Amnesty and the Power of Gutenberg, the New WordPress Editor
Agency partner Big Bite has built an entirely new site platform for Nobel Peace Prize Winner Amnesty International, with the new WordPress editor as it foundation, via the Gutenberg plugin. They focused on developing custom blocks and a core theme that serve as the heart of Amnesty’s digital efforts moving forward.
We’re excited to announce our newest technical partner, Setka! Setka creates tools that make it easy for content creators to produce beautiful, customizable, multimedia content pages that work across platforms.
Part of what makes the Setka Editor special is it brings the elements we love about print design into the interactive environment of the screens we use today. It puts power directly in the hands of editors and designers to create stunning content with beautiful features—without much extra effort (and without always having to rely on developers). They can change page layouts, add interactive and multimedia elements, and make other design decisions based on what will serve their content best. The user-friendly WYSIWYG interface combined with customizable layout and style templates give the people producing content creative freedom while making sure they stay on-brand with design.
While the user experience is a breeze, the Setka Editor is working hard behind the scenes. It’s already compatible with the new Gutenberg editor, and will stay on track as WordPress moves to version 5.0. It pairs with the AMP for WordPress plugin to generate eye-catching Accelerated Mobile Pages. It generates the mobile version of your article pages automatically. The HTML is stored in the database, so your content design stays the same even if you uninstall the plugin, and pages can be exported in any necessary formats. The plugin seamlessly integrates into both editorial processes and scaling technical infrastructures to keep everything moving efficiently.
“We’re so proud to be a WordPress.com VIP Partner, since VIP and the WordPress community value design as much as we do. We can’t wait to keep adding more features to help you easily produce amazing content,” said Katya Bazilevskaya, co-founder and CEO of Setka, who spoke on visual storytelling at this year’s VIP Workshop in Napa.
If you’d like to know more about how Setka can improve your daily workflow, drop us a note.
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!
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.
“Accessibility should be a pervasive feature and not shoved in. We have allowed ourselves to walk away from it. Inclusivity should be a core principle.” @jeckman#wcpub
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.
Key challenge of modern journalism: “There aren’t enough good ways for online readers to compensate publications in ways proportionate to the value they receive.” –@eulken on paywalls #wcpub
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.
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.
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.
Brands big and small are using WordPress. But when we look at the editing workflow, we're all piecing together stacks of frankentools before content gets into WordPress. Premise: Can we centralize everything in WordPress instead? #wcpub
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.
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 XWPwent 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.
The always-quotable @brianboyer on user experience: "We want people to love us, and nobody's going to love us when we're punching them in the face." #wcpub
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:
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.
10up is a digital agency focused on delivering finely crafted websites, apps, and tools that advance business objectives. They have been a WordPress.com VIP Featured Partner since 2013. Founded in California with a fully distributed team, 10up’s Webby-winning and Emmy-nominated work includes projects with household names like Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and The New York Times.
What’s your agency’s origin story?
10up was founded by Jake Goldman in 2011. Jake helped his prior company abandon proprietary CMS software starting around 2008, giving him a front-row seat to WordPress’s rapid iteration from a basic blogging platform to a compelling content management system, and the delight that it created for its customers. Jake was eager to master WordPress: he built plugins that became popular, contributed to WordPress itself, and traveled around the country to participate in WordCamps.
With training in business, information systems, and software development, and an eye for beautiful craftsmanship, Jake saw an opportunity to start an agency that could position itself as a leading provider of integration and delivery of WordPress. The rise of “distributed” remote-work companies, the remote nature of WordPress core itself, and the rising international WordPress community suggested it was also time for a 100% distributed agency.
Jake set up shop in his small home office and got to work bootstrapping 10up. From its earliest days, 10up focused on superior engineering quality and elegant editorial/administrative user experiences Leveraging a strong network of connections, Jake quickly welcomed exciting clients like 9to5mac, Trulia, and TechCrunch.
With the help of the earliest additions to his team, many of whom still remain at 10up and some of whom have gone onto to impressive roles elsewhere in the industry, Jake grew 10up from 1 employee – himself – to more than 100 in less than 5 years – without an ounce of outside investment.
