The Content Management System That Powers The World’s Leading Digital Publishers

We wanted to find out why so many leading news organizations and publishers are using WordPress as their CMS of choice

8Mar
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Wired, Quartz, Forbes, The New York Times, USA Today, Fortune.com, Reuters, Time Inc, Facebook Newsroom, TechCrunch, CNN, CBS Local, NBS, The Next Web, Metro UK, People Magazine, New York Post, TED, FiveThirtyEight, and more use WordPress.

Whether it’s providing information to help consumers make better buying decisions, publishing advice for entrepreneurs or live blogging news (journalists at The New York Times type in Slack on their phones, which integrates with WordPress), WordPress is empowering news organizations to publish content in new and innovative ways that help to increase readership. Finally, publishers are free to focus on producing dynamic news complete with audio and video without the constraints imposed by dinosaur content management systems in years past.

WordPress has become the CMS of choice for many publishers. Right now, the CMS powers 29.7% of all websites. According to WordPress.com, more than 409 million people view more than 23.6 billion pages each month, and users product 69.5 million new posts and 46.8 million new comments every month.

It’s this ubiquity that publishers have come to enjoy – WordPress is intuitive, making it easy to work with and customize. It’s also well-supported, providing a complete solution for digital publishing so they can focus on producing top-notch content.

We wanted to find out why news organizations and publishers are using WordPress. So we reached out to the tech teams of 13 digital publishers to find out how they use the CMS and what advantages it has provided for their organization.

Denver Post

Established in 1892, The Denver Post has a rich history of publishing in print. When the newspaper transitioned to online publishing, it used a homegrown CMS, which staff found complicated and difficult to use. This led to an internal push to find a new CMS and in May 2015, the newspaper transitioned to using WordPress.

The move to WordPress has enabled the newspaper’s staff to work more cohesively, interact on a greater scale with readers, and improve their SEO.

“We have zero regrets about moving to WordPress,” says Rebecca Risch, The Denver Post’s Digital Director. “Every time in my career, moving to a new CMS has been the most painful situation and everyone hates it. But when adopting WordPress, my team and I were so excited.

“The product was never a problem and it has been such a smooth transition about what it offers that nobody complains. It has been a great CMS for us. No regrets.”

Reviews.com

Reviews.com has always used WordPress, according to the site’s Director of Tech, Dennis Ma. He says the underlying reason the company chose and continues to use WordPress is that it provides all the tools publishers need for creating content and publishing online.

“We create reviews, and so we hire writers and editors who are used to using the system. We don’t need to have to re-train new hires or existing hires how to use a system, they can just use the world’s most popular blogging platform,” Ma says.

While the site uses WordPress as a foundation for its content creation and publication, Ma says his tech team isn’t tied to any defaults. The team has built a custom and dynamic CMS template using the Advanced Custom Fields plugin, which has allowed writers and editors to enter in content in a more flexible and standardized way.

“The biggest thing we’ve learned is that although we’re using WordPress, be as creative as possible and think outside the box. What you create ends up being an amazing ecosystem of plugins and features that custom fit your company’s business, creative and revenue needs,” Ma says.

Payette Forward, Inc

Payette Forward, Inc. has been using WordPress since 2013 and has a readership of 5 million people.

David Payette, Founder of Payette Forward, says the primary reason why he transitioned to using WordPress is that it is a faster and more affordable hosting option, but also allows for greater control over SEO.

“I think the number one reason that I use WP is that it's expansive and gives me the control I need to keep up with the persistent changes in SEO and speed requirements and the optimization that Google needs to rank a website near the top,” Payette says.

He says with other platforms, there was only limited control over SEO and schema beyond titles and tags.

“The built-in tools like Yoast SEO, based on what I’ve seen, goes far beyond other built-in tools,” he says. “We’re able to very successfully use Google’s new structured data types. For example, in some of our list articles, we are able to do custom that specifically sends the right kind of data to Google to display it in list form."

