The Sun’s World Cup Coverage Shines With WordPress

Two years on from joining the VIP program, The Sun’s WordPress-powered website has grown steadily to become the UK’s biggest digital commercial news website, with over 30 million unique users each month – that’s fast approaching half the UK’s total population.

Sport, and specifically soccer, has always been a key part of The Sun’s offering; and with England headed to the summer’s World Cup in Russia, the newsroom were keen to make the most of the opportunity.

In a characteristically cheeky talk at our recent London BigWP event, The Sun’s head of newsroom systems, Joel Davies described how they were able to create a new destination section, with the ambition to cement The Sun’s brand as the ‘home of the football fan’.

The new section, built and launched in three months, incorporated a new mobile-first design, reflecting the fact that 90% of traffic was mobile, with full-screen teasers, interactive on-page components, plus new commercial slots and navigation.

Joel explained some of the design elements and special content features the team developed, making full use of the flexibility offered by the WordPress platform. They used the Shortcake plugin, a precursor to the new Gutenberg editor’s block concept, to construct complex page layouts, rendered on the front end by React components.

They produced just under 100 articles per day during the tournament, and almost 1,000 videos, viewed a total of 11.5 million times. The World Cup section alone drew 23 million unique visitors over the course of the competition, with a return rate of 45%. (Sadly, the England team returned empty handed.)

Choosing the right multilingual solution for enterprise development

The idea of multilingual web publishing sounds straightforward enough. A publisher operating in multiple countries, or in a country where multiple languages are spoken, needs the ability to manage content – as well as site features like navigation – in multiple languages.

But having worked on many such projects in my career, I can assure you that multilingual publishing means different things in different situations. Is content always created in one particular language, then translated into the others? Or can content originate in any of the operational languages? Is every piece of content translated? If so, when, and by whom? If not, what do you do when a piece of content isn’t available in the language being viewed?

WordPress has been fully translated into dozens of languages, from Afrikaans and Albanian to Vietnamese and Welsh; but it doesn’t have a built-in solution for multilingual operation. While that might initially seem like a negative, it means there is scope for a number of different approaches, reflecting the different scenarios and workflows associated with multilingual publishing.

At last month’s Big WP event in London, Giuseppe Mazzapica from VIP agency partner Inpsyde reviewed the approaches taken by some of the best known WordPress plugins, noting their respective strengths and weaknesses.

Inpsyde are, of course, the agency behind Multilingual Press, the multilingual plugin we use most often at VIP. Its approach, based on the multi-site mode built into WordPress, stays closest to ‘normal’ WordPress operation. This means other functions, including third-party plugins, are much more likely to work without workarounds.

But the VIP platform also supports other solutions, which may be a better fit for certain clients, their requirements, and their workflows. Our engineers are always happy to talk through the workflow needs of any given project, and help our clients make the right choice.

Thanks to Chrissy at Inpsyde for the beautiful featured image on this post!

Using Gutenberg In Production: One Agency’s First-Hand Experience

The WordPress core development team has just announced a draft schedule for the next WordPress release, which will include the long-awaited new editing component, Gutenberg. But for many leading WordPress agencies, Gutenberg has been a fact of life for several months already.

One such agency is VIP partner Big Bite, whose technical director Jason Agnew described the experience of implementing Gutenberg on a number of enterprise-level projects at September’s BigWP gathering in London, hosted by our friends at News UK.

Big Bite have recently been working with a major global bank, to produce an internal news app for consumption primarily via iOS and Android smartphone apps, but managed in WordPress using Gutenberg blocks. And as profiled here previously, they delivered a block-based solution for Amnesty International to build and manage pages in visual form.

Jason describes how Big Bite nominated one team member to become their in-house expert, giving him the time he needed to build his own knowledge, which he could then spread across the company.

Developing with Gutenberg can feel a lot slower, Jason says: ‘you can’t really build the site until you have all the blocks.’ His rule of thumb is that it takes a week to build a block: but if a client is in it for the long run, ‘it’s definitely worth the investment now.’

Discussing Gutenberg with clients has been really easy: some even described the authoring experience as ‘fun’, which is rare indeed in the world of content management systems! Project owners expressed concern at using beta or newly-merged functionality; but Jason has explained that it’s worth a little bit of risk now, in order to save a lot of upgrade costs in the future. ‘Most people can relate to that,’ he says.

