WooCommerce Insights From Justin Sainton

Just as WordPress has come to dominate the web, WooCommerce is dominating the e-commerce space. So we’re talking to WooCommerce experts to learn some new strategies and insights.

Justin SaintonJustin Sainton is the founder of the WordPress agency Zao, a company he launched in 2004 after quitting high school early to pursue web development. Skipping college seems to have paid off, as Zao is still going strong. Today, Justin is known as a WooCommerce expert.

In this post, we talk with Justin about increasing income, making improvements with data, and the future of e-commerce.

What makes for a healthy WooCommerce store? What do you look for?

Great question! There are probably a couple angles to look at this from, at least. What makes a healthy store technically? What makes for a healthy store for the business? And what makes for a healthy store for the customer?

  • From the technical angle: A healthy WooCommerce store is checking at least three boxes: solid hosting, a good theme, and the right (if any) plugins. Insufficient hosting, a poorly developed theme, or the wrong plugins can tank a site faster than you could imagine.
  • At the business level: We’d measure the success of a WooCommerce store in different ways for different businesses—but it usually comes down to friction. How much friction does a store owner feel from their WooCommerce site? Does it work well with their internal order management workflows? With their shipping and payment systems? Does it make their lives as business owners easier or harder?
  • Finally, for customers: WooCommerce sites that take a customer-first approach from the very beginning tend to be the healthiest. This is arguably the most important way to measure a healthy WooCommerce store. Are customers able to buy what they’re coming to buy? Are any customers coming to buy anything at all? Is the user experience conducive to reducing friction for the customer? How quickly are they able to check out? Does the checkout process confuse customers? Does it require more fields than it should to get through it?

What are some effective ways a WooCommerce store can increase its income?

There are myriad ways for a store to increase their income, but I’ll share three that I think are particularly effective:

  1. Flash sales. Scarcity wins, all day long. Assuming the store has already been growing a well-segmented email list (if you haven’t, start now!)—running a time-bound flash sale with healthy discounts is a great way to generate revenue from potential customers (or potential repeat buyers) who have been on the fence about purchasing again from you.
  2. Abandoned Cart Follow-ups. Depending on whose research you’re using, you can recover up to a third of your abandoned carts by following up with those users with a discount email. We love Jilt for this, but there are lots of great solutions for this type of follow-up.
  3. Build a Tribe. This doesn’t work for every business—but you’d be surprised at the number of businesses who have customers who are almost religious fanatics for their brand. These types of businesses with customers who adore them are ripe for a subscription/membership model. Charging a nominal monthly fee to be a part of an insider club that gets more value from your business than other customers can be a great way to add additional income streams, as well as develop more faithful brand ambassadors.

Can you give us an example of using data to improve a WooCommerce shop?

Absolutely! We recently worked with one of our favorite clients, Brooklyn Tweed, to improve the performance of their website.

Using data from New Relic, we were able to identify areas of their website that were causing undue stress on the server. In their case, we were able to identify that variations on the single product page—and the custom implementation with which they were rendered—were causing upwards of 700 uncached queries to the database on each page load!

By using some intelligent fragment caching here, based on the data we had available, we were able to improve the server performance, as well as the customer experience by speeding up the page load time.

What’s in store for the future of e-commerce? Are there things on the horizon—either mundane realities or cool tech—that excite you?

Telling the future is always much more difficult than creating it. I think there are endless possibilities in areas that are pretty obvious—augmented reality, virtual reality, etc. But in the world that a lot of our clients live in, the things that are on the horizon that excite me the most veer toward the more philosophical.

Seeing an open source project like WooCommerce completely dominate the e-commerce landscape actually gives me great cause for excitement for the future of e-commerce. It indicates that we’re moving toward a more open, collaborative ecosystem of e-commerce platforms, systems, and developers. Open source software radically alters every sphere it is able to influence, and I think we’ve just seen the beginning of how e-commerce at large will be affected by open source software.

Check out more from freelance WordPress developer Justin Sainton.

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4 WordPress Widgets You Must Have To Give Your Blog Maximum Flexibility

WordPress is a blogging/CMS (content management system) platform that allows you to not only create a blog on your website, but create the entire website using this flexible blogging platform. In order to get WordPress to look more like a static site, you will want to have the most flexibility you can when it comes to setting up the blog/CMS platform. This article gives you an overview of what widgets you should use on your blog that will give you the needed flexibility.

1. Widget Logic

Widget logic is a useful widget that allows you to control which pages your widgets appear on. It’s power resides in the fact that it can be implemented on a widget by widget basis. This gives you full reign over what kinds of content appears on what pages and you an further target your content to a much tighter topic. Widget logic can be found at wordpress.org/extend/plugins/widget-logic/ and is a free plugin. You will have to understand some simple WordPress conditional tag syntax, but it is very easy to pick up and once you have it, you are on your way to creating a truly unique website.

2. WordPress Signup Forms

WordPress signup forms are widgets that interface directly with your autoresponder, or mailing list software. The more popular emails list services each have their own WordPress widget, so the specific one that you would use will depend upon the service you have. Using these widgets makes it easy to add a signup box to all of the pages on your web site, which will help your mailing list grow more quickly.

WordPress signup form widgits include the following:

1shoppingcart – wordpress.org/extend/plugins/1shoppingcartcom-wordpress-signup-forms/
Aweber – wordpress.org/extend/plugins/aweber-integration/
Constant Contact – wordpress.org/extend/plugins/constant-contact-api/
IContact – wordpress.org/extend/plugins/icontact-widget/

3. RSS Feed

The RSS feed comes with the standard WordPress install and it allows you to bring in other feeds to place on your website. Using RSS feeds allows you to have content on your blog that is constantly changing. This feature will bring the search engines back to your site on a more regular basis, which will improve the speed in which your pages are indexed. When used in conjunction with Widget Logic, you can incorporate several different RSS feeds into your site based on the topic, thus making each page on your blog more tightly focused to the topic, which will help it rank better in the search engines.

