A Word from the Founder – Matt Mullenweg

published on June 24, 2014

Here are some of the interesting points that came up in a recent extended interview J.J. Colao of Forbes.com did with WordPress Founder and CEO Matt Mullenweg. Talking points were shared on WordPress releases, market share, funding, revenue sources, mobile, and other interesting insights about the future of WordPress and Automattic.

  • On Web Presence: WordPress now powers 22% of the Web, including Forbes.com
  • Mullenweg became CEO of Automattic in January 2014 after being chairman for 8 years.
  • On WordPress releases: The next WordPress release isn’t expected this year but Mullenweg hopes maybe in a year or two.
  • Automattic is basically a big experiment hoping to create something that’s fully open source to the core, that becomes a big Internet-scale business.
  • Revenue composition is 80% from WordPress.com subscriptions, 10% each from WordAds and VIP
  • People who are hosted on Amazon or GoDaddy or those places also have a set of products for them under Jetpack.
  • On Mobile: A new interface that works fluently whether you’re on the desktop, a tablet or notebook is currently being built targeting half or a plurality of active users by the end of the year.
  • On the future of Automattic and WordPress: 10 years from now, Mullenweg wants it to be an organization that has thousands of people – to build, in a completely distributed, open source fashion, a 10 or 20 thousand-person company.
  • On Mullenweg’s management style and hiring policies: “Don’t worry about whether your team hired someone that put you over budget for the year. Something like that has nothing to do with creating great products.”
  • On Touch Technology: “We’re not going to launch anything anymore ever again, that’s not responsive. I want to be more of a mobile company but as we do that I don’t want to lose the things that make us the engine of the independent Web.”

Mullenweg’s aggressive and visionary approach to delivering a product that is open, diverse, and which can be widely adopted by tens or thousands or millions of users is not an easy task. But then again, to quote his own words, “I didn’t sign up for easy.” Here’s to an exciting WordPress future for the world wide web.

Check out the complete transcript of the interview on Forbes.com


WordPress Slider Mania

published on June 17, 2014

Sliders are staples in websites nowadays. A homepage without a slideshow seems an oddity considering the media intensive content this generation craves for. For all the benefits sliders give website owners, there are indeed some sliders that really standout from the rest. Below is a listing of 5 of the most popular sliders available in the market today:

Slider Revolution

Considered the most popular plugin in the Envato marketplace, Slider Revolution is a slider definitely worth considering. This plugin features tons of unique transition effects, an image preloader, video embedding, autoplay that stops on user interaction and lots of easy to set options to create your own effects. This plugin is one of the few that offers full screen slideshows, it is also noted for enabling almost any type of content that can be put in a slideshow, and, it is quite popular for its responsive feature as well. The plugin also enables easy slider creation using Visual Builder. Using its animation builder, you can conveniently drag and drop captions, and, create your own custom animation easily. Slider Revolution also allows you to integrate SEO optimization measures on your slides thus further improving your page’s performance on search engines.

Royal Slider

This slider plugin was created especially for mobile devices. What makes Royal Slider standout is its affinity toward touch screen interfaces. Create your own custom slideshows and css3 banner rotators with images, videos or HTML content in slides, allow dynamic population of data from Flickr, Instagram, Featured posts and even WooCommerce products, display vertical or horizontal thumbnails with the plugin’s photo gallery. While it doesn’t have much of fancy transition effects, Royal does guarantee a stable, accessible, high performance slider experience on any device. RoyalSlider is tested on Mac, PC, iPad 2, iPhone 4, HTC Desire, Lumia 920, Surface, Blackberry PlayBook and even on Kindle Keyboard

Layer Slider

Layer slider is most noted for its use of cutting edge technology to give you more than 200 preset 2D and 3D slide transitions to give you the smoothest slideshow experience available. At the very heart of this slider is its layered design that enables you to have 3D like slideshows. Easy to use interfaces enable you to create your slideshows in a WYSIWYG manner which include live previews, drag and drop slider builder, etc. The plugin supports responsive layouts, multiple layouts and touch screen gestures to ensure that your slideshow experience is the same regardless of device. Layer slider is SEO friendly allowing you to build semantic markup with custom attributes that search engines can index easily.

Slider PRO

This fully responsive and mobile ready slider plugin in comes with 150+ options to help you set-up your very own slideshow. The plugin allows you to dynamically load content from your content. Slider PRO also enables you to add animated or static layers into your slideshows to create 3D like slides. The plugin uses a user friendly media loader to enable easy population of content into your slideshows. Slider PRO offers 100+ transition effects which can be optimized into hundreds of possible variations.

