The WordPress Tool Set Powering the Lions Tour

Note: This is part of a series of posts highlighting talks from the BigWP London meetup at Twitter HQ on the evening of December 7. 

Sotic are a digital agency focused solely on sport, who recently adopted WordPress as their strategic development platform of choice. Senior front-end developer Dan Drave peeled back the curtain on the specialized knowledge and experience they have gained in building digital platforms for some of the biggest brands and governing bodies in European sport. Specifically, Dan’s talk shared the approaches and tools they used to support the British and Irish Lions as they faced the mighty All Blacks (now also running WordPress, by the way) earlier this summer.

The key elements that define Sotic’s approach include:

  • A custom WordPress theme built specifically as a sports CMS foundation
  • Custom Post Types that support unique formats such as quotes and fun facts
  • Advanced Custom Fields to weave the post type fields into templates
  • Sotic Metadata and Widgets that work with their customized API
  • The WordPress REST API

In this clip, Dan explains the mission and functional requirements involved in supporting a high scale sport site such as the Lions Tour:

Watch Dan’s talk in full:

More from this month’s BigWP London:

Capgemini’s Move from Drupal to WordPress

Note: This is part of a series of posts highlighting talks from the BigWP London meetup at Twitter HQ on the evening of December 7. 

Earlier this year, global consulting and technology leader Capgemini completed an impressive replatforming from Drupal to WordPress and to WordPress.com VIP, supported by agency partner Human Made. Parker Ward, global head of digital and content at Capgemini, took to the BigWP podium last week to share highlights of the case study.

The initiative successfully addressed a number of shortcomings of the previous system, from administrative bottlenecks in making changes to a challenging and unfriendly interface that itself caused churn within teams who were required to use it. Where previously the site was dependent on 4 Drupal webmasters, their new WordPress build already had 70 people managing content across 40 markets, with more to follow.

The new WordPress platform also put in place new functionality that will better support the needs of Capgemini’s 200,000 employee global operation. Adding a simple, powerful shared publishing calendar has allowed teams of marketers globally to free up their email inboxes and share an always updated canonical record of what content each team is running, day after day.  Another new feature Parker highlighted involves customized syndication tools that empower local editors to manage their own use of global content and also share content laterally.

In this clip, you’ll hear Parker describe the state of the previous Drupal system and the processes around it, at the time when he was brought on board, and some of the challenges the new WordPress system solved for:

Watch Parker’s talk in full:

More from this month’s BigWP London:

What’s Next for the Liveblog Plugin

Note: This is part of a series of posts highlighting talks from the BigWP London meetup at Twitter HQ on the evening of December 7. 

Jason Agnew, technical director at our agency partner Big Bite, presented an overview of the work they’re doing with us to rebuild and update our popular and powerful Liveblog WordPress plugin, initially released in 2012 and up for a re-release soon.

He started with some perspective on how and why big media companies use Liveblog, to create rolling coverage of breaking news (see: GlobalNews.ca) and high profile events like national elections or the Academy Awards. It’s a fantastic way to host a single, frequently updated page in real time, usually with contributions from a number of writers and editors who may be watching and curating from multiple external locations and sources.

Jason went through some of the advantages of the Liveblog approach over things like Tweetstorms:

  • No item length limitation
  • Support for all kinds of form factors
  • Ability to run more than one at a time
  • Persists after the event without any additional effort

In this clip, Jason talks about the project’s goals and the focus of the next release:

Watch Jason’s talk in full:

More from this month’s BigWP London:

Gutenberg at BigWP London

 Note: This is part of a series of posts highlighting talks from the BigWP London meetup at Twitter HQ on the evening of December 7. 

Fresh from participating in WordCamp US and meeting with several enterprise WordPress teams at big media companies in New York, Gutenberg design lead Tammie Lister (@karmatosed) took the BigWP crowd through an overview of the project and a look at the editor plugin’s latest progress (more background on Gutenberg here).

The strength of WordPress is based on its large, diverse and passionate community of users and developers, and it’s fair to say that passions have been stirred by Gutenberg and its implications. With all development happening in public, it has been easy for anyone with an interest to jump in and participate. The team has welcomed that engagement, providing a range of perspectives that have helped to refine the user experience with each weekly release.

In the clip below, Tammie describes some of the ways the team has brought in feedback and hands-on user participation, including online and via an in person testing booth at WordCamp US.

Watch Tammie’s talk in full:

More from this month’s BigWP London:

BigWP returns to London in December

london-bridge

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

Twitter’s central London office will again play host to our gathering for enterprise-level users of WordPress, and the agencies who support them, after work on Thursday 7 December.

Our London events are organised by the WordPress.com VIP team with the invaluable help of our partners at leading global WordPress development agency Human Made. We aim to hold them once every six months: but this will be our third in calendar year 2017.

