WordPress Community Support Shuts Down WordCamp Netherlands in Favor of City-Based WordCamps

The application for WordCamp Netherlands 2017 has been denied. The camp, which held its sixth edition in Utrecht last year with more than 425 attendees, was one of the most well-established WordPress events in Europe. Yesterday lead organizer Marcel Bootsman published a post on the Dutch WordPress community site to explain why the camp has been cancelled.

Bootsman’s post is written in Dutch but includes correspondence in English between the WCNL team and WordPress Community Support (WCS), formerly WordCamp Central. WCS is now pushing for all WordCamps to be city-based with the exception of regional camps, such as WordCamp US and WordCamp Europe, where the cities already have their own camps and do not prevent or detract from local communities launching their own camps.

“WordCamp Netherlands has been held 6 times to date and…It has not inspired any local WordCamps (in fact, I think it’s probably fair to say that local camps have not been happening because people don’t see a need for them with the country-wide camp happening each year) and, with the exception of Nijmegen, which is still in the pre-planning phase, no cities in the Netherlands have their own WordCamps,” a WCS representative said. “With that in mind, we feel that the time has come for your community to move from the country-wide camp to running local camps. This has started happening with Nijmegen already and can easily start happening more with WordCamps in Utrecht, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and other cities.”

The Netherlands is roughly the size of Maryland, or twice the size of New Jersey, in terms of land space. One can drive across the country in two hours or less. The WCNL team contends that a country-wide WordCamp makes sense for geographical reasons and because of the locations of the organizers. The country already has an active meetup culture with 13 different meetups hosting an average of 100 attendees per event. Organizers do not see the need to have multiple smaller WordCamps fill the role that the local meetups are already doing.

In response to the reasons WCNL organizers’ outlined for not shutting down their event, the WCS representative replied, “I don’t think there’s really any benefit to responding to all of your points in the last email individually.” WCS reiterated its decision regarding the camp:

We will not be approving WordCamp The Netherlands 2017. We would like to see city-based WordCamps happening around the Netherlands – Nijmegen being a great start to that process.

We’re confident that with the space that WCNL filled being vacated, we will see some of the meetup organizers around the country stepping up to fill that space for their local communities. The local city camps may be smaller, but in many ways that can be a much better than a single large camp.

As I said before, we would be happy to look at doing WCNL again in a couple of years time once there are a few city-based camps around the country happening regularly. In that case, however, WCNL would be there to complement, and not replace, the city-based camps.

WordCamp Netherlands was the last remaining exception to this new rule that drops country-wide WordCamps in favor of city-based camps. The Dutch community and many of its supporters are now in an uproar over the decision and organizers are at a crossroads. They can choose to rebrand the event as WordCamp Utrecht, with significant drawbacks, or move forward with an independent country-wide event without the use of WordCamp tools, branding and trademarks, or funding from the Global Community Sponsorship Program.

WordCamp Netherlands Conflict Highlights Cultural Differences Between the U.S. and Europe

Marcel Bootsman, who heads up the 13-person WordCamp Netherlands organization team, said they have been working since late December 2016 on the upcoming event. The team had added eight new members after the event grew 68% from 2015 to 2016.

“Everybody was thrilled to start, and the news that we could not continue hit us hard,” Bootsman said. “We have officially stopped and I have thanked everyone for their enthusiasm and support, which was difficult because I wanted to let these people feel what it is to organize an event and see happy faces all over the place.”

WordPress developer and Dutch community member Juliette Reinders Folmer said she doesn’t believe that more than one or perhaps two city-based WordCamps will get started in the Netherlands. Organizing a WordCamp is not an easy endeavor with a small pool of local organizers and volunteers. Folmer notes that since the WordPress Foundation doesn’t allow for compensating speakers for their out-of-pocket costs, the speaker pool is further limited.

“A trend I’ve spotted over the last few years is that ‘local’ WCs will have a mix of local, national and international speakers,” Folmer said. “While national speakers might still be prepared to go out of pocket, the only international speakers who can afford to do this are the ones who are sponsored by big companies which pay their travel and time to speak at those WCs.

“Instead of creating a larger speaker group with new and interesting voices, we’re ending up with a corporate uniform message where the more innovative and sometimes dissident voices are few and far between. By forcing WCNL to break up into smaller more local groups, this trend will become even more persistent and insidious as the demands on the limited group of national speakers will increase unless they have corporate sponsoring. Even they will not able to afford the time and costs to attend and speak at the various local WCs.”

Remkus de Vries, WordCamp Netherlands lead-organizer from 2009 to 2015, said the team has worked for years to see the local communities come together, and have seen people get involved with translations, forum moderation, and local meetups after attending the WordCamps.

“Our idea from the get go for WordCamp Netherlands was to be as inclusive as possible, to unite the scattered Dutch WordPress community,” de Vries said. “The Dutch community consisted of little islands that didn’t really connect at all. We’ve been working very hard to unite our Dutch Community via WordCamp Netherlands and it was working perfectly.

“Because of our inclusive approach we started getting international visitors and speakers from the early start as well, but more importantly, the event, as a national event, pulled everyone in from all corners of the Netherlands. Our community started and flourished because we started as a central entity.”

Bootsman is not optimistic about the future of the Dutch WordPress community after receiving the decision from WCS. The conflict has highlighted a key difference between U.S. and European cultures when it comes to traveling. Whereas Americans might think a 4-5 hour drive to another city is a short road trip, Europe’s population is much more dense than the U.S. and traveling several hours to another city is not common.

“When there is no WordCamp Netherlands, my personal belief is that this will break up the community,” Bootsman said. “Of course we will have central tools like Slack, nl.w.org and other ways to communicate, but that is nothing compared to an event where all these people can meet. People are busy and can’t find time to visit multiple WordCamps in the Netherlands. Distances are not that large in NL, that is not an issue, but time is. When you have a central WordCamp The Netherlands once a year you plan, so you are available to go. In the new situation, when there is a WordCamp Rotterdam, why visit a WordCamp in another town? This maybe hard to understand, but this is how it works for Dutch people. We’re too practical sometimes, and in this situation, it will not help the community.”

