VIP News

Updates and features about our platform, services, and partners, as well as stories and events from across the enterprise WordPress community.

Bringing Xbox to the block editor

The block editor, part of the project known as Gutenberg, is one of the biggest changes to WordPress core software in over a decade and a half. It brings unprecedented agility for enterprises to customize media-rich content directly within the WordPress editor.

WordPress VIP featured partner agency Reaktiv recently worked with Xbox to build custom blocks that leverage Xbox’s existing design components to streamline workflows. Together, these new blocks reduce manual effort, speed up time to publish, and deliver a better user experience.

The day of BigWP SF, Reaktiv CEO Josh Eaton was celebrating Xbox’s successful launch on Gutenberg. In his presentation, Josh walked attendees through Reaktiv’s approach to implementing the block editor on four of the entertainment company’s regional sites.

Reaktiv CEO Josh Eaton gives talk at Big WP SF on using custom Gutenberg blocks for Xbox

So far, the project includes eight new custom blocks, including Countdown timer which adds a stopwatch-style ticker alongside sale items and automatically eliminates the entire post once the deal has expired.

Josh shared his biggest piece of advice for transitioning to the new block editor: iterate, iterate, iterate. With an enhanced ability to sync styling in the front and back ends, Gutenberg facilitates new processes that were previously impossible (or at the very least, cumbersome) in the old editor. If you’d like to explore what’s possible for the block editor in your organization, please get in touch.

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 November 2019 playlist.

Solving performance and stability for VentureBeat

Rising technical debt was bogging down VentureBeat’s team and performance. So they turned to WordPress VIP to handle updates, maintenance, and support. As a result, response time (and performance) have evolved from problematic to outstanding.

“The response time on the site was running 1,500 milliseconds and up. Once we finished the migration it’s down to 200 to 300 milliseconds, and often quite less. So basically it’s a tenth of what it was originally.” 

— Steve Tidwell, Director of Technology

To learn more about our work with VentureBeat, including detailed results of their successful migration, download the executive summary.

This post is part of a series providing executive summaries of WordPress VIP case studies. For a complete list of these executive summaries, click here

How implementing dark mode in WordPress boosted 9to5’s sites

WordPress VIP featured partner 10up recently worked with media company 9to5 to add light and dark mode support to its most popular sites, including 9to5Mac and 9to5Google. Jake Goldman, founder and president of 10up, took the stage at BigWP SF to discuss the project and provide a practical primer on supporting native, OS-level dark and light settings.

As of this year, all major operating systems and browsers have begun to support the ability to view different display modes (light and dark), based on user preference.

Far beyond aesthetics, dark mode is a contributing factor in improving accessibility for users who suffer from eye strain or other vision difficulties. Additionally, enabling dark and light mode options empowers users to personalize their experience with your content–which can improve engagement.

The good news? Dark mode is relatively easy to enable. It took 10up only about 30 people hours to set up five sites on the 9to5 network that shared an overarching layout.

In this talk, Jake walks through two approaches to achieve similar results. First, a CSS path to deliver content in light or dark mode based on a user’s predefined settings. Next, a JavaScript method to allow users to toggle between light and dark mode on their own, which defaults to user device settings.

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 November 2019 playlist.

Remaking the New York Post for the digital age

The New York Post struggled to keep pace with the changing world of digital-first content. In critical need of new infrastructure, the Post migrated its proprietary CMS to WordPress VIP. Since then, the Post has enjoyed major gains in every key metric they track.

“Whether you wanted to look at it from a performance standpoint or in terms of speed metrics, or you wanted to look at downtime, or the traffic pre- and post-launch, all the data supported the decision that we made.”

— Remy Stern, Chief Digital Officer, New York Post

 

To learn more about our work with the New York Post, including detailed results of their successful migration, download the executive summary.


This post is part of a series providing executive summaries of WordPress VIP case studies. For a complete list of these executive summaries, click here

Webinar recording: Gutenberg for enterprise

The new WordPress block editor, known as Gutenberg, is the biggest change to the software in over 15 years.

Gutenberg introduces a brand new editorial interface designed to help cross-functional teams publish content better, faster, and leaner than ever before.

Yet few enterprises have realized the full extent of its capabilities.

Let’s change that.

Details:

This webinar, led by WordPress VIP featured partner Big Bite, showcases examples of how the block editor can implement design systems in custom blocks that streamline content creation.

The presentation is ideal for developers, marketers, project managers, and content creators who want to discover how blocks can help enterprise brands increase efficiency and accelerate workflows.

