by Robert Long | Mar 21, 2016 | Web Design, Web Development, WordPress
Community building is its own sweet reward. Who doesn’t like the idea of a virtual space where your targeted audience comes together to share ideas/Q and A/ wrangle/ et al?
The next question, of course, is whether it can be done on WordPress. The answer: Come on. It’s WordPress. It can handle anything. Checkout
So for those looking to build a virtual Common Room/ Frat-house/ What-Have-You, here’s a list of top 5 plugins to make it real:
Price: Free (licensed GPLv2.0 like WordPress.org). Paid ‘extensions’ can be found as regular WordPress plugins (“BuddyPress compatible”)
Available at: WordPress Plugin Repository
You can’t put ‘WordPress’ and ‘community’ in a sentence together and not end up talking about BuddyPress at some point. Figured we’d just get it over with now.
I sound resigned, because really, there’s no better plugin for community/network-building than BuddyPress. Attempts have been made and failed spectacularly. BuddyPress continues to reign supreme.
It’s feature-packed and free, ‘nuff said.
This plugin packs practically everything you would need, and more, for creation and management of communities: Member profiles, Activity feeds, User groups, Messages, etc. And that’s just the beginning.
With BuddyPress core features as the foundation, you can begin layering more features with BuddyPress-compatible plugins to add even more configuration options and variety on top of your user-network.
Recommended: Start with W3 Total Cache (Check it out here) and work your way up as needed.
Price: Free (licensed GPLv2.0 like WordPress.org). Paid ‘extensions’ can be found as regular WordPress plugins (“bbPress compatible”)
Available at: WordPress Plugin Repository
bbPress is like a skinny, lanky Loki to BuddyPress’ Thor.
This plugin is another one that started or ended up being adopted by Mullenweg and co. (like WooCommerce in 2015). Regardless, the core plugin on its own is light, easy to setup and integrate, and highly extensible with other WordPress plugins and bbPress add-ons.
The plugin only adds basic forum functionality to your website. But with creative customization and crafty themes, it will work for all sorts of visual ambiance. Case in Point: Support forums for WPMU-DEV, Woothemes, and dev4press.
3. Sabai Discuss Plugin for WordPress
Available at: Code Canyon
This is one of the best-selling WordPress forum plugins on Code Canyon.
Sabai adds extremely filterable and easy to navigate ‘discussions’ and ‘Question and Answers’ streams to your website. It lets you create custom fields (for the search filters), and has a visual form editor to create the search forms. It comes with 9 widgets, 10 email notification templates, and more.
Design tinkering-capabilities aside, the plugin itself is pretty smart. It has code snippet highlighting, ‘featured’, ‘flagging’ (for spam moderation) and ‘favorite’ Q&A, Role/Reputation-based access system, and more. Think Stack Overflow, focused on you.
Plugins like these make me happy. They pose fewer problems for users to fret over later. The only damper comes from the fact that it is probably late for an update, but if you are a web development company that knows what it’s doing, then it shouldn’t be a problem.
4. WP Pro Forum System
Available at: Code Canyon
Another easy-forum plugin and it’s so shiny you can almost hear it.
Pro Forum highlights code snippets, lets registered (to your website) users create topics, replies, and comments using the TinyMCE editor WordPress packs as default (improved with some shortcodes). The topics can be made sticky (for when certain topics come up all the time).
Users can add/upload images, set access permissions on their content (Privacy). It works well with your theme and can be further customized easily.
It’s a lovely, no-nonsense plugin that sticks to the necessary and drowns the rest.
5. DW Question & Answer
Price: Free core plugin. Free and paid add-ons (optional)
Available at: WordPress Plugin Repository
The best things in life are free. This plugin is (mostly) one of them.
DW’s Q&A plugin covers all the basics and goes the extra mile too. Users create, edit, and delete questions, moderators order/delete them. Everyone can search using the thorough filters. There is a voting feature (best answer), content privacy (depends on user submitting the question), sticky discussions, ‘follow’ discussions, et al.
It supports CAPTCHA and at least 11 languages. It has email notification system. There is a free add-on that enables Embed question and Social Sharing, which is perfect.