The name 10up comes from finishing that last 10% — the difference that extra polish, that extra level of attention, makes. –Jake Goldman
Pick three words that describe your agency culture.
Dedicated. Our team understands that we’re a services business; our values are rooted in an empathy and dedication to the needs of our clients and colleagues, as well as the broader open-source and WordPress community. 10uppers consistently go above and beyond expectations to jump in and help when a client or fellow teammate needs support.
Creative. This is a team of problem solvers – strategists, designers, engineers, and so on. Whether it’s a discreet and specific solution to a customer need or an innovative approach to synchronizing developer environments or managing new standards like Ads.txt, this team is constantly finding new ways to solve the challenges we face every day.
Welcoming. Maybe it’s something about our remote culture, our in-depth orientation, or a high growth team culture… but almost everyone who starts at 10up comments on how inviting their team lead, fellow teammates, and craft leadership are in welcoming them aboard and offering support through their beginning and tenure. Even though we’re infrequently in the same room together, there’s a palpable sense of camaraderie and cheer at our annual all-hands summit.
Tell us about a client project you are especially proud of.
Where to start! If we had to pick one, we’d highlight our work with Mayo Clinic, building out an internal knowledge portal and management intranet that tens of thousands of nurses use every day, around the country, to collaboratively participate in advancing patient care. It was a multiyear project, and our team did a brilliant job of designing the user experience, engineering a scalable solution, supporting change management, and training both developers and administrators. As a service-centric organization, it’s immensely rewarding to know that our work is helping other incredibly dedicated service professionals (nurses) and their patients, every day, in some small way.
What are you most excited about in the WordPress community right now?
We’ve been very focused from day one on the experience of creating and managing content – the back end and editorial user flows that can have an enormous impact on the efficiency of the business and the happiness of the staff responsible for pushing out content. It’s why we chose WordPress as our platform – a user experience-centric ethos to our practice.
With that said, it’s hard not to call out the massive effort to revamp the writing and content layout experience – Gutenberg.
It’s exciting in the sense that it shakes up the way we think about editorial page creation and curation, and forces us to think about some old and stale paradigms in new ways. It’s cause for us to go back and take another look at some of our solutions and plugins, and breathe a bit of new life into them. Some of the principals of the block-based layout authentically offer an opportunity to improve the way we think about modules. That’s been especially evident as we approached support for the classic and new editor for some new open source projects – like Simple Podcasting – and found that the user interface made a lot more sense in the new context.
What’s your favorite conference or event of the year, and why?
We love seeing the WordPress community evolve a set of professional industry and market-specific conferences. WP Campus and WordCamp for Publishers provide a nice, focused iteration of the wide-appeal community events.
On a very different note, our team also gets quite a bit out of the Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA) event, in terms of professional development and peer inspiration.
(And the sixth: Ask yourself a question and answer it)What are you looking to accomplish in 2018?
We’re pushing on several fronts. Our team is growing again this year; we expect to expand our team by ~25-30%, and we hope to achieve that while retaining an engaging and supportive culture and employing systems that ensure we uphold the highest standards for craftsmanship. Some major growth areas include the 10up Europe team and our strategic consulting including Audience & Revenue.
We’re also more invested than ever in contributing to and helping WordPress succeed as a platform, through our Open Source Practice. We want to see growing adoption of some of the solutions we’ve put out there that push WordPress forward as a platform, like our Distributor plugin.
We also want to do a better job of communicating the exciting and innovative work we’re doing, and the ways in which we’re growing, to our customers and a larger community interested in 10up. Expect to see more stories from 10up and more effective ways of staying apprised of those stories.
Thank you, 10up!
More on 10up:
Agency focus and specialties:
Editorial/administrative user experience and workflow design
Audience and revenue strategy
Integrations and migration between WordPress and other platforms
High scale and forward-thinking implementation of WordPress
Internal communication & workflow tools
24/7 site management
Currently working with: Microsoft, Facebook, Google, The New York Times Co, the State of California, Walmart, ESPN, and AARP
More than 150 full-time staff working from around the world.
