In Case You Missed It – Issue 16

In Case You Missed It Featured Image
photo credit: Night Moves(license)

There’s a lot of great WordPress content published in the community but not all of it is featured on the Tavern. This post is an assortment of items related to WordPress that caught my eye but didn’t make it into a full post.

Four Great How-to Videos From Bob Dunn

Bob Dunn, founder of BobWP.com, has published four videos that explain how to solve common pain points experienced by users.

  • How To Get Rid of the Blog That is Showing On Your WordPress Sites Homepage
  • How To Create Two WordPress Blogs On a Single WordPress Site
  • How To Make Sense of Your WordPress Reading Settings
  • How To Add Formatted HTML to the Text Widget Without Knowing HTML

Dunn has years of experience teaching WordPress and it shows in these videos.

Matt Mullenweg Appears on Fortune’s 40 Under 40 List

Since Matt Mullenweg is now in his 30s, he’s graduated to the 40 Under 40 list put together by Fortune. He also received the Heinz Award in the Technology, Economy, and Employment category. The Heinz award is given to individuals who make significant contributions to the areas of Arts and Humanities, Environment, Human Condition, Public Policy, Technology, Economy and Employment. Mullenweg was also recently profiled in the Houston Chronicle by Anita Hassan.

In the article, David Caceres, one of Mullenweg’s music teachers is quoted as saying, “All the success hasn’t seemed to have affected him at all. You might just see him driving a fancier car.”

This quote sticks out to me because it’s true based on my experience. He doesn’t have bodyguards, is incredibly approachable at events, and is the opposite of everything rich celebrities are. I continue to be impressed by how humble and down-to-earth he is.

Leland Fiegel Debunks GPL Myths

Leland Fiegel, founder of Themetry, debunks at least a dozen myths around the GPL including, redistribution of paid for code, what customers are buying when they purchase GPL licensed products, and providing free copies of code upon request. If you’re thinking about entering the WordPress product space, consider this advice.

If you’re a developer of paid GPL code and imagine you’d be upset if somebody resold or gave away your code for free, you may want to reconsider releasing under the GPL at all.

Or better yet, focus on building such a rock-solid brand that any code redistribution would have an inconsequential effect on your business.

While his post does a great job, I encourage anyone doing business in the WordPress space to read and familiarize yourself with the GPL v2 license itself.

Changes to the Customize Sliding Panels/Sections in WordPress 4.7

The WordPress development team is requesting that developers test important changes that have been made to the sliding panels and sections of the customizer. The description is technical in nature but the changes allow the removal of margin-top hacks by separating the root ‘panel’ of the customizer from the container elements for the sections they link to. Developers are encouraged to review Trac ticket #34391 for more details.

Changes to Customizer Sliding Panels/Sections in WordPress 4.7

WP101 Turns 8 Years Old

WP101, founded by Shawn Hesketh, has turned eight years old. This year, Hesketh celebrates the milestone by thanking eight important people that include license partners and customers.

There are many others who have contributed to WP101’s success over the years, to say nothing of the countless friendships Kay and I have made over the years, thanks to the WordPress community. We are who we are today because of YOU.

We’re humbled and grateful, and look forward to celebrating many, many years to come!

Happy birthday to WP101!

0-$4,000 in Monthly Revenue in 10 Months

Over on the Cozmoslabs blog, Adrian Spiac published the lessons they’ve learned since launching the Paid Member Subscriptions plugin. The article includes the ups and downs experienced, challenges faced, and tough decisions that were made.

W3 Total Cache 0.9.5.1 Released

Hot on the heels of W3 Total Cache 0.9.5 released earlier this week, Frederick Townes has released 0.9.5.1 to address plugin incompatibilities. According to the changelog, Yoast SEO and Jetpack are among the plugins addressed. The new version also improves backwards compatibility for third-party implementations using legacy W3TC functions.

Major Changes in Store for FooPlugins

Adam Warner, co-founder of FooPlugins, published an in-depth article on the challenges associated with growing a plugin business and what his team is doing to overcome them. The article covers what the team has done right, wrong, and lists significant changes it’s making, including retiring unpopular plugins. Perhaps the most important part of the post however, is the promise made by Warner to current and future users.