The entire plugin is like a beautifully decorated suite with furniture choices available. You can work those in as desired.
There are more, and there will be more community and forum plugins since the trend is taking hold. The plugins mentioned here are in no way latest, but they are coded for efficiency and they are reliable.
That’s all you need from a good plugin really.
by Robert Long | Feb 24, 2016 | CMS, Web Design, Web Development, Wordpress
Clean and efficient code is crucial for making a WordPress site load faster. Especially, when you're running an online shop, it's imperative that visitors can load the web pages as quickly as possible. One best way to achieve such an objective is to make use of a theme framework for WordPress such as Genesis.
The Genesis framework helps offer child themes that are specially designed for fast loading sites. Also, most of the themes are compatible with the WooCommerce plugin, which helps in incorporating better e-commerce functionality into your site.
Here's a list of some excellent Genesis Child Themes ideal to be used for creating WooCommerce powered e-shop:
If you want a flexible, mobile responsive and HTML coded theme suited for creating a child theme in WooCommerce, then you should give the Jessica e-commerce theme a try. Designed by Web Savvy Marketing, the theme helps in building an e-commerce site, by helping you pick WooCommerce, iThemes Exchange, and WP e-Commerce plugins.
Dedicated section for displaying advertisements, widgets or text
Social media integration
Help add product review, ratings, categories
Fee shipping option and more.
A clean and elegantly designed theme, AyoShop is perfect for building any online shop – be it clothing, jewelry, or some other shop. It's a free theme created by Designmodo.com – that provide support for styled child themes. The great aspect of AyoShop is that it is simple to use and does not contain any bloat.
It comes loaded with all of the Genesis Framework features.
It is WooCommerce ready
Features a responsive layout that can be tested using the Opera mobile emulator.
Access to AyoShop's documentation is available online and much more.
Cost: Free (however you need to subscribe to designmodo)
Do you want to build a WooCommerce ready child theme inspired by Apple's iPhone 4S design? Well, then look no further than Clip Cart. It boasts a professional and future-proof responsive designs for the modern mobile platforms like iPhone, iPad, and others. Clip Cart helps in integrating shopping cart functionality via Cart66/Cart66 Cloud plugins.
Comes with a highly customized front page template.
It works across all the major browsers
Offers comprehensive documentation and great forum support
Contains custom shortcodes and so on.
In case, you specifically need to build a food-related site on WooCommerce, then Daily Dish is exactly what you need. It has been developed for users who seek to make use of a clean and new design for putting up a food website. But, another great thing about Daily Dish is that it can also be customized for creating a non-food blog. This theme is the perfect example of setting up a site with balanced white space and elements – that helps make your content easily stand out.
Another great modern style child theme suitable for building an e-commerce site and WooCommerce support is Brutal. Created by Zigzagpress, the theme provides (optional) animation-style effects – that will allow your visitors to scroll down the homepage. You can use Brutal for building almost any site, ranging from corporate, marketing, to a portfolio and many other websites.
The theme is mobile ready and adapts beautifully to any device screen size
It is localization ready
It comes with theme options panel
It comes loaded with Genesis SEO options and features.
Last in our list of Genesis child themes is Vanish. The theme provides complete support for the WooCommerce plugin, helping you develop a WordPress online shop that allows selling products and services online. Vanish theme is a must-have for people who wish to create a visually alluring online storefront that can have a profound impact on their visitors.
It is a fully responsive theme
Vanish features minimalistic style, making it an excellent choice for creative projects
Impressive typography settings and more.
Using Genesis child themes for building an e-commerce shop will ensure in improving your website speed and performance, which ultimately enhances the users experience. So, here in this post, I've tried covering some of the best Genesis child themes suited for building WooCommerce store.
by Robert Long | Feb 23, 2016 | Services, Web Design, Web Development
Today, almost every WordPress user realizes the significance of hardening their website security and protecting it from hacker attacks. Possibly, you may already be following several recommended tips and performing essential tasks to keep your WordPress site secure.