Touch Carousel

This slider plugin was created with mobile devices in mind. Touch carousel enables touch navigation on iOS, Android and Blackberry devices. Over 20 settings are available to control speed, layout and slideshow. Touch carousel allows you to slide any post type including WooCommerce and Jigoshop content. You can select content based on taxonomy, popularity or date.


5 Most Popular Page Builder Plugins Roundup

published on June 12, 2014

Drag and drop customizations via Page Builder plugins are quite popular because of the ease it provides in creating multiple layout configurations without messing with code. There are several page builders available in the WordPress market today. Here are some of the most popular ones:

Visual Composer

Visual Composer is #1 Best Selling drag and drop frontend and backend page builder with 70k+ websites already powered. This plugin offers drag and drop page building with an intuitive user interface. What makes Visual Composer convenient is its front end page building capabilities. Visual Composer allows you to choose from 40+ different page elements or use custom shortcodes. The plugin also allows you to design your pages in a responsive way. The developers offer lifetime updates free of charge and has lots of tutorials available to help you use the plugin. The capabilities of Visual Composer may also be extended with premium add ons like Templatera or Easy Tables. You will be able to take full control over your WordPress site, build any layout you can imagine with no programming knowledge required.

Live Composer

Live Composer is a front-end WordPress page builder plugin with 28+ modules packed with functionality and styling options that allow countless variations to be made easily and without any coding. Live Composer offers front end drag and drop page building capabilities to your themes. It is designed to turn any theme into a feature packed beast. Live Composer comes with 28+ modules with easy customize options for each. Each module can be adjusted for device specific options making sure your pages look great on tablets, smartphones and desktops/laptops. You also have the option to create your own modules for specific functionality. Live Composer comes with special post types like Projects, Galleries, Downloads, Testimonials, Staff and Partners and transferring what you do on one page to another is easy with Live Composer’s Templates system.

Awesome Builder

Awesome Builder is a WordPress Drag & Drop Page Builder and shortcodes generator that offers the best solution you need to build a modern web page in the easiest way ever. This plugin widgetizes your pages allowing you to drag and drop your widgets into any section of the page. No need to create new modules. You can use existing widgets on your website. You can also use 25+ widgets included with the plugin but it will work with any widget you have. The plugin also enables a responsive layout for your pages. Awesome builder supports animation for each widget you add. Awesome Builder supports full width, background color image and video support.

Parallax One Page Builder

Parallax One Page Builder enables you to create your own one page website in just a few minutes. With this plugin you can create unlimited landing page with more features options and unlimited sections each with parallax effects as you enable. The plugin also comes with gallery and portfolio capabilities included. The first section gives you 7 slide gallery you can use with images, color or YouTube video. Each section there after can have an image, color or YouTube video as background. Plugin employs custom SEO for improving your sites web search results.

Drag and Drop Shortcodes

Drag and Drop Shortcodes is a great WP plugin with intuitive drag&drop interface and lot of elements to choose from, like: Accordions, Stats Counter, Knobs, Alert Boxes, Animation Box, Price Boxes, Progress Bar, QR Code, Service Boxes, Tabs, Team Member, Map, PayPal Buttons, Member Only Content, Tooltip, YouTube, Vimeo and self hosted HTML5 video. Drag and Drop shortcodes offer convenient page building capabilities using a highly intuitive backend interface. The plugin comes with a lot of page elements including Video, Stats Counters, Progress Charts, etc. Draggable sections and column allows you to present content as you see fit. Animation options, parallax and video backgrounds help you enliven your content even on the most boring default themes. What makes this plugin even more special is that it allows you to create your own modules with shortcodes.


Featured Internet Articles Roundup

published on June 10, 2014

Here are some of the most interesting articles in and around the web that are worth taking the time to read.

Enjoy!


Want to Launch Your Own E-Commerce Site? Start With These Tips & Tools

published on June 6, 2014

EMarketer predicts that online retail sales will be at $434.2 billion in 2017, so if you’re thinking about launching your own e-commerce site, it’s a great time to make a move. You don’t need to be a technology guru to get an online store up and running, either—there are many tools available to make your transition into the online market easier. The following tips will help get you started:

Find Your Niche

Don’t try to be and do too many things—at least, not at the outset. Say you’re in the business of selling women’s clothing; you need to figure out what makes your company unique and what demographic you cater to. When you can answer both questions, you’ll have a better idea of what your niche is. You could sell affordable vintage women’s clothing for the professional woman like Ruche does, or target women in their 20s who love nightlife and lingerie like YumDrop does. By offering specific goods, you narrow down your competition and have a better chance of becoming the lead seller in a particular market.

