VIP News

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

Six Questions with Human Made

This post series profiles each of our featured partner agencies. Founded in 2010, Human Made has been a VIP Featured […]

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February VIP Roundup

If you got through February without stumbling across the word “curling” once or twice, you clearly don’t follow Mr. T […]

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Client Spotlight: Harry’s Five O’Clock

Fresh from the January relaunch of Five O’Clock on VIP, men’s grooming brand Harry’s is in the process of launching […]

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Stylized shot of AMP Conf stage

A First Class AMP Experience

We at VIP, as well as Automattic as a whole, joined the AMP project early on in 2015 and took […]

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What Goes in to a VIP Client Onsite? VIP provides a wide range of services to our clients beyond managed cloud hosting. Some of those take place behind the scenes or across Slack, video conferencing, and terminals, but one in particular gives us the the opportunity to be in the same rooms with our client teams for an extended period of time. Our onsite visits get us embedded with client developers and users for as much as a whole week for a combination of shared planning, learning, and collaboration.

An onsite visit is extremely useful in a number of ways – it gets our teams synced up, provides the chance for a shared retrospective, creates opportunities for very hands-on learning and collaborative working experiences, and gives us at VIP a deeper appreciation for our clients workflow and context. That deeper context is experienced by all of the VIP Support team folks who attend but also shared in highlights and takeaways with the entire VIP team. It makes all of our ongoing work that much more connected.

Regular and special issues of Grupo Abril's Exame
VIP client Grupo Abril publishes some of the most popular magazines in Latin America, including Exame and Veja

Recently I joined four colleagues to spend a week with our client Grupo Abril at their headquarters in Sao Paulo for an onsite visit. This one was the third since we started working with Abril. My notes and pics from the week will give you a sense of what the structure looks like, how much we manage to pack into a relatively short period of time, and everything that comes out of it.

The Retrospective

Our week started off with a retrospective which gave us a few extra topics to go through and some actions to take forward. We’re always keen to see what went well and where there is room for improvement, be that tooling, process and support, communications or anything else.

Particularly satisfying for us was to be able to share the developer improvements we have seen over the year. Developer skill and code quality has increased, site performance has been better than ever, and releases have been faster and more predictable. It’s exactly where we want our clients to be.


A collaborative look back at the past year working together

Roadmap Updates, in Both Directions

The VIP hosting platform is continually evolving and improving, and visits such as this help us get product and development teams up to speed and share roadmap news on both sides. The new WordPress block editor Gutenberg is also a hot topic and we talked about that too.


Exploring the WordPress core roadmap, the VIP platform roadmap, and the upcoming Gutenberg editor project for WordPress 5.0

We talked to editorial teams about WordPress tooling, new and emerging technologies, content and application models, and further possibilities to enable and free their work.

VIP team meeting with Grupo Abril
Hands-on with editorial tooling

We see WordPress used increasingly to power other applications such as mobile and node applications, and also consuming data from other applications thanks to the flexible and powerful REST API. We also talked about syndication models and VIP technologies such as Liveblog which is a great tool for covering real time high traffic events such as sports games, elections of other major events.

Editorial team session on syndication and content models

A Mini-Sprint

Working with product and development teams proved incredibly productive, and the Abril teams set aside some time for a mini sprint working on projects with us for two days.

Abril/VIP mini-sprint

One team experienced their first steps in Gutenberg development creating a block. Another worked on a proof of concept for an intranet site. Another got up to speed on new platform tooling. It was handy that we could pull in Automattic’s Gutenberg team who work on the WordPress core development for assistance.

Abril/VIP mini-sprint

Spotlight on Performance and Security

We hosted a performance workshop exploring best practices and potential issues as well a deep dive on development tooling to support debugging and performance analysis. This material built on sessions we held the previous year.

VIP Engineer Stéphane Boisvert (left) helping with xdebug remote debugging setup

We also talked about security both at a platform level and an application and process level and it was exciting to be able to share details about the new activity log baked into our hosting platform. It’s a big plus for security teams and editorial teams managing workflow and process.

