Senior Backend Engineer, Zach Owens, shows readers a process for debugging WordPress with Local by Flywheel in this tech-savvy blog post.
Introduction Local by Flywheel is a popular tool for getting quick and reliable WordPress installations running on your computer. One of its lesser-known features is the inclusion of xdebug support. xdebug is a PHP extension that allows for real-time debugging of PHP code. Today, we’re going to go over how to get both of these working together within vim to provide a powerful interface that allows for some successful debugging of WordPress.
Firstly, this tutorial is intended for users of vim or neovim. If you aren’t familiar with how to use vi-like editors, but want to learn, I would recommend running vimtutor in your command line and learning how to move and work in vim before continuing with this post.
Next, you’ll need Local by Flywheel. You can download it here. If you haven’t set up a site before with Local, it is pretty straightforward. You can find a guide for getting started on Flywheel’s blog.
For vim or neovim, henceforth referred to simply as “vim” (with distinctions for neovim if necessary), you will need the Vdebug plugin. Installation instructions are included on the plugin’s page. I use vim-plug to
Our resident WordCamp expert shares tips and advice on making the most of your first WordCamp experience.
So, you’ve decided to attend your first WordCamp—a nonprofit, volunteer-organized conference about WordPress and related topics. That’s great! WordCamps are excellent places to learn a new skill, get up-to-date on design trends, meet potential clients and partners, and geek out about WordPress in general. Having attended countless WordCamps across North America, here are my top tips on how to maximize your WordCamp experience.
A laptop is *optional*
It may not be apparent, considering this is a conference about technology, but unless you are planning on using your laptop to actively debug or work on your website, such as at the Happiness Bar, or participate in a live workshop, consider leaving your laptop at home. It’s widely accepted that written notes result in higher comprehension levels than typed notes; some sponsors even give away notebooks and pens to use. Leaving your laptop at home means one less thing to carry around and think about all day. As a presenter, I’ll often take a minute to store my laptop back in my room for just this reason.
A post shared by Meagan Hanes (@mhanes) on May 27, 2017 at 6:16am PDT
Browse the schedule in advance
Just because Tom McFarlin joined our team on April Fool's Day doesn't mean it was a joke! Read this interview with him to learn more about why this longtime WordPress community leader and WordCamp speaker made this surprising career move.
What seems like an April Fool’s Day joke, certainly is not. It’s true, folks. Tom McFarlin, longtime WordPress community leader, WordCamp speaker, and the person behind Pressware, has joined WebDevStudios (WDS) as a Senior Backend Engineer. (Pause for response.)
To set the record straight, Tom took some time during his first day of on-boarding at WDS and shared the story behind what propelled him to make this surprising career move and offered advice to anyone thinking about doing the same.
WDS: Hi, Tom. Welcome to your first day at WDS! What prompted your decision to make this big change in your career?
Tom: For the majority of the time I’ve worked with WordPress, I’ve known that I wanted to make a career out of it. In terms of how, though, I wasn’t sure.
Over the past few years of building custom solutions for small businesses and individuals, I wanted to begin applying much of that knowledge and increase my learning and experience in an enterprise setting with a great team who also allow me to pursue interests both inside the company and out.
This means that I can still moonlight on WordPress projects that are pertinent to Pressware, but I can focus
Is a retainer a better fit for your website project? WebDevStudios Director of Business Development, Jodie Riccelli, examines why it might be.
Is a retainer a better fit for your website development project? On the first day of class of my freshman year of college, our professor walked into the room and said something I will never forget:
Have you heard about this thing called the World Wide Web yet?
My classmates and I looked around the room at each other shaking our heads no. My only context in regards to the WWW was that the military used it and I could somehow magically send emails with my new college email address.
Fast forward, let’s say a few years (wink-wink), and here I am working in an industry that didn’t exist when I was in college. Moral of the story—technology changes fast. Developers and engineers are charting the course. Your users are setting the pace.
As the owner of a website, I believe you have a responsibility to keep that website up to date, in line with best practices, inclusive for all, and engaging. Given the speed that tech changes, in order to uphold your responsibility you must be ready for anything, i.e, “in omnia paratus” for all you “Gilmore Girls” fans out there.
If it seems overwhelming to keep up with your website responsibilities and, more importantly,
If you work remotely or manage a team of remote workers, these are the tools that we use and/or recommend. Check them out and boost your productivity!
