GlobalNews.ca) and high profile events like national elections or the Academy Awards. It’s a fantastic way to host a single, frequently updated page in real time, usually with contributions from a number of writers and editors who may be watching and curating from multiple external locations and sources.

Jason went through some of the advantages of the Liveblog approach over things like Tweetstorms:

  • No item length limitation
  • Support for all kinds of form factors
  • Ability to run more than one at a time
  • Persists after the event without any additional effort

In this clip, Jason talks about the project’s goals and the focus of the next release:

Watch Jason’s talk in full:

More from this month’s BigWP London:

Gutenberg at BigWP London

 Note: This is part of a series of posts highlighting talks from the BigWP London meetup at Twitter HQ on the evening of December 7. 

Fresh from participating in WordCamp US and meeting with several enterprise WordPress teams at big media companies in New York, Gutenberg design lead Tammie Lister (@karmatosed) took the BigWP crowd through an overview of the project and a look at the editor plugin’s latest progress (more background on Gutenberg here).

The strength of WordPress is based on its large, diverse and passionate community of users and developers, and it’s fair to say that passions have been stirred by Gutenberg and its implications. With all development happening in public, it has been easy for anyone with an interest to jump in and participate. The team has welcomed that engagement, providing a range of perspectives that have helped to refine the user experience with each weekly release.

In the clip below, Tammie describes some of the ways the team has brought in feedback and hands-on user participation, including online and via an in person testing booth at WordCamp US.

Watch Tammie’s talk in full:

More from this month’s BigWP London:

November VIP Roundup, Special WCUS Edition

This month’s edition of the enterprise WordPress roundup straddles a bit of December in order to cover news from WordCamp US this past weekend. We’ll start there before bringing you news and updates from our team, clients and partners and across the ecosystem.

photo via @WordCampUS

State Of The Word 2017

An amazing WordCamp US wrapped up this past weekend. Highlights from this year’s State Of The Word (full video) included:

  • Technical lead Matías Ventura performing a live demo of the new WordPress editor experience, Gutenberg, showing off how it all works in the plugin today (read our VIP guide to what’s coming for enterprise users)
  • The target ship date for the Gutenberg editor in core (April 2018) and the areas of focus for the coming year: Gutenberg editor, Gutenberg customization, and then a Gutenberg-specific theme
  • Impressive stats from the Hacker One initiative, with 52 WordPress bugs resolved and 46 hackers thanked
  • The formal announcement of the Tide project, a series of automated tests whose mission is to raise the code quality of all plugins, with participation from XWP and Google in addition to Automattic
  • WP-CLI becoming an official core project

You’ll find more highlights as well as presentations from the sessions in our team VIP recap.

News and Releases
Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.

  • VIP released our new Cron infrastructure, which handles your enterprise-sized task queues with ease. We shared some of our best practices for WordPress application security. And DC web agency WDG interviewed VIP Director of Strategic Partnerships Tamara Sanderson on how to evaluate a hosting and support partner.
  • WordPress 4.9 went out (Lobby post, announcement, release notes), bringing design drafts, scheduling, and locking to the Customizer, and much more. Security and maintenance release 4.9.1 (Lobby post) followed on at the end of November.
  • XWP interviewed the three leads of the WordPress 4.9 release. XWP also published part one of a series on decoupled CMS.
  • Big Bite released version 2 of of Macy.js, a Pinterest-style masonry layout library. Big Bite also posted a balanced view on AMP, offering pros and cons of implementing it along with some recommendations.
  • 10up released the Distributor plugin, for content syndication and reuse across web sites.
  • Rian Rietveld at Human Made published an overview of Accessible Design, running down principles, methods, and resources.

Media and Marketing Notes
Research and perspectives on the business of media and the practice of marketing.

“How could we think more broadly about triggering a paywall or taking it down? What other mechanisms could we use besides article count?”

-Melody Kramer, writing at Poynter, offers a whole host of fresh ideas for how to rethink paywall usage.

“In a first step, the Project has released eight trust indicators that newsrooms can add to their content. This information will help readers understand more about what type of story they’re reading, who wrote it, and how the article was put together.”

-Jeff Chang, Group Product Manager for Search at Google, in an announcing the Trust Project, which is working with 75+ news organizations worldwide to come up with a set of story markers to help readers assess article credibility.