4. Text Widget

This widget is gives you extreme flexibility because it allows you to place additional HTML code on your website. You can use this widget to place ads on your web site and used in conjunction with Widget Logic, you can highly target these ads as well. A cousin of this widget allows you to add PHP code instead of HTML code. For more highly advanced programmers, this will allow you to add an almost unlimited kind of functionality to your WordPress blog.

Using specific widgets will allow you to create a web site that will be just as effective and complete as many custom hand developed web sites, yet at a fraction of the cost. Using the different widgets discussed will give you the flexibility you need to build a website that is unique, functional and easy to customize.

More WordPress Tutorials Articles

17 Returning Customer Tips for WooCommerce Stores

It’s a lot cheaper and easier to bring returning customers back to your WooCommerce store than to get new customers. In this post, we’ll cover 17 returning customer tips for WooCommerce stores.

returning customer tips

Studies show returning customers are more valuable than new ones: higher add to cart rate, a lower bounce rate, and a higher conversion rate. They also spend almost double the amount as new customers. Additionally, in these 8 important e-commerce stats, returning visitors also spend a lot more time browsing your store:

New visitors spend an average of 2 minutes 31 seconds on site compared with 5 minutes 31 seconds for returning visitors. This is a difference of over 100%. When looking at pages viewed per visit, we see that new visitors view an average of 3.88 pages per visit, but return visitors look at 5.55 pages per visit.

Everybody wants new customers, but you can really gauge the health of your WooCommerce shop by how many returning customers you have. If you don’t know what ratio of new vs. returning customers your store has, iThemes Sales Accelerator, our WooCommerce reports plugin can help you track those numbers.

So how do you get those customers to come back? We’ve got a few ideas:

17 Ways to Generate More Returning Customers

  • 1. Pricing: The simplest way to bring customers back is to have the best prices. Unfortunately, a race to be the cheapest is not always sustainable. It’s an option, but seriously consider your industry and competition.
  • 2. Sales & Discounts: A related way to get more returning customers is to lure them back with sales and discounts. This is a tried and true retail strategy, but again, it can be problematic. You risk training customers to wait for a sale, and if you lose money on those sales, you’ll be in trouble with or without returning customers. But sales do work, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
  • 3. Coupons: Another related approach is to send your customers a coupon to entice them to come back. Rather than a site-wide sale, this can target the customers you want to bring back. It’s also a good way to make customers feel like insiders and start building that relationship that creates returning customers. The WooCommerce Smart Coupons extension might help you create those deals.
  • 4. Loyalty rewards: You can bring customers back with a loyalty program. Dole out points for specific actions, such as referring friends, sharing products, reviewing items, etc., that can be cashed in for valuable rewards. The WooCommerce Points and Rewards extension can make this happen.
  • 5. Encourage reviews: You can prompt customers to review products and get them to make another purchase with the WooCommerce Review for Discount extension. You can add social proof to existing products and encourage a customer to come back, and they save some money: Everybody wins.
  • 6. Occasional treats: Reach out to your old customers and throw them something cool. A coupon or discount offer is probably the first thing that comes to mind, but it could be helpful content or something else: a free ebook, a video from a known personality in your industry, etc.
  • 7. Unique surprise: Wow your customers by including a unique surprise in their purchase. Maybe it’s a thank you note or a free goodie. Maybe your packaging is unique—lush colors and nice tissue paper instead of bland cardboard and that air cushion packaging. This approach helped the Universal Yums customer story stand out.
  • 8. Email newsletter: Start connecting with customers with a consistent email newsletter. But you can’t just churn out marketing pitches. You need to build relationships. Talk about your products, offer advice, speak to your fans. Give them value.
  • 9. Make it automatic: Start building that relationship with new customers immediately by sending them an automatic welcome email after their first purchase. Thank them for their purchase. Introduce them to your store’s culture and vibe. Offer valuable insight and content. Encourage them to join your email newsletter (if they haven’t already) for more. Offer a discount bribe if you need to make it more compelling.
  • 10. Follow up: A simple welcome email to new customers is a good start at follow up, but that’s for beginners. Use the WooCommerce Follow Up Emails extension to completely automate all kinds of customer follow up and reminders.
  • 11. I got receipts: The age-old receipt is a standard part of any transaction, but with e-commerce, it’s an opportunity to get more returning customers. Make your receipt more than boring: make it valuable and helpful. With custom email receipts for WooCommerce you can set yourself apart, reinforce your brand, and forge that vital connection with customers.
  • 12. Join the club: The ultimate way to create returning customers is membership. Create an exclusive club for your best fans and give them all kinds of goodies: discounts, early access, insider news, exclusive products, valuable advice, free shipping, etc.
  • 13. Create content: Don’t just sell your wares, blog about them. Become a resource for your industry, offering insights, reviews, and previews. You’ll find returning customers come back because you’re building trust.
  • 14. Identify your fans: This one would be time-consuming, but if you really want to generate more returning customers, get to know them. Figure out who your best customers are (iThemes Sales Accelerator can help) and pick their brains. You could send an impersonal survey or do a focus group (be sure to offer an incentive for participation). Get to know your fans and figure out how to reach more people like them.
  • 15. Remember they’re not new: Don’t treat returning customers like new customers. They’ve already bought from you once. There will be some overlap with what you offer new vs. returning customers, but you should also be able to dial back the pitch.
  • 16. Don’t forget social: Social media can be a helpful way to keep your store top of mind for customers. Post pics of new products, updates on sales, helpful content and industry news, etc.
  • 17. Incredible customer service: A great way to bring customers back is to take great care of them. Be prompt and helpful in your replies, always say thank you, follow up to make sure issues are resolved, go above and beyond what’s expected. Under-promise and over-deliver.

5 Ways to Make More Money with WooCommerce

Get WooCommerce Tips
+ 5 Easy Ways to Make Your WooCommerce Store Successful

Just getting started with WooCommerce? In this ebook, we cover 5 ways to make more money with WooCommerce.

