Welcome Aleph, a new Silver agency partner

We are proud to welcome Aleph Incorporated as a new agency partner!

Over almost two decades of web development, Aleph’s band of creative misfits has worked to bring WordPress to enterprises of all shapes and sizes.

Aleph’s approach to client work focuses on content and context, meaning they tailor the technology to fit what is being communicated, not the other way around. They revel in a scrappy, small-team culture that brings together a diversity of opinions, backgrounds, and skillsets. Aleph’s staff takes real ownership of each client project. Above all else, they seek to cultivate longevity in both their web projects and client relationships.

Clients who work with Aleph have immediate access to a trove of experience across industries, technologies, and trends, supported by years of demonstrated success for huge brands, renowned design firms, and vital nonprofit causes, among others.

Their developers have built everything you can imagine with enterprise WordPress, from large-scale publishing platforms for media organizations like KQED, to communications and recruiting portals for Airbnb, and even a SaaS platform to help small municipalities with efficient waste management called Recyclist. As true user interface experts, Aleph’s devs often pair WordPress with stunning design and cutting edge front end frameworks to deliver superlative, design-driven experiences.

“It’s a huge plus for both us and our clients to have such close ties with WordPress VIP. Knowing we can offer this caliber of a platform to our largest clients, and that we can work directly with WordPress VIP to address our clients’ needs, is a great thing.”

–  Matt Glaser, Founder

For more information about Alpeh’s partnership with WordPress VIP, please visit https://wpvip.com/partners/aleph

It’s official: The future is VIP Go!

 

We’re excited to announce that by the end of 2020, all WordPress VIP customer sites will be upgraded to VIP Go.

VIP Go is our proprietary cloud platform custom-built for enterprises who need to deliver amazing content at large scale.

Why VIP Go?

In the decade-plus that we’ve brought the benefits of WordPress to large organizations, we have learned their needs are concentrated in four key areas: agility, flexibility, simplicity, and ownership. VIP Go addresses each of those needs in a powerful, intuitive platform with the rock-solid performance and reliability our customers have come to expect from WordPress VIP.

What are the benefits of VIP Go?

Agility

With VIP Go, our customers’ development and marketing teams are more agile than ever. VIP Go introduces GitHub workflows and a new command-line interface (the VIP CLI) which puts more power in developers’ hands to ship new code quickly. Editorial teams enjoy the same intuitive interface as before, with faster turnaround time for shipping new sites and projects.

Flexibility

Direct access to the WordPress API makes it easier than ever for our customers to build exactly the experiences they’re looking to deliver with seamless third-party integrations. With the introduction of true pre-production environments, teams are able to experiment freely, test thoroughly, and tweak to their hearts’ content—all before making any changes to the customer-facing application.

Simplicity

Can we say three cheers for added simplicity anywhere we can get it these days? Our engineers built VIP Go based on over a decade of expertise powering the most sophisticated implementations of WordPress at scale. Over the years, we’ve learned what works, what doesn’t, and how to optimize the experience (from performance to usability to security) so customers never have to worry about things like uptime or traffic spikes. VIP Go bakes that expertise into the very infrastructure of the platform, so customers are free to focus their attention and resources on driving revenue and delivering their product roadmap.

Ownership

The new VIP Dashboard grants additional visibility and access to content syncs, domain mapping, command line history, and more, putting control of the application in the developers’ hands. The VIP-CLI makes it convenient to run commands and query applications. Furthermore, code review is no longer required, though it is still available for customers on a by-request basis. Our goal is to grant our customers increased ownership of their applications while continuing to provide the world-class support that has always defined our approach to customer partnerships.

What’s next?

As of today, over 75% of our customers are already enjoying the added benefits of VIP Go. This group includes some of our larger organizations with complex, mission-critical applications—think brands like Intuit, Vanguard, Facebook, and more. Each of these companies migrated from our previous platform to VIP Go with great success, and we’re excited to move nearly all of our customers onto VIP Go by September 30, 2020. At that point, we will begin phasing out support for sites on WordPress.com VIP and transition completely to VIP Go by November 1, 2020. (Are you a current customer with a question about your migration? Please reach out to your Relationship Manager for more details.)

VIP Go is a significant milestone in bringing the best of open source to large organizations who need agility, flexibility, simplicity, and ownership in their software in order to bring out the best in their teams and their business. Content forms the heart of every customer experience, and we believe every customer experience should be delightful. We are proud to play a role in making the web a better place, one deploy at a time.

Report: Meeting today’s digital experience needs

Now more than ever, “customer experience” has become synonymous with “digital experience,” and the quality of these experiences is a key indicator of business health. Our colleagues at IDC (a global market research firm) seem to agree: a recent study found that 91% of tech vendors consider customer experience a “top business priority.”

However, executing a strong digital customer experience strategy can be more challenging than it looks. It requires a constellation of best-in-class tools and technologies working in sync to minimize risk and grow revenue.

At WordPress VIP, our main goal is to help our customers empower amazing results for their customers. So we were curious: what major trends are shaping customer experience strategies in 2020 and beyond? How can business leaders manage the many complex processes involved in delivering a unified customer experience? We teamed up with IDC to find out and created this free report to share the insights.

The report addresses topics like:

  • Big-picture trends in customer experience research
  • The biggest challenges for today’s digital experience teams
  • Advice for organizations looking to improve their digital experience management capabilities

The report’s author is Marci Maddox, who has been researching content technologies and workflows for over a decade. Her core research coverage includes the evolution of enterprise content, customer communications, content sharing, and collaboration.

If you’d like to learn more, you can download the report here.

 

Announcing the expansion of the WordPress VIP Technology Partnership program

We’re pleased to announce WordPress VIP is expanding our Technology Partnership program!

Today, we are welcoming new partners and expanding the scope of the program to serve the growing number of marketers and publishers looking to WordPress VIP for technology recommendations in key customer experience categories.

WordPress VIP has continued to grow as the leader in enterprise WordPress. Our customers have long included some of the largest publishers in the world. In more recent years, marketers in technology, life sciences, financial services, and other verticals outside traditional publishing have turned to us to help them scale their business.

Benefits for WordPress VIP customers

WordPress VIP’s enterprise marketing customers understand the value of WordPress as both a content management platform and a central element of the digital experience. The interoperability of WordPress enables integrations with a broad range of products and services, including providers of tools for personalization, business intelligence, digital asset management, and more from the marketing and publishing technology ecosystem.

Our Technology Partners provide best-in-class solutions, with WordPress integrations developed and maintained based on best practices and guidance from the WordPress VIP team. Together, we deliver performant, secure, and stable applications that enable our customers to carry out digital transformation.

New Featured Technology Partners

We’ve announced several new Featured Technology Partners in 2020, including Digital River for global e-commerce solutions, OneSignal for push notifications at scale, and Cloudinary for digital asset management and editing inside WordPress.

We will announce several more new partners in this tier soon, including solutions for machine learning, video syndication, and customer journey mapping.

