Panel: Behind the scenes of product innovation with Rolling Stone

Free webinar: Rolling Stone

It’s not easy to stay hip for over half a century. In this webinar, learn how Rolling Stone leverages partnerships to drive digital product innovation for their 53-year-old brand.

In this panel discussion, leaders at Penske Media Corporation (Rolling Stone’s parent company), XWP, and WordPress VIP will give you an inside look at how you can optimize your technology stack to respond quickly to changes in the market and create customer experiences that drive revenue.

You’ll learn:

  • How to adopt an integrated approach to design and development partnerships
  • Guidelines for reducing the total cost of ownership of your digital properties
  • The benefits of an open source content management system
  • Practical tips to increase your team’s agility and get to market faster

Featuring:

  • Nici Catton, Vice President, Product Delivery, Penske Media Corporation
  • Leo, Head of Partnerships and Product Strategy, XWP
  • Liz McDonald, Lead Technical Account Manager, WordPress VIP

 

Introducing the technology integrations report

At WordPress VIP, we have witnessed our customers build amazingly powerful and flexible platforms to fulfill their digital experience strategies. The fun part is, no two of these platforms are exactly alike. That’s one of the best things about enterprise WordPress: it’s endlessly customizable. Brands can choose from hundreds of plugins and integrations to build exactly what they need.

Inspired by these customers, we recently set out to gather insights on the most popular technology integrations for common business requirements. We surveyed customers across three continents, including countries like Guatemala, England, Switzerland, and Australia. True to our roots, the majority of respondents came from the media industry, but we also had respondents from companies in financial services, pharmaceuticals, sports/entertainment, and travel/hospitality.

We hope this survey will provide helpful insights for business leaders looking to better understand the richness of the enterprise WordPress ecosystem. There’s a tool for just about everything, and if there’s not, there’s a global pool of talented developers to help you build it.

Empowering creative content marketing across remote teams

I recently had the opportunity to present at Discover MarTech, a virtual conference focused on marketing technology and management. My goal was to help fellow marketing managers see the silver lining in something many teams are struggling with right now: how to stay creative as we navigate the new culture of remote work.

Automattic, WordPress VIP’s parent company, has always been a fully remote workplace. Well, actually, we prefer the term “distributed,” because there are no central, physical, headquarters.

Each Automattician (which is what we call ourselves) works from a home office, or a local co-working space, a coffee shop, really, just about anywhere that has a good internet connection.

 

My son pretending to work at my desk
My son, “working” at my desk with his stuffed kitten, Waffles

No such thing as “normal”

Right now, though, that list of possible locations has been whittled down to just one: the home office. And perhaps not the normal home office. It’s now the home office you can never leave. The home office with kids, with partners, and with a makeshift homeschool. Or the home office for one, on a bed in a tiny studio apartment.

So for us, the “new normal” of remote work that so many other companies have been thrust into is both incredibly familiar, and completely new. This is not normal remote work, even for us.

 

Tree diagram, with values as the trunk, strategy as the branches, and tools as the leaves

Shared values drive agility

The good news, though, is that being distributed actually enables us to be creative in a more agile way. That’s in large part thanks to the values and culture at the root of our workplace, and how our strategies and tools for remote work allow us to reach out to each other across teams, locations, and time zones.

I’m happy to share the recording of my 15-minute talk, which covers:

  • How values like agility, stability, accountability, flexibility, and authenticity inform the way we work, and how defining your own values can have a similar impact on your team
  • The role of open-source software in creating the stability and consistency we need to grow
  • The tools we use to improve collaboration across cross-functional teams in multiple time zones

Watch the video here:

 

If you have any questions or ideas, I’d love to talk more about this topic. I have so much empathy for everyone who is juggling life in a new way. When it comes to navigating our current reality, we’re all in this together.

Resources for the newly remote

The VIP team, and pets and kids, on a recent team call
The VIP support team meeting had a moment of levity, with hats, pets, and kids.

Wow, what strange times we find ourselves in.

Much of the world’s workforce has been thrust into working remotely, parents are learning to educate their kids at home, and we’re being told to keep our distance from all the people we want to hug even more at a time like this.

