How The New York Post uses WordPress to manage push notifications for a busy newsroom
Remy Stern, Chief Digital Officer at the New York Post, our hosts at BigWP NYC on November 13, led off the presentations with an explanation on how they use WordPress.com VIP to send thousands and thousands of push notifications, email alerts, and to control their breaking news alerts on the web, too.
Why use WordPress to manage notifications? It’s the central tool for workflow in their newsroom, and reduces the risk of errors by keeping things in one familiar system with a consistent user experience. As a bonus, that helps things move quickly.
“Speed really matters when you’re sending out breaking news push notifications.”
Maropost, Urban Airship, and even Apple News are all in the notifications mix for the New York Post, all managed from inside their WordPress admin.
Watch Remy’s talk in full:
BigWP is our enterprise WordPress meetup series, that brings together developers, business leads, and product people who work with high-scale WordPress applications every day. To be the first to find out about the next enterprise WordPress event in New York, join the meetup group. You’ll find groups for other cities there as well.
At the risk of early December overshadowing an exciting November, we have to lead off with the biggest headline from the WordPress community in years. Just last week we all celebrated the completion of months of design, development, and refinement: the release of WordPress 5.0 featuring the new block editor! And add to that the release of AMP for WordPress version 1.0, as well as an open source theme based on Big Bite’s new platform for Amnesty International, all in just the past several days. There was a whole lot of November before that, including a BigWP event in New York and launches for Indian Express, Thrive Global, Boston Herald, National University, and SheKnows. Read on and we’ll bring you up to speed with notes from across the enterprise WordPress community.
WordPress 5.0 Arrives
The future of WordPress is here! Congratulations to the core team and all of the colleagues, partners, and community members who made the WordPress 5.0 release a reality. VIP clients, check the Lobby for all the details on deployment at VIP and next steps.
Project lead Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word (full video) at WordCamp US outlined the next phases of the Gutenberg project, including customization outside the post/page, collaborative editing, workflows, and multilingual innovations.
BigWP NYC brought our friends at the New York Post, Setka, 10up, and Human Made together along with a packed house. Topics included integrating plugins with AMP, decoupled WordPress architecture for the enterprise, and more. Stay tuned for videos from the talks, coming soon.
When PMC acquired Rolling Stone, they turned to XWP and VIP to bring the beloved brand’s digital experience up to date. The Make WordPress Marketing team just published XWP’s case study documenting the collaboration.
Big Bite took their latest work building a new block editor-ready platform for Amnesty International one step further. Their new open source theme makes some of those tools available for any organization to use.
Rasmus Lerdorf, inventor of PHP, turned 50 on November 22.
As mentioned above, WordPress 5.0 has been released! VIP clients, you will experience no immediate change to your publishing experience. Check out the Lobby for notes on next steps and working with the Gutenberg plugin as the project moves on to next phases.
Domains have come to the VIP Dashboard. Currently a simple list of domains mapped to your environment, VIP has big plans for its future functionality.
VIP CLI was updated to 1.2.1:
We now display a preview for vip sync which details the backup date/time being synced and the search/replace to be performed.
We now display the primary domain, instead of the *.go-vip.co domain in and vip app list.
Dekode, based in Oslo, Norway, is the leading enterprise WordPress agency in the Nordics. They blend design, development, and strategy work to build cost-effective, self-sustaining solutions for enterprise clients like Tidal, Facebook, and the Norwegian government. Read more about what they’re building in our latest partner profile.
The Inland Press Association’s Mega Conference is slated for February 25-27 in Las Vegas. Topics span digital subscriptions, newsroom transformation, advertising sales, audience monetization and more.
MWC Barcelona (formerly Mobile World Congress) is the largest mobile event in the world, bringing together the latest innovations and leading-edge technology from more than 2,400 leading companies. It’s happening February 25 – 28, and it’s not too late to grab a pass!
Speaker applications are open until January 7 for the first-ever WordCamp Nordic coming to Helsinki March 7-9.
Fancy a warmer clime? Join IRE and NICAR in Newport Beach, CA on March 7-9 for their annual conference devoted to data journalism.
