USA Today Sports Media Group on the Benefits of a Common Theme

When newly acquired publications and sites come in to a large publishing group, they often come with baggage: their own approach to UX and underlying technologies. These unique themes and feature sets can add up to significant technical and operational debt. It’s a whole lot of tools and processes that only exist for one project’s benefit. And in most cases, those unique systems bring with them a distinction without a difference – there’s little benefit to the end user that’s gained from that diversity of approach. It’s just history.

This is a set of issues that we’ve seen again and again. Bringing groups of publications together under a common theme and architecture can reap tremendous rewards, across speed, productivity, and cost savings.

David Parsons, USA Today Sports Media Group

Earlier this month at the BigWP meetup in NYC, David Parsons of USA Today offered a peek into the evolution of the company’s Sports Media Group and its underlying systems. His team worked with WordPress.com VIP to migrate a number of sites, each with its own unique theme hosted on Amazon, over to VIP. All of the sites are now under their shared Lawrence theme, with a system called Wasabi that can turn on and off features from site to site.

Here’s David explaining the history of the project and the ways working with WordPress.com VIP frees his team up to focus on what’s most important:

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“When we first started off, we wanted to be as lightweight as possible and we were picking up these extremely heavy CMS’s that aren’t necessarily WordPress. So what we initially did is move everything to WordPress as fast as possible, and we hosted this ourselves on the Amazon platform. And we had site-specific themes, so every codebase for every site was completely unique.

We soon realized that there were a lot of issues with this, especially when a site goes down, or we have an issue overnight. Obviously there’s the potential of losing thousands of dollars. As soon as possible we moved to WordPress.com VIP, and we moved to a platform called Lawrence, which is essentially a shared theme. By moving to WordPress.com VIP, we were able to not worry about downtime, and whenever we push our code up for deployment, they run an additional code check to make sure we’re not pushing anything up to production that could potentially be catastrophic. Things like security we no longer have to think about. So this allows our team to focus on building awesome stuff.”

USAT-image.pngThe ability to create and launch new sites quickly, and centrally control the feature set for each one or a group of them, enabled the Sports Media Group team to quickly test a concept for a new set of NFL team sites, and then roll it out across all 32 teams:

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In this next clip, David explains how the WordPress Customizer manages various look and feel elements for each site.

Site-by-site feature interface

He also describes the plugin interface, depicted above, that allows the team to easily control features site by site, and apply functionality created for one to any or all of them:

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You can follow David on Twitter at @dpjustice.

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

If you’d like to hear more about how WordPress.com VIP can free your teams up to focus on publishing, get in touch.

Data Migration with a Custom WP Importer

Dan Phiffer, a developer at The New Yorker, states “your migration is a unique butterfly and you’re going to suffer in your own special way.” He was handed the task of migrating all the data from The New Yorker to the new site.

The reason his team chose to build a custom migration tool came down to a couple key points: numerous legacy platforms, import selectivity, introspection at the time of import, assembling gallery shortcakes, and pause/restart import process.

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You can browse his slides below:

See the presentations from previous Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetups. For Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetup groups in other cities, see the full list on VIP Events and join your local group.

Want more information about WordPress services for media or enterprise sites? Get in touch.

Enterprise Video the Easy Way: Preview of the New Brightcove Connector for WordPress

The Brightcove Connector for WordPress is getting an update, and John Eckman, CEO of WordPress.com VIP Featured Partner Program Agency 10up, walked us through an early preview. In order to make this as seamless as possible, John and his team tried to leverage as much as possible with the WordPress interface. Their goal was to present something that is non-intrusive and familiar, so that software gets out of the way and allows publishers to do what they do best.

This will be added to the WordPress.org repository soon and more information regarding early access can be found by asking your Brightcove representative.

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You can browse his slides and the preview below:

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See the presentations from previous Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetups. For Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetup groups in other cities, see the full list on VIP Events and join your local group.