VIP has been helping clients and developers prepare for the arrival of Gutenberg. We have a test environment showcasing the Gutenberg experience: just go to testgutenberg.com and start clicking around, no login required. We also have a series of free how-to videos for developers; and a free plugin allowing site owners to manage the rollout of Gutenberg functionality across their site at their own pace.

GovLoop’s Online Community with WordPress

Tell us about GovLoop – what audience does this site serve?

GovLoop primarily serves federal, state, and local government employees, but we’re open to anyone who wants to make government more effective.  I used to work at Department of Homeland Security and always wished there was an online community to meet others in government and learn best practices from other agencies.  We launched in June 2008 and now have over 150,000 members who use GovLoop to get new ideas and tips to do their job better.

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How has your content strategy changed over the past few years?

Our content strategy has evolved over the years by being extremely focused on our users.  Our original premise was to create a “Facebook for Government” and we heavily focused on features like profiles, friending, groups, and discussion profiles.  Over time, we found people use GovLoop more as a knowledge network so we changed our content strategy to include more original content, research guides, and free online trainings – all done with a practical, how-to, and community-oriented voice.

Why did you choose WordPress?

Ning was a great first step for us to get a social network with basic functionality (blogs, profiles, discussions, groups).  Over time as our community grew, we had a number of features we wanted to add and core development needs that wasn’t in their roadmap, which led us to explore other CMS options and ending up with WordPress – with BuddyPress and bbPress – as our decision.

As I was looking into new platforms for GovLoop, my focus was on choosing an open source option that had a large developer community building both the core platform and plug-ins.  This would allow us to tap into a large reservoir of talent and give us freedom if we wanted to launch new features ourselves.  This quickly narrowed it down to a few options and we ended up choosing WordPress as there’s been a number of great media and social properties built on it.  Plus, we’ve used WordPress for our major conference website (nextgengovt.com) so we already had developed some internal expertise on the platform.

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What were the challenges you ran into when migrating this site from Ning to WordPress?

When we started this project, I quickly realized the biggest complexity would be the data migration – moving over hundreds of thousands of blogs, discussions, comments, member profiles is an insane task.  I reached out to Peter Slutsky of Automattic for a top-notch WordPress developer group and he put us in touch with a great team to help us on this journey – 10up.  The 10up team did a fantastic job scoping out the migration, testing and retesting migration on our beta site, and in the end it turned out great.  In the end, we successfully moved millions of data points from Ning to WordPress/BuddyPress/bbPress without a hitch.

The whole 10up team was fantastic and particularly wanted to shout out Dan Blaker, our project manager, and Matt Gross, who did a lot of the heavy lifting.  Also, I want to give a shout-out to Jeff Ribeira on the GovLoop team who led the project internally.

Much of GovLoop is centered around social network and viral content. How did you address this component of the website using WordPress and plugins like BuddyPress?

The core of GovLoop is our community.  We addressed the social nature of GovLoop in a couple key ways.  We used BuddyPress for social networking and profiles, as well as bbPress for groups and forums.  We also heavily integrated with our marketing automation software Eloqua so we are able to provide custom messaging and new content based on their profiles.  In terms of additional technical specs, we are hosted with Innoscale, which has greatly improved the speed of the site and does BuddyPress hosting well.  We’ve also integrated Cloudflare for SSL and as our CDN.

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How has your audience responded to the redesign?

They’ve reacted great to the redesign.  Not only is traffic up, we’ve received feedback like “Love the new website! It is so great to see how much has gone into the site over the past few years! The site is fantastic! “.  A key part of this redesign was prioritizing our key resources that we spend a ton of time producing (research guides on topics like Cybersecurity) – we’ve seen a large increase in traffic to this area based on our new UI.  I’m particularly proud of how we’ve created a visually appealing way to sort through resources by topic and by product – check it out at govloop.com/resources

What’s next for GovLoop and what can our audience look forward to in terms of new technology that you’re adding to the site?

