Thanks to all those who attended last night’s WordPress meetup on WordPress Security.
So, you want to create an online marketplace for your goods or services. What do you need to know? At this month’s meetup we covered the basics of e-commerce.
For the presentation, I setup a demo site on my laptop using MAMP. I suggest setting up a development site so you don’t mess with your existing site.
To keep things simple I’m going to talk about e-commerce in for key areas
What do do. First, setup a site. Pick a theme. For the demo I used the eStore theme on the WordPress.org theme directory. You can filter for themes that are tagged for commerce!
For the purpose of the demonstration I chose the WooCommerce plugin. Why?
- It’s popular – 3 million installations
- Owned by Automattic (previously WooThemes)
- Great reputation
- Flexible ecosystem
Once installed, WooCommerce walks you through the process of setting up the basics of your store. Once setup, and depending on the kinds of items you’ll want to sell you may need to set up attributes, shipping, categories and other settings. You can do this at any time, but if you what you need to set up (like t-shirt sizes and colors) you should do this first. Then, start start adding Products!
During the presentation I roughly followed the handy guide for getting started from WooCommerce.
And then there’s payment processing. This is one of the trickier aspects of e-commerce. For most people WooCommerce can do what they need 90% of the time. Even with built-in payment process solutions like PayPal and Stripe. However, There are a few things to consider.
Know your audience! What will they be more likely to use? You don’t need a thousand options if most folks your serve have an Amazon account.
What about digital items?
SSL Secure Sockets layer
If you’re using a payment processor most handle the transaction and then return the visitor to the site. However, with some, like Stripe, you can perform the entire transaction “on site” (or the appearance of on-site). You’ll need a SSL certificate for it to work at all. You also are storing personal information (name, phone, address). Keeping as much information being sent over the wire secure is a good idea.
So, what does having a SSL certificate mean? It means that all communications between a user on their device and your website is encrypted. Think of it as a secret handshake between the two computers that prevents anyone seeing the information being sent (like over that open Wi-Fi at the local coffee shop!) during transmission.
There are many ways to add an SSL certificate. The easiest way, but potentially the most costly is to contact your hosting company. Bluehost and others companies offer it as an add-on – sometimes free, sometimes at a cost.
You can also setup other options, but they require a little technical know-how and time to implement.
- Let’s encrypt! – https://letsencrypt.org
- Cloudflare – https://www.cloudflare.com/plans/
Other reasons to have an SSL certificate
It builds trust. When people see that your site is secure they are more likely to trust the site and complete their transaction. Recently more modern browsers alert users when the site is not using an SSL certificate. Having a certificate ensures that your visitor won’t see conceding message about your site not being secure. Finally, Google rankings are slightly improved for sites that have an SSL certificate over those who do not.
At the General WordPress Meetup this month we discussed staging WordPress. Here are a few notes from the meeting and some helpful links. As always, I hope to see you all next month as we learn about PHP and WordPress!
What is a staging environment?
Why are they important?
How do you set up a staging environment?
Web server (subdomains)
So once you have your site setup as you want it in your staging environment, how do you move it to production? In the past you would have to have done this manually. Which, as the Codex explains, can easily be a time-consuming and error prone process. If this was 5-7 years ago I would recommend the manual process (and still think it’s important to understand what is happening underneath the hood) but today there are many helpful, well-written plugins that can help make these migrations much easier.
In December we talked about essential plugins and where to find them.
WordPress.org should be your first stop to look for plugins. There you can find the Plugin Directory, which lists all freely available plugins. Aside; There’s a new version of the directory coming soon that is even better for discovering plugins! You can also browse the directory from within WordPress itself under the “Plugins>Add New” menu in the WordPress dashboard.
Plugins listed in the directory give a description of what the plugin does, installation notes, and even reviews from other plugin users. You can also see who the developers are and most plugins have an active support forum to discuss issues and feature requests with the developer. One way of determining if a plugin is good to use is to follow a short checklist.
- Has it been updated recently?
- How many sites are actively using it?
- What is the average rating?
- What do the reviews say about the plugin?
- Is the developer active in responding to questions?
- Does the developer maintain other contributions to the community (plugins, themes, presenting at WordCamps, etc)?
One thing to keep in mind with plugins is performance. Too many plugins can slow down your site. Installing two plugins that do the same thing is also not a good idea as conflicts can happen that can impact performance or down right break your site! This is why having a good development site to tinker with is helpful when managing WordPress.
On to the list of plugins we talked about. I’d love to hear of alternatives or additional items in the comments!