More solutions from the WordPress community and beyond

Today, we’re also announcing the launch of an additional tier of Technology Partners, including popular solutions from the WordPress community and new products from exciting startups. Here are a few examples:

  • Remixd Voice: Remixd instantly turns text content into audio, making it listenable, discoverable, and opening up new distribution and revenue channels for publishers.
  • Firework: Firework brings short-form video content from professional creators to the article page, driving audience engagement for publishers and brands.
  • MultilingualPress: The enterprise solution for publishing a website in multiple languages on WordPress, from Inpsyde, a WordPress VIP Gold Agency Partner.

Benefits for Technology Partners

The expanded program provides all our Technology Partners the opportunity to work on product strategy and marketing alongside WordPress VIP. Our Featured Technology Partners participate in additional account mapping and co-selling to help grow the enterprise WordPress ecosystem together.

Key criteria for all Technology Partners include a clear product story that maps to enterprise customer needs and go-to-market capabilities. We closely vet every partner to identify companies with the resources and expertise to support our customers using WordPress at scale.

“WordPress VIP delivers transformational results for brands who require best-in-class digital experiences,” said CEO Nick Gernert. “We’re excited to welcome new technology partners alongside our existing integrations to help us deliver on the growing demand for sophisticated implementations of enterprise WordPress.”

For more information on all our Technology Partners, and to find out more about joining our growing program, please visit https://wpvip.com/partners/technology-partners/

Viafoura Named a WordPress VIP Featured Technology Partner

We are proud to welcome Viafoura as a new Featured Technology Partner!

Viafoura joins our growing group of partners with proven excellence implementing best-in-class solutions for WordPress at scale. This new partnership offers WordPress VIP clients the ability to integrate a suite of engagement tools onto their digital properties, which will allow them to build and retain a loyal audience.

Viafoura is a software company committed to providing media organizations with essential resources and tools that engage audiences and contribute to highly lucrative business strategies. Fueled by a team of dedicated product and data experts, Viafoura ensures that every client is following the best possible path to maximize their revenue.

This solution delivers a wide variety of tools and features that improve the visitor experience. These include conversation, live blog, community chat, content recommendation, and rating and review widgets — all backed by sophisticated moderation services.

Leveraged by major media companies like Reach PLC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Graham Media Group, and GateHouse Media, Viafoura’s solution is designed to transform passive audience members into active brand supporters. They also offer first-party audience data, actionable engagement insights, and guidance through a dedicated support team. To learn more about Viafoura’s solution, you can access a full overview of their products and services here.

“With consumers now craving more online engagement than ever before, businesses have a significant opportunity to nurture the traffic right on their websites or apps,” said Jesse Moeinifar, CEO and founder of Viafoura. “We’re looking forward to connecting with WordPress VIP clients to discuss how Viafoura can help them fully monetize their digital audiences.”

For more information about Viafoura’s partnership with WordPress VIP, please visit https://wpvip.com/partner/viafoura

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.

Democratic National Convention Committee launches on WordPress VIP

 

Today, we are proud to partner with the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) in launching their newly revamped website, powered by WordPress VIP.

The new website will connect delegates, members of the media, and those interested in getting involved with the convention with the resources they need to stay up-to-date on convention planning. The site will continue to be updated with original content and innovative tools that invite all Americans to be a part of the historic event.

The website has been built with the goal of adhering to some of the most up-to-date accessibility standards used by the web design community, and will continue to be tested and modified to ensure it is reaching the widest possible audience. All of the content is also featured in Spanish.

Our friends at Wide Eye Creative provided art direction, design, and web development for the brand new Democratic National Convention website. Branding strategy was developed by Zero Studios, the New York and Milwaukee-based creative firm behind the convention’s official logo and visual identity.

WordPress VIP, the leading provider of enterprise WordPress, is the official digital platform for the new website. With expertise in delivering content-rich digital experiences for large organizations, WordPress VIP’s roots lie in the open source movement, which democratizes publishing through accessibility, performance, security, and ease of use.

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.

Modern Tribe named a Silver agency partner


We are proud to welcome Modern Tribe as a new agency partner! Modern Tribe is one of 33 agencies in this exclusive group with proven excellence implementing WordPress at scale. They are also the founders and creators of The Events Calendar, the number one adopted, selling, and grossing WordPress events management framework.

Modern Tribe is a digital agency that specializes in the design and development of industrial-strength WordPress implementations. Huge networks, heavy traffic, complex integrations, custom plugins—brands seek out Modern Tribe when they need to inject enterprise capabilities into the world’s most user-friendly content management system (WordPress!).

Comprised of 130+ strategists, designers, engineers and project managers, the Modern Tribe team is fully remote and brings together multi-disciplinary problem-solvers who use design and technology to solve sticky business challenges for the world’s leading brands.

From websites to applications, custom plugins to robust publishing platforms, Modern Tribe designs and engineers individual touchpoints with a focus on interconnectivity. Their recent projects include a new university-wide web platform for Boise State, development of the BigCommerce for WordPress plugin, and a custom learning management system and ecommerce platform for Australia’s “Renovation Queen” Cherie Barber.

“When it comes to infrastructure, there’s no single ‘right solution’ for our breadth of customers. It’s important we have a range of partnerships, and WordPress VIP provides a platform that supports more of the custom solutioning that we offer our clients.”

– Reid Peifer, Partner and Chief Creative Officer

For more information about Modern Tribe’s partnership with WordPress VIP, please visit https://wpvip.com/partner/modern-tribe/.

Four Kitchens is the newest Silver Agency Partner

WordPress VIP, the leading provider of enterprise WordPress, has added Four Kitchens to its prestigious Featured Agency Partner program. Four Kitchens is widely known as the go-to agency to manage Drupal to WordPress migrations.

Four Kitchens started as a “creative collective” in 2006 and has expanded to become a digital agency known for building BIG websites. In the last 14 years, Four Kitchens has helped their client partners launch some of the world’s largest websites, including Economist.com, NBC.com, and CNN.com, as well as countless websites and apps for universities, nonprofits, and enterprise corporations.

“We are thrilled and humbled to be named a WordPress VIP partner.”

– Todd Ross Nienkerk, CEO and co-founder

Four Kitchens’ client partnerships have gained international attention, winning more than 20 awards, including a Primetime Emmy for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon’s digital experience and multiple W3 Awards, AVA Digital Awards, Communicator Awards, International Business Awards, Davey Awards, and Best in Biz Awards.

“We are thrilled and humbled to be named a WordPress VIP partner,” said Four Kitchens CEO and co-founder Todd Ross Nienkerk. “As a lean team that loves solving complex problems, we take great pride in consistently exceeding our clients’ expectations. WordPress VIP will help us do that—and help us expand our unique approach to client service, which is rooted in innovation, compassion, and always delivering value.”

For more information about Four Kitchens’ partnership with WordPress VIP, please visit https://wpvip.com/partners/agency-partners/four-kitchens

Blazing new trails with Salesforce

Salesforce and WordPress VIP share many things in common. For one thing, we’re both market leaders in software technology that brings greater agility to enterprises the world over.