Using WordPress with hosting provided by Pagely, Payette says without that combination, he’s “positive I wouldn’t be able to run a website with 1.5 billion organic unique visits.”

Tech Target

With more than 140 editorial websites – many of which use WordPress – under its brand, TechTarget is the world’s largest provider of independent editorial content.

After originally using Adobe as its content management solution and finding it took too long to launch new content, TechTarget made the switch to WordPress. The move allowed the company to bring in an outside agency to design a website specific to its needs.

Garrett Mann, Director of Corporate Communications at TechTarget, says WordPress provided “speed to market.”

“It’s really easy for business users like myself to make edits, update, to add content. As long as everything is designed in the most efficient manner, then it’s really easy for us to produce and launch content on the site,” Mann says.

“That's really the best thing about WordPress. From an organizational standpoint, you're really only as good as your content and your messaging. When your system gets in the way it can cause problems. You gotta make sure it's the right type of system for your business.”

Next Luxury

Established in 2003, the Next Luxury has a long-standing tradition for educating men on what it really means to be a gentleman.

Now one of largest privately owned magazines for men in North America, Next Luxury relies on WordPress for effortless content creation.

Founder and Chairman of Next Luxury, Brian Cornwell, says WordPress has provided a solid platform for the magazine’s digital presence and the company has made it a priority to streamline the site’s backend by limiting plugins to limit security concerns and optimize performance.

“Wordpress can handle pretty much anything you throw at it. But there are a lot of hiccups along the way when your site is getting slammed with millions of visitors at once,” Cornwell says.

“Just having a server with maxed out specs isn’t going to cut it. You really need a host and team of developers that can work with you to optimize everything. There are so many little things to optimize that 99% of bloggers or gurus never talk about because they’ve never seen such high volumes of traffic.

“WP can scale but you’ve really got to dig in and optimize everything.”

The Penny Hoarder

The Penny Hoarder launched in 2010 when Founder Kyle Taylor started blogging about making and saving money. Eight years on, the site has attracted a massive following – last year it was ranked the number one fastest growing private media company in the United States for the second year in a row.

IT Director Stephen McDermott says WordPress has allowed the site’s editorial team to produce content more quickly and cheaply from a technical and time perspective compared to other content management systems.

WordPress was originally created as a blogging tool and while it has evolved beyond that, McDermott says it is perfectly set up to allow writers and editors to work on content without any IT involvement. Meanwhile, IT teams can focus on technical needs, such as major site enhancements, architecture, and code initiatives.

When it comes to keeping their site fast and secure, McDermott says the company employs best practices and a Content Delivery Network. The CDN takes the site’s content, images, and artifacts, and then distributes them to data centers across the globe. By doing this, content is delivered from the closest data center to the user, making the site faster to access.

Money Pantry

Established in 2013, MoneyPantry is a personal finance site with a focus on helping readers earn and save more money and get out of debt.

Founder Satrap Darabi says he uses site optimization techniques, such as file compression and minification, to ensure the site always runs fast for visitors.

“An average WordPress site has a few CSS files in themes and plugins. Each of those files has tons of white space that basically make the file size bigger without adding any benefit,” Darabi says. “With free tools like CSS Compressor, it takes less than a minute to get rid of all that white space.

Darabi recommends testing your website thoroughly after minifying or compressing files.

“In some cases, it may mess up your site. The good news is that CSS compressor lets you select from four levels of compression so you can find one that is the middle ground, giving you a performance boost without messing up your code.”

The Art of Manliness

With just three people working behind the scenes, Art of Manliness has become one of the largest men’s magazine’s online. How? WordPress allows the small team of writers to publish content online “without a tech guy,” according to Managing Editor Jeremy Anderberg.

Established in 2008, the site gets 10 million page views a month. Anderberg says WordPress has made it possible for publishers who don’t have technical skills to work in the digital space.

“WordPress is easy and as customizable as it gets,” says Anderberg. “It is the perfect balance of anything you can dream of your website doing.”