Last week saw the release of WordPress 5.0, the project’s first major update in a little over a year. It’s most notable for the addition of the new Gutenberg editor component, which introduces blocks as the new mental model for WordPress content management.
In his 2018 State Of The Word speech, project lead Matt Mullenweg told attendees at WordCamp US that the pace of change would remain high. Gutenberg, he explained, was only the start of a process to address some fundamental problems in the software’s overall user experience.
Here’s our selection of key highlights for VIP clients and the enterprise WordPress community.
WordPress is all-in on blocks
Blocks have been designed to be predictable and tactile. They can cope with the full range of functionality expected of any WordPress site: they can be simple, like a text block, or as rich as an entire e-commerce interface.
They reflect the reality of HTML structure, making it (finally!) possible to meet user expectations on things like copy-and-paste from applications like word processors. But as developers we’re able to simplify their presentation, make their function readily apparent to users, and make them reusable across the interface.
Already we’ve seen an explosion of creativity within the community. Creators of well-established plugins have made early efforts to adapt their interfaces to exploit the potential of blocks: Matt specifically highlighted the popular Yoast SEO and AMP plugins, which provide feedback on a block-by-block basis. And new plugins are being created, bringing structured content into the editor area without the clumsy use of shortcodes.
We’re also seeing the growth of libraries, toolkits and tutorials, making it easier than ever for developers to surface complex functionality or embed external services within the authoring experience. It won’t take long for users to expect to find a block for every purpose.
Blocks will break out of the text box
Matt confirmed that the next challenge for Gutenberg is to take the same block concept beyond post content. He showed examples of how blocks might replace what we currently know as ‘widgets’ and ‘menus’. Configuration would take place within the WordPress admin area, in the Customizer – or perhaps even inline, on the front end.
Development of phase two will take place, as before, in plugin form – giving developers plenty of visibility into the process, and plenty of time for experimentation and testing.
Key enterprise functionality ahead
Matt also shared his thinking for the third and fourth phases of the Gutenberg initiative, both with particular appeal to large scale professional content publishers.
Phase three is set to focus on collaboration and workflows. It is likely to include content locking based on blocks, rather than pages as now. This will be especially valuable to newsrooms working on breaking stories: we know many of our clients already have elaborate workarounds to allow journalists to work on different parts of the same article simultaneously.
Matt admitted: “One of the reasons that copy-and-paste from Google Docs to Gutenberg is so good, is that when I’m writing a post that I’m going to collaborate on, Google Docs is better for that. But if we can integrate these workflows directly into WordPress, we can integrate them with user systems, we can integrate them with revisions, and we can allow them to be fully extensible in a way that a SaaS service will never, ever be.”
Phase four will finally bring an official way for WordPress to support multilingual publishing. Numerous proven approaches already exist, of course. But the lack of a canonical solution within WordPress core is often cited as a weakness, and existing solutions often cannot guarantee to be compatible with other plugins and services.
Both these phases, proposed for 2020 and beyond, are likely to have implications for existing solutions, including plugins created and recommended by VIP. We’re excited to contribute our experience in these areas to the core initiatives, and encourage all of our clients to get involved as well. Feedback and participation from VIP clients provided the core team with critical insights during phase one, and those insights become even more pertinent as the team takes on the next areas of focus.
Enterprise takeaways in brief
The next phases of the Gutenberg project will continue to take place in plugin form. This will allow enterprise teams to test and adopt new functionality gradually as it comes out, and evaluate it in the context of existing workflows and customizations.
Phase two will focus on admin elements outside of pages and posts, further simplifying and streamlining the experience for users.
Phase three will focus on collaboration and workflows, which will be particularly useful for busy newsrooms as well as brand and product teams.
The fourth phase will take on multilingual publishing, bringing a canonical solution into core.
There are lots of ways for you to participate in the project! Whether directly through the many points of entry outlined on Make.WordPress.org, by sharing a private demonstration and feedback session with us at your offices, or simply by testing and working with the new features as they are developed, you can play a critical role in the project’s success.
Photos courtesy of: Brian Peat, Jen Hooks, Val Vesa. Thank you!
This series profiles each of our featured partner agencies.