You will:

  • Learn the capabilities of the new WordPress block editor
  • Study real-life examples of custom publishing workflows that boost efficiency
  • Discover how custom blocks could improve your organization’s production capacity
  • Access a live Q&A with Big Bite design and development experts

Presenter: Jonny Waters, Big Bite

As head of design, Jonny leads on all of Big Bite’s creative direction and design standards. With 10+ years of experience in design and front end development, specifically complex UX processes and techniques, Jonny has a strong commitment to quality and continuous improvement — which he dedicates to improving the effectiveness of design in the WordPress community.

Why Capgemini migrated 38 sites from Drupal to WordPress

 

 

Capgemini is a multi-billion dollar international consultancy focused on leader technology services and digital transformation. Capgemini’s global workforce comprises 200,000 team members in over 40 countries. Capgemini underwent a huge re-platforming project, migrating their network of 38 sites from their legacy Drupal CMS to WordPress VIP.

Drupal had become a choke point, causing unnecessary production delays

Capgemini’s legacy Drupal CMS was no longer improving workflows or supporting their editorial needs. To make matters worse, Drupal’s lack of backward compatibility made the website increasingly unstable. Finally, the system no longer supported their digital roadmap. To make matters worse, teams across Capgemini were becoming frustrated with the lack of usability and extensibility.  Understandably, teams created their own solutions outside the group platform. These workarounds created a governance nightmare.

Capgemini migrated 38 sites to WordPress—which immediately increased productivity

Capgemini had a clear requirement: their new platform would promote a decentralized approach to publishing and provide a workflow and communication framework to increase visibility into the production process. Migrating to WordPress quickly alleviated Capgemini’s content creation challenges.

“We needed a system and a piece of technology that would force a reckoning of our team members to actually learn what digital publishing is, and what digital marketing means today, in a bunch of different cultures, languages, and markets.”

— Parker Ward, Director, Content Marketing and Communications

Now, Capgemini’s teams deliver seamless user experiences across languages, cultures, and markets

WordPress VIP helped Capgemini leap into a new digital culture of creation with a robust, usable, and intuitive CMS. Now, the CMS supports Capgemini in delivering their business objectives and empowers their global network of teams to do their jobs effectively.

To learn more about this work with Capgemini, including detailed results of their successful migration, download the executive summary here. You can also watch Parker Ward discuss the project during his talk at Big WP London.

This post is part of a series providing executive summaries of WordPress VIP case studies. For a complete list of these executive summaries, click here

How to scale a WordPress development team

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.”

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.

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.

Data visualization using custom map types

WordPress VIP collaborates with our featured partners to deliver unparalleled digital experiences for our clients. A recent interactive mapping project with Alley and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation demonstrates what’s possible when we collaborate on forward-thinking implementations of enterprise WordPress.

The initial migration

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) is a non-profit which focuses on delivering free, trustworthy, non-partisan content relating to national health issues. They are a leading source of data and analysis that a wide array of publications and researchers use to inform their own reporting.

WordPress VIP first teamed up with Alley in 2012 to help KFF unify all their legacy content and sites on a new platform. This undertaking required migrating 20 years’ worth of data (spanning nearly a dozen data sources) to WordPress.

Together, the team identified several success metrics for KFF’s new platform. First, it needed to improve user experience. Second, it must scale the ways people can access their work. Third, it should increase efficiency, and fourth, reduce costs. Finally, the platform also needed to evolve with the digital landscape for years to come. You can read more about the success of that initial project in this case study.

Alley’s data visualization solution

In 2018, building upon the success of that migration, KFF approached Alley with a challenge. The foundation needed a way to display state-level data on a map. They also requested an accompanying table, in a format that was easy to use. Furthermore, it should be embeddable within posts across their WordPress site.

A screenshot of the Kaiser Family Foundation data map, "Status of State Medicaid Expansion Decisions"

KFF is now rolling out this application for use in posts, issue briefs, and fact sheets across the site. At its core, it’s a novel and engaging way of displaying information. It’s also a lightweight replacement for an older, heavier, and less flexible application. And there’s even more in store. Plans are in the works for a second phase of the embeddable maps project. Next on the docket is adding new functionality and refining existing features.

Alley put together an excellent post outlining the technical details of the project. Is your organization looking for a creative and powerful way to display large amounts of data? If so, get in touch to see how WordPress VIP can help.

Disrupting the Enterprise: Notes from WCUS 2019

This post shares video and key takeaways from WordPress VIP CEO Nick Gernert’s talk at WordCamp US in St. Louis on November 1, 2019.

