Achievement Unlocked

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Today I ran more miles than I ever have.  I’m proud of me today. Aaaand I’m also proud of all my fellow Snails who ran 22 miles today. Not enough words in my vocab to explain how awesome this all is…

Whatever you do, keep moving…

WordPress Thoughts and Resources

This post was last updated 09/02/2017

Hey folks, I wanted to share some links/resources that may be of benefit to some.

Before I do, I wanted to throw this note out first. I truly enjoy being a part of the WordPress community. I enjoy it because of what I learn, how it humbles me and what I can teach others. I’m always amazed about the fact that anyone of any talent and skill can participate and give back. Anyone. It’s inspiring to see folks take time out of their busy schedules to spend a couple hours to learn; teach and just participate. This community is only as good as what everyone puts back into it. So don’t be afraid to ask the “noob” question; don’t be afraid to state something that’s incorrect. I do that sh*t all the time! Whatever you do, just participate and own your place in this awesome community and I promise you it will take care of you.

So I hope you guys come back to the Pasadena Meetup again. =)

Okay, enough of that nonsense, let’s get to brass tacks…

Meetups

Relegated, right now, for those meetups in SoCal and surrounding areas. If you have one you’d like to list, post a comment.

For users just getting started with WordPress, joining one of the active Facebook communities is a great places to start. The one thing I would tell you is to do your research so you can ask a well-informed question.

OCWP – Great group! Helpful folks! https://www.facebook.com/groups/OCWordPress

WordPress 101 Meetup, hosted by the brilliant, lovely and awesome Natalie MacLees – http://www.meetup.com/Los-Angeles-WordPress-101

For more advanced/intermediate users:
AdvancedWP – https://www.facebook.com/groups/OCWordPress

These are both groups you have to ask to join.

MOAR WordPress Meetups
http://goo.gl/AhxLpF

WordPress Pasadena (Beginner and Developer Focused)

Theme Development and Learning the Ropes

Learning how to build themes
– WordPress Theme Tutorial 2nd Edition by Michelle Langston: http://themeshaper.com/2012/10/22/the-themeshaper-wordpress-theme-tutorial-2nd-edition/

The first edition of that guide, got me up and running and thirsty to learn more, it was written by Automattic Theme Wrangler Ian Stewart (have a serious one-sided bromance with that fella)

WordPress Training 
If you need some help learning WordPress and you do better with one-to-one instruction, then you have got to talk to my friend Lucy Beer. Training and Coaching is her bag, man. I use have her  help out my clients who ask for training. They love her and so will you. http://webtrainingwheels.com

Also BobWP, is a well known training resource: http://bopwp.com

E-Commerce

http://woothemes.com/woocommerce
http://cart66.com
http://ithemes.com/exchange/ This plugin was recently sold. I’m not sure what the future looks like, but given their timeline we’ll soon find out.
– https://easydigitaldownloads.com/

WordPress and Business

http://chrislema.com
http://wpelevation.com
This next link is from the business track of WordCamp San Diego 2013. If you’re in business for yourself, or with others, I really, really feel that each and every one of these videos has something valuable to offer. Truly. I find myself referring back to them from time to time.
http://chrislema.com/the-business-track

Plugins

Plugins I like to use — I like a good plugin more than most. If you want to see what I use and like, check out my WordPress profile and see what plugins I dig. You may find a new favorite. Buy me a beer if you do. =)

http://profiles.wordpress.org/digisavvy

Plugins I use on every project (Production) — These plugins are indispensable to me and see use on every project

Plugins I use on every project (Development)

  • What the File — Tells you what page templates are being called
  • Developer (Installs show IDs, Debug Bar, Debug Bar Extender)
  • Migrate DB Pro — LOVE! Sync your Databases by pulling and pushing them in real time, over AJAX. Sweet!
  • Advanced Custom Fields — Add custom fields to WordPress posts, custom post types, users and more.
  • Query Monitor — Great for seeing the various queries that happen on your site and pages when they’re loaded up.

Front End Editors

  • Velocity Page
  • Beaver Builder – It’s pretty much my fave. I’m not a fan of all the markup it generates, but it’s a good page builder
  • Thrive Content Builder — Another awesome front end page builder that I came across recently. Seems to work pretty well. Comes with a few more bells and whistles out of the box than Velocity Page. I’m using it on my agency site (DigiSavvy.com).
  • Barley for WordPress — I haven’t used, but have heard some awesome things about this plugin as well. There’s also a Drupal (Hissssss!) version of the tool

WordPress Maintenance and Fix-it Help

  • WP Site Care — Ran by Ryan Sullivan, a true Gentleman, Thug and BBQ Buddy! A great fella with a top notch company that handles all the things WordPress. Can’t recommend him highly enough.
  • Maintainn — Headed up by chief ass kicker, Shayne Sanderson, Maintainn is among the early WordPress maintenance providers. They offer solid plans for those looking for that hand-holding type help. Shayne is awesome and knows his sh*t.