“Rather than frame the online overhaul as yet another “brand as publisher” pivot, Poggenpohl sees it more as an SEO play. After all, most visitors to BMW.com come via search engines rather than directly, he added. ”

-Seb Joseph at Digiday, referring to Jörg Poggenpohl, BMW’s head of digital marketing on the strategy behind the new content-driven bmw.com.

Featured Launch

We are thrilled to welcome global leader in consulting, technology, and outsourcing services Capgemini to the VIP family! Agency partner Human Made led the replatforming of Capgemini’s main site from Drupal and Acquia to WordPress and VIP.

Upcoming Events

  • Early bird tickets and speaker application submissions are now open for WordCamp Europe, which will take place June 15-16.
  • PHP Conference in Brazil is on now, and runs from December 6-10. Automattic is sponsoring and several VIPs are there.
  • Recode’s Code Media, an immersive, two-day media and technology event hosted by Peter Kafka and Kara Swisher, will take place February 12-13 in Huntington Beach, CA.

Send us your news, events, awards, and other info for the next issue. And sign up below to receive these roundups via email:

Where to See VIP and Friends at WordCamp US 2017

We hope to see you tomorrow and this weekend, December 1-3 at WordCamp US in Nashville or the next best thing, remote via free livestream. With so many fantastic sessions going on all weekend, we put together a guide to which ones feature folks from across the extended VIP family:

WordCamp US 2016 in Philly, uploaded by Seth Goldstein under CC-BY-SA 2.0

On Friday:

Last year’s State of the Word, uploaded by Luca Sartoni under CC-By-SA 2.0

On Saturday:

And also:

    Stop by the Gutenberg usability testing booth, where Tammie Lister and other members of the Gutenberg team will take you through short tasks and a brief survey designed to gather data that will inform bug stomping and fine-tuning.

And if you can’t make it in person, you can also grab a free ticket to catch the live stream of the entire weekend’s sessions.

Photo by Tammie Lister

October VIP Roundup

October happenings in enterprise WordPress included the Online News Association’s annual conference in DC, lots of new updates on the Gutenberg editor project, WordPress 4.9, AMP’s second birthday, and much more.

New mural at Trew Knowledge HQ, by Toronto artist Leeandra Rae Cianci

News and Releases
Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.

  • Automattician Dan Walmsley took to the Chrome Dev Summit stage to share the exciting findings from his experiments with Das Surma. They used Progressive Web App technologies delivered via an experimental version of Jetpack to dramatically speed up site performance for simulated low-end mobile devices on slow 3G networks, the common setup for the fastest growing segment of the internet.
  • Congratulations to our own Mo Jangda for winning a Google Open Source Peer Bonus award for his work on the AMP Project, which turned 2 this month. We shared AMP success stories from the New York Post, PMC, and 9to5 network.
  • If you’re looking to implement Ads.txt, our new doc provides code and instructions to get you up and running.
  • Through October the Gutenberg editor project rounded version 1.5, which included the first step towards meta box support, and is now at 1.6. This latest release was a big one and focuses mainly on the writing experience. Keep an eye out for the Gutenberg testing table at WordCamp US in December, where you can help the project by taking part in short tests. And for a fantastic project overview, check out Matías Ventura’s Gutenberg, or The Ship of Theseus.
  • WordPress 4.9 will be released this month (November). It’s chock full of updates to the Customizer and the Customize JS API, including the ability to draft and schedule Customizer changes, and generate a Customizer preview link. VIP clients can get a full list of changes as well as update schedule and testing notes in this Lobby post.
  • Designed and built by 10up, BetterNews.org is a new site launched by American Press Institute that helps newsrooms and publishing innovators embrace and accelerate digital transformations. 10up and API collaborated to architect the experience to support practical execution, engage users, and serve as a living resource for best practices.
  • Community engineer Jenny Wong breaks down why and how Human Made contributes to open source.
  • Rob Stinson at XWP offers examples that illustrate how big teams customize their tools and workflow to unblock content creators from reliance on development resources to get things done.
  • Technology partner Webdam’s new Connector for Salesforce integrates marketing and sales assets into Salesforce workflow, offering access control, tracking, and easy curation to identify the right tools for each need.

Media and Marketing Notes
Research and perspectives on the business of media and the practice of marketing.

“Micropayments are a middle ground for someone who reads enough content to hit the paywall but isn’t necessarily a candidate for a subscription, [he said.] “That’s the problem with the typical metered paywall.”

-Max Willens at Digiday, on how micropayments might best fit in to the publishing revenue mix.