Any job requires planning, organization and communication, but remote work needs all of those things ten-fold. Working remotely comes with its own set of distractions, depending on how and where you work. Distractions might happen in the form of the hustle and bustle from your favorite coffee shop or the attention needed by your pets or young children. In my experience, working from a home office tends to have a series of challenges to overcome day-to-day problems that could prevent me from getting work done, if I wasn’t otherwise prepared to handle it. It’s important to get yourself working in a way that makes sense for you so that you remain organized, working efficiently and well-connected. Here are a set of recommended tools doing just that, while you work remotely. These are, admittedly, the ones we use or that I like best, but I’ll list a few alternatives with each, too.
This recommended tool is probably not a surprise. Communication, in my book, is the most critical aspect of any successful relationship—work or personal—it makes no difference. Slack is an excellent chat-like environment for teams. It permanently removes the needs for email
WordPress Page Builders have a controversial history, but things have changed. Read this and learn how Page Builders can help your team.
WordPress Page Builders have a controversial history. Early visual design tools for WordPress were clunky and, behind the scenes, outputted code that was slow-loading and poor in quality. Not only that, Page Builders were often bundled together with WordPress themes, which made it very difficult to change themes or reuse any of a page’s copy and imagery without rebuilding. It’s no surprise that many developers and WordPress veterans avoided Page Builders and opted to hand-code pages using HTML and CSS. These days, things are very different. Page Builders have matured and instead of slowing down content creation workflows, they speed them up and enable more people to be involved in the website building process. This might sound like a “too many cooks in the kitchen” situation, but as companies and teams grow, individuals that make up those teams tend to specialize.
With a visual design tool, like a Page Builder, your copywriter can work on writing while a designer imagines the aesthetics, branding, and visual direction. A marketing team can A/B test and optimize funnels while a translation team works on localization. Anyone that’s involved with the website
When building a #WordPress theme in 2019, there are certain things to consider. Learn what's required, what's new, and some ways to clean up WordPress for the frontend and for users.
WebDevStudios (WDS) is working to improve our theme framework wd_s based on Automattic’s _s; although at this point, it’s resemblance is only vaguely similar. WDS is dedicated to keeping up to date with the web development industry and making educated decisions about which new things to pursue and which to ignore (for now). In my private time, I’ve been building a starter theme from scratch to better educate myself about what is required by WordPress to build a theme-repo-approved theme but also to make my own informed decisions based on what others are doing, how people typically use the internet, and what of WordPress core feels antiquated.
I started writing this blog post to try and build a custom theme from scratch, but that proved too problematic for a few reasons. The time commitment wasn’t small. Any theme I built would require more than just one blog post and there’s a world of information out there to help you on your way already. Also, before any opinionated decisions had been made, the outcome was essentially any other theme out there already. The biggest reasons I thought I’d circle back and rethink this post was because a lot of those
Website design and development agency, WebDevStudios, used WordPress and Beaver Builder to create a website for salsa brand, Pace Foods.
Not many workdays include picante sauce, salsa and queso, but when Campbell’s Soup Company (CSC) had a desire to standardize their web development across their consumer packaged goods brands, they came to WebDevStudios (WDS) because of our longstanding, trusted partnership. Starting with the Pace Foods website was as natural of a choice as their thick and chunky salsa. Our approach was simple: develop a few custom modules and utilize the out-of-the-box modules to rebuild the site. For us, Beaver Builder was the solution.
Why was Beaver Builder the right choice for this project?
Since the overall goal for CSC was to standardize their web development, “Beaver Builder seemed like the perfect tool to help them deploy sites uniformly and quickly,” explains Director of Business Development, Jodie Riccelli.
Utilizing Beaver Builder ensured that across their many brands, they would start to see commonalities in the overall feel since they would be using similar modules. It also meant a streamlined approach for training and the subsequent execution of changes and maintenance on the sites.
Budget-friendly, Custom Modules, and Easy to Manage
When we first looked at the Pace Foods
Interested in building a sports betting website? There are three essential things you need to keep in mind before starting.
Disclaimer: Before building your own sports betting website, check the laws of your country and/or state. If you weren’t already aware, on May 14th, 2018, the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which previously only protected Nevada as the only legal sports gambling state. Some states were already pushing to change legislation prior to the official ruling both onsite and online. However, not all states have taken action just yet. In fact, only a handful have and not each of those have done so in terms of online gambling yet, only in regards to specific onsite locations.
As we approach the one-year mark on the ruling, I suspect this will continue to change. Slowly, more and more states will allow both onsite and online wagering to take place. There are some real benefits to legalizing sports betting, which are outside the scope of this article, but there is no shortage of information about all those particulars.
