From January 1, 2015, the European Union has put into effect the new rules about the taxation on the purchase of digital goods (software, electronic, e-book, telecommunications and broadcast services) for European citizens. In the business to consumer sale, the shop must apply the VAT of the country of the purchaser; while in the business to business it all depends whether the company owns valid VAT number recognized by the European Union. Handling EU VAT requirements can be very tricky, especially if you want to create a custom solution to handle things. Luckily, all users of WooCommerce can rely on…
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Progressive themes was a hot topic at WordCamp Europe 2018. During the event I had the opportunity to set up a panel with four experts who are working to integrate progressive web development practices more deeply in WordPress core, plugins, and themes. These practices make it possible for a website (or app) to work offline, load quickly, deliver content on unreliable networks, and use device-specific features to provide a better experience for the user. The PWA (progressive web app) created for WordCamp Europe is a good example of this in action.
Thierry Muller, Alberto Medina, Weston Ruter, and Morten Rand-Hendriksen joined me for an interview, exploring the future of WordPress themes in the era of progressive web development. (see video below)
“At the most abstract level, it’s all about user experience,” Medina said. “How do we maximize the pleasure that our users get when they use our websites? And delightfulness in this context means things like performance, speed, having content that isn’t blocked. If you think about themes built according to those principles, then we are basically seeking an awesome user experience in WordPress.”
It’s not yet clear what this will look like for the WordPress theme landscape, as current solutions are somewhat fragmented. WordPress contributors are working to standardize progressive technologies in core so the ecosystem can collaborate better together.
“There are many progressive themes being built these days,” Medina said. “One of the problems that is happening is that there is a lot of fragmentation. There’s a lot of plugins that are using service workers but in their own ways. What we want is to say, ‘This is the best way to do things,’ this is a uniform API to do it, and then enable progressive theme developers to take advantage of the core functionality.”
Currently, the prospect of setting up a WordPress site that uses progressive web technologies would be a daunting task for regular users, even if they are implementing existing solutions.
“There’s also a user aspect of it, because the people for whom we design WordPress, plugins, and themes, are the people who actually publish their own content onto the web,” Rand-Hendriksen said. “There’s a really valid question in how much should they need to know about how the web works to be able to publish some content. When they spin up a WordPress site, should we impose on them to know that they need to add all these optimization plugins and do all this other stuff just to make the site work properly? How much of that can be offloaded onto the theme itself, or plugins, or even WordPress core?”
The members of the panel are working together to on various projects and core contributions that will standardize the use of progressive enhancement technologies in WordPress.
“The goal is to have a common API for service workers so that plugins and themes can each install their own logic, just like they can enqueque their own scripts today,” Ruter said. “Also to be able to enqueue their own service workers and then core can manage the combination of them, as well as having a common app manifest that plugins and themes can collaborate on and have a single output into the page.”
This is how Rand-Hendriksen’s WP Rig starter theme project came about – to help developers take advantage of these best practices in the meantime, without having to figure out how to put all the pieces together.
“WP Rig gives you the platform to build a progressive theme that uses all the latest performance and WordPress best practices, in a convenient package, and over time it will evolve with these new progressive technologies,” Rand-Hendriksen said.
We also discussed AMP and Gutenberg compatibility, core support for web app manifests, and how the commercial theme industry will react to these new technologies. Check out the full interview in the video below.
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WordPress has become so ubiquitous as a web hosting and designing platform, that it can be difficult to get your site to stand out from the masses. In such cases, spicing things up a bit by experimenting can lead to some great results, such as increased ad traffic. For now, it’s safe to say that as far as standing out on WordPress goes, it might pay to be a little more adventurous.
Now, it’s worth pointing out that being adventurous doesn’t mean you can just throw the rules right out the window. Rather, it’s mostly about breaking convention and trying out things you may never have tried before with your existing site or with a new one.
Of course, you don’t have to combine all of these options all at once nor do you have try every single one at all. In fact, some of these items can be the complete opposite of each other, so using them together might not work that well.
The goal is simply to do something outside your comfort zone and see if it works out.
Go Crazy With The Color Palettes
We should probably qualify this part first before you go nuts and start mixing orange with indigo and fuchsia with abandon. Basically, if you have been using safe options up to this point when designing a website such as sticking to a single or dual color palette that have been proven to work together, perhaps it’s time to try something a little out there.
A background of pink that’s sprinkled with a little red, yellow, blue, and violet could work if you don’t make them too conspicuous. A bold background color that users might not automatically associate with the kind of niche you’re in could work, as well, such as a deep purple for a job agency. This can really touch your visitors’ interests, provided you don’t go overboard.
