VIP News

Updates and features about our platform, services, and partners, as well as stories and events from across the enterprise WordPress community.

BigWP returns to London in December

Our next BigWP London event is only three weeks away, and it’s going to be a pre-Christmas cracker. Twitter’s central […]

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A VIP Infrastructure for WordPress Cron

We’re happy to announce a new Cron infrastructure for our VIP Cloud Hosting Service platform. In this post we’ll take […]

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October VIP Roundup

October happenings in enterprise WordPress included the Online News Association’s annual conference in DC, lots of new updates on the […]

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The New Web, Powered by Jetpack and Progressive Web Apps

The way that people access the Internet is changing. In 2017, global mobile web traffic exceeded desktop traffic for the […]

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Happy Second Birthday AMP

Today the AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) project turns two. As part of a look back and ahead, the AMP team at Google has shared impressive data today that quantifies its positive impacts on time spent on page (2X), traffic (10% increase), and sales conversions (20% increase compared to non-AMP.) We’re proud to be a part of AMP’s unfolding story, and to continue to make it easy for WordPress users, from the individual author to the largest global media and marketing organizations, to take advantage of these powerful open source tools.

Photo by Mo Jangda

From early on we saw AMP as an important project to support because of its core focus on improving the mobile web experience for both publishers and readers, and for its commitment to the open web. We were proud to be the first platform to integrate with AMP, and continue to iterate on the plugin to make it easy for millions of sites across the WordPress ecosystem to integrate AMP with just a few clicks. Most recently, version 0.5 of the plugin, released in August 2017, brought a host of new updates, like faster rendering, improved spec-compliance, new embed handlers for Vimeo, SoundCloud, Pinterest and Playbuzz, and easier addition of amp-analytics tags.

Across Automattic (including WordPress.com and VIP) hundreds of millions of client page views per month are delivered through AMP today. Over the last two years, many of our clients and partner agencies have customized and optimized the AMP experience for their particular needs, with impressive results.

Google’s AMP tech lead Malte Ubl

The New York Post has seen a 60%+ bump in average daily referrals coming from Google on mobile to their article pages since implementing AMP for all of those pages. VIP agency partner Alley Interactive, who handled the development, found most of what they needed in the standard plugin for WordPress, and layered in some front-end customization to closely match the look and feel of the Post’s standard pages. In the process, they even contributed code back to the core plugin to address bugs and add functionality.  This approach for the Post has delivered in both experience and performance:

“One of the most exciting things for us has been the ability to make our AMP pages feel like more of an organic extension of our mobile sites rather than a highly templated offsite platform. The average user cannot tell the difference between our mobile website pages and our AMP pages which is impressive. In other words, our AMP pages retain all the key components of our mobile web pages, are a true reflection of our brands, and we’ve improved performance in the process!”

-Michael Liss, Senior Director of Product & Project Management, Digital, New York Post

Media powerhouse PMC, representing 22 brands including Variety, Deadline, and TVLine, has implemented AMP for about half of their sites.  As reflects their approach to code reuse across the platform, they developed their own customized AMP plugin based on common needs for an initial set of their publications, and then rolled it out to several more shortly thereafter.

They are currently in the process of refining their approach to analytics and optimization based on iterative tests. One enhancement that has yielded strong results was when they published galleries in AMP with each slide as its own unique AMP page and URL, which both doubled page views and dramatically decreased load time.

And this Fall, the 9to5 network – including 9to5mac.com, 9to5google.com, 9to5toys.com, electrek.co, and dronedj.com – worked with VIP agency partner 10up to launch an updated AMP experience that brings them closer to embracing “AMP-first” just as much as “mobile first.”

“Our newest iteration brings the AMP reader’s experience much closer to that of our traditional responsive site. We can now deliver many of the supporting features that they have come to expect, like our familiar header and navigation, Disqus comments, and related and featured posts widgets. If you put the AMP view and mobile responsive “full” site side by side, you’ll see an incredibly similar layout and design. What’s more, this puts us on a path to take advantage of the AMP framework more and more as it continues to mature.”

-Seth Weintraub, Publisher, 9to5 Network

Left: AMP, Right: full site

We’re excited to see all of the amazing things our clients and the WordPress community as a whole are doing with AMP. For our part, we’ll continue to support the AMP experience with WordPress and extend the benefits it brings to publishers and readers alike. We want to cut an extra big slice of cake for the 400 folks who have contributed code to the project including a couple of Automatticians, and for our friends at Google for leading the charge. If you’re new to the project, consider coming out to the AMP Roadshow as it rolls through Europe and Asia in the upcoming months.

ONA 2017: Conversations at the WordPress.com VIP booth

I’ve helped staff the WordPress booth at the Online News Association over the last four years. It’s my favorite conference to attend because of all the incredible people we meet: students who learned to code because of WordPress, journalists who built their first portfolios on WordPress, newsrooms that were transformed by WordPress.