More importantly, though, we align on shared values. These values include equality, sustainability, the future of work, and the ethical use of technology.

Last year, Salesforce invested $300M in WordPress VIP’s parent company, Automattic — in large part because of our complementary vision and values. As Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic, explained at the time, “This investment represents a tremendous vote of confidence for Automattic and for the open web.”

We believe Salesforce and WordPress VIP have a unique opportunity to meet the deeper needs of enterprise leaders by combining our strengths (and our technologies) in powerful ways. Which is why I’m delighted to announce a project we’ve been developing together: the launch of the new season of the “Blazing Trails” podcast.

Quote from Tim Cook's Blazing Trails episode. He says, "I think if you could flip a switch and only do one thing..."

This ten-part series reboots the “Blazing Trails” podcast produced by Salesforce Studios. Each episode recaps and shares insights from some of the best conversations at Dreamforce 2019.

In case you’re unfamiliar, Dreamforce is the largest software conference in the world with more than 170,000 registered attendees. Its speakers include some of the smartest leaders in business, tech, sports, entertainment, healthcare, and other fields.

In this podcast, you will get key insights on how these trailblazers view leadership, prioritize trust, pursue innovation, and find balance in their lives.

Plus, in each episode, you’ll hear me share some candid thoughts on topics like the future of work, digital transformation, and more.

A few of my favorite conversations so far include:

  • Apple CEO Tim Cook on the importance of focusing not only on making the best products but on enriching people’s lives
  • Thrive CEO Arianna Huffington on the micro-steps we can all take to find balance and mindfulness
  • Bay Area chefs Samin Nosrat and Dominique Crenn on the inequalities in our food systems

Make sure you subscribe to the podcast to get the latest episode directly in your podcast player of choice. Get more details and find the link to subscribe on the WordPress VIP-powered site: https://blazingtrails.salesforce.com/

And stay tuned for future collaborations between Salesforce and WordPress VIP. We’re very excited about what’s in store.

Featured Partner Program expands to MENA with addition of Asquared

Ant Ekşiler (CEO) and Aykut Yılmaz (CMO) founded the first WordPress-centered agency in Turkey

Asquared is the newest addition to our Featured Agency Partner program! Asquared is one of only 30 partners in this prestigious group and the first agency in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region.

Asquared is the leading WordPress agency in Turkey serving international clients all over the world. They build award-winning digital platforms using WordPress that are fast, flexible, and scalable thanks to enterprise integrations with excellent user experience.

We are great problem solvers, mostly because of our experience with a large number of clients.

– Ant Ekşiler, CEO of Asquared

Notably, Asquared is also the only featured partner with a Premium WordPress Themes brand, Fuel Themes, which reaches over 45,000 customers across the globe and recently joined the WooCommerce official store.

Ant Ekşiler, CEO of Asquared, explained, “A premium theme business allows us to reach a larger variety of customers faster which in turn improves our design and user-experience process for our enterprise customers. We are great problem solvers, and it’s mostly because of our experience with a large number of clients.”

A selection of Asquared’s enterprise WordPress clients

“As a part of the growing enterprise WordPress community, we’re excited to be selected in this partnership program with WordPress VIP. As an agency partner, we are thrilled to be given this opportunity to better serve our clients with the collective knowledge of WordPress VIP and other partners,” he added.

For more information about this partnership, please visit https://wpvip.com/partner/asquared/.

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.

YIKES, Inc. is now a WordPress VIP featured partner

WordPress VIP has added YIKES, Inc. to our prestigious Featured Agency Partner program. YIKES, Inc. is one of only 30 partners in this group and the first women- and LGBTQ-owned partner agency.

Founded in 1996 as a sustainable, ethics-based business, YIKES, Inc. is a Pennsylvania Benefit Corporation and a certified B Corporation whose experience includes delivering technology-based solutions for nonprofit and civic organizations such as The City of Philadelphia, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Specializing in WordPress development and design since 2010, YIKES, Inc. builds robust custom themes and plugins, web-based applications, eCommerce solutions, API integrations, content migration from legacy systems, plus more.

Their projects range from informational sites to complex web applications. The founders pride themselves on their outstanding quality of work, professionalism, and unsurpassed customer service.

“We are thrilled to be the first Women, LGBTBE and B Corp-certified agency accepted into the WordPress VIP Agency Partner Program. As long-standing, active members of the WordPress community, we love bringing our years of WordPress design and development expertise to WordPress VIP clients,” said Tracy Levesque, Co-Founder/Co-President of YIKES, Inc.

For more information about this partnership, please visit https://wpvip.com/partner/yikes/.

5 keys to build an effective content personalization strategy

As the audience of your website grows, it becomes more challenging to publish content that is relevant to all readers. Personalization gives the ability to profile each user’s behavior and capture their preferences, allowing you to deliver more relevant content to keep them engaged — and ultimately, to increase conversions.

Many of our clients are eager to embrace personalization, for good reason. But before diving too far into a personalization strategy, there are a few critical questions to ask.

By taking into account the following considerations, a solid cross-functional team (business leaders, marketers, product owners, technologists, legal) can collaborate on the best personalization path to meet your goals.

For an in-depth look at personalization in enterprise WordPress, download our white paper, “How to Achieve Personalization with Enterprise WordPress.”

1. How will the data be shared with existing systems?

If the personalization requires any data to be sent to a vendor (for instance, user data, activity data, etc.), a JavaScript snippet will need to be included in all pages. Be sure to choose a reliable third-party vendor, as slow response times on the vendor end could affect the site’s end-user experience, and a data breach at the vendor could expose customers’ information.

2. What will be the reliance on external systems?

As recommendations for a specific type of user may change, the recommended list of content is typically sent dynamically from the personalization vendor’s systems. Some vendors store the user’s behavior in a cookie so that users don’t have to rely on their service being online. Ensure they have a strong uptime/availability record and make sure to understand what features of the site (if any) will be impacted if the service vendor’s systems are unavailable.

3. How can sharing personal data be kept to a minimum?

If users are required to sign in with their account, there is the added advantage of using their user-specified preferences. However, this would require additional information to be shared with the personalization vendor. Ideally, it’s possible to share just the username or a unique identifier for the user.

4. How can personalized experiences be shared across channels?

To capture a user’s data across various channels (social media, email, mobile apps, website, etc.), the vendor will need to unify data to a single user profile (typically based on the email address). Most personalization vendors that support cross-channel data gathering will also allow recommendations to be published through any of these channels.

5. How will the customer profile integrate with existing marketing tools?

Insight into customers’ profiles allows specific segments to be targeted with special offers or promotions. To use existing marketing software, it’s imperative to have it integrated to the personalization engine. Alternatively, campaigns could be managed within the personalization vendor’s portal.

In closing

Successful personalization requires marketers, technologists, and business leaders to have shared goals, with a firm understanding of how pursuing personalization will affect each area of the business. These questions can get you started building that foundation as a team.