Create a Home for Your Goods

You don’t need to know how to code or have Web development experience to set up your site. Companies like Shopify and Bigcommerce will help you design your site and set up a virtual transaction process. They also offer protection from hackers and provide worldwide unlimited hosting. Long gone are the days when shop owners were forced to spend big bucks for a custom online store.

If you have some design knowledge and would rather self-host, you’ll need a domain name, a Web host, a dedicated IP address, private SSL certification, a shopping cart script such as Zen Cart and a payment gateway like PayPal. Although self-hosting requires more work, you’ll have more control over branding and your shop’s overall look.

Determine Shipping and Packaging Logistics

You need to select a shipping carrier. The most commonly used ones are UPS, USPS and FedEx. Choose a carrier as you would choose a business partner; ask yourself which one you consider the most cost-efficient, reliable and trusted. Now find out how you will calculate shipping cost—as a retail store, you’ll most likely be calculating by weight. Figure out the maximum amount you can spend on shipping while still making a profit. If you can afford it, offer free shipping for purchases over a certain amount. Your competitors are already doing this, and you don’t want to be left behind.

Get creative with your packaging. Place your logo somewhere on the outside of the package, wrap purchases in pretty tissue paper and include some fun freebies. Your customers will appreciate the extra thought.

Make Your Mark Online

You’ll need a strong social media presence, especially for customer service inquiries. Entrepreneur recommends establishing a company Facebook page and Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube accounts. Publish content your target audience will find interesting—for example, if you sell swimsuits, focus on content related to swimming, traveling and fitness. Pair tailored content with great promotions, and customers will start flocking to your online store.


Internet Trends 2014 according to Mary Meeker-The Highlights

published on June 4, 2014

Mary Meeker recently shared her annual Internet Trends Report at the recently held Code Conference by KPCB. Here are some of the highlights of noteworthy Key Internet Trends she shared that web professionals should take note of.

  • Internet Users
    • <10% in growth and slowing down. Fastest growth is happening in developing and harder to monetize markets like India, Indonesia, Nigeria.
  • Smartphone Subscribers
    • +20% strong growth though slowing. Fastest growth is happening in underpenetrated markets like China, India, Brazil, and Indonesia
  • Tablets
    • +52% rapid unit growth. Growing faster than PC units ever did.
  • Mobile Data Traffic
    • +81% accelerating growth where video is the strong driver. Mobile usage continues to rise rapidly.
  • Internet Advertising
    • Advertising Revenue per User is on the upside for Google, Facebook, and Twitter
  • Mobile Ad Spend Growth
    • Remains optimistic
  • Mobile App Revenue still trumps Mobile Ad Revenue
    • Global Mobile App Revenue is at approximately 68% of Mobile Monetization
  • Cyber Threats are Intensifying
    • Number of Active Threat Groups is rising rapidly.
    • Increased Nation-State Activities
    • Vulnerable Systems placed on Internet are compromised in less than 15 minutes.
    • +95% of Networks are compromised in some way.
    • As Mobile Platforms grow, directed attacks will rise.
  • Personalized Education is Ramping
    • People are turning to the Internet for Education options – own terms, low cost, real-time feedback.
  • Online Education is a Global Thing
    • Online Courses can help learning process for teachers
    • Khan Academy, YouTube, iTunes U Open University, Coursera courses, Duolingo, Remind101, ClassDojo.
  • Digital Technology Enables Change in the Healthcare systems
    • Consumers want to get healthcare related stuff online.
  • Evolution of Communications
    • Image+Video Sharing is rising rapidly.
  • Evolution of Apps
    • There’s an App for that. (multipurpose web apps, multipurpose mobile apps, single purpose apps)
    • Rise of the Invisible App – apps that you have on your phone but only open when you need to be notified about content.
  • Social Media and Social Distribution
    • Social Media Traffic Referral Leaders: Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter. Emerging: Buzzfeed, ABC, BBC, New York Times.
    • New way to think of content: lists, quizzes, explainers, video, mobile
    • Social Distribution – faster turnaround time.
  • Re-imagining Local Services
    • AirBnB, Alibaba, GrubHub
    • Free shipping, Same day delivery
  • Re-imagining Money
    • BitCoin – huge interest in CryptoCurrency
  • Content, Community, Commerce
  • People Enabled with Mobile Devices
    • Instant sharing, communications
    • Personal privacy = an ongoing challenge
    • Potential to solve previously unsolvable problems
    • Challenges related to individual rights
  • Uploadable, Sharable, Findable Real-Time Data is Rising Rapidly
    • Photos
    • Sharable content (Pinterest, Imgur, etc.)
  • Uploadable, Sharable, Not Findable Content
    • WhatsApp
    • Snapchat
    • Tinder
  • Re-imagining user interfaces
    • Finding a place to stay
    • Organized logistics / People moving
    • Managing traffic
    • Finding Music/Video
  • Data Mining and Analytics Tools are improving and finding patterns
    • Big Data is now being used to solve big problems.
  • Screen and Video Growth
    • Apps replacing channels
    • Internet TV replacing Linear TV
    • Media Engagement rises with screen usage
    • With more screens, consumers get more content in less time
    • Traditional remote controls are being replaced with a new IP-enabled search engine
    • Smart TV Adapters + Smart TVs are the game changers for Internet enablement of screens (Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV)
    • On-demand Apps are replacing channels
    • Consumers love video (long-form and short form) including ads(short form)
  • Ads the Digital Way
    • Google TrueView Ads is a game changer
    • Social TV can provide Advertiser lift (TV + Twitter boosts ad impact)
    • Younger consumers = on-demand video
  • Internet TV is replacing Linear TV
    • Consumers are increasingly expecting to watch TV content on their own terms

