Introducing our newest Largo redesign: Workday Minnesota

Workday Minnesota began publishing in 2000 with support from Minnesota’s labor community and was the first online labor news publication in the United States. Since then, Workday has won many awards and has grown to be a trusted source for news about workers, the economy, worker organizations, and Minnesota communities. It is a project of the Labor Education Service at the University of Minnesota.

This summer, INN Labs teamed up with Workday Minnesota’s editor, Filiberto Nolasco Gomez, and webmaster John See to migrate their outdated Drupal site to the Largo WordPress framework and redesign their brand.

Our goals for this project were to:

  • give Workday Minnestoa a streamlined and modern look and feel
  • improve site performance for readers and usability on the back-end for editors
  • enhance the design and improve engagement for Workday’s long-form investigative pieces
  • empower the Workday team to easily manage and update their WordPress site after launch

Some of our design inspiration came from INN Members with bold, modern designs (such as The Marshall Project, The Intercept and Reveal News) and some from outside of our industry, like nowness.com. We wanted clean, bold headlines, a thoughtful type hierarchy, and a way for photos to take center stage. 

Here's what Filiberto had to say:

“We focused on what it would take to rebuild Workday to be responsive to our readers and enhance investigative reporting. The new website will allow us to display long-form and investigative journalism in a more attractive and readable interface. This version of Workday will also allow us to effectively use multimedia segments to make what can sometimes be dense material more approachable.”

The INN Labs team is excited for this new phase of Workday Minnesota and thankful for the opportunity to help bring it to life.

Out with the old, in with the new

Before and after the workdayminnesota.org redesign.

We created a custom homepage layout that showcases Workday’s latest content with a clean and modern look.

Benefits of this custom homepage are big visuals for larger screens and ease of navigation on smaller screens. Workday editors have room for both curated news from around the web (using the Link Roundups plugin) and their most recently published articles.

A sleek and modern article layout

Workday Minnesota articles, before and after.
A typical Workday Minnesota article, before and after.

Article pages continue the sleek, clean design approach. We left out ads and ineffective sidebars in order to prioritize long reads with custom-designed pull quotes and large, responsively embedded photos and videos. Behind the scenes, our Largo framework works with the new WordPress Gutenberg editor to add essential editing tools for media organizations.

Workday Minnesota's redesign is responsive to all devices.

But wait – there’s more!

We couldn’t stop with just a website redesign without also giving attention to the heart of the brand – the logo. The redesigned logo builds off of the modern, new typefaces for the website and its bold use of the Minnesota state outline (Filiberto’s idea!) is great for lasting brand recognition. In the process of creating the logo, we also incorporated a new tagline that succinctly expresses the mission of Workday Minnesota: “Holding the powerful accountable through the perspective of workers.” The new logo is now being used on the website and across Workday’s social media channels.

Workday Minnesota's new logos.

Questions? Get in touch.

Have a question for our team or need help with WordPress design and/or development? Check out INN Labs full services here, join us for one of our weekly Office Hours, or get in touch!

Largo site wins Cleveland Press Club magazine website award

Ben Keith and Lucia Walinchus with Eye on Ohio's first-place award for magazine website.

A photograph of an engraved wood plaque.
The award plaque.

We're happy to relay the news that INN Member Eye on Ohio won First Place Magazine Website in the Press Club of Cleveland's annual All-Ohio Excellence in Journalism Awards. We thank the Club and the judges for their consideration and congratulate Eye on Ohio for their success.

Magazine Website
First place: EyeonOhio.com
Lucia Walinchus, Ben Keith, Eye on Ohio

Eye on Ohio is built using INN Labs' Largo WordPress theme, which is the fruit of many years' work by contributors at INN, at NPR, and from the greater WordPress community. Eye on Ohio executive director listed Labs' lead developer, Ben Keith, as the second contact on the awards for his contributions as an INN Labs employee in Ohio.

Beyond Ben, contributors to Largo include past and present INN staff, folks at NPR's former Project Argo, and community contributors from across the web. We've got a full list in Largo's README over on GitHub.

New Plugin Launch: Republication Tracker Tool

INN Labs is happy to announce our newest plugin, the Republication Tracker Tool.

The Republication Tracker Tool allows publishers to share their stories by other websites and then track engagement of those shared stories with Google Analytics. The technology behind this tracking is similar to ProPublica’s PixelPing.

Why Might You Want to Use This Plugin?