We’re very excited to announce Tammie Lister, design lead on Gutenberg, as one of our speakers. Gutenberg is the project to reinvent the main WordPress editor component, using the principle of content blocks; and is due to be integrated into the next release of WordPress, version 5.0. It makes content creation beautiful and effortless; and lays the groundwork for exciting developments further down the line.

Gutenberg represents the most significant change to the core user experience in several years. It’s essential for enterprise clients and agencies to understand what is happening, and the implications for custom development, now and in the future.

Tammie will be racing back from WordCamp US, taking place just a few days earlier in Nashville, with Gutenberg certain to be a hot topic at the event. It’s your chance to hear the very latest from one of the project’s leads, and to ask her any questions you may have.

Also on the evening’s agenda:

  • Having been strong advocates for Drupal in recent years, global technology consultancy Capgemini recently moved their entire corporate web presence from Drupal to WordPress. Parker Ward, Capgemini’s global head of digital and content will tell the story of the move.
  • VIP is currently working with our agency partners Big Bite to rebuild our popular Liveblog plugin for WordPress. Jason Agnew will explain how the new version gets around the performance bottlenecks of its predecessor, using React, Redux and RxJS Observables to simplify the overall build.
  • Sotic are a digital agency focused exclusively on the world of sport, running sites for top-flight professional clubs, national governing bodies and international events. Over the past year, they have adopted WordPress as their platform of choice; and senior front-end developer Dan Drave will explain how they used it to power the data-rich website for the British & Irish Lions rugby tour to New Zealand this past summer.

Come straight from the office: we’ll be providing food and drinks. We expect to finish around 8pm, and will go on somewhere for a festive drink or two.

Capacity at the event is limited; so please sign up today via our page at meetup.com to guarantee your place. You will need to submit a request to join the group if you aren’t already a member: this is purely to ensure the group retains its enterprise focus.

Custom Tools for the Largest UK Newspaper: The Sun and Human Made

Powerful and intuitive, the WordPress editorial and content management interface is also extremely flexible. It has been customized to match varied and sophisticated workflows for enterprise media and marketing teams all over the world.

Last month at the Big WP Meetup in London, John Blackbourn (@johnbillion) of VIP agency partner Human Made presented highlights of a major customization project for The Sun and its sister publications, The Irish Sun and The Scottish Sun. The Sun is the largest newspaper in the UK by circulation, and second-largest by online audience. The customization work was just one piece of a larger replatforming initiative that moved The Sun to WordPress.com VIP from a print-based CMS. This was a massive undertaking, and involved moving 10 years worth of content — 400,000 articles and a terabyte of images.

John’s talk focused on the interface Human Made built to match the editorial workflow of the three publications.

A Layout Customiser for The Sun

Requirements and Discovery

Highlights from the Sun’s editorial requirements included:

  • Editors need to quickly and frequently alter the content and the layout of the home page, which can change as often as every ten minutes
  • Complete, visually accurate previews of changes before they go live
  • Scale to handle and manipulate hundreds of articles on the same page
  • Smart and efficient data storage methods

To gain more context and uncover useful details about each of these requirements and how the editors really work, Human Made ran a workshop with The Sun’s editorial team.

They found that editors very frequently move a story around on the home page based on importance, and not in only one direction. Depending on how a particular story develops, it can take any number of routes through the slots on the page. And story order can change up to every few minutes.

Also, originally editors thought they wanted open and free-form editing capability, to have a fully open palette with which to work. Through exploration they found that there are really a limited number of patterns that they use frequently. They may be updated every once in a while, but for the most part they work from a number of pre-set formats. A detail or shade of clarity on a requirement like this has a huge impact on how an agency like Human Made conceives of the solution, and what they prioritize.

Watch Blackbourn describe highlights from the workshop below:

The result of the project was a completely overhauled layout customizer (using WordPress’ extensible Customizer) and page/section management tool – all set up to work within the WordPress admin interface without requiring any side trips or extra clicks. It’s a tool The Sun’s editors live in every day, all day.

The ingenuity of the entire interface is impressive to see in action, but three particular areas of note from the talk:

The Cascade

To tackle the ability to move stories around the page throughout the day, Human Made developed something they call The Cascade. This allows editors to stick an article to their cursor and swap it with an existing article on the fly, so that they don’t need to go through an extra step of adding or removing to adapt the story order. This tool efficiently controls articles throughout the entire, scrolling home page layout.

Layout Chooser

Editors add new sections by choosing from a couple dozen pre-set layouts, which cover all of the styles they more commonly use. Picking one adds a blank section into which they can then quickly drop articles, then easily style and publish the new layout. This all unfolds in the WordPress editorial interface, without requiring them to go to a separate screen or tool.

Precise Preview Rendering

In order to achieve the preview goal, any time an editor makes a change, WordPress fires off an AJAX request to the back end and pulls in the actual template code the site will use to render the finished page. This assures that editors see an accurate preview, and that there are no discrepancies between what shows up during section management and what the user sees when the visit the page. This also makes maintenance seamless, because when a template changes, that inherently and automatically changes the preview code.