Interesting trends shared by Mary Meeker. To view the full video of Meeker’s report and additional info about it, check out this article on recode.net.


Happy Birthday WordPress!

published on June 2, 2014

WordPress celebrates its 11th year this May and it can only get better. It may be a bit more quiet than last year’s 10th year celebration but things have been equally if not more exciting than ever. Here are some interesting statistics you need to know about WordPress (.com and .org).

  • 11 Years
    It’s been 11 years since WordPress was first released – May 27, 2003 to be exact.
  • 22% Usage, 60% Market Share
    According to W3Techs.com, WordPress is used by 22.3% of ALL the websites, which translates to a content management system market share of 60.0%.
  • WordPress 3.9 – Downloaded 19.3 million times
    WordPress 3.9 which was released fairly recently has already been downloaded more than 19.3 million times (as of this writing).
  • 2,531 themes, 101,742,042 downloads
    – in the WordPress Theme repository alone with approximately more than 10,000 themes available in the marketplace.
  • More fun embed stats from partners and friends that their users have embedded WordPress short codes on their sites:
    Twitter – 32,978,750 (as of May 2014)
    YouTube – 12,933,230 (as of Apr 2014)
    Flickr – 14,952,725 (as of Apr 2014)
    Vimeo – 29,158 (as of May 2014)
  • WordPress localized in 140+ ways. Find your language here.

Happy Birthday, WordPress!


Shared, VPS, Cloud or Dedicated – What’s Right For You?

published on May 28, 2014

Choosing the right type of web hosting can be a bit confusing especially if you are beginner. Most web users start off posting content on free platforms or blog sites that offer free space but with a few restrictions. This isn’t a bad starting point at all. However, once the web user gains a little bit more confidence and becomes a little bit more web savvy, the need for more control over how content is presented and delivered levels up. It is at this point that the web user starts considering self-hosting his content.

Web Hosting Options

There are many web hosting companies out there offering various types of web packages that will match the demands of your website. What are the basic things you need to look out for to figure out which plan best suits your needs? Let’s take a look at each one.

Shared Hosting

Shared web hosting, currently the most popular type of and most common form of web hosting service, is a web hosting option where many websites are hosted on the same server. This means that numerous clients’ websites are housed together to share the same resources (processor, memory, bandwidth, software), and the number of sites per server can be up into the thousands. You could say that it’s like a huge tray of pizza with different flavors cut up into as many little squares or triangles as possible.

PROS:

  • Cheaper, affordable rates
  • Ideal for small businesses, blogs, and personal websites. Clients pay for what they need and can upgrade as their business needs grow.
  • Web hosts handle the “tech stuff” like installation,updates, control panel management and administration, server maintenance, MySQL and PHP support,etc.

CONS

  • Clients typically have limits on disk space, monthly bandwidth, and other resources such as CPU, RAM, and i/o.
  • Problems with one site can affect other sites on the same server.
  • Upgrade to some system software can sometimes cause issues with your code or scripts if they are not compatible

(source: Webhostingtalk.com)

Virtual Private Server or VPS

VPS hosting is a type of web hosting that uses Virtual Private Servers. The easiest way to visualize how VPS work is to use the apartment analogy. Each virtual server, or “container”, on the machine is like an apartment suite. You can install any software you like or restart your own container without affecting the other containers on the machine, much like how you can renovate your own suite without affecting the others. A single computer can have several VPSs, each one with its own operating system (OS) that runs the hosting software for a particular user.
(source: Techtarget.com)

PROS:

  • Hardware and network infrastructures are maintained by the hosting provider.
  • VPS enables the user to install any kind of software that is capable of running on that operating system.
  • Less expensive than dedicated server plans.