Download the Free Ebook

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Use Professionals For Psd To WordPress Conversion

The wordpress usually known for blogging. But with the advent of technology, you can now use it for creating your website. Now this open source has enable the conversions of psd to wordpress, and leading your site to more visitors. This new induction of technology of conversion services have changed the idea of your designs into website and that is also through the hands of skilled professionals. Most probably psd 2 wordpress service is getting used for the creation of website which is highly important for any web owner. This will enable the owner to have more visitors and also long staying in the market. If you want to try your hand on the work potentialities of wordpress and to convert psd to wordpress customized themes then must acquire its professionals who have great experience in conversion service.

It is very much important for the person who is giving order for his design to check out the pros and cons of psd 2 wordpress conversion service. If in case lapse any knowledge then may knock wrong door also. While converting customized themes into website using techniques of latest web design standards then must take care that the professional must have followed the industry standards. WordPress staff is best known for their high standard qualitative work, and also to convert psd to wordpress in given time frame. Their staff is well known for standing upto the expectations of the customers. Their created websites are quite compatible and upto the mark of the industry set, and that’s the reason why its created websites are still running in the business market. Now wordpress has opened door for many services such as blog, cms, and e-commerce. This software gives you chance to improve your website standard and also upgrade the versions as per your need. If you have a design then they have a staff to convert your psd to wordpress, and enabling you to stay longer in the competitive market.

Related WordPress Tutorials Articles

Everything Matters More With WooCommerce

Building e-commerce sites for your clients is all about taking things to the next level. Yes, there’s new stuff you’ll have to do, but much of the important work is simply doubling down on the fundamentals.

e-commerce stakes

As we’ve talked about building WooCommerce websites lately, we’ve hammered on these fundamentals:

Why do we keep talking about these e-commerce basics as they relate to WooCommerce? When you build WordPress e-commerce sites, the stakes are higher. There’s a higher level of risk, so you need to be absolutely sure you’re taking care of all the basics.

If a website has a problem, it’s very different if you’re talking about a basic brochure site vs. an e-commerce site.

  • If an e-commerce site goes down, the client is not making sales. The loss is much easier to quantify. Depending on the site, every minute the site is down could mean lost money (which means minimizing recovery time is crucial). Customer data or info on a sale could also be lost.
  • If security is compromised, it’s not just the site and data that are vulnerable, customer data is at stake as well. Your client (and possibly you) could be held liable.
  • If the site isn’t mobile friendly, it’s not just a nuisance, it means lost sales.
  • Miscommunication makes everything worse, especially if it leads to one of the above problems.

And all of this reflects back on you. So the stakes for everything are higher.

New Component With E-commerce

Yes, e-commerce does bring a whole new component of sales and money and credit card processing. That stuff is a big deal and it’s vital that you understand it in order to serve your clients.

But it’s just as important as shoring up your fundamentals.

Higher Stakes

Think of it this way: If you’re lax on the basics of websites, you’re not ready to build and sell e-commerce sites.

Let’s be honest: Sometimes website developers can get a little relaxed. We don’t backup. We take shortcuts. We don’t bother with documentation. This attitude can often continue until we’re taught a painful lesson.

And with e-commerce, that’s a very painful lesson.

You need to run a tight ship with e-commerce. That should be true with any website you build but, unfortunately, it’s not. The consequences just aren’t the same.

E-commerce involves money and customers and credit card data. Even if you’re using an off-site processor and not touching those credit card numbers, it’s still about trust. If the site goes down or something is wonky, customers will walk away.

Sales Tracking + E-Commerce Reporting

That’s why we’ve released iThemes Sales Accelerator for WooCommerce reporting. With an e-commerce site, you need detailed analytics with metrics that actually matter.

Data is important for any website, but with e-commerce it’s even more crucial.

E-commerce website owners need the right data to make the right decisions. Without that data, you’re lost. You have to make decisions based on your gut, and sometimes your gut is wrong.

Google Analytics is fine for a regular website. But e-commerce demands more.

Are you offering WooCommerce reports to your clients? With iThemes Sales Accelerator, you can roll out this new website service so clients always know what’s going on with their store.

Everything & More

Building with WooCommerce is everything you’ve already done, and more. Learn the new things, but don’t forget the basics. They matter more than ever.

Check out 5 easy ways to make more money with WooCommerce.

5 Ways to Make More Money with WooCommerce

Get WooCommerce Tips
+ 5 Easy Ways to Make Your WooCommerce Store Successful

Just getting started with WooCommerce? In this ebook, we cover 5 ways to make more money with WooCommerce.

Download the Free Ebook

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The Gutenberg WordPress Editor: 10 Things You Need to Know

Very soon, the Gutenberg WordPress editor will become part of the WordPress core. What does that mean for you? What if you’re already using a page builder? In this post, we’ll walk through the basics of the new Gutenberg editor for WordPress and what you need to know.

What is the Gutenberg WordPress Editor?

The Gutenberg WordPress editor is a new page builder that is being designed to integrate with WordPress core. Gutenberg will add content blocks and page builder-like functionality to every up-to-date WordPress website. When in use, it will replace TinyMCE as the default content editor. With Gutenberg, content is added in blocks of various types from the WordPress backend.

Gutenberg is slated to be released with WordPress 5.0. Thankfully, there’s a lot of healthy debate going on around Gutenberg involving many people who develop and use WordPress.

Gutenberg WordPress editor

1. The Purpose of Gutenberg

  • “The goal of the block editor is to make adding rich content to WordPress simple and enjoyable.”
    – From the Gutenberg plugin description on WordPress.org.
  • “Gutenberg is an important step forward for WordPress. Gutenberg enables WordPress to build content layouts, not just write articles. It is one of the many transitions happening in WordPress toward a more simplified user experience.”
    – Zack Katz, speaking at WordCamp Denver 2017

The question of WHY Gutenberg is an ongoing debate. We’ll talk more about this later.

2. Matt Mullenweg is Completely Behind It

  • In The State of the Word 2016, Mullenweg announced that the visual editor would be one of three core focuses for 2017.
  • Matt took over as project lead for Gutenberg earlier this year and assigned Automattic employees Matias Ventura and Joen Asmussen to lead the development.
  • Read Matt’s take on Gutenberg here: We Called it Gutenberg for a Reason.