WordCamp Netherlands Organizers are Considering Hosting an Independent Event

Both de Vries and Bootsman are said they do not believe rules that make sense for the U.S. should be applied universally. They would prefer them to be guidelines that communities can follow or depart from if they express their preference for a country-wide WordCamp. WordPress communities in other countries like Denmark, Croatia, and Switzerland have expressed similar frustrations with the U.S.-centric rules.

“WordCamp Netherlands was what started the local WordPress meetups and ended up being the glue between the WordPress Meetups,” de Vries said. “Forcing us to stop using WordCamp Netherlands is going to impact that as you could see by the outpouring of reactions yesterday on Twitter and Facebook. Renaming WordCamp Netherlands to WordCamp Utrecht, as suggested by many, could be a solution, but nobody of the organizing team lives in the city which means, per the WCS rules, we can’t do that. But more importantly, we would be losing ‘our glue.’ We feel that our efforts of the last years have just been flushed down the toilet with this ‘one-size-fits-all’ rule.”

Although WCNL organizers were told in no uncertain terms that their camp is cancelled, a recent post on the Community team blog indicates that representatives are considering feedback on the decision.

The first two WordCamp Netherlands were not under the umbrella of WordCamp Central, and de Vries said they will find a way to have the camp if it comes to that. Organizers are currently examining their options.

“It is too soon to announce things about this but let me say that we feel the Netherlands needs to have a countrywide WordPress event based on the experiences of the last years,” Bootsman said. “We are not going to let the Netherlands WordPress community down.”

WordPress Plugin Directory Redesign: Why So Many People Feel Their Feedback Was Ignored

Earlier this week, the WordPress plugin directory relaunched with a new design and an improved search algorithm. Feedback has been rolling in from Tavern readers and members of the Advanced WordPress Facebook group.

The improvements to search has received a number of positive comments in addition to people requesting the ability to sort results. The responsive design and aesthetics of the page have also received praise.

There are a number of items that plugin developers and users have reported as downsides to the new design. Some of the most notable include:

  • Plugin stats are only available to the plugin author by logging into the admin.
  • Tabbed layout was replaced with a series of Read more links.
  • Plugin banner images are distorted.
  • The Installation tab which provided instructions on how to install the plugin is gone.
  • Screenshots do not open in a lightbox, but open on a new page instead.
  • Links to download older versions of plugins is missing.

Many of the issues reported above are known and have been known for months. While it may seem like a lot of people are suddenly complaining and didn’t participate in the feedback loop, it’s important to look back to see how the plugin directory redesign reached this point.

From Prototypes to Open Beta

In May 2016, the WordPress Meta team published prototypes of a new design for the WordPress plugin directory. The announcement generated abundant feedback with a strong push towards adding data instead of removing it.

Many users reported that moving the plugin author, last updated, and active install information from the plugin’s listing page to the plugin’s details page was a downside. Samuel Sidler, Apollo Team Lead at Automattic, responded to the feedback explaining why he didn’t think showing the information to users was useful.

Author, as you said, is only really useful for insiders. The latter two, meanwhile, are already taken into account in the search results. If a plugin doesn’t have a recent compatible version, it will move down the list. If it’s too old, it won’t get shown at all (which is the case today).

Active installs is more interesting, but we account for it weighting search results as-is. I actually find it refreshing to not show the active installs as it allows for less-popular plugins to get more downloads. Users will be less likely to click the popular plugins (outside of familiar names) and more likely to find the plugin they actually need.

There was also a lot of discussion on how to improve and display search results.

In June 2016, at WordCamp Europe, Konstantin Obenland, WordPress core contributor, announced that the WordPress plugin directory redesign was in open beta. The team received feedback from Matt Mullenweg, co-creator of the WordPress project, on changing the direction and design of the page. “We’re really just at the beginning of design iterations,” Obenland said. “He thinks we can do better, which he’s right about. We can and we should.”

Kevan commented on the open beta and pointed out many of the same issues that were reported with the prototypes. In July 2016, Obenland announced version three of the open beta. The use of Read more links in favor of the tabbed interface was again brought up in the comments by John Blackbourn.

“I’m really concerned about the liberal use of ‘Read more’ links on individual plugin pages,” Blackbourn said. “They’re being used in order to fix the information overload problem caused by placing all the information onto one page, instead of using the tabbed interface of the current directory.”

In response to Blackbourn, Joy stated that the issue of Read more links had already been discussed and that the feedback was ignored. The feeling of being ignored was also shared by Jon Brown.

“It’s hard to see feedback has been heard and in this case a lot of it doesn’t seem to have been taken into account (bring back tabs, no read more…).” Brown said. “I don’t see everything, or even much, so I could have certainly missed it.”

Mika Epstein responded that the feedback was not ignored and that Obenland was in the process of collecting and collating information.

Four months ago, Kenshino created a ticket on WordPress Meta that outlined usability concerns with using Read more links instead of tabs.

“Clicking on Read more – say on the change log requires me to scroll to the bottom before I’m able to reach the next section,” he said. “Essentially for me to go through all the sections, provided that they are long enough, I’d have to click, scroll a few pages, click, scroll a few pages etc until I get through all the sections.”

The ticket was closed as a duplicate of Greg Ross’ ticket. In it, he suggests a Jump section be added so users can navigate to specific sections of the Read Me without having to scroll through the entire page. The ticket has received minor support and recently had its milestone changed from version three to a future version.

WordPress Contributors Feel Ignored

In a meeting held earlier this week in the WordPress Meta Slack channel, Matt Cromwell, Head of Support and Community Outreach at WordImpress, suggested that the Meta team describe the process of collecting and acting on feedback in as much detail as possible in the announcement post.