It’s not often that an entirely new industry, such as gambling, comes to the web. The internet has obviously has been around for 30+ years at this point, almost encompassing every aspect of life—from shopping to information
Deadlines are important. But unreasonably tight deadlines that encourage clients and their developers to cut corners and skip steps could be detrimental to the success of your WordPress website. Here's why it's a bad idea to rush your website project.
It’s no secret that website project timelines can sometimes be unreasonable. Clients have many different reasons behind the timeline goals set for projects. It could be anything from the release of a new product, a big marketing campaign, or an event. The target date is almost always important and firm. In managing website design and development projects for over half of my career, I have become very familiar with timelines that clients desire, especially tight timelines. As an agency, we’re always doing our best to hit and exceed client goals, but there are times when it’s a bad idea to rush your website project.
A website design and development project typically takes 12 weeks (or more) from initiation to completion. There are various phases throughout a project life cycle that are critical in ensuring a performant and secure website that delivers what the client is expecting. When you rush a website project to hit a particular goal date, you risk a lot.
Discovery is so important.
Rushing a website project typically means starting the development phase ASAP. This is a huge mistake.
The discovery phase of a project provides time for the Engineering Team to explore
Who is your main point of contact for your website development project? It's your Project Manager. Here are the questions you should ask.
Who is your main point of contact for your website development project? If you guessed the Project Manager, you are correct! Once your project is ready to kick off, you will be introduced to your project team, which includes a dedicated Project Manager. The Project Manager will be communicating introductions, status updates, deliverables, requirements, and more. Communication is very important during a website project. The ultimate goal is for the Project Manager is to ensure the client is fully aware of the project life cycle, timeline and status. The Project Manager will be asking various questions throughout the project discovery, development, QA and launch phase, but there are three key questions that you should always ask your Project Manager.
“How will we be communicating throughout the project?”
Typically, a Project Manager will plan how communications will take place between the project team and client well in advance of the project kick-off. Whether it’s via email, Slack, or a weekly status call, there is a primary way communication is delivered. At the initial kick-off call, you should ask the Project Manager to provide information on how communications will
As Founder and Chief Taco Officer of HeyTaco!, Doug Dosberg, says, "For many, the taco emoji is a symbol of appreciation. You can never show too much appreciation.” Learn how the Slack integrated app HeyTaco! helps to improve our company culture.
Creating a great company culture takes work. Creating a great remote company culture takes creativity. How do you engage in small talk with your co-workers without the proverbial water cooler? How do you celebrate success, commiserate over struggles, enjoy birthdays, anniversaries or holidays without a company outing or celebration in the break room? How do you make work more than just a computer you log into and get your tasks completed? It’s not easy! But at WebDevStudios (WDS), we found a way to make it work by relying on HeyTaco! to improve our company culture. Early on, we realized that creating a great company culture starts with great communication. We have found that Slack is a great platform for executing communication in an intuitive way and lines up well with all our company’s needs. Part of what makes Slack great is the ability to integrate with third-party apps to really make Slack your own, such as the awesome app HeyTaco!
At its most basic level, HeyTaco! is a team-executed reward system. Just invite HeyTaco! into your Slack channels and you are ready to go. Everyone has five tacos to give out per day. To give out your tacos, simply post a nice message, include
WordPress 5.0 ships with a new editor called Gutenberg. Here at WebDevStudios, we’re excited to build custom editorial solutions using Gutenberg and to see how the experience evolves from the classic editor. With that said, we’re huge fans of Advanced Custom Fields (ACF). It provides a robust set of field types that enables us to create flexible and friendly content management solutions for our clients. The time we save from writing, testing, and maintaining code with ACF makes it worth paying for an ACF PRO license. Our wd_s starter theme includes commonly-used content blocks built on ACF.
ACF and Gutenberg
Are you being consistent with your website branding? Learn the basics of branding your website successfully from an expert WordPress website designer.
Your website is a direct representation of your company’s brand. That is why it is crucial that your website is consistent, clear, and does a good job of representing that brand across all platforms and on the website itself. It can be quite easy to stray away from your brand with all of the new functionality or customization of websites these days, but it’s important to make sure that every part of your website, content, and social media all play with the same set of branding guidelines to ensure your user base receives the same level of quality across the web. Your goal should be to ensure that your website is built clearly to reflect your brand. The Basics
Every company should have a style guide. If you don’t, get on that. Within your company, you need to regulate your brand’s outward appearance, but you should also set the guidelines for external companies to use your brand properly. Even more importantly, you need to have a style guide for incoming and existing users and customers alike. Brand recognition is what drives sales and spreads your content around the web and material world.
All brand guidelines should include, at a very basic level, your brand
Learn about the benefits of Headless WordPress with React and NextJS from a Senior Frontend Developer at WordPress development agency WebDevStudios.
