September VIP Roundup

Welcome to the September roundup! Even though this is October material, we’d be remiss not to start off with the big news coming out of the Gutenberg project this week, Matt Mullenweg’s Plan for 5.0 update and Gary Pendergast’s follow-up Proposed Scope and Schedule. We’ll keep you updated as 5.0 plans continue to come together.

Meanwhile, there’s lots to catch up on from September. The Online News Association’s annual event is always a highlight of the year and ONA 2018 in Austin was no exception. We came back energized and excited about all of the work going on across the digital journalism community. And thank you to Human Made and News UK for co-hosting our latest BigWP London, with great talks which will be available on YouTube shortly.

Read on for news and updates from across enterprise WordPress, including a new section called, “What We Read,” a carousel of articles (and podcasts) that inspired, informed, and influenced us this month.

Gutenberg News and Notes

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

  • As mentioned above, plans for the WordPress 5.0 release are starting to take shape. Matt Mullenweg posted a plan and Automattician and core contributor Gary Pendergast gave further details in this proposed scope and schedule, identifying November 19 as the target release date.
  • Earlier in September, Gutenberg version 3.9 shipped with a host of UX improvements within the editor, in addition to the ability to create reusable templates and import/export reusable blocks.
  • The Gutenberg plug-in has surpassed 500,000 installs.
  • Automattician and core contributor Riad Benguella released a helpful technical overview of Gutenberg integration into WordPress core.
  • Yoast SEO 8.2 is making it easy to automatically add structured data with Gutenberg content blocks.
  • Peek behind the scenes at the custom blocks powering Amnesty International‘s new platform developed by Big Bite, also embedded in the spotlight below.
BigWP London kickoff capture via @PrimaryImage

News and Releases

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

  • VIP teamed up with Human Made to host Big WP London, featuring talks from 10up, Big Bite, Inpsyde, and News UK. Video from the talks coming soon!
  •  Alley helped the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation answer the question, “Does where you live affect how long you live?” by building a life expectancy estimator using data from 73,000 U.S. Census tracts. They also redesigned the Online News Association’s VIP-hosted resource portal just in time for #ONA18.
  • 10up CEO John Eckman shared slides from his talk at WordCamp NYC on rethinking his approach to GDPR and privacy.
  • Jenny Wong of Human Made penned a comprehensive (read: 5,000 word) piece on the most useful features of GitHub.
  • XWP released AMP plugin v1.0-beta4 and announced a new leadership team.

Platform Updates

Spotlight: Amnesty International

Take a video tour of the custom Gutenberg blocks powering Amnesty International’s new platform, built by Big Bite for the new WordPress editor. Their team is also working on one of the largest Gutenberg-built applications to date, with a global financial organization.

What We Read

FeaturedJournalists Just Can’t Quit Microsoft Word. But Some Are Trying (Slate)

VIP take: “Still exchanging Microsoft Word documents with contributors to make edits? Apparently, some publications are still redlining their way to a final draft, while others have made the shift to Google Docs. If you’re happy with the collaborative editing features in Google Docs, try out this add-on to send your drafts straight to your WordPress site.” — @ryansholin

Other stories:

Recent Events

VIP was thrilled to be a part of ONA again in 2018, which went down in Austin, TX from September 13-15.

To kick things off, we and our partners at Alley co-hosted a pre-conference meal where we broke bread with clients and friends. At the conference itself, VIP’s very own Steph Yiu, Ryan Sholin, and Shannon Smith teamed up to present “The Future of Content Creation in WordPress” which gave an inside look at the intersection of publishing, WordPress, and Gutenberg. Ryan also joined a panel on “Remixing Content: Refining Your Workflow to Make Your Work Flow,” sharing tips to make workflows meet your newsroom’s distribution needs without bloating them.

Overall, the VIP team was inspired to see how journalists and newsrooms are using WordPress to create new frontiers in digital publishing. To learn more, visit the VIP-hosted journalists.org.

Upcoming Events

  • WAN-IFRA is hosting the Digital Content Expo (DCX) and World Publishing Expo parallel to each other from October 9-11 in Berlin. While the World Expo focuses on print strategies, DCX examines digital trends for content production, distribution, management, and monetization.
  • WordCamp US is coming to Nashville again on December 7-9. Organizers just announced the fifth round of speakers. November 1 is the deadline to get a printed badge (and share your preferred shirt size).
  • NICAR is slated for March 7-10 in Newport Beach, California. Sign up for the NICAR mailing list to stay up to date with conference announcements.
  • The first batches of tickets have dropped for WordCamp Europe! It goes down June 20-22, also in Berlin. While may seem like a long time from now, tickets always sell out, so grab yours fast.