3. Gutenberg is Currently a Plugin

  • You can add Gutenberg to any WordPress site today as a plugin downloaded from the WordPress plugin directory.
  • The Gutenberg plugin is usually updated weekly as new features are included.
  • As noted in the plugin description… this is beta software. Use with care.

4. Gutenberg Will Be Included in WordPress 5.0

  • The revised Gutenberg roadmap was published in August.
    • Nov 2017: 4.9 release
    • Dec 2017: Begin merge proposal for Gutenberg
    • Jan 2018: Gutenberg / Customizer crossover
  • No date for WordPress 5.0 has been officially set based on the official WordPress roadmap.

5. Gutenberg is Definitely Not Finished Yet

  • Many of the features of Gutenberg are still being implemented, and new versions have changed previously implemented UI and features.
  • Don’t panic because it doesn’t work well right now.
  • Right now, you’re basically seeing the sausage being made, and it’s not pleasant. Some have complained about this, but there’s something to be said for transparency. Perhaps it’s not fair to criticize a half-built house because it’s drafty.
  • Gutenberg is currently written using REACT javascript. With Facebook’s recent move to relicense the project under the MIT license, Matt Mullenweg announced that WordPress.com and Gutenberg would be rewritten using a different library. Here’s more info on REACT and WordPress. This will surely delay the Gutenberg project for some time.

6. Gutenberg Blocks & Embeds

Gutenberg employs a number of ‘blocks’ you can use to customize your content and layout in the editor.

Paragraph Pull Quote Separator Latest Posts
Image Table More Categories
Gallery Preformatted Button Shortcode
Heading Code Text Columns
Quote Custom HTML
List Custom Test
Cover Image Verse


Twitter Animoto Meetup.com SmugMug
YouTube Cloudup Mixcloud Speaker
Facebook CollegeHumor Photobucket TED
Instagram Dailymotion Polldaddy  Tumblr
WordPress Funny or Die Reddit  VideoPress
SoundCloud Hulu ReverbNation  Vine
Spotify Imgur  Screencast  WordPress.tv
Flickr  Issuu  Scribd
Vimeo  Kickstarter  Slideshare

7. Some of the Good with Gutenberg

It’s a move forward for the WordPress visual editor.

  • The WordPress visual editor has been stagnant for years.
  • While it’s predictable, it’s not exactly a fantastic experience.
  • The goal is to have an interface that is more intuitive for new users like those offered by Wix and Squarespace.

Using HTML comments to store block info is clever.

  • Gutenberg stores information about blocks in HTML comments.
  • These comments are only seen on the back end of the site and are not rendered on live pages.

Disabling Gutenberg won’t break your site.

  • Unlike many other page editors, if you uninstall Gutenberg, you won’t break your website.
  • The special HTML comments are retained in the content so that you can reactivate Gutenberg without losing previously arranged blocks.
  • Note that without Gutenberg active, the HTML comments are rendered in page source. But since they are just comments, they are benign.

The copy and paste routine is well executed.

  • In earlier versions of Gutenberg, copy and paste made a mess. Formatting was lost in the process. Not any more.
  • Pasting paragraphs, lists, headings, etc. results in blocks of the appropriate type being automatically created by Gutenberg.
  • Text markup like bold and italics are also retained.

Solid HTML 5 output

  • Gutenberg blocks output content using HTML 5 tags like section and figure.
  • Using HTML 5 tags will help to future proof content created in Gutenberg.

You can write your own blocks.

  • Developers will be able to create their own blocks for customized content.
  • Here’s more information on writing a Gutenberg block

8. Some of the Bad with Gutenberg

No more composing in the browser.

  • Gutenberg’s UI is focused on content layout not content creation.
  • The days of sitting down and composing in the post window are gone (of course there is a question about how many people do this anyway).

The UI is a bit clunky.

  • It can take more clicks to do simple tasks. Updating a page now takes two clicks instead of one.
    Nondescript icons are used without much clue to their function.
  • The three columns formed by the admin menu, Gutenberg editor and Gutenberg sidebar get crowded and can be confusing to scroll around on smaller displays (like the 12” Macbook I’m writing this on).
  • Metaboxes are hidden under extended settings underneath and beside the editor.

No shortcodes in paragraphs.

  • Currently, shortcodes cannot be executed in text columns or paragraph blocks.
  • They must be placed in the shortcode block in order to work.
  • This can cause some problems if your shortcodes produce inline content like the year or an inline call to action.
  • Note that shortcodes in pages/posts will still work when Gutenberg is added to an existing site. So they’ve done a good job making sure existing things don’t break.

No images or other embeds in paragraphs.

  • In Gutenberg, you can’t wrap text around an image. Images have their own block.
  • Embeds like audio and video also require their own block. oEmbed from Youtube, Vimeo, etc. will no longer work in Gutenberg paragraphs or text columns

Significant accessibility issues (at least currently)

  • Currently there are major accessibility issues on the using the back end Gutenberg editor and on content output by it on the front end (like inline CSS).
  • The WP Accessibility team will certainly deal with these issues before release.
    • Accessibility is a big priority for WordPress in general.
    • There are serious questions about how inline CSS will be addressed since it’s currently stored in HTML comments and then rendered on the front end.

Older themes don’t style HTML 5 output.

  • Gutenberg blocks output content using HTML 5 tags like section and figure.
  • Many older themes don’t have CSS to address styling these tags, so margins and padding for these tags will probably be nonexistent.
  • Gutenberg doesn’t have its own stylesheet to account for this.

9. What’s Unresolved with Gutenberg? A Lot.

The relationship between the Gutenberg editor and themes.

  • As mentioned above, Gutenberg deals with content not styling (well, sort of – you can add background colors to blocks but this is executed as an inline style).
  • At present time, block padding and margins are completely unaddressed. This of course could change.
  • Most WordPress page builders allow fine-tuned control over rows, columns, spacing, etc. Gutenberg relies on the theme right now for all of this.
  • There is currently only a little info in the docs for Gutenberg theme support, including block support, wide image support and color palette support.
  • There is some info in the docs on applying styles to Gutenberg with stylesheets.
  • The problem here is that novice users (which is the audience Gutenberg is trying to help) usually have no idea about themes or their relationship to the WordPress system.