It’s quite common for us on VIP to see clients – especially traditional publishers and media companies – working with legacy editorial and print editorial systems. We’re often helping them streamline and simplify processes as well as manage the move from print first to digital first.

VIP Enterprise Engineer Matt Perry (right) talking through options to streamline mobile content publishing to a legacy system

A Look Back

We finished the week with demos showing off the output of the hackathon work and a final retrospective. It was exciting to see what the Abril teams had produced in such a short time, and working together was just one big highlight. We would have liked even more hackathon time.

Abril developers demoing their hackathon projects: their first Gutenberg block


The end of week retrospective

The retrospective brought out lots of individual takeaways and highlights, providing a really good end to the week. The Abril and VIP teams parted with high energy and spirits. Having the chance to work together in person on so many different parts of our shared goals has me really looking forward to the coming months and continuing the great work.

We are hugely grateful to the folks at Abril for their welcome and work together that week. I feel privileged to be working with such a terrific client and proud to be part of VIP supporting and working with clients like these every day. All of us truly care about our clients’ applications as if they were our own, and we live and breathe daily our mission to free our clients to publish.

Klaus Harris, Enterprise Team Lead

Interested in bringing VIP to your team? Get in touch.

PS: We are hiring! If this kind of work sounds interesting to you, check out our hiring page. We have a stellar team within a great company, doing great things with amazing clients at big scale. It’s zero effort for me to get excited about what we do every single day. Join us!

Interested in joining the team?

VIP is hiring, and we’ve recently expanded the roles we’re looking for!

There are a few questions that often come up when we talk to folks about working with VIP. I’ll try to go over some of them now.

Is Automattic / VIP a good place to work?

Well, we’re clearly biased but if you look at the reviews on Glassdoor we think it’s pretty clear that it’s a great place to work! We’re 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. Read more about our commitment to diversity and inclusion.

How do I know if I’m qualified for the job?

That’s a great question! Most of the time people think you need to know everything before applying, but in truth, depending on the position, that’s not that strong a requirement. The most important thing is being able to figure out and solve problems independently. For example, you don’t need to know why something is slow just by looking at the code, but you should be able to work on debugging it, finding the root cause, and finding a fix for it.

The most important skill is being able to learn new things when faced with a challenge you haven’t already encountered. That means being able to search internally and externally and being able to figure out which information is good and which information is potentially wrong. While not required for all positions, reviewing an intentionally vulnerable plugin is great practice for the Expert Debugger and VIP Developer positions.

What kind of work do you do?

Depending on if you’ve interacted with the VIP team before you might think all of our days are spent doing code review! While many of the roles include doing code review, it depends on your role, and your role can change as often as you want. A lot of our time is spent asking ourselves questions: Why is this code behaving in this unexpected way? What would be an efficient way to solve this problem? How can I reproduce what the client is seeing?

What that means in practical terms, for support developers, is working with clients in tickets helping debug functionality. You’ll give advice on how to achieve clients’ goals. You’ll build tools to help improve the client support experience. You’ll help clients launch new sites. You’ll work to improve site performance, sometimes proactively, sometimes in reaction to problems.

What’s the application process like?

1) Application

It all starts by sending us an email. The specific instructions to follow are on each position’s page. We’re very lucky to get many applications, so make sure you read the full job description and follow the instructions if you’re interested in being considered for an interview.

2) Interview

The interview is to get to know you and has a few technical questions. Depending on the position, we’ll be asking various questions to test your skills more then your knowledge. The process for figuring things out is always more important then the right answer. The interview is done via text on Slack.

3) Code test

If you are applying for the Expert Debugger, VIP Developer or Enterprise Platform Engineer position, you will take a code test. It involves a plugin that needs some modifications. We’ll provide you with an SVN repo (we use SVN, although we do most of our day-to-day work with Git) and some instructions. We expect you to spend around 10 hours on this task, and this is done asynchronously over the course of 1 week.

