One Theme, One Multisite, 30+ Unique Websites – Big Media & Enterprise Meetup NYC

Simon Dickson and Simon WheatleyCode for the People, presented “One Theme, One Multisite, 30+ Unique Websites” at the recent Big Media & Enterprise Meetup in New York City.

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. 

Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetup: Seeing your content as WordPress sees it

Simon Dickson, Code for the People, Director, presented at the Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetup in London, with his presentation “Seeing your content as WordPress sees it.”

Simon explores using WordPress for a potential election campaign site and how visualizing the data from a slightly different viewpoint makes it easier to see how it can fit in with WordPress’ data structures and taxonomies.

Watch the video of his presentation and see his slide deck 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. 

Defining New Urban Media with WordPress – Big Media & Enterprise Meetup NYC

Dave McKinley, CTO of Oomph, and Grant Cerny, SVP Products & Studios at Interactive One, presented “Defining New Urban Media with WordPress” at the recent Big Media & Enterprise Meetup in New York City.

The presentation focuses on the technology and business challenges the teams faced in launching the 75+ sites in their network. Below are the video and slides from their presentation.

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. 

Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetup: RUFFLR – not just another WordPress site

Ed Coke-Steel, founder of Rufflr, presented at the recent Big Media & Enterprise Meetup in London.

His presentation, “Rufflr, not just another WordPress site,” focuses on the online wardrobe site he founded which allows users to share and follow fashion online. The site features popular users like musicians from Sony Music who share their fashion looks and fashion bloggers and other noted personalities. WordPress powers the entire site which features rich interaction in the form of profiles, collections, rankings, ratings, and more.

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. 

Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetup: How IPC Media Chose WordPress

Lee Aylett, Head of Technology from IPC Media, presented at the recent Big Media & Enterprise Meetup in London.

Lee talked about the decision his team went through in choosing WordPress Multisite to run many of their brands and the struggle in choosing whether to do things good, cheap, or fast in his presentation, “Breaking the Project Management Triangle.” They chose WordPress, and IPC Media a wholly-owned subsidiary of Time, Inc., is starting to roll out some of the 55 brands in its portfolio on WordPress Multisite.

See Lee’s presentation deck below, and the video of his presentation, too.

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. 

Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetup: Metro UK’s Powerful Content Algorithm

A huge thank you to everyone who attended our first WordPress Big Media & Enterprise WordPress Meetup in London last Wednesday! We had a solid group who came out to the event to hear the presentations, and afterwards we all went nearby to continue the networking.

We had a great lineup of speakers from the London and UK community who are using WordPress for their big media and enterprise sites in different ways:

• Dave Jensen, Metro.co.uk, Head of Development, “Metro’s Content Algorithm

 Lee Aylett, IPC Media, Head of Web Technology, “Breaking the Project Management Triangle”

• Ed Coke-Steel, Rufflr, “RUFFLR – not just another WordPress site

• Simon Dickson, Code for the People, Director, “Seeing your content as WordPress sees it.

We were able to film all of the talks and we’ll be posting the videos of those talks right here on VIP News.

For the first installment, Dave Jensen (@elgrom) from Metro UK (hosted right here on WordPress.com VIP) explains how Metro continually experiments with their content algorithm to promote and feature the most interesting content for their readers and increase engagement on their site and mobile apps.

Dave recently shared some insight on how Metro UK has grown 350% through some growth hack experiments, so he provides another great inside look on what Metro has been doing internally to tweak their site content.

Below is his slide deck and the video from his presentation — thanks, Dave!

https://speakerdeck.com/elgrom/metros-newsfeed-algorithm

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

VIP Workshop 2014 v3 Recap

At the beginning of the month, dozens of WordPress.com VIP clients, partners, and team members gathered in Napa, California for our 3rd WordPress.com VIP Intensive Developer Workshop! This year was our largest event yet, though with a restricted number of attendees so we could keep the feeling of the event intimate and small.

We some great feedback from the attendees:
100% of participants surveyed said they would recommend the conference to their colleagues and
92.68% said they would come again!

Developers from the WordPress.com VIP team and extended Automattic team led our hands-on workshops focused on Security, Performance, and Elasticsearch and attendees also had a chance to sit down 1-on-1 with members of the VIP team to talk through their development aims or hack on a problem.