How will it be integrated into the WordPress core?

  • Currently, every indication is that Gutenberg will be part of core WordPress in version 5.0 set to be released in 2018.
  • Will it be enabled by default? Will we be able to disable it? These questions are unanswered at this point.
  • It could be executed like the REST API which is on by default, but easily disabled by a single-purpose plugin or various security plugins like iThemes Security.
    • Surely there will be a “Disable Gutenberg” block of code or plugin. Or perhaps popular page builders will include a disable Gutenberg option in their settings.
  • One of the best suggestions I’ve read is put it in Jetpack and let those who want it activate it from that platform.

When will the Gutenberg WordPress Editor be released?

  • Nobody knows (or at least it’s not been publicly stated).
  • In his article on REACT and WordPress, Matt Mullenweg said, “The Gutenberg team is going to take a step back and rewrite Gutenberg using a different library. It will likely delay Gutenberg at least a few weeks, and may push the release into next year.”
  • Many have had a strong reaction to that statement, like Yoast’s article on a Gutenberg alternative: “At Yoast, we were pretty shocked about these words. In its current form, Gutenberg is not ready -at all- for mainstream usage. In fact, we do not see it as being ready to be released anywhere in the first half of 2018. In our view, ready to be released also means that the community has had ample time to fix all of their integrations. In this point of time, it’s not possible for plugins at all to integrate with Gutenberg. How on earth should plugin authors be able to build their integrations within a few months? That’s not possible. At least not without breaking things.”

10. Articles of Note on The Gutenberg WordPress Editor

This is a collection of the best articles on Gutenberg that I’ve read to date.

Chris Lema talks about Gutenberg

Misunderstanding the goal of the Gutenberg Experience


  • “If we’re going to solve a problem with this plugin, shouldn’t it be the cognitive dissonance that people have when they edit in one interface and see their work product appear in a different interface that doesn’t look like they thought it would?”

Beaver Builder’s Response to Gutenberg

August Update – 2.0, Themer, and Gutenberg, Oh My!


  • “In short, we’re really excited and supportive of Gutenberg! Our hope is that the project continues to evolve into something Beaver Builder can embrace and extend. We’ve been collaborating with the core team on the project, and we’ve been speculating, both optimistically and cautiously, of Gutenberg’s potential impact on our business and the WordPress space in general. Imagine if Gutenberg “Blocks” we’re interchangeable with Beaver Builder modules, or if you could drag a saved row into a Gutenberg page. Or, Gutenberg’s text editor could be used inline in Beaver Builder. Lot’s of fun potential, right!?”

Elegant Themes

WordPress Responds to the Gutenberg Editor – A Review Roundup


  • “When looking at the debate, it’s important to remember that every change will bring some inertia and resistance. WordPress needs to move forward in order to compete in a changing environment. However, that doesn’t mean that the concerns being voiced are not valid and don’t need to be addressed. Thankfully, the developers are doing their best to do just that. Yet, seeing how many people are concerned and feel left out, maybe some additional communication is necessary.”

A Rather Scathing Review on WPMU

This one pulls no punches.

Gutenberg Editor Review: Please Don’t Include This in WordPress Core


  • “While the developers working on the Gutenberg editor plugin have obviously put a lot of work into creating the plugin and I commend them on their efforts so far, the truth is, this plugin is nowhere near ready to be included in WordPress and needs a lot more work, in particular, UX work.”

Yoast Suggests an Alternate Course for Gutenberg

Some significant problems are noted and solutions suggested.

An alternative approach to Gutenberg


  • “We are very enthusiastic about the idea of blocks, but have strong concerns about some of the technical choices and the speed of the implementation process. We are also worried about the lack of priority given to accessibility issues in the project. But most importantly, we are very much concerned about the fact that plugins are not able to integrate with the new editor.”

Yoast Talks About Concepts for Integrating His Plugin with Gutenberg

Here’s a lead other plugin developers might follow.

Gutenberg: Concepts for integrating Yoast SEO


  • “We started by breaking down all our features, and seeing where we could integrate them into Gutenberg. We don’t think holding on to a single, massive box below the editor will best serve our customers. We’d much rather integrate right where the action happens, and Gutenberg offers us that chance.”

Josh Pollock of Calera Forms

Five ways he wants to be proven wrong about Gutenberg:

Five Ways I’d Like To Be Proven Wrong About Gutenberg


  • “This is a big decision about the future of WordPress. I believe that we as a community will get this right, but it’s going to take a lot of testing, iterating and discussion to get it right.”

The Best 1-Star Review of All

So What Should You Be Doing about Gutenberg?

Give it a try.

  • Get to know Gutenberg for yourself. Install it on a test site and give it a spin.
  • See what you like and don’t like about it.

Submit feedback.

  • Gutenberg recently added a Feedback link under it’s sidebar menu item.
  • Take some time and offer well-considered observations about your experience using Gutenberg.
  • “You guys are morons” is not what they’re looking for.

Don’t panic.

  • There’s a lot of thoughtful discussion happening by many good people on this.
  • Even if the version of Gutenberg that makes it to core totally stinks, there should be a way to disable it.

Watch the Webinar: Gutenberg is Coming (Don’t Be Afraid)

In this webinar, we walk through all things Gutenberg and attempt to answer some of the questions about what’s next.

The post The Gutenberg WordPress Editor: 10 Things You Need to Know appeared first on iThemes.


WordPress Plugin Roundup – October 2017

In this post, we round up the latest cool and useful (oh, and free!) WordPress plugins now available on the WordPress Plugin Directory. This month’s WordPress Plugin Roundup includes everything from an easy way to add icon widgets to a way to keep up with your post/page word counts.