  • Grow your audience and pageviews: Other publishers and readers acquire and re-distribute your content with a Creative-Commons license.
  • Better republishing reporting: View what publishers that are republishing your content and analyze engagement.
  • Foster collaborations: Gather supporting data to build relationships with other publishers who may be republishing your content.

How Publishers Republish Your Content

A simple “Republish This Story” button is added to your posts through a WordPress widget. This enables your stories to be republished by other sites who may want to use it and then to track engagement of those republished stories via Google Analytics

Sample republication button (style can be customized).

Track Republished Posts in WordPress

Once one of your stories has been republished, you will easily be able to see how many times it has been republished, how many republished views it has, who has republished it, and the URL of where it was republished, all from the WordPress edit screen for that story.

Example of republication data in the edit screen of a WordPress post.

Track Republished Posts in Google Analytics

Another valuable feature of the Republication Tracker Tool is all of your republished post data is also tracked in your Google Analytics account. Once you have your Google Analytics ID configured in the Republication Tracker Tool settings, you will be able to log into Google Analytics and view who has republished your stories, who is republishing most of your stories, and more.

Example of republication data within Google Analytics.

More Information and Feedback

For more information about how the plugin works:

You can download the Republication Tracker Tool from the WordPress.org plugin repository or through your website’s WordPress plugin page.

The initial release of this plugin was made possible by valuable INN member testing and feedback. If your organization uses the plugin, please let us know and continue sending us suggestions for improvement. Thank you!

The Republication Tracker Tool is one of the many WordPress plugins maintained by INN Labs, the tech and product team at the Institute for Nonprofit News.

Announcing Version 1.0 of the Link Roundups Plugin

INN Labs is pleased to announce an important update to the Link Roundups plugin!

If you run a daily or weekly newsletter collecting headlines from around the state, region, or within a particular industry, the Link Roundups plugin will make it easier to build and feed your aggregation posts into MailChimp.

The Link Roundups plugin helps editors aggregate links from around the web and save them in WordPress as “Saved Links”. You can publish these curated links in a Link Roundup (more below), display Saved Links and Link Roundups in widgets and posts in your WordPress site, or push Link Roundups directly to subscribers via MailChimp. It's designed to replace scattered link-gathering workflows that may span email, Slack, Google Docs and spreadsheets and streamlines collaborations between different staffers.

Why might you want to use this plugin? Here are a few reasons:

  • It creates a single destination for collecting links and metadata
  • On sites that publish infrequently, it provides recently published (curated) content for your readers
  • Weekly roundup newsletters or posts are a great way to recap your own site's coverage and build and diversify your audience, which can increase donations

Saved Links

The central function of the Link Roundups plugin is the Saved Link. It's a way of storing links in your WordPress database, alongside metadata such as the link's title, source site, and your description of the link's contents.

A screenshot of the Saved Links interface, showing many saved links and their respective metadata: authors, links, descriptions, and tags.

Save to Site Bookmarklet

When WordPress 4.9 removed the "Press This" functionality, this plugin's bookmarklet broke. This release's updates to the Saved Links functionality include a renewal of the "Save to Site" bookmarklet, based off of the canonical Press This plugin's functions. If your site has the WordPress-maintained Press This plugin active, your site users will be able to generate new bookmarklets. We include instructions on how to use the bookmarklet in the latest release.

A screenshot of the "Save to Site" button and its copy button

Once you've accumulated a few Saved Links, you can display them on your site using the Saved Links Widget or start to create Link Roundups (see next).

Saved Links Widget

Common uses of this widget include "coverage from around the state" or "recommended reads" or "from our partners" links.

It's a good way to point your to expert coverage from newsrooms you partner with. With the ability to sort Saved Links by tag, you can easily filter a widget to only show a selection of all the links saved on your site. Here's how Energy News Network uses the widget:

A screenshot of the widget as it appears at Energy News Network, showing a selection of links from the last day.
A screenshot of the widget as it appears at Energy News Network, showing a selection of links from the last day.

Link Roundups

Link Roundups are one of the best ways to present Saved Links to your readers. Collect links with Saved Links, then create a Link Roundup post with the week's curated links. The person who assembles the Link Roundup doesn't have to deal with messy cut-and-paste formatting or composing blurbs — when your users create Saved Links, they're already adding headlines, blurbs, and sources.

Add some opening and closing text, and you're most of the way to having composed a morning or weekly news roundup.