Like many ONA attendees, I also built my first website on WordPress in journalism school. I worked at the Chicago Tribune as the newsroom was being transformed by blogs. And like so many of the folks I spoke with last week, in 2012 I too walked up to a WordPress booth at a conference to share my story of how WordPress had changed my life. Little did I know I’d end up joining the VIP team, helping newsrooms transition to WordPress one-by-one.

Pete Schiebel, Jeff Bradley, Matthew Denton, David Artiss, Chris Scott, and Steph Yiu at the WordPress.com VIP booth.

ONA is a massive conference. More than 3,000 people attended this year in Washington, D.C. I knew I’d run into lots of clients and partners, and this year, I was interested in hearing in their words how they reflect on WordPress and its role in their professional lives. So I asked them.

On the first day I saw Zach Seward, SVP of Product and Executive Editor at their gathering to promote Quackbot, their new Slack bot. Quartz’s WordPress launch was one of the early projects I worked on when I joined VIP.

“Honestly, to this day, there’s not a project or need that we haven’t been able to do with WordPress,” he said.

High-volume newsrooms love WordPress because of how easy it is for their teams to publish. This year, we co-hosted with our partners Alley Interactive and Parse.ly at the delicious Lapis restaurant in D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood. This was a topic of dinner conversation at my table – how critical time to publish is in a breaking news situation, and how easily WordPress facilitates that.

At dinner I ran into Patrick Tolbert, Digital Director at KXAN-TV, who helped introduce WordPress to his newsroom.

“The reporters love WordPress. When we train, usually we run through training and immediately I get, ‘that’s it?!’” Patrick later told me. “And I’m like, ‘Yeah, that’s it! Headline, title, categorization, tags, done!’”

At the WordPress booth the next day, Emma Carew Grovum stopped by to say hi. She helped Foreign Policy move onto WordPress, and today she is the CMS product manager at The Daily Beast. She credits WordPress for teaching her about content management systems – and I asked her what she liked the most.

“That WordPress works on mobile!” she said. “I could update our homepage at Foreign Policy from my phone – I remember sitting at a red light at my car just noodling on the homepage because I could… it was probably not safe!”

I was also curious what our clients were taking back to their newsrooms after this year’s ONA. What’s next? I had to ask Juan Muñoz, Interactive Director at CNN en Español, who helped put their social and mobile storytelling teams on wheels.

“Integrating all the different tools that we use in one place,” he said, always thinking about ways to make his newsroom more efficient. “Seamless integration with APIs from things like Trello, and Slack. Simplifying and and automating the related stories, suggesting links inside of the content so that editors don’t have to search.”

“More security and more automatic security,” said Bradley Peniston, the Deputy Director at Defense One, a security publication from Atlantic Media. “It’s getting harder and harder for people to have solid, secure websites on their own… The more security can be baked into standard installs whether on my own server or WordPress.com, that’s what I’m worried about.”

At our booth, I also had the pleasure of meeting Amy Claire Nelson, an audiovisual storyteller.

“I’m working on more interactive storytelling and I’m really attracted to 360 documentary journalism and VR experiences,” she said. “I would really love some beautiful templates that would allow a person to experience the project I’m working on… I want my viewer to be present in that situation, for various degrees of immersion into the experience, whether it’s desktop, magic box, Oculus.”

More reading on ONA? The Nieman Journalism Lab has a terrific roundup.

Looking for more events? We’ll be sponsoring and participating in Digital Media North America later this week, in New York October 19-20 (full schedule). Just after Digital Media NA, WordCamp NYC is October 21-22 (tickets are still available!). Topics of interest to the enterprise include 10up CEO John Eckman’s talk on Personalization and WordPress and TinyMCE CEO Andrew Roberts’ Gutenberg update (full schedule).

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

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 encourage applications from women, people of color, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community, and other communities traditionally underrepresented in this field.

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.


Also available here.

The VIP team is considering applicants by October 27, 2017 for the Winter internship and by January 5, 2018 for the Spring internship. If your application sounds interesting, we’ll be in touch; good luck and thanks for your interest!

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.

September VIP Roundup

We have lots of great updates from September from across the enterprise WordPress community. Read on for exciting launches at People, Stack Overflow, and Hachette Book Group, the latest on the Gutenberg plugin, new analytics from SailThru and NewsCred, a busy October in events and conferences, and more.

A workshop for kids at the first WordCamp Varna (photo and workshop by Human Made’s Petya Raykovska)

News and Releases
Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.

