WordPress for Publishers: A Study of the Digital Newsroom
WP Engine Agency Partner Big Bite tracks the outsized role WordPress has played in the evolution of digital publishing
In today’s digital-first world, it’s hard to imagine a time when newspapers were only consumed in physical, print form.
Even though that was just over 30 years ago, newspapers and publishers at large have undergone a massive digital transformation in the time since—news is now primarily consumed online, and the vast majority of newspapers rely on their digital presence as a primary source of readership.
Over the past decade, WordPress has played a growing role in this editorial evolution, serving as a leading publishing solution for global digital newsrooms and large-scale enterprise organizations.
From the expansive catalog of WordPress plugins to the Gutenberg editor to the rise of WordPress as a headless solution, digital agency Big Bite’s recent whitepaper: WordPress in the newsroom: Scaling up editorial production takes a closer look at the reasons why WordPress is fast becoming the platform of choice for news organizations of all sizes.
Read on for a preview of the report and check out the full whitepaper for more detail. Here’s what you’ll learn about:
The Changing Newsroom: From Broadsheets to Broadband
Founded in 2011, Big Bite is an enterprise WordPress agency and WP Engine Agency Partner that specializes in meeting the bespoke needs of enterprise organizations, including large-scale digital newsrooms such as The Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Based on experience and insights its team has gained from enabling international publishers and national newspapers to more effectively create content online, the agency’s recent whitepaper provides a hands-on guide for publishers interested in exploring WordPress for the first time or doing more with the WordPress sites they currently have in place.
From the early days of digital newsrooms to key moments in online publishing, the whitepaper examines the introduction of WordPress as an editorial tool for just about any type of online content, as well as its rise to become the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world.
Beyond its core functionality, WordPress has grown to incorporate numerous tools and features that have amplified its digital publishing potential. The wide selection of WordPress plugins, or modular code, which allow WordPress users to easily extend their sites with added functionality, is undoubtedly at the top of the list. As the report states:
While remaining an open source solution, WordPress very quickly evolved to include plugin architecture which transformed the platform for the wider development community. The approach enabled it to retain a core product with functionality that’s useful for the vast majority of users, while also enabling developers to create further features to enrich it for specific publishing needs.
In addition to plugins, WordPress has seen its capabilities further expand over the years with the addition of flexible themes, Custom Post Types, and the introduction of APIs and multisite capabilities, all of which have enabled developers to customize WordPress to meet a much wider scope of requirements—for digital newsrooms and beyond.
The Gutenberg Effect
In 2018, WordPress revolutionized its content creation experience with the introduction of the Gutenberg or block editor, a new editing experience that replaced the classic WYSIWYG framework with a more visual UI. Per Big Bite’s report:
The benefits of Gutenberg are far and wide, and in the few short years since its release, the editor has evolved to include widespread, block-based functionality (extending into projects like Full Site Editing), that empowers digital content creators with needed agility.
For global newsrooms specifically, Gutenberg has been a game-changer, providing team members of all (or no) technical backgrounds with the ability to create and publish websites, pages, and other powerful pieces of content without eating up development resources.
Big Bite was an early adopter of the Gutenberg editor, and over the past three years, the agency has used it to transform content production for a range of world-leading news organizations.
Overcoming Common Challenges With Gutenberg
By delivering ongoing services for some of the world’s largest publishers, Big Bite has gleaned valuable insights into the challenges these organizations face, which often prevent teams from posting news as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
As outlined in the whitepaper, a common culprit is the continued reliance on outdated systems that prevent agility when news organizations need it most:
In our experience, many issues are due to the limitations of archaic publishing systems and legacy solutions that have been implemented during the rapid rise of online news and have since become bloated, inflexible and outpaced by a fast moving sector, restricting and hindering production processes rather than supporting efficient workflows.
WordPress, and Gutenberg specifically, have fundamentally changed this dynamic, providing global content creators and enterprise organizations with an efficient, exciting way to respond to these challenges.
Gutenberg’s block-based experience provides content creators with a wide list of options and benefits including minimal UI, rich media embeds, modular design, post templates, extendable functionality, and more. Check out Big Bite’s whitepaper for more detail on each one.
Meeting the Needs of Today’s Digital Newsrooms
Because the Gutenberg editor provides such unprecedented agility, it enables enterprise WordPress agencies like Big Bite to develop custom blocks, components, and tools on top of WordPress and WP Engine to dramatically improve content production processes.
News UK, an early adopter of the block editor, offers a prime example of this, highlighting the way Gutenberg’s extensive functionality can be used to power large-scale news organizations.
Per the report, after streamlining its publishing workflows with Gutenberg, News UK reported a 30% reduction in the number of clicks to publish an article and an incredible 60% improvement in time to publish, freeing up journalists to focus on producing high-quality content.
While Big Bite is able to help its clients realize these results using Gutenberg as a base editor, the agency has also created custom Gutenberg components, collectively known as NewsPress, which are used by News UK as well as other news organizations including The Sun and The Wall Street Journal.
Highlighting the way Gutenberg can be extended to meet the specific needs of global newsrooms, Big Bite’s whitepaper offers a closer look at a few of these custom components, including its Collage Creator tool, its Liveblog plugin, and improvements the Big Bite team has made to existing revision features within WordPress.
Check out the whitepaper to find out more!
About Big Bite
Big Bite is a WP Engine Agency Partner that works directly with clients from around the globe to build robust solutions on WordPress—the platform that powers more than 40% of the web. As a WordPress VIP Gold Partner, Big Bite’s products and services span a wide range of solutions including editorial workflows and tools, multi-site and syndication workflows, and site migrations to the new Gutenberg editor. Visit Big Bite to find out more!
About WP Engine
WP Engine, the WordPress technology company, provides the most relied upon and trusted brands and developer-centric WordPress products for companies and agencies of all sizes, including managed WordPress hosting, enterprise WordPress, Headless WordPress, Flywheel, Local, and Genesis. WP Engine’s tech innovation and award-winning WordPress experts help to power more than 1.5 million sites across 150 countries.
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