- Jetpack – https://jetpack.com
- A collection of features from WordPress.com, but for your self-hosted WordPress site! It includes features like:
- Brute-force protection
- Traffic Stats
- Related posts
- Spelling and grammar
- Extra widgets
- Including Widget visibility one of my favorites
- Custom CSS – edit your site’s CSS without touching your theme
- Akismet – also a stand-alone plugin and the best comment spam protection
- A collection of features from WordPress.com, but for your self-hosted WordPress site! It includes features like:
- Admin Quick Jump – https://wordpress.org/plugins/admin-quick-jump/
- Google Analytics by MonsterInsights – https://wordpress.org/plugins/google-analytics-for-wordpress/
- Scripts-To-Footer – https://wordpress.org/plugins/scripts-to-footerphp/
- I like this one because it’s easy to disable per page/post if something goofy happens 😉
- WP Super Cache – https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-super-cache/
- Wordfence Security – https://wordpress.org/plugins/wordfence/
- Eliot mentioned: http://www.wpbeginner.com/wordpress-security/ as another great resource on securing your site!
- Yoast SEO – https://wordpress.org/plugins/wordpress-seo/
- Advanced Custom Fields – https://wordpress.org/plugins/advanced-custom-fields/
- Contact Form 7 – https://wordpress.org/plugins/contact-form-7/
- Another contender is Formidable Forms – https://wordpress.org/plugins/formidable/
The discussion also covered a few other related tools for managing and monitoring your site. These included:
- Infinite WP – https://infinitewp.com
- Or the hosted solution of Manage WP, which is easier to setup! (Thanks Bob!) https://managewp.com/features
- Uptime Robot – http://uptimerobot.com
- Performance is always on everyone’s mind. We mentioned a few tools to provide feedback on ways to improve your site performance:
- GTMetrix – https://gtmetrix.com
- Google PageSpeed Insights – https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
- Webpagetest.com – http://www.webpagetest.org
Thanks to everyone who came out and we’ll see you in January!
In October Alex Miller gave an introduction to page builders. These are plugins that can drastically change how you manage content in your WordPress site. From drag-and-drop layout options, easy galleries and more.
I took down a few notes, which try to cover some of the larger points Alex made through the evening. Feel free to drop a note below if you have any questions or feedback.
- Why use page builders?
- One reason is that it keep folks from messing up things they shouldn’t be messing with!
- It also makes it easy to update content without out having to be a design/layout genius.
- Only going to cover WordPress.org page builders – ones that are freely available
- Live Composer – https://wordpress.org/plugins/live-composer-page-builder/
- bunch of clutter in the sidebar you can’t remove
- navigating tools in live view are a little cumbersome
- pre-populates text fields
- lots of toolbars, confusing
- lots of tools
- can bring up standard WP editor in visual mode
- Site origin – https://wordpress.org/plugins/siteorigin-panels
- limited layout options for ‘rows’ (like only bottom margin for each row)
- no clutter in sidebar
- easy-to-use visual editor
- import/export layouts
- Beaver builder – https://wordpress.org/plugins/beaver-builder-lite-version/
- no prebuilt templates for free version
- limited media ‘modules’ (called widgets in other page builders)
- no gradient support in column/row settings for backgrounds
- some default padding/margin are a little weird
- limited modules are really easy to use
- responsive design break points can be set per module
- General notes on page builders
- Once you commit to a visual editor, switching (or going without) will be work – there’s not a lot of cross-migration between these competing tools.
- Uninstall might not keep your content!
- Beaver builder and site origin does add html and thankfully no shortcodes! Live editor is all inside their plugin – hard to salvage underlying content
- Think about what you need. Do you need a page builder (landing page) or just custom post types and ACF?
- Beaver builder is #1 pick
- good usability, flexibility, and support
In September our very own Jen Swisher, the lead organizer for WordCamp St. Louis 2017 shared how you can contribute to the WordPress community. It’s not just about code or design, but there are many ways to get involved. Quite frankly, we need your help!
Check out Jen’s presentation below and join us at our next monthly meetup and get involved!
This month at our general meetup we talked about our recent WordCamp and what we can do better next year. If you weren’t able to attend the meetup, but did attend WordCamp, please leave a note on what we can do better next year in the comments section.
Speaking of WordCamps, don’t forget to check out other nearby events. Oklahoma City is in July, Nashville in September, and Cincinnati in October!
At our meetup we spent the rest of the evening talking about the basics of WordPress. We shared a few resources I’ve shared below. It was a free-form conversation and we touched on a few big points and delved into a few nitty-gritty details (like importing content) as well.
One of the first things we discussed was the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. The .org version is the self-hosted, you-can-do-anything version of WordPress. This flexibility comes at a cost. You have to set up your own hosting solution (where WordPress lives) and are responsible for testing, upkeep of WordPress, and maintaining your plugins and themes. However, it is by far the most rewarding way to use WordPress as the potential for adaptation and customization is limitless.