Link Roundups are a custom post type with all the Classic Editor tools and an easy interface for creating lists of Saved Links. As a separate post type, they can be integrated into your site's standard lists of posts or kept separate in their own taxonomies. You don't have to integrate the roundups with your standard posts flow; it's why we provide a Link Roundups widget to fulfill your widget area needs.

MailChimp Integration

Link Roundups don't have to stay on your site. If you configure your site to connect to the MailChimp API and create a newsletter template with editable content areas, you can send a Link Roundup directly to MailChimp from WordPress.

From the Link Roundup editor, you can choose a mailing list, and create MailChimp campaign drafts, send test emails, and send drafted campaigns directly. If you'd rather open a draft campaign in MailChimp to finalize the copy, there's a handy link to your draft campaign.

A screenshot of a settings metabox: choose a campaign type of regular or text. Choose a list to send to: the Link Roundups Mailchimp Tools Test list, with the group "are they Ben" option chosen: "Ben". The campaign title will be "Test Title Three Title", the test subject will be "Test Title Three Subject", and the template will be "Link Roundups Test 2"
Here's the MailChimp settings for the Link Roundups campaign editor: Many of the controls that you'd want to use to create and send a draft campaign.

More information

For more information about how the plugin works, see the Largo guide for administrators, the plugin's documentation on GitHub, or drop by one of our weekly open office hours sessions with your questions. You can also reach us by email at support@inn.org.

If you already have the Link Roundups plugin installed, keep an eye out for an update notice in your WordPress dashboard. If you'd like to install it, download it from the WordPress.org plugin repository or through your site dashboard's plugin page.

This update was funded in part by Energy News Network and Fresh Energy, with additional funding thanks to the generous support of the Democracy Fund, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Fund, Open Society Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Link Roundups is one of the many WordPress plugins maintained by INN Labs, the tech and product team at the Institute for Nonprofit News.

Announcing Largo 0.6.1

WordPress 5.0 and the Gutenberg editor present a perfect opportunity to incorporate new best practices from the WordPress industry in our work. With a more streamlined end-user experience, individual organizations will be empowered to truly make their Largo sites their own. But we're also invested in making the developer experience easier.

Continue reading "Announcing Largo 0.6.1"

WordPress 5.0 and your news organization

WordPress 5.0 was released Decmber 6, 2018 and brings a wealth of new features, including a new post editor.

The new post editor included in WordPress 5.0 called "Gutenberg" provides a more-visual interface that is "block-based." Everything now becomes a block, including "Custom HTML" blocks and shortcodes. Your old content will remain unchanged, but newly-written posts have many new options for customization to drive engagement and increase readers' time on your site.

Continue reading "WordPress 5.0 and your news organization"

Announcing: Pym.js Embeds version 1.3.2.1

The INN Labs team is issuing a major, Gutenberg-friendly update to the Pym.js Embeds WordPress plugin, formerly known as the Pym Shortcode plugin, which improves presentations of data journalism.

The Pym.js Embeds plugin creates a better experience for the reader with responsive embeds that scale to fit the story, reduces workflows for data journalists, and removes the need for tricky embed workarounds.

For more details, see our latest announcement. You can also learn more about the latest release on GitHub and download the plugin from WordPress.org.

Introducing the New Montana Free Press Website

Montana Free Press screenshot

The Montana Free Press is a digital investigative news outlet covering government, social justice, environmental issues and other beats in the Big Sky State.

Investigative journalist John S. Adams founded the Montana Free Press in 2015 and joined INN shortly thereafter. MTFP has been publishing stories on its own site and with partner organizations in Montana since its debut; this summer, INN Labs joined up with MTFP to migrate the site to the Largo framework.

Our goals for the project were to:

  • give MTFP a streamlined, modern look and feel
  • improve the usability of the site for MTFP editors, media partners, and readers
  • create new and better pathways to raise revenue on the site
  • engage the public and enhance the stories as valuable public resources

Some of our design inspiration came from INN Members (lookin’ at you, The Marshall Project, Mother Jones, and The Texas Tribune) and some from outside of our industry. We wanted big, bold headlines, a thoughtful type hierarchy, and a clean, modern way to highlight MTFP’s stories — both the latest developments and the long-term investigations.

Here's what John had to say:

“The new MontanaFreePress.org website is a huge upgrade, and major turning point for our growing nonprofit news organization. The INN Labs team took the time to understand exactly what our needs are and helped us design a beautiful and more functional website that improves reader experience and readability and gives us the tools we need to strategically grow our audience.”