4) Trial

The trial period is a unique part of Automattic’s hiring process. For this part, you join the team as a part-time contractor. We give you a contract for up to 40 hours over the course of up to 4 weeks. The pay is standard for all trial positions at USD $25 per hour. We usually recommend at least 10 hours a week, and this can be done at any time of the week. We’ll connect you with a VIP team member at the times you’re expecting to work so we can help guide and support you during your trial. You’ll be given work similar to the work you’d be doing as a full-time employee and you’ll be interacting with other team members similarly to being a full-time employee. The team and your trial buddy give recommendations to the hiring team.

5) Offer

Congratulations, we’d like you to join the team! At this step, we’ll make you an offer!

Where can I learn more about life at VIP?

Our Careers page has lots of great information. You can also find some great insight from posts from some team members. For example, David Artiss wrote a great post on a day in the life of a VIP support team member. Kailey Lampert also has a great post on things she’s learned from working at home.

developers with laptops in a conference room
VIP team members work onsite with client Grupo Abril in Brazil

Do you have any questions? Ask us! You can reach us via Twitter or email.

Six Questions with Trew Knowledge

This post series profiles each of our featured partner agencies.

Trew Knowledge is an award-winning digital marketing agency located in Toronto. They have been a VIP Featured Partner since 2015. We asked founders Anthony Moore and Shawn Barrans six questions to help you get to know who they are as an agency.

Boardroom Mural at Trew Knowledge HQ

What’s your agency’s origin story?

Trew Knowledge was founded in 2009 by Anthony Moore and Shawn Barrans. Anthony, with a background in Digital Media Arts focusing on design and programming, and Shawn with a degree in Marketing, were able to mesh their different set of skills to form an agency that offered clients full 360 solutions.

In our first couple of years in business it was just the two of us, working on a kitchen table in a suburb just outside of Toronto. We were constantly working all day and night building relationships with clients, attending networking events, participating in trade shows, and partnering with other agencies.

When we started making traction and bringing on a lot of clients we decided to rent office space downtown Toronto and hire staff. It was around this time we built a relationship with VIP and eventually became part of the Featured Agency program. In addition, we have become exclusive partners to Gigya and ramped up our services in the Customer Identity and Access Management industry.

Today, we work with some of the largest brands in Canada, as well as globally. Being able to work closely with the talented people at WordPress VIP has given us the ability to take on large, enterprise projects and deliver incredible solutions.

Pick three words that describe your agency culture.

Collaborative, passionate, and forward-thinking.

Our office is laid out in a collaborative, open-concept workspace. This gives everyone on the team the opportunity to speak freely, share ideas, and work together on projects. Since we are currently a small team, everyone gets the opportunity to work on several projects at once. Because of this, we have been able to improve, streamline, and automate several of our processes for project delivery.

When we are looking to bring on talent to join our team we look for someone with a genuine passion for what they do. Whether a creative person or a programmer, their passion must play a large role in their lives. Everyone on our team has an incredible thirst for knowledge.

Anthony Moore presenting at BigWP in Toronto

Tell us about a client project you are especially proud of.

Our relationship with the Canada Olympic Committee goes back more than five years with the development of their flagship site ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics Games. We also programmed the Canadian Olympic Club, the official fan club of the Canadian Olympic Team.

The Canadian Olympic Club, powered by Gigya, is the first ever digital fan club of it’s kind by any national Olympic team. It allows fans to log in via their favorite social network and complete various challenges to earn points. These points can then be redeemed for contests and prizes, including swag, trips, signed memorabilia, and digital downloads.

The success of the website has been honoured with accolades such as an official honoree in the 18th annual Webby Awards for Best Sports website, Communication Arts “webpick of the week”, and Gold for best mobile user-experience in the 2017 W3 Awards.

What are you most excited about in the WordPress community right now?