Modernize

Modernize brings home improvements online, publishing resources to help homeowners bring their upgrades and renovation projects to life. Over the past 10 years, the company has also built a network of trustworthy contractors across the country, helping users connect with building professionals.

Andy Michaelis, VP Software Development, says to keep their website secure, Modernize uses best practice techniques, ensuring the core WordPress software is always up-to-date. He says WordPress allows his team to continuously develop their workflow and doesn’t put limitations how fast they can develop and deploy content.

“Trust WordPress, it is not a risky decision. You’ll never go wrong – it’s industry standard and can do almost everything you want to do with flexibility,” Michaelis says. “You automatically get the best practices in SEO indexing and everything is inherently there.”

Obsev

Digital media brand Obsev produces original video and editorial focused on a generation obsessed with entertainment, lifestyle, food, and sports. So when the company needed a new CMS to handle the company’s quick content production and curation deadlines, it turned to WordPress.

The CMS has also allowed Obsev to stay connected with the online audience it built through its previous sites after they were all consolidated under the Obsev umbrella. CEO and Co-Founder Raymond Attipa says his team only uses trusted plugins that are in active development, regularly updated, and have constant support.

His advice for publishers that are considering a move to WordPress is to use plugins for what they were originally designed for rather than customize them to do more because “it leads to things breaking.”

Lions Roar

Lion’s Roar is an independent non-profit foundation whose mission is to communicate Buddhist wisdom and practices in order to benefit people’s lives and our society, and to support the development of Buddhism in the modern world.

The Lion’s Roar website was originally spread across four different platforms and was brought together as one using WordPress in 2014. Editor Sam Littlefair says since the consolidation, WordPress has provided a much more flexible and user-friendly platform for his team.

“We were a print magazine for decades before going online. By using WordPress, we were able to publish content really easily that goes directly to our readers to create a sense of community and interfacing with our audience,” Littlefair says.

“Wordpress is reliable and we have always come back to it as it’s simple, good quality, and communicative.”

Wccftech

Where Consumers Come First Tech (Wccftech) publishes content for technology enthusiasts, covering everything from general technology news and reviews to more specific niches such as PC hardware and gaming. The site also publishes financial analysis of the technology industry, providing consumers with exclusive reports.

Sohail Abid, Technologist in Residence at Wccftech, says the company chose WordPress because it was considered the “go-to open source platform to build an online news and media portal.”

He says due to its inherently flexible and customizable nature, WordPress has allowed Wccftech to work as a “proper news media organization.”

“It’s a damn good base to start your digital publication,” Abid says. “But you will need to figure out from the beginning how you want to structure your content and choose a set of plugins to help you run the whole thing.”

His advice for other news organizations using WordPress it to be “wise when selecting what best suits your needs instead of going with the first thing.”

Atlanta Black Star

The Atlanta Black Star “about page” describes the publication as being “a narrative company.” Specifically, it’s a company that publishes narratives to empower people of African descent.

In order to deliver these important stories in the fastest and most efficient way possible, Co-Founder Andre Moore says his team uses site optimization techniques such as image compression, various types of caching, as well as a CDN. Moore says it’s important to consider how fast users are able to interact with the website.

“Page speed is all about user experience. But even if your website is not the fastest on the web, if users can begin interacting almost instantly with the content above the fold, then essentially they will be experiencing a very fast loading website,” he says.

WordPress: A Leading Digital Publishing Platform

For many publishers and news organizations, WordPress provides the ease of use needed to non-technical writers and editors to work online, while also being customizable and providing the security needed by IT teams.

What all of the organizations featured in this article have in common is the need for producing and publishing content easily, quickly and efficiently for readers – publishers that are working to deadlines don’t have time to deal with complicated content management systems.

WordPress is a platform that is easily customizable and flexible to use for both technical and not-so-technical people, and does it all while adhering to standard best practices in SEO and security. For larger publishers, make sure you're choosing the best web host to handle your traffic, promotions, and sensitive data.

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