  • The Gutenberg editor plugin reached version 1.2, and now includes post meta support. Automattician @GaryPendergast has shared a sample plugin for testing.
  • There has been a steady stream of new features coming to the WordPress mobile apps including an improved login experience as of mid-August. Coming up in October, look out for news about the all-new media picker for iOS.
  • Version 1.6 of the Liveblog plugin is available, which includes REST API support, performance improvements for lazy loading, and much more. (Lobby post for VIPs, GitHub repo)
  • WordPress 4.8.2 security and maintenance release came out on September 19th and deployed for VIPs. (Announcement, Lobby post)
  • People launched their rebranded over-the-top video streaming service, PeopleTV, which is available on streaming platforms including Roku and AppleTV, as well as on People.com — for which Alley Interactive handled the integration.
  • In this episode of the Yonder podcast, Jeff Robbins interviews Alley’s Austin Smith and Bridget McNulty about running a fully distributed company.
  • This month, just a couple of years after Stack Overflow publicly announced that their blog was leaving WordPress, 10up finished a redesign of the Stack Overflow blogs, following its work to migrate them back to WordPress earlier in the year.
  • The New Relic plugin for WordPress, developed by 10up, is now listed in New Relic’s official “Connect”/integrations site.
  • Sailthru has released a personalization index for tracking online retailers. The index evaluates 100 retail brands across a number of criteria (methodology) relating to the customer experience.
  • NewsCred has updated its approach to analytics to focus on conversion and content-driven ROI.

Media and Marketing Notes
Research and perspectives on the business of media and the practice of marketing.

“More recently, our full site [npr.org] has made major accessibility gains,” write Patrick Cooper, NPR’s director of web and engagement, and Sara Goo, the managing editor of digital news. “But as accessible or as fast as you can make your full site —and speed is critical for us — low-bandwidth situations are a different challenge. [Our] improvements focused on those users in particular.”

  • An excerpt from Melody Kramer’s story in Poynter on how news organizations develop thin, text-only versions of their sites for natural disaster situations and low-bandwidth users.

According to data from comScore, the publishers that pivoted to video this summer have seen at least a 60 percent drop in their traffic in August compared to the same period from a year ago. Mic went from 17.5 million visitors in August 2016 to 6.6 million visitors in August 2017, according to comScore. The decline at Vocativ was even more drastic as it went from 4 million visitors in August 2016 to a 175,000 visitors in July 2017.

  • Ross Benes at Digiday, on traffic correlations relating to publishers’ recent approaches to emphasizing video over text.

Analyzing the mobile traffic data and reader behavior across the sites in its network, Chartbeat found that AMP pages load 4 times faster than standard mobile sites (1.4 seconds vs. 5.3 seconds). The performance of Instant Articles was even more impressive. According to Chartbeat, nearly 90 percent of Instant Articles load too quickly for the company to register a load time.

  • Ricardo Bilton at Nieman Lab, on new Chartbeat data evaluating performance on AMP and Instant Articles.

Featured September Launch

Welcome to VIP and congratulations on the launch of your beautiful new site, Hachette Book Group(HBG)! With the help of Featured Partner Alley Interactive, this new site provides readers with the opportunity to discover Hachette’s authors, books, and publishing imprints. In 2016, HBG had 214 books on the New York Times bestseller list, 44 of which reached #1. As a lover of books, we’re glad to have you here. (Image above from HBG’s participation in the New York Public Library’s Subway Library program)

Upcoming Events:

  • We hope to see you at ONA17 in Washington, DC this week, from October 5-7. Come find us, and stop by our booth for a quick device recharge.
  • We’ll be sponsoring and participating in Digital Media North America again this year, in New York October 19-20. The focus of this two-day event is on digital revenue strategy and emerging business models, and speakers include senior leaders in digital publishing from all over the world. (full schedule)
  • Just after Digital Media NA, WordCamp NYC is October 21-22. Tickets are still available. Topics of interest to the enterprise include 10up CEO John Eckman’s talk on Personalization and WordPress and TinyMCE CEO and Gutenberg contributor Andrew Roberts’ Gutenberg update. (full schedule)
  • Rahul Bansal from rtCamp will be speaking on “How contributing to the WordPress core helps” at WordCamp Ahmedabad, and rtCamp is also sponsoring the event. Additionally, catch Rahul speaking at WordCamp Ann Arbor and the aforementioned WordCamp NYC.
  • Catch the Chrome Dev Summit October 23-24 in San Francisco in person, or follow the live stream. Our own Dan Walmsley will be presenting on how Progressive Web Applications work with WordPress.
  • Google AMP is bringing its roadshow to cities all over the world, including Jakarta, Singapore, and Sydney in October. It’s aimed at both newcomers and those already experienced with AMP pages. View a sample agenda and sign up at the AMP site.

Send us your news, events, awards, and other info for the next issue. And sign up below to receive these roundups via email:

August VIP Roundup

August in enterprise WordPress saw the debut of WordCamp for Publishers, updated functionality from Facebook, Getty Images, Chartbeat and Ooyala, progress on the Gutenberg project, and a number of publications returning to WordPress from Medium including VIP/Alley Interactive client ThinkProgress.