1. iThemes Sales Accelerator New from iThemes!

iThemes Sales Accelerator

The iThemes Sales Accelerator plugin transforms your WordPress dashboard with dynamic reports so you can get detailed data and e-commerce insights about your WooCommerce store.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • The newest iThemes plugin extends default WooCommerce reports by reorganizing the most important sales data for your store with charts, tables and more in your WP dashboard
  • Has a free companion iOS app to connect with your WooCommerce store so you can check reports on the go
  • The Pro version includes more features like custom date filters for reports, additional reports, drag and drop and more.
  • A must-have tool for WooCommerce shops. You may have never seen your sales data quite like this before

2. Icon Widget

Icon Widget Plugin

The Icon Widget plugin creates a new WordPress widget that displays an icon, title and description. Select the size, color and text-alignment with easy to use dropdown options.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • If you’re not using a page builder with something like this build in already, it’s a pretty easy way to add a featured content block in a widgetized area.
  • Uses Fontawesome fonts.
  • You’ll probably want to tweak the styling a bit, but the CSS is simple.

3. CH Word Count

CH Word Count

The CH Word Count plugin will show you the total word count for all your posts and pages in the admin dashboard as well as in the overview tables of the posts and pages lists.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Just install and activate and see a new column in the post list called “Words” that shows the number of words in each post.
  • Also adds a dashboard widget with total wordcounts sitewide. Nice for tracking your writing progress.
  • Very helpful for evaluating article length for SEO purposes.
  • Works for custom post types too.
  • Would be nice if the “Words” column was sortable, but it’s not currently.

4. Show Visitor IP

The Show Visitor IP plugin display Visitor IP Address & visitor location info using by visitor IP on post or page, anywhere with a shortcode. Very simple to install, simple to use, lightweight.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Display current user information based on IP address throughout the site with shortcodes.
  • Can be a little creepy, but also helpful if you want your user to see that you can tell where they’re coming from.
  • Shortcode list:
    • [show_ip]
    • [svip_location type="countryCode"]
    • [svip_location type="region"]
    • [svip_location type="lat"]
    • [svip_location type="long"]
    • [svip_location type="city"]
    • [svip_location type="countryName"]

5. Minimum Featured Image Size

Minimum Featured Image Size

With the Minimum Featured Image Size plugin, you can set the minimum width and height required for featured images. If the user tries to use an image that isn’t large enough they will see a friendly error message, and the post status will be reverted to ‘draft’.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • This could be a really helpful plugin to keep clients and new users aware of the need for larger featured images.
  • The error message could be a little more apparent.

6. Admin Select Box To Select2

Admin Select Box To Select2

The Admin Select Box To Select2 plugin is used to convert all simple select boxes to select2.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Adds a searchable box to the top of all standard select boxes in the WordPress admin.
  • Can be very helpful if you have long lists of taxonomies or dates that you need to quickly filter through.

7. The Paste

The Paste

With the The Paste plugin,  you can speed up your workflow by pasting images to the WordPress text editor. Copy image data from many desktop applications.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Images pasted into the visual editor are uploaded to the media library and named pasted.png, pasted-1.png, pasted-2.png, etc.
  • Better naming conventions are on the developer’s to do list.
  • This is an interesting plugin that could improve workflow for many clients. It may not be quite ready for prime time yet, but it’s definitely one to watch!

8. Full TinyMCE WordPress Editor

Full TinyMCE WordPress Editor

The Full TinyMCE WordPress Editor plugin will let you add/remove the buttons that are shown on the Visual Editor toolbar. Configure buttons including Font Sizes, Font Family, text and background colors, tables, etc. It will also let you enable the editor menu. It includes 15 plugins for TinyMCE that are automatically enabled or disabled depending on the buttons you have chosen.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Brings much of the the control of TinyMCE Advanced to the standard TinyMCE editor.
  • Nice little plugin for turning off editor options that could get your client into trouble (like font color), or adding editor options they might need (like tables).

9. Post Category Image With Grid and Slider

Post Category Image With Grid and Slider

The Post Category Image With Grid and Slider plugin allows users to upload category image and display in grid and slider.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Enabled a “Featured Image” for each post category.
  • Display categories in a slider using shortcode [pci-cat-slider].
  • Lots of shortcode options on the plugin page.

10. Clearfy

Clearfy – disable unused features

The Clearfy – disable unused features plugin allows you to disable the REST API, emojis, RSS, XML-RPC, revisions, Remove Yoast Comments, Reduce HTTP requests, heartbeat and version control.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Gives you quick access to turn on or off many “hidden” features of WordPress.
  • There are likely quite a few things you could disable and incrementally improve the speed and security of your website.
  • There are also some things you might inadvertently break with this plugin, so be sure you know what you’re turning off and why.

11. Bye, Felicia This Month’s Hello Dolly Replacement

Bye Felicia

The Bye Felicia plugin is just a simple plugin to replace Hello Dolly. For funsies. You’re welcome. Today was a good day. Now, bye Felicia.

Nathan’s Notes:

Watch the Webinar: WordPress Plugin Roundup
– October 2017

This post is based on the October 2017 Plugin Roundup webinar by Nathan Ingram. In this webinar, Nathan demonstrates how to use each of these plugins so you can get a better idea of how they work. Check out the entire series of monthly WordPress Plugin Roundup posts here & register for the next Plugin Roundup webinar here.

The post WordPress Plugin Roundup – October 2017 appeared first on iThemes.


Some Useful Tips For WordPress Developers

In the World Wide Web, uniqueness and simplicity are the main effective weapons to get much-needed attention of respective visitors for better stronghold of online portal. The main purpose of launching a website is to specifically reach out all the potential online visitors by conveying key business message of their common interest. Majority of people are giving more preference to open source CMS WordPress for creating a blog based website by means of PSD-to-WordPress conversion, integration and customization across the globe.

In today’s extremely internet savvy generation, microblogging is constantly gaining momentum among the masses. In fact, weblogs are considered shared on-line journal where different people come up with their new and exciting experiences. These personal internet journals in the form of blogs are the most standard platform to share opinions, experiences, ideas and lots more.