Six Questions with 10up

This post series profiles each of our featured partner agencies.

10up is a digital agency focused on delivering finely crafted websites, apps, and tools that advance business objectives. They have been a WordPress.com VIP Featured Partner since 2013. Founded in California with a fully distributed team, 10up’s Webby-winning and Emmy-nominated work includes projects with household names like Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and The New York Times.

Group photo of 10up outside at the annual 10up summit
The 10up team at this year’s company-wide summit

What’s your agency’s origin story?

10up was founded by Jake Goldman in 2011. Jake helped his prior company abandon proprietary CMS software starting around 2008, giving him a front-row seat to WordPress’s rapid iteration from a basic blogging platform to a compelling content management system, and the delight that it created for its customers. Jake was eager to master WordPress: he built plugins that became popular, contributed to WordPress itself, and traveled around the country to participate in WordCamps.

With training in business, information systems, and software development, and an eye for beautiful craftsmanship, Jake saw an opportunity to start an agency that could position itself as a leading provider of integration and delivery of WordPress. The rise of “distributed” remote-work companies, the remote nature of WordPress core itself, and the rising international WordPress community suggested it was also time for a 100% distributed agency.

Jake set up shop in his small home office and got to work bootstrapping 10up. From its earliest days, 10up focused on superior engineering quality and elegant editorial/administrative user experiences Leveraging a strong network of connections, Jake quickly welcomed exciting clients like 9to5mac, Trulia, and TechCrunch.

With the help of the earliest additions to his team, many of whom still remain at 10up and some of whom have gone onto to impressive roles elsewhere in the industry, Jake grew 10up from 1 employee – himself – to more than 100 in less than 5 years – without an ounce of outside investment.

The name 10up comes from finishing that last 10% — the difference that extra polish, that extra level of attention, makes. –Jake Goldman

Pick three words that describe your agency culture.

Dedicated. Our team understands that we’re a services business; our values are rooted in an empathy and dedication to the needs of our clients and colleagues, as well as the broader open-source and WordPress community. 10uppers consistently go above and beyond expectations to jump in and help when a client or fellow teammate needs support.

Creative. This is a team of problem solvers – strategists, designers, engineers, and so on. Whether it’s a discreet and specific solution to a customer need or an innovative approach to synchronizing developer environments or managing new standards like Ads.txt, this team is constantly finding new ways to solve the challenges we face every day.

Welcoming. Maybe it’s something about our remote culture, our in-depth orientation, or a high growth team culture… but almost everyone who starts at 10up comments on how inviting their team lead, fellow teammates, and craft leadership are in welcoming them aboard and offering support through their beginning and tenure. Even though we’re infrequently in the same room together, there’s a palpable sense of camaraderie and cheer at our annual all-hands summit.

Five 10 up team members in a work session hanging pink post-its against a wall
10up team members roll up their sleeves in a client project work session

Tell us about a client project you are especially proud of.

Where to start! If we had to pick one, we’d highlight our work with Mayo Clinic, building out an internal knowledge portal and management intranet that tens of thousands of nurses use every day, around the country, to collaboratively participate in advancing patient care. It was a multiyear project, and our team did a brilliant job of designing the user experience, engineering a scalable solution, supporting change management, and training both developers and administrators. As a service-centric organization, it’s immensely rewarding to know that our work is helping other incredibly dedicated service professionals (nurses) and their patients, every day, in some small way.

What are you most excited about in the WordPress community right now?

We’ve been very focused from day one on the experience of creating and managing content – the back end and editorial user flows that can have an enormous impact on the efficiency of the business and the happiness of the staff responsible for pushing out content. It’s why we chose WordPress as our platform – a user experience-centric ethos to our practice.

With that said, it’s hard not to call out the massive effort to revamp the writing and content layout experience – Gutenberg.

It’s exciting in the sense that it shakes up the way we think about editorial page creation and curation, and forces us to think about some old and stale paradigms in new ways. It’s cause for us to go back and take another look at some of our solutions and plugins, and breathe a bit of new life into them. Some of the principals of the block-based layout authentically offer an opportunity to improve the way we think about modules. That’s been especially evident as we approached support for the classic and new editor for some new open source projects – like Simple Podcasting – and found that the user interface made a lot more sense in the new context.