“I’ve chatted with a lot of developers and many feel like they provided actionable feedback about the direction of the plugin directory and all advice was ignored,” Cromwell said. “Whether or not that’s an accurate assessment, it’s a real feeling that is shared by many. I’ve been here most weeks and know well that feedback was received and acted on, but there’s still a strong perception.”

Despite the concerns of using Read more links brought up during every phase of the project, they don’t appear to have been addressed. Other gripes expressed by members of the community at the outset of the redesign have largely remained. It’s no wonder that so many people feel like they’ve been ignored.

Mullenweg commented in the meeting saying he, too, felt ignored, “For what it’s worth, I feel like my feedback was ignored as well,” he said. “I hope we can do another major iteration on the directory, because I’m not really a fan of the new one.

“Perhaps the WordPress backend will make it easier to make incremental improvements in the future, as being on bbPress before was often cited as the reason things were slow to iterate previously.”

Although Mullenweg’s feedback in June 2016, was not public, his recent comments indicate not much has changed between then and now.

Alex Shiels, a member of Team Apollo at Automattic, says user feedback wasn’t ignored. “It’s not that anyone’s feedback has been ignored; just that we’ve had limited resources and a big back-end component to the project, and a lot of conflicting requests” he said. “I’ll make sure to give a clear invitation to provide feedback in the announcement post, and include something about future iteration.

The Inability to Measure the Impacts of the Redesign

Kevin Hoffman, who participated in discussions on trac about how to display screenshots, asked if there was any user data and feedback that the Meta team could share that led to some of the decisions and changes that were made. For example, changes to the UI or how often the Read more links are clicked. Shiels responded that the team does not have that data because they don’t have the tools to do it.

“There is Google Analytics tracking, but access is very limited and from what I’ve seen of it (I don’t have direct access) it’s messy and hard to draw objective conclusions from,” Shiels said. “I absolutely agree that analytics and A/B testing would be great, but we just don’t have the tools for it right now. I think that needs to be considered a next step, but a separate project by itself really.”

Hoffman stepped back from contributing to the redesign after receiving this response seven months ago from Sidler on Trac where he says much of the feedback received was from plugin developers and not representative of users.

First, we’re building the site for users, not developers. Certainly some of our users are developers, but not the vast majority. One of the WordPress core philosophies is building first for the 80%, not the 20%, and that applies in this case as well.

Second, almost all of the ‘overwhelming community feedback’ we’ve received so far is from plugin authors who are (typically) developers. It’s all great feedback and we’re obviously listening closely. But it’s not necessarily representative of the users who visit the plugin directory regularly. We’ll certainly run user tests before launching, and we can probably run a more obvious beta, with a link from the current directory to the new one. But the directory isn’t yet ready for that.

Third, this ‘self-imposted limitation’ as you call it is not arbitrary. Rather, it’s the result of research and in-person discussion with a number of designers. Will it be the final design? I dunno. But since we haven’t tested it with real users (see the paragraph above), it’s hard to say right now. I think pursuing this direction is worthy for a number of reasons, which aren’t really worth rehashing here. First and foremost though, until we build out a product that can run through user tests, we won’t know if it’s the right direction.

How can the team know that the redesign is working or is the right direction if WordPress.org doesn’t have the tools necessary to measure its impacts? There’s also the question of what data was obtained or user testing done that supports the decisions that were made? Who are these users and how does the team know what the best user experience is for them?

Iteration Is the WordPress Way

Now that the new directory is publicly available, the Meta team is reviewing feedback, gathering bug reports, and organizing tickets on Trac.

“If there are tickets that were closed or postponed during the project that you think need revisiting, then this would be a great time to start reviewing and re-opening them,” Shiels said. “We already have a bunch of tickets against the future milestone.

“The new directory has been built with future maintainability and iterative enhancement in mind. We’re looking forward to hearing feedback from the whole WordPress community, and making regular improvements and additions.”

To report a bug or enhancement with the plugin directory, you’re encouraged to create a ticket on Trac. If you have any questions concerning the directory or would like to get more involved, visit #meta on Slack.

The Vocal Minority

There are a lot of people voicing their complaints about the WordPress Plugin Directory redesign and to summarize them as a vocal minority is unfair.

“Let’s also not forget that one of WordPress’s philosophies is The Vocal Minority,” Aaron Jorbin, WordPress core contributor, said in a conversation on the Meta Slack channel concerning feedback. “Many people being loud on the internet isn’t a reason to do anything.”

As I’ve documented above, the issues people are complaining about today are roughly the same as those reported during the prototype stage more than seven months ago.

If months have passed and the issues brought up by members of the community who are part of the so-called vocal minority were not addressed before shipping to the public, can we blame them for complaining and feeling ignored? What about those who think that getting involved to be part of the solution was a waste of time? While the plugin directory design will undoubtedly improve with time, the complaints and concerns expressed by people this week are justified.

From Pippin Williamson: “Reflection on a Price Increase”


From Pippin Williamson: “Reflection on a Price Increase” →

Pippin Williamson has been an essential voice in WordPress for a long time, on everything from technical topics in WordPress development to choosing a halfway-decent page builder plugin. He’s recently written a very helpful and important post reflecting on the experience of increasing prices for his plugins, especially his popular Easy Digital Downloads platform, by up to 250%.

You should read the article itself in full, but here are some things he noticed:

  1. Higher morale because of fewer support tickets: “The price increase has significantly affected the happiness and day-to-day mood of the team.”
  2. Slightly higher revenue overall, with fewer sales and higher average customer value. Also, “higher value customers are less likely to request a refund, perhaps because they do more ample research before committing than lower value customers.”
  3. A few negative responses from customers by email, all of which Pippin was able to clear up by offering thoughtful responses. One of the comments in particular was so negative as to be traumatizing; as Pippin says, “When you get these kind of reactions, it’s important to keep a fact in mind: companies do not need to justify their prices.”

