GlobalNews.ca is the online news hub for the Global Television Network, a large Canadian broadcasting network with 12 owned-and-operated stations across the country. In March this year, they launched a massive redesign of their site, built on WordPress by 10up and hosted by WordPress.com VIP. The new site consolidated their many local and national sites into one responsively designed site that displays relevant content based on a user’s location. We chatted with Keith Robinson, the manager of digital products at Global News, to learn more about the vision and technology behind this redesign.
We’ve been posting about the development of WordPress 3.6 over the past few months, and while the target launch is coming up later this month, many of these features are already available to WordPress.com users. Here’s a quick overview of the new editorial features.
Working in a multi-author environment? Post Locking lets you see at a glance who’s editing a post, and prevents authors from overwriting each other.
See Who Is Editing What Post
If you navigate to All Posts in your dashboard, you will be able to see who is editing what post.
Prevent Editors from Overwriting Each Other
If you click on a post that another editor is working on, you will have three options to choose from: Go back, Preview, and Take over.
Know If Someone Else Is In Your Post
If you are working on a post and someone takes over, this screen will prevent you from continuing to work on the post.
Log Out Notification
If for some reason you are logged out of WordPress while still in the dashboard (or editing a post), a pop-up notification will appear and allow you to log in right on the page, so that you won’t lose any work. Once you’ve logged back in, the pop-up will disappear and you will be right back where you left off.
The newly revamped Autosave takes advantage of your web browser’s storage to ensure that you never lose your work again, despite a wonky internet connection. If you are editing a post and suddenly get disconnected from the internet, you won’t lose your work. When you get reconnected, you’ll be able to restore the backup and the browser-stored content will simply pop up into your text editor.
WordPress 3.6 gives revisions an update, making it easy to scan through previous revisions and see edits or updates.
Avatars with Revisions
See at a quick glance on your “Edit Post” page who has previously edited a post.
See Changes Easily
The new revisions page includes a slider that lets you move forward or backward through revisions, and colors additions in green and deletions in red.
The “Compare Revisions” tool allows you to drag the slider to two different revisions and compare the differences.
New Look for Post Formats
Note: This feature is still in development. Post Formats got an updated look, which allows you to quickly toggle between different formats (i.e. quote, video, image) using a new bar at the top of “Edit Post.”
To switch to a different post format, simply click the icon at the top.
Manage Menus with Ease
If your theme supports Custom Menus, the interface to create anad manage these menus has been updated. Now, “Edit Menus” and “Manage Locations” are split into separate tabs. Step-by-step instructions on how to use Custom Menus can be found here.
Want more? To see the many updates that went into 3.6, follow the open-source WordPress development here.
Over the last 12 months here at WordPress.com VIP, we’ve seen a lot of innovative, smart redesigns from our clients. The majority of them have chosen to make their sites responsive, meaning that the site and content scales dynamically for desktop, mobile or tablet.
Today we thought we’d showcase some of these examples. Many of these sites are industry-leaders – being either the first responsive news site in their country, or in the case of TIME.com, the first global news site with a fully responsive design. Take a quick browse through this list. We’re very impressed – we hope you are too.
“The new GlobalNews.ca has been completely reinvented to maximize the user experience and make it as easy and intuitive as possible. Central to this philosophy is its use of responsive design technology, which will automatically scale GlobalNews.ca content to fit any screen size or resolution, creating a seamless experience on all browsers and platforms; be it PC, tablet or smartphone.” Read more.
“Our site — and the content on it — now adapts to whatever device you’re reading. The first phase of our site redesign, which went live today, also includes more curation, easier sharing and a crisper display.” Read more.
“On Monday, Oct. 22, TIME.com was the first global news site to roll out a fully responsive redesign optimized for mobile and tablet browsing. … Created by TIME.com design director Davina Anthony with input from the magazine’s design staff, the new look showcases the depth and breadth of their content, with more than 100 new articles, blog posts and photos produced each day.” Read more.
Metro (United Kingdom)
“We’ve unashamedly built this from a mobile-first point of view, sure in the knowledge that mobile users are making up an increasing proportion of our visitors – and will soon be in the majority. … With a flick of your finger you can now swipe or click through the top stories at that time, whether that be stories Metro’s editors think are important or those our users have shown they enjoy by liking, tweeting or reading. And this edition will keep changing throughout the day.” Read more.
“Quartz is a website optimized for mobile phones and tablets. And as an HTML5 web app, it works seamlessly across a range of devices, from smartphones to desktop computers. It does not need to be downloaded from an app store and can be accessed simply by going to qz.com. … Quartz is free and built for social distribution: there are no pay walls, registration walls, or app store walls. The site’s radically simple, responsive design helps readers get essential information as quickly as possible.” Read more.
“The new website addresses years of requests from readers, with a site that’s easy to navigate and automatically configures material to platforms of various sizes and shapes, from large monitors to tablets to mobile devices. … Among the new features: An adaptive design for desktop, tablets and mobile phones; An expandable navigation bar that previews essential content from each site section; A new Video channel featuring news, events, trailers and interviews.” Read more.