My intention with this post is not to make anyone nervous about the future of our plugins. It’s quite the opposite.

I hope by sharing these insights that our intentions are clear. We are committed to the future of our brand, our products, and their features (both free and pro), and most of all, you.

We plan to be around for years to come. And to keep learning and pivoting as necessary to make certain that happens.

Lastly, for the 400,000+ combined users of all our all publicly available plugins, we thank you for your support thus far and hope we can count on you to keep teaching us how to continue our success.

Swag Wapuu!

In what is a traditional part of this series, I end each issue by featuring a Wapuu design. For those who don’t know, Wapuu is the unofficial mascot of the WordPress project.

Swag Wapuu is making the rounds and its next stop is WordCamp Orlando, FL, October 7-9. Swag Wapuu loves wearing conference shirts and free swag but hates wearing pants. Below is a preview of one of the shirt designs that will be given out as swag at the event.

Swag Wapuu!
Swag Wapuu!

That’s it for issue sixteen. If you recently discovered a cool resource or post related to WordPress, please share it with us in the comments.

Twenty Seventeen Meeting Notes: Sept. 30 2016

Here’s the meeting summary for this week. If I missed anything, let me know in the comments.

Housekeeping

Summary

The group:

  • gave an update on the theme’s progress. Lots of PRs merged this week, plus the design implementation should be done early next week. From @laurelfulford: “I’m aiming for Monday at the latest to have the design PR ready to merge. There will still be minor issues, but it’s at the point where it’ll benefit from everyone else’s eyes.”
  • labeled a handful of issues on GitHub that hadn’t been triaged yet.
  • discussed issue on fonts and non-latin fallbacks. It now has a list of alphabets the theme aims to support. Next steps include coming up with font stacks for each choice and figuring out implementation strategies.

REST API Agenda for October 3 2016 Meeting…

REST API: Agenda for October 3, 2016 Meeting

The weekly meeting for the API team will be on Monday at 2016-10-03 14:00 UTC in #core-restapi. On the agenda:

  • Update on Settings from @joehoyle
  • Update on Meta from @rmccue
  • 4.7 Merge Plan TODOs

    • Decision on supported authentication methods
    • Progress on outside review
    • Timeboxed open floor
  • Review open PRs
  • Find owner for open tickets, e.g. some OAuth/Cookie conflicts

Pippin Williamson Shakes Up Page Builder Plugins with Critical Review

photo credit: ruudgreven DSC_0012 - (license)
photo credit: ruudgreven DSC_0012(license)

Pippin Williamson has published a comprehensive review of some of the most popular WordPress page builder plugins. The post has received more than 90 comments and is already inspiring changes across the page builder plugin market. Williamson, a prolific plugin developer and mentor to many others, is one of the most authoritative voices in the community on the topic of plugins, which has caused this post to be well-received.

The idea started with a Twitter rant where Williamson collectively slammed popular page builder plugins for their “subpar user experiences” and compatibility problems they cause for other plugins. After realizing he had never truly used any of these plugins, he decided it would only be fair to try them and give a full review.

Williamson’s review is written from the perspective of a developer who supports a large number of plugins and routinely deals with plugin conflicts caused by page builder plugins.

“The page builder ecosystem is a wild west right now and is in a gold rush,” Williamson said. “A lot of different players are building their own versions and many are reaping good rewards for their efforts…What the page builder industry is severely lacking is standardization.”

Williamson compared the current state of the page builder ecosystem to that of the commercial themes industry a few years ago before theme developers agreed on the standards that now guide their products. His critical review examines each plugin’s usability, UI, content “lock in,” and whether the plugin interferes with filters, such as the_content, that might cause incompatibility with other plugins.

Page Builder Plugin Authors Are Responding with Updates to their Plugins

Many of the plugin authors whose page builders were included in the review were quick to respond and are already working on changes based on Williamson’s feedback.

I spoke with Ben Pines, CMO at Elementor, a newer page builder plugin included in the 13 reviewed. After just three months on WordPress.org, Elementor is active on more than 10,000 WordPress sites. The plugin’s contributors continue to add new features to the free version and Pines said they hope to release a commercial version in the next two months.