Dekode is a digital agency based in Norway focused exclusively on WordPress platforms for the enterprise segment. Dekode strongly believes the best digital solutions are crafted when the disciplines of design, development, and strategy work in cross-functional teams. They have been a WordPress.com VIP Featured Partner since 2015.
What’s your agency’s origin story?
Magne Ilsaas founded Dekode in 2009, bringing a background in design and establishing a strong tech and creative team from the start.In the Nordics, WordPress historically has not been known as a big media CMS like in other parts of the world. As big believers in the platform, Dekode set out to grow and evolve its reputation in the region.
Since its founding, Dekode’s focus has been to demonstrate the value and foundation of WordPress for Enterprise, B2B, B2C, and marketing sites in their local market.
Pick three words that describe your agency culture.
Pragmatic, compassionate, honest.
Tell us about a client project you are especially proud of.
We’ll mention two:
Design and code frameworks: The Norwegian Government Security and Service Organization is responsible for digital services for the governmental secretaries and the Prime Minister’s office, as well as a number of other public institutions such as the Supreme Court and the Parliament. DSS operates 50+ web pages on WordPress. These require thorough quality control and continuous development of functionality.
Dekode is the trusted advisor for these projects. As a reflection of our commitment to delivering cost-effective, self-sustaining solutions for our clients, we’ve built a design framework rather than a one-off platform for NGSSO. With this flexible theme, NGSSO can create new websites themselves. Currently, they have 60+ websites without the help of Dekode and at no additional cost.
Community for Down Syndrome: Today, most conversations about Down syndrome amongst parents happen on social media and especially on Facebook. These shared experiences and discussions are often vital to the lives of children with Down syndrome, but as soon as they are published they fall down the drain of the Facebook feed. This knowledge does not have an expiry date, but in a year or five years, there is no possible way to retrieve it. We wanted to do something about it.
We recently launched our new community platform oppsiden.no (The Upside). It’s a social knowledge sharing community for Down Syndrome. This was a Dekode-initiated project and the culmination of months of collaboration with the Norwegian Network for Down Syndrome. We are extremely proud Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg came to our office and officially launched the platform.
What are you most excited about in the WordPress community right now?
We are currently excited about the launch of the Gutenberg editor. From our experience thus far, when it comes to custom blocks, it has been really promising. We’ve been big fans of using Advanced Custom Fields for tailoring modular websites for a long time now. Gutenberg will make this a native experience to WordPress, and the experience for editors will be a really big and important upgrade. Gutenberg has the potential to be a fantastically open-ended system – themes, plugins, and possibilities on steroids. We’re looking forward to developing sites and platforms that harness that open-endedness to deliver the kinds of focused and dialed-in editorial experiences enterprise use cases tend to require.
What’s your favorite conference or event of the year, and why?
This year, one of the best “conferences” Magne attended was a boat of startups, founders, and investors who all disconnected from their busy online lives. What amazed him on this trip was the willingness to share knowledge on how to run and scale your business in a sustainable way. This is something we at Dekode want more than anything else for the WordPress ecosystem: to share and collaborate on our businesses the same way we do with code.
What are you looking to accomplish in 2018?
As 2018 comes to an end our immediate goals are transitioning our design and code framework to Gutenberg. We’re also excited to launch our new community/ intranet platform and continuously position WordPress as a proper enterprise alternative.
Thank you, Dekode!
More on Dekode:
Agency focus and specialties:
WordPress platforms, for clients with long term recurring digital needs
Design and code systems that enable brands with multiple sites to reuse components and scale their digital ecosystem in a sustainable way
Enterprise intranets on WordPress
Operationalizing their client’s business strategy while challenging stagnant thinking
Currently working with:
The Norwegian National Library
The Norwegian Government
Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue
The Church City Mission
Norwegian Helsinki Committee
Largest WordPress specialist agency in the Nordics
Recently launched an Enterprise intranet product on WordPress
Creating a design and code system for the Norwegian government enabling them to launch websites themselves
Global Diamond Sabre Award winning campaign for NORAD, a learning solution for youth about foreign aid
With the projected release date for WordPress 5.0 fast approaching on November 27, there’s lots of October news around the Gutenberg project and the new editor it’s bringing to 5.0. Read on for updates from WordPress core, releases from Kaiser Family Foundation and The New York Post, Intercom, and XWP for the AMP Project. Don’t miss the call for entries for the brand new Automattic Design Award.