Right now, the opportunity at the high end of the market is as big–if not bigger–than any other opportunity for WordPress. Depending on which reports you read, we’re competing in a $10B market that’s growing 18% annually.

However, there’s a disconnect between the demonstrated success of WordPress in the enterprise, and the market’s perception of its capabilities. So let’s celebrate what has already been accomplished in enterprise WordPress, and consider how we can realize the full potential of WordPress for these complex customers into the future.

The unique needs of enterprise users

For me, enterprise needs fall into 4 core areas: agility, ownership, flexibility, and simplicity.

Agility

Agility is the single largest competitive advantage WordPress sees over other platforms. As pressure to deliver increases within organizations, the agility of the tools required to do the job becomes even more important.

Case study: Capgemini

VIP and Human Made’s work with Capgemini, the global technology consultancy, demonstrates this perfectly. Capgemini suffered many chokepoints with their previous platform: small changes required days of lead time, a handful of people in an organization of 200K understood how the platform worked, and people were spinning up their own platforms, which created a governance nightmare.

As pressure to deliver increases within organizations, the agility of the tools required to do the job becomes even more important.

By migrating to WordPress, Capgemini eliminated licensing worries and gained access to thousands of pre-built integrations. Removing their bottlenecks helped Capgemini increase productivity and improve results. In specific terms, 1400 users across 38 sites in 10 different languages are now contributing to 20K+ pages. That agility truly differentiates the platform from other solutions.

Ownership

Ownership means many things in the enterprise: Ownership of product. Of customer journeys, of data, of future business needs. In an enterprise context, most software comes from closed, opaque systems commonly associated with strict vendor lock-in. With content sitting at the core of so many customer experiences, ownership (and also transparency) are critical to long term success.

Flexibility

The flexibility inherent to WordPress is what has allowed it to see its 16th birthday and will enable it to see many many more. If enterprises want decoupled architectures today, we can do that. We can also say with confidence that the platform will evolve to serve their future product roadmap, thanks to the inherent flexibility of the platform.

This flexibility is what empowers WordPress to serve both the monolithic model of delivering web pages, but also COPE (Create Once, Publish Everywhere) approaches to content, which rely upon API-driven applications serving components.

The new block editor has been the single-most exciting development since the custom post type and this is validated in the response we’re seeing from enterprises.

Case study: News Corp
WordPress forms the core of News Corp’s global publishing operation. There are some really interesting ways Big Bite is working with News Corp to tailor the block editor to their needs, for publishing workflows and ultimately site management.

The new block editor has been the single-most exciting development for me since the custom post type and this is validated in the response we’re seeing from enterprises. Layering onto that the future promise of full site management only continues to make things more interesting.

Simplicity

WordPress makes the complex simple. In fact, WordPress’s success in the enterprise to date is rooted in the fact that it’s not enterprise software. It’s the software people used because it made them better at their job.

The UI of WordPress is one of the most tested anywhere in software. There are readymade models for those extending WordPress, so organizations spend more time solving business challenges and less time refining UIs. As with Capgemini, the more accessible things are, the more folks will actually use the software and spend their time driving results.

Case study: Hachette Book Group
It’s simplicity that allows Hachette Book Group to empower marketing teams across their organization. They use WordPress to manage a site with thousands of titles, authors, and imprints. That’s in addition to a catalog of books that grows by 1,700 or so each year. Choosing WordPress has allowed their digital teams to focus less on marketing activities and more on analysis and optimization. Folks at Alley were critical to simplifying their processes and integrating other external systems into the rollout.

Paving the way for continued growth

When the web changes, it starts with WordPress. If you want to influence adoption, you do it with the platform that powers over one-third of the web. Digging deeper, the sustainability of WordPress’s current success in the enterprise, and the potential of future growth, is rooted in two core concepts:

  • We must always keep in mind the experience of the user. The user-centric nature of WordPress and this community is exactly what has carried it to the usage we see today. It is our greatest asset when advocating for the potential of WordPress with the world’s most demanding users.
  • We must demonstrate empathy for our user’s customer. If we demonstrate WordPress also understands what the success of that user’s customers looks like, we will ensure enterprise adoption of WordPress continues to grow.

The ubiquity, agility, ownership, flexibility, and simplicity inherent to WordPress is powerful to the large organizations that rely on this platform. I couldn’t be more excited about what the future holds for these forward-thinking applications of enterprise WordPress.

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.

How TechCrunch built a 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.

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

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.

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.

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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/

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

Note: This is part of a series of posts highlighting talks from the BigWP San Francisco meetup at Eventbrite on the evening of June 26.