We recently discovered a situation where we were able to find some fun and interesting ways to extend our standard ACF Flexible Content Blocks. Let's dig in and find out what we did!
Here at WebDevStudios, we do quite a bit with Flexible Content Blocks in Advanced Custom Fields (ACF). If you aren’t familiar with the plugin, ACF allows for the creation of a multitude of custom meta field types using a graphical user interface (GUI) in the WordPress Dashboard. You can do almost anything with these fields—from simple text and URL inputs to searching for posts and pages and building image galleries. ACF allows you to power your site with robust customization options, which you can use to create and manage dynamic pages. Instead of being locked into a set of page templates where the functionality and layout are tied directly to the theme’s files, building pages with ACF Flexible Content Blocks puts the power of customization into your hands as a site manager and editor. You can add, remove, and rearrange blocks as needed and have full control over the content within each of those blocks.
Sometimes, though, simply customizing the content within those blocks isn’t enough. Sure, it’s nice enough to be able to edit the title of a block or select a different set of Featured Posts to display. But, what if you don’t want to have to get that
Is it time for your company to redesign your website? Here are 13 reasons why it might be.
Every year, I like to recommend that clients conduct a website audit or have a developer perform one. The landscape of web development ebbs and flows and the internet changes so exponentially every year with upgrades in both physical hardware and coding languages that there’s a lot to take into consideration for your company, your users, and the growth and future of your business. The question always ends up being, “Are you prepared for the next couple of years, or is it time for a website redesign?” Here are 13 reasons why it’s time.
1. Your Branding Has Changed
The most obvious reason for a redesign is that your company’s identity has changed.
Circumstance: You throw some dollar bills at a new logo or a new suite of fancy printed materials. That’s fantastic, congrats, but your website still reflects your old logo or brand materials.
New identity updates are a great time to unveil a sparkly new website to go along with it. In an ideal world, you roll out everything all at once. But in the real world, you can roll your brand updates out in phases. Either way, get it done; update your brand 100% or not at all. Discrepancies can hurt your bottom line
Creating a fresh website is exciting, but there are certain things to consider. These are the rules of a redesign. Follow them and reach success.
There are a large number of considerations that need to be addressed before you redesign or rebuild your website. I’ve written many things on the subject in long form, but I thought it might be helpful to break these down into a quick-to-absorb “Dev Shortie.” None of these considerations are outside the realm of common sense, but the excitement of redesign opportunities that become available when building a fresh website can make us tend to forget why we need something new or who we’re doing it for. So, let’s get into it. These are the rules for your redesign.
Rule 1: Have a Reason.
Have a valid reason for your redesign. “I want something new,” isn’t a valid reason. “Our current website is not accessible,” and, “We don’t have a mobile responsive design,” are valid reasons.
Keep in mind that the level of redesign should be in line with the weight of the reason. For example, “We’ve completely changed our identity and branding,” would carry more thought, weight, and work compared to, “We have accessibility contrast issue on our current site.” You must address accordingly.
WDS Senior Frontend Engineer, Jo Murgel, presents a better process for styling websites. Keep things clean, organized, reusable, and readable.
One thing I’ve noticed a lot lately with websites is that no matter how it looks, the style sheet is full of redundant, duplicate, or unnecessary styles. A lot of that, I imagine, comes from updates after a website goes live, where engineers that weren’t initially involved in its development are coming in blind. Another part of that might revolve around planning or distribution of tasks for a website’s construction. Truth be told, there are probably dozens of reasons that the styles may not be as organized or clean as they could be. We can’t see the future and we can’t always be in constant communication with one another, but I’ve learned a thing or two over the last decade that I think might help keep things clean, organized, reusable, and readable.
Before We Start
A few setup notes here: I write my styles with SCSS. This is my preference. There are many other options out there—Less or Sass to name a couple—which will work in more or less the same way. I also typically use webpack or Gulp on older projects to compile and minify, auto-prefix, and concatenate my style sheets.
Organization and Breakdown
The organization is really up to the
Page builders like Beaver Builder or Gutenberg? Which works best for your WordPress website project? Let's compare and contrast.
Here at WebDevStudios (WDS), we work on all kinds of projects that use all kinds of base themes and tools. Our internal theme, wd_s, uses Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) in a really cool way that makes it work like a page builder. We also have an internal project converting all of our ACF blocks into Gutenberg blocks. Additionally, we have another internal project converting all of our ACF blocks into Beaver Builder blocks. We really are ready for anything at WDS. It all depends on what’s right for the project, or more importantly, what the client wants for the project. With all that in mind, I wanted to take some time to discuss both sides of the current debate: page builders vs Gutenberg. To do this, I took a concept and developed it in both to compare and contrast the processes for both. Here are the results.