We’ll give Pippin the last word, but we’ll say that in WordPress, most prices—for everything, from developer time to themes to plugins to ancillary services—are too low. This is a function of the high-volume promise of the internet, but taken to its extreme (which something like ThemeForest may be approaching) it makes the consumer a sort of god, and vendors of all sorts a subtly starving underclass. Price increases, simply because you can, because your wonderful work is worth it, and because you’d prefer customers who understand the value you’re bringing, are one great solution.

Okay, last word from Pippin:

It’s high past time software providers charge appropriately based on the value they provide. If we cannot even ask for a decent price, how can we possibly continue to build platforms that power the web and the world around us?

The 7 Best Affiliate WordPress Plugins

Before you run off and install a dozen affiliate WordPress Plugins, how about spending a minute to focus sharply on what you wish to achieve with your referral program. Why? It’s the only way to choose the perfect affiliate plugin for your needs.

Here’s an hypothetical scenario. You have a theme, plugin, hosting or something else to offer the world, but just can’t seem to find the perfect marketing strategy. Now, you have your eyes trained on affiliate marketing and your guts say it’s exactly what you need to push your product(s) forward.

Perhaps that isn’t the case. Maybe, you’re the designer tasked with building an affiliate management system. You’re in the market for an affiliate WordPress plugin you can customize to your needs. The reason why you’re here matters less; it’s an accepted fact that an affiliate program helps you to boost traffic and sales.

Pleasantries aside, here are 7 beautiful affiliate WordPress plugins to manage your affiliate program.

AffiliateWP

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AffiliateWP is a fully fledged affiliate managing system that’s incredibly easy to setup yet surprisingly agile. It makes the whole process of managing your referral program easy as it should be. Both the affiliate and admin areas are a joy to work with.

You can setup commission percentages, cookie duration, affiliate pages and various other things easily. You can further integrate AffiliateWP with a horde of awesome plugins such as Contact Form 7, WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, MemberPress, PayPal Buttons, and so much more to push your affiliate program to greater heights.

King of Affiliate WordPress Plugins

Additionally, you can easily configure affiliate sign up forms as well as welcome emails  to suit your needs. Other miscellaneous settings include reCAPTCHA to keep bots out and a host of automatic settings just for good measure. Your affiliates will have a great time with an affiliate program that runs on AffiliateWP.

People, including industry heavyweight Chris Lema, are saying great things about AffiliateWP:

Really, of all affiliate WordPress plugins I came across, this is full of features, well coded and quite easy to install for a lightweight plugin that ships with all the great stuff you get. AffiliateWP is by renowned WordPress plugin developer Pippin Williamson, who brought us other great plugins such as the aforementioned Easy Digital Downloads and Restrict Content Pro among others.

Get AffiliateWP

Affiliate Manager

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For a free affiliate management system, this plugin packs quite a punch. I mean, it rivals premium affiliate WordPress plugins, what with a suite of features that will drive you crazy. Installing and using this baby is straightforward as everything is laid out clearly.

Managing your affiliates and referrals is as easy as A, B, C since you have complete control of everything from affiliate registration to payments and individual commissions just to mention a few. You can easily track clicks and make mass payments via PayPal, which is a life saver.

The settings screen in WordPress admin is laden with all the features you need to run a successful affiliate system. That, plus the plugin plays well with WordPress plugins such as WooCommerce, iThemes Exchange, S2Member, and JigoShop among others. Further, you can track an unlimited number of affiliates in real time!

On top of that, you can create banner ads and creatives for your affiliates, integrate the plugin to MailChimp, track ad impressions, and customize affiliate messages among other things. Affiliates Manager is translation ready, meaning your affiliate program is open to the whole world.

Get Affiliate Manager

Affiliates

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Brought to you by itthinx and Kento, Affiliates is a full-featured affiliate WordPress plugin that’s ideal if you’re looking for an affiliate management system that works right out of the box. It gives many other affiliate WordPress plugins a run for their money, what with tools that are great for sellers, online stores and membership sites.

Let’s discover what the Affiliates WordPress plugin has to offer. To begin with, adding new affiliates is so easy, your affiliate program should make money in no time. And thanks to a million and one integrations, you can hook this plugin to any e-commerce or membership platform you have.

You’re free to track an unlimited number of affiliates, and traffic statistics allow you to put a finger on what’s working and what’s not. Just like the affiliate WordPress plugins in this list, Affiliates is easy to setup and use. After all, over 7k active users can’t be wrong. That, plus the plugin has a good rating of 3.8/5.0 at WordPress.org.

Seeing as Affiliates is easy to customize and comes with an API, developers can bank on this plugin to build customized affiliate management programs, without all the heavy-lifting. I mean, everything you need to run an affiliate program is already available in the plugin. And you get all this free.

Get Affiliates

Ultimate Affiliate Pro

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Of the premium affiliate WordPress plugins I came across, Ultimate Affiliate Pro wins big with an awesome list of features pointing to a complete affiliate management solution that’s both cheap and flexible. Phew, that’s a long one 🙂

Brought to us by elite author, azzaroco, the Ultimate Affiliate Pro plugin boasts of the best of affiliate features such as affiliate ranking, unlimited number of affiliates, custom commissions, special performance bonuses and offers, Stripe and PayPal payouts and lifetime commissions.

Other notable features include banners, tiered commissions, signup referrals, social sharing, multiple integrations, shortcodes, custom form fields, reports, notifications, coupons, landing page commissions, a wallet, multi-lingual support, QR codes and friendly affiliate links among others.

Ideally, this is a leading choice among the affiliate WordPress plugins in the market. Plugin has an incredible buyer rating of 4.83/5.00.