“We release new features and bug fixes on a weekly basis, based on our user feedback, so of course we take Pippin’s feedback seriously,” Pines said. “We have addressed the only two issues he critiqued us about, and will release an update next week that will address how shortcodes and widgets load scripts on Elementor.”

Brix Builder, a GPL-licensed commercial plugin, was criticized in the review for major compatibility issues: restricting other plugins’ ability to utilize the_content filter and shortcode enclosures not working across builder elements. Apart from these and a few other issues with the plugin’s UI, Williamson ranked the plugin near the top of the list in terms of usability.

Brix co-creator Simone Maranzana was quick to respond in the comments that their team has already fixed some of the issues Williamson pointed out and they are working on the others.

“Concerning the other issues you mentioned, we are going to release an update to our plugin tomorrow that will add support for shortcode enclosures,” Maranzana said.

“Also, we’ve corrected how we hook into the_content for display: this way, other plugins will be able to hook either before or after the content generated by Brix, just like they’d do normally.”

I spoke with Matt Medeiros, whose Conductor plugin was included among the page builders Williamson reviewed. He said his team has never considered Conductor to be a page builder similar to others on the list, as the plugin focuses on giving users control over their content displays without a framing a fully-designed layout.

“We wanted customers to easily stack types of content, display custom fields, and drag-and-drop blocks of that content around a page, not design a layout,” Medeiros said. “Since we launched we’ve had over 500 customers using it, and Pippin’s findings are something we’ve always struggled with — finding people who want to shape their content displays, but not buy a full page builder.”

Medeiros said his team will be acting on this feedback in the coming months with the launch of a new website that better communicates the purpose of the plugin, differentiating it from more traditional page builders. They are also working on making their flagship Baton theme support Beaver Builder layouts, as Medeiros said they do not intend to compete in the page builder space.

Beaver Builder, one of the most popular plugins reviewed, does not support multisite in its standard license, something Williamson only discovered after installing it.

“I’m entirely fine with limiting the number of domains the plugin is activated on but this limitation should not affect my ability to use a core WordPress feature,” Williamson said.

Robby McCullough, co-founder of Beaver Builder, was quick to respond to the feedback on the multisite settings and said the team will reconsider its decision to restrict the feature.

Page Builder Sandwich, a commercial plugin that has a free version on WordPress.org with more than 6,000 active installs, was criticized in Williamson’s review for the “rainbow of unnecessary colors” used in its interface. This issue plus a few editor glitches prevented the plugin from being listed among his favorites.

Benjamin Intal, the plugin’s creator, said that his team is working on toning down the colors used in the interface so that it’s not such a jarring experience.

“I agree with you regarding the interface, it does need some toning down,” Intal said. “We’ve been rethinking the interface for the past couple of weeks on how we can improve the user experience. We are revamping it, and the colors are now being adjusted to be more subtle.”

Williamson Finds 3 Page Builder Plugins Worthy of Recommendation

Williamson concluded the review by selecting three favorites, which he said he could happily recommend to his customers: Tailor, Pootle Page Builder, and Beaver Builder. As he is not an affiliate with any of the plugins and has stated multiple times that he has no interest in creating his own page builder, his selections were based solely on the criteria he identified before testing.

One important aspect of the plugins Williamson did not take into account was licensing, which he said was “not relevant for the review or the vast majority of end users.” The license may not be something users care about but it certainly can impact their ability to fork the plugin or improve upon it if the company abandons it or goes out of business.

I spoke with Luke Beck, founder of ThemeFusion, which packages its Fusion Builder plugin with Avada, one of the most widely used WordPress themes. His team was not immediately available to answer questions pertaining to the review, although we will update if we receive comments from them.

Beck was hesitant to answer whether Fusion Builder is 100% GPL and directed me to ThemeForest, which lists Avada as split GPL. Avada’s creators also require users to purchase multiple licenses when using the theme on WordPress multisite. Visual Composer, another plugin included in the review, shares the same kind of split licensing. It only offers the PHP under GPL, restricting the Javascript, CSS, and images. Putting part of the product under a proprietary license severely restricts users’ freedoms and should be disclosed as part of any future reviews.