But, remember despite the efforts you might make in protecting the site from getting hacked, you can still fail in keeping your site safe from hacks. After all, there isn’t any one-size-fits-all approach that could ensure 100 percent security of your WordPress website.
What if your website security is compromised and its data is stolen? Needless to say, this is something you’ll never want. This is why it is important for you to create a backup of your WordPress site.
Creating your site’s backup can help you restore all your lost data as well as altered files in no time. This post is written to help WordPress users understand the right way to backup their WordPress site. But, before we delve into the depth of backing up a website let us first have a more detailed view of the need for performing website backup.
Why Must You Perform WordPress Backup Anyways?
Whilst, you can find many different ways to secure your website, all of the security measures falls into one of these two categories: disaster prevention and recovery. Disaster prevention helps your site from attacks and trouble, such avoiding brute force attacks by restriction login attempts, using plugins to monitor your site for spam and so on.
In contrary, disaster recovery comes in handy once your website is attacked. Since there isn’t any fixed solution to ensure complete security of a site from vulnerabilities and hackers, you must search for a way that could help in recovering from an unfavorable situation. For this purpose, you must create a series of backups as it can contribute to restoring your website at any time to its original form.
When it comes to recovering your site using a backup, there are some best practices worth considering. We’ll discuss that in the next section.
Best Practices to Backup Your WordPress Site
1. Understand what all you need to backup and where
When it comes to creating a backup, many site owners can’t know what all they should backup to keep their site secure and running. Remember that in the worst case scenario, when your site is attacked you can’t determine the damage that will be caused to your site. And so, it’s better to backup all your website files and database. In addition, if possible, keep a backup of your server configuration as well.
Storing your site’s backup on cloud storage helps in saving it on reliable places like Cloudfront, Amazon S3, etc. But, an excellent fail-safe approach to storing your backup requires downloading it to a known location, such as your system’s hard drive.
2. Create a backup of your site’s latest version
We can’t predict when something bad will happen, so it’s imperative that we have a backup of the most recent version of our site. A backup might not be of any value if its a month old. Especially, if your site gets heavy traffic or you upgrade your site quite frequently, make sure to create a backup of the site each day, or after a few hours.
3. Use WordPress Plugins
There are several plugins on the web that serve multiple purposes when it comes to backing up a WordPress site. Below are some of the best backup plugins worth taking a look at:
Often at times, we become so engrossed with handling other important website tasks that we forget to create a backup of our site. For that reason, it’s necessary to search for a solution that could schedule the backup automatically. This can be achieved with the help of BackupWordPress plugin.
The plugin helps in creating a schedule for backing up your website files and database. The only downside to using BackupWordPress plugin is that its free version does not provide cloud storage capability. However, you can attain such functionality by purchasing a premium extension of the plugin.
If you’d like to use a plugin that is dedicated to creating a backup of your site’s database, then WP-DB-Backup is worth a try. It makes the process of creating backups of WP site’s database simple and straightforward. Also, it schedules database backup automatically on an hourly and weekly basis.
One issue with WP-DB-Backup is that it does not help in backing up files. Thus, you’ll need to backup all your files manually.
3. Create a Complete Up-to-date Backup With VaultPress
VaultPress is one of the most commonly used backup plugins – that was founded by WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg along with his team. It helps in creating a backup of the most up-to-date version of your site. If you’re running a large-size website that is updated on a regular basis, then VaultPress is the right plugin for you.
The plugin not just helps in creating a real-time backup of the WordPress site, but also offer automated scanning, which proves an excellent defense against security threats. However, you’re required to sign-up for VaultPress subscription to make use of the plugin.
With increase in WordPress popularity, the security concern regarding protecting WordPress site from getting attacked is also on a rise. Though there are ways that can keep your website protected against attacks, but despite all your efforts the security of the site still might get compromised. So, the best technique to tackle such a situation is to stay prepared with the backup of your site.