Get Ultimate Affiliate Pro

WordPress Affiliate & Referral

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While out searching for the greatest affiliate WordPress plugins of all time, we chanced upon the WordPress Affiliate & Referral plugin and were we impressed or what? I’m particularly sold just easy it is to manage your affiliate program using this plugin.

It’s beautiful and clean, meaning everything you need to make your affiliate program a success is right there in the open. Adding and tracking affiliates is as easy as pie, and thanks to PayPal Mass payments, you can pay all your affiliates without breaking a sweat.

This plugin is cheap, costing just $20 bucks, but don’t let the price tag mislead you. This affiliate WordPress plugin delivers quite a punch. You enjoy features such as real time reporting, unlimited referrals, awesome shortcodes, an Android app to track your program on the go, social sharing buttons, notification and cookies among others.

WordPress Affiliate & Referral has an a shining buyer rating of 4.34/5.00.

Get WordPress Affiliate & Referral

YITH WooCommerce Affiliates

best affiliate wordpress plugins YITH WooCommerce Affiliates

If you work exclusively with WooCommerce, here’s a 100% free affiliate plugin just for you. YITH WooCommerce Affiliates does one job and does it incredibly well. The plugin extends WooCommerce allowing you to create affiliate profiles and setup commissions.

YITH WooCommerce Affiliates is all about ease of use right from installation to bagging your first referral. It’s full of all the features you need to run a successful affiliate program for your WooCommerce-based store.

For starters, you can set cookies to expire whenever, meaning you can track referral for many days to come. Secondly, you can enable affiliate registration easily using shortcodes, create affiliates from your existing users and approve/ban any affiliate whenever you fancy.

On top of that, you can set varying commission amounts and automatically calculate refunds. Affiliates have an intuitive dashboard from where they can track their progress. All in all, YITH WooCommerce Affiliates reinforces your WooCommerce store as far as generating traffic and sales go.

Get YITH WooCommerce Affiliates

Affiliate Royale

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Last but definitely not least is Affiliate Royale, a true contender where affiliate WordPress plugins are concerned. It integrates with WordPress offering you an affiliate management systems that contributes directly to your bottom line.

With Affiliate Royale, you can launch a fully functional affiliate program in a matter of minutes. Your program will feature the usual stuff and then some. Without losing your brand appeal, your affiliates can easily monitor clicks, sales and payments from a central personalized dashboard.

You can easily integrate Affiliate Royale with the likes of MemberPress, WooCommerce, PayPal, Authorize.net, Shopp and so much more. To sum it up, Affiliate Royale is an affiliate management solution that works as advertised. Don’t take my words for it, you really have to check it out to believe.

Get Affiliate Royale

Final Words

Whether you choose affiliate WordPress plugins or ShareASale, affiliation is big as a traffic and lead generation strategy. Just focus on your product as your users market the hell out of it. At the end of the day, your user earns a commission and you make sales. Everybody wins.

Do you run or plan to run an affiliate program on your WordPress website? Which are your favorite affiliate WordPress plugins? Have a question or suggestion regarding this post? Please feel free to let us know in the comment section below. Thanks in advance, and cheers to your success!

Content Is King, But Does It Rule Alone In Marketing?

The importance of quality content has become evident over the past few years. Lately, Google had updated its algorithms which lead to the rejection of duplicate or spun contents. So it became important for website owners to work on SEO techniques that can deliver better organic results. Before you could rely on killer content to get picked up by search engines, but now, you must work to get a great SEO ranking.

Backlinks are considered the lifeblood of an SEO campaign. If you have managed to come up with good content then chances are more that you will be able to get back links naturally. But, if you carry out a manual link building process, there is no guarantee that all the links that you will receive are good in quality.

However, there are other ways to market your conent and boost your SEO. This includes:

  • Social media
  • Press and public relations
  • Email campaigns
  • Product quality
  • Content marketing
  • WOM marketing
  • Advertising

We’ll get into each one.

Social media

Social media is great for creating a brand. The best thing is that it is absolutely free and one of the most popular advertising mediums. But then, is it enough to carry out social advertising over SEO? The answer is no.

Social media is not going to improve your website structure, but help you create communities and connect with people to drive traffic to your website.

Better social media presence will increase the number of visitors on your website which can make the search bots think your website is authoritative and help you in terms of SEO.

Press and public relations

If your company has a big budget, then you can think about spreading the word through different mediums like radio, newspapers, and TV. Connecting with other local businesses on the network is a really important factor.

Many companies come up with press releases every week. They can harm your website than by doing any good. Remember that there should be something useful in your press release which can be turned to be a news by the journalists.

If you come up with press releases every now and then, chances are more than it can get ignored by bloggers. With spammers misusing PR lately, it has become invaluable to a large extent.

Email campaigns

With social media getting all the hype, email campaigns are no longer considered as the foremost option to reach customers. Still, it is very important and should always be on your list. It is one of the best ways to alert the customers about the offers as well as distribute quality content. In short, if you are not using email marketing, you are losing a good number of leads.

Content marketing

Businesses that had a planned content strategy in place performed well against those who don’t. Strategy planning is always effective and you will even be able to measure the success of the campaigns. But without proper SEO, you will not be able to get the quality contents on the search results.

WOM marketing

This is definitely one of the effective forms of advertising for local businesses. You can easily create an online presence by spreading the business through word of mouth. Here high-quality content is spread by your followers to their friends and fans and so can be considered as a better way to spread business and gain trust.

Advertising

If you are using AdWords or other advertising options, you will experience some gain. One of the best ways to get leads and traffic towards your website is PPC. But without SEO and proper keywords in place, you are not going to see evident results.

The keywords help Google to decide the relevancy of your website. If they are not relevant then chances are less that your ads will be shown in the search results.

So how can you achieve good SEO?