If you’ve interacted with us, you might know WordPress VIP and our parent company Automattic are fully distributed companies, which means we’re used to working from home, coffee shops, coworking spaces–even campervans.

But even that familiar way of working has become disrupted in many ways, as we navigate the realities of not being able to leave the house for a coffee break, or having to step over piles of kids’ toys to get into the office space.

Even though remote work is our happy place, we realize it might be new for you. So we gathered some of our best practices and tips to share from our years of experience working remotely.

And if you want a break from all the “how-to” articles floating around, we also rounded up some of our favourite entertaining and inspiring articles and stories, featuring people and publications making their homes on WordPress.

We hope these resources help spark ideas and inspire fresh perspectives on your team.

On remote work

  1. Lori McLeese, Global Head of Human Resources, sharing best practices on behalf of Automattic in a Q&A with True Ventures
  2. Sasha Stone, Happiness Engineer, on optimizing distributed life for self-care
  3. Marcus Kazmierczak, a Special Projects Principal Engineer, on the keys to asynchronous communication
  4. Cate Huston, Head of Developer Experience, with a Crash Course in Remote Management webinar, presented with Vaya Consulting
  5. Matt Mullenweg, Co-Founder of WordPress and Automattic CEO shares his tips for staying productive

Recommended reads

  1. How to Draw a Horse” by Emma Hunsinger, The New Yorker
  2. Cat People” Podcast hosted by Peter Frick-Wright and Rachel Nuwer, Longreads
  3. On Solitude (and Isolation and Loneliness [and Brackets])” by Sarah Fay, Longreads
  4. Song Birds (a zine)” by Austin Kleon
  5. The Making of a Corporate Athlete” by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, Harvard Business Review

One thing that’s been striking to me over the last few weeks is how this enforced distancing has actually made many of my relationships stronger. Remotely, we’re more connected than ever, and we will emerge from this strange time into a world that is changed in ways we could never expect.

Our team is here to help, in whatever way we can.

Building a B2B membership product with WordPress

Dan Entin of the Commercial Observer takes the stage at BigWP in New York City

What do Dan Entin, Rex Reed, and Carrie Bradshaw have in common? They all share roots in Observer Media, where Dan has been the VP of Product for the last 2 years. Headquartered in New York City’s financial district, Observer Media operates multiple brands including Commercial Observer, the leading commercial real estate media property in the country, which reports on the key trends and leaders defining the global real estate landscape.

In an effort to diversify their revenue streams across print advertising, digital advertising, and events, the Commercial Observer decided to create a new product: member subscriptions. After extensive market research, Dan’s team decided on three membership tiers: Basic, Premium, and Premium+.

“We have quadrupled the number of basic members that we get each month.”

– Dan Entin, Observer Media’s VP of Product

To learn more about the user research that informed Commercial Observer’s membership approach, including details on how they actually built the paywall using WordPress VIP and our technology partner Piano, watch Dan’s full talk:

 

BigWP is our enterprise WordPress event series. It brings together developers, business leads, and product people who work with high-scale WordPress applications every day.

Find all of the talks in the BigWP NYC November 2019 playlist.

How to scale a development team

Aaron Jorbin has years’ experience successfully scaling development teams

We often hear about scaling WordPress sites, but what about scaling your WordPress developers?

At BigWP NYC, Aaron Jorbin, Director of Editorial Technology at Penske Media Corp (PMC), shared his approach to growing a successful team.

According to Aaron, there are various models for finding the right people for a team, like T-shaped people and tree-shaped people. But what about Rorschach-shaped people?

When Aaron conducts job interviews, he prioritizes candidates who value learning. His number one priority? Building a team of people who are able to find creative solutions, rather than clever solutions. To do so, Jorbin has a few recommendations. These include proactively identifying weak spots (like a lack of diversity) and encouraging each person to find their “superpower.”

Catch his full talk here:

BigWP is our enterprise WordPress event series. It brings together developers, business leads, and product people who work with high-scale WordPress applications every day.

Find all of the talks in the BigWP NYC June 2019 playlist.

How TechCrunch built a subscription tier on WordPress

Image of Sam Singer on stage at BigWP SF discussing Extra Crunch, TechCrunch's paywall built on WordPress
Sam Singer delivers a presentation at BigWP SF on building a successful subscription tier on WordPress

Recently, TechCrunch leveraged WordPress architecture to launch a subscription tier paywall, Extra Crunch. Sam Singer, Lead Software Engineer at TechCrunch, delivered a talk at BigWP SF that gave an overview of the project’s process, architecture, and challenges.