Read on for all of the details and our monthly launch spotlight – us!

@Gina_Cole_: “Favorite #SRCCON session so far: Addressing challenges like Hamilton characters would (except no duels). Thanks, @hannahsbirch!”

News and Releases
Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.

  • New WordPress editor plugin Gutenberg reached version 1.0.0 on August 28 and is now at 1.1. There are lots of new features and updates since our July roundup. This update from lead developer Matias Ventura offers a glimpse of Gutenberg’s current capabilities in action via video, and see our CEO Matt Mullenweg’s take on the project’s big picture.
  • WordPress 4.8.1 maintenance release was made available on August 2 (Lobby post for VIP clients.) For an overview of August across WordPress.org, check out The Month In WordPress.
  • Corporate Counsel magazine profiled Automattic General Counsel Paul Sieminski (paywall, free limited access upon registration) on our approach to protecting user data and our perfect score from the Electronic Frontier Foundation on digital privacy rights.
  • Alley Interactive migrated the political news site ThinkProgress.org from Medium to WordPress VIP. As one of a large number of publishers abandoning the platform, ThinkProgress asked Alley to help them find a new content management system. They were thrilled to gain more power and flexibility with WordPress. We expect additional Medium sites to follow suit.
  • Alley also recently launched the new site for the New York Post’s Page Six TV. The gossip show will review Hollywood headlines as well as fashion, real estate, politics, and sports. You can sign up for tickets to upcoming tapings, and it will include clips of the show after the September 18th premiere.
  • A Digiday profile on VIP client Quartz praised their approach to branded content, touting their 90% renewal rate, 3X the industry average.
  • Cloud-based platform maekit, from Australia-based web design agency MyWork, has acquired WP Remote from Human Made. Per the announcement, Maekit has committed to keeping the core features available for free.
  • Technology partner Chartbeat’s new subscriber engagement analytics allow you to segment users by subscriber status and analyze and share data from those groups.
  • Video integration partner Ooyala’s v. 2.5 plugin is now available (Lobby post for VIP clients), which includes new analytics configuration options among other updates.
  • VIP client The New York Times released Who The Hill: an MMS-based facial recognition service for members of Congress.
  • Getty Images released plugin v3.0 (Lobby post for VIP clients), which includes a whole host of updates in addition to a new look and feel. The new version features larger images in search results, an improved search filter panel, and the ability to easily set a downloaded image as Featured Image, which should save a couple of clicks. (Available as of September 4)
  • Facebook’s Instant Articles plugin v.4.0.5 (blog post, Lobby post for VIP clients) makes initial setup easier and also creates visual parity between Instant Articles and AMP. (Available as of September 5)

Media and Marketing Notes
Research and perspectives on the business of media and the practice of marketing.

Digital-native news outlets are also adopting other outreach and engagement methods. Fully 97% of these outlets offer newsletters, and 92% have an official presence on Apple News. Three-quarters, meanwhile, release podcasts and 61% allow comments on their articles.

-Galen Stocking, in a new Pew Digital News Fact Sheet.

Mr. Shani said the study reaffirmed his contention that people were looking foremost for authenticity from companies. Establishing that takes time; he compared it to putting money into an individual retirement account, where the dividends do not pay off for years.

-Zach Schonbrun of The New York Times, in response to a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research on consumer skepticism and advertising.

The Lab is part of an approach to help brands and agencies that’s led to a renewal rate of 90 percent for branded content, nearly three times higher than the industry average, per MediaRadar data.

-Max Willens in Digiday on VIP client Quartz and their innovative approach to branded content.

Featured August Launch

WordPress.com VIP relaunched this summer on…WordPress.com VIP, natch. It’s the coming together of a number of elements we’ve been working on, and a pre-Gutenberg exercise in embracing the modular design approach.

Past Events:

Many thanks to organizers and participants at WordCamp for Publishers. Read highlights from our own Steph Yiu, a wrap-up from Institute for Nonprofit News, and many more.

Upcoming Events:

Send us your news, events, awards, and other info for the next issue. And sign up below to receive these roundups via email:

New Getty Images Plugin 3.0 with Streamlined Workflow

The new Getty Images plugin v3.0 builds on the previous versions with improved usability and feature enhancements to help you find, select, and use the right images quicker. It includes:

  • New look and feel
  • New landing page featuring Creative, Featured and Editorial images
  • Ability to set a downloaded image as the Featured Image directly from the plugin (no more bouncing back and forth between the media library and the plugin to set your Featured Image)
  • Larger images in the search results (plus the option to switch back to the detailed view if that’s what you prefer)
  • Improved search filter panel

VIP clients can get more details on the update in the Lobby.

Self-hosted WordPress users can find the new version 3.0 in the WordPress.org plugins directory.

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