Writing quality contents without proper SEO will not get any attention. There are many aspects of SEO and content is important one among them. In short, content alone is not going to help your website rank. There are many variables which are responsible for the success of a website.
Well built website architecture and amazing link profile are also important along with great content. When everything will work together, it will help to generate more traffic.

Maulik Patel is the managing director at Blurbpoint Media. His passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing flows through in the expert industry coverage he provides. In addition, Maulik also runs one of the top SEO company of India, HireSEOAgency, to help businesses with local SEO, link building, content marketing, and paid advertising.

The post Content Is King, But Does It Rule Alone In Marketing? appeared first on Torque.

Learn Divi Deeply with Jason Champagne – The Divi Nation Podcast, Episode 38

Hey Divi Nation! We’ve got a great show for you this week. In it I interview the newest team member of Elegant Themes’ Content Team, Jason Champagne. If you’ve been reading the blog lately then you’ve probably noticed his excellent tutorials.

He’s show us how to:

As anyone following along can see, Jason knows Divi inside and out. And he’s also good at figuring out things he doesn’t already know. Which is why in today’s show, in addition to hearing Jason’s story, I pick his brain for tips on how you can learn Divi deeply too.

Learn Divi Deeply with Jason Champagne – The Divi Nation Podcast, Episode 38

In today’s episode of Divi Nation guest Jason Champagne and I trade tips on how we have learned Divi and approach solving design and development problems with the Divi theme. This topic should be something that all of our power users and DIY folks can really benefit from. And if you’re watching or listening wondering how you can become one of the Divi experts or authorities you see around you, this is the episode to pay attention to.

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How to Learn Divi Deeply: A Summary

During the course of our chat Jason and I went where the conversation led. Which means there probably isn’t a crystal clear path or set of tips that you could easily skip to in the recording and be on your way. So I’ve outlined them briefly below.

Do Copy Design Work

Copy design work is where you find a website or portion of a website that someone else has created (ideally someone you consider better than yourself at design/development) and then you reverse engineer it. This gives you a goal to shoot for, a higher standard than what you can currently achieve, and a fun and attractive final result. Doing this exercise (done with Divi of course) is one of the most effective ways that both Jason and I have learned Divi over the years.

Practice Using Divi’s Built-In Features to Their Fullest Extent

Setting constraints can really bring out your creativity. By refusing to allow yourself to add any custom CSS or Javascript to a project, you’ll learn to get the utmost out of Divi’s built-in settings. You’ll be blown away by how much Divi can do out of the box and by how much you learn about the theme’s functionality along the way.

Lower The Need for Extra Design Plugins by Adding Code Manually

This tip takes you in the opposite direction as the tip above. If you’re depending on third party plugins to do various design hacks–like section dividers, footer editing, image effects, etc.–try figuring out how to do those things manually with code and adding the code to either your child theme, theme options code panels, code module, or module code tabs throughout Divi. This will teach you coding one useful snippet at a time. Before long you’ll be building off of those snippets and doing more complex, perhaps even completely custom things, all on your own.

Give Yourself a Deadline

The tips above are all well and good, but they can also be challenging. And it’s only human nature to take step back, stall, or even abandon things that are difficult. So give yourself an inescapable deadline. For Jason this mean taking on client work in the form of full websites or blog posts that forced him to learn something quickly and delivering results.

See You Next Week!

Well that’s all for this week’s episode. I’d like to thank Jason for coming on the show and sharing his story, experience, and tips for learning Divi deeper.

I hope you enjoyed our chat as much as I did. If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments section below!

The post Learn Divi Deeply with Jason Champagne – The Divi Nation Podcast, Episode 38 appeared first on Elegant Themes Blog.

44 Best Free WordPress Blog Themes for 2017

Are you looking for a free WordPress blog theme for your website? There are thousands of free blog themes for WordPress making it harder for beginners to choose from. In this article, we have hand-picked some of the best free WordPress blog themes that you can use on your new blog.

Best free blog themes for WordPress

Getting Started with WordPress

First, you need to make sure that you are using the right platform. Self hosted WordPress.org site is the perfect platform to start your blog because it gives you more freedom and control.

It is open source and comes with support for thousands of free templates and extensions that help you grow your blog faster. See our guide on why you should use WordPress for more details.

You can use our step by step beginner’s guide on how to start a WordPress blog for detailed instructions.

Once you are up and running, it is time to choose a theme for your website. You can choose a theme from our expert selection below and then follow the instructions in our how to install a WordPress theme guide to set it up properly.

Having said that, let’s take a look at some of the best free WordPress blog themes that you can install on your website.

1. Bento

Bento

Bento is a powerful multi-purpose WordPress blog theme with tons of features. It works great with the most page builder plugins and even recommends installing one upon activation.

For a free WordPress theme, Bento comes packed with great customization options. All of them can be accessed using theme customizer.

2. Modernize

modernize

Need a blog theme with minimalist approach to design? Checkout Modernize. It is a simple WordPress blog theme with collapsible menus and it comes in one and two column layouts.

Designed to improve readability it uses clean typography and elegantly handles featured images.

3. Nisarg

Nisarg

Nisarg is a beautiful free WordPress blog theme. It comes with a clean layout with two navigation menus and a large full-width header image. It also supports custom backgrounds and colors.

All theme options are easily customizable using the theme customizer. It also comes with multiple post formats for videos, gallery, audio, chat, aside, quote, etc.

4. Hueman

Hueman

Hueman is one of the most popular free WordPress themes. It comes with a multi-column layout and can be easily used on any kind of content rich blogs or magazine websites.

You also get support for custom headers, two column layout, full width layout, and tons of easy customization options.

5. Juno

Juno

Juno is an elegantly designed free WordPress blog theme. It allows you to easily customize colors and fonts. Juno includes features such as a slider area, masonry style blog, fully responsive design, and multiple widget areas.

It supports WooCommerce and comes with page, product, and blog post layouts.