All three plugins that won out are 100% GPL and two out of the three have fewer than 4,000 active installs. This demonstrates that high quality WordPress plugins may not always be widely known and the size of the user base is not always an indication of the plugin’s code quality.

After receiving several comments about other page builder plugins not included in the review, Williamson said he may try to do a second set of reviews. Despite not being especially fond of these types of plugins, he recognizes the demand for page builders and their usefulness to the community.

Williamson’s critical review is a powerful example of the change that can be precipitated by one highly-regarded expert offering constructive, unbiased feedback to plugins that fall into a particular niche. Hopefully this and any future reviews will be the first cracks in the ice towards accelerating standardization of the disparate products in WordPress’ page builder ecosystem.

Spotlight: How Softwear Systems Provides Drupal Security

In the early 1980’s Softwear Systems opened up as a custom software company in Chicago. Over the years, its founder Mitch Meyers, learned how to create and manage great websites. Today, the company focuses on providing effective Drupal web development for their clients. At one point, Softwear had a client who worked for a branch…

The post Spotlight: How Softwear Systems Provides Drupal Security appeared first on Sucuri Blog.

Community Recap: Automattic’s Worldwide WordPress 5K

From September 19 to September 26, we invited members of the WordPress community to join us in one of our favorite yearly traditions: the Automattic Worldwide WordPress 5K (open to runners, walkers, cyclists, and hikers — and any other type of ambulation). Here are some of the stories and photos people shared from their corner of the world.

Live from Whistler

Our company is distributed, with Automatticians currently based in more than 50 countries. But once a year, we meet for a week to work and socialize in person — and we always set aside some time to run together, too.

Automatticians preparing for their 5K in Whistler, Canada.

Automatticians preparing for their 5K in Whistler, Canada.

This year, our Grand Meetup took place in beautiful Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. And on the morning of September 19, a few dozen of us braved the chilly early-morning weather for a 5K in the lush mountain landscape. If this sounds like your idea of fun, consider joining us in time for next year’s edition — we’re always hiring.

A thought-provoking jog in Austin, Texas

For many of us, a walk or a run are among the rare moments when we have time to clear our minds and reflect on our surroundings. For Johanna Levene, jogging is also a reminder of gender inequality. In a powerful recap of her jog during a trip to Austin, Texas, she discusses her fragile sense of safety when street harassment and assault are rampant:

But I’m a runner. I love running when I travel for work. Last week I left my hotel room with my phone in hand and my room key in my pocket. I don’t wear headphones when I run, because I know it’s not safe. I hate holding my phone when I run, but I’m somewhere strange and no one knows I’m leaving and no one is expecting me back. On the off chance something bad happens I can call. On the off chance something really bad happens the last known location of my cell phone might be traceable.

Stories like Johanna’s remind us of the strong voices in our community — and of all the work that’s still needed to make all communities safe and welcoming to everyone, regardless of our identity. (Visit our new Diversity and Inclusion page if you’d like to learn more about our company’s efforts in these areas.)

WordPressers celebrating local landscapes

WordPress communities are fiercely local, grassroots operations. The annual WWWP5K reminds us of the global reach of this platform, and brings together developers and bloggers, designers and photographers, and everyone else in between who uses WordPress to tell their stories.

In Paris, Houssanti Baraka celebrated her first blogiversary by walking five kilometers in La Villette park:

Image by Houssanti Baraka

Image by Houssanti Baraka.

In South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, the blogger at Dis Ekke shared photos from a muddy (but pastoral!) hike outside her recently flooded town:

Image by HesterLeyNel.

Image by HesterLeyNel.

And back in the US, in southeastern Louisiana, Diana Klein took her mixed run/walk as an opportunity to closely observe the sights and people that make her neighborhood hers:

I’ve passed a few other early exercisers already, but it’s three quarters of a mile in before I see any of the regulars: the speedy woman walker whom I often come up on and to whom I gently call out, “On your left.” She always squeezes her arms into her body to take up less space, preparing for any onslaught I might bring. “Good morning,” I say as I pass her, scenting her gentle baby powder aura. “Good morning,” she always beams back — as though her eighty-odd years have done nothing to quell the joy that determines to exude from her body. I want to be like her — not when I’m eighty, but right now.

