We discovered a compatibility problem with some of the PeepSo plugins, especially Groups, and the latest WordPress 4.8.2 release. That’s why we have just released PeepSo 1.8.7. It contains just the compatibility improvements with the latest WP release. If you have any issues with your groups and groups categories not showing, simply edit the categories and save them again. Read more
You’ve got mail…and new mentions…and new direct messages…
The way we communicate keeps evolving and changing. We’ve now got such a plethora of options at our fingertips that phrases like “I’m not a phone person” or “I don’t do text” have become necessary qualifiers when trying to express how we prefer to communicate.
All of these channels have their advantages, and disadvantages. Public business pages on Facebook allow you to reach a lot of people…including spambots and trolls. The phone forces you to think on your feet, which can induce serious anxiety – as much as it’s nice to hear someone’s voice, and have a conversation in real time. Email is quick, but messages can get lost in the pile if you’re someone who gets a lot of emails every day. Snail mail isn’t always more reliable. Twitter’s character restrictions can be well, restrictive. Skype lets you converse face to face with people all over the world, but you’ve got to have a strong internet connection (and a high data cap).
What I’d suggest this tells us is: we need to think about all of the options available to us, and make sure we’re using those channels as effectively as possible. Having your very own private social network, based on your own WordPress site, is an option that many people aren’t aware of, and one that can revolutionise your web presence; one that can give you a whole new way to communicate with customers (existing and potential). It’ll allow you to reach those who don’t want to join the “big boys” of social networking for privacy reasons, and those who get your posts filtered out of their newsfeed by default (thanks to Facebook’s algorithms).
GroupSo will allow your site visitors to engage in their own area of the site in groups. With so many communities used for niche topics or markets, this will bring a new element to a website using PeepSo.
In the video, Eric takes us on a behind the scenes look at how the development is progressing and highlights some of the main features that have been created so far. While there is still a lot more to be done, take a look at this sneak peek and see what incredible progress PeepSo is making with Social Networking for WordPress.
Learning to code is like learning to speak another language; you have to learn a whole lot of new “words” and phrases, and if you get just one word or letter wrong, the person (website) you’re talking to might have no idea what you’re trying to say. Many people prefer to outsource coding work, or use plugins that allow them to do really cool things without needing to write a single line; even if that’s you, it’s worth knowing the basics so you can spot if something’s wrong, or make small tweaks if you need to. If supermodel Karlie Kloss can learn to code between international flights, fashion shows and photoshoots, you can fit some basic coding lessons around your busy life too.
It turns you from a consumer into a producer.
If you can’t code, you’re always buying someone else’s project or time; if you can, then you’re either building and selling entirely original content, or taking bits and pieces from other people and incorporating them into your own creation to make it better (like building your own house, and getting furniture from someone else to add colour and variety to your creation). It’s a guarantee that you’re going to stand out.
It allows you to fix – or at least patch – problems right away.
Rather than spending long hours waiting for the person who developed or maintains your website to come to your aid, knowing how to code allows you to fix the problem yourself – or at the very least, patch it so that your customers and visitors aren’t at risk of malware or suffering serious glitches during that time. The amount of money an online shop might lose just by being down for a few hours in a busy period could be staggering. You might not get to a point where you can perform major surgery on your website, but you can learn how to tie a pretty damned great bandage.
You can make sure that your project matches YOUR vision.
Trying to get another person to see the picture in your head is an incredibly different thing; even if you and your developer/designer are totally simpatico, they’re not always going to get things the way you want them. Knowing how to write your own child themes or even make small tweaks to someone else’s design will make it that much easier for you to transform your design dreams into reality.
Earlier in the week, we talked about how understanding plugins can be the key to success as a developer/designer; here’s some tips for deciding which plugins are worth yours and your clients’ time (before you consider how well they’ll integrate with the client’s chosen theme and business strategy/functions).
Check reviews – and remember that more doesn’t always mean better.
See what people have to say about the plugin, any tips, any complaints. At a glance, it might seem like plugins with only a handful of reviews are less successful – but that’s not always true. If the reviews all rave about the plugin and appear to be genuine, chances are you’re uncovering a lesser-known gem or something completely new.
Check when it was last updated
WordPress is always changing, and plugins need to change with it. Unfortunately for those creating plugins, it’s a very rare (non-existent!) scenario where you can create a plugin and then just never touch it again. Bugs will need to be patched, the plugin will need to be adjusted to work with updates to the WordPress core. The plugin’s page will tell you what version of WordPress it’s been tested with, and when it was last updated.
Check how good their customer service/support is
Find out where their support services “live” (some of them will house their support forums on their own website, others will stick with the “official” WordPress support forums), and see how responsive they are to questions. If you run into a problem or notice that something isn’t quite working, you want someone who’s going to help you out as soon as possible (for your sanity, and your client’s satisfaction).
Check the code
You may need some help with this if you aren’t a code wizard, but: if you go to the plugin directory, there’s a page for developers where you can have a look at the plugin’s source code. If you’re not able to identify some of the hallmarks of well-written software, it’s well worth getting someone else to check it out for you – particularly if it’s a paid plugin.
Have a play
Obviously this is something you’d only do for free plugins, but: you can always test out plugins on your own website before you recommend them to a client. Really get a handle on how they work, as a user. Some plugins (like PeepSo) will offer a demo on their own website, others will put up videos that show you exactly how it works (OptimisePress is a good example of this). Ask friends what plugins they’re using, and ask whether they’re willing to let you have a look and a play (as long as you erase your footprints later).
