How VIP supports the future of digital media leadership

This year, VIP is proud to sponsor both the Online News Association’s Women’s Leadership Accelerator and the Poynter Institute’s Leadership Academy for Women. This is our fourth year supporting each program — here’s a little bit about why they’re so important to us.

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

Closing the gap

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

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

A different kind of conference

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

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

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

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

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

An exponential impact

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch the talk:

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

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

Bringing AMP and Gutenberg Readiness to Setka

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

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

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

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

Watch Katya’s talk:

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

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

Push Notifications at Scale at the New York Post

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

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

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

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

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

Watch Remy’s talk in full:

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

Find all of the talks in the November BigWP playlist.

Entries Now Open for the First Automattic Design Awards

Automattic is putting together our first ever Design Awards, and we want you to be a part of it.

Earlier this year, in his talk at WordCamp Europe, John Maeda announced plans for an Automattic Design Award, to highlight and encourage examples of great design work in the WordPress ecosystem.

With WordCamp US fast approaching, we are now inviting entries at automatticdesignaward.blog. Submissions need to be in by November 16, with the announcement of the winners on December 3.

There will be nine awards in total, with three trophies presented in each of three categories – Best Site, Best Solution and Best Style.

We aren’t just looking for your prettiest pieces of work. At WordCamp Europe, John talked about the need for ‘deep design’ – rather than just sprayed-on design, added as an afterthought. Too often we focus simply on shipping; and whilst that may have been acceptable in the past, today’s users know they can and should expect more.

So we’re looking for work which demonstrates thorough processes of discovery, consideration, delivery, and listening to users’ responses.

 

There are two core eligibility requirements. Submissions must be ready for the arrival of Gutenberg, the new WordPress editor; and they must demonstrate accessibility as a ‘need to have’, not just a ‘nice to have’.

At VIP we’re fortunate to work with some of the most ambitious design and development teams in the WordPress space. We see many examples of smart, sophisticated design in the projects we support; and we’ll be encouraging our clients to put themselves forward. But we’re particularly excited to see what’s happening elsewhere in the ecosystem, especially behind the scenes.

Full details of the awards, the assessment criteria, the judging panel and the beautiful trophies can be found at automatticdesignaward.blog.

Photo: Ivan Gatic, via Flickr, CC BY-SA

Inclusivity and the Open Web: Notes from WordCamp for Publishers

The second annual WordCamp for Publishers went down last week in Chicago with the theme “Taking Back The Open Web.” This theme was sparked from questions explored in a 2016 post by Drupal founder Dries Buytaert:

Do we want the experiences of the next billion web users to be defined by open values of transparency and choice, or by the siloed and opaque convenience of the walled-garden giants dominating today?

As conference organizers, we challenged speakers to touch on whether an open web ever truly existed, what state it’s in now, the consequences of a closed web, and how publishers can protect and encourage an open web.

Overall, we saw common themes emerge around empowering publishers to innovate and evolve. There was a shared belief that ethical journalism depends on an open web, with inclusivity as a fundamental building block to creating responsibly for the future.

Each of these topics has raised significant discussion in the WordPress community, and we envisioned #WCPub as a platform to discuss the state of the publishing industry and future of WordPress in the open web together, with folks from all different backgrounds in the industry. Thankfully, our speakers and attendees were more than up to the task!

Those who weren’t able to attend in person could live stream the entire event.

Where Code Meets Community

John Eckman, CEO of 10up, was particularly drawn to the challenge of the event’s theme as it related to identity, inclusivity, and imagined communities. John explored the philosophical roots of the open source movement and how those ideas influenced modern-day open source ethics, software freedom, and netizen empowerment.

Austin Smith, CEO and co-founder of Alley, presented his research on the narrow path for local news. He argued in order to protect hyperlocal journalism, we’ll need to convince more readers to pay for the content they consume. We’ll also need to empower local publishers to innovate formats, ownership, and distribution.

Tyson Bird, projects designer at GateHouse Media, and David Parsons, senior software engineer at USA Today, spoke about their use of WordPress at scale to enable publishers to manage large media networks with a variety of markets and staff.

An Emphasis on Engagement

Caroline Porter, consultant for the Shorenstein Center on Media, Harry Backlund, co-founder and director of operations at City Bureau, and Sarah Schmalbach, resident at the Lenfest Institute, discussed the ethical collection of user data, experimenting with innovation around reader engagement, and two-way audience communication in a panel session moderated by Sherry Salko, director of the Amplify News Project.

Eric Ulken, a consultant, and Nick Johnson, founder of Pigeon Paywall, shared differing viewpoints on monetization strategies that ultimately focused on catering to users and their needs.