We again had some great flash talks from VIP clients and partners, and this year’s presentations included talks from CBS Local, Re/code, USA Today, Digital First Media, BlueHost, The New York Times, Tribune Broadcasting, and Interactive One.

The event provided a lot of networking opportunities and we’re hopeful the fruits of some of the discussions and ideas which happened over the course of three days will make their way into those VIP sites, projects, and contributions to WordPress soon!

If you missed this year’s VIP Workshop, don’t worry! We’re doing our 1-day in-person training courses, VIP Training Days, in 3 cities in the near-term, in Toronto, London, and San Francisco. In conjunction with the training for developers and superusers, we’re also helping to host the Big Media & Enterprise Meetups in those cities as well. Find out more and sign up for the meetup groups and for the training.

And keep your eye on our Events and Training pages to see what we’ve got planned in the future!

Here are some scenes from this year’s VIP Workshop: 

Interested in hearing more about WordPress.com VIP Training and Events? Check out our Events and Training pages and sign up for our newsletter.

You can recaps of the past events here: VIP Workshop 2013, VIP Workshop 2012.

Toronto, London, Boston, San Francisco Big Media & Enterprise Meetups Coming Soon!

Following the success of the Big Media & Enterprise Meetups in New York City, we’re going to help roll those out to three more cities in the next few months: Toronto, London, Boston, and San Francisco!

If you’ve never been to a meetup, they are focused on the operation, development, and scaling of large, high-traffic WordPress websites. The meetup features four 10-minute presentations, followed by an evening of networking. Take a peek at previous presentations here.

We’ve just created Meetup groups for the upcoming events in Toronto, London, and San Francisco, which start in May and June. Please join your local group and recommend it to your friends and colleagues in the area!

Toronto:

London: 

Boston

San Francisco:

Even if you can’t make the next Meetup, be sure to sign up for your local group so that you’re kept in the loop for the next event. If you’re interested in speaking, helping find space for the next meetup, or volunteering in general, leave a comment here and we’ll be in touch.

Highlights from Matt Mullenweg’s ‘Ask Me Anything’ on Reddit

Reddit’s popular Ask Me Anything (AMA) series is an open forum between notable personalities and their users. Matt Mullenweg, WordPress co-founding developer and Automattic’s CEO & President, hosted a question & answer session several months ago. Here, we’ve excerpted some of the most interesting questions and answers as they pertain to WordPress core, WordPress.com, and other Automattic products. Questions have been slightly modified to isolate the question. Original AMA thread here.

Q: I was at your State of the Word in SF and you talked about moving WordPress more towards being an application framework rather than a CMS or blog platform. What specifically do you have in mind for this (better settings API, developer features, etc)? And then if you could break backwards compatibility (which really isn’t a option for WP), what would you really like to completely redo or add to WordPress? (submitted by andrewry)

Matt: First and foremost the most important things for a platform are stability, speed, and security. To do those well you need the ability to push updates and fixes as close to real-time as possible. And it needs to work in every language. User authentication, data and caching abstraction.

A lot of what people think of as platform stuff is actually at the CMS layer — custom post types, taxonomy meta.

If backwards compatibility wasn’t a concern I would rename all the inconsistent column names and variables to match our style guide, drop TinyMCE, simplify the user roles and capabilities system, replace widgets with page blocks, redo the admin menu system, denormalize the DB, flatten dependencies and deep hierarchy in function execution, and completely reorganize the code so the bare minimum of files are included with any given request.

Q: Are there any plans to improve the search in Plugins directory, Theme directory, and Support forums at WordPress.org? Options for sorting results after searching would be awesome. We are constantly bombarded with “What’s a good plugin/theme for such and such function/type of site?” questions on r/WordPress. Seems to me that an improved search on WordPress.org would help a ton. (submitted by summerchilde)

Matt: Completely agree.

Q: Hit me with some Akismet stats. (submitted by andrewinmelbourne)

Matt: We’re blocking 40-50 million more spam every day than we were last year. The volume of spam has been growing unusually fast.