Want more information about WordPress services for media or enterprise sites? Get in touch.

Building Tournament-Style Brackets with the Polldaddy API

Using the Polldaddy API and Fieldmanager, Tom Harrigan, a principal software engineer at WordPress.com VIP Featured Partner agency Alley Interactive, built a dynamic tournament-style bracket system with a voting system for the NYPost’s Decider.com.

Aside from the specifics of the voting mechanism, round creation and procession, match-ups and modal navigation, he touches on parts of the development process such as storing data, the shortfalls, and some future considerations.

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You can browse his slides below:

http://brackets.thomasharrigan.com/

See the presentations from previous Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetups. For Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetup groups in other cities, see the full list on VIP Events and join your local group.

Want more information about WordPress services for media or enterprise sites? Get in touch.

Getty Images: Integrated Stock Images and the Challenges of the WordPress Media Manager

The Getty Images WordPress.com VIP plugin allows you to seamlessly create posts with photos and illustrations from Getty Images. Ben Doherty, the Technical Director at Oomph, goes in-depth about how the plugin was designed to integrate with the WordPress Media Manager.

He introduces some of the challenges he faced and what could be improved moving forward, specifically with documentation. You can find more information about the Getty Images WordPress.com VIP plugin here.

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See the presentations from previous Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetups. For Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetup groups in other cities, see the full list on VIP Events and join your local group.

Want more information about WordPress services for media or enterprise sites? Get in touch.

iOne Media Cloud: Creating a Centralized Photo Repository

One of the challenges that VIP client iOne faced were legal takedowns of images. The team at iOne, led by WordPress developer Mike Auteri, found a solution by creating the iOne Media Cloud, a central photo resource.

The central photo repository enables upload/approval workflows; asset identification so any upload can be traced back to the uploader and approver; full audit trails for uploader, approver, and all imports remote to WordPress sites; and the seamless purchase of Premium photos for authorized users.

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You can browse his slides below:

See the presentations from previous Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetups. For Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetup groups in other cities, see the full list on VIP Events and join your local group.

Want more information about WordPress services for media or enterprise sites? Get in touch.

Improving Collaboration and Code Quality with Peer Code Review

High standards for code quality can be easy to maintain with a small team. But as Matt Boynes, a partner at WordPress.com VIP Featured Partner agency Alley Interactive, found out, code quality was difficult to scale as his team grew in size.

He set out to solve this by instituting peer code reviews. Every single line of code would get a second pair of eyes. While it was more time consuming and created barriers for deployment, the benefits overwhelmingly outweighed the costs. As a team, they were able to pool knowledge, improve collaboration, onboard new employees quickly and deploy code more efficiently.

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See the presentations from previous Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetups. For Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetup groups in other cities, see the full list on VIP Events and join your local group.

Want more information about WordPress services for media or enterprise sites? Get in touch.

Homepage and Section Front Curation Made Easy

When the Portland Press Herald decided to redesign their site, Matt Fulton, the Director of Digital Projects, called upon WordPress.com VIP Featured Partner Program agency 10up for their services. Matt and his team wanted to make two key changes with the homepage and section front curation.

The previously fixed and inflexible homepage became adaptive and engaging. By focusing on content blocks and content areas, they were able to design one basic skeleton that allowed them to arrange content and showcase important assets.

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See the presentations from previous Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetups. For Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetup groups in other cities, see the full list on VIP Events and join your local group.

Want more information about WordPress services for media or enterprise sites? Get in touch.

Scaling WP Queries with Elasticsearch

WordPress.com is big. Currently, there are:

  • 18.6 billion pages views/month
  • 409 million unique visitors/month
  • 56 million new posts/month
  • 68 million new comments/month

All of this happens on a dynamic platform that undergoes 5,000 deploys a month.

To try and surface better content to users, there are taxonomies and meta queries that normally don’t get used anywhere else. It can get difficult to scale these queries, which may more often than not result in the error message: MySQL server has gone away.