2018 is going to be a very exciting year for WordPress, and the internet overall. With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) taking effect on May 25, 2018 we are interested in seeing how website/business owners handle the regulations for data protection. Internally, we are in the process of developing a set of tools to help guide people using WordPress and assist with maintaining a compliant website. We hope to share more details with the WordPress community over the next couple of weeks.

Our team is also very excited for the release of Gutenberg. Our team has been testing the new editor for a few months and are really excited to get this in the hands of clients. While there may be concern for many people, given this is a big change for how they currently use WordPress, we feel this is a very forward-thinking approach and will really create a bit of a standard for content creation.

Panel Discussion on Customer Identity Management (From left to right: Shawn Barrans – Trew Knowledge, Vic Torossian – Corus Entertainment, Georgia Sapounas – Canadian Olympic Committee, Anthony Moore – Trew Knowledge, Sergey Krayniy – Gigya)

What’s your favorite conference or event of the year, and why?

This year our team attended WordCamp US in Nashville. This was our first visit to WordCamp US and we were blown away by the quality of content and speakers at this event. It was great to see some fellow WordPress VIP partner agencies in attendance from around the world and catch up with them.

This was also our first time visiting Nashville, and between the music and hot chicken, we are looking forward to returning next year and doing it all again.

(And the sixth: Ask yourself a question and answer it) What are you looking to accomplish in 2018?

2018 has already been a busy year, and it has just started. As mentioned previously, this is a big year for GDPR compliance and it is something Trew Knowledge is taking very seriously as it impacts several of our clients. For organisations we work with who are using WordPress, we are in the process of developing a set of tools to assist with them becoming compliant. This has certainly been challenging so far but we see this being an incredibly valuable tool for our clients and the WordPress community in general.

As an agency, we are always looking to grow. We are looking to bring on more talent that will allow us to not only expand our client services, but also be able to develop more product based solutions. We have had the pleasure of working with clients from hundreds of different industries, and each one offers its own unique set of challenges and opportunities.

Thank you, Anthony and Shawn!

More on Trew Knowledge:

Agency focus and specialties

  • Strategy
  • UI/UX Design
  • Customer Identity Management
  • Gamification & Loyalty
  • Custom VIP themes & plugins
  • Content & Data Migration
  • WooCommerce

Currently working with: The Canadian Olympic Committee, Corus Entertainment, Rubicon Project, Rakuten Viber, The Nation Network, Hip2Save, Barnes & Noble, Toronto Film School, Yorkville University, Sun Life Financial, Walgreens, Arizona State University, and the Justice Institute of British Columbia.

Agency highlights

  • Exclusive WordPress VIP partner in Canada
  • Preferred solution partners with Gigya and Zurb
  • Official honoree in the 18th annual Webby Awards for Best Sports website for
  • 2017 W3 Award, Gold – Best mobile user-experience for

January VIP Roundup

After the briefest of holiday breaks in many places, the new year roared to life across the enterprise WordPress community. Most recently, VIP client USA Today’s Ad Meter launched ahead of the Superb Owl of American sport, and just hours ago crowned Amazon this year’s advertising winner. With Alley Interactive, we completed a successful data migration of Women In The World from to VIP Go, helping to decouple it from The New York Times.

The Gutenberg editor plugin reached version 2.1 and gained lots of great enhancements. Featured Partner Human Made implemented it on their site and provided an inside look at how it went. Read on for lots more, as well as upcoming events.

