Showcasing the Showcase

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Last weekend at WordCamp Miami we had front-row seats to Douglas Hanna‘s wonderful presentation on the WordPress showcase. Douglas works for Automattic and runs the WordPress.org Showcase, and for a half hour he talked about what it is, provided some great examples of some sites in the showcase, and talked about how you can get your site listed. Here’s a short review of his presentation.

Overview

douglas

What is the WordPress Showcase? The WP Showcase is an official Automattic site that is dedicated to displaying what various sites have done with WordPress and demonstrate its capabilities. As Douglas put it, it’s WordPress’ way to sort of promote the people who have used WordPress in unique ways and attract more users to it.

The showcase was launched on the first day of November in 2008. It’s a very prestigious gallery with approximately 350 submissions as of this writing. On average only 5% of submissions are accepted to the collection, which is just one in 20 sites.

Criteria

How do you get into the showcase? There are a lot of things that factor into an accepted submission. To be considered, at least one of these four main points should be met.

  • Uses WordPress in a unique or innovative way – do something special that stands out from the crowd.
  • Attract tens of thousands of regular readers – in other words, a big site that is powered by WordPress
  • Run by or promoted by someone famous – kings and queens, celebrities, etc.
  • Represents a large company – if you’re big and you select WordPress, that’s pretty cool

Anatomy of a Showcased Site

Each site that’s accepted into the gallery gets its own information page, which contains the name and URL of the site, a current screenshot, a site description, and a reason for why it’s there. Users can rate the site on a five-star basis. The site is tagged by what type of site it is and/or what topic(s) the site covers. It stores trackbacks from other sites and also displays what “flavor” the site is – a custom WordPress installation, a site hosted on WordPress.com, a WPMU (multi-user) site, or a “VIP” site.

Notable Sites

Douglas highlighted several showcased sites in his presentation and included what the site was and why they picked it. Some were interesting and others came as a surprise that they’re actually powered by WordPress!

  • Number10.gov.uk – the official site of the British Prime Minister.
  • R&W Mosman Real Estate – a huge WordPress-powered real estate site that utilizes the gallery function and TONS of internal and external APIs
  • Harvard Law School – uses a WPMU installation so students and faculty can create their own blogs; now hosting hundreds of blogs on one installation
  • Texas Tech Daily – an information hub for 30,000 students at TTU and uses lots of custom fields for video, photo, and text content
  • Modelinia – very customized site that sorts content in a very unique way; interesting use of the CMS; seamless Flash integration
  • Martha Stewart – celebrity WordPress user, 20-25 posts a month, lots of photo galleries
  • Sir Richard Branson – possibly the richest WordPress user (worth $4.4 billion), mainly used for business advice
  • The Unlettered Gentleman – designed by Automattic employee Sam Bauers; uses over 900 lines of custom CSS to customize on top of the Sandbox theme
  • I Can Has Cheezburger – HUGE site, surprisingly; member of WP.com VIP hosting, includes other affiliate sites that use the VIP system
  • Fresh Apps – iPhone app directory that lets users submit, rate, and favorite submissions
  • Unstructure – contains user-generated content with an active WordPress-powered community
  • eBay Ink – the official eBay corporate blog that integrates Twitter and Flickr and discusses various eBay aspects

Things to avoid

Douglas explained several things you should avoid with your submissions. First off, don’t bother submitting a site if it’s not powered by WordPress. Almost all content on your site should be dynamic, not static. Don’t submit sites that are already listed or ones that won’t be able to stand a large amount of traffic, because the WP Showcase does send a decent amount of traffic your way. Don’t keep asking about your site because if it hasn’t been posted within two weeks of submission it’s probably been rejected. The site should meet one or more of the four criteria above and also, remember to include your URL!

What’s Next

I asked Douglas if there were any features in store for the showcase. He said their main focus was to provide more of an explanation as to why each site was chosen. In particular, if there’s a special feature or function on the site, he wants the site’s author to explain how that feature was done, whether it’s custom or a creative use of a plugin.

“So how can you get your site added? Meet the criteria, tell us why your site is exceptional, be specific, be engaging, and don’t forget the basics.”

6 thoughts on “Showcasing the Showcase

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