Majority of web professionals are stunningly using open source WordPress to build customized blog based website. WordPress is a popular blog application tool in the large family of open-source content management systems and Web applications. This advanced CMS mainly used for designing highly customized blog based website powered by high-quality WordPress themes/ templates. This type of CMS solution

There are some common mistakes that used to take place by every web expert. Below, some useful tips has been discuss in brief that every WordPress developer should keep in mind while WordPress theme/template integration and customization:

Go for thumbnails to display the related post on the blog.
Say yes to multiple loops to code complex WordPress pages.
Try to add multiple sidebars to display content of related post
Say yes to Drop-Down Menu to provide users easy-to-use tag navigation

People are hiring dedicated WordPress developer for professional coding solutions like PSD-to-WordPress conversion, themes/ templates customization and integration, CMS development and system design, custom modules development, module installation, blog customization, extensions development, existing Modification, maintenance work for WordPress website and so on.

It is advisable to hire dedicated WordPress developer with solid knowledge of open source blog application WordPress to avoid any type of risks in terms of quality factor. An individual can outsource virtual assistance of a web programmer on full-time basis, part-time basis or hourly basis depending upon the web requirement.

From Veteran Techie to Rookie Freelancer: Bianca Welds

We often interview veteran freelancers for the wisdom they can offer, though recently we’ve talked to a few freelancing rookies to see their fire and energy. This time, we’re getting both.

bianca weldsToday we talk with Bianca Welds. A veteran in the tech space, she started using WordPress back in 2005. More recently she started freelancing with L’Attitude Studios, on top of her full-time job. Bianca currently lives in Kingston, Jamaica.

“I’ve been very selective about who I work with, which helps to ensure greater success in the projects I do implement.” -Bianca Welds

We talked about shifting to freelancing, creating the right systems, and making it easy for clients.

How did you get started in freelancing?

I’ve been using WordPress for my personal websites since 2005. As blogging grew in Jamaica, I found myself helping other people with setup and migrations, but I was largely doing it as a “friend service.” In 2014, I decided to properly set up a side business focusing on WordPress and ideally working with creative businesses. I’ve been in and out of the technology field for my whole career so it’s not a shift so much as continuing to remain in a tech space that I find interesting.

What’s been the most important contributor to your early success?

Not sure I’d say early success, given the length of my journey and I’ve not dedicated myself full time to freelancing at this point. But what success I have had has come from the professional approach I have taken, which was largely defined by my participation in Troy Dean’s WP Elevation program two years ago. I continue to use the systems and structures that he outlined in dealing with clients. I’ve also been very selective about who I work with, which helps to ensure greater success in the projects I do implement.

Where do you think you need to improve as a new freelancer?

I need to get much better at marketing my business and attracting new clients. In part, because I’ve been doing it part time, I’ve not put a lot of effort into doing much on that front. The plan was to use content marketing as a pull, but that of course takes time to do it well.

What advice do you have for veteran freelancers? What are veterans overlooking or missing that you notice as a relative newcomer?

Make it easy for your prospective clients. The biggest competition is often DIY website builders because of the ease of getting started. Clients who need more still want the process of working with a freelancer to be easy, so don’t make them have to think too hard to get their project done.

The post From Veteran Techie to Rookie Freelancer: Bianca Welds appeared first on iThemes.


Finishing Strong in 2017

Did you take a vacation this summer? Did you step away from the screen to spend time with family or friends? Hopefully, you did. While summer can mean a much-needed break from work, freelancers and small business owners know it can also mean months of slower sales or that existing projects come to a sudden halt.

finishing strong

Coming back from the summer can pose a challenge, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still finish the year strong. If you’re still feeling the summer hangover, we have a few tips to get you fired up and ready to take on the last three months of 2017.

Finishing Projects Strong

While it may be difficult to predict the ebb and flow of business, we all know it: there’s usually a dip for web design project work during the summer. During the summer, ongoing projects can be delayed because clients are also vacationing, too.

Why do web design projects get stuck? It’s helpful to look at the two main reasons projects can be delayed:

  • Clients have higher priorities – As a small business owner yourself, you know the challenges of managing multiple projects or dealing with all the demands of business at once. It’s the same for clients.
  • You’re still waiting on copy or assets from the client  Projects can come to a standstill as you wait on the client to deliver the necessary information you need to finish a website.

If a project gets stuck, it may be the client’s fault, but it’s our responsibility to get that project moving again. And you probably already have a good incentive to finish a project–to get paid.

Here are a few ways to get projects “unstuck” so you can start making progress again:

Incentivize the completion of stalled projects.

Get back on your client’s radar and gain priority. What can you do to gain your client’s attention? Offer incentives to get the project rolling again.

  • Free month of website maintenance – Offer clients a month of free WordPress website maintenance. This is also a great way to let clients preview the value of this service.
  • Free upgrade to HTTPs – If the client’s website doesn’t have a valid SSL certificate, offer this as a free service in exchange copy or other assets that are holding a project up.
  • Get creative with other offers. What else could you offer as an incentive that costs you little but has value to your client?
Just remember: Never discount the project, but provide an incentive with the purpose of gaining the client’s attention and focus to complete the project.

Clients Stuck on Content?

Many clients freeze up when it comes to writing or creating their own content. They may not be sure where to begin. Here are a few tips to help:

  • Create a content guide for clients. A content guide could simply walk through different portions of a website with examples. The guide can also include questions such as: What is it that you do or provide? Why should clients choose you? What separates you from your competition? These questions should be designed to extract content from clients and get them guided in the right direction.
  • Offer a free 3-hour “content sprint” (or make it paid) – Set up a time to work through the content guide 1-on-1 with the client. During the meeting, jot down their answers as you work to record the conversation and take notes.

Ultimately, getting stuck on content is a process issue. Start building the content production process into your web design project process.

  • “No Code before Content” is a great motto for anyone building websites for clients. Make sure clients know the importance of content upfront and how it can delay a project. Clients need a plan for writing content or producing photographs, and if they need help, have a plan to help them with an upcharge fee that covers content production as an additional service. You can then contract out the work with a freelance writer or photographer, or do the work yourself.
  • Add project delay penalties into your contracts. Does your web design contract currently cover delayed projects? Is there any penalty built into your contract if a client suddenly goes missing or stops answering emails? If not, update your contracts now. Adding language concerning stalled projects can significantly reduce the likelihood of a delay, especially if there’s a penalty involved. For example, if a project is delayed more than 30 days for missing content from a client, for work to resume again, two conditions must be met: 1) Everything to finish the project must be in hand and 2) the remaining project balance must be paid in full.