Our big push for 2015 is into online learning.  In 2014, over 30,000 people took our free online training and folks are asking for more.  In response, we expanded our training offerings and just launched this week  “GovLoop Academy”,a free online learning academy with 25+ interactive courses and mentoring components.  GovLoop Academy is integrated into GovLoop.com and is one instance of a lightweight WordPress-based LMS that we developed. We’ve had a number of government agencies and associations express interest in using this learning platform, so we have white-labeled the LMS platform in a government-secure cloud.  If anyone is interested in this project, I’d love to hear from them at steve at govloop.com.  We are working again with 10up on this project and are looking to share back with the WordPress community.

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GlobalNews.ca Makes Embedding Media Easy with the Media Explorer

At the Toronto Big Media & Enterprise Meetup earlier this year, Keith Robinson and Imran Nathani from GlobalNews.ca presented their customization of the Media Explorer plugin. The goal: To make inserting and embedding media as efficient as possible for their editors.

The Media Explorer plugin was a joint project between WordPress.com VIP and Code for the People, which allows editors to quickly and easily insert tweets and YouTube videos straight from the WordPress dashboard “Edit Post” page. The plugin is easily extendable, and allows for you to include alternate media sources.

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Media Explorer

The GlobalNews.ca team decided to customize and extend the plugin to include other video and photo sources that their editors commonly use. In doing so, they allowed their editors to centralize their workflow within the WordPress dashboard. Watch their 10-minute “Flash Talk” below to see their customizations in action, and then check out our recent Q&A with Keith Robinson, manager of digital products, and Imran Nathani, web development architect.

What was the thinking behind extending the media explorer?
Keith: We have dozens of active producers, and making it really easy for them to curate content into story posts is a big part of what we do. Anything we can do to make their job even incrementally easier has terrific benefits.

With WordPress, we want to get our producers comfortable with one user interface, rather than telling them to learn a new system or look in a different place for each new feature. There’s a lot to be said for simplicity and getting people to do almost everything they need in a post, and then press a button and move on.

It’s organized and simple. That’s exactly what we look for in a CMS.

When we first saw the Media Explorer plugin in the fall, we saw how easy it was to curate Twitter and YouTube content straight from within the post. It’s organized and simple. That’s exactly what we look for in a CMS. Imran pointed out that it was easily extendable and can be adapted for our own media. We’re trying to get as much rich content as possible into every story post, to hold readers a little longer, and Imran said, why not use the Media Explorer to do that?

By extending the Media Explorer plugin, editors can now easily search the NewsCred photo library without leaving the dashboard.
By extending the Media Explorer plugin, editors can now easily search the NewsCred photo library without leaving the dashboard.
The custom tool also allows editors to quickly crop images before inserting them into the post.
The custom tool also allows editors to quickly crop images before inserting them into the post.

What was the previous workflow like?
Imran: We’re a very video rich site because we’re a broadcaster, and with the way the video management was first integrated into WordPress, it was a separate screen. You had to go in and search in a separate interface, and then grab a short code and then bring that over into the story editor and cut and paste it in there somewhere. That may not sound like the most onerous workflow in the world, but it’s all about making things that much easier.

Embedding videos used to be a tedious process requiring multiple browser tabs. Now editors can quickly search and embed videos right from the WordPress admin.
Embedding videos used to be a tedious process requiring multiple browser tabs. Now editors can quickly search and embed videos right from the WordPress admin.
The custom tool that the GlobalNews.ca team built also lets editors create video players and carousels on the fly.
The custom tool that the GlobalNews.ca team built also lets editors create video players and carousels on the fly.

How has your tool evolved?
Imran: Our video producers are really localized, so we’ve given the producers an option to search video based on a specific region. For the first round of development, the user would just select a video and insert it. For the second round of development, we started thinking about groups of videos. This was mostly triggered by Rob Ford being on Jimmy Kimmel Live — we wanted to be able to show all the clips together. So, we created the option of a video gallery.

As for the NewsCred integration, sometimes the images that come through are really large, and our editors need to crop the photo to something that suits our site’s dimensions. So, we made it possible for editors to choose the photo and crop it, lower the quality for web, and then add it to the media library for use.

What’s the feedback from the producers been like?
Keith: Our video producers really like it a lot, and — the difference in the process before and after is pretty extreme. They’ve expressed that they really do find it a lot easier.