At WordPress VIP, we have helped our clients provide personalized experiences on some of the most popular websites in the world. Even though we already have an assortment of tools, we continue adding features to our platform to help make it easier to provide these experiences.

For a detailed look at achieving personalization with enterprise WordPress, download our white paper, “How to Achieve Personalization with Enterprise WordPress.”

Featured partner program expands to France with Be API

WordPress VIP has added Be API to our exclusive Featured Partner program. Be API (as in, don’t worry, Be API) is one of only 30 partners in this group, and the first partner agency in France.

Since its creation, the agency has been a pioneer in industrialized WordPress projects and worked hard to democratize the professional use of WordPress in France. As active core contributors, the Be API team has created several plugins (Simple Tags, Simple Image Sizes) and helped co-translate WordPress into French.

As developers, technical architects, DevOps, sysadmins, project managers, SEO consultants, web analysts, and UI and UX designers, Be API’s expertise is rooted in 4 key areas:

Strategy & Design: audits, personas, tests and UX/UI design
Development: WordPress themes & plugins, page builder & Gutenberg
Industrialization: architecture, cloud, devops & interoperability
Run: maintenance, performance monitoring & customer support

Our experience and our expertise in the WordPress ecosystem are unique in France and allow our customers to gain considerable time in their projects by making the right choices.

-Amaury Balmer, CEO of Be API

Be API is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year: since 2009, the agency has helped more than 200 clients and created more than 250 WordPress implementations. Over the last decade, the agency has created some of France’s most ambitious WordPress projects, such as site factories for BNP Paribas, a security-focused project for Dassault Aviation, and high traffic platforms with Free.fr.

Joining the WordPress VIP program allows the agency to offer a unique platform, meeting the most demanding business needs while maintaining strong agility and creativity.”

-Amaury Balmer, CEO of Be API

For more information about Be API’s partnership with WordPress VIP, please visit https://wpvip.com/partners/agency-partners/

10 can’t-miss moments of 2019 from WordPress VIP

As the WordPress VIP team closes out another calendar year, we’d like to reflect on how far our clients, partners, and the broader enterprise WordPress community have come in 2019. So here are 10 highlights to celebrate on the way to an even more fruitful 2020.

1. The crew grew. Our parent company, Automattic, acquired Tumblr!

2. Salesforce took notice. Automattic closed a new $300 million Series D, with Salesforce Ventures taking the entire round.

3. Gutenberg closed in on Phase 2. Since releasing the first phase of Gutenberg last year, over 50 million posts have been made in the new block editor. At WordCamp US, Automattic’s CEO Matt Mullenweg shared some of the latest and greatest features and blocks built in the Gutenberg framework and highlighted an example of inline newsletter creation built by VIP partner rtCamp for Mortgage Bankers Association.

4. Enterprises adopted custom blocks. As Gutenberg development work continued on the home front, WordPress VIP partners like Big Bite and clients like News Corp drove adoption of Gutenberg in the enterprise, building blocks that delight WordPress users and news consumers, too. See real-life examples of how custom blocks can accelerate content production in the Gutenberg for enterprises webinar recording.

5. We’re officially poised to disrupt. Did you know WordPress VIP competes in a $10B market? CEO Nick Gernert took the stage at WordCamp US to talk about why this open source software is ideal for enterprises. You can see the full recording of his talk, where he shows how clients like Capgemini, Hachette Book Group, and News Corp Australia take advantage of the agility, ownership, flexibility, and simplicity of WordPress at scale.

6. We put more power in your hands. Speaking of agility, client developers can now run core and custom WP-CLI commands on WordPress VIP hosted applications and environments, through the VIP-CLI tool. This is part of our effort to deliver tools that empower WordPress VIP clients to make quick and deliberate moves across their applications.

7. Clients experimented with conscious decoupling. In 2019, we’ve seen more enterprises shift to a “decoupled” or “headless” approach to WordPress, using React and other JavaScript frameworks for their front-end architecture. At BigWP NYC, product manager Rachael Trost demonstrated how Accuweather’s decoupled architecture delivers content via WordPress to APIs, local media partners, scrolling LED displays, and more.

8. We landed exciting opportunities. Demand for enterprise WordPress continued to grow, and we saw exciting launches with clients like Samsung, Hilton, NBC, Time, Telefonica, Alaska Airlines, Knight Foundation, Merck, and many more.

9. The partner network grew. To keep pace with this significant demand, we welcomed 21 additional agency partners, growing our presence in expanding verticals (like sports, healthcare, and ecommerce) and regions (like Turkey, Australia, France, and the Netherlands).

10. We gave back to the community that started it all. There’s now a dedicated landing page for Five for the Future, which highlights people and organizations devoting 5% of their resources to WordPress development. You may notice some familiar faces, including Automattic and our agency partners 10up, rtCamp, and Multidots.

We’ve got big plans for the coming year, and we bet you do, too. If you want to learn more about any of the above, let us know. We’re always pleased to hear from you. In the meantime, Happy New Year from all of us at WordPress VIP!

WordPress VIP welcomes Skylab as a Silver Agency Partner

Today, WordPress VIP welcomes a new addition to our exclusive Featured Agency Partner program: Skylab. Based in Manchester, United Kingdom, Skylab specializes in creating innovative digital products and services for some of the biggest names in sport.

Leading the pack in digital transformation

Skylab’s approach centers on collaborating with clients on their long-term digital transformations and evolutions. Their team has devised strategies and solutions for sports clubs such as Manchester United and Manchester City. Their Formula 1 client roster includes Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso. They’ve also worked with national associations such as England Athletics, Swim England, England Golf, UK Coaching and the British Paralympic Association. Their expertise extends to world federations as well, such as ITTF (Table Tennis), AIBA (Boxing), ICF (International Canoe Federation), FIFA and the International Olympic Committee.

The agency has won numerous awards for their work. Earlier this year, the UK’s Department of International Trade chose Skylab as an “Export Champion.” In 2015, Creative England recognized them as a top 10 “Future Leader” out of a field of over 500 businesses.

A world-class partnership

“Skylab has built an enviable reputation as one of the top international digital agencies in sport. We are looking forward to joining the WordPress VIP family. Together, we’ll bring highly innovative digital strategies and products to the enterprise WordPress space.”

– Skylab CEO Nigel Collier

For more information about the Featured Agency Partner program, or if you believe your agency is a good fit, please visit wpvip.com/partners/agency-partners.

Ecommerce expert Saucal is VIP’s newest agency partner

At VIP, we strive to connect our clients with the best design and development talent on the planet. Today, we welcome Saucal as our newest Silver Agency Partner!

The Saucal team in branded hoodies
Saucal helps build, support, and maintain ecommerce solutions for enterprise clients

Saucal: experts in enterprise ecommerce

Saucal is a certified WooExpert digital agency and a WooCommerce preferred vendor. The agency is 100% remote and primarily serves the Americas and Europe. As a result, “communication is key,” said Mitchell Callahan, CEO.