“…while other livestreaming sites and services have passionate (sometimes niche) audiences, Facebook Live is the only place I can expect that guy I met at a conference four years ago and my grandmother to watch my video together.”

-Poynter digital tools reporter Ren LaForme, in a balanced take on the value of Facebook Live for media, along with other tool recommendations.

“The lesson here is that public statements on social media are interesting indicators of how people project themselves to others, especially for public figures, but should be complementary with other reporting and interpreted with caution.”

-Buzzfeed News reporter Lam Thuy Vo, in findings on the patterns and issues in social media publishing unearthed as part of her Buzzfeed Open Lab fellowship.

Featured Launch

Welcome back to the VIP family, Us Weekly! Founded in 1977, Us Weekly is one of the largest magazines in the US with over 1,950,000 paid copies per week and site traffic of over 20 million visitors per month. VIP agency partner 10up led the migration and replatforming, which involved moving almost 88,000 articles.

Past Events

There were a whole slew of WordCamps this past month, 22 worldwide in October alone. Here are a few highlights:

  • Gutenberg project co-lead and Automattician Tammie Lister delivered a fantastic overview of the project at WordCamp Dublin. The slides on their own provide a good grounding and debunk some common misconceptions.
  • From WordCamp Toronto, recap notes from Trew Knowledge run down talks on optimization and A/B testing, working with meta boxes, modern site standards, headless and “brainless” WordPress, and more.
  • Davis Shaver from Alley Interactive presented a history of the WordPress editor at WordCamp Baltimore.
  • rtCamp shared highlights from WordCamp Ahmedabad, with bonus Harlem Shake video.

In addition, Steph Yiu shared snippets from her conversations with colleagues at our booth and throughout the ONA conference in DC.

Upcoming Events

  • 10up will be sponsoring Klein News Innovation Camp 2017, Nov. 4th in Philadelphia, and CEO John Eckman will be attending. This unconference, formerly known as “Barcamp News Innovation” (BCNI) brings together journalists and technologists to help create better communities and conversations on the web.
  • rtCamp is sponsoring the second edition of WordCamp Nashik taking place in on November 5th.
  • The massive Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal is November 6-9, with 60,000+ attendees and over 1,000 speakers including Gabe Karp, 10up’s Head of Europe. Gabe will be part of a Marketing Technology panel in the Growth Summit track on Nov. 7th.
  • Digital Media LATAM is coming up November 14-16 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The largest digital media conference in Latin American brings together senior leadership from the most successful global digital media companies across business, editorial, and technology topic areas.
  • WordCamp US will be December 1-3 in Nashville, TN. A stellar line-up of speakers includes VIP engineers Philip John and Ryan Markel, Weston Ruter from XWP, Vivek Jain from rtCamp, Jason Bahl from VIP client Digital First Media, and Nathaniel Schweinberg from Human Made.
  • BigWP London is back on Thursday December 7th at 6pm at Twitter HQ. Sign up at Meetup.com to be the first to know when the speaker and topic lineup is announced.
  • SRCCON: Work is December 7-8 in Philadelphia. Ticketing is now closed, but if you want to attend and didn’t get a ticket, volunteer opportunities are still available.

Send us your news, events, awards, and other info for the next issue. And sign up below to receive these roundups via email:

September VIP Roundup

We have lots of great updates from September from across the enterprise WordPress community. Read on for exciting launches at People, Stack Overflow, and Hachette Book Group, the latest on the Gutenberg plugin, new analytics from SailThru and NewsCred, a busy October in events and conferences, and more.

A workshop for kids at the first WordCamp Varna (photo and workshop by Human Made’s Petya Raykovska)

News and Releases
Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.