Since we’ve added this, there’s been more video going into posts, a lot more embedding of tweets right into the post. And I like that because it gets people away from using other outside tools to curate social media, and this allows you to do all the curation right within your post and house all of your own content.

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. 

Why Choose WordPress CMS to Build Websites: A Government Perspective

WordPress.com VIP Director of Platform Services, Peter Slutsky, presented to the DigitalGov University about using WordPress CMS to build government websites, along with Dan Munz, from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, last year.

DigitalGov is brought to you by the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies in the U.S. General Services Administration and their job is to help government agencies build a 21st century digital government.

“Can WordPress be a full-fledged CMS? Our experience is absolutely yes, it can.” — Dan Munz, Deputy Assistant Director for Consumer Engagement at Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

In this presentation you’ll learn:

  • How to determine if WordPress is a good option for your agency
  • The important technical considerations
  • The biggest challenges and successes CFPB had with implementing WordPress
  • The resources you’ll need to implement it and keep it sustainable
  • How to get buy-in and make the business case to switch/choose WordPress
  • And a Q&A from the attendees

Below is the video of the presentation: 

If you’re looking for information about government sites using WordPress, check out our spotlight on Building Government Websites with WordPress CMS or get in touch directly with the WordPress.com VIP team.

Trends in Enterprise WordPress Content

Enterprises and big brands are always looking for better ways to get their content featured, shared, and visible. In this presentation, which was presented at WordCamp Switzerland earlier this month by WordPress.com VIP Global Services Manager Sara Rosso, we examine some of the latest trends related to enterprise content and how any site can take advantage of the experimentation happening on big volume and innovative publishers using WordPress.

Trends in Enterprise WordPress Content

The presentation is broken down in sections which focus on longform, newsletters, microsites/corporate sites, social media, multi-source & interactive content, and comments.

Longform: Automattic (makers of WordPress.com & WordPress.com VIP) recently acquired Longreads, a content curation and discovery site which features articles longer than 1,500 words. The site lets you search for longreads based on subject or reading length, and the number of sites which are featuring longer content has doubled (to more than 3,000 domains).

“The best pieces are either short, snappy and topical, or they are long analysis.” — Kevin Delaney, Editor-in-Chief, Quartz.

Quartz believes so strongly in the social media success of either short or long pieces, they have even made up a “V-chart” (in the presentation!) which shows mid-length stories just aren’t as compelling to be shared. Longform is growing, and the lack of time-sensitivity on that content means that it has life long beyond its publishing date.

Newsletters: We’ve seen an uptick in sites using newsletters to not only speak directly to their readers, but to also as a way to curate and surface content to them. After several conversations with VIPs at our annual VIP Workshop, it became really clear that it’s working for them, too, with good open rates and subscriptions continuing to climb. Newsletters are featuring popular content or even automated summary content directly through WordPress, and they can be sent several times a day based on the reader’s location or their interests. We’ve seen everyone from Harvard Business Review to USA Today to The Wall Street Journal increase their experimentation in newsletters and curating content directly for their readers. We examine Quartz’s popular Daily Brief in further detail in the presentation.

Microsites / Corporate sites: We’re continuing to see adoption by enterprises for their microsites and corporate sites, even in sectors like banking & finance, and highlight sites like Google Ventures, Facebook’s Newsroom, and other sites in the European Union in the presentation.

Social Media: Social media networks continue to be important organic content discovery channels for enterprise WordPress sites, but they are increasingly hard to control as content distribution channels. There’s no guarantee all of your followers or fans will see your updates or articles (thanks to continually changing algorithms and pay-for-play), which makes solutions like newsletters even more attractive. One thing is clear, however: any content being published on a WordPress site must be both easy to share and ready to share, and as the previews and excerpts Twitter and Facebook feature from links shared on their networks change, so must the publisher be ready to adapt their content as well.

Multi-source & Interactive Content: After the success of The New York Times’ interactive “Snowfall,” a lot of sites felt the pressure to produce something as engaging and interactive.

“Everyone wants to snow-fall now, every day, all desks” — Jill Abramson, The New York Times Executive Editor (former).

We’re seeing WordPress being pushed and integrated in news ways — sometimes it’s the integrator of content from multiple sources and formats, and sometimes it’s the driver of content as a web app. Enterprise sites are incorporating interactive graphs and other media which keep the user coming back (and clicking around).

