Beaver Builder makes it easy to create unique page layouts with intuitive and clean WordPress integration

beaver-builder-logo

Beaver Builder is a WordPress page builder plugin that allows you to build complex page layouts in an intuitive drag-and-drop interface.

As WordPress evolves beyond the blog, building attractive sites with modern layouts have become an increasing challenge. Theme developers like StudioPress have attempted to solve this by using custom page templates with styled widget areas. For example, the Centric Pro and Agency Pro themes have home pages built entirely with widget.

But what if you need custom layouts for other pages? For example, a services page or product landing page? You’d have to make multiple page templates for each unique layout and your Widgets page would be overflowing.

Furthermore I argue that widgets are secondary content. Your pages are primary content and deserve a better solution. [Read more...]

6 tips from top bloggers for writing a great About Page

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Editor’s note: In this post, Jade Craven from BloggersToWatch.com compiles the best tips to enhance your blog’s About Page

On nearly every website, the About Page is among the most visited pages. This one page can influence whether or not someone becomes a fan of your blog.

It is easy to write a mediocre About Page and slap it up on your blog. A compelling About Page can be difficult to write. It’s hard to know what information to include and what order to place it in.

In this post, I’ll walk through some of the ways you can make your About Page shine.

1. Tell them why they should care

All About Pages need a narrative. That much is a certain. However, many bloggers are so focused on telling their story that they forget to think about what the reader wants.

Share your story, but guess what it isn’t about you! Everything you tell them about you secretly must reveal something about them. Stand in the shoes of the person you’re talking to and tell them something that’s going to make them give a damn. Why might they care about this? If the connection between you and them isn’t clear, delete it.

Jane Copeland, How To Write A Killer About Page

This can be difficult if you aren’t a copywriter. Here are the top tips from my community:

  • Belinda, from Copywrite Matters, suggests that you link “all your expertise back to how you can help the reader with their particular issues.”
  • John Haydon recommends that you “speak to them – as if they’re sitting across from you at a coffee shop. This person sitting across from you – what questions will they have about who you are and what you do?”
  • Rae Hoffman says that this is “your chance to tell the reader what they can expect from your content and why they should want to read it on the regular. And why your blog is different than the hundreds or thousands of others out there on the same topic”

More ideas – Steve Kamb thanks new readers at Nerd Fitness before sharing his goal to help his community. Debs explains how her site can help readers of Learn with Play at Home by describing why she started her blog.

[Read more...]

Start 2014 on the right foot with this new year’s website checklist

Checklist

Can you believe it’s 2014 already? That means it’s time to make plans and get ready for the year ahead. Your website deserves a tune-up too, and we’ve put together a handy checklist for you to start off the year right.

1. Change your password

The start of the year is also a good time to update your passwords. You know that strong passwords should include lower and uppercase letters, numbers and symbols, but they’re always so hard to remember. Here’s a tip: Use random words with mixed capitalization, separated by symbols and numbers. Examples:

Because#Sand8Blimp — first letter capitalized
daylight>SPAGHETTI-1981 — 2nd word capitalized
2014pepsi?REEBOK\ — with names or brands

Isn’t that much easier to remember than 3lm3HO%9? This happens to be a weaker password too because there are only 8 characters in it. [Read more...]

3 options for your own professional me@mywebsite.com email address

My email address is ruining my life

“What’s your email address?”

That question may be even more important than, “What’s your website address?”

Your email address is how potential customers, business partners or employers will communicate with you. What will they think if it’s bieberfan371@yahoo.com or stuckinthe90s@aol.com?

No! You need a professional me@mywebsite.com email address. In this article, we’ll tell you the 3 options for your own personalized, professional email address.

Option 1: Self-hosted email

Web hosting companies typically include email hosting in their packages. If you already host your own website, you can also host your email there at no extra cost. The exception is managed hosting companies like WP Engine or Synthesis who don’t provide email hosting at all.

Self-hosted email - email is hosted on the server

When you host your own email, the web server for example.com also accepts emails to user@example.com. The user would then retrieve the email from the server. [Read more...]

[Poll] Will you activate automatic WordPress updates for your site?

WordPress 3.7 Background Updates

WordPress 3.7 introduces automatic background updates

One of the big new features in WordPress 3.7 is automatic updating of core files for minor releases. This means that updates to v3.7.1 and v3.7.2 will be applied automatically, but not for major releases e.g. v3.7.x to v3.8.

The WordPress development team has tested this feature extensively across lots of different hosting configurations and are confident that it will work without problems. However they have also provided a way for power users and developers to turn this off so they can manage updates by themselves.

Automatic updates is a great feature if they happen transparently and without failing. The Google Chrome browser is the star example of transparent auto-updates. iOS now also automatically apps on your iPhone or iPad. However WordPress automatic updates aren’t quite so transparent and will put the site in maintenance mode for a few seconds while the update is in progress.