  • The Gutenberg editor plugin reached version 1.2, and now includes post meta support. Automattician @GaryPendergast has shared a sample plugin for testing.
  • There has been a steady stream of new features coming to the WordPress mobile apps including an improved login experience as of mid-August. Coming up in October, look out for news about the all-new media picker for iOS.
  • Version 1.6 of the Liveblog plugin is available, which includes REST API support, performance improvements for lazy loading, and much more. (Lobby post for VIPs, GitHub repo)
  • WordPress 4.8.2 security and maintenance release came out on September 19th and deployed for VIPs. (Announcement, Lobby post)
  • People launched their rebranded over-the-top video streaming service, PeopleTV, which is available on streaming platforms including Roku and AppleTV, as well as on People.com — for which Alley Interactive handled the integration.
  • In this episode of the Yonder podcast, Jeff Robbins interviews Alley’s Austin Smith and Bridget McNulty about running a fully distributed company.
  • This month, just a couple of years after Stack Overflow publicly announced that their blog was leaving WordPress, 10up finished a redesign of the Stack Overflow blogs, following its work to migrate them back to WordPress earlier in the year.
  • The New Relic plugin for WordPress, developed by 10up, is now listed in New Relic’s official “Connect”/integrations site.
  • Sailthru has released a personalization index for tracking online retailers. The index evaluates 100 retail brands across a number of criteria (methodology) relating to the customer experience.
  • NewsCred has updated its approach to analytics to focus on conversion and content-driven ROI.

Media and Marketing Notes
Research and perspectives on the business of media and the practice of marketing.

“More recently, our full site [npr.org] has made major accessibility gains,” write Patrick Cooper, NPR’s director of web and engagement, and Sara Goo, the managing editor of digital news. “But as accessible or as fast as you can make your full site —and speed is critical for us — low-bandwidth situations are a different challenge. [Our] improvements focused on those users in particular.”

  • An excerpt from Melody Kramer’s story in Poynter on how news organizations develop thin, text-only versions of their sites for natural disaster situations and low-bandwidth users.

According to data from comScore, the publishers that pivoted to video this summer have seen at least a 60 percent drop in their traffic in August compared to the same period from a year ago. Mic went from 17.5 million visitors in August 2016 to 6.6 million visitors in August 2017, according to comScore. The decline at Vocativ was even more drastic as it went from 4 million visitors in August 2016 to a 175,000 visitors in July 2017.

  • Ross Benes at Digiday, on traffic correlations relating to publishers’ recent approaches to emphasizing video over text.

Analyzing the mobile traffic data and reader behavior across the sites in its network, Chartbeat found that AMP pages load 4 times faster than standard mobile sites (1.4 seconds vs. 5.3 seconds). The performance of Instant Articles was even more impressive. According to Chartbeat, nearly 90 percent of Instant Articles load too quickly for the company to register a load time.

  • Ricardo Bilton at Nieman Lab, on new Chartbeat data evaluating performance on AMP and Instant Articles.

Featured September Launch

Welcome to VIP and congratulations on the launch of your beautiful new site, Hachette Book Group(HBG)! With the help of Featured Partner Alley Interactive, this new site provides readers with the opportunity to discover Hachette’s authors, books, and publishing imprints. In 2016, HBG had 214 books on the New York Times bestseller list, 44 of which reached #1. As a lover of books, we’re glad to have you here. (Image above from HBG’s participation in the New York Public Library’s Subway Library program)

Upcoming Events:

  • We hope to see you at ONA17 in Washington, DC this week, from October 5-7. Come find us, and stop by our booth for a quick device recharge.
  • We’ll be sponsoring and participating in Digital Media North America again this year, in New York October 19-20. The focus of this two-day event is on digital revenue strategy and emerging business models, and speakers include senior leaders in digital publishing from all over the world. (full schedule)
  • Just after Digital Media NA, WordCamp NYC is October 21-22. Tickets are still available. Topics of interest to the enterprise include 10up CEO John Eckman’s talk on Personalization and WordPress and TinyMCE CEO and Gutenberg contributor Andrew Roberts’ Gutenberg update. (full schedule)
  • Rahul Bansal from rtCamp will be speaking on “How contributing to the WordPress core helps” at WordCamp Ahmedabad, and rtCamp is also sponsoring the event. Additionally, catch Rahul speaking at WordCamp Ann Arbor and the aforementioned WordCamp NYC.
  • Catch the Chrome Dev Summit October 23-24 in San Francisco in person, or follow the live stream. Our own Dan Walmsley will be presenting on how Progressive Web Applications work with WordPress.
  • Google AMP is bringing its roadshow to cities all over the world, including Jakarta, Singapore, and Sydney in October. It’s aimed at both newcomers and those already experienced with AMP pages. View a sample agenda and sign up at the AMP site.

Send us your news, events, awards, and other info for the next issue. And sign up below to receive these roundups via email:

August VIP Roundup

August in enterprise WordPress saw the debut of WordCamp for Publishers, updated functionality from Facebook, Getty Images, Chartbeat and Ooyala, progress on the Gutenberg project, and a number of publications returning to WordPress from Medium including VIP/Alley Interactive client ThinkProgress.