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.

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

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.

Watch April’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. Want to find out about the next enterprise WordPress event in San Francisco? Join the meetup group. You’ll find groups for other cities there as well.

Find all of the 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

Note: This is part of a series of posts highlighting talks from the BigWP San Francisco meetup at Eventbrite on the evening of June 26.

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.

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

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. To be the first to find out about the next enterprise WordPress event in San Francisco, join the meetup group. You’ll find groups for other cities there as well.

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

Note: This is part of a series of posts highlighting talks from the BigWP NYC meetup at The New York Post on the evening of June 11.

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%.

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

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. To be the first to find out about the next enterprise WordPress event in New York, join the meetup group. You’ll find groups for other cities there as well.

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

Managing millions of public data records with WordPress

Note: This is part of a series of posts highlighting talks from the BigWP San Francisco meetup hosted at Eventbrite on the evening of June 26.

VIP featured partner agency 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. To be the first to find out about the next enterprise WordPress event in San Francisco, join the meetup group. You’ll find groups for other cities there as well.

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

How FiveThirtyEight tuned Liveblog for the midterms

Note: This is part of a series of posts highlighting enterprise WordPress talks from the BigWP New York meetup at The New York Post on the evening of June 11.

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.

Paul Schreiber

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. To be the first to find out about the next enterprise WordPress event in New York, join the meetup group. You’ll find groups for other cities there as well.

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.

How VIP supports the future of digital media leadership

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. This is our fourth year supporting each program — here’s a little bit about why they’re so important to us.

I write this fresh from wrapping two very full days at Poynter’s spring Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media. This year, I was struck by how often the attendees used the word “magic” to describe this conference. But then I recalled my first 24 hours at the ONA-Poynter Leadership Academy in 2016. I was completely blown away. In one day, I met more women leaders than I had interacted with my entire career.

Closing the gap

For many years now, VIP has been bringing WordPress to some of the world’s largest publishers. In 2016, we were wrestling with the realization that we rarely interacted with female clients, because digital decision-makers at enterprise organizations tended to be men. We also didn’t have many women on our team and were eager to change that.

At the time, we already had a relationship with the Online News Association, as sponsors of their annual conference. So when the opportunity arose to expand our sponsorship to a women’s leadership program, we were all in.

A different kind of conference

Upon arriving at that first event, I was immediately impressed by the attendees. Twenty-eight women were chosen out of more than 400 applicants. All were up-and-coming female leaders at media companies around the world. Remarkably, the curriculum was completely customized for the group. Coaches closely evaluated attendee applications, teammate feedback, and personality tests to provide 1:1 coaching specific to each individual’s needs. While that was valuable, the most important learnings came from attendees speaking up, being vulnerable, and building on shared experiences.

As a sponsor, I came with a prepared presentation on WordPress, but quickly realized I had to adapt to the room. This was a different kind of conference — one where I was expected to be as open as possible about my challenges and struggles. I threw away my prepared remarks.

Instead, I spoke about becoming a female team lead, and how paralyzing imposter syndrome can be when almost all your clients and teammates are male. I talked about how it takes extra courage to speak up when you’re the only woman in a room full of men — courage I often did not have as a new team lead. I shared that I spent a lot of time trying to be like everyone else. It was a long and frustrating road for me to stop mimicking other people, and start validating the things I was good at.

After that presentation, I made genuine friendships with many of the women in the room.

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

An exponential impact

Since that first sponsorship, women we’ve met at the program have attended our BigWP community events, spoken at our annual VIP Workshop, and become a part of WordCamp for Publishers. Some of them have become trusted friends and advisors for me. Others have become clients.

I’m also proud of the impact the sponsorship has had on our team. As we’ve hired more women, I’ve been able to bring teammates to these events. Over the last two years, Suzi Gaiser, Alexis Kulash, Nabaht Peters, and Rebecca Hum have all attended events and become part of the ONA-Poynter community. I have been grateful to both programs for their interest in soaking up a bit of VIP’s distributed and open culture. In turn, the programs have allowed us to participate in sessions on being a change agent, negotiating as a woman, promoting diversity in leadership, and personal career development.

As I travel home, I’m carrying a little boost of positive energy, reminded that there’s an incredible community of women leaders looking to support each other. At VIP, we’re deeply committed to sustainable journalism, and proud to support the critical work of organizations like ONA and Poynter who help raise new voices to the highest levels of media leadership.

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.

Human Made’s approach to Gutenberg? Don’t repeat yourself.

