Plugins Could Be The Key to Boosting Your WordPress Client List

When people commission a WordPress site, they’re looking for something unique; something that is as visually appealing as it is functional. They want a website that will give them an edge over their competition. They want people to think their site is as “cool” as it is useful. As a WordPress developer, there’s a number of tools you need in your professional toolbox to create sites that are so visually appealing, functional and interesting that you don’t need to fish for clients (instead, they come to you).

The ability to write good child themes is important; this is what sets a website apart visually, lets you choose colours and fonts that really celebrate someone’s personality and underlying business philosophy. What’s perhaps even more important is taking the time to test out a range of different plugins, with a range of different functions so you can turn your clients’ dreams into reality, whatever they might be.

plugins

There’s a lot of plugins that do similar things, but not all plugins are created equal. For example: BuddyPress is the best known social networking WordPress plugin (for a while, it was the only option), but support can be lacking and it doesn’t mimic the social networking experience people are now accustomed to (ie, Facebook). There’s a wide variety of plugins and services for people wanting to run online courses, from OptimiseMember to Moodle; which one you choose will depend on their content, and how they want to deliver the course. On top of that, not all plugins work well together; other plugins are an unintentional match made in heaven. What will make you really stand out as a developer is being able to give reasoned, individualised advice that will help your clients choose a set of plugins that’s really going to fit their needs and make their website shine.

If you’d like to see what PeepSo can offer your clients, join our community to see how it works. Once you’ve got a handle on the practical, it’s up to you and your client to dream big about what’s possible.

PeepSo 1.3.0 Is Out!

In version 1.3.0, we focused on tweaking some of the features. These tweaks are important for future versions.

Groundwork Laid For One-Click Updates For All Plugins

We’ve started the process of preparing PeepSo for one-click updates. Instead of uninstalling then re-installing all the plugins, for future versions you’ll be able to just click the update link next to each plugin. Very simple.

This function will start working in the next version of PeepSo. This should be the last time you update manually. Please remember that this is still work in progress. It will look somewhat like this:

One click updates and upgrades for PeepSo and its plugins.

One click updates and upgrades for PeepSo and its plugins.

PeepSo’s Router Re-Written

Now that PeepSo has been out for a while, we have had reports of a few URLs and third party plugins not working well with PeepSo.

To improve the compatibility and stability of the plugins, we wrote the router. That should avoid issues with popular plugins like WPML which change the URL of the page by making additions like:
‘?lang=french’
This improvement is strictly under the hood. The only change you’ll see is the construction of the URLs. That’s usually just the addition of a question mark.

This is how the profile link appears in PeepSo 1.2.1:
http://sampledomain.com/profile/eric

And this is how the link appears in PeepSo 1.3.0:
http://sampledomain.com/profile/?eric

Three-State Friends Buttons

We also changed the behavior, look and feel of the action buttons on user profiles. Adding friends is now a three-state button with no modal confirmations needed. It’s all ajaxified too.

3-state friends buttons on user listings

3-state friends buttons on user listings

Those action buttons have also been added to all user listings. You can see them on members pages, user profiles, and your friend list. The design is consistent to give users a feeling of confidence and to avoid confusion.

Styling Tweaks and More Changes To Profile Pages

We made a few minor changes to the profile pages:

  • Blocking users has been moved to a ‘cog’ icon.
  • Users can be banned from the front end by clicking the cog icon.
  • To save space, we replaced the “Send Message” button with an envelope icon.
  • We improved the look and feel of the modal window for sending messages.
  • Square avatars
  • Removed gray shadow stripe and added shadow for letters
Profile view after styling tweaks.

Profile view after styling tweaks.

We’ve made sure that PeepSo styling is consistent. That’s why we went with square and sharp edges over rounded corners and round avatars. If you feel like all square is not your thing, feel free to check out our documentation on how to override PeepSo CSS.

Bug Fixes

In addition to those design and functionality tweaks, we also fixed a number of bugs. You can see the full changelog here.

What, No Chat Plugin?

The chat plugin is almost ready. It just needs a few design tweaks and some testing. It will be released next. Watch out for it!

Upgrade PeepSo Now

To update to Version 1.3.0 you’ll have to un-install and re-install all the plugins. Last time! Here’s the documentation on how to do it.

No PeepSo?

The free core version is fantastic on its own. If you want to unlock the true potential of social networking for WordPress, get the other plugins today. You can buy them by clicking the link below.

Buy Today!

If you’d like to see what’s coming up next, check out our roadmap here.

Comments? Questions?

Please leave them below.

PeepSo 1.2.0

PeepSo 1.2.0 Is Out!

We’re proud to announce the release of PeepSo 1.2.0. This release focuses on Core PeepSo and MsgSo. We added a bunch of new features and improved others.

Core PeepSo Improvements

Members Page

PeepSo 1.1.0 introduced a Members Page that listed community members and included a search field. This version adds sorting and filters.