Read on for all of the details and our monthly launch spotlight – us!

@Gina_Cole_: “Favorite #SRCCON session so far: Addressing challenges like Hamilton characters would (except no duels). Thanks, @hannahsbirch!”

News and Releases
Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.

  • New WordPress editor plugin Gutenberg reached version 1.0.0 on August 28 and is now at 1.1. There are lots of new features and updates since our July roundup. This update from lead developer Matias Ventura offers a glimpse of Gutenberg’s current capabilities in action via video, and see our CEO Matt Mullenweg’s take on the project’s big picture.
  • WordPress 4.8.1 maintenance release was made available on August 2 (Lobby post for VIP clients.) For an overview of August across WordPress.org, check out The Month In WordPress.
  • Corporate Counsel magazine profiled Automattic General Counsel Paul Sieminski (paywall, free limited access upon registration) on our approach to protecting user data and our perfect score from the Electronic Frontier Foundation on digital privacy rights.
  • Alley Interactive migrated the political news site ThinkProgress.org from Medium to WordPress VIP. As one of a large number of publishers abandoning the platform, ThinkProgress asked Alley to help them find a new content management system. They were thrilled to gain more power and flexibility with WordPress. We expect additional Medium sites to follow suit.
  • Alley also recently launched the new site for the New York Post’s Page Six TV. The gossip show will review Hollywood headlines as well as fashion, real estate, politics, and sports. You can sign up for tickets to upcoming tapings, and it will include clips of the show after the September 18th premiere.
  • A Digiday profile on VIP client Quartz praised their approach to branded content, touting their 90% renewal rate, 3X the industry average.
  • Cloud-based platform maekit, from Australia-based web design agency MyWork, has acquired WP Remote from Human Made. Per the announcement, Maekit has committed to keeping the core features available for free.
  • Technology partner Chartbeat’s new subscriber engagement analytics allow you to segment users by subscriber status and analyze and share data from those groups.
  • Video integration partner Ooyala’s v. 2.5 plugin is now available (Lobby post for VIP clients), which includes new analytics configuration options among other updates.
  • VIP client The New York Times released Who The Hill: an MMS-based facial recognition service for members of Congress.
  • Getty Images released plugin v3.0 (Lobby post for VIP clients), which includes a whole host of updates in addition to a new look and feel. The new version features larger images in search results, an improved search filter panel, and the ability to easily set a downloaded image as Featured Image, which should save a couple of clicks. (Available as of September 4)
  • Facebook’s Instant Articles plugin v.4.0.5 (blog post, Lobby post for VIP clients) makes initial setup easier and also creates visual parity between Instant Articles and AMP. (Available as of September 5)

Media and Marketing Notes
Research and perspectives on the business of media and the practice of marketing.

Digital-native news outlets are also adopting other outreach and engagement methods. Fully 97% of these outlets offer newsletters, and 92% have an official presence on Apple News. Three-quarters, meanwhile, release podcasts and 61% allow comments on their articles.

-Galen Stocking, in a new Pew Digital News Fact Sheet.

Mr. Shani said the study reaffirmed his contention that people were looking foremost for authenticity from companies. Establishing that takes time; he compared it to putting money into an individual retirement account, where the dividends do not pay off for years.

-Zach Schonbrun of The New York Times, in response to a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research on consumer skepticism and advertising.

The Lab is part of an approach to help brands and agencies that’s led to a renewal rate of 90 percent for branded content, nearly three times higher than the industry average, per MediaRadar data.

-Max Willens in Digiday on VIP client Quartz and their innovative approach to branded content.

Featured August Launch

WordPress.com VIP relaunched this summer on…WordPress.com VIP, natch. It’s the coming together of a number of elements we’ve been working on, and a pre-Gutenberg exercise in embracing the modular design approach.

Past Events:

Many thanks to organizers and participants at WordCamp for Publishers. Read highlights from our own Steph Yiu, a wrap-up from Institute for Nonprofit News, and many more.

Upcoming Events:

Send us your news, events, awards, and other info for the next issue. And sign up below to receive these roundups via email:

New Getty Images Plugin 3.0 with Streamlined Workflow

The new Getty Images plugin v3.0 builds on the previous versions with improved usability and feature enhancements to help you find, select, and use the right images quicker. It includes:

  • New look and feel
  • New landing page featuring Creative, Featured and Editorial images
  • Ability to set a downloaded image as the Featured Image directly from the plugin (no more bouncing back and forth between the media library and the plugin to set your Featured Image)
  • Larger images in the search results (plus the option to switch back to the detailed view if that’s what you prefer)
  • Improved search filter panel

VIP clients can get more details on the update in the Lobby.