“The Daily Dish was founded in the summer of 2000 by Andrew Sullivan as one of the very first political blogs. … It has a readership of around 1.2 million unique visitors with an average of around 8 million pageviews a month from around the world. The Dish covers anything Andrew, the Dish team or the Dish readership finds interesting – from politics to religion and pop culture and art and film and poetry and philosophy and web humor.” Read more.
“If you’re reading this on a mobile or tablet device, you’ve already noticed that metronews.ca is (we believe) the first national news site in Canada to employ a fully responsive design, meaning that no matter what size screen you view this page on, everything should be formatted nicely and properly.” Read more.
“We’ve always had two goals we hold above anything else: respecting the readers’ time and respecting the readers’ intelligence. We do the latter with our original, frequently long-form journalism. We do the former with the PandoTicker. … We’ve made the ticker more app-like and dynamic in this version. It constantly updates and “new” flags call out when something is breaking.” Read more.
“BlackAmericaWeb.com, launched in June 2001, is a broad-based effort to become a timely and credible source for news and information covering all aspects of daily life, featuring a wide array of viewpoints and perspectives.” Read more.
“The site was designed to make it easy for you to find the content you want. Our search bar scrolls down the page and our menu lets you search for stories based on topics — the courts, TrafficWatch, city hall — or geography. … Above all, the website was designed for our readers, who have told us they value local content above all and who have grown accustomed to reading breaking news on our website and coming back as those stories are updated and enhanced throughout the day. I stone cold love the new look and feel and I hope you will too.” Read more.
The Skype Blogs feature company updates such as new releases, feature updates, product education, and innovative use cases.
Ready to become a VIP Services Client? Some of the world’s biggest brands rely on WordPress.com VIP Services.
Last week, a developer at Time Inc. made a milestone commit on WordPress.com VIP: r100000!
Our WordPress.com VIP clients commit and deploy code daily, and often development teams will commit several times a day to keep up with their changing site features and improvements. We do several checks on code optimization and security before approving a commit for deployment, and we’re really proud to get 90% of commits deployed within two hours of submission. We also unveiled automatic deploys for static CSS and images last year, which has made deploying instantaneous for thousands of client code commits.
It took roughly 75,000 deploys to help reach this milestone commit. We began tracking deploys in March 2011, and as you can see in the chart below, we doubled the number of deploys from 2011 to 2012, and are on track to do so again this year.
And, for those who are interested, here’s a peek at commit activity over the course of a week at WordPress.com VIP (times in GMT):
While we’re looking at commit data, here’s a quick nod to the top five committers from the last 365 days: I.N. from Global News (942), C.B. from GigaOM (791), F.I. from Dawn Media (784), V.K. from COED Media Group (652) and E.G. from CBS Local (605).
And finally, here’s a peek at deploys from WordPress.com VIP over the last 3 years.
We’ve had a lot of fantastic sites debut on WordPress.com VIP lately. Here’s a quick look at some of our latest launches. Welcome to the WordPress family!
Last Monday was a big day, when we launched Global News, a Canadian broadcasting network. The site was developed by our Featured Partner 10up. Stay tuned for an in-depth post on this innovative new site.
This new TIME 100 site is fully responsive and encourages readers to “Cast your vote for the leaders, artists, innovators, icons and heroes that you think are the most influential people in the world.” Their polling system is powered by Polldaddy.
The brand new Wired TV site hosts a large database of videos which can be searched or filtered by channel, popularity or recency.
NI Group Ltd, the home of The Times, The Sunday Times, and The Sun, recently moved their corporate site onto WordPress.com VIP.
Pandora’s blog is a great place to discover new music, and to learn a little bit about their social media community through their embedded Twitter and Instagram feeds.
Ready to become a VIP Services Client? Some of the world’s biggest brands rely on WordPress.com VIP Services.
On the WordPress.com Blog, we recently published a post on Search Engine Optimization for WordPress.com. It has a ton of great information relevant to authors on WordPress.com VIP, so please check it out and feel free to forward it to your colleagues.
Common Myths about SEO
Myth: I need a plugin for SEO.
Fact: WordPress.com has great SEO right out of the box — you don’t have to do anything extra. In fact, WordPress takes care of 80-90 percent of the mechanics of SEO for you, according to Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team. All of our themes are optimized for search engines, which means they are designed to make it easy for the Googlebot (and other search engines) to crawl through them and discover all the content.
Smart ways to increase your SERP rank
Make sure to use short, easy-to-read post slugs that accurately describe what your posts are about. On WordPress.com, the post slug is the last part of your post title, which you can edit to be anything you like. For example, the slug “/buying-sailboats” is better than “/how-to-buy-a-beautiful-inexpensive-sailboat-on-Craigslist” or “/354.”
The updated target date for WordPress 3.6 Beta 1 is March 27.