Xiao Yu, an Automattician, presents a solution: Elasticsearch. He states that Elasticsearch:

  • Optimizes for search not indexing
  • Is near realtime
  • Is denormalized
  • Uses inverted indices
  • Uses Bitsets

“Elasticsearch can represent a >200x improvement for queries against cold caches.” – Nick Daugherty, WordPress.com VIP

The es-wp-query plugin made by Matt Boynes at Alley Interactive does all of the transpiling of queries on the fly and can be found here:

https://github.com/alleyinteractive/es-wp-query

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You can browse his slides below:

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See the presentations from previous Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetups. For Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetup groups in other cities, see the full list on VIP Events and join your local group.

Want more information about WordPress services for media or enterprise sites? Get in touch.

 

Scaling UniversalSports.com for the Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon is one of the busiest days of the year for UniversalSports.com. Dave Ross, an engineer manager at the WordPress.com VIP Featured Partner agency 10up, was presented with two challenges: 1) scale UniversalSports.com for the site’s busiest day of the year 2) support the growing mobile audience for live streaming.

To accomplish this task successfully, Ross and his team emphasized peer code reviews and performance in PHP, Javascript and CSS. They used the Brightcove HTML5 Video Player along with the FitVids.JS library to tackle the growing mobile audience, which allows videos to resize and fit inside the container on the page.

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You can browse his slides below:

See the presentations from previous Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetups. For Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetup groups in other cities, see the full list on VIP Events and join your local group.

Want more information about WordPress services for media or enterprise sites? Get in touch.

From Blogger Partners to Bacon Videos: Strengthening Core Brands Through Engaged Online Cooks

America’s Test Kitchen is best known for their television series on PBS and magazine Cook’s Illustrated. America’s Test Kitchen is a real 2,500 square foot test kitchen located just outside of Boston with more than three dozen full-time cooks and product testers. Their recipes, equipment reviews, ingredient taste test results, and kitchen tips are made available across multiple different mediums like their TV shows, magazines, cookbooks, and websites.

To strengthen the many different brands they house, they wanted one cohesive, accessible site where they could connect with their fans, upload video tips, and publish original content. This resulted in The Feed. Social Media Manager, Jill Fisher, and Managing Editor, Christine Liu, walk us through how The Feed fostered a strong community of relationships with fans and bloggers that eventually lead to its own DIY book.

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You can browse their slides below:

See the presentations from previous Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetups. For Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetup groups in other cities, see the full list on VIP Events and join your local group.

Want more information about WordPress services for media or enterprise sites? Get in touch.

NYC VIP Party – Thank You!

Hudson Hotel

To those of you who were able to join us last Thursday in NYC for the VIP Happy Hour, I wanted to extend a hearty thank you – we really enjoyed seeing so many of you there! We had about 120 attendees, ate some delicious chocolate fondue and enjoyed the beautiful courtyard space at the Hudson Hotel. We’re really looking forward to our next VIP Happy Hour – in London next February (more details on this soon…).

If you have ideas for future events that you’d like to see us host or sponsor (both social or professional welcome!), please get in touch. We really enjoy bringing everyone together and we’re looking forward to some awesome events in 2013.

WordCamp San Francisco August 12 – 14

The official annual WordPress conference, WordCamp San Francisco, is coming up next week, August 12 -14th! As of today there are still some tickets available (at $50 for the entire 3 days, it’s an incredible bargain) as well as there are some opportunities available to sponsor as well.

Many members from the VIP Team at WordPress.com, Automattic, and the larger WordPress community will be present and speaking, too. We hope to see you there!

Ready to become a VIP Services Client? Some of the world’s biggest brands rely on WordPress.com VIP Services.

Upcoming WordCamps

WordCamp logoOn the WordPress.org News blog, Jane has highlighted some upcoming WordCamps:

Looking for something fun to do during your summer vacation? Why not check out a WordCamp! WordCamps are locally-organized casual conferences of, by, and for WordPress users, developers, and enthusiasts just like you. The focus of a WordCamp is to foster face-to-face connections and collaboration among the local WordPress crowd, but there are usually some out-of-towners there as well.