You can sort users by:

  • Alphabetical order
  • Recently online
  • Latest members

You can also select members by gender and only view users who have uploaded avatars. Combining filters means you could search for “female users with avatars who were recently online.” Cool, right? You could even filter further by adding a name and looking for “female users with avatars who were recently online and called ‘Jane.’”

We used Ajax to power the search which means there are no reloads and everything is superfast. Want to see how fast? Check this out.

Members page user filtering

Members page user filtering

Twitter link fetched on PeepSo Stream

Twitter link fetched on PeepSo Stream

Native WordPress oEmbeds in PeepSo

Paste a video link or Instagram link into a Web page and you immediately get a preview of the destination. It’s very cool… so we now do the same thing in Peepso. Paste a link and those oEmbeds (that’s what they’re called) will give your audience a preview. This is how it looks.

Cool, right?

MsgSo improvements

Ajax worked so well in Search that we decided to use it to improve Messages as well. Now there’s no need to reload a page when sending a message and when someone contacts you, you’ll receive both a notification and the message itself. It works exactly like a chat.

You can even see when someone is in the process of typing to you, so no more crossed messages or wondering whether you’re being ignored.

Messages indicate when someone’s typing.

Messages indicate when someone’s typing.

We’ve added many more small improvements and fixes. You can read about all the major features of this release here. The full changelog will tell you everything we did. To see what we are planning next, check out our Roadmap here.

Don’t wait. Upgrade to the latest version today. You can find upgrade instructions here.

 

Interview: Samantha van Vleet of Cassava Shop

Samantha van Vleet owns Cassava Shop, an organic non-GMO herbal supplement company based out of the United States. She also owns TTCTwins, a semi-private forum/network for people trying to conceive twins. Her company is a great example of how niche social networks can benefit small business owners, and even create business opportunities; we interviewed her about her experience running a niche network, and how it gave rise to a very successful online business.

samantha van vleet

Tell me a little bit about TTCTwins; why you started it, where it came from.

I have been fascinated with twins from the time I was little. I had a set of Cabbage Patch twin dolls and I always had them. I dragged them everywhere. Once I got older, I still thought the idea of twins was amazing. I looked online for places that discussed it, but there really weren’t many and the places that were available, weren’t so friendly. Women would be attacked and vilified for wanting twins because of the potential health risks involved and “no one should want that for themselves or their babies.” Yes, there are risks involved in having twins, but the decision to try for twins isn’t anyone but the couple who is trying’s. So in 2009 I decided to set up a simple forum and I posted the link two or three places. It grew insanely fast and quickly became the authority on the subject, simply because there was no other site dedicated to the subject. It became a safe haven for these women who wanted twins to find information, support and assistance without being judged for that desire.

Why did you decide to start your own membership site, rather than using existing social networks (eg, Facebook groups)?

For the same reason I was avoiding the other sites; the judgement and condemnation of choosing to try for twins. By creating a membership based site, you give members the ability to protect their privacy and conceal their identity much more so than they would be able to on Facebook. And with such a delicate subject, this is important. I wouldn’t want to post on Facebook under my full name, about my attempts to conceive twins where my family or friends could easily stumble upon it and identify me.

How did TTCTwins become, or give rise to, Cassava Shop?

Many of the women on TTCTwins were talking about yams increasing fertility. This sounded odd to me and a few members and I decided to research more on it. Turns out it was a very specific type of wild yam that had this twinning effect. A village in Africa had a twinning rate of 1 in 11 and it was believed to be due to the estrogen-like substances in the skins and peelings of sweet cassava, consumed daily by members of the tribe. Obviously, we all wanted some, however, at the time there was only one source for it. I had ordered a bottle, but it just seemed fishy to me. I started looking into it more and I just had an off feeling about it. I decided to make my own to see if it was even possible to replicate the powder in the capsules I had bought and still include the skins and peelings as advertised. There wasn’t. I later determined that those capsules were filled with gari, a cereal like product made from cassava that didn’t contain the beneficial skins and peelings. At first, I intended just to make them for myself, but when other members of the site learned about the gari in the other capsules, they were outraged. After all, who wants to take a supplement that doesn’t even contain the stuff it needs to work effectively? Members started asking me if I would make them a bottle as well. I agreed, and next thing I knew, I had emails nearly daily requesting bottles of sweet cassava supplements. My husband looked at me one day and asked “So, when are you turning this into a business?

Do you think niche social networks are better for small business owners, or prospective small business owners, than the larger social networks?

Absolutely. We use coupon codes to track where our sales are coming from (along with other tools) and I would say that 80% of our sales stem from TTCTwins. The reason is simple. We are the trusted authority. We have had competitors pop up since we started Cassava Shop, but they don’t have the advantage we do. We’re trusted. We’re the authority on the subject. We are the place everyone turns to for information on trying to conceive twins and one of the first results on Google.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start up their own niche interest group or private social network online?

Find something that isn’t out there yet and make it work. Focus in on a specific niche. Don’t be afraid of it being taboo or eccentric. Odds are, if you’re interested in it, there are surely other people who are too.