Open Sourcing in the Wild

There was a lot of excitement around Gutenberg, and Chris Van Patten, founder of Tomodomo, open sourced his team’s documentation project on best design practices using Gutenberg live during his presentation.

Chris wasn’t the only presenter to live open source a project during a talk. Russell Heimlich, lead developer at Spirited Media, open sourced his team’s image CDN project to much applause.

The Trust Project also announced their Trust Indicators plugin during the event.

Open Means Everyone

Sina Bahram, president of Prime Access Consulting, and Pattie Reaves, senior user experience developer at Alley, discussed the importance of developing with accessibility in mind.

Two lightning talks also addressed site accessibility concerns: one focusing on the particular needs of those with dyslexia, and another which offered a solution to accessibility through integration with Alexa.

Live Demos Galore

Jim Birch, senior Drupal engineer at Kanopi Studios, walked us through the value of correctly implementing metadata for content and showed off the tools for doing so.

Shayda Torabi, director of marketing at WebDevStudios, and Jodie Riccelli, director of client strategy at WebDevStudios, demoed a number of workflows with streamlined editorial experiences all contained entirely within WordPress.

Keanan Koppenhaver, CTO at Alpha Particle, showcased a few modern use cases of the REST API, from the Techcrunch redesign, a mobile news simulator, Amazon Echo integration, virtual reality, and more.

AMPlifying Performance

Barb Palser, global product partnerships at Google, argued we should look at site performance as a product, with a focus on quantifying the opportunity to increase user engagement.

Leo Postovoit and Ryan Kienstra of XWP went a step further and demonstrated how to improve performance “up to 85%” simply by integrating AMP.

On the flip side, Brian Boyer, VP of product and people at Spirited Media, delivered a passionate talk explaining his team’s decision to leave the AMP platform to focus on engaging readers in a different manner.

Off the Beaten Track

Attendees voted on Unconference session proposals to explore hyperspecific themes. The winning topics (“Gutenberg Therapy Session,” “Direct Revenue Discussion,” and “The Future of WordCamp for Publishers”) served as an opportunity for many to share their concerns about specific industry trends.

Workshops dealt with a variety of topics important to the community:

  • Paul Schreiber, lead developer for FiveThirtyEight and The Undefeated, led a security-focused session.
  • Joshua Wold, design strategist at XWP, dove into creative thinking through development problems by sketching.
  • Ernie Hsiung, CTO at WhereBy.Us, fostered a discussion about communication across stakeholder groups.

We held a series of lightning talks that ranged widely in topic: from determining whether WordPress was a product or community, to implementing transparency standards for news; from solving content reuse and syndication woes to finding smarter and more efficient ways to create responsive HTML emails and manage media at scale, and even a case study of the need to combine mobile and AMP themes.

A Look to the Future

Then — all too soon — it was over!

We wrapped up the event with a shout-out from NiemanLab naming us WordPress’s publishing summit and a trip to the ballfield to see the White Sox take on the Indians.

Many thanks to all the speakers, sponsors, organizers and volunteers who made this fantastic week possible. Hope to see everyone at next year’s WordCamp for Publishers!

WordPress Coding Standards at Version 1.0

Congratulations to the open source WordPress Coding Standards (WPCS) project for its recent milestone release of version 1.0. WPCS provides WordPress-specific rulesets for PHP Codesniffer (PHPCS) to help developers learn about and adhere to WordPress coding conventions. The 1.0 release contains important breaking changes and “tons of bug fixes”.

The release of version 1.0 is a landmark moment and a culmination of 9 years of work. We are very proud of our participation in the WPCS project over the years, and will continue to do so into the future. With 54 contributors since the project began, 5 of them from VIP, and 7 for this latest release, WPCS has been a hugely successful team effort.

Developers working together at various tables
WordCamp London 2017 Contributor Day, photo by Pradeep Singh.

Of the many changes present within this release, the deprecation of the WordPress-VIP ruleset is probably the most relevant to VIP clients. This ruleset has not been valid for some time, as we have our own VIP coding standards, available for public use. VIPCS rulesets include WordPress-VIP-Go and WordPressVIPMinimum.

If you are a VIP client and you are not using the alternative rulesets, then we would strongly recommend switching to these. If you used the WordPress-VIP ruleset for any other reason, you should use WordPress-Extra or WordPress instead.

As with all open source projects, WPCS are always grateful for any contributions, from reporting bugs in the current rulesets to assistance with the actual code. If you are interested in assisting them, please get in touch with them via their Github page.

Featured image credit: WordCamp London Contributor Day 2017, photo by Pradeep Singh.

 

What to Expect at WordCamp for Publishers

This guest post was contributed by Brad Campeau-Laurion (@potatomaster) of featured partner Alley, and also one of the organizers of WordCamp for Publishers. VIP is proud to sponsor and participate in this great event.