Self-hosted WordPress users can find the new version 3.0 in the WordPress.org plugins directory.

July VIP Roundup

Highlights from July in enterprise WordPress included our new GitHub Pull Request workflow, Gutenberg version 0.6.0, the upcoming WordCamp for Publishers event, 10up’s acquisition of Lift UX, and Brightcove Player version 6.

@jeckman at WordCamp Boston, via @johnmaeda

News and Releases
Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.

As part of our ongoing refinement of the VIP experience, in July we implemented a new, streamlined code review approach that integrates more directly with the default workflow of most teams. As of July 13 we have moved all VIP Go sites to the improved code review process using GitHub’s Pull Request (PR) workflow (public announcement, documentation.) In the new flow, when your team has code ready for review you open a pull request against the master branch. The VIP team will review the code on GitHub and either provide feedback if any changes are required or approve the PR. Approved PRs can then be merged at your convenience, which automatically triggers a deploys to your site(s).

  • The new WordPress editor Gutenberg has reached version 0.6.0, with a whole slew of additions, fixes, and improvements.
  • 10up acquired Lift UX, familiar faces to WordPress.com VIP. From 10up: “We’re very excited to bring their team, design leadership, and Emmy nominated portfolio into the 10up fold.”
  • Big Bite Creative released RSSUnify, a free tool that creates W3C validated RSS feeds from multiple RSS sources, for use with platforms like MailChimp and Campaign Monitor.
  • Weston Ruter at XWP published an extensive discussion of a question he got from a colleague about the context parameter in the WordPress REST API.
  • Alley Interactive detailed their launch of People’s video flash briefing on Amazon Alexa, with enhanced visual capabilities on the Echo Show.
  • Parse.ly overhauled their overlay bookmarklet with an eye towards making it easier to explore audience usage quickly.
  • JW Player offered some advice in preparing video technology for the announced deprecation of Flash.
  • Brightcove released a new major version of the Brightcove Player, Version 6, with new features and benefits, including an improved plugin API, dynamic sources allowing changing video types after player initialization, accessibility enhancements, and a simpler CSS model for customization. WordPress.com VIP clients will benefit from this new version automatically.
  • Let’s Encrypt will be supporting wildcard certificates, which can secure any number of subdomains of a base domain (e.g. *.example.com), as of January 2018.

Media and Marketing Notes
Research and perspectives on the business of media and the practice of marketing.

…for-profit media companies would be well served to pay attention to what nonprofit media organizations like [Christian Science Monitor] are doing. They should view nonprofit publishers in part as the innovation labs they cannot sustain in-house, and should find ways to partner and learn from them.

-Sam Ford in Knowledge@Wharton, on the ways non-profits can test and refine audience-driven models in ways that are far more challenging in traditional newsrooms.

Flipboard is becoming one of the biggest drivers of traffic to news stories on mobile, according to exclusive data from media analytics firm Parse.ly, which found that Flipboard’s traffic has been growing steadily, while digital magazine competitors like Pocket and Feedly have plateaued or gone into decline.

-Sara Fischer at Axios, on the growth of platforms built on simple visual user experience.

Just 37 percent of users who came from search, and 47 percent of those who found a story via social media, could correctly name the news organization that published it (2 days later). By comparison, 81 percent of users who directly arrived on a story could later recall where it was published.”

-Joseph Lichterman at NiemanLab, on a study from Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.

Featured July Launch: Food Channel

Recently acquired by USA Today, Foodchannel.com relaunched this month on VIP, taking advantage of USA Today’s common theme and feature set.

Recent Events:

10up CEO John Eckman presented Ten Use Cases for the REST API at WordCamp Boston.

rtCamp did a workshop for students under their “WordPress-in-education” initiative. Historically, FOSS culture in their region was more about Linux itself and Python projects. They presented WordPress and its power to 60+ students from all over the Maharashtra state.

Human Made curated all of the talks from their Out of Office event into a handy YouTube playlist.

Upcoming Events:

WordCamp for Publishers is coming up August 17-19th. It is a community-organized event bringing together folks who use WordPress to manage publications, big or small. This event will empower participants by coaching them on best practices, and encourage collaboration in building open source tools for publishers.