In-house expertise includes Front and Back End Engineering, Visual Design, UX Design, Systems/Cloud Infrastructure Engineering, Online Advertising, Analytics, SEO, and general project management and strategic consulting.
Delivered hundreds of successful, enterprise-grade projects over our 7.5 years of existence.
Two of our interactive projects with AMC Networks were nominated for Emmy Awards. Our client projects have been nominated for numerous Webby Awards, with several wins under our belt.
We’ve produced outstanding projects across most major verticals, including collaborations with household brand names in finance, healthcare, media and publishing, academia, retail, food and beverage, and nonprofits … to name a few.
The new WordPress editor Gutenberg hit a major milestone in July, completing its MVP feature goals and moving its focus to bug fixes and compatibility. VIP client Quartz shipped v.5 of their site, an incredible fifth full version in six years and this one faster than ever. We welcomed Slack’s SlackHq.com to the VIP family. And Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg joined Kara Swisher on her Recode Decode podcast to talk about WordPress, the future of the open web, and lots more.
Read on for updates from all over, including an in-depth client spotlight with the founders of Civil, and a talk by Airbnb content lead Hayley Nelson on the content strategy principles behind major brand marketing campaigns. We’ve also added a platform updates section, where you can get a quick summary of all of the changes to our platform in the last month.
Gutenberg News and Notes
The latest tools, demos, and updates around the block-based editor coming to WordPress 5.0.
Gutenberg is officially considered ‘feature complete‘ as of version 3.2 released in early July! Two successive releases this month (July 20 and July 30) included a multitude of improvements, from strengthening the API surface to converting existing content to blocks.
We explored one of the more frequently asked questions about Gutenberg – plugin compatibility – and shared our findings and advice for evaluating your own plugins.
Inpsyde’s David Remer gave a talk on Gutenberg’s state management, introducing the Slot/Fill concept
Every other week, Zac Gordon and Joe Casabona get together and talk about the latest developments in Gutenberg and WordPress 5.0.
News and Releases
Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.
Congratulations to the entire Quartz team on their launch of the latest version of QZ.com, which we’re honored to host on VIP. Earlier this month, Elan Kiderman, senior product designer at Quartz, shared his approach to building ambitious editorial projects (Map of the Internet, anyone?).
The open source WordPress Coding Standards (WPCS) project released milestone version 1.0. This project has had 54 contributors in its 9 year span including 5 from VIP.
Kara Swisher interviewed Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg on the Recode Decode podcast, covering current industry issues like data privacy and advertising, the future of the open web, and our approach to distributed work at Automattic.
Facebookannounced that starting in August, third-party tools like Publicize (the tool for WordPress.com and Jetpack-powered sites that connects your site to major social media platforms) will no longer share posts automatically to Facebook profiles. VIP clients can consult this Lobby post for details on navigating the change.
The Wikimedia Foundation announced a global collaboration to increase offline access to Wikipedia and the Wikimedia sites.
Adam Silverstein of 10up published a guest post on Google‘s Open Source Blog reflecting on his experiences as a contributor, and received a Google Open Source Peer Bonus for his work bringing MathML to AMP.
HumanMade helped UNISON tell a story of digital adoption inside a trade union. Libby Barker was interviewed at WordCamp Europe about how a decoupled WordPress admin can make enterprise sites more flexible and engaging.
Efficiency was the name of the game at Reaktiv Studios this month. Nick Croft wrote about jumpstarting projects with WP CLI scaffolding and Chris Ford discussed her recipe mix of project management tools at the Dungeons & Dragons-themed WordCamp Orange County.
Maintenance: Removed TLS v1.0 from our VIP Go platform on July 11 (Lobby post)
Media and Marketing Notes
Research and perspectives on the business of media and the practice of marketing.
There’s a strong parallel between what Disney has accomplished and what today’s brands are trying to do: Find the intersection of strong stories, customer emotions, and constantly evolving technology. For marketers, that can be a hint—not only at how to approach creative problem solving—but also how to explore new approaches to your hiring and staffing strategies.
