A warm welcome to Norwegian WordPress experts Dekode

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Norway’s Dekode are the newest members of the WordPress.com VIP Featured Partner Program, bringing a dash of Nordic cool to our list of the planet’s leading WordPress development agencies.

Based in Oslo, Magne and his growing team are building not only an excellent reputation for themselves, but for WordPress as a platform for publishing and ecommerce. The Scandinavian CMS market has historically been dominated by one proprietary platform; but Dekode are working to establish WordPress as a credible alternative, even for complex enterprise usage.

They represent WordPress at Oslo’s Webdagene (‘Web Days’), one of the region’s leading conferences for the web industry; and they help organise Oslo’s WordPress meetups, including its very highly regarded WordCamp. (If you’d like to discover if that reputation is justified, the next one is in just a few weeks.)

More than most, Dekode’s focus is on combining creativity and technology. There’s no doubting their developers’ credentials; but what really shines through their project portfolio is the sophistication of their visual and UI work.

Dekode are consistently producing beautiful, modern, innovative websites. They aren’t afraid to take on challenging work, such as reinventing local community journalism, pushing WordPress forward as they do so. And they are doing it all in the right way, recognising the need for solutions to be sustainable in the long term.

So we’re excited to bring Dekode to the attention of a wider audience. They have concentrated on the Norwegian market thus far, but we’re in no doubt, they are ready to do great things on a European level.

If you’d like to find out more about Dekode, or any of our Featured Partners, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Germany’s Inpsyde: our newest VIP Featured Partner

We’re delighted to welcome Germany’s Inpsyde, one of Europe’s largest and longest-established WordPress agencies, as the newest member of the WordPress.com VIP Featured Partner Program.

At Automattic, we firmly believe in the development of a strong and sustainable WordPress ecosystem. The invite-only Featured Partner Program is our way of promoting the agencies who not only demonstrate creative and technical excellence; but also share our commitment to supporting the WordPress open source project, and the community built upon it.

Inpsyde are synonymous with WordPress in Germany, Europe’s largest single market. Few agencies worldwide have been so instrumental in building and supporting their local community. They provided technical infrastructure for blogs and forums long before anything central existed. They represented WordPress at industry events, and organised or sponsored WordPress-based events of their own.

When we began to think of potential partners in continental Europe, Inpsyde were the most natural choice. Founded in 2006, they have grown into a company of some 30 employees, scattered across Germany.

If you follow the development of the WordPress core software, you will immediately recognise the name of Inpsyde’s Dominik ‘ocean90’ Schilling, a Core Committer since 2013, who will lead the development of version 4.6 this summer. Attendees of the larger European WordCamps may not know co-founder Robert Windisch by name… but they will almost certainly know his straw boater hat!

There’s no shortage of familiar names on Inpsyde’s client list too, including global brands like Adidas and Mercedes-Benz; and media companies like ZDF, Sueddeutsche Zeitung and Arte.

The web industry has particular reason to be grateful to Inpsyde, for their ongoing work with Smashing Magazine, a must-read resource for designers and developers. ‘Thanks to our work with Inpsyde, Smashing Magazine is now loading faster than any other well-known Web Design or Web Development Blog around the web,’ according to editor Vitaly Friedman. ‘If you are looking for professionalism and endless know-how in terms of WordPress and Web Development in general, then seek no longer since you just found what you were looking for.’

We’re proud to recommend them for projects not just in German-speaking countries, but more widely. Their experience in multilingual development, and deep knowledge of WooCommerce will be of interest to many enterprise and VIP-level clients.

It’s also a significant moment for us at VIP. Inpsyde are our first Featured Partner agency for whom English is not their first language (although it’s a very close second). With well over 25% of the top 10 million websites running on WordPress, its success reaches far beyond the English-speaking world, and it’s time our Featured Partner network did too.

The VIP team will be happy to advise on the contribution Inpsyde, or any of our Partners can make to your next WordPress project.

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

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

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

You can browse his slides and the preview below:

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

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

Welcoming Big Bite Creative and Trew Knowledge to the WordPress.com VIP Featured Partner Program

We’re pleased to announce two new additions to our list of Featured Service Partners, the ‘premier league’ of specialist WordPress development agencies.

WordPress.com VIP exists to help high-traffic and high-profile publishers get the most out of WordPress. To do so, we work with the best agency partners to deliver best-in-class solutions. Our list has been kept deliberately small and selective: but we’ve been looking to expand it just a little, not least to improve our geographic coverage. And today we’re excited to introduce our new UK-based partner, Big Bite Creative, and our new Toronto-based partner, Trew Knowledge.

Big Bite Creative come from Middlesbrough in the north-east of England, away from the more familiar digital centres of London and Manchester. They are comfortable working with clients in the UK, elsewhere in Europe, or in North America, which currently accounts for about half their business.