Dekode’s Björn Johansen presenting at WordCamp Stockholm

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

  • New Relic application monitoring, the same tool set we use to monitor and optimize site performance, is now available for all clients on VIP Go. We also released Liveblog v.1.7, developed by partner agency Big Bite Creative, which includes a fully rebuilt React front end.
  • Early bird tickets are now available for everyone’s favorite gathering of the enterprise WordPress ecosystem, this year’s VIP Workshop, May 14-17th in Napa, California. We’re putting together the best lineup of speakers and sessions yet, and we’ll have updates to share on that soon.
  • WordPress 4.9.2 security and maintenance release came out this month (lobby post), as well as Jetpack 5.7 (lobby, public announcement), bringing easier customization for Jetpack Search among other improvements. Jetpack 5.7.1 maintenance release followed shortly thereafter (lobby.)
  • In early January Dekode published an expansive look back at their year, including projects, growth, goals, and their new office in the center of Oslo. From the post: “As we all know…Our work life consists of all the small things that happen as we move forward, the tiny breakthroughs in a complicated task, or a moment of clarity in a workshop with a client, or it could be the sun that blinds your vision as it reflects your computer screen, forcing you to go out for a deserved 2 minute break with your sunglasses on.”
  • Earlier this month, Alley Interactive completed a data migration for Women In The World (WITW) from to the VIP Go platform, which also involved a new url:  This was an effort to effectively decouple WITW from the New York Times. After doing an initial data migration to the new Go hosting, Alley planned a specific date and time for the final migration. VIP hosted a launch session with Alley and WITW on Stormchat to ensure that all of the data was properly migrated. Daniel Gale-Rosen at Alley noted, “Everything went off without a hitch and VIP was even able to import WITW’s old site usage statistics to their new site’s WordPress Dashboard.”
  • New Relic is now featuring 10up’s advanced WordPress integration, New Relic Reporting for WordPresson their Connect Directory. Additional releases from an action-packed period for 10up include: Async Transients, an open source Composer library that improves handling of WordPress transient caches especially at enterprise scale, a significant update to Urban Airship Web Push Notifications, and Ads.txt Manager for WordPress, which adds validation and testing tool for the rapidly growing standard.
  • At XWP, Mike Crantea published a set of recommendations for improving Google Page Speed, and Luke Carbis offered a perspective on AMP’s role on the web. And as of January, the AMP plugin for WordPress, which XWP supports along with Google and Automattic, is now at version 0.6. Among other improvements, the new version has merged the AMP Customizer with the main Customizer, and has out-of-the-box support for Pages.
  • rtCamp was the Gold sponsor for the second edition of WordCamp Udaipur, the City of Lakes, January 27-8. Later in February, Rahul Bansal will be speaking at WordCamp Bangkok about the qualities and assurances that enterprises look for while choosing a content management systems. rtCamp is also one of the sponsors of this WordCamp.
  • Getty Images has deprecated plugin versions earlier than 2.4.4 (lobby). We recommend updating to the latest, currently version 3.0.

Gutenberg News and Notes
The latest tools, demos, and updates around the block-based editor coming to WordPress 5.0

We encourage everyone to install the Gutenberg plugin in a test environment and start working with it. For clients, your VIP support team is available as always to help. If you’re already developing blocks or related tools, let us know! We’d love to hear about them. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the highlights from across the community last month:

  • Gutenberg v2.0 came out January 12th with lots of big updates including refinements to copy and pasting, mobile usability, the block API, the block library, and accessibility. Matías ran down all of the changes and offered a demo video as well. As of this post, it’s at version 2.1.
  • Tammie shared a post outlining the basics of Gutenberg design piece by piece.
  • In a tweet, Matías showed off the ability to paste Markdown text directly into Gutenberg.
  • Matt Mullenweg stopped by a WordPress Orlando meetup and answered questions about the Gutenberg project in an open floor, town hall-style session. Here’s an unofficial recap of the questions and answers.
  • Matthew Haines-Young at Human Made wrote up his experiences in adding Gutenberg compatibility to their main site, including 13 custom blocks and a UI for editing them.
  • Aaron Jorbin reflected on six months of using Gutenberg so far, including eighteen posts.
  •, Mike McAlister‘s ongoing collection of resources and tutorials, came on line this month. It’s another great way to stay up to date.

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

“Publishers are also using these Interactive Advertising Bureau-backed text files to organize inventory reports they share with advertisers, drive programmatic direct deals and shop for vendors.”

Ross Benes at Digiday, in a story exploring additional uses publishers have found for ads.txt.