Out with the old, in with the new

The Montana Free Press homepage, before and after INN Labs redesigned it.

Since MTFP typically publishes longer, analytical and investigative stories rather than quick-hit spot news, we created a fully custom homepage that emphasized their premium content. This gave us a great opportunity to try a different, clean and modern look for the layout.

Benefits of this custom homepage are big visuals for larger screens and ease of navigation on smaller screens. MTFP editors have room for both curated story choices and the most recently published articles.

A fresh and modern story layout

The Montana Free Press homepage, before and after INN Labs redesigned it.
A typical Montana Free Press article, before and after.

Article pages continue the sleek, clean design philosophy. We left out intrusive ads and ineffective sidebars in order to prioritize long reads, with easy-to-read text and large, responsively embedded photos and videos. Behind the scenes, our Largo framework adds tools for media organizations that WordPress lacks out of the box, which helps make it easier to keep content organized by author and category.

We didn't do it alone

The new Montana Free Press site on mobile.Continuing with the “fresh new look” theme, MTFP’s designer Clint McFarlin created a new logo package to launch in concert with the new website and provided direction on layouts. We collaborated with Clint to find colors and typefaces that stood out from the crowd and worked well with the new branding, as well as on the overall layout and design of the new site.

Upwards and onwards

We’re excited to have made the Montana Free Press site easier to use while improving the experience for their readers.

Next, we’ll be helping MTFP implement a new donation process as part of NewsMatch.

Looking for a website refresh of your own or have a digital project you’d like to discuss? Get in touch with us at labs@inn.org or via this form.

Plugin Release: Disclaimers

Let's start with some ancient history. Our flagship WordPress theme, Largo, descends from work that NPR did in the early 2010s under the name The Argo Network. The network's work included best-practices recommendations for working with WordPress in news, published at the Argo Project, and an open-source WordPress theme called Argo, which INN forked in 2012.

Fast-forward a few years. INN was working on a big refresh of WisconsinWatch.org for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, and was bringing in new features in Largo to support that refresh. The 0.4 release of Largo included a disclaimer widget that could be used to provide site-wide or per-article disclaimers and disclosures.

Today, we're happy to announce that that functionality is available to all WordPress users, with the launch of the Disclaimers plugin. 🎉

The plugin's site-wide settings page, showing an example setting of "This is an example sitewide disclaimer."
The plugin's site-wide settings page, showing an example setting.

The widget settings page, showing the Disclaimers widget added to the "Article Bottom" widget area. The active theme is Largo.
The widget settings page, showing the Disclaimers widget added to the "Article Bottom" widget area. The active theme is Largo.

The Disclaimers widget, displaying a sitewide disclaimer, set at the bottom of an article.
The Disclaimers widget, displaying a sitewide disclaimer, set at the bottom of an article using the Largo theme.

With the Twenty Seventeen theme active, this site has chosen to put the Disclaimer widget at the top of the sidebar.
With the Twenty Seventeen theme active, this site has chosen to put the Disclaimer widget at the top of the sidebar.

Here's what the per-post settings look like on a site using the Gutenberg editor plugin. The same subset of HTML is supported in this box as your site supports in the post body.
Here's what the per-post settings look like on a site using the Gutenberg editor plugin. The same subset of HTML is supported in this box as your site supports in the post body.

A screenshot of a post in Twenty Seventeen displaying a more-complex disclaimer with HTML bold, strong, emphasized, italic, and link tags in use.
A screenshot of a post in Twenty Seventeen displaying a more-complex disclaimer with HTML bold, strong, emphasized, italic, and link tags in use.

Largo sites running any current version of Largo don't need to install this plugin now, but we will be removing the corresponding disclaimers functionality from Largo in the next release. The migration process will be as painless as we can make it, with all your existing disclaimers carried forward.

Stay tuned for more plugin announcements in the coming months! You can subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Twitter at @innnerds to receive updates. Or, just watch our blog here. We even have an RSS feed!

Chrome to uphold ‘Better Ads Standards:’ What this means for your site

Source: The Coalition for Better Ads

Google recently announced Chrome's plans to participate in The Coalition for Better Ads' Better Ads Experience Program and support the Better Ads Standards. Sites are currently being reviewed for any violations of these standards. Continue reading "Chrome to uphold ‘Better Ads Standards:’ What this means for your site"