Notebook splayed open showing a doodle of the 10up logo and a pen alongside

What’s your favorite conference or event of the year, and why?

We love seeing the WordPress community evolve a set of professional industry and market-specific conferences. WP Campus and WordCamp for Publishers provide a nice, focused iteration of the wide-appeal community events.

On a very different note, our team also gets quite a bit out of the Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA) event, in terms of professional development and peer inspiration.

(And the sixth: Ask yourself a question and answer it) What are you looking to accomplish in 2018?

We’re pushing on several fronts. Our team is growing again this year; we expect to expand our team by ~25-30%, and we hope to achieve that while retaining an engaging and supportive culture and employing systems that ensure we uphold the highest standards for craftsmanship. Some major growth areas include the 10up Europe team and our strategic consulting including Audience & Revenue.

We’re also more invested than ever in contributing to and helping WordPress succeed as a platform, through our Open Source Practice. We want to see growing adoption of some of the solutions we’ve put out there that push WordPress forward as a platform, like our Distributor plugin.

We also want to do a better job of communicating the exciting and innovative work we’re doing, and the ways in which we’re growing, to our customers and a larger community interested in 10up. Expect to see more stories from 10up and more effective ways of staying apprised of those stories.

Thank you, 10up!

More on 10up:

Agency focus and specialties:

  • Editorial/administrative user experience and workflow design
  • Audience and revenue strategy
  • Integrations and migration between WordPress and other platforms
  • High scale and forward-thinking implementation of WordPress
  • Internal communication & workflow tools
  • Team augmentation
  • 24/7 site management

Currently working with: Microsoft, Facebook, Google, The New York Times Co, the State of California, Walmart, ESPN, and AARP

Agency highlights:

  • More than 150 full-time staff working from around the world.
  • In-house expertise includes Front and Back End Engineering, Visual Design, UX Design, Systems/Cloud Infrastructure Engineering, Online Advertising, Analytics, SEO, and general project management and strategic consulting.
  • Delivered hundreds of successful, enterprise-grade projects over our 7.5 years of existence.
  • Two of our interactive projects with AMC Networks were nominated for Emmy Awards. Our client projects have been nominated for numerous Webby Awards, with several wins under our belt.
  • We’ve produced outstanding projects across most major verticals, including collaborations with household brand names in finance, healthcare, media and publishing, academia, retail, food and beverage, and nonprofits … to name a few.

Content Ecosystem Thinking at Airbnb

Hayley Nelson has spent the past two decades of her career bringing digital tools and technology to journalists. Among other accomplishments, she helped shepherd the New York Times into the era of digital media by launching its first blogs, built an award-winning digital team at Wired Magazine, and launched CNET in four Asian markets.

As head of content at Airbnb, Hayley is focused on value-based storytelling that engages consumers across platforms and devices. Her work has been building off their 2018 We Accept Superbowl commercial.

A still from the Azores “Not Yet Trending” video

In her talk, “Content Ecosystem Thinking” at the 2018 VIP Workshop, Hayley outlines a path for marketers to leverage the tricks of the publishing trade to put the reader at the center of their digital efforts. The most successful brands, she argues, are tying every piece of content to their company’s core values. Think Everlane’s transparent factories and the commitment from Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson to hire 10,000 refugees. “Who are we, and what are the values that we want to stand up for? How do we bring our mission to life? … It’s the brand’s job to become a great storyteller.”

Patagonia did a documentary on people whose lives are transformed by the sea. One person profiled is this woman who is a deep-sea spearfisher who catches fish and makes sushi, another is this surfer guy in Tahiti, and it’s just a really compelling documentary — and you hardly notice but they may or may not be wearing Patagonia swimsuits. That’s how subtle it is.

Watch the full video to go behind the scenes on Airbnb’s Not Yet Trending campaign, which ties beautiful videography of destinations on the cusp of trending into two of the brand’s core messages, “it’s a host-led world,” and “the magic of travel,” to drive would-be travelers to book on the platform.

I want you to think of us as that edgy, underground friend that’s telling you where to go because it’s the most interesting place in the world — and maybe you come back six months later when you’re ready to book a trip.

You’ll also learn her ten-step process for organizing a global content strategy, including the non-trite way to capitalize on social media holidays and how introducing agile to marketing processes has transformed the way she approaches campaigns.

If you weren’t able to join us at VIP Workshop this year, you can still catch dozens of the sessions, including speakers from TechCrunch, Google, Cloudinary, the VIP team, our agency partners, and many more on this YouTube playlist.

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