Have you participated in the Worldwide WordPress 5K? Tell us how it went in the comments, or share a link to a post you published about it.

2016 WordPress Website Maintenance Survey

Website maintenance is quickly becoming the next logical step for WordPress professionals around the globe. If you stick to just building websites, once you stop coding, you stop eating. By setting up a website maintenance service you’re getting paid even while away from your computer. But how much money should you charge? What tools are the best? Do you need multiple tiers? Scope of service? Let’s find out.

2016-survey-featured-image

How much is everyone else charging for website maintenance?

– Everyone

Framing The Offer

service pie chart

A total of 186 ManageWP users filled out the survey, and a whopping 92.5% offer website maintenance as a service, either as their core business or as a side gig.

tiers pie chart

When asked about how many tiers of service are being offered, 40.7% opted for 3 tiers. This makes total sense since it plays into something called price anchoring, which we’ll go into later in the article. But now let’s take a look at how much people charge for their service. All the prices in the survey are in USD, per website, per month.

Single Tier

single tier fee chart

The single tier maintenance starts at $10 and goes all the way up to $300. The average price tag is $57, and the median is $40. The most commonly chosen price tag is $50 (8.5% of users), with the same percentage of people using the psychological trick to end the price with the number 9.

single-tier-scope-chart

Almost everyone offers updates (97.87%) and backups (93.62%), with security being a close third (85.11%) and uptime monitoring a distant 4th (63.83%). This was to be expected, seeing how ManageWP provides updates, incremental backups, security checks and uptime monitoring. What I found personally interesting is that hosting is at 36.17%, which indicates that 1/3 of clients prefer a hands-off approach, where they let WordPress professionals take care of all the technical aspects.

Multiple Tiers

We asked people with multiple tiers to tell us about their top and bottom tier.

multiple-tiers-fee-chart

What’s interesting is the bottom tier starts at $0 and goes all the way to $350. The average is $58 and the median at $47. The most commonly chosen price tag is $50 (12.1% of users!), and 14.5% of users chose the price tag that ended with a 9.

The top tier starts at $3 and goes up to $1,200, which just goes to show how website management can wildly differ from one person to another. The average price tag for the top tier is $214 and the median is $135. $100 is the most popular price (8.1% of users), with 16.9% using the 9 trick.

What really struck me as a positive thing is that only 4 users had bottom tiers in the single digits, and only one of them with $3 as the top tier. I was honestly expecting more users actively trying to run their business into the ground. I talked about this phenomenon in an earlier article, I highly recommend reading it if your tiers are in a single digit area.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff when we look at the scope of service.

multiple-tiers-scope-chart

The difference between the top and bottom tier scope of service is huge. The items that differ the most are performance optimization (20.5% VS 70.1%), SEO (10.2% VS 52%), malware cleanup (22% VS 59.8%) and developer hours (11% VS 49.6%). That’s because the top tier provides a whole new narrative. Bottom tier is about maintenance, top tier is about improvement. The website is being actively tuned, optimized and improved, which is a huge selling point for a business that relies on a website that converts.

Overcoming The Obstacles

I included an open-ended question:

What’s the biggest challenge you overcame, that got your website maintenance business to where it’s now?

I crunched the answers into 5 categories:

  • Finding the right tools and automating their workflow
  • Getting the clients to see the value of the service
  • Getting into the right mindset and learning the right skills
  • Finding new clients
  • Coming up with the right pricing model and scope of service

challenge overcome bar chart

Another open-ended question I asked:

What’s the biggest challenge you still haven’t overcome?

challenge not overcome bar chart

You’ll notice that there’s an additional bar there, for people who overcame all obstacles. Yep, that’s only 5.2%. Remember this whenever someone starts talking how website maintenance is a magical passive income machine. You can be smart about how you run your business, but there’s no such thing as free money.