6. Peaceful

Peaceful

Peaceful is a minimalist WordPress blog theme. It features a single column layout with large header image, a compact navigation menu, and beautiful featured images. It is quick and easy to setup and looks great on all devices and screen sizes.

7. Ajaira

Ajaira

Ajaira is a simple free blog theme for WordPress. It features a minimalist design with focus on crisp typography and beautiful featured images.

It comes with header social menu, header search bar, custom background, custom header, and colors. All theme options are easy to setup using the live theme customizer.

8. Wisteria

Wisteria

Wisteria is a simple WordPress blog theme with focus on beautiful typography and content. It comes with custom background, custom colors, custom header and a left sidebar.

Wisteria also has a single navigation menu on top and beautiful homepage that features your posts with custom excerpts and featured image.

9. Ribosome

Ribosome

Ribosome is a magazine style free WordPress blog theme. It comes with custom header, custom background, and unlimited colors. It has a single navigation menu and a social menu on the top.

Ribosome comes with a two column layout with sidebar on the right. It has six different Google Fonts, round or square thumbnails, two widgets areas at beginning and end of posts, perfect for displaying ads or related posts.

10. Poseidon

Poseidon

Poseidon is a free multi-purpose WordPress blog theme. Featuring a spacious layout, it comes with a full-width slider, homepage layout, and multiple page templates. The homepage layout can be easily setup using widgets.

11. SiteOrigin Unwind

SiteOrigin Unwind

SiteOrigin Unwind is a multipurpose free WordPress theme with full WooCommerce support. Designed with a minimalist style, Unwind is highly customizable using SiteOrigin Page Builder plugin. It comes with multiple layouts, custom header, background, and color support.

12. Hemingway

Hemingway

Hemingway is a clean WordPress blog theme featuring a two column layout, full width header image with parallax effect.

It supports custom accent color, custom logo upload, custom widgets (video, Flickr and Dribbble), page templates, etc. All theme options are quick and easy to setup.

13. Maxwell

Maxwell

Maxwell is a minimalistic and elegant WordPress theme. It features a clean magazine-style layout with beautiful typography. It comes with various post layouts and a gorgeous featured posts slideshow.

14. Hit

Hit

Hit is a minimalist WordPress blog theme. It features a full width header image and a two column layout. It comes with a distraction free style that is perfect for reading and showcasing your photos.

15. Writee

Writee

Writee is a free WordPress theme suitable for personal websites, travel and adventure blogs. It features a large slider on top using featured images from blog posts. It comes with multiple templates and custom widgets among many other features.

16. Libretto

Libretto

Libretto is a beautiful WordPress blog theme designed specifically to showcase long form writing, stories, poetry, etc. It uses beautiful typography with Playfair Display and Libre Baskerville fonts, an elegant color scheme, and distraction free single column layout.

17. Verbosa

Verbosa

Verbosa is an elegantly crafted WordPress blog theme. It is designed with readability and visual appearance of your content at the center. It uses a three column layout on the homepage with two columns showing your content in a beautiful grid.

18. Flat

Flat

Flat is a modern WordPress blog theme with a two column layout. It features left sidebar with navigation menu. Large featured images, custom logo, custom background and header support.

It comes with flexible customization options that can be setup using the live theme customizer.

19. Lovecraft

lovecraft

Lovecraft is a clean and simple free WordPress blogging theme. It features a full-width custom header at the top and uses bold headlines for post titles. It comes with a left sidebar and one navigation menu at the top.

20. Baskerville

Baskerville

Baskerville is a modern and stylish WordPress blog theme. It features a large full-width header image followed by your posts presented as a grid on the homepage. It comes with gorgeous templates for single posts and pages.

21. Sanse

Sanse

Looking for an incredibly fast and extremely simple WordPress blog theme? Try Sanse. This free blog theme does not support featured images and the homepage layout is just a grid of your posts with excerpts. It has three widget areas in the footer and single navigation bar at the top.

22. Magnus

Magnus

Magnus is a free WordPress photography theme for bloggers. It uses featured image on each post as the fullscreen header image. The homepage layout is just featured image with post titles.

It uses a single column layout for the single posts. It has collapsible sidebar, a navigation menu on top, and supports custom headers.

You should also consider using Magnus in combination with Envira Gallery, a powerful WordPress gallery plugin.

23. Fashionistas

Fashionistas

As the name suggests, Fashionistas is a WordPress theme for fashion and lifestyle blog. It features a light breezy design with beautiful typography and gorgeous display of featured images. It comes with two navigation menus, right sidebar, and footer widget areas.

24. Admiral

Admiral

Admiral is a magazine style WordPress theme suitable for sports blogs, magazine, and news websites. It features a three column layout with two sidebars on both sides and content column in the middle.

It comes with a featured posts slideshow, a magazine homepage template, a widgetized header area, two different post layouts and support for infinite scroll.

25. Coral Dark

Coral Dark

If you are looking for a WordPress blog theme with dark background, then try Coral Dark. It comes in one-column or two-column layout with built-in slideshow. It allows you to customize fonts and colors and comes with two widget ready areas.

26. Barletta

Barletta

Barletta is a light and elegant WordPress blog theme. It is designed for lifestyle, travel, fashion, food, and personal blogs. It focuses on improving readability and displaying your images gracefully. It has a two column layout with sidebar on the right. It supports custom headers, background, and a featured content slider on homepage.

27. Revive

Revive

Revive is a beautiful free blog theme for WordPress. It features a magazine style layout with large header image and your featured content displayed in a posts grid. It comes integrated with Font Awesome icons and supports multiple blog layouts.

28. Hiero

Hiero

Hiero is a free WordPress blog theme with a magazine style layout. It uses bold colors for header and accent. It uses a two column layout and comes with a navigation menu on top. The home page displays your latest posts with excerpts and featured images.