Author Bio :
Sophia likes to develop WordPress websites and earns her daily bread from the same. She likes to stay abreast with the latest tech advancements and also wishes to contribute to the same. For those who are looking to hire WordPress developers that can match pace with the competitiveness can count on Sophia Phillips for it.
by Robert Long | Feb 13, 2016 | CMS, PHP, Web Development
PHP frameworks have become an integral part of web development projects, as they make the task of application development effortless for developers. Most importantly, the frameworks help speed up the development process. While there are plenty of great PHP frameworks out there, CakePHP Based CMS happens to be the best choice over other frameworks in terms of rapid application development.
An open source PHP framework, CakePHP is based on the Ruby on Rails concept. Furthermore, the framework enables developers in developing flexible and secured CMS solution via the CakePHP based CMS. Well, if you're CakePHP user then you'll apparently want to know about the types of CakePHP based content management system. Without wasting any more time, let's discuss some of the best CMS solutions that users working on the CakePHP Application Development need to know about.
This is one of the most popular and extensively used CakePHP based CMS available online. Croogo is an open source CMS solution that is built using the CakePHP framework. It gives CakePHP users the ability to create a blog, node or a page containing taxonomy. Also, there are several themes made available by Croogo that can be used to setup a site or application in CakePHP in no time. What's more? It offers WYSIWYG Editor to allow editing directly from the browser and so on.
BEdita is somewhat different from all other content management systems in the list since it is based on semantic rules. It is a modular and flexible CakePHP framework that fits the need to create many projects because of its MVC design. Another great aspect of this CMS is that the creators continuously provide new version releases that comes with more advanced and better features. For instance, the latest 3.6.0 Corylus Release has introduced several features that helps resolve security issues and bugs.
Would you want to use a CMS that can be expanded and tailored to fit your needs? Well, then Coderity is exactly what you've been looking for. It's an out-of-the-box CMS built using CakePHP framework that give users the capability to expand it as per their own needs. The CMS is elegant yet simple to use. Coderity is a feature rich CMS that includes the ability to manage pages, create blogs, drag and drop ordering of the menu and so on. The Coderity's development team is working on making the CMS as a CakePHP plugin.
CupCake is yet another open source CMS based on CakePHP ideal for freelancers – that helps in updating features on the site dynamically. This CMS solution is aimed at providing designers a simple to use tool that helps in managing content for both small and medium-sized sites effectively. However, it is a lightweight CMS that deploys websites quickly. CupCake also comes with a WYSIWYG editor (also referred to as FCKEditor) that helps in creating and updating content by authorized users with no need for having to learn markup language such as HTML. The only downside to using CupCake CMS is that it not perfect for managing community-driven online portals.
If you love working with jQuery, then Wildflower CMS is worth a try. This open source CMS is not just built using the CakePHP framework, but it is also based on the jQuery library. It is a user-friendly CMS ideal for WordPress users who want to take advantage of the code separation logic. The purpose of this CMS is to provide the wherewithal to work on common functionality in an elegant way. It helps in creating pages containing preview feature – that enables you to see how your page looks in real time. Additionally, Wildflower comes loaded with plenty of enhancements and bug-fixes.
6. Lumad CMS
Do you wish to use a simple to operate CakePHP based CMS suited for developing small size websites or applications? Then, look no further than the Lumad CMS. It boasts a smooth interface that helps in managing multiple tasks or activities in sites a breeze.
Are you a CakePHP user interested in adding CMS like functionality into your site or application? Luckily, there are many good CakePHP based CMS's on the web that can help you achieve such a need efficiently. Make sure to carefully study about each of the content management system and choose one that best fit your project needs.
by Robert Long | Feb 9, 2016 | Joomla, Tutorials, Web Design, Web Development, Wordpress
Want to know how to add a nice, scrolling twitter feed to your website’s widget area? This plugin does the job nicely. We show you how to install it and explain it’s features. (more…)
by Robert Long | Feb 5, 2016 | Articles, Inspiration, Tutorials, Web Design, Web Development
Finding new web development clients is not always an easy task. Even the best web developers that are freelancers have a hard time finding new clients most of the time. This is usually due to the fact that just because you are a web developer, does not make you a salesperson for web development services.