Comments: Comments continue to divide communities and publishing rooms, too. There’s such a spectrum of sites who have abolished comments altogether, to those who feature reader comment prominently integrated into their articles, and those who have tried to change the way people comment entirely by focusing on just a piece of the article or by directing & guiding the commenter’s viewpoint related to a specific point.

“…asking guiding questions and showing examples of ‘good’ comments focuses and elevates the conversation overall.” — Marc Lavallee, Deputy editor of interactive news, The New York Times.

Below is the complete deck from the presentation Trends in Enterprise WordPress Content (also on Slideshare). Once the video’s up on WordPress.tv, we’ll embed that here as well!

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

*Update: the slides, which were presented earlier this month, erroneously position Jill Abramson at Wired. She was at The New York Times, and is now formerly at The NYT.  

10 Growth Hacks That Helped Metro.Co.Uk Achieve 27 Million Monthly Visitors

In this post, WordPress.com VIP Cloud Hosting client Metro.co.uk‘s Head of Development Dave Jensen shares some insights on how their popular site achieved an incredible growth since its migration and launch on WordPress.com VIP. Originally posted on his blog, he’s agreed to share it here on VIP News as well. 

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Metro Monthly Unique Visitors (Jan’12 – Feb’14)

Over the past 12 months Metro has been on an amazing growth curve. Some of it is being in the right place at the right time for algorithm changes but a lot of it was planning and then execution of a growth (hacking) strategy.

Hack 1: Responsive Design

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Monthly Unique Visitors from Mobile (Jan’12 – Feb’14)

We decided a responsive design would be the best way to capitalise on the explosive growth in mobile. A nine month redesign process culminated in Metro going responsive on 7th Dec ’12. We immediately saw growth from social referrals with Twitter’s almost doubling over night. The other benefit of responsive sites is that there is only one URL. As this is the key used to store ranking information in search and social algorithms you don’t want this split between multiple domains like m dot.

The key takeaway is that if you give people a great experience on all devices then they are much more likely to read, share and return to your content.

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Weekly Visits from Twitter (Oct’12 – Feb’13)

Hack 2: Focus all development efforts on growth

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WordPress.com Stats for Metro (Dec’12 – Feb’14)

We also migrated to the hosted platform as a service provided by Automattic on vip.wordpress.com. This enabled all of our costs and resources to be focused on growth as they didn’t have to worry about caching, servers or anything that didn’t improve experience for our readers or editorial users. The amazing thing about the platform is that it is a flat fee. This means that although our traffic has grown 350% year on year our costs have not changed. The depth of their out of the box features plus ecosystem of plugins ensured that we did’t have to worry about commodity features such as SEO, site maps and editorial workflows as someone else had built and open sourced an approach.

Hack 3: Open up content creation to anyone

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Metro Blogs Monthly Unique Users (Dec’12 – Feb’14)

The other great thing about the WordPress platform is that it enabled us to allow bloggers to contribute content directly into our core CMS. This started out as a feature for Metro employees but grew to encompass a much wider set of sources. Club Metro is now the most prominent and now contributes over 1M unique visitors a month. Having blogs content on the same domain placed amongst the rest of Metro’s content ensured we leveraged our existing algorithmic rankings. A single editorial workflow also helped keep the overheads low. The added bonus that most bloggers were already using WordPress and can write from anywhere helped us secure some top talent.

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Club Metro Article

Hack 4: Facebook page as a major marketing channel

173,000 Facebook Page likes Feb ’13 to 562,000 Facebook Page Likes Feb ’14

Social referrals were another large contributor to growth. We focused on growing our Facebook page “Likes” as a content marketing strategy and this was very successful. We had always been careful to only send a small amount of our best posts out a day on our Facebook page. This had a solid base of users and growing this was a key goal for the last year. We employed many strategies including competitions with like gates and boosting posts. Competitions were effective in bringing in users but there were a lot of repeat entries. Varying the prize helped to minimise this and our email based CRM platform really helped to drive entries. The most cost effective way we found was boosting posts as friends of people who already liked Metro were shown a great piece of our content. They were then much more likely to then go on to like the page. As they were similar to people who already liked Metro they were very receptive and continued to engage with our content.