TechCrunch wanted to make the product experience better for its core audience. Additionally, they wanted to give this audience a chance to support high-quality journalism. To that end, Extra Crunch subscribers have ad-free access to premium content, as well as the ability to get in touch with writers directly.

Extra Crunch’s launch followed one year after TechCrunch’s major redesign, which saw the launch of a semi-decoupled WordPress and React web application. Subsequently, Sam’s team was able to build upon the existing WordPress architecture to add payment processing and content paywall capabilities. As a result, Extra Crunch readers can support the creation of more evergreen content and deep-dive journalism.

See Sam’s full talk here:

BigWP is our enterprise WordPress event series. It brings together developers, business leads, and product people who work with high-scale WordPress applications every day.

Find all of the talks in the BigWP SF June 2019 playlist.

You may also be interested in:

How Credit Karma leveraged WordPress to jump start a secure testing strategy

Credit Karma is a financial tech brand championing financial progress for all. For them, security is an important consideration. This summer, April Aaronson, Growth Technology Manager at Credit Karma, took the stage at BigWP SF to talk about how they keep security in mind without sacrificing growth.

Credit Karma has scaled its business by expanding beyond free credit scores: they demystify finances for their members. To accomplish this, they provide financial calculators, editorial content, and other tools to help consumers better understand their financial standing.

In the financial technology industry, trust is critical. As a result, Credit Karma takes great care to be thoughtful about the tools and technology they use across all aspects of the business. April’s talk focused on how they leveraged WordPress to develop a testing strategy that put its 100 million members first.

April Aaronson of Credit Karma holds a mic on stage in front of a group of seated people at BigWP SF
April Aaronson shared at BigWP SF how Credit Karma leverages WordPress for secure testing

BigWP is our enterprise WordPress event series. It brings together developers, business leads, and product people who work with high-scale WordPress applications every day.

Find more talks in the BigWP SF June 2019 playlist, or individual posts here:

Creating an open platform for 60,000 contributors with WordPress and Thrive Global

John McAlester presented at BigWP SF on leveraging WordPress for Thrive Global’s massive scale publishing.

When Ariana Huffington created Thrive Global’s behavior change platform, the goal was to build a scalable, open, publishing system… fast. In his talk at BigWP SF, John McAlester, Senior WordPress Developer at Thrive Global, talked through the wins and challenges of building a WordPress site at scale.

Thrive Global, an open media platform focusing on wellness and productivity, leverages the power of WordPress and the REST API to make its community and branded content available to mobile apps, eLearning courses, and third-party integrations. Contributors to the platform increase brand awareness by publishing hundreds of posts per day, focusing on wellness and productivity.

On the back-end, the platform makes use of custom user roles with modified capabilities. It also has a custom sign-up flow to encourage good actors. Engineers coordinate deployments between a decoupled React app and the WordPress back-end. This approach allows their content to be repurposed in various contexts.

In the talk, John also discusses the downsides of having a decoupled frontend, and why he believes in working with core WordPress themes and user systems.

Watch the full talk here:

BigWP is our enterprise WordPress meetup series. It brings together developers, business leads, and product people who work with high-scale WordPress applications every day.

Find all of the talks in the BigWP SF June 2019 playlist, or individual posts here:

How Multidots nailed big data for the Air Jordan set

Image of Multidots CEO Anil Gupta in orange sunglasses presenting on the REST API at BigWP NYC
Multidots CEO Anil Gupta presents on the REST API at BigWP NYC

When Sneaker News, the “CNN of kicks,” needed to streamline their content creation, VIP partner agency Multidots rose to the challenge. At BigWP NYC, Multidots’ CEO Anil Gupta talked about how they leveraged the REST API to help Sneaker News reduce operations time by 65%.

Sneaker News needed a centralized repository for sneaker data that could seamlessly push updates to six different systems. With this in mind, Multidots leveraged the REST API to move data from this “master” repository to the various “child” applications, which included several WordPress sites.

