Using WordPress Multisite to power a group of publishing brands
With guidance to Vitesse’s strategic goals we set about solving their problems.
The core of what we implemented for them is a WordPress Multisite that has been heavily customised to meet their specific needs.
Now all of the Vitesse sites run off a single WordPress installation that is configured a single time. Only one site needs to be updated when WordPress is updated and one set of plugins taken care of when that time comes. Otherwise, dozens of sites may need updated independently.
Customisable, Brandable Theme that encourages engagement.
The presentation layer on top of all their sites is a custom theme that retains the same design language across all of their online properties. This theme is powered by Twig and Timber with support for the WordPress Customiser Built In.
The WordPress Customiser is a strange feature for us to use in a project. It’s meant to be used by generic theme authors to provide customisation options for purchased themes and reduce the need to private theme customisation frameworks.
We built all kinds of nice features to increase over all engagement with the site and increase the Pages Per View that Vitesse gets across their network. Clever use of Infinite Scroll on Archive and Post pages moves you through relevant content easily – increasing the consumption and reducing the discover effort on the part of the user. Google Analytics is integrated with these features to make sure that evert possible interaction and page view is accounted for.The Question and Answer sections of the adds a sticky element that encourages return visits and user generate content for the site. Invaluable in helping Vitesse plan future content and swelling the pages against which they can advertise.
Campaign Monitor Integration
Vitesse engages in a lot of email marketing. We helped them simplify a massive amount of Campaign Monitor Lists into a few key lists with better segmentation. These lists reflect the email subscriptions that users sign up for by adding and removing them from defined segments within Campaign monitor depending on actions they take on the Vitesse network of sites.
The Campaign monitor integration is total, as users update their information in the Vitesse profile or in their Preference Center. Their information is also updated in Campaign Monitor allowing them to be segment further and further for incredibly targeted and specific email delivery campaigns.
Some content deserves more coverage than others. Sometime a story is valuable and important, sometime it just has a great click through rates and you want to make the most of it. We’ve provided Vitesse’s Editorial team with Tools to Keep great posts available longer with “Editor’s Picks” and other featured content systems.
WooCommerce, Subscriptions & Groups to provide members only content.
Along side their stand alone brand and freely published content Vitesse published members only content that customers subscribe to receive. The way WooCommerce subscriptions normally work we would have had to have a separate installation of WooCommerce for each and every site all with individual products and subscriptions. We didn’t want this, that would’ve been expensive for Vitesse to maintain and promote.
Instead, our WordPress Multisite has a core eCommerce site where users purchase their subscriptions and other Vitesse Media products. These subscriptions place them in membership Groups that can be accessed by every site in the multisite, allowing central control of user subscriptions across the entire network of sites from a single location.
Global User Management
Adding to the complexity of the WooCommerce Subscriptions and Groups solution is the need for a global user database. This is provided by WordPress multisite. We can assign editors to roles on a site by site basis but we made the ordinary members of the site global across the network so a registration on one site was a registration on every site.
We used Gravity Forms’ mature user management plugins to provide the user profiles and registration forms. This was to provide easy integration with other service providers that Vitesse uses, rather than reinventing the wheel. Unfortunately, Gravity Forms doesn’t play well with Multisite out of the box so we developed a solution that allows for forms to be created in Gravity Forms on the main website and then reused across all of the sites in the multisite.
To further increase engagement and meet sales goals we helped vitesse develop a series of custom widgets for WordPress. These widgets covered a series of use cases from their Custom Newsletter sign up as part of the Campaign Monitor integration, to pulling related products from the central WooCommerce store into each page page view.
We also provide Advertising Widgets and a custom popular posts widget. Popular Posts widgets are a common thing but they are resource intensive, particularly when used on high traffic sites. They are all banned from the Managed Host Vitesse is running their platform on. So we had to custom create a widget that met their struct requirements of their host.
Importing Massive amounts of Posts
Vitesse had amassed massive amounts of content across various platforms and sites that were all managed separately. Each site has about 10 years of content and around 20,000 posts.
We managed to import the content from the different systems by writing a custom extension to the WordPress Importer that mapped taxonomies, fetched images, merged categories and created rewrite rules to that the old links would continue to work and Search Rankings Built over the years not be lost.
As an advertising funded site we integrated a variety of advertising features for Vitesse across their network.
Their primary advertiser is Google Doubleclick for Publishers. We provided tools for them to introduce Adverts in sidebars via widgets, in their content via Shortcodes, in their post archives vis placements in their grids and globally in defined places around the site.
We also integrated more native advertising via Nativo and several other providers.
Because the site uses so many extra engagement features we have to be careful to fully trigger all the adverts so that impressions are counted correctly. Particularly when the infinite scroll is involved as we do not have a standard “page view”.