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Metro Facebook Page

Hack 5: Made to share content

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Weekly Social Visits to Metro (Jan’13 – Feb’14)

Ensuring that not just the content put out on the Facebook page was made to share also really helped grow our social referrals. When the content is written they set a success measure of 100 shares on an article and then set performance targets on achieving that on 25% of our content. This has allowed some interesting conversations around the areas of the site where that was less prevalent. More than anything it is a very easy test for all of the content creators to know what they should focus on. If it won’t hit that bar then find something else. A key growth hack we developed was the ability to show different headlines for social and search so we didn’t impact our search traffic.

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SEO and Social Headlines on Made to Share Content

Hack 6: Made to share UX

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Share and follow functionality on Metro.co.uk after the Made to Share focus.

The other side of social was increasing the number of people sharing from the site. The development team had a made to share focus where we introduced much larger, clearer social buttons and reduced the number of clicks it took to share. This with the addition of a sticky sharing bar that floats on desktop has seen a large increase in the number of direct shares from our site. This seems to have also affected the amount of people copying and pasting links from the site from the subtle reinforcement due constantly present share cues. It would also seem that Facebook take direct site shares as a strong signal in their algorithm as we have continued to see growth from social.

Hack 7: If something feels wrong don’t give up on it

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Referral from Natural Search (Google Fixed, July ’12)

After the redesign only 20% of our stories indexed in Google News had our pictures next to them. We spent months experimenting on different options before we finally managed to ask Google the right question in July ’13 so they could fix it for us. It turned out that they were still using the Webmaster Tools account we had been using before the migration which pointed to our old domain that included www. Not only did this change help our referrals from Google News but it gave us a major kick in all search referrals. It would have been much easier to give up on this earlier but relentlessly focusing on this until we solved it really paid dividends.

Hack 8: Let technology automate repetition

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Metro Development Releases to Production (Nov’12 – Feb’14)

Automation of all of our development and test processes allowed us to release 4.5 times on average every day (apart from Fridays) for the past 12 months. This enabled short feedback cycles and decision making to happen at a much faster pace. We have five different environments that are used for testing before we push code live. This kept errors to a minimum and kept the feedback flowing. This environment of automated front end tests and frameworks was a major investment but has continued to pay dividends.

Hack 9: Ensure proximity of key people who are focusing on a goal

Single Goal: 700,000 Average Daily Mobile Visitors in September 2013

A single goal of growth allowed us to work together cross functionally and a focus on data and numbers ensured that feedback was alway digestible. Content, social and tech sitting together and working together enabled the good ideas to come to the top quicker and equally the bad ones get ignored. Equally focusing on data helped take emotion out of decision making which enabled data to win arguments. This sped up innovation and focus. In most cases we have done less but done what we have done better to achieve growth.

Hack 10: Get out of the way

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Voticle: Are you a true Brit?

Once people are working cross functionally together towards a goal then get out of the way and let them get on with it. In the past two months we have relaxed our process and now the content creators are working directly with the developers on new article formats to continue our growth. Out of this we have developed five new ways of displaying content from quizzes to lists and beyond.

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Quizicle: How much of a Londoner are you.

Conclusion

None of the above would have been possible without the adoption of a lean mindset and the approach of build, measure, learn, iterate. It has been an amazing 12 months of growth at Metro and an great feeling to be part of a team that came up with and then executed a plan which delivered these results.

It was a pleasure to work with the below as well as many others on this journey.

Thank you to Dave and the Metro.co.uk team for sharing their tips with VIP News.

Want more information about WordPress services for your enterprise site? Get in touch

Canadian Olympic Committee launches Winter 2014 Games site on WordPress.com VIP

Today, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) officially re-launched Olympic.ca, marking the 3-month countdown to the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

Derek Kent, CMO of the Canadian Olympic Committee, remarked on the site’s redesign: “Our vision is to create a website that is best-in-class among National Olympic Committees. We know our fans, athletes and our partners are hungry for Canadian Olympic team content. This and the next generation of the website will ensure our athletes’ stories are told, and shared in more compelling ways with fans at home and around the world.”