“When you create a subscription business model, your incentives change significantly,” [he said.] “You’re trying to build a really deep relationship with your reader. No one is going to subscribe if they think that what you’re doing is not unique … You do want as many readers as possible. You do want people to come frequently. But what you really want them to do is love your stories.”

-Wired Editor In Chief Nick Thompson, in an article and podcast conversation with Peter Kafka at Recode about Wired’s newly unveiled paywall.

Upcoming Events

  • As mentioned up top, we’re excited to share the dates for VIP Workshop, May 14-17, and have opened up early bird ticketing. It’s our favorite time of the year! We hope to see you all there.
  • LoopConf is happening February 21-24 in Salt Lake City, Utah and Automattic will be participating as a sponsor. Automatticians Mel Choyce and Dennis Snell will also be presenting, along with Human Made’s John Blackbourn. Tickets are still available.
  • Recode’s Code Media, an immersive, two-day media and technology event hosted by Peter Kafka and Kara Swisher, is coming up February 12-13 in Huntington Beach, CA.
  • AMPConf is coming up February 13-14 in Amsterdam. Alberto Medina from Google along with XWP’s Thierry Muller will be presenting on AMP powering WordPress on the first day, and Gil Birman and Brian Ta from Airbnb will be on a panel on monetization and retail on the second.
  • Dekode, WooCommerce, and Jetpack are all diamond sponsors of WordCamp Oslo March 2-3. Speakers include our own Tess Needham, Scott Baasgard and Magne Ilsaas from Dekode, and John Blackbourn from Human Made.

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

Independent Speed and Performance Analysis Finds VIP Fastest among Top Tier Hosts VIP has once again been acknowledged as a top-tier provider of enterprise-level WordPress hosting, posting the fastest average response times from a range of global testing locations in independent analysis carried out by Review Signal.

Each year Kevin Ohashi at Review Signal evaluates enterprise WordPress hosts, and again in 2018 VIP joins a strong top tier. In the language of the review system, top tier means, “companies who maintain 99.9% uptime throughout the entire testing and show little to no performance degradation during load testing.”

After putting up “the absolute fastest scores [I’ve seen] by a wide margin” in our first participation in the rankings last year, this year VIP’s performance shone again. In addition to meeting each metric for top tier status, our scores in the tests showed off the speed of our content delivery network in accomplishing its main function – serving content as fast as possible to end users all over the world. Of the 11 locations used to test, VIP came out ahead in 9 of them, and we scored second in the two others. In his review, Ohashi concluded “[VIP] were delivering content the fastest on average around the world in the WebPageTest tests. Another Top Tier Performance award easily earned for VIP.”

Raw speed and performance is more than just an area for bragging rights. In terms of both search algorithm ranking factors and the behaviors and bounce rate of site visitors, it translates to real business value.


New Relic Application Monitoring Now Available on VIP Go

We’re pleased to announce that our New Relic offering is now out of beta and is available to all clients running on our VIP Go platform.

New Relic monitoring illustration

New Relic Application Monitoring watches your WordPress application to help identify and solve performance issues. Performance data is displayed in an extensive series of charts, and alerting can be configured to surface any issues as they arise.

The new New Relic package also includes:

  • Synthetics Lite, allowing you to monitor availability and uptime
  • Browser Lite, providing visibility and insight into how your users are interacting with the front end of your application
  • Insights Lite, allowing you to create custom analysis and visualizations of your application
The New Relic PHP agent monitors the performance of WordPress hooks and breaks down the time spent in plugins and themes

Our support team uses New Relic’s tools extensively in the course of our ongoing work monitoring and optimizing client site performance, and find them incredibly useful. They take on additional value in the hands of site developers and architects who want to zoom in on the behavior of a particular service or process. New Relic can power customized dashboards and ongoing historical views, or it can analyze narrow bands of performance, such as specific critical transactions that must execute at a higher standard than the rest.

The video below gives you a taster of the information you can access via New Relic:

Find more technical details in our New Relic documentation, and please contact your VIP support team to get set up with access.

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.