The organizing team includes folks from clients Digital First Media and Mother Jones, agency partner Alley Interactive, and Automattic. A handful of tickets are still available.

Presenters include:

SRCCON is taking place later this week, August 3-4. Our own Steph Yiu is leading a Pub(lication) Trivia Session. Alley Interactive has two team members facilitating sessions, Matt Johnson in How Do You Stack Your Tech Deck, and Pattie Reaves in Switching CMSes.

rtCamp is speaking at and sponsoring WordCamp Delhi. Delhi is a special city in Indian WordCamp history – it’s the city to host the first WordCamp ever in India.

Send us your news, events, awards, and other info for the next issue. And sign up below to receive these roundups via email:

June VIP Roundup

We’re back with the past month’s highlights from across the enterprise WordPress ecosystem and the media and marketing landscape.

The sponsor area at WordCamp Europe (photo by tinuzzo)

News and releases
Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.

  • Parse.ly updated their API, enabling new metrics, better searches, and more flexible time ranges. The write-up also includes some short demonstrations of how Slate and The New Yorker take advantage of the API in building useful features.
  • Playbuzz published an interactive story that serves as a tour of their WordPress.com VIP toolset, version 1.0.3 of their plugin.
  • Google News completed an extensive redesign of its desktop interface aimed at giving readers more control and access to more diverse perspectives.
  • Create Alexa Skills through WordPress! The VoiceWP plugin integrates with Amazon Alexa, allowing any site to have its own Alexa skills. Check out the newly launched video Flash Briefing from People on the Echo Show, built by Alley Interactive and powered by VoiceWP.
  • Inpsyde released Wonolog, a logging library that works with existing php library Monolog.
  • Dave Ross from 10up shared an exploration of project and task estimation. 10up also updated the Restricted Site Access plugin to optimize it for multisite installations.
  • Ana Silva from Human Made dug in to recent changes to their hiring process to foster better diversity within the applicant pool and across the company.
  • Featured partner rtCamp played a big role in the first WordCamp Nagpur, India, including sponsoring and leading a workshop. They’re also sponsoring WordCamp Kanpur.
  • WordPress 4.8 “Evans” came out June 8th, which includes many small improvements focused on end users and developer-related improvements to existing APIs. It always makes us smile to see familiar names from clients and partner agencies on the credits list, including 11 from rtCamp on this one.
  • WooCommerce 3.1 is out, which includes a new CSV importer/exporter and a slew of other minor updates.
  • There are several stories covering the new Gutenberg editor on WP Tavern. Look for more on Gutenberg in the enterprise context shortly from VIP.

Media and Marketing Notes
Research and perspectives on the business of media and the practice of marketing.

“On average, visitors spend 48.2 seconds with pages found through Google search that load with AMP, compared to 35.6 seconds on average with standard mobile pages found through search.”

-Tess Townsend at Recode, on Chartbeat’s latest research on visits to Facebook Instant Articles and Google AMP.

“One of the people familiar with the matter said Facebook is likely to allow users to read 10 articles free before prompting them to subscribe, mirroring the approach of news organizations like the New York Times and the Washington Post.”

-Deepa Seetharaman and Lukas I. Alpert of the Wall Street Journal, on the developing story of Facebook’s emerging news subscription features.

“There are signs that the internet-culture machines are finding ways to make themselves sustainable: YouTube is not shutting down anytime soon, but pre-roll ads weren’t doing the job, and now it has a premium subscription service in order to collect revenue directly from users. The next hubs of internet culture will learn from the mistakes of the past decade, hopefully by doing one of two things: developing a way to collect revenue directly from its audience, like Twitch or Patreon allow now, or by eschewing the notion of a sustainable business at all.”

-Brian Feldman in New York Magazine, on what Tumblr’s financial challenges mean for businesses built on the propagation of web culture.

Featured June Launch: Mother Jones

We’re pleased to welcome 2017 American Society of Magazine Editors’ Magazine of the Year award winner Mother Jones to VIP. Now in its fourth decade, the magazine is a reader-supported nonprofit dedicated to independent and investigative reporting.