Bold, as in, daring. Not Bold, the format.
Basically, WordPress sites have always had the standard setup of having the headers in the right positions for the right parts of the content for obvious reasons. However, more and more domains are now trying new typography formats where everything from the headings to the body are found all over the place. This example should give you some ideas as to what this might look like.
There are also examples of creative heading designs such as overlapping words to form a completely different phrase or being artsy with the color palette to form non-obvious images relevant to the domain or content.
So, just as we got to a rather exciting start with the first two items, let’s dial it way down and go the opposite direction with extreme minimalism. Basically, you want to convey your message as clearly as possible while keeping your webpage as empty as possible. The idea being that users are so used to being bombarded with so many words, images, blinking banners, videos, and so much more that the sheer absence of any or all those things can be jarring.
This will also force them to actually focus much better since they have fewer distractions to contend with. Naturally, this will work best when the niche that you are operating in is relevant to design such as offering workshops that help sharpen focus. It’s positively poetic.
Keep It Subtle
You know how, when you’re body and mind is relaxed, and you suddenly notice something moving at the edges of your peripheral vision? You can apply that to your website in a much more direct fashion.
Basically, you use animations that move in such a subtle way that users wouldn’t even be completely sure that they are seeing something move for the first few minutes they spend on your site. They’ll be almost convinced that they are seeing things, which is a sure fire way to hold their attention.
It’s practically cheating.
You can achieve this by employing subtle animation twitches such as slight movements with the arms or legs, or a quick eye-roll. The effect is amplified when you have multiple animations that are also randomized, so users won’t be able to predict exactly what will happen next and with which image.
Web Page Or Paper?
People are easily snagged by nostalgia and for those who miss the pen and paper days, hand-drawn graphics on a web page can be especially appealing. These can come either in the form of the lettering itself, the background images such as a wall that looks like it was sketched on a canvas, or content that is reminiscent of 60s comic books.
The possibilities with regards to this particular option are practically endless, with the only limitations being your imagination. You could even use doodles that you scratch on your paper during your free time or when you’re trying to work something out. People are always interested in the weird and the odd.
The post Top Things To Try With WordPress For The Adventurous Designer appeared first on Torque.
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Eventy: WordPress-like Actions and Filters for Laravel
Eventy is a Laravel package by Tor Morten Jensen that brings WordPress-style actions and filters to your Laravel app. This package has a lightweight API and makes it easy to build an action and filter system as found in WordPress. The action and filter …
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Like a lot of people, I started out with WPMU DEV because of one plugin. But over the years I’ve come to appreciate much more about my membership – not only the wide range of plugins but other features too. If you’ve been thinking about taking out a WPMU DEV subscription, you may be wondering […]
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In this episode, John James Jacoby and I spend the first half of the show discussing WP Engine’s acquisition of StudioPress. We share reactions from social media, debate on whether it’s a good or bad thing for the WordPress ecosystem, and webhosts being at the top of the food chain.
We also talk about a recent security vulnerability that was publicly disclosed, ProsPress acquires AutomateWoo, and the release of Tide beta 1. Also of note, we identified an issue that causes John’s audio to turn into static. His audio should be fixed in the next episode.
Why WP Engine is Acquiring StudioPress
An Important Announcement About the Future of StudioPress
WP Engine, a managed WordPress platform, raises $250M from Silver Lake
AutomateWoo joins Prospress
AutomateWoo joins Prospress to Further eCommerce Automation on WooCommerce
Tide Beta 1 Released
Next Episode: Wednesday, July 4th 3:00 P.M. Eastern
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If you’re writing all your posts in the new Gutenberg editor but don’t want to give up convenient access to your fancy gifs and stock images, the new Drop It plugin has you covered. Riad Benguella, one of the engineers who is working on Gutenberg, created the plugin to offer one-click image insertion/upload from Unsplash.com.
Drop It adds a droplet icon to the Gutenberg sidebar that launches a search form for Unsplash.com or Giphy.com (a feature contributed by Julien Maury). Users can click the “+” sign on the image or simply drag and drop it into the content area.
Drop It seamlessly connects Gutenberg to the Unsplash and Giphy libraries, putting hundreds of thousands of stock photos and gifs at your fingertips while composing in WordPress. In the earlier days of Unsplash, many of the same images were used all over the web, but over the past few years its library has grown to include more than 550,000 high-resolution photos.
