Thinking » Topics » Content Management Systems
The WordPress Zone Manager plugin—alias The Zoninator—helps site admins curate content by allowing them to create content “zones” anywhere on their website. Content is then assigned to designated zones and ordered based on criteria configured on the backend. Oomph’s Vu Huynh has been working to optimize the power of Zone Manager for our clients, and we sat down with him to talk about what’s possible with The Zoninator.
What are some of the key benefits of the Zone Manager plugin?
Zone Manager provides an easy-to-use administrator interface to queue posts in any order without any programming knowledge. This is particularly useful when a certain post order cannot be easily made through a query. Zones can be quickly added, edited and deleted through the admin interface.
How have you been using Zone Manager?
I’ve been using Zone Manager as a means to “feature” posts on a homepage and a homepage-placed sidebar. Administrators can have a specific post remain on the homepage even if the post would normally be archived because of its publish date. Zones are sometimes used as an alternative to stickies when you want to have a featured post remain on the homepage despite its place in the chronological order.
What else is possible with Zone Manager?
Any content type can be placed into zones, not just posts and pages. So anything that queues content into a list can use Zoninator as an interface to do so, such as a custom gallery.
Radar Online, a 24/7 entertainment website, is the most recent online publication to get a facelift from American Media, Inc.—and AMI chose Oomph as the digital surgeons for the procedure.
AMI asked Oomph to implement a new site design they’d drafted in-house, but they needed more than just a front-end polish. Essentially, they wanted us to rebuild the site and give it a new, stronger infrastructure capable of handling high traffic while maintaining reliable, efficient performance. Our discovery team recommended WordPress.com VIP as the choice content management platform for the new Radar Online. As part of the move, we migrated nearly half a million records, including 50,000 image galleries, from their old system to WordPress. We also improved the user experience with the implementation of a cleaner, more attractive front-end appearance.
Oomph’s team of developers did something else unique for Radar: By maintaining the very same URL structure, wherever possible, we helped them avoid the blips in SEO retention that tend to happen when a site moves to a new CMS. Finally, we staffed the Radar Online launch—something we consider to be one of the most important parts of any project. Oomph team members were on-site alongside Radar staff to provide quality assurance and real time problem solving, which not only helped their team feel more secure on such an important day, but also provided a level of crisis management training that they could draw from in the future.
Our collaboration with AMI and Radar is just the beginning of this relationship. The Oomph team is already at work on another major AMI site.
The first annual WordCamp Providence was held on October 27th. The sold out event brought 200 WordPress developers, designers and the WordPress curious out to the University of Rhode Island campus.
Being a developer, my main focus for WordCamp was the Shipbuilding track. Jon Bishop started off the talks with best practices for providing clients with an admin that will fit their needs and not add unnecessary complexity. Aaron Holbrook followed up by showing how using version control — specifically git — will aid in code maintenance and rapid deployment.
The morning session concluded with Automattic’s John James Jacoby discussing how to secure your code from potentially malicious data, methods of testing your code and the advantage of using xdebug to step through not just your code, but WordPress core as well. John’s IDE of choice is Netbeans, which works very well with xdebug. I tried Netbeans a couple years ago, but switched away. After John’s talk, seeing how easy it is to step through code and access the code to core functions, I’ve switched back. The latest version is a vast improvement in performance and functionality; I strongly suggest giving it a try. Unfortunately, John didn’t provide links, if that changes, I’ll post an update.
Oomph’s own Ben Doherty started the mid-day portion of the developer track with a talk on implementing object oriented programming into theme development. Ben explained how using OOP principals in theme development will result in code modules that can be easily reused in other themes, providing consistency in development. He touched on how to set up a development environment for debugging, different implementations of a singleton, and using actions and filters for accessing class methods. You can read through his presentation at http://bendoh.github.com/WordCamp/wcpvd-2012-oop/
Jon Desiosiers broke down the fundamentals of plugin development, including best practices and what to do when you get stuck. Matthew Boynes built upon Aaron Holbrook’s talk by demonstrating how to use git and a WordPress multisite implementation to develop and deploy code between a local development environment and a hosted staging or production server. You can watch his entire presentation at http://boyn.es/2012/10/28/wordcamp-providence-2012-presentation/
In the home stretch of the Shipbuilding track, K. Adam White talked about Backbone.js and Underscore.js, two new libraries that will be available in WordPress 3.5. These libraries can provide structure to jQuery code via a modified implementation of MVC (Model, View, Collection). The track was concluded by Oomph developer turned Automattician Erick Hitter’s reprising of his WordCamp Boston talk on going beyond the codex and learning more about WordPress by looking at the core files. Erick breaks down the structure of core and where to start looking for the function or filter that will best suit your needs.
Providence’s first WordCamp was a great success, with fantastic speakers and a good vibe all around. I congratulate the organizers for a well planned event and I look forward to next year.
The professional and creative relationship we’ve built over the years with Automattic, Inc., and its WordPress.com VIP team, has always been a source of pride at Oomph. Today it brings me great pleasure to announce that our valued relationship has been formalized. Oomph is now an official WordPress.com VIP Featured Partner, certified and recognized by Automattic to provide the high-quality service made standard by the web-publishing pioneer.
Automattic began rolling out its Featured Partner Program a few months ago starting with online services such as Chartbeat and Ooyala and then followed by the addition of hosting services such as WP Engine and GoDaddy. Today, they launch an agency component of which Oomph is now a part.
We’ve been fortunate to work with some incredible WordPress.com VIP clients, like NBC Universal, Research in Motion, Intuit, and VentureBeat to name a few, and with this exciting new honor we’re even more energized by the possibilities ahead. Powered by our partnership with Automattic, Oomph continues to be a leading agency in enterprise WordPress deployments.
Olympic Press Box site the latest successful collaboration
As the 2012 Summer Olympics plays on in London, stories of inspiration and victory are being reported at breakneck speeds in what is surely a personal best for the sports media world. We’re proud to say we had a hand in helping NBC Sports achieve this win with the design and development of the NBC Sports Group Press Box site. Adhering to the gold standards of NBC branding, our team designed and launched a site using the WordPress platform and hosted on WordPress.com VIP that allows for quick, easy and complete content sharing across mobile, tablet and laptop screens.
July 14th marked the beginning of yet another successful WordCamp in the City on a Hill, making it Boston’s third time to host the event. Approximately 600 speakers, attendees and volunteers arrived at Boston University from all over the world to congregate around a common entity, our beloved WordPress.
Earlier this month, approximately 600 of my closest friends and I attended WordCamp Boston. This was my first experience at a WordCamp, and it did not disappoint. I attended several great talks, but one caught my attention: Aaron Jorbin’s “Developing an Automated Workflow for Front End Development“. This was a presentation packed with applications and utilites to aid in reducing development bottlenecks.
Mr. Jorbin suggests utilizing the command line, using dotfiles, and using tab completion to speed up the process. Taking advantage of hooks in git will help to automate workflow, or use your computer’s camera to take a photo of you on a commit.
Mr. Jorbin crammed an almost overwhelming amount of information into the short amount of time he had to present. I have only scratched the surface. I strongly suggest reading through the blog post and trying out some of the tools he has listed there. I’m planning on incorporating some of them myself and I would love to hear what tools you have found useful.