Time and again tech reporting gets caught in the hype rather than reality; a super-fast but impractical rail alternative proposed by Elon Musk gets tons of coverage, but it’s difficult to get real rail projects funded … Maybe we should simply scrap the idea of a “tech desk” altogether.
Civilis a new WordPress-based platform using the blockchain to support, distribute and protect journalism, developed by partner Alley and launched recently on VIP. Civil’s first fleet of newsrooms launched earlier this summer and continues to grow. Read more about the project and its underpinnings in this extended spotlight interview. And watch for the CVL token launch, the token that allows a journalist to open a newsroom or a citizen to have a stake in challenges and votes, on September 18.
We’re starting to make packing lists for #ONA18, the Online News Association‘s annual conference, Sept. 13-15 in Austin, Texas. VIP is proud to support ONA as both a sponsor (look for our booth at the Midway!) and as a hosting and support provider for journalists.org and ONA’s other sites. Don’t miss our very own Steph Yiu serving up double the trouble at the event: she’ll be hosting a Table Talk and presenting alongside New York Times’ senior editor Hamilton Boardman in a session called, “OMGWTFBBQ: Breaking News Without Breaking Your Site.”
The next BigWP London meetup, our gathering of developers, product people, and editors who work on enterprise WordPress sites, is set for September 18 and will fill up fast. Reserve your place now. Here’s a YouTube playlist with talks from last December’s BigWP London event.
WordCamp for Publishersis right around the corner, August 8-10 in Chicago. The full tickets have closed, but you can still reserve your spot to attend without the guarantee of swag and evening social event attendance. It’s a fantastic event and we are proud to both sponsor and participate again this year. Hear directly from one of the organizers on what to expect.
Rumor has it Tracy Levesque will grace the stage at WordCamp Philly, which goes down October 27 and 28. Call for speakers closed this week, so keep a close eye as the first presentations get announced. In the meantime, you can enjoy Tracy’s talk, “Diversity Works” from this year’s VIP Workshop.
Major WordCamps are going down this month in Montréal, Moscow, Minneapolis, Mexico City, Omaha, and so many more. Check out the full schedule for your next chance to join the fun.
Hayley Nelson has spent the past two decades of her career bringing digital tools and technology to journalists. Among other accomplishments, she helped shepherd the New York Times into the era of digital media by launching its first blogs, built an award-winning digital team at Wired Magazine, and launched CNET in four Asian markets.
As head of content at Airbnb, Hayley is focused on value-based storytelling that engages consumers across platforms and devices. Her work has been building off their 2018 We Accept Superbowl commercial.
In her talk, “Content Ecosystem Thinking” at the 2018 VIP Workshop, Hayley outlines a path for marketers to leverage the tricks of the publishing trade to put the reader at the center of their digital efforts. The most successful brands, she argues, are tying every piece of content to their company’s core values. Think Everlane’s transparent factories and the commitment from Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson to hire 10,000 refugees. “Who are we, and what are the values that we want to stand up for? How do we bring our mission to life? … It’s the brand’s job to become a great storyteller.”
Patagonia did a documentary on people whose lives are transformed by the sea. One person profiled is this woman who is a deep-sea spearfisher who catches fish and makes sushi, another is this surfer guy in Tahiti, and it’s just a really compelling documentary — and you hardly notice but they may or may not be wearing Patagonia swimsuits. That’s how subtle it is.
Watch the full video to go behind the scenes on Airbnb’s Not Yet Trending campaign, which ties beautiful videography of destinations on the cusp of trending into two of the brand’s core messages, “it’s a host-led world,” and “the magic of travel,” to drive would-be travelers to book on the platform.
I want you to think of us as that edgy, underground friend that’s telling you where to go because it’s the most interesting place in the world — and maybe you come back six months later when you’re ready to book a trip.
You’ll also learn her ten-step process for organizing a global content strategy, including the non-trite way to capitalize on social media holidays and how introducing agile to marketing processes has transformed the way she approaches campaigns.
If you weren’t able to join us at VIP Workshop this year, you can still catch dozens of the sessions, including speakers from TechCrunch, Google, Cloudinary, the VIP team, our agency partners, and many more on this YouTube playlist.
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.
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.
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