Does that bother you at all? Will you be enabling automatic updates for your site?

If you’d like to share your thoughts for your answer, please leave a comment below. Thanks!

Is WordPress the right choice for your website?

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For best results, use the right tools for the job

There are a million ways to create a website, and WordPress is just one of those ways. Yet many people just choose WordPress because that’s what everyone is using or because they don’t know about the other options. The problem is that WordPress may not always be the right tool for the job.

Using the right tool for the job helps you complete the job quicker and with less risk of injury. This article explains why this holds true for building websites as well.

WordPress isn’t always the right choice

I make a living providing WordPress tech support, yet I wouldn’t recommend WordPress if… [Read more...]

Media-friendly WordPress 3.6 “Oscar” is here!

After several delays WordPress 3.6 was finally released on 1 August. Version 3.6 introduces a new default theme (Twenty Thirteen), enhancements to media embeds, auto-saves and more. The WordPress team put together a short video tour of the new features in WordPress 3.6.

As is their custom, this release is named after a jazz musician; this time the honor goes to pianist Oscar Peterson. As is our custom, here is a list of our favorite features.

Improved Autosave and Post Locking

Don’t you hate it when you lose a post? Especially something that you spent hours on! WordPress 3.6 wants to solve that by improving the autosave feature. Autosaves are much more reliable because post changes are now saved in your browser’s HTML5 offline storage as well as on the server. If you are interrupted in the middle of writing a post – bad internet connection, browser crash, etc – you can trust WordPress to autosave, even if you forget to explicitly save a draft. This was earmarked as an “all hands on deck” feature – read about it here. [Read more...]

Test payments in WooCommerce with the PayPal Sandbox

Sandbox

You’ve created your WooCommerce store, uploaded all your products and are ready to accept payments via PayPal. But how can you know for certain if PayPal will work as expected with your store?

Most people will make a small purchase with a friend’s PayPal account as a live test. But that costs real money and is annoying if you have to test multiple times. This post explains how to test the payment system using the PayPal Sandbox.

The PayPal Sandbox is a place where you can test your shopping cart and other PayPal integrations in a realistic way, except that no money changes hands. This means you can test your PayPal processes in the Sandbox and know they will behave the same on the when you go live.

The PayPal Sandbox environment comprises the following:

You should take some time to read the official documentation.

How it all fits together

Here are the steps that this post will show you:

  1. Login to the PayPal developer website with your existing PayPal account
  2. Create Sandbox test accounts for the shop owner, and another one for a buyer
  3. Set the WooCommerce PayPal settings to the shop owner’s API details WooCommerce
  4. Make test purchases – without spending any real money [Read more...]

Why you need the WordPress Jetpack plugin and how to activate it

How would you like some cool (and useful), premium features for your WordPress website for free? I’m talking about features like email subscriptions for new posts and comments, commenting with Twitter or Facebook logins, a mobile version of your site and automatically sharing new posts to your social networks.

The Jetpack plugin will enable all these features and more for your blog or website, putting it on par with your favorite news sites and blogs. Here’s 3 easy steps to supercharging your site with the WordPress Jetpack plugin.

Step 1: Sign up for WordPress.com

Jetpack is a bridge to WordPress.com that provides the plumbing to enable those cool features. If you didn’t have WordPress.com, you’d have to develop all the behind the scenes infrastructure yourself which is time consuming and expensive.

So the first step to enabling Jetpack’s features on your site is to sign up for a WordPress.com account. You may already have a WordPress.com account if you already have a blog there, or if you setup Akismet for your site before. If you do, you can skip this step. If you don’t, just visit http://wordpress.com and click on the signup link. I would recommend that you signup for just a username.

Signup for a WordPress.com username

Signup for a WordPress.com username

Keep your username and password on hand, we’ll need them in the next step.

[Read more...]

3 Easy Options for Presenting Portfolios in WordPress

Art Gallery

Showing off your work or press mentions on a WordPress website turns out to be a challenging task. The task is even more difficult if you want to show off more than just images. In this article, I present 3 easy options to display portfolios. And I even made an example site to demonstrate the 3 methods explained here.

First, let’s take a look at the kinds of content that you may want to showcase on your website:

Images are the most common type of portfolio content to show off photos, artwork, drawings and infographics.

Videos are great for videographers or if you were featured in a video interview.

Links to external sites – if you were interviewed or contributed an article to a high profile website, a link accompanied by a short excerpt or screenshot is a great way to present that content.

Documents – Essays, news clippings, stuff in PDF format; or presentations and slide decks are also portfolio-worthy

Article – Sometimes the best way to present your work is by telling a story through a case study or blog post. With this format you can combine the different kinds of content above for a rich and engaging portfolio entry.

You can find examples of most of the content types above on our WordPress Portfolio Example Site. Now let’s examine the 3 easy options for displaying portfolios in WordPress. [Read more...]