Key Takeaways

There’s No Reason Not to Offer Maintenance

92.5% of ManageWP users make money off WordPress website maintenance. If you’re building websites for your clients, then you’re the person that’s knows that website the best. So why not throw in a website maintenance offer to keep the website humming (and money coming in!) after the project has been completed. After all, websites aren’t paintings that you hand up on the wall after they’re complete; they are an investment that needs to be looked after to keep the positive ROI.

Having multiple tiers is more profitable than having just one

comparison-fee-chart

When we compare the averages and medians, we see that the single tier is right there with the bottom tier, and the top tier is in a whole different price range.

comparison-scope-chart

This is where it really becomes interesting. The bottom tier has a much narrower scope than the single tier, while costing more. The top tier basically includes everything, but charges a hefty fee for it. When we crunch the price tag per feature, we get this revelation.

comparison-per-feature-chart

The multi tiered approach is killing the single tiered approach by charging double per feature. This happens for two reasons.

Price Anchoring

We mentioned it earlier in the article, and here’s how it works:

  • When you present your potential client with just 1 option, it’s usually an abstract figure and you’ll have an uphill struggle conveying the value to your client, since it’s not like they could open the yellow pages and compare your rates with someone else’s.
  • Try adding a 2nd tier. Cut all the more expensive/time consuming features from the bottom tier, add some new features to the new tier, and now your client has a base line to make the decision.
  • Let’s mess with the human psyche a bit more. There’s a reason you see a lot of online services offering 3 tiers of service. By going even further and offering an all-inclusive, 5 star tier with unicorns and rainbows, you’re doing two things: the people who always opt for the best will leave a lot more money, and you’ll nudge the rest toward the middle tier, which will bring in most of the money. It’s called 3-tier or 3 pronged pricing, and it works fantastically when set up properly.

Charge More for More

When you have a single tier, that’s it. But in a multi tiered offer, you can slowly build up credibility with your client, and over time give them a gentle nudge toward a higher tier. If you’ve been doing a great job so far, you’ll even see the upgrades happen organically.

Optimization is Worth More Than Maintenance

When someone says “maintenance”, I picture a yearly visit to the car mechanic – not something I like, but it keeps my car running. But optimization is a whole other thing. The client’s website will run faster. It will convert better, bring in more revenue. It’s a promise of better tomorrow as opposed to the status quo. Expand the scope of service to move your service from maintenance to optimization.

It’s About Availability, Not Actual Work

You’re a bodyguard, not a ditch digger. Your job is to automate as much work as possible, and only roll up your sleeves when absolutely necessary. Why? Because your clients couldn’t care less how much time you spend on their website. What they care about is that you’re taking care of their website, so they don’t have to.

There’s Always Room to Grow

Too overwhelmed with work to onboard new clients? Find new or better tools to automate your flow, or expand your team. Don’t focus on the cost of the service, but on the value you’re getting out of it. Have a good service, but don’t know how to sell it? There are programs like WP Elevation that help you level up your soft skills. Want to learn more WordPress skills? Lynda has a whole bunch of courses covering different WordPress niches. My point is that there’s always something to learn and improve. Even ManageWP started off as a WordPress consulting agency before taking a stab at efficient website management.

The post 2016 WordPress Website Maintenance Survey appeared first on ManageWP.

How to Provide Page Templates in Plugins


How to Provide Page Templates in Plugins →

Paulund has a nice little tutorial about something I’ve done once or twice, but haven’t managed to ever write down or remember well: how you can provide page templates in a plugin.

Page templates, if you remember, are the drop-down on the right of Page post types in WordPress. By default, they’re only looked for and provided by a theme. But sometimes you can and will want one supplied by a plugin. Unfortunately, that’s not super easy or elegant in WordPress. But it is possible, and this little tutorial shows you how. Definitely worth a glance, even if you don’t intend to do it soon.

The core filters: theme_page_templates and template_include.

What to Expect from a WordPress Security Solution/Provider

There are so many WordPress security solutions and security providers in the market that one has to struggle hard to find and settle with one. There are a lot of things that a security solution or a provider should take care of. This post is about what users need as a security solution. What are they ready to pay for. I am writing this post with three kinds of people in mind.

The post What to Expect from a WordPress Security Solution/Provider appeared first on WPLift.