Saucal’s founders learned early on what kind of digital agency they wanted to be. At the time, they struggled to find a company capable of delivering the site they needed to achieve business goals. That’s when they saw a need in the market and began developing.

Now, Saucal’s enterprise clients include Stripe, P&G, Automattic, Amazon Pay, and Phlearn. Each has relied on Saucal to improve their eCommerce capabilities.

“Best WordPress agency I have ever worked with. Seriously, they go so far above and beyond. It’s like having an in-house dev team sitting there with you,” said Seth Kravitz, CEO of Phlearn.

Logos of Amazon Pay, Automattic, P&G, and Stripe. These are a selection of Saucal's clients.
A few of Saucal’s enterprise ecommerce clients

Building a better internet

Above all, Saucal champions the open internet. Their team has contributed to the cores of both WordPress and WooCommerce.

“Open-source is the best option for both publishing and commerce,” said Callahan. “WordPress and WooCommerce epitomize everything that is good about the Internet.”

“We tell all our clients to go open-source only. If you don’t, you risk some third party shutting you down. Or, having a say over how you run your business. It’s too dangerous to go with proprietary solutions,” agreed CFO Dominic Sauter.

“Being a WordPress VIP partner is a great privilege. It comes with responsibilities we won’t take for granted,” Sauter continued. “We’re honored to help WordPress in its mission to drive growth and champion the possibilities of open-source.”

For more information on our new Featured Agency Partners, please visit https://wpvip.com/partners/agency partners. If you believe your agency is a good fit for our growing program, contact Suzi.

WordPress VIP welcomes Rareview as a Silver Agency Partner

We are pleased to welcome Rareview to our Featured Agency Partner program! Rareview is 1 of only 19 partners in this prestigious group and the only Silver agency on the West Coast of the United States.

Brothers Chuck and Rob Pearson of Rareview
Brothers Chuck and Rob Pearson started Rareview to help established brands grow.

Rareview is an award-winning digital design and marketing agency. Under leadership from brothers Chuck and Rob Pearson, the agency takes an intentionally different approach to building brands and products. In short, they design digital experiences that cultivate relationships. The team believes exceptional results lie at the intersection of great design and marketing — which is a delicate balance. So, at Rareview, design and marketing teams aim to increase conversions by working hand-in-hand to develop creative based on marketing principles and design best practices.

“Much of our development work has focused on WordPress over the last few years. As an agency partner, we are excited to gain access to additional partner resources and the WordPress community. It’s thrilling to be part of this exclusive group,” says Chuck Pearson, CEO of Rareview.

WordPress VIP closely vets every agency partner. Critical criteria include clear product understanding and innovative go-to-market strategies. We seek agencies with a track record of forward-thinking implementations of WordPress at scale. To learn more about the program, or if you think your agency is a good fit, visit https://wpvip.com/partners/agency-partners/

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:

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.

What to expect at WordCamp for Publishers 2019

Alexis is one of the lead organizers of WordCamp for Publishers. VIP is proud to sponsor and participate annually in this great event.

Howdy! I’m a co-lead organizer for the third-ever WordCamp for Publishers taking place on August 7th to 9th in Columbus, Ohio. I’m incredibly honored to be leading one of my favorite WordCamps where we’re able to gather a talented group of folks together and dive into topics at the intersection of journalism, WordPress, and technology.

I’m happy to announce that we’ll also have 8 outstanding journalists and technologists joining us at the event thanks to our scholarship partnership with OpenNews.

WordCamp for Publishers is a community-organized event that brings 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 can benefit from attending our event.

Our schedule

The schedule is up now and includes speakers from national media organizations, smaller publications, and agencies that work with media companies. This year’s schedule features:

  • A hands-on workshop on security training in newsrooms
  • Two sessions on bringing Gutenberg to editorial teams
  • An in-depth guide to creating robust newsletters
  • Lightning presentations on Newspack, managing site networks, and paywalls

Not only do we have a fantastic set of speakers lined up this year, but we’ve placed an increased emphasis on mentorship. Our third and final day of the conference will be a Mentorship Day where we’ll group folks by topic and introduce speed mentorship rounds for attendees to connect with one another.

This is a great opportunity for attendees to lend their expertise and learn from other skilled folks attending the event. 

What you can expect

We’ll have a main track of talks and panels that are 45 minutes each as well as a separate track of 90 minute in-depth workshops centered around topics that aim to provide actionable takeaways for publishers to take home. There will also be openings for our popular unconference sessions which attendees can self-organize at the event based on interest.

For folks that prefer the hallway track, there will be plenty of opportunities to connect with people from top media organizations. Take a look at our sponsors and make sure to say hello and grab some swag!

Social activities

We always like to offer fun, low-key opportunities for socializing outside of the main conference day at WordCamp for Publishers. We’ve arranged several events this year, including an evening of fun and games at Two Dollar Radio Headquarters and an outing to a Columbus Clippers game. 

Get your ticket today!

We encourage everyone to check out the videos and participant recaps from the last WordCamp for Publishers in 2018 to get a sense of what’s to come. We hope to see you in Columbus in a few weeks, and if you haven’t gotten a ticket yet, you can still get one today!

WordPress VIP welcomes Multidots as a Silver Agency Partner

VIP is proud to welcome Multidots as a new Silver Agency Partner. Multidots is one of several agencies joining the expanding Featured Agency Partner program to better serve the growing demand for enterprise WordPress.

Increasing presence in APAC

Multidots is a global enterprise WordPress agency headquartered in India with sales and support offices in Virginia and California, USA. Their full team is comprised of over 110 distributed employees who serve clients in North America, Asia, and Europe.

Multidots supports digital strategy (including content marketing, performance marketing, and lead generation) for publishing companies like QuinStreet, Higher Educations, and All Star Directories.

Enterprise clients like Accenture, MIT, Jumeirah, NAB, and SneakerNews have turned to Multidots for complex and large scale WordPress implementations and multi-platform integrations.

“Multidots helped ABUV Media to grow from annual revenue of $100K to almost $15M and startup to a successful acquisition. Their technical expertise in the areas of WordPress, page performance and security have been the key to the success of our websites,” said Douglas Jones, former CEO and co-founder of ABUV Media (acquired by Higher Educations).

“Their selection to this highly exclusive and reputed WordPress VIP featured partner program boosted my trust and confidence in their talent and team.”

 

“In the course of 10 years, Multidots has achieved many milestones and success, but Multidots’ acceptance into the VIP Featured Agency Partner program is the biggest among all,” said Anil Gupta, CEO of Multidots.

“Looking at the fact that there are approx 100,000+ WordPress Agencies in the world and 15,000+ agencies in India alone, Multidots being one of the two VIP agency partners in Asia is the moment of pride and honor for everyone at Multidots.”