Web Hosting

I only give two sh*ts about two three hosts right now. WP Engine and Siteground. That. is. it! Everyone else can get bent…

  • Pantheon Hosting – My company is an agency partner. We trust them with all of our dev work now and implore our clients to host with them.
  • WP Engine — WP Engine is the f*cking boss of managed WP Hosting. No doubt about it. The field is still playing “catch up” while WP Engine continues to innovate with their offering as well as being champions within the community. They’re just great folks providing great support and hi-performance hosting. How much do I like them? My most critical projects/clients are hosted on WP Engine.
  • Siteground — After getting burned by Hostgator and Bluehost, I really wanted to jump off a cliff if I ever had to deal with shared hosting again. Truth is, you can’t get away from it. But There are companies that take hosting seriously, Siteground does just that. Sure, it’s shared hosting, but it’s really effing good! Why? Well, they offer WP Optimized hosting, for one. They also do snapshot backups, provide a staging area, provide Git Repo setup… I mean, I that’s pretty rad, but their support? It’s phenomenal. Sure, sometimes you hit an agent who may not be great, but they get back to me within minutes typically. It’s pure insanity.

The Story of “You.” A Bit on WordPress Themes and Business.

I was on WP Watercooler earlier this week. And we talked about what WordPress themes best help businesses reach their goals. It was a lively talk, of course.

This is a topic that’s near and dear to me and it’s been covered by my buddy, Mr. Lema. Now, I can’t tell any one specific business owner what theme will best match their goals. I can’t. But what I can do is share a story that I think illustrates this point well enough.

I want to tell you about a meeting I had with a client of mine a couple of weeks back… So, there I was, standing at the front door of an office that was a pretty messy canvas, if you will. They were moving into this new space. Getting things ready. They had a custom made logo mounted to a wall. Around the corner were these beautiful mahogany desks that were being hand-finished; there was a tree that had been brought in from some far off place; there other decorations that were being ordered from etsy and on top of that, white-colored appliances were “out” for not being in style with the new digs… Whew. There was a lot in motion that day.

Great, so why does any of this matter and how does it relate to the story?

Well, I’m getting to that! But I still have more story to tell! You see, this client puts on a hell of an event. They don’t do weddings; they don’t do company retreats (well, if you’re big enough then maybe they would). These guys do events for companies of global scale. Think Microsoft; think Pepsi; think BIG! These guys do amazing work. The attention to detail they bring into their own office is what they bring to their events, just multiply that effort by one hundred.

One of their people mocks up and creates 3d illustrations of the event area, using Google Sketchup. They use to-scale environments, artifacts, furniture; you name it. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, they feed in data so that their clients know what the weather and light would be like at different times of the day. It’s a complete solution they offer and they do it proudly. And they should. It’s truly amazing work.

These guys have a story to tell. They want people to know that a.) They do great fucking work and want them to be blown away. b.) They want people to know the story of who they are and how they came to be and c.) They want people to know their process and how they put all the awesome together to assemble Voltron every time out.

Ok, great. But what does this have to do with WordPress Themes?

It was obvious, within minutes, that these guys were serious about their brand and their message. That was above and beyond making a “cool site.” It had to effectively communicate those things they take pride in; those things that set them apart. Ok. No problem.

Yet, it is a problem. My client’s team has taken a lot of time reviewing many sites; coming up with things they liked and didn’t like. And through all that research they didn’t find something that would fit the bill. And this was the story I came in on.

Having observed what they were doing with their office and listening to their story, it was clear to me that the best theme for them was the theme that told their story; showcased their work and really displayed how they’re different and why. It was also clear that nothing off the shelf would do the trick. These guys were importing plants, finishing their own desks, by hand and their passionate attention to detail screamed what I already knew. The right theme for these guys, in this case, was something built from the ground up, with their story and brand in mind. And that’s what I told them. There was a moment of collective pause, but they all got it. It “just made sense.”

Not everyone fits that bill, of course. There’s a number of beautiful themes out there. My colleague and friend, Devin Walker, is a theme-wizard. Really. And he makes things that can be customized and used for most purposes. The right theme should communicate your passion; your story and why you do what you do. It sounds hokey. Believe me, I know. And there are a great many businesses that run a theme based off of some other turn-key solution and they run with it. Nothing wrong with that. If that theme helps you communicate your business’s most critical points, by all means, do work and get that thing running. But, there’s a certain something to seeing something built, just for you; something that no one else has… I love doing that; I love building things that “just work” and service a particular need.

So, what should I do, then?

Understand what your business is about. It’s not just about selling this product or that; it’s not about doing this one thing better than the next guy, well, it sorta is… But you know what I mean. Know why you’re in business; know why people like working with you; know what makes your product better and be in touch with why you do what you do. I know it sounds cliche, but people really connect with quality and also the reason behind what you do and why. The detail of thought hat goes into this is absolutely crucial and you should work with someone who knows what they’re doing, so they can help you flesh out your direction.

So, ask yourself: What is the story I want to tell about my business?