Last week, we announced WP Engine’s partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to launch Amazon Polly, a plugin that enables open source integration for AWS’s text-to-speech functionality with WordPress. This plugin is huge for WordPress users who want to add extra functionality and accessibility to their WordPress site.
To help familiarize you with the plugin and the opportunities it brings WordPress site owners and users, I sat down with Steven Word, a WP Engine WordPress Core Engineer who helped integrate Polly with WordPress. We learned about how Amazon Polly works with WordPress sites, who will benefit most from the plugin and more.
How did you get involved in this project?
I was introduced to the Polly team and they wanted to create a WordPress plugin, something that they had never done before. This will be Amazon’s first plugin for WordPress. Myself and other WP Engine developers got involved to help make the process of development smoother and speedier. The plugin was already in pretty good shape so we helped expand the already existing features. We collaborated and worked together to make the plugin scale appropriately.
What about this plugin is most exciting for WordPress users?
I really like the podcast feature. It gives WordPress users the chance to interact with a WordPress site with their ears rather than their eyes; this opens up the door to consume content in a more passive way. You won’t need to allocate time to read content during the day-you’ll be able to listen when you’re driving, on the bus, or wherever you’d listen to music.
For content creators, this plugin gives the potential for more exposure. Traditionally, you wouldn’t find this type of content in the Apple Store, for instance. Content creators will be able to provide multiple avenues for users to consume their content.
How do you see this plugin evolving?
We plan to evolve the product to become more and more accessible. In its current state, it’s not replacing a screen reader but that’s a step we’d like to take soon. Currently, a lot of screen readers can tend to sound robotic so we’d like to incorporate natural voice into that functionality. Also, we’ll be adding support for changing the speech rate-allowing users to speed up or slow down the voice.
Is this plugin more relevant to certain industries?
It caters to people who produce a lot of content. Especially, for the podcast side of things. Media outlets and publishers have a lot to gain here, as opposed to sites that cater to the service sector like restaurants. However, you can voice any content. If you are a site that provides recipes, with the help of Polly, the recipe could be read to your users.
What’s most exciting about this project for you?
It’s really exciting to work in a space that is being explored for the first time. Bridging the gap between podcasts and readable content is going to provide a solution for people who want to consume content but can’t necessarily read it from a screen. Politico has a newsletter that goes out every morning and they plan to use it for that. Now people don’t have to allow time to consume that content-instead it can be incorporated into their daily commute or workout.
Want to learn more about Amazon Polly and how it will help enhance digital experiences on your WordPress site? Check out our Amazon Polly feature in the WP Engine Solution Center.