Contributing to the global community

In the last three years, 20 “Dots” (employees of Multidots) contributed to WordPress core 12 times and 10 contributed to WooCommerce 7 times. The Multidots team also helped manage 32 meetups for the Ahmedabad WordPress Meetup Group, sponsored dozens of WordCamps around the world, organized the first ever WordCamp in Ahmedabad and spoke at local and global WordCamps and WordPress Events.

“With our participation in the VIP Featured Agency Partner program, our WordPress development services come with the extra benefits of the added security, flexibility and performance that our high-volume and enterprise projects demand. We are very grateful and thankful to our existing clients for trusting us on solving some unique problems and motivating us. And we are thrilled and pumped up to continue on our mission, ‘Serving people and solving problems.'”

— Anil Gupta, CEO

For more information on our new Featured Agency Partners, or if you believe your agency is a good fit for our growing program, please visit https://wpvip.com/partners/agency-partners/.

VIP expands Featured Agency Partner program to meet increasing client demand

We’re pleased to announce VIP is expanding our Featured Agency Partner program! As the leading provider of enterprise WordPress, VIP is experiencing rapid global growth and increasing client demand. WordPress itself continues to dominate global market share: it now powers over 34% of the web, and more companies are discovering the performance, flexibility, and interoperability of WordPress at scale. As demonstrated by VIP’s recent launches for clients like Github, Alaska Airlines, and Hilton, high-scale deployments of enterprise WordPress are on the rise (we served 38 billion page views in 2018 alone). To keep pace with this significant growth, we are welcoming additional agency partners with proven capacity to create digital transformation for the world’s largest brands.

Image courtesy of Dekode, a Norway-based agency which has been a Featured Agency Partner since 2015

Partner agencies are a critical part of the VIP ecosystem. Together, we deliver performant, secure, and stable applications that enable our clients to optimize their digital experiences with ease. Expanding our Featured Agency Partner program means clients can now select from a broader group of partners with skill sets and experience that align with their business goals and product roadmap. Another key benefit of adding partner agencies is the expertise they contribute from new verticals and geographies.

The expanded program provides agency partners the opportunity to strategize, co-sell, and go to market alongside WordPress VIP. The introduction of Gold and Silver tiers allows us to partner with the most qualified design and development agencies of every size. Key criteria for agency partners include clear product understanding and innovative go-to-market strategies. We closely vet every partner to identify agencies with a proven track record of successful and forward thinking implementations of WordPress at scale.

“WordPress VIP is experiencing significant growth and we’re poised to deliver transformational results for brands who require best-in-class digital experiences,” said CEO Nick Gernert. “We’re excited to welcome new agencies alongside our existing partners to help us deliver on the most demanding implementations of enterprise WordPress.”

For more information on our new Featured Agency Partners, or if you believe your agency is a good fit for our growing program, please visit https://wpvip.com/partners/agency-partners/.

April 2019 VIP Roundup

Spring has sprung (in the northern hemisphere, at least) and as you scroll through March’s updates, you’ll see fresh growth everywhere: We’ve got new launches for Hilton and Alaska Airlines. Development for WordPress 5.2 is well underway. Our teammates and partners are winning awards and earning certifications. And we’re thrilled to announce expanded support for enterprise clients in Asia Pacific. Explore details on all that and more below, including the latest from WordCamp Europe and a special spotlight on our work supporting female leaders in digital media.

At WordCamp Kolkata, CEO of rtCamp Rahul Bansal wears a white blazer and poses next to VIP Anand Natarajan in front of a blue banner celebrating rtCamp as a featured partner of WordPress VIPCEO of rtCamp Rahul Bansal poses with VIP’s Anand Natarajan at rtCamp’s 10th Anniversary Celebration

News and Releases

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

  • WordPress 5.2 is slated for release within the next month, bringing the block editor into WordPress mobile apps and shaving 35% the load time for large posts. The software is still in development, but you can download the beta or experiment with the WordPress beta tester.
  • Newspack is a collaboration from Automattic and partners News Revenue Hub and Spirited Media that aims to make it easier for smaller publishers to produce sustainable journalism. Project leads have selected 12 newsrooms from around the world to pilot the first live version of the platform. Among this first cohort are Chile’s El Soberano, Prague’s Transitions, and San Antonio’s The Rivard Report.
  • Automattician Seyward Darby was named a Top Woman in Media for her work as Editor-in-Chief at The Atavist Magazine.
  • VIP welcomed Anand Natarajan to the team as Sales Director for Asia Pacific, and expanded our infrastructure with a new data center in Mumbai.
  • Does your team deploy on GitHub? If so, 10 Up’s new plugin, GitHub Actions for WordPress, might make your life a little easier.
  • Congrats to Alley on the launch of Food Learning Locator. They’re also behind the design and development of Alaska Airlinesredesigned blog, and the development of Hilton’s corporate responsibility site. CEO Austin Smith was featured in a Local News Initiative story on the need for improved user experience of news websites.
  • Three cheers for Big Bite, who achieved certifications in two ISO standards for Information Security and Quality Management, and won the Northeast England Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Award.
  • Petya Rakovska of Human Made has started hosting kid’s workshops at WordCamps across the globe, teaching the next generation of WordPress superusers to build their own websites and custom themes. She created an organizer’s kit to spread the movement.
  • Inpsyder Frank Bültge shared this recap of eCommerceCamp 2019.
  • Reaktiv Studios released Design Palette Pro 1.6
  • rtCamp celebrated their 10th anniversary. You’d expect the cake, but the lemons were a surprise. CEO Rahul Bansal spoke at WordCamp Kolkata and COEP FOSSMeet’19 about Hiring in WordPress Ecosystem and Careers in WordPress and Open Source. Another Rahul (Prajapati) introduced students to WordPress Hooks Concept at COEP FOSSMeet’19. Amidst the revelry, they also released three GitHub Actions for automated code review, deploying WordPress, and Slack notifications.
  • Congrats to Trew Knowledge on the recently launched independent.com, the new site for the Santa Barbara Independent, a weekly newspaper in California which moved to WordPress and VIP after years using EllingtonCMS. Trew Knowledge also launched Journal Métro on Apple News.
  • Distributed teams are increasingly common. The crew at XWP identified 7 experiences that help them create a sense of ‘team’ among remote contributors.
Over a dozen kids with laptops collaborate with WordCamp Belgrade volunteers at one of the first WordCamp kid's workshops
Volunteers at WordCamp Belgrade taught kids to build their own WordPress sites and themes. Photo via Petya Raykovska and provided by Ivan Gatić.

Platform Notes

  • VIP Files Service, our distributed, scalable, and versioned file system, now supports a much greater range of files operations, thanks to an upgrade in the way file writes work for WordPress uploads.
  • We rolled out WordPress 5.1.1, Jetpack 7.1, and Jetpack 7.2 to all sites. (Links point to Lobby posts for clients.)
  • We released a VIP Cache Personalization API.
  • We updated the process for specifying files to be excluded from automated build and deploy processes. It now uses a .deployignore file, rather than .gitignore.
  • WP core upgrade has been fixed for local environments.
  • Fixed an issue with Contact Form 7 attachments and the VIP Files Service.
  • We’ve been working with selected clients on our Node.js application hosting. If you’re interested, please get in touch using the form below, or by contacting your RM.