Malware removal company Sucuri noticed a massive spike in WordPress malware “visitorTracker_isMob” in the last two weeks. The purpose of the malware is to gain access to as many computers as possible via infected websites. At the same time, they’ve noticed a spike in brute force attacks; a particularly insidious kind, where the people attacking your site aren’t restricted by a limited number of login attempts before being locked out. As described by Sucuri, this is how they work:
Instead of going against wp-login.php (which can be easily blocked or protected via .htaccess) or doing a single attempt against xmlrpc, attackers are leveraging thesystem.multicall method to attempt to guess hundreds of passwords within just one HTTP request.
In other words – rather than getting three guesses before being locked out, they’re getting a hundred times three. This particular type of attack is called Brute Force Amplification.
So how can you protect yourself against brute force amplification attacks, and in turn, from increasingly common malware?
Sucuri suggests that you block all access to xmlrpc.php – this does break some applications’ functionality, primarily JetPack. They also suggest blocking system.multicall requests. They’re hardly ever used and this will protect you against these amplification methods.
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.
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.
When Victoria Dyte of Reindeer Riot started using WordPress, she wasn’t an established developer or web designer shifting across to a new platform; she’d simply been designing and running her own online shops successfully via WordPress for several years, and decided to take the skills and knowledge she’d picked up and turn it into a new business. With the mentorship of Sarah Rosberg of Rafiki Mwema/Castle Design, and support from her graphic designer husband Col (who creates unique logos and artwork for the sites she builds), she’s now been working exclusively as a WordPress developer for over 18 months.
This seems to be an increasingly common career path; people learning WordPress for another project, and then making it their full time occupation. So why does it happen?
Firstly, WordPress is incredibly user-friendly. You can build a phenomenal website with nothing but a good theme, some good artwork and carefully curated plugins. If you learn to write basic CSS, you can create child themes which allow you to customise your site’s design (colour, typography, layout) to your heart’s content. In essence: building fantastic WordPress sites doesn’t require you to be a code wizard. It requires creativity, a really good eye for layout and design, unique ideas and a willingness to learn (which arguably, is harder to find than someone who can read and write code like one of the main characters in The Matrix).
Secondly: WordPress is broad enough and flexible enough to allow you to specialise. You’re not boxed into being a web designer more generally (saving you from learning or building things that you just aren’t interested in); you can focus specifically on building sites for schools, for small businesses, for online stores. You can find your one thing, really get to know all the different plugins and design elements that will allow you to create something fantastic within that niche, and then market it to people who need that particular kind of website.
Finally: WordPress offers a great sense of community. That was one of the major drawcards for Victoria – she was surrounded by other women who were doing fantastic work, and were willing to support her as she stepped out and turned a hobby she’d become incredibly passionate about and talented at into a full time job. There’s a wide range of camps and conferences devoted to this platform, and bringing together the people who use it.
If you’re stepping out and becoming a full time WordPress developer, PeepSo is a great plugin to have in your arsenal. It can help you turn a small business website into a market network, provide a discussion space for an online course; essentially, it can turn any venture into a community.
When it comes to choosing a content management system for your website, WordPress is a cut above the rest; many people have waxed lyrical about its design capabilities and ease of use. Here’s a collection of snippets from our favorite love letters to WordPress, in case you’re trying to get someone to convert and need a little extra evidence (you’ll probably also want to mention how easy it is to use WordPress to create your own, private social network).
A WordPress business website can be as big as you want it to be, from a simple blog page to large website with a number of complex features including ecommerce. The website can grow and adapt as your business evolves. – Cool Candy Media
Aggregator support is built-in with a number of standard RSS configurations already done for you, as well as Atom. Following standards makes your WordPress site easier to manage, increases its longevity for future Internet technology adoption, and helps give your site the widest audience possible. – WordPress Codex
WordPress is written using standard compliance high quality code and produces semantic mark up which makes your site very attractive to search engines. By design WordPress is very SEO friendly, and you can make it even more SEO friendly by using WordPress SEO plugin. – WP Beginner
The main feature that drew me to WordPress – and keeps me using it – is the ease of use for end users. Most of my clients are non-technical and need an easy way to manage their sites. With WordPress, I can create very complex, feature rich websites that are easy to manage. – Bill Erickson.
I chose WordPress a decade ago, for its license, its flexibility, and its community. Ten years later, I am happy to say that these reasons are still in place, and still behind my fondness for the software. You can use WordPress to do just about anything, which speaks to its capabilities and its license. And it is developed, translated, documented, supported, and hosted by one of the kindest, most amazing software communities I have ever encountered. – Mark Jaquith
We believe that WordPress is a long term solution because of the freedom it offers organizations. Since you don’t have to know programming to create and update your website, it frees you from dependency on employees, volunteers or board members that you may have had to rely on before to update your website. The ease of use also frees up a lot of your time that would otherwise be spent in training. Most importantly, being an open ecosystem,with all the plugins, themes, and developers available, WordPress frees you from being locked into an antiquated or unsuitable website. – MemberFindMe
There’s a million reasons to love WordPress, from its responsive design to its ease of use; and as PeepSo grows and develops, we keep finding reasons to love it even more.