Libby Barker, a Senior Project Manager, and K. Adam White, a Senior Developer, both from Human Made, spoke about their approach to working with clients on Gutenberg projects, even before its recent official launch in WordPress 5.0. This talk was delivered on November 13 at BigWP NYC, a gathering of developers and product people who work on WordPress applications at scale.

Instead of reinventing the wheel, Human Made started with the blocks already available in Gutenberg, and customized from there. Rather than spending time and effort building blocks from scratch, they were able to give clients more control of design elements and a better editing experience.

Any Gutenberg block might turn out to be reusable on another page, or in another layout. In one example they shared, the Human Made team found that an element built for a site’s homepage could double as a recirculation module at the bottom of single posts or pages, too.

Watch the talk:

BigWP is our enterprise WordPress meetup series, that brings together developers, business leads, and product people who work with high-scale WordPress applications every day. To be the first to find out about the next enterprise WordPress event in New York, join the meetup group. You’ll find groups for other cities there as well.

Find all of the talks in the November’s BigWP playlist.

Bringing AMP and Gutenberg Readiness to Setka

How the Setka Editor team built AMP compatibility into their custom post design tool

At our latest enterprise WordPress meetup in New York on November 13, Katya Bazilevskaya, Cofounder and CEO at Setka, talked about building the Setka Editor to be Gutenberg-ready and AMP-ready. The Setka Editor is a powerful tool for building beautiful longform stories out of building blocks, all optimized for mobile with full Google AMP integration.

The Setka team transformed WordPress galleries, javascript libraries, and even animations into AMP-ready HTML elements, speeding up mobile load times and giving users a lightning-fast experience.

Modern CSS approaches available in AMP help cut down on time to First Meaningful Paint, and Setka users are seeing the difference.

Watch Katya’s talk:

BigWP is our enterprise WordPress meetup series, that brings together developers, business leads, and product people who work with high-scale WordPress applications every day. To be the first to find out about the next enterprise WordPress event in New York, join the meetup group. You’ll find groups for other cities there as well.

Find all of the talks in the November’s BigWP playlist.

WordPress.com VIP Invests in The News Project

At WordPress.com VIP, we’ve worked closely with journalists since the very beginning of our service. From our earliest clients, news organizations were an integral part of WordPress’s growth from an open-source blogging platform to a technology that now powers more than 32% of all sites on the web.

Since that time, VIP has grown into an enterprise publishing platform that now boasts a customer list including some of the biggest news organizations in the world — CBS, Time.com, and News Corp., to name a few — to global brands like Microsoft, Airbnb, Capgemini, and Capital One.

But in this difficult business climate for news organizations, we want to double down on our commitment to journalism and a free (and sustainable) press. Today VIP is announcing that it has made a significant investment in The News Project, a new WordPress-based platform founded by Merrill Brown, the veteran digital news executive who helped launch MSNBC.com.

In addition to VIP’s financial investment, The News Project will be powered by VIP’s platform, with a goal of serving medium-sized digital news organizations around the world. You can read more about TNP’s vision here.

Along with VIP’s existing platform for large publishers and brands, Automattic’s funding of the new Newspack initiative with Google and other partners (announced yesterday), our own in-house media properties Longreads and The Atavist (bringing the best narrative storytelling to WordPress), and even the individual work of reporters like 12-year-old Hilde Lysiak, we are deeply committed to the sustainability of news organizations, large and small, around the world.  

We’re thrilled to work with Merrill and his team on this shared vision. For more information, go to thenewsproject.net.

Push Notifications at Scale at the New York Post

How The New York Post uses WordPress to manage push notifications for a busy newsroom

Remy Stern, Chief Digital Officer at the New York Post, our hosts at BigWP NYC on November 13, led off the presentations with an explanation on how they use WordPress.com VIP to send thousands and thousands of push notifications, email alerts, and to control their breaking news alerts on the web, too.

Why use WordPress to manage notifications? It’s the central tool for workflow in their newsroom, and reduces the risk of errors by keeping things in one familiar system with a consistent user experience. As a bonus, that helps things move quickly.

“Speed really matters when you’re sending out breaking news push notifications.”

Maropost, Urban Airship, and even Apple News are all in the notifications mix for the New York Post, all managed from inside their WordPress admin.

Watch Remy’s talk in full:

BigWP is our enterprise WordPress meetup series, that brings together developers, business leads, and product people who work with high-scale WordPress applications every day. To be the first to find out about the next enterprise WordPress event in New York, join the meetup group. You’ll find groups for other cities there as well.

Find all of the talks in the November BigWP playlist.

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