Watch Blackbourn demonstrate each of these features:

These new tools and platform free up The Sun’s editorial teams to focus on what’s most important, what’s most popular, and what has suddenly moved from a small blip to a massive unfolding scoop.

To be notified of the next BigWP event in London, join the Meetup group. There are also enterprise events throughout the year in various other big cities.

USA Today Sports Media Group on the Benefits of a Common Theme

When newly acquired publications and sites come in to a large publishing group, they often come with baggage: their own approach to UX and underlying technologies. These unique themes and feature sets can add up to significant technical and operational debt. It’s a whole lot of tools and processes that only exist for one project’s benefit. And in most cases, those unique systems bring with them a distinction without a difference – there’s little benefit to the end user that’s gained from that diversity of approach. It’s just history.

This is a set of issues that we’ve seen again and again. Bringing groups of publications together under a common theme and architecture can reap tremendous rewards, across speed, productivity, and cost savings.

David Parsons, USA Today Sports Media Group

Earlier this month at the BigWP meetup in NYC, David Parsons of USA Today offered a peek into the evolution of the company’s Sports Media Group and its underlying systems. His team worked with WordPress.com VIP to migrate a number of sites, each with its own unique theme hosted on Amazon, over to VIP. All of the sites are now under their shared Lawrence theme, with a system called Wasabi that can turn on and off features from site to site.

Here’s David explaining the history of the project and the ways working with WordPress.com VIP frees his team up to focus on what’s most important:

“When we first started off, we wanted to be as lightweight as possible and we were picking up these extremely heavy CMS’s that aren’t necessarily WordPress. So what we initially did is move everything to WordPress as fast as possible, and we hosted this ourselves on the Amazon platform. And we had site-specific themes, so every codebase for every site was completely unique.

We soon realized that there were a lot of issues with this, especially when a site goes down, or we have an issue overnight. Obviously there’s the potential of losing thousands of dollars. As soon as possible we moved to WordPress.com VIP, and we moved to a platform called Lawrence, which is essentially a shared theme. By moving to WordPress.com VIP, we were able to not worry about downtime, and whenever we push our code up for deployment, they run an additional code check to make sure we’re not pushing anything up to production that could potentially be catastrophic. Things like security we no longer have to think about. So this allows our team to focus on building awesome stuff.”

USAT-image.pngThe ability to create and launch new sites quickly, and centrally control the feature set for each one or a group of them, enabled the Sports Media Group team to quickly test a concept for a new set of NFL team sites, and then roll it out across all 32 teams:

In this next clip, David explains how the WordPress Customizer manages various look and feel elements for each site.

Site-by-site feature interface

He also describes the plugin interface, depicted above, that allows the team to easily control features site by site, and apply functionality created for one to any or all of them:

You can follow David on Twitter at @dpjustice.

And to be notified of the next BigWP event in New York, join the Meetup group. There are also enterprise events throughout the year in various other big cities.

If you’d like to hear more about how WordPress.com VIP can free your teams up to focus on publishing, get in touch.

BigWP returns to London next week

Calling all WordPress professionals in the London area! After a brief hiatus, we’re pleased to announce the return of BigWP London, when we invite enterprise-scale users of WordPress and the agencies who serve them for an evening of learning, sharing and maybe a little socialising.

BigWP Meetups are an opportunity to peer behind the curtains at some of the highest-traffic and highest-profile WordPress operations. We usually have a handful of short presentations, usually but not exclusively technical in nature, with a chance to chat and ask questions afterwards.

The first BigWP of 2017 will take place in central London on the evening of Thursday 19 January; and will be hosted by News UK, publishers of The Times and The Sun, at their offices next to The Shard.

News UK moved thesun.co.uk to WordPress.com VIP last summer, becoming the fastest growing newspaper site in the UK, with well over 20 million monthly unique visitors, and tens of millions of page views every week. They recently added Scottish and Irish editions within a WordPress multisite configuration, all managed using the same innovative extension to the WordPress Customiser. WordPress is fast becoming an important part of News Corp’s worldwide publishing infrastructure, powering more and more sites in the US, India and Australia, as well as in the UK.

The schedule will be finalised shortly, but will include presentations from the News UK team, as well as our two UK-based VIP partner agencies, Human Made (our co-sponsors for the event) and Big Bite. Come straight from work: we’ll be providing food and drink.

Capacity at the event is limited; so please sign up today via our page at meetup.com to book your place. You will need to submit a request to join the group if you aren’t already a member: this is purely to ensure the group retains its enterprise focus.

Building the Apple News WordPress Plugin

At a BigWP meetup at the New York Post, Bradford Campeau-Laurion from Alley Interactive talked about building the Apple News WordPress plugin for the New York Post.

You can view his slides here.

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

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

Building alpha.phila.gov in the open with WordPress

At a Hacks/Hackers + BigWP meetup at the Comcast Center, Karissa Demi from the City of Philadelphia talks about building alpha.phila.gov on WordPress.

View her slides here.

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

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

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