Sneaker News publishes up to 150 new posts per month and receives millions of monthly page views. Thus, reducing 65% of operations time with an automated flow was a big win. Next up, Multidots will convert the centralised “master” repo into a decoupled WordPress instance.

Watch Anil’s talk in full to learn more:

BigWP is our enterprise WordPress meetup series. It brings together developers, business leads, and product people who work with high-scale WordPress applications every day.

Find all of the talks in the BigWP NYC June 2019 playlist.

Managing millions of public data records with WordPress

10up’s Brian Bourn shares lessons learned from building a custom-built API checkout solution for a large utility broker in Texas

WordPress VIP Gold agency partner 10up encountered some unique challenges when integrating millions of public data records with the WordPress website for ElectricityPlans, a broker in the Texas electricity market. So explained Brian Bourn, Associate Director at 10up. In his talk at BigWP SF, he shared how 10up used Elasticsearch to create a custom-built API checkout solution that significantly increased commissions for their client.

In Texas’s deregulated electricity market, customers can shop around for their residential plans. As a result, licensed brokers offer the ability to shop around for plans with different providers. Securing sales commissions can be challenging for these brokers. The typical model of linking off to provider websites can often result in tracking being lost. Another problem was failed conversions due to a lackluster UX.

10up’s API checkout system was a gamechanger. It leverages Elasticsearch for near-instantaneous search through more than 20 million address and meter records which change on a nightly basis. Most importantly, this on-site solution dramatically increased the client’s conversions, and revenue increased organically every month.

Watch Brian’s full talk:

BigWP is our enterprise WordPress meetup series. It brings together developers, business leads, and product people who work with high-scale WordPress applications every day.

Find all of the talks in the BigWP SF June 2019 playlist.

How FiveThirtyEight tuned Liveblog for the midterms

Paul Schreiber
FiveThirtyEight’s Paul Schreiber shared the media outlet’s experience leveraging WordPress for high-stakes liveblogging

FiveThirtyEight makes heavy use of live blogging, especially for elections, debates, and live sporting events. At BigWP NYC, Paul Schreiber, Staff Web Developer at FiveThirtyEight, talked about the site’s journey with live blogging plugins.

In 2014, the need for a live blogging plugin on FiveThirtyEight arose when editors wanted a way to rapidly update posts with content related to the midterm elections. At the time, they started using LivePress, but when that plugin was deprecated in 2017 the team needed to move to a different solution: Liveblog.

Paul’s team, together with VIP featured partners 10up and Big Bite, set to work updating the plugin with the features they needed. Their custom updates include metadata, migrating from LivePress, integration with the Co-Authors Plus plugin, and access to the media library. All the work is open source, and contributions are welcome!

Watch the full talk to learn more about the process, including the Liveblog product roadmap:

BigWP is our enterprise WordPress meetup series. It brings together developers, business leads, and product people who work with high-scale WordPress applications every day.

Find all of the talks from this event in the BigWP NYC June 2019 playlist.

Amnesty and the power of Gutenberg, the new WordPress editor

See how Big Bite’s custom blocks streamline publishing for Amnesty International.

Update: Big Bite and Amnesty have rolled many of the features you’ll see below into Benenson, a new open source theme any organization can use.

The most exciting thing around the WordPress community right now is the new editor experience. The Gutenberg project has transformed what it’s like to create content and manage pages and sections. It has also offered a new approach to matching a team’s existing workflow, and allowing editorial teams to work in the context of what the site and pages actually look like. And it has made a flexible, granular reusability of individual elements across projects and even across the community much more directly available.

Agency partner Big Bite has built an entirely new site platform for Nobel Peace Prize Winner Amnesty International, with the new WordPress editor as its foundation, via the Gutenberg plugin. They focused on developing custom blocks and a core theme that serve as the heart of Amnesty’s digital efforts moving forward. More than a new site, this is a framework for applying consistent brand identity, design, and user experience standards to many new sites and for allowing creators to spin up new, powerful sites quickly and with ease. And as a part of Big Bite’s and Amnesty’s shared commitment to give back to the community, large parts of the project will be released as open source components for anyone to use.

In the short video above, you’ll see a quick overview of what it’s like to build new sites quickly and publish and manage content in Amnesty’s new platform launching in September.

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