Finishing Sales Strong

The last quarter of the year is often a time when many businesses are looking to spend money before the end of the year. This makes the final few months of the year a great time to sell a new website project.

You may not be a natural salesperson, and the thought of selling may be terrifying. It helps to simply reframe sales as being helpful. See sales as “consultative”–which means you’re being helpful, providing information, and meeting a need.

  • Cold calling is terrifying. Yep, you’re right! And it’s not terribly effective either (for most of us, anyway).
  • Start with your current clients. If you’ve been freelancing for a while, your existing client base is a potential goldmine of opportunity for both upsells and referrals.

Contact Existing Clients To Check In (And Upsell!)

The easiest client to sell is the client you’ve already sold. So how long has it been since you reached out to your current clients? Talk to former clients at least once a quarter, and for some better clients, at least once a month.

Ask: How’s it going? Are you having struggles or difficulties with your website? How is your website working for you? Are there things we can tweak to make it better? How can I help you?

You probably aren’t going to sell them a new website, but you have services you could offer. What do they need that you offer now?

Additional Website Services You Can Offer Existing Clients:

  • HTTPS – In October of 2017, Google Chrome will begin marking pages with forms on non-HTTPS websites as insecure. That makes this an excellent opportunity to explain to clients the value of having an SSL certificate installed on their website. Offer to move their website to HTTPS as a paid service. Check out our WordPress HTTPS Training so you’ll have all the knowledge you need to provide this service.
  • Site Speed Audit + Improvements – Another service you could offer is a Site Speed Audit. Site speed impacts your client’s search engine rankings, so it should be important to them too. Check out next month’s free Speeding up your WordPress website , a free webinar to help you with tips for speeding up a WordPress website.
  • Mobile-Friendly – If a client’s website still isn’t mobile-friendly, it needs to be. Offer to make it mobile-responsive with a one-time fee.
  • Security Audit + Services – Having an online security strategy is non-negotiable these days. As a paid service, you can do a security audit of their existing website, then install a WordPress security plugin such as iThemes Security. You could also set up WordPress two-factor authentication and train them to use it, as well as walk them through general online security measures such as using a password manager. Here’s more on why you should be using a password manager.
  • General WordPress Maintenance – Are clients keeping their websites updated? Are themes, plugins and WordPress core up to date? Are your clients tired of managing their own websites? Have a WordPress maintenance plan ready to offer as a way to help. Not sure how that looks? Here are 12 ideas to offer WordPress maintenance services to your clients.

Ask For Referrals

Be intentional about asking for referrals from your existing clients. Simply ask: Do you know any colleagues or friends that are needing a new website? You may be shocked how many referrals you’ll get just by asking.

Incentivize referrals!

The key to building your referral network is by incentivizing referrals. Here are a few ideas you could offer in exchange for a referral:

  • Free website maintenance – Offer 1-3 months of free website maintenance.
  • Gift card (Amazon, local restaurant, etc.) – Who doesn’t love a gift card?
  • Nice gift (Tablet, Apple Watch, etc.) – For bigger referrals that land you a new project, consider an even nicer gift.

Raise Your Rates!

How long has it been since you last raised your rates? Most freelancers should raise rates by 10% or more today. Yep–you read that correctly. 10%.

Raising your rates can be as simple as opening your proposal template, erasing the old rate and putting in the new rate.

  • Raise rates on January 1. Tell clients now. 
  • Sell a block of time at your current rate. Along with the notice, provide an offer to lock in a block of your time at your current rate. For example, you could see a 5-hour block of time. The block of time must be used within the next 12 months.

Finishing Personally Strong

On a personal level, how can you finish strong in 2017? Get yourself motivated TODAY to start strong and finish 2017 well. 

What is your WHY?

Why are you in business? Why are you a freelancer? Why do you do what you do? Spend some time revisiting your ultimate Why question. “Why?” may be a hard question to answer, but if you’ve never done it before, articulate your why.

Do you want more freedom? To be in control of your own destiny? Forge your own future? Have an improved quality of life? Be your own boss? Have no salary cap?

Speaking and writing down your personal Why is powerful. Print it off, and put your answer someplace where you can look at it every day. It can really be a strong motivator when you get stuck or unmotivated.

The 3 Most Important Things

What are the 3 most important things you need to do in your business by year end? Make a list.

Do you need to redesign your personal website? Finish writing that ebook? Book that conference to help you learn, grow or network? Finally invest in new tools such as software or a new computer? Raise your rates?

Set SMART Goals

If you don’t define the target, you’ll miss it every time. That’s where setting SMART goals come into play.

SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound
SMART goals are another powerful tool to help you get focused and finish the year strong. During the recent Freelance Summit, we cover setting SMART Goals in more detail.

Write your goals down. Make them a declaration.

Here’s a simple goals “declaration” template:

  • I will (specific + measurable)
  • by time (time-bound)
  • because/so that (relevant)

Here’s an example:

I will create a social media management service for my clients using Facebook by December 30 because it is a key to building recurring revenue in my business.

Put your goal declaration on your desk so you’ll see it every day.

The 3-Hour Challenge

Most freelancers spend most of their time working in their business, but not on their business. Commit to spending 3 hours a week working on your business until the end of the year.

Simply set aside three 1-hour sessions or block off an entire Friday afternoon. Think of this as “CEO” time to strategize and review goals.

You’ll find that these are the 3 most important hours of the week. If you aren’t actively growing your business, you’re not going to be able to serve your clients well.

Watch the Webinar: Finishing 2017 Strong

Hopefully, now you have a few ideas and some inspiration to get motivated and finish 2017 strong. Do you have a new set of goals? What will you do next? How will you finish the year strong?

This post is based on Nathan Ingram’s Finishing 2017 Strong webinar for iThemes Training.

More Training to Build Your Freelance Business

Check out the Freelance Summit and get 11 hours of online training videos to watch at your convenience + downloadable resources, all designed to help you move from struggling to success in your business.

Learn more about the Freelance Summit

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