Click through to see the latest approved WordCamps for this summer, and visit WordCamp Central for all upcoming WordCamps, and information on how to help organize or participate in one.

WordPress at South by Southwest

WordPress is all over the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival this year – from networking parties to a WordPress Genius Bar at the trade show, WordPress has definitely left its mark on the conference.

The WordPress Genius Bar will be at the trade show through Thursday, March 17th. Stop by and say hi, grab some swag or talk to the geniuses about WordPress. But get there early – it’s been packed! (Booth #s 829, 831, 928, and 930)

More details on the WordPress Development site

Photo by Terry Chay

The VIP Services team meets in London

The entire Automattic VIP Services team (minus Lloyd, who thankfully held down the support queue!) spent the past week in London to talk strategy, fraternize, and meet with existing and prospective VIP clients in the area.

We had a VIP meetup one night, and we were pleased by the turnout and the conversations that were flying between the guests, both VIP project owners and developers alike. We continue to expand our VIP Services offerings for both self-hosted and WordPress.com VIPs, and the response has been very, very positive. One thing to us is clear – demand for WordPress is increasing, and our clients are hungry to apply it to all their upcoming projects.

They’re even happier when we tell them, “Yes, WordPress can do that, too!” Here on the Publisher blog, we’ll continue to highlight some of those outside-of-the-blog uses of WordPress (yep, it’s a CMS, too) that are becoming the driving force behind new enterprise adoption of WordPress.

Thanks to everyone who came out for a drink & a chat – and we look forward to another VIP meetup closer to where you are!

If you’d like more information about VIP Services for your WordPress site, be sure to contact us!

Mike Pratt on BuddyPress – Social Networking in a Box

At a recent Dallas Fort Worth WordPress meetup, Mike Pratt gave a presentation on how he’s using WordPress and BuddyPress to build his very own social network:

… there are a ton of excellent needs and reasons to use BuddyPress to take your site and turn it into the community it is begging to become. That’s the killer point: there needs to be a community underlying all of this. Maybe your focused on gardeners in Texas or stamp collectors in Des Moines or people around the world dealing with Cystic Fibrosis – if you have a community in mind then BuddyPress is an amazing tool because you can shape the community according to you/its needs. Take that Facebook (or Ning)!

The slides and the full video from the presentation and more of his thoughts are available at mikepratt.tv

Upcoming WordCamps

Lots of WordCamps coming up, which are great events for publishers to learn more about WordPress and meet the WordPress community:
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This weekend, WordCamp Orange County will be held on Saturday April 24th on the UC Irvine campus.

The following weekend, WordCamp San Francisco will be held on Saturday May 1st, 2010 with a developer day on Sunday May 2nd. There will also be a party on Saturday night. If you haven’t registered yet and are interested in attending, please head over to the WordCamp SF site and register now, as these tickets tend to sell out pretty quickly.

The following weekend on May 8th, 2010 there are three amazing WordCamps happening all over the globe: WordCamp Paris, WordCamp Argentina, and WordCamp Chile.

For more information and a full listing of scheduled WordCamps, head over to WordCamp.org .

WordCamp NYC 2009

WordCamp NYC will be held this weekend, November 14th and 15th. It’s a great get together for the New York, and the extended, community of WordPress-loving bloggers and developers:
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With an amazing lineup of speakers, over 525 people already registered, and 8 session tracks – there is something for everyone.

Myself and several colleagues from Automattic are flying in for this event, and I’m personally excited to see the track devoted to CMS use featuring case studies of current publishers.

If you haven’t signed up yet, it’s $45 for both days, or just $25 for Sunday. More details available on 2009.newyork.wordcamp.org.

[ Visit WordCamp NYC 2009 and WordCamp.org for other WordCamps happening all over the world ]

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