What We Read (And Listened To)

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

Spotlight

The spring 2019 Women’s Leadership Academy cohort at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida.

This year, VIP is proud to sponsor both the Online News Association’s Women’s Leadership Accelerator and the Poynter Institute’s Leadership Academy for Women. Steph Yiu has been attending their programs since 2016 and wrote a feature on the exponential impact of raising new voices to the highest levels of digital media leadership.

Upcoming Events

  • We’re excited to sponsor WAN-IFRA’s 71st World News Media Congress in Glasgow June 1-3. The event draws global news leaders passionate about media freedom and ensuring a sustainable news industry. You can register here.
  • We’re also sponsoring brand storytelling and digital marketing conference Forward, where marketing VP Jessica Snavely will share how Automattic uses data to tell success stories.
  • WordCamp Europe descends on Berlin June 20-22. Schedule highlights include talks from our featured partners 10up, Human Made, and rtCamp; sessions on Gutenberg, accessibility in design, optimizing remote teams; and a keynote from Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic. VIP’s very own Tom Nowell will do a live demo on using blocks outside of posts and pages.
  • The sixth annual SRCCON returns to Minneapolis July 11-12. This event attracts over 300 journalism-technologists, newsroom leaders, and others working to change journalism for the better. Sign up for information about tickets if you want to learn more.
  • WordCamp for Publishers is slated for August 7-9 in Columbus, Ohio. Plans are underway for the speakers and schedule, which will include tracks for editorial, engineering, and product teams. Read our notes from the 2018 event to get a feel for the festivities, and bookmark the event page to stay up to date.
  • The National Association of Black Journalists’ Convention and Career Fair combines education, career development, and networking to improve access for journalists of color. This year’s theme is “Fight The Power: Press Forward with Passion and Purpose” and goes down in Miami August 7-11.

March 2019 VIP Roundup

The WordPress team recently celebrated another major milestone with the release of WordPress 5.1, alongside news that the platform now powers a full third of the web. Huzzah! Kauffman Indicators, the Facebook Journalism Project, Rio Negro, MinnPost, and MTN now count themselves among that elite group after enjoying successful launches this month.

Elsewhere, we were lucky to join some amazing conversations about shaping the enterprise WordPress world we want to live in, including more women leaders in digital journalism and the importance of designing for all. Read on for details, as well as the latest updates from across the community.

A group of women from ONA's Women Leadership Academy posing in front of a brick wall.
ONA Women’s Leadership Academy participants and mentors. Photo via ONA.

News and Releases

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

  • WordPress released version 5.1. Nicknamed ‘Betty,’ 5.1 introduces new Site Health features and includes performance improvements for the new block editor. Congrats to Automatticians Matt Mullenweg and Gary Pendergast and the 561 contributors (including folks from our partners 10up, Reaktiv Studios, and rtCamp) who made it possible.
  • It’s official: WordPress now powers 33.3% of the web.
  • VIP worked with featured partner Alley to help The Kauffman Foundation launch the Kauffman Indicators of Early Stage Entrepreneurship. This new tool offers in-depth reports and interactive data visualizations that present entrepreneurial trends across decades, geographies, and demographic groups.
  • The Facebook Journalism Project provides products, tools, and training to promote news literacy and help journalists harness the power of Facebook for good.
  • Argentina’s 115-year-old Rio Negro newspaper is looking mighty fine in its new home.
  • Longstanding nonprofit news organization MinnPost joined the VIP family.
  • Congrats to South African mobile phone provider MTN on their new site launch.
  • 10Up turned eight and beta launched WP Acceptance, a team-centric tool for writing reliable, scalable acceptance tests.
  • Alley shared a reflection on how creating a self-quoting SlackBot shaped their company culture.
  • Big Bite sponsored Middlesborough Digital, part of several burgeoning digital sectors in the UK.
  • Inpsyde released a OneStock for WooCommerce plugin to make it easier to manage product inventory across multiple shops.
  • rtCamp shared the PHP migration script they used to move 300+ repos, 10000+ issues/PR and 100,000+ comments from GitLab to GitHub. Their team also attended 3 WordCamps in one weekend!
  • HumanMade hosted their annual meetup in Sri Lanka (We’re not jealous. Okay, we’re jealous).

Platform Notes

What We Read (And Listened To)

Spotlight: Kurator at NewsCorp 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. We spoke with Juan Zapata, head of the Site Production Platform team, to learn more about their custom-built Kurator tool, which brings external resources to authors and editors working in WordPress. Read all about it.

Recent Events

  • Earlier this month, we sponsored and attended ONA’s Women Leadership Accelerator at UCLA. Each year, this event brings 30 women from around the world for a weeklong leadership intensive to advance women in digital journalism. VIP has been a major sponsor of ONA WLA since the beginning and are proud to continue our support. Alternate: This year, our very own Steph Yiu spoke about managing remote teams (recap on her site) and VIP’s work promoting digital journalism.
  • VIP was also pleased to sponsor February’s Change Forum, where our friends at News UK brought together established media businesses and startups in London to speak candidly about product design and development. Simon Dickson, Alison Blanda, Jason Snow, Ryan Sholin, and Simon Wheatley represented VIP at the event, and Automattic’s design director David Kennedy spoke on reaping the benefits of prioritizing accessibility in design. Get a summary of his talk alongside major highlights in our event recap.
David Kennedy on stage at the Change Forum conference, pictured in front of an audience and against a red background with the word 'Change' inscribed across it.
Automattician David Kennedy speaking on designing for diversity. Photo via News UK

Upcoming Events

  • BigWP meetups focus on the operation, development, and scaling of large, high-traffic WordPress websites. Next up is BigWP Toronto, hosted by our friends at the Canadian Olympic Committee on March 27. These events always fill up fast, so hop to it.
  • Facebook’s developer conference F8 is slated for April 30-May 1. Billed as, “A conversation about technology and human connection,” this event offers deep dive sessions and product demos across Facebook’s family of apps. You can apply to attend or sign up to stream the keynote.
  • We’ll be attending WAN-IFRA’s 71st World News Media Congress 2019 in Glasgow, June 1-3.

Freedom to innovate: VIP at Change Forum 2019

VIP was proud to sponsor February’s Change Forum, where our friends at News UK brought together established media businesses and startups in London, to speak candidly about product design and development.

Speakers from the BBC, The Times, Netflix, Lego and here at WordPress.com shared lessons learned about audience engagement and growth whilst leading product teams.

The common thread across all the day’s presentations was an acknowledgement that a steady flow of new ideas and perspectives was essential to the continued success of a modern business. Teams at one startup were expected to carry out five experiments every single month.

David A Kennedy on stage at Change Forum 2019 London
David Kennedy, design director at Automattic

Data, experience and intuition were all of limited value in predicting which ideas would ultimately move the needle. Several speakers described lengthy or expensive processes which yielded little; whilst tweaks taking only a few hours could have a remarkable impact.