Social Networking Digest: What’s Making News This Week

It’s been a busy week in the world of social networking, with more and more independent, smaller networks emerging, and all the major players taking a hit on the stock exchange. If you’re thinking about starting up your own social network or work in online advertising, here’s three news items you should be aware of.

Social Networking Digest

Image via Associated Press

1. Things haven’t been looking so great for major social networks on the stock market; even Facebook, which isn’t suffering from the same drop-off in sign-ups and activity as Twitter, Yelp and Linkedin wasn’t safe, dropping 2.6 percent. Facebook’s stockholders may simply have decided to cash in after the company’s stock reached record highs a few weeks ago, but it’s also been suggested that people have been spooked by their 82% rise in expenditure (hiring new staff, and investing in technologies that will bring the internet to remote parts of the world). By contrast, smaller social networks like Migme are having a fantastic run, with their shares showing continuous growth.

2. 18 percent of social networking site users have blocked, hidden, or unfriended someone for posting political articles and opinions they disagree with or find offensive. If you want to argue about politics and religion but don’t want to stir up trouble with colleagues or family, there’s two social networks just for you. Roust is an invitation-only social network for people who want a space to talk about important, hot-button issues in a space where lively, controversial debate is welcomed (encouraged!). They’ve introduced a dislike button, and the creator thinks it works well because people go in expecting strong, potentially unpopular opinions. Sean Parker, founder of Napster, has been working hard on an app called Brigade; this social network was designed to encourage Americans to engage with current events and political news.

This is interesting because it shows that niche social networks can be as much about *how* we communicate (eg, providing a space for people who want to be able to share strong opinions or do everything via video), as they are about creating spaces for people with similar interests to come together.

3. They’re calling it “the right to wipe” – that social media users should be able to completely remove any trace of posts they made before they were 18. Social media vetting of prospective college students and employees is becoming increasingly common, and increasingly easy; some employers have even fired current employees based on what they posted on social media as a teen, years after the posts were made. It’s something that’s worth thinking about – should we be looking at encouraging teens to join smaller, less public social networks while they’re going through their formative years? It’s also important to consider, before admonishing young people for not thinking about how their posts could affect them later, that large social networks are collecting huge amounts of data about users, regardless of how careful they are about their privacy settings – and they aren’t particularly transparent about how they share that data, and who they’re sharing it with.

Getting On the Same Page…Literally

The saying goes, “are we on the same page?” Meaning: do we understand each other, is everything clear, has everyone learned what they need to know so progress can be made.

It’s an ideal metaphor for good communication, particularly when applied to web pages; if all your colleagues and customers are scattered across different platforms and channels, it’s going to be much more difficult to ensure people are getting the information you need them to get, when you need them to get it.

PeepSo's admin interface.

PeepSo’s admin interface.

Creating your own social network saves you from having to post the same message, over and over. You can have a real conversation in a quiet, dedicated space, rather than participating in the online equivalent of shouting in a crowded room. It works better from the customer’s end, too: rather than being unsure whether they should inbox you, text you, tweet you, send you a carrier pigeon, etc to get in touch with you, they’ll have a central communication hub where they know they’ll be able to get the support and advice they need. Further, it’s all on your website; the same place they’d go to purchase your product(s). 

PeepSo is the ideal plugin if you’re looking to start your own social network; it’s clean, streamlined, and easy to use (no coding knowledge necessary). The admin interface will be of particular interest to business owners, as it allows you a huge amount of control and insight (similar information to Facebook’s Insights tool, but easier to read and interpret); you can track post engagements, check reported content (you decide what’s acceptable, not Facebook), check your member demographics, and much more.

All of your information and communication in one place. Simple, smart, and effective.

Market Networks: The New Way to Do Business Online

In an article he wrote for TechCrunch last month, James Currier looked at the rise of market networking software; software that provides an intersection between online marketplaces (sites like Etsy, eBay and AirBnB which allow multiple buyers to connect with multiple sellers), and social networking sites (sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, which emulate our offline social networks and are based around identity); he provides HoneyBook as an example, a market network for the events industry which allows professionals to connect around projects and keep all of that project’s transactions and paperwork in one place.

Image by NFX LLC.

Image by NFX LLC.

Currier suggests that these market networks have an edge over simple online marketplaces – and I would add, websites with selling capabilities – as they encourage a connection more meaningful and long-term than a simple transaction. They emulate how business happens in real life: the networks of professionals and clients which pop up on these sites often begin with people who have been communicating for years inviting each other to the site, and creating an online version of a network that already exists via fax, phone, invoices, etc.

Installing PeepSo on your website is the first step to creating your own market network. It allows you to bring all your professional connections together in one place and introduce them to each other. You can tell people about a new product and send them to the checkout page, with them staying on your site the entire time. You can build meaningful online connections within the parameters you want to set for them, eliminating the blurring between personal and professional that Facebook doesn’t just enable, but enforces (you have to have a personal account, for example, to use their Business Manager tool).

Marketing networks are the next step in successful online business, and PeepSo has everything you need to get started.