If you really want to land new clients you will eventually have to contact them, or you will have to hire someone else to contact them. So first you need to decide if you can afford to hire out the sales parts or do them yourself. But, before you can even consider selling your services, you first need to find them.
So here are some good places to locate new web development clients that are willing to pay you what you are worth. This list does not include some of the large freelance sites, because they pay very little and there is just way too much competition. Yes you can make money on a freelancer site, but you are going to work your ass off for it and you will probably not make as much as you would if you focused on the methods shown below.
Methods of Finding Leads and Clients
Build an Amazing Website
No matter which method of advertising, or prospecting you choose, you will always need a website. You will need a website to show off your portfolio, skills, testimonials and to collect leads or allow the visitors to contact you.
Not only should you have a website, but it should be very well designed, easy to navigate and mobile friendly. Make sure you site uses Google Analytics to track the progress of any advertising you do, and make sure you use Google Webmaster tools to check if there are any errors with your site.
Keep your site updated and connect all your social profiles to it. You should at least have a Twitter, Linkedin, Google Plus and Facebook account. Also, make sure that each account is well designed and has lots of activity. This is because a potential employer will usually checkout your profiles and make sure you are who you say you are, and that you have an active profile. Especially on Linkedin.
Most web developers are already familiar with SEO and how to run a server, but if you are not then you should at least learn the basics of SEO and the correct methods of building traffic to your website. A good, healthy website, with quality links, content and social media marketing can bring in enough leads organically and save you thousands of dollars.
Get Local Listings
Also make sure you list your site is all local regions, with as many local directories as possible, such as Google Local, Yelp, Super Pages, Yahoo Directory, your local chamber of commerce and so on. You want to make it as easy as possible for your local customers to find you. Most leads that close are within a 50 mile radious, so keep that in mind.
Even if you are focusing on the entire world, you should first focus locally, then branch out as your business grows. Your website will let you know when it’s time to grow, as it will start to get leads from other states, countries and so on. Your keyword list will grow and then you can focus your marketing on a wider radius. It is far easier to build a localized business than a national or worldwide one.
On Page SEO
Just in case you are wondering, SEO is not dead, and I doubt it ever will be. The reason is that it’s part of the Internet, so unless the Internet dies, SEO won’t either. However, it has changed greatly and I have been doing SEO since 1998, so I’ve see it all. The most recent changed with the Google Panda and Penguin updates as well as all the other updates, have made it pretty risking to do SEO. But if you stick to the rules you will be fine.
Just make sure you keep up to date with whatever Matt Cutts is saying, as he gives lots of hints on what is good and what is bad in the SEO industry. In my experience, if you create high quality, original content and know how to promote it well, then there is no need to spam the search engines. Good content will obtain quality links and comments and that is what matters most, which brings me to the next part, blogging.
Blogging for Leads
You might be a web developer, but that does not mean you like to write, however you should try spending a few thousands on advertising and see how many leads you get, then you might consider it, as it’s the best way to build traffic to your site and traffic that is highly targeted can turn into a gold mine of leads.
Just make sure your blog is highly focused on your customers, not on web development in general. You need to put yourself into the mindset of your target client, what would they be looking for? How can you help them? Why would they want to work with you? Then write around these ideas to draw in this type of reader. Make sure you always use a call to action at the end of your post, and in the side banner you can have a newsletter to ask them to sign up for something, such as an ebook.
Remember, you want to focus on clients, so your ebook should be something like, “How to hire a web developer” or “5 Things to ask your web designer”, something along those lines, and not “How to learn web development” as this would not focus on the customer, you would draw in other web developers and that would not increase leads.
So always focus on the leads, when you are writing. It will take a while and you should not expect to get anything for the first year, but you should post a 700-1000 word article on your blog once per day in the beginning. I know this seems hard, but so is having to get a job in McDonalds, if you write down all the possible headlines once per week, then every day choose the one that seems easiest and before you write it, add some more headlines for the next day.
Once you have your blog running at about 500, high quality articles you will get lots of traffic coming in. The key is quality, problem solving and making sure it’s promoted.
I hope this information helped some of you, if you have any comments please post them below.
Thanks for reading.