And sometimes, as our colleague David Kennedy explained, ideas expected to deliver one benefit could produce greater gains in another, unexpected way. David’s passion is accessibility in design. He cited the example of NPR, who began posting transcripts of their audio broadcasts to aid accessibility – and saw a significant increase in traffic and user engagement, through the text content’s greater search engine friendliness.

Christina Scott interviews Jonas Huckestein
News UK’s Christina Scott chats with Jonas Huckestein of UK bank Monzo

Jonas Huckestein, co-founder of UK banking disruptor Monzo, confessed that the company’s success had been built on trying things, seeing which ones worked, and keeping on doing them. They spent months developing a peer-to-peer payment function, which was a total flop. But a simple ‘golden ticket’ function, to let friends of existing customers jump up the waiting list, drove steady weekly growth for many months.

Customers loved it when Netflix began sending out brand-new movies on the day of the DVD’s release; but it only reduced customer churn by a tiny amount, so they canned the initiative.

Conversely, when faced with the dilemma of whether to notify customers about the imminent expiry of their initial free trial, Netflix decided to do the ‘right thing’, and send out reminders. It naturally reduced conversion rates, costing the company tens of millions in revenue; but they decided it was good for the brand… and easy to reverse.

Gibson Biddle, former VP of Product at Netflix

How to decide if an innovation was successful? It depended on what you had hoped to achieve, the data you considered, and who was making the decision. Your CFO might take one view; your community of users, or readers, or consumers might take another. It’s for the culture of the company to decide whose view matters most.

With VIP’s roots deep in the WordPress open source community, these conclusions rang true to our own experience. We believe that the freedoms to innovate on top of WordPress, to share your ideas and efforts with the world, and to choose from many solutions already in circulation, are key factors in the continuing growth of WordPress.

Photos courtesy of Fluxx Studios: posted on Flickr, used under license.

February VIP Roundup

After a brief stint away for the holidays, 2019 is off with a bang (or, a shake, for the VIP Business Development team attending a meetup in Mexico City last week). The first 1/12th of the year has seen several exciting launches, including GitHub, Prensa Libre, and Crowley. Our client USA Today came back with its Ad Meter rankings of the most popular ad at the Superb Owl, but our favorite might be this shoutout to the free press from the Washington Post.

Take a look ahead at this month’s updates from across enterprise WordPress, including a spotlight straight from VIP’s own newsroom, and the running list of events we’ve got our eyes on this spring.

Thirteen Lego astronauts in orange jumpsuits nestled in the snow holding a black sign that reads 'VIP Launch'

The VIP Launch Squad met in Boulder, Colorado last week. Photo not actual size. (Photo credit @kgagne)

News and Releases

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

  • You can now watch and share the videos from November’s BigWP NYC event. Our thanks to Remy Stern of the New York Post, Setka CEO Katya Bazilevskaya, and Libby Parker and KAdam White of Human Made for dropping knowledge on managing push notifications, AMP compatibility, and customizing pre-existing Gutenberg blocks.
  • GitHub has a new home on VIPGo, with a .blog TLD. Check out github.blog or their 2019 policy predictions for a look around the new digs.
  • Prensa Libre is one of the biggest newspapers in Guatemala and one of the highest-trafficked websites in Central America. We partnered with Alley to migrate them over to WordPress and the VIP Go platform. New capabilities include a refreshed landing page module system, and the option to export wire stories straight to print.
  • Congrats to Crowley on their long-haul launch of a new site on VIP, and many thanks to the small army of collaborators from across several teams who made this one possible.
  • Alley published a robust 2018 year in review, highlighting their work with news organizations, museums, nonprofits, and more.
  • Hello Design worked with MDC to build the Coral One robot, which Business Insider called the best robot at CES2019.
  • Clutch named Human Made both a “Top 1000 Global” B2B company and “Top WordPress Development Company.”
  • Reaktiv Studios launched Tala on VIP Go as a multilingual site.
  • Rtcamp is heading to WordCamp Bangkok, where CEO Rahul Bansal will speak on the art of pricing. Read how choosing ‘focus’ as a guiding theme for 2018 impacted their year.
  • XWP wrote a piece on what you need to know before you AMP. They also released v1.0.0 of their WordPress development library.
  • Setka’s CEO Katya Bazilevskaya was quoted in the Native Advertising Institute’s 2019 predictions e-book (gated download).

Platform Notes

  • We’re building a testing panel to give us feedback as we develop our client-facing tools. If you’re interested in helping us, please drop us a note via support.
  • We’ve released WordPress 5.0 (Lobby post for clients) up to 5.0.3 (Lobby post) and Jetpack 6.9 (Lobby post)
  • VIP CLI has been updated to 1.3.0. You’ll notice a few updates: we now preview the date and time of the backup used for sync, show the mapped domain when listing apps, and better messaging around environments–as well as some minor bugfixes and general bolt tightening. Please update your local install with npm install -g @automattic/vip
  • MU Plugins:
    • Query Monitor is updated to 3.1.1
    • Fieldmanager is updated to 1.2.4 (Lobby post)
    • Edit Flow is updated to 0.9 (lobby post for clients (Lobby post)
    • Safe Redirect manager is 1.9.2 (Lobby post)
    • Responsive Images are rolled out to all sites (Lobby post)
    • Getty Images 4.0 (Lobby post)
  • We’re upgrading our VIP Go Hosting to PHP 7.3, to take advantage of the performance benefits, stability, and security advantages there. Non-production environments were updated on Monday 4 February, and production sites are planned to be upgraded on Monday 25 February (Lobby post)

What We Read (And Listened To)

Spotlight

Image via thenewsproject.net

VIP is deeply committed to the sustainability of news organizations, large and small, around the world. We’re excited to share we’ve doubled down on that commitment by investing in the News Project. According to founder Merrill Brown, the News Project’s goal is to “stabilize existing news sites and encourage new startups by simplifying publishing and the path to sustainability.” Take a product tour to learn more about their tools, or sign up for their newsletter to stay up to date.

Upcoming Events

  • Tickets are on sale for WordCamp London, April 5-7. This event joins a slate of WordCamps going down all across the globe this spring, including Jakarta and Pune on February 16, Helsinki March 7-8, and Miami March 15-17.
  • ‘Intelligent Connectivity’ is the focus of #MWC19, coming to Barcelona February 25-28. Attendees can explore 8 themes, including Immersive Content and Digital Trust.
  • This year’s (free) AMP Conference will be in Tokyo April 17-18. Already an AMP expert? Act fast: the call for speakers is open through February 14.

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No matter where you are in the planning process, we’re happy to help, and we’re actual humans here on the other side of the form. 👋 We’re here to discuss your challenges and plans, evaluate your existing resources or a potential partner, or even make some initial recommendations. And, of course, we’re here to help any time you’re in the market for some robust WordPress awesomeness.

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