29. Zeal

Zeal

Zeal is a free WordPress blog theme for the creative types. It comes with a parallax Jumbotron with color filter option, featured posts, multiple widget areas, and stunning parallax effects.

It supports custom headers, background, and custom colors. It comes with multiple widget ready areas and page templates.

30. Tracks

Tracks

Tracks is a thoughtfully designed WordPress blog theme for personal, magazines, and photography websites. It includes a logo uploader, social media icons, search bar, widget ready areas, and crisp typography. The homepage features a grid layout of your posts with featured images.

31. Extant

Extant

Extant is a minimalist WordPress blog theme designed specifically for photographers and artists. It offers a clutter free design with no sidebars, or widget ready areas. Homepage is made of grid of your posts using only the featured images and post titles. It comes with a collapsible menu on top and two layout choices.

32. Scratchpad

Scratchpad

Scratchpad is an illustrative and colorful WordPress blog theme. It uses a set of patterns, drawings, and styles to create a beautiful and fun look. It supports multiple post formats and displays them beautifully. It has a sidebar on the right, and another at the bottom.

33. The Columnist

The columnist is a WordPress blog theme featuring a magazine style look. It comes with different layouts for homepage, archives, single pages, bbPress, and BuddyPress. It also includes a responsive customisable slider and four color schemes.

34. Satori

Satori

Satori is a highly customizable WordPress theme for blogs and personal websites. It features a full-width header on the homepage and comes with different page templates including support for WooCommerce, multiple widget ready areas, and post formats.

35. Nitro

Nitro

Nitro is a highly customizable free WordPress blog theme. It comes with a beautiful homepage layout with slider on top and featured content below. It has multiple widget ready areas, page templates, and supports custom headers, backgrounds, social menu, custom colors.

36. WriterBlog

The WriterBlog is a simple WordPress blog theme featuring a classic blog layout. It comes in a two column layout with sidebar on the right. It supports full-width custom header, custom background, custom colors, etc.

37. Illdy

Illdy

Illdy is a multi-purpose WordPress theme suitable for business, personal, magazine websites. It is built on bootstrap framework and features large header images, two column and full-width layout, custom background, and color selection.

38. Tecblogger

tecblogger

Tecblogger is a simple and clean WordPress blog theme. It features a classic blog look with content column and a right sidebar. It comes with a navigation menu on top and supports custom headers, custom backgrounds, and colors.

39. MadHat

MadHat

MadHat is built on Bootstrap framework, and it is a multi-purpose WordPress theme featuring a black and white layout which can be easily customized. It comes with Font Awesome icons, multiple blog layouts, and sidebar customizations.

40. Garfunkel

Garfunkel

Garfunkel is a stylish WordPress blog theme featuring a grid layout on the homepage. It supports custom headers, custom backgrounds, six post formats (including a gallery slideshow), six custom widgets, social menu, and two page templates.

41. Author

Author

Author is a beautiful WordPress blog theme for authors and writers. It features a simple two column layout with sidebar and navigation menu in the left column and content on the right. It supports custom colors, background, and multiple post formats. It is optimized for accessibility and performance.

42. Tempo

Tempo

Tempo is a modern WordPress blogging theme that can be easily used as a business website as well. It features clean crisp typography with a bright breezy layout. It supports custom header, parallax, header buttons, custom logo, custom colors, custom background, social links, left and right sidebar, and custom widgets.

43. Natural Lite

Natural Lite

Natural lite is a simple blogging theme with earthy tones. It uses large featured images, supports custom header and background. It comes with multi-column layouts and easy customization options.

44. Ignite

Ignite

Ignite is a stylish WordPress blog theme featuring a classic blog look. It comes with a two column layout, a compact top bar used for navigation menus and site title and description. It uses medium sized featured images before post titles and utilizes crisp typography for better reading experience on your blog.

That’s all for now.

We hope this list helped you find the best free WordPress blog themes for your website. You may also want to see these actionable tips to drive traffic to your new WordPress site.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post 44 Best Free WordPress Blog Themes for 2017 appeared first on WPBeginner.

Torque Toons: How To Avoid April Fool’s Jokes Online

If you hate annoying April Fool’s Day jokes as much as we do, you’ll love this week’s cartoon.

how to avoid april fools day jokes online

Don’t forget to check out our other editorial toons!

Doctor Popular is an artist and musician living in San Francisco. As a full disclaimer, he is neither a doctor nor popular.

The post Torque Toons: How To Avoid April Fool’s Jokes Online appeared first on Torque.

Ask Yoast: Too many links in navigation menu?

Doing your internal linking well has quite a few SEO benefits. Connecting related posts with each other lets Google know that you’ve created content on various aspects of a certain topic. This can make you a stronger candidate to rank for that topic. But, can internal links also be detrimental to your site? Is it possible to create too many internal links, for example by having lots of links in your navigation? That’s what this Ask Yoast is about!

Jeroen Custers of Agrifirm emailed us with a question regarding navigation links:

“We have a top menu with a sub menu on every page of our online shop and in Google Search Console I see that some pages are linked more than 15,000 times. And our homepage is linked 25,000 times. Is this a problem?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Navigation links and SEO

Well yes and no. If your menu structure, overall, is so big and it’s loaded in the top of your page, then that might not always be the best idea for your SEO. One of the things that we used to do in the old days – that I still like to do sometimes now – is load the menu at the bottom of the page. Why?

Because that means that you’re showing the content first and you’re showing the links in the content to Google first, and then you’re showing them the entire menu. Not even thinking about page rank, this order of things makes slightly more sense to Google. And it might also make more sense to blind people and other people that visit your website. So, if you can do that, then that would be beneficial.

Also, if your menu is too big, I don’t always really appreciate that as a customer. But that’s something that you have to test with your customers and visitors. Investigate what works best and whether your navigation menu isn’t too big and cumbersome to work with. But that’s more of a UX question, than really an SEO question.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘Site structure: the ultimate guide’ »