The other version of WordPress is the .com version. This version is hosted by a for-profit company (Automattic). They maintain WordPress, plugins, and themes. However, you are limited to a smaller selection of customization options, and on their free tier have other limitations (like ads being shown on your site).
From there the conversation went into talking more about the .org version. We discussed where to find themes (WordPress.org) and plugins (WordPress.org) and how to find themes and plugins that were well-maintained and supported.
We also reviewed the Codex, the “Mother Brain” of the WordPress community. The Codex is an encyclopedia of information about every bit of WordPress. From child themes, to specific functions, it covers it all. Any time you want to learn how to do something in WordPress (especially on the geeky side of code) start with the Codex.
Another great resources is WordPress.tv. Those WordCamps I mentioned earlier? Nearly every session from every WordCamp is recorded and shared there. If you want to know more about CSS or eCommerce, there are plenty of videos to peruse – for free by folks who know their stuff. Here’s one of the first videos you should start with. Matt Mullenweg, founder of Automatic and WordPress, gave a great overview of where WordPress is at, and where it is going, last year at the first WordCamp US event.
If WordPress.tv isn’t your cup of tea, and you live in the St. Louis region, you can also get access to the thousands of videos on the education site lynda.com. More info is on the St. Louis County Library site.
One of the questions was on managing WordPress projects. Something I hope we can talk about at an upcoming meetup. For now, I think Lucas Lima (a local St. Louisian) gave a great talk last year about this very topic.
A book recommendation along the lines of working with clients was my choice pick, You’re My Favorite Client by Mike Monteiro.
That was it for the eventing – a lot to digest I’m sure. If you’ve reached the end and still want more, view past topics on our Meeup.com page or peruse the archives here on stlwp.org. OR, if you’re really adventurous, join us at an upcoming meetup!
Thanks to everyone that was able to make it out to the WordPress Meetup West on Monday night. We covered speeding up your WordPress site at the server level, theme level, and content level.
Next month we’ll be looking for speakers to give 5-10 minute lightning talks. So if anyone has a topic they’d like to share send me a message through the Meetup group and we’ll get things set up.
Here’s the notes:
This month we talked about what’s new in the latest release of WordPress, version 4.4. Here’s a few notes from the evening’s presentation.
First a little history and reminder. With WordPress releases like 3.x and 4.x – these are generally bigger updates to WordPress that include new features or large changes.
3.4.1 or 4.3.2 are smaller bug and security fixes – these are applied automatically by default. You won’t often find much outward facing in these updates.
Last Few Releases
Here’s a list of the last few releases of WordPress leading up to 4.4 and what they brought to the table.
4.2 – Bud Powell
- Customizer came into its own
- new languages!
- better plugin installations
- “Press This” got an update (bookmarklet that allows you to quickly post content from wherever you’re at on the web.)
- emoji support (really a sneaky update for better Unicode support) for translations
4.3 – Billie Holiday
- resetting password made more secure
- menus added to Customizer
- multisite changes
- updated editor – switching between visual and text with less “ugh”
- formatting shortcuts in visual editor
- * or 1.
4.4 – Clifford Brown
That brings us to our most recent release. One little note, Eric Juden and Joe McGill are two local st. Louisan’s who are code contributors in this release!
- New Default Theme – Twenty Sixteen
- Responsive Images
- supplies the relevant sizes to the browser
- visitors only get the best image size
- Built into core so themes and plugins can take advantage (like Twenty Sixteen)
- Joe McGill!
- oEmbed for WordPress
- like embedding a YouTube or tweet, you can now embed WP posts from other WP sites
- Added new services like Cloudup, Reddit Comments, ReverbNation, Speaker Deck, and VideoPress.
- Taxonomists – terms now have metadata, just like posts and users
- Rest API – you can speak to other websites and services using JSON.
- Create you own endpoints to communicate with WordPress
- Community member Paul Heirendt had a great video to share explaining APIs!
- Other – few multisite fixes, language updates
See you in January!
Thank you to everyone who came out. Our next general meetup is January 20th. I hope to see you there!
I’ve had many people asking me when planning for WordCamp STL 2016 was going to start lately. Well, I’m excited to say it officially kicks off right now! The first step in getting a WordCamp up and running is getting the organizing team together. If you are interested in helping us make #WCSTL16 awesome, fill out the form below and we will be in touch. As in the past, we plan on having weekly organizer Google Hangouts and asking that organizers do their best to attend one of the two monthly STL WordPress meetups so we can have some face-to-face discussions.
You must be a member of the site to fill out an organizer response.