Gutenberg News and Notes
The latest updates about WordPress 5.0 and the new editor.
5.0 is coming! The updated WordPress Core timeline calls for WordPress 5.0 release on November 27, with release candidate 1 coming on November 12. VIP clients, keep an eye on the Lobby for updates as we draw closer.
As of this post, WordPress 5.0 beta 3 is the latest release, which came out on November 5. WordPress 5.0 beta 1 came out on October 24th. Naturally at this stage beta releases include Gutenberg as the default editor, the Twenty Nineteen theme, and all previous default themes updated to include block editor styles.
The Core team has announced that the Classic Editor Plugin will be supported until at least December 31, 2021. You’ll find lots of additional detail at that link as well.
We recommend all projects using the Gutenberg plugin today to upgrade to at least version 4.1 to assure a smooth transition. Gutenberg 4.2 is now available for testing. The updated formatting API makes it easier to extend Rich Text options throughout the editor. Developers can now add their own block categories and assign icons for better visual cues.
News and Releases
Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.
Our own Shannon Smith presented at WordCamp Vancouver, demonstrating how theme and plugin developers can use React to make the most of the new Gutenberg editor experience.
A team of 6 rtCampers attended the AMP Roadshow Mumbai 2018where Pradeep Sonawane delivered a talk about “WordPress with AMP.” Up next? Nirmal Desai will attend WordCamp Kochi and share his experience working with Enterprise publishers.
Our first VIP Dashboard feature has soft-launched (shhhhh): visit the dashboard to see all your apps, then click through to an individual app to sync from production to your non-production environments. Sharp-eyed observers will see we’ve added a “Support” button down on the left; give it a try and tell us how it’s going.
Submit your best work in site, solution, and style categories for the brand new Automattic Design Award, recognizing the very best in Gutenberg-ready, accessibility-enabled projects from 2018. A truly amazing panel of judges includes Khoi Vinh from Adobe, Kat Holmes from Google, and Jeffrey Zeldman from A List Apart. Representatives of the VIP family include Sarah James of 10up, Ant Miller of Human Made, Rahul Bansal from rtCamp, Joshua Wold of XWP, and Simon Dickson representing VIP.
The next BigWP Meetup takes place November 13 at the New York Post headquarters featuring enterprise WordPress talks from speakers at the New York Post and VIP partners Setka, Human Made, and 10up. Tickets are now all gone, but we’ll have coverage on the blog. Join the meetup group to be the first to hear about the next event.
WordCamp US is coming right up, Dec. 7-9 in Nashville. Organizers recently released the full speaker schedule. You might notice several familiar faces from Automattic, 10up, Human Made, XWP, Yoast, and many more. See the full speakers list here and grab your ticket while you still can.
Two years on from joining the VIP program, The Sun’s WordPress-powered website has grown steadily to become the UK’s biggest digital commercial news website, with over 30 million unique users each month – that’s fast approaching half the UK’s total population.
Sport, and specifically soccer, has always been a key part of The Sun’s offering; and with England headed to the summer’s World Cup in Russia, the newsroom were keen to make the most of the opportunity.
In a characteristically cheeky talk at our recent London BigWP event, The Sun’s head of newsroom systems, Joel Davies described how they were able to create a new destination section, with the ambition to cement The Sun’s brand as the ‘home of the football fan’.
The new section, built and launched in three months, incorporated a new mobile-first design, reflecting the fact that 90% of traffic was mobile, with full-screen teasers, interactive on-page components, plus new commercial slots and navigation.
Joel explained some of the design elements and special content features the team developed, making full use of the flexibility offered by the WordPress platform. They used the Shortcake plugin, a precursor to the new Gutenberg editor’s block concept, to construct complex page layouts, rendered on the front end by React components.
They produced just under 100 articles per day during the tournament, and almost 1,000 videos, viewed a total of 11.5 million times. The World Cup section alone drew 23 million unique visitors over the course of the competition, with a return rate of 45%. (Sadly, the England team returned empty handed.)
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