Q: What individual do you think is the most under recognized contributor to the WordPress community at large? (submitted by jb510)

Matt: That’s a tough one… I’m going to say the volunteers on the support forums. There are 2M+ posts there, and it’s easy to forget that a huge number of WP users end up in the forums and get help that allows them to use the software when they wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

Q: I find WP so much more user-friendly than the competition. Was that a conscious decision from the outset? Was it hard work to make it that way or was it just the way you guys did things? Do you have a warehouse full of useability testers or does it just come naturally to you guys? (submitted by jimmerd)

Matt: The first few users were friends of mine who weren’t into technology at all, so from the start we needed to make it work for regular people. As we grow it’s mostly just a matter of reminding ourselves of that, sitting down with them to see how they use the software, and anticipating their needs.

Q: PHP has matured a lot in the last few years, with new tools such as Composer and new frameworks such as Laravel. The relationship between this side of the PHP community and WordPress seems to be pretty strained.
# Are there plans to address this relationship, particularly with the new focus on WordPress as a web app framework?
#Thoughts on forking WordPress, a la jQuery? (http://eamann.com/tech/wordpress-forking-and-the-road-to-4-0/)
# Multiple content areas – probably the most important CMS feature not baked into core. Will it ever happen?
(submitted by d_abernathy89)

Matt:
# I think the PHP and WP community are coming closer together, I know it’s something that Nacin has been spending time on and we’ve had more presence at PHP-focused conferences.
# I don’t think forking as described there is a good idea.
# There’s something around multiple content areas that could be really interesting we’re going to start working on this year, hopefully ready by early 2014.

Q: Are open source contributions a prerequisite to work at Automattic? (submitted by twinkeel)

Matt: No, but they get you to the top of the list when we’re reviewing applications. (I know, I look at every incoming resume.)

Q: I see a lot of desperate web development companies locally that try to stress that WordPress is insecure and shouldn’t be used. What would be the best thing to say to people like that to shut them up? (submitted by xHyperGx)

Matt: Some of the largest and most important publishers in the world rely on WordPress. (Show them the showcase.) If WordPress was insecure we’d see it on the front page of nytimes.com, wired.com, and cnn.com. :)

Q: What do you think about App websites/themes that seem to be using WordPress as the choice of CMS, do you think WordPress is a good platform for these types of sites? Scaling, Performance issues considering? Examples, Dating sites, Crowdfunding sites, Job board, etc. (submitted by throwaway201e3)

Matt: I think it’s a great framework for anything content-driven. For things like messaging that don’t map well to WP’s data model, you can still do it just make some new tables, don’t try to shoehorn it in the standard ones.

Q: And any plans to launch a Premium paid version of Photon service with more features? (submitted by pranjalgupta)

Matt: Not on features, we’ll make anything new there free to everybody, but might have a paid tier for top 1% of users by bandwidth/usage. But probably a few years from that, plenty of bandwidth and CPU here in the meantime, and it’s just getting cheaper and faster.

Q: Why is Hello Dolly still a default plugin? Do you have any statistics about how many people actually activate/use it? Have you personally written any other plugins? (submitted by the_MikePayne)

Matt: This is an interesting one, and I pulled up some stats around it:
Hello Dolly is actually the 13th most active plugin, with an active userbase of about 16% of Akismet (the most-activated plugin), and about a third as popular as Jetpack. It’s ahead of W3 Total Cache! Again this is not just installations, it’s currently active.
Some of the other plugins I’ve been involved with are here on my profile: http://profiles.wordpress.org/matt/
They’re obsolete but at the time I was proud of Advanced Caching, Staticize Reloaded, and Cache Images and the early and since-rewritten work on bbPress, HyperDB, and Akismet.

Q: Do you think an app store for plugin and themes built with high quality standards and framework, could be a good solution for WordPress end users? (submitted by nicolaballotta)

Matt: The plugin directory is an app store where everything is free.
Would having paid stuff there make it better? I don’t think so.