Before we start building, we need a concept. For this project, I chose a need I came across on my personal blog: the ability to embed a Github Gist into a standard WordPress post. Because I’m either brave or foolish, I use Gutenberg on my personal site. I found inserting a Gist into a blog post is a giant pain as there isn’t a built-in embed block
Learn about the SEO impact of managing multiple websites, and the pros and cons of using WordPress Multisite to do so from SEO expert, Pam Aungst.
WordPress Multisite is a feature of the core WordPress.org software that allows multiple websites to be powered by a single installation of WordPress. There are several considerations to evaluate when determining if managing multiple websites through a Multisite network is right for you. But before we talk about whether or not to use Multisite, let’s discuss whether or not you need multiple websites at all.
Use Cases for Deploying Multiple Websites
There are several reasons to build and manage multiple websites for one business, including:
Companies that have more than one physical location
Global organizations with divisions in multiple countries that require content in multiple languages
Large companies that have separate divisions or subsidiaries for separate purposes and audiences
Educational institutions with multiple campuses and/or different schools within one university network
Companies that acquired another company, yet want to maintain separate brands
Companies that want to deploy a microsite strategy for either SEO or building brand reputation for a specialization
Sometimes the decision of whether or not to deploy and start managing multiple websites is
There are plenty of ways you can rely on reusable code snippets to save time and provide you with the best possible work and turnaround.
When was the last time you started a project from scratch? I mean literally from scratch—not using a framework, a parent/child theme, or any plugins. Maybe never? One could argue that as long as you’re using WordPress that you’re not necessarily creating anything from scratch since the CMS offers so much functionality out of the box already. What you do, though, is iterate on that functionality and build upon the tools provided to you or the tools you have built for yourself in the past. After all, if you’re doing work around the house and need to hammer some nails into the wall, you’re not going to head into your garage to carve the wood and forge the steel to make a new hammer every single time (unless you’re our very own builder and wood magician Will Schmierer). You’ll use the same hammer to do the same job until the hammer is no longer useful or you find a new tool with which to replace it.
Why then would you not develop a site in the same way? Granted, most projects are going to require distinct sets of functionality unique to the projects themselves but there are plenty of ways you can reuse code to save time so you can truly focus on
Our clients have need and deadlines. Here are some things we do to ensure that we deliver their WordPress website projects on time.
The past month, I have been watching from my home office the comings and goings of an array of contractors at my neighbor’s house. They are building an addition to their home, preparing for the birth of their first child. I have watched the frenzied movements with curiosity and, I am not afraid to admit, a bit of anxiety knowing that her due date was quickly approaching. As a Project Manager, I started to think this is very similar to the way our clients come to WebDevStudios (WDS). Much like my neighbors, our clients have a need and a deadline to go with it. Perhaps their timeline for a new website corresponds to an upcoming event or a new fiscal year. Regardless, we respect these due dates and deliver their website projects on time. Here’s how: We obtain assets early.
First, we ask for all assets, third-party integrations, hosting information, etc. early on in the project life cycle. If we wait till we get to the point in development when we actually need them and there is a hiccup, it inevitably would set us back. By simply asking upfront, we eliminate those disruptions. Even if our clients don’t have this information at the start, it gets the ball rolling sooner
WordPress website design and development agency, WebDevStudios, is ready for Gutenberg and WordPress 5.0. Are you? Here are some tips for getting prepared.
Change is inevitable, especially when it comes to technology. What’s also inevitable are the complaints, groans, and fears that seem to always accompany any change. Since Gutenberg was first announced, WebDevStudios (WDS) has been preparing for this change, one that we see as an enhancement to the current WordPress editor. At WDS, we are ready for Gutenberg and WordPress 5.0, which means our clients will also be ready. Here are some ways that you, too, can also be prepared for this big change happening very soon. Communicate to Your Clients and/or Team
Our client base relies on us to keep them informed and updated. It would be irresponsible of us to not warn our clients of Gutenberg, only to allow them to log into their WordPress sites and suddenly see an unexpected change. So whether you’re a developer or designer with WordPress customers or you run a team of content creators, communicate to everyone involved. Gutenberg is coming! Stay informed.
Immerse Yourself in the Technology
We’re sure you’ve heard this before, but one of the best ways to learn a foreign language is to immerse yourself in it. That was our strategy with Gutenberg—hence, WDS Blocks.