We spoke with Todd Denis, Director, Brand Connections of the Canadian Olympic Committee, about the decisions made regarding the Olympic.ca redesign, which is hosted on WordPress.com VIP Cloud Hosting.

Canadian Olympic Committee

Q: How is the website different from previous Olympic Games?

We wanted to make sure that the entire digital experience was driven by a ‘fans first’ approach. We’ve seen mobile traffic on Olympic.ca go from 15% in 2012, to 30% in the first half of 2013, and as of October, 2013 it was at 40%. So, in addition to the more obvious social hooks, we knew that re-designing around fans meant meant we needed to be ‘mobile first’.

We had our design partner Zync focus on how things would actually behave as mobile content and navigation – on function, then form – making it easy to share articles, photographs and videos, with a content and menu system built specifically for those smaller screens.

And the site lives within a responsive grid, as we felt this provided our best immediate mobile product, while putting us in a great long-term position to benefit from the constant evolution in responsive design.

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“WordPress.com VIP allowed us to focus on the fan experience and front-facing content, instead of the servers powering it.” — Todd Denis, Director, Brand Connections, Olympic.ca.

Q: Why did your team choose WordPress.com VIP as the platform for the Olympic.ca website?

We had to ensure that the site would be ready for any traffic and performance load that the massive Olympic Games audience could throw at it, but we also had to be aware of the limited internal resources we could expend on site administration. We were already running a self-hosted WordPress site, but it was in serious need of a technology and stability update. WordPress.com VIP allowed us to focus on the fan experience and front-facing content, instead of the servers powering it.

Q: How long did it take to put the project together, from start to finish?

From initial RFP to final launch was more than six months, but it was approximately 16 weeks as a pure timeline around UX, wires, content migration and development. We worked with Toronto based brand and marketing agency Zync, and their programming partner Trew Knowledge, to design, develop and support the site.

Q: How will your team use social media to complement the Canadian Olympic Committee website, and to drive traffic to it?

The site is social from top to bottom, with best practices in place for social sharing and channel promotion. But we’ve also got widgets that pull in context specific content from our social channels. For example, while the universal footer across the site is a direct pull in from Instagram, many of the Twitter feeds are grabbed based on the context specifics of the athlete or sport tags on the page. It’s these small things that help build to a more engaged fan-to-athlete experience.

We will also be launching a Canadian Olympic I.D. in the coming months, which will initially behave as a sort of registration system on the site to help streamline saving and sharing of content – and the I.D. will be powered by social registration to help us better understand who our fans are and what type of content they enjoy.

Canadian Olympic Committee_Samsung_Smartphones-white_970x580

Visit Olympic.ca and see for yourself the new site!

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Why Big Brands and Enterprises Love WordPress

Earlier this month, hundreds of WordPress developers, content creators, and users gathered in Leiden, The Netherlands, for the first WordPress conference for all of Europe, WordCamp Europe. 

I was present and it was a great opportunity to hear how European countries are accelerating adoption of WordPress with big and small brands alike. I presented “Why Big Brands Love WordPress” — a presentation which delves into the reasons why big brands are choosing WordPress and what they have to say about it, directly from their mouths. At WordPress.com VIP, we work with a lot of enterprise and big brand clients as well as we work with those global brands to tell their WordPress stories right here on this site, so we often hear the many reasons why they pick WordPress and continue to love it.

Here’s the presentation (slides). The Russian translation is now available at the bottom of this post.

Here’s the video of the presentation from WordCamp Europe which is on WordPress.tv.

If you know of any examples or quotes which you’d like to see featured in a future version of this presentation, let us know!

Here’s a peek at some of the reasons Why Big Brands Love WordPress:

  • It’s easy to use.
  • It’s beautiful.
  • It Scales.
  • You own your data.
  • You can launch quickly.
  • It integrates & plays well with other services.
  • It goes mobile and Responsive.
  • You can iterate quickly with a small development team.
  • It can humanize data.
  • It’s a dynamic platform.
  • The WordPress Community.

Here’s just a sampling of the sites and clients included in the presentation:

Links about WordPress.com VIP & the WordPress open source project:

Some WordPress.com VIP clients mentioned in the presentation:

Other WordPress sites mentioned: 

Russian Translation

Thanks to Alexey Vidanov for the Russian Translation.

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