Awards and Recognition

Congratulations to Dekode for winning two awards for the campaign they did for Norad, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, at this year’s Sabre Awards. The campaign won in the Youth Marketing category as well as the In2Sabre innovation prize, for using gamification to teach youth. The same campaign also won the best website award at the European Excellence Awards in Brussels. (Short case study in English: Daron)

Upcoming Events

The first ever WordCamp for Publishers is happening in Denver on August 17-19. It is a community-organized event bringing together folks who use WordPress to manage publications, big or small. This event will empower participants by coaching them on best practices, and encourage collaboration in building open source tools for publishers.

An amazing group of speakers was announced in June. They work with journalists and publications on all aspects of digital publishing. They’ll lead discussions and workshops on a variety of topics, including WordPress publishing workflows, distribution methods, content syndication and tooling, censorship, modular layout design, open-source in newsrooms, and site architecture.

Organizers from the VIP team, its partner agencies, and VIP clients have worked together to plan this one of a kind event. Tickets are still available, but they’re going fast.

Send us your news, events, awards, and other info for the next issue. And sign up below to receive these roundups via email:

Custom Tools for the Largest UK Newspaper: The Sun and Human Made

Powerful and intuitive, the WordPress editorial and content management interface is also extremely flexible. It has been customized to match varied and sophisticated workflows for enterprise media and marketing teams all over the world.

Last month at the Big WP Meetup in London, John Blackbourn (@johnbillion) of VIP agency partner Human Made presented highlights of a major customization project for The Sun and its sister publications, The Irish Sun and The Scottish Sun. The Sun is the largest newspaper in the UK by circulation, and second-largest by online audience. The customization work was just one piece of a larger replatforming initiative that moved The Sun to WordPress.com VIP from a print-based CMS. This was a massive undertaking, and involved moving 10 years worth of content — 400,000 articles and a terabyte of images.

John’s talk focused on the interface Human Made built to match the editorial workflow of the three publications.

A Layout Customiser for The Sun

Requirements and Discovery

Highlights from the Sun’s editorial requirements included:

  • Editors need to quickly and frequently alter the content and the layout of the home page, which can change as often as every ten minutes
  • Complete, visually accurate previews of changes before they go live
  • Scale to handle and manipulate hundreds of articles on the same page
  • Smart and efficient data storage methods

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To gain more context and uncover useful details about each of these requirements and how the editors really work, Human Made ran a workshop with The Sun’s editorial team.

They found that editors very frequently move a story around on the home page based on importance, and not in only one direction. Depending on how a particular story develops, it can take any number of routes through the slots on the page. And story order can change up to every few minutes.

Also, originally editors thought they wanted open and free-form editing capability, to have a fully open palette with which to work. Through exploration they found that there are really a limited number of patterns that they use frequently. They may be updated every once in a while, but for the most part they work from a number of pre-set formats. A detail or shade of clarity on a requirement like this has a huge impact on how an agency like Human Made conceives of the solution, and what they prioritize.

Watch Blackbourn describe highlights from the workshop below:

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The result of the project was a completely overhauled layout customizer (using WordPress’ extensible Customizer) and page/section management tool – all set up to work within the WordPress admin interface without requiring any side trips or extra clicks. It’s a tool The Sun’s editors live in every day, all day.

The ingenuity of the entire interface is impressive to see in action, but three particular areas of note from the talk:

The Cascade

To tackle the ability to move stories around the page throughout the day, Human Made developed something they call The Cascade. This allows editors to stick an article to their cursor and swap it with an existing article on the fly, so that they don’t need to go through an extra step of adding or removing to adapt the story order. This tool efficiently controls articles throughout the entire, scrolling home page layout.

Layout Chooser

Editors add new sections by choosing from a couple dozen pre-set layouts, which cover all of the styles they more commonly use. Picking one adds a blank section into which they can then quickly drop articles, then easily style and publish the new layout. This all unfolds in the WordPress editorial interface, without requiring them to go to a separate screen or tool.

Precise Preview Rendering

In order to achieve the preview goal, any time an editor makes a change, WordPress fires off an AJAX request to the back end and pulls in the actual template code the site will use to render the finished page. This assures that editors see an accurate preview, and that there are no discrepancies between what shows up during section management and what the user sees when the visit the page. This also makes maintenance seamless, because when a template changes, that inherently and automatically changes the preview code.

Watch Blackbourn demonstrate each of these features:

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These new tools and platform free up The Sun’s editorial teams to focus on what’s most important, what’s most popular, and what has suddenly moved from a small blip to a massive unfolding scoop.

To be notified of the next BigWP event in London, join the Meetup group. There are also enterprise events throughout the year in various other big cities.

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