By the time Beta 1 rolls around, the core team will have the feature set complete, which means the time for bug testing 3.6 against your themes and plugins will have arrived. According to the 3.6 project schedule, the target date for 3.6 launch is April 29.
Here’s a quick update on where the 3.6 features currently stand. If you aren’t caught up on the features, please take a peek at this introduction post.
Post Formats UI: The UI for post formats is getting a refresh (featuring a drop down selector for formats and better previewing) to make it easier to use and faster to publish. You can take a peek at the wireframes here, and follow along the conversation here.
Autosave and Post Locking: The main goal of this update is so that users never lose a post. This is done by leveraging browser-level storage in modern browsers for situations where users lose their internet connections or their browsers crash. With this enhancement, edits are stored locally and synced back to WordPress at the next possible opportunity. If you are logged out while on an admin page, you will be notified and allowed to log in straight on the page so that you won’t lose your work. As for post locking, if you arrive on a page that is currently being edited, you will be given the option to “take over” or go back.
Revisions: The UI for comparing previous revisions of a post has been significantly updated, including a scrubber bar that allows the user to move forward or back in revisions, and colored text to indicate content that has been added or removed. Take a look at a rough mockup here.
Editorial Flow: This feature has been removed from the 3.6 cycle, but the team is planning to tackle it in future releases.
Menus: The UI for creating custom menus has been significantly cleaned up, with new checkboxes to select where the menu will be displayed in the theme, accordion styling to menu items (being tested), new help text and keyboard accessibility for rearranging menu items.
Twenty Thirteen: As Mark Jaquith writes: “With Twenty Thirteen we’re taking a bold stance: this theme was meant for blogging, and it’s not a blank canvas. It comes pre-marinated with playfulness and warmth and opinions.” Take a peek at a demo of the new Twenty Thirteen theme here.
Where can I find more information?
If you’re not familiar with Make WordPress Core, it’s a good blog to visit. It tracks the open-source development of WordPress, and is the homebase of much of the development discussion.
How do I get involved?
Want to help make WordPress better? Take a peek at the Core Contributor Handbook, or sit in on the weekly developer chat. They will need a lot of help with bug testing and squashing in the coming weeks. Lots of members of the VIP community contribute to core, so you’ll see familiar faces.
When is 3.6 coming to WordPress.com VIP?
Shortly prior to the release of 3.6 on WordPress.org, the 3.6 features will be merged into WordPress.com VIP. This will most likely happen in April, and we will be posting updates here in the weeks before to notify you. If you aren’t already, at that point you’ll need to be testing against trunk, getting the latest nightly build or even better, using an SVN checkout of trunk to test how your sites work on 3.6. You can also use the Beta Tester plugin to easily update beta releases and test.
Since launching our Liveblog add-on here at WordPress.com VIP, we’ve been impressed again and again by how fully the National Post newsroom has embraced the tool as a way to cover live events and breaking news.
They’ve used Liveblog to cover everything, from the Grammy Awards, to Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address, to the Newtown shooting, to Stephen Harper tweeting his entire day. And the results are visually stunning, with a heavy emphasis on story telling through photographs, videos, tweets, commentary, and even gifs.
We chatted with James Martin, Digital Managing Editor, to learn more about how they integrated Liveblog into their newsroom, how they prepare for big live events, and what his favorite Liveblog has been to date.
Headed to SXSW? We’d love to see you there.
We’ll be co-hosting a party on Sunday night with Sailthru:
Sailthru and Automattic present
Party for the People
March 10 at 7pm, Stubb’s BBQ
Automattic will also be hosting a Happiness Bar at the SXSW Trade Show. Stop by to pick up some swag, chat about WordPress, get technical support, or meet some of our colleagues.
And finally, members from the WordPress.com VIP team will be there! We’d love to catch up with you in person. If you or your colleagues will be at SXSW, be sure to let us know.
See you there!
One of my favorite parts of watching live television events is the second screen experience — the running commentary from liveblogs and Twitter that stream onto my phone or laptop.
The staff at National Post were totally on top of this Sunday night, creating an incredible multimedia liveblog experience for The Oscars. Using our Liveblog Plugin, they pulled together a collage of smart (and funny!) commentary, beautiful images, YouTube clips, tweets, and even animated gifs.
We also enjoyed following along Caroline Westbrook’s liveblog on metro.co.uk’s site as she authored an impressive 150 updates over the course of the night — pulling together a mix of tweets, videos, photos, and updates.
Not familiar with how the WordPress.com VIP Liveblog Plugin works? Take a look at this video. It’s super easy, featuring content insertion from the front-end of the site, and drag-and-drop image uploads.
The Liveblog Add-On is $500 USD per month, with an annual subscription, for VIP SaaS Hosting clients. This includes unlimited liveblogs, and an unlimited number of users visiting, viewing, and receiving updates — all powered by our massive WordPress.com cloud infrastructure. If you’re interested in using the LiveBlog plugin or learning more, please get in touch.