Q: I have been using WordPress for 10 years, make most of my living from it, and will always love it. Thank you for that! It is by far the easiest way I have found to build websites that my clients find easy to use. I see the reasons why WordPress does not use more modern coding practices and tools and appreciate the need for backward compatibility, but wonder if you ever see the code base moving forward to a time when developers can use the newest features of PHP, best coding practices (i.e. testing), and the great tools that are available these days, like Composer. Do you think there will ever be some kind of fork or offshoot of WordPress that functions as an application development framework, since so many developers are using it for that these days? (submitted by lori_b)

Matt: I disagree with the premise — WordPress does use modern coding practices. People assume that supporting say an older version of PHP or MySQL holds us back far, far more than it actually causes any trouble. Supporting older browsers is a way bigger deal.
Our biggest challenge is figuring out the user side of things, the front-end code. How things should work for a user rather than how they should work for a computer.

Q: What is your opinion about current state of PHP in general? Do you like any particular framework? Templating engine? (submitted by houdas)

Matt: I think it’s pretty great, would just love to see continuing development around performance. Nothing really in the language that’s holding us back. Wish it was trendier with younger devs.

Q: Automattic has a lot of side projects (Gravatar, PollDaddy, etc) – What’s next? (submitted by baaaatmaaan)

Matt: There’s always a struggle between doing new things or experiments under a new brand — like VaultPress — vs putting it under an existing brand. A lot of the things I’ve been thinking about we’re going to put under the Jetpack brand, for example Jetpack Photon (CDN + dynamic image resizing and filtering) could be a standalone product, but decided to bundle it. So keep an eye on some big things coming to Jetpack, especially for Code Poets, people who use WordPress professionally.

Q: Will you ever support multiple languages in the WordPress core? What do you think of new writing platforms like Quip and Editorially? Will the WordPress post editor ever have any of those ‘team’ features? (submitted by chedonline)

Matt: No plans for multiple languages in core, sorry.
I really dig the new writing platforms, I do think we’ll get some of those team features if not in core than in Jetpack.

WordPress Agencies: Facing Challenges for the Next 10 Years

Last week I gave a presentation at WordCamp Paris, focused on what WordPress agencies need to do to be enterprise-ready which I think is the biggest challenge the WordPress community is facing in the next ten years.

At WordPress.com VIP, we’re at the forefront of evaluating, analyzing, and enabling enterprise and large-organization WordPress projects with WordPress developers and agencies all over the world.  As the software matures and becomes more well-known, the demand for bigger and more innovative projects is increasing, too, and the many WordPress consultancies around the world need to be ready to answer that call.

Below are the slides from my presentation and then some additional insights and advice from WordPress.com VIP Featured Service Partners to WordPress agencies and consultancies all over the world.

Q: When did you know it was time to grow your team & how did you do it? What has contributed the most to your growth?

Austin Smith from Alley Interactive: Our project management team keeps a close eye on resource allocation and lets us know when it’s time to hire. We don’t allow ourselves to grow rapidly in response to any one big site build project—the baseline revenue has to grow in order for us to take on a new FTE. This also means that we can’t say yes to every large project. We’re lucky to have watched a similar agency expansion in the Drupal world from the sidelines, and we’ve witnessed that the agencies that grew rapidly in response to a few big contracts had a very hard time surviving after those projects were delivered and the big checks stopped coming. Don’t accept a project that you can’t deliver with the team you have at the moment you sign the agreement.

Tom Willmot from Human MadeWe’ve grown organically as the amount of work coming in has grown, we’ve generally been pretty cautious when adding to the team which I think has served us well. In the beginning that growth is slow as adding a single new person could be the equivalence of growing the team size by 33% but as you grow it becomes easier to grow more quickly.

Simon Dickson from Code for the People: I think of the early days of WordPress as a ‘serious’ platform – by which I’m talking 2006-8 – as its ‘punk rock’ years. I had seen corporate web development become slow, costly and too clever by half: think Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Emerson Lake and Palmer. For me and many others, involvement in WordPress was a reaction against all that, powered by enthusiasm rather than education. We could produce great work in small teams with minimal knowledge and minimal overheads. And although we could see amazing potential in WordPress, we tended to keep our ambitions in check – no concept albums or twenty-minute solos.

But as WordPress developed, and as we kept proving ourselves on the small stuff, clients began bringing bigger and bigger projects to us. Instead of modest microsites, we were being asked to develop the main website, or a corporate publishing platform. And with greater budgets come greater responsibility. We needed to expand the team, to provide cover for the skills we already had, and to add extra skills we didn’t already have.