Check out this demo to see how how fast it is to search and insert images:
Benguella originally created the plugin for a talk he gave at WPtech Lyon where he demonstrated how plugin developers can make use of Gutenberg’s reusable modules. His presentation and slides explore Gutenberg’s architecture and show how he created the Drop It plugin.
Benguella said the Drop It plugin’s code is a good example of how developers can extend Gutenberg’s UI using “pinnable” sidebar plugins. It also shows how to use the Data module to access and update Gutenberg’s state (data).
In the future, Benguella plans to add more sources for inserting media. He currently has a proof of concept for adding content from Google Docs and will add more depending on contributions from others and his availability to work on the plugin.
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Creating a successful, well-optimized website is something like throwing your own, custom-made, wide net into the ocean in the hope that you’ll catch as many fish as possible. You need to consider all the different devices that people use to browse the internet and cover all the options with a responsive web design that adjusts the content to different screen sizes. This is important because you want all of your visitors to have the ultimate user experience no matter what device they’re on.
While all of this probably makes sense to you, it might still surprise you to hear that responsive web design actually directly affects your SEO score as well. Here is a list of SEO benefits you’ll get once you implement this design.
More Mobile Traffic
The first and possibly the most important result of responsive web design is the increased mobile traffic. Mobile browsing has been growing steadily for years now and in 2016, according to an October report, managed to surpass desktop browsing with 51.3 percent lead. This means that the mobile phones have become a main focus point for numerous developers out there and mobile optimization has become the industry standard. So, by using responsive web design on your website, you open the doors for the majority of web users nowadays, which obviously improves your SEO score.
Faster Web Page Loading
Speaking of mobile browsing, speed has recently become a major SEO ranking factor with Google. With the introduction of mobile-first principle, Google announced that web page loading speed will become an important part of SEO, starting July 2018. Although the results won’t be as evident from the start, investing in faster web pages early on is a good way of preparing for the future.
So, where does responsive design fit in? Loading a full website on a smaller screen is not only ineffective and frustrating for the user, it’s also extremely slow. Responsive design condenses the pages, making them smaller and, therefore, easier to load.
Now, the question of speed is somewhat problematic. Some people argue that accelerated mobile pages (AMPs) are a better choice than responsive design because they’re much faster. However, AMPs have a couple of drawbacks, the biggest one being that they only work with static content, so RWD might still be a safer choice for now.
Lower Bounce Rate
Of course, website visits mean nothing if the bounce rate is extremely high – this means that a great number of visitors that come to your website leave immediately because of the poor overall experience. A lot of professional SEO agencies recommend responsive web design as a means of lowering the bounce rate and, therefore improving your rank.
Keep in mind, though, that bounce rate is a somewhat unreliable factor because it depends on the type of website you have. For example, according to Conversion XL, service sites get up to 30 percent bounce rate, content sites from 40-60%, while blogs can have up to 90 percent. One user even addressed the unreliability of it all with an example of his site that contains mostly images and the bounce rate is extremely high because people see the image they want and leave.
It should come as no surprise to you that user experience affects SEO quite a lot. After all, who are you making the website for if you don’t put the focus on the people themselves? Users need to be able to see the full content on any screen and navigate it successfully. As Cody Arsenault from Key CDN points out – it’s all about those first impressions. You don’t want your visitors to struggle with zooming, scrolling or anything else regardless of their preferred browsing device.
In case you don’t feel that UX is that important for a successful website, take a look at this article by Forbes that cites a study saying that a good user interface can increase your conversion rates from anywhere around 200 up to 400%. So, it pays off thinking about the well-being of your visitors.
No Duplicate Content
Finally, one of the benefits that’s clear from the very definition of responsive website design is that it prevents the possibility of Google seeing duplicate content on your website and penalizing you for it. When you make two separate versions of your site (one for desktop and one for mobile browsing), Google can see it as two websites with the same content. Responsive design lets you use just one location that corresponds to all of the sizes.
Seeing how you have just one link for all the versions of your website, link-building becomes much simpler and, therefore, your SEO rank goes up easier. SEO Nick notes that not only is RWD a simpler and easier solution, but a more reliable as well, when it comes to link-building. Considering how mobile browsing is still relatively new, backlinks from strictly mobile websites aren’t as strong as the regular ones. Responsive web design saves you the trouble of choosing the right one.
In the end, it all comes down to helping the users get a better experience using your website which, in turn, drastically improves your SEO score. The beauty of responsive website design lies in its simplicity and time-saving tendencies which still makes it a somewhat better choice than the alternatives, for now. However, the world of web design is constantly changing and perhaps we’ll get to see a superior concept sometime in the future.