CONS

  • VPS hosts don’t always offer unlimited bandwidth and storage
  • Costs more than Shared Hosting.
  • With unmanaged or self managed hosting, the customer is left to administer his own server instance.

Cloud Hosting

Cloud server hosting is a type of hosting in which hosting services are made available to customers on demand via the Internet. Rather than being provided by a single server or virtual server, cloud server hosting services are provided by multiple connected servers that comprise a cloud. Cloud server hosting is also sometimes referred to as cluster server hosting or server on-demand hosting.

Cloud server hosting offers the advantages of increased accessibility and reliability, seamless scalability and potential cost savings, as customers are freed from having to invest in on-premises servers and hardware, and they pay only for the resources they consume. On the other hand, security and lack of access and full control are potential concerns with cloud server hosting.
(source: Webopedia.com)

PROS:

  • You have access to resources you need as you grow.
  • You can increase your available resources immediately, when you need it.
  • You can get what you need when you need it and you only pay for what you use.

CONS

  • Possibility of serious security issues.
  • Perceived as unstable and unsafe.
  • Cloud web hosting services are very restrictive for people dealing with commerce especially on security matters where the data kept on the systems are maintained by a third party.

Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated hosting is an Internet hosting option in which an organization leases an entire server, which is often housed in a data center. The host not only provides the server equipment, but may also provide administration and other services. This is considered a more flexible arrangement for the client because unlike in shared server arrangements, it gives the organization total control over the server, its software and security systems. In some cases, a dedicated server can be less expensive.

Dedicated hosting is also known as a dedicated server or managed hosting service.

PROS:

  • A unique and dedicated IP address.
  • A greater degree of security that can be customized according to a client’s needs. Difficult to hack, making this ideal for companies with lots of customer information or large corporate accounts.
  • Custom firewall which can help in enforcing the access control policy.

CONS

  • Dedicated hosting is more costly.
  • Need to administer the server so prior knowledge (or outsourcing the job) is needed.
  • Diagnostics and problem resolution is more difficult

At the end of the day, it boils down to your website needs, how much you can afford, and how much time you want to spend on maintaining and managing the whole backend. Once you have defined these items, you can more or less decide which hosting option is best for you.


Late to the Game? It’s Time to Make Your Business Mobile Friendly

published on May 26, 2014

Go mobile! This is the warning cry of business gurus in the technology age. Making your business mobile friendly is great advice since more than half of American adults own smartphones, according to Pew Research Internet Project. But, like eating well and getting exercise, the advice is easier said than done. Deciding where to start and what aspects of the business to convert to mobile platforms can be daunting and can change your overall business structure. Consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program and consult your business plan before implementing mobile technology.

Mobile Website

The easiest and least invasive strategy is to optimize your existing website for mobile viewing. A beautifully designed website with high quality graphics and elaborate video may not translate well onto the smaller screen of a smartphone or tablet. With a third of people exclusively using mobile technology to go online, according to Scientific.net having a website that is not readily viewable can dilute your online presence. Depending on the hosting platform you are using, optimizing your site for mobile application can be as easy as adding a plugin. Some HTML platforms may require you use a Web designer to appropriately format large data components like video.

Mobile Marketing

If you are one of those people who does not like using Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, get over it. Social media marketing is word of mouth multiplied by a million. Social media marketing is one of the best ways to expand your brand reach. If you have not done so, create a Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest page, then post often. There are many good articles online that discuss the best use of social media, but the important part is to have and use the pages.

Mobile Productivity

Devices like the Samsung Galaxy or the iPad Air let an entrepreneur do business wherever he is. Your small business environment can be turned on its ear by using mobile productivity applications. Where you once sat in an office to do your work, you can get the same amount done while visiting new prospective customers. Google’s app store has hundreds of applications to increase mobile productivity. These applications range from buying postage stamps, to whole accounting suites. If you are trying to translate an existing brick and mortar business into something more productive, start small with apps that allow you to access your business’ financial information.

Mobile Store

If you want to make the big shift to mobile, place your whole product list online and create an e-commerce shopping cart. This is simpler than you may think. As long as you have a current inventory list, you can place this list online and integrate the point of sales system with the e-store. This will allow the virtual store to always be current without a lot of effort on your part. There are several great shopping cart managers that have monthly packages as low as $15 per month.