WordCamp for Publishers is a community-organized event bringing together folks who use WordPress to manage publications, big or small. Our goal is to empower participants by coaching them on best practices, and encourage collaboration in building open source tools for publishers. Anyone who actively manages a publication with WordPress will benefit from attending.

Our schedule is up now and includes speakers from national media organizations, smaller publications, and agencies that work with media companies. We’ll have a main track of talks and panels that are all about 45 minutes each with time for Q&A and a separate track of 90 minute in-depth workshops around topics that will give you actionable takeways to bring back to your publications. There will also be openings for our unconference sessions which you can self-organize at the event with your fellow attendees.

For people that prefer the hallway track, there will be opportunities to connect with people from many top media organizations. We’ll be working to organize formal mentorship sessions especially for those from smaller publications and underrepresented markets. You can also chat with our sponsors who come from top agencies and media technology companies.

Of course, you can also expect a lot of fun at WordCamp for Publishers. We’ve arranged events including an architectural boat tour of Chicago and a White Sox game. If you’re able to stick around all three days, there’s also a Contributor Day on Friday where you can learn how to contribute to WordPress or any of the numerous plugins and projects that support publishing on the platform.

We encourage you to check out the videos and participant recaps from the first WordCamp for Publishers in 2017 to get a sense of what’s to come. We hope to see you in Chicago in a few weeks, and if you haven’t gotten a ticket, you can still get one today!

 

Where to See VIP and Friends at WordCamp US 2017

We hope to see you tomorrow and this weekend, December 1-3 at WordCamp US in Nashville or the next best thing, remote via free livestream. With so many fantastic sessions going on all weekend, we put together a guide to which ones feature folks from across the extended VIP family:

WordCamp US 2016 in Philly, uploaded by Seth Goldstein under CC-BY-SA 2.0

On Friday:

Last year’s State of the Word, uploaded by Luca Sartoni under CC-By-SA 2.0

On Saturday:

And also:

    Stop by the Gutenberg usability testing booth, where Tammie Lister and other members of the Gutenberg team will take you through short tasks and a brief survey designed to gather data that will inform bug stomping and fine-tuning.

And if you can’t make it in person, you can also grab a free ticket to catch the live stream of the entire weekend’s sessions.

Photo by Tammie Lister

The Dream Internship: Work at Automattic (Winter 2018 and Beyond)

Please find our latest information on the internship here.

Automattic — which runs WordPress.com, Akismet, VaultPress, Jetpack and many other services — is hiring interns, specifically to work on the WordPress.com VIP team.

WordPress.com VIP provides hosting and support for high-profile, high-traffic WordPress sites, including Time.com, People.com, FiveThirtyEight.com, qz.com, internet.org, TheSun.co.uk, NYPost.com, and many more!

The VIP team is continually looking for interns to work on client-facing development and support. These paid internships (US $25/hour) run for approximately 16 weeks and can be completed either on a full-time or part-time basis.

Where will you be working? Anywhere you want! Automattic is a distributed company. We’re happy if you work from wherever you’re happy — as long as you have a good internet connection.

What will you work on? The internship will focus on things such as working on improving VIP and community plugins, debugging client code, building tools to help clients better manage their sites, and making performance and security improvements to the WordPress.com VIP platform. Your work can also be tailored to fit your personal interests and goals.

The VIP team is serious about increasing diversity in the tech industry. We want to build Automattic as an environment where people love their work and show respect and empathy to those with whom we interact. Diversity typically includes, but is not limited to, differences in race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, political and religious affiliation, socioeconomic background, cultural background, geographic location, physical disabilities and abilities, relationship status, veteran status, and age. To work on diversity means that we welcome these differences, and strive to increase the visibility of traditionally underrepresented groups. Read more about our commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Interested? Great! Start by filling out the form below to introduce yourself, explain why you’d like to be an intern on the VIP team and what you’re interested in working on. Be clear about what you’ve done and provide links to code contributions on WordPress-specific plugins or themes if you can. Don’t worry if you’ve never contributed before; find somewhere you can contribute, no matter how small, and show us that! To get you started, here are some Automattic plugins for ideas on where to contribute:

Feel free to use as much space as you need in the form and be sure to include links to your online profiles as appropriate. After that is complete, you’ll be finishing off your application with a short quiz.

Rebecca Hum is a current VIP Intern. During her internship, she has worked on patching VIP supported community plugins, debugging client code and writing scripts for some of the biggest sites in the world.

Ready to get started?

Drop us a note.

No matter where you are in the planning process, we’re happy to help, and we’re actual humans here on the other side of the form. 👋 We’re here to discuss your challenges and plans, evaluate your existing resources or a potential partner, or even make some initial recommendations. And, of course, we’re here to help any time you’re in the market for some robust WordPress awesomeness.