The bar to becoming a great web developer is higher now than it ever has been. It’s unrealistic for someone to be an end-to-end expert in everything from responsive visuals to server efficiency, not to mention sales and business management. There’s still a huge market for ‘jacks of all trades’ – building smaller sites or working with smaller clients. But to build the kind of sites we wanted, for the kind of clients we wanted, we needed to put together a team of specialists.

Q: How has your coding workflow & style changed as you’ve grown? What prompted the changes?

Tom: We’ve evolved our workflow a lot, from what was a mish-mash of personal coding styles / workflows to what we have now which is pretty clearly defined. This was important to us for a number of reasons:

  1. We enforce internal code review, all code is reviewed by a coding buddy and vice-versa. This increases overall code quality, reduces bugs, promotes consistency and is a great way to learn from each other. We rotate those buddy pairs quarterly and purposefully pair across skill levels.
  2. Having a clearly defined workflow helps us work more effectively with freelancers and clients as they can easily get up to speed on how we like to work.
  3. Our local development environment is based on Vagrant which is huge in terms of ensuring everyone is working from a consistent base.

Simon: Over the past year, as we’ve added extra employees and expanded our freelancer pool, git has become absolutely pivotal to our work process.

We are a distributed team, scattered across the UK; yet we can all collaborate safely and effectively. Features can be developed in parallel, and merged together when ready – all the more important as we each specialise in different facets of site development. And with a visual tool such as SourceTree, we always have an overview of who’s working on what, and which version of the code is on which server. I can’t imagine how we ever coped without it.

Austin: The most significant change we made was to implement code review for everything we deliver. Every line of code we ship has at least one extra set of eyes on it. It’s not supervisory, it’s peer review, which fosters collaboration. This had a very positive side effect in terms of natural exchange of ideas, and has also ensured that our Github repositories now all use feature branches, which is definitely a best practice.

We formalized this practice when we grew our management team beyond the co-founders—it’s a way for us to ensure high quality code delivery whether the founders are involved in a project or not.

Q: What was the biggest challenge your team faced in serving larger clients? 

Simon: In our experience, even with the largest clients, the day-to-day responsibility for a project usually rests with one individual. And whenever possible, we like that individual to feel like part of our extended team. We often give them a login to our company-only chatroom and our code repository, so they can see the commit messages and join the ongoing dialogue. Transparency builds trust, with benefits for both sides.

Our biggest challenge has been learning to be patient. I spent most of my career working for large organisations, from national governments to tech multinationals, so I know all about dealing with slow decision-making processes, and challenging long-established policy or practice. In those first few months working for myself, I couldn’t quite believe how productive I could be. It’s all too easy to forget that others are still suffering.If you want to deal with large clients, you just have to accept the slowness. ‘No brainer’ decisions can take months, and there’s almost nothing you can do about it – apart from being ready to respond, as best you can, when the answer finally arrives.

Austin: We started our firm to work on big projects with big clients, so the size of work has only gotten incrementally bigger. We’ve always enforced internal consistency per project, but allow for overall standards to improve from project to project.

Tom: Assuming clients want the cheapest not the best – when you come from the mindset of serving small-business you tend to be hyper focused on delivering solutions as cheaply as possible. Often when estimating a project, say to add a simple e-commerce section you’ll think “we could knock something simple together in 2 days, but to really build something great we’ll need 2 weeks”. We want to seek out clients that want us to go for the latter option.

Q: What’s one thing you wish you had done from the very beginning?

Tom: I wish we had participated more in the WordPress community, in the early days I was more of a lurker than an interacter and definitely lost out because of it, more WordPress agencies need to wake up to the power of being part of the WP community.

Austin: I’d say code review, but it I’m not sure it would’ve been a reasonable thing to ask of our smaller team a couple years ago.

Simon: Simon & I had both been through the ‘starting a company’ thing previously; and we had been working as an unofficial partnership for a couple of years. So we knew the pitfalls which lay in wait during that first year.My advice to others would be to look for opportunities to use third-party services wherever possible. Time is the one thing you can’t stockpile: so it’s almost always worth spending a few pounds/euros/dollars on a good hosted service which will ‘just work’, even if there’s a free self-hosted equivalent.

Thanks to our WordPress.com VIP Featured Service Partners for their insights! We’ll be adding more to this as the answers come in.