They first came to our attention with open sourced projects like Herbert and Ship, demonstrating an awareness of what’s happening on other platforms, and how similar methods might benefit WordPress developers. We also loved their efforts to build a creative community in what they admit is an ‘often overlooked’ part of the UK.

Trew Knowledge is our first Canadian partner, based in Toronto. Although Trew Knowledge is new to the partner program, they are not new to VIP. We’ve worked with them for several years already, as the developers behind the Canadian Olympic Committee website, hosted on WordPress.com VIP.

Trew Knowledge has always focused on building solutions that emphasize speed and performance without compromising security — aspects that align perfectly with our vision for the platform. They’re excited to combine their experience in large-scale digital enterprise solutions with VIP’s robust cloud based infrastructure for clients.

Both teams bring something new to our Featured Partner Program, and we’re delighted to welcome them aboard. The VIP team will be happy to advise on the contribution they, or any of our Partners can make to your next WordPress project.

Building Tournament-Style Brackets with the Polldaddy API

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

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

You can browse his slides below:

http://brackets.thomasharrigan.com/

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

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

Improving Collaboration and Code Quality with Peer Code Review

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

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

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

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

Have some Shortcake – the plugin which makes shortcodes a piece of cake

Shortcodes can be a useful way of defining complex HTML elements within the WordPress editing window. But as Matthew Haines-Young, senior engineer at WordPress.com VIP Featured Partner agency Human Made, told the London Big Media & Enterprise Meetup, ‘everybody hates them.’

His solution is Shortcake, a plugin developed as part of Human Made’s work with the US media company Fusion. It gives developers the ability to add user-friendly modules to the Add Media window, making the shortcodes themselves (almost) invisible.

You can browse Matthew’s slides below:

Shortcake lives on Github for the moment, but it has proposed as a candidate for future inclusion in the WordPress core software.

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

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

Introducing CoSchedule, the newest member of our Technology Partner Program

We’re excited to announce that CoSchedule has joined our Technology Partner Program. CoSchedule is a comprehensive marketing tool to help you and your team execute your entire content marketing strategy within WordPress.com VIP. If you’re looking to plan awesome content and save a bunch of time, the CoSchedule plugin on VIP can help you do just that.

Here are 10 reasons to check out CoSchedule:

1. Customize Team Roles 

WordPress VIP customizable team roles

Customize everyone’s role on your team to give permissions for specific responsibilities. Help them use the features they need to do their work, and hide the ones that get in their way.

2. Control Who Can Share Content

WordPress VIP custom social media permissions

You can control access to your social profiles to limit who can and can’t publish to each account. Give specific team members the rights to use certain company social media profiles while restricting others’ access. This will help you get a ton of traffic from your team, while providing advanced accountability for social sharing.

3. Advanced Profiles For Sharing Content

WordPress VIP social media security and private profiles

When you create content your team is really proud of, they’ll want to share it with their personal fans, followers, and friends. Your team can rock at social media with private social profiles and share your content to generate even more traffic.

4. Better Accountability

WordPress VIP security and access logs

Sometimes, you just need to know who published what. It helps to have a full history log of who modified your blog and social media content. CoSchedule will help you know exactly who did it.

5. Scheduling Social Media Messages

WordPress VIP social media scheduling

Schedule social media messages as you write your blog posts. That means multiple team members can work on a project at the same time to move faster, be more productive, and work together in the same tool to see what everyone is working on.

6. Custom Workflow That Works For Your Team

WordPress VIP customizable content marketing workflow

Create a workflow that suits your needs: build your own task templates, name those tasks, assign them to the right custom roles for your team, and automatically change the due dates if you move your content around on your calendar.

7. Analytics

WordPress VIP social media analytics

You need to know how your content performs to prove your ROI and improve your future content.

8. Work Where It Works Best For You 

WordPress VIP custom dashboards

You can access CoSchedule directly within WordPress.com VIP, or as a standalone web app.

9. Security

CoSchedule uses the same security technology most banks use to protect your information. Check out their status log whenever you’d like to see stats on our up times. You’ll always have access to at least two support techs during regular business hours, and at least one support tech is on call 24 hours a day.

10. Get The Support You Need

There’s something special about receiving support that helps you get through a tough problem. And taking that to a whole other level is even better. Get the priority level support you need for any question you have when you choose CoSchedule for WordPress.com VIP.

The support includes setup assistance and full support for your entire experience with CoSchedule. Don’t hesitate to reach out.

New Embed for Getty Images

Getty Images, one of our Featured Partners, announced today that it is making its library of award-winning professional photographs available for free through a new embed feature. We are very excited to bring this embed to WordPress.com and wanted to make sure that our VIPs are also aware of this awesome new feature.

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As you know, Getty Images is also a Featured Partner and has built a VIP plugin that allows users to license and access images directly from the Editor. Unlike the free embed, this plugin requires a license to Getty Images.

For more information about the new embed feature, check out this post.

If you’d like more information about using this feature, visit our Getty Images embed support page.

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.