Why does scope creep happen and how does it affect a website project? This experienced WordPress project manager addresses those issues.
I love that moment when we reach the midway point in a project. The project management team falls into a groove; the client begins to feel warm and fuzzy seeing the amazing progress from week to week. Overall, everyone is feeling excited to see the vision start to come to fruition. But then… it happens. The dreaded scope creep starts slinking its way into the website project, enveloping the team members, the client, and the timeline like the black plague. As a Project Manager, I cringe at the thought of scope creep! However, as a former WebDevStudios client, I know I am guilty of it. I’ve learned I am not the exception to the rule on both accounts. So, here are a few things I’ve learned about scope creep and how you can manage it.
What is scope creep?
After a website project has started, and the scope of the project grows beyond the original plan, that is considered scope creep. This can happen for a number of different reasons. If a project’s requirements are not well defined and outlined at the start, new requirements are likely going to come up throughout the life cycle of the project. Similarly, a lack of transparency and poor communication during the project
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
Guest blogger and eCommerce expert, Chris Lema, shares his advice for preparing your online store for the holidays.
eCommerce shows no signs of slowing its growth. At least not anytime soon. According to data from Statista and eMarketer, eCommerce in the US will approach $521 billion in 2018, and more than $750 billion by 2021—and that’s just in the United States. It’s that kind of growth in eCommerce that puts the same question into the heads of every store owner—will our store be ready for the holidays?
When asking this question, there are three parts to think about—the website itself, your payment processor, and the tools/processes you use for shipping products.
Will our website handle the holiday traffic surge?
Will our payment processor be able to handle our holiday traffic?
Will our fulfillment processes buckle under the increased holiday traffic?
Today we’re going to dig into the first question and make sure you’re doing everything you can to make sure that your online store is ready for a large jump in traffic and transactions.
The Name of the Game is Performance
There are a lot of different statistics that help us understand customers who visit online stores.
When pages within the store take longer than 2 seconds to load, session lengths can drop
This Senior Frontend Engineer is leaving Homestead and takes the reader on a journey to discovering the best all-around local development environment.
Back in 2016, I wrote a blog post about using Laravel Homestead as my local environment. At the time, my only real options were Vagrant or MAMP as an Apple user. Since then, the number of options has increased slightly to include Local by Flywheel, a more significant push to using your computer, and a set of packages like nginx and dsnmasq to run a local environment from a directory on the fly. At the time, Homestead was my local development environment of choice because it was easy to install, quickly configurable, and lightweight—something I appreciated using an older MacBook Air as my daily driver at the time. However, the more robust my sites became, and the more websites I collected on my local, the slower Homestead appeared to run almost certainly because it relies on VirtualBox or a virtual system to run your instance, which caused me to look elsewhere. I avoided MAMP or Vagrant and similar software because they were too resource heavy for my late 2011 setup for many of the same reasons.
Flywheel offers a solution (at the time called Pressmatic; Flywheel acquired the company in late 2016), which provides individually configurable docker instances in
At WDS, we respect our clients' budgets. Here are the things we do to ensure that website projects are completed on budget.
Today, my office is on board a Megabus from Las Vegas to California for my 30th birthday weekend. I’ve set aside a budget and planned for the various activities I want to do in California that are within my budget. My ideal vision for my trip may be to splurge on a $2,400 VIP Disneyland Tour, but my budget will dictate what I can actually afford to do. This is what it’s like for clients that come to WebDevStudios (WDS). You have a vision for your website and a rough idea on how much you can spend. Our team then has a thorough discovery with you in order to determine what can be built within that budget. Creating a budget during the initial phases of the project helps to manage expectations, set realistic goals and deliverables, and prepare for unexpected costs. WDS respects clients’ budgets and as a Project Manager, my goal is to bring your vision to life by completing your website projects on budget. Here are the ways we do that: We Perform a Client Discovery
Once you’ve gone through the discovery and design phase of the project life cycle, your Project Manager will begin preparing for the development phase. At this point, your Client Strategist has created
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
The Millennial market an important one, but often difficult to attract using old school practices. Learn how to use your website to attract Millennials.
Did you know that Americans aged 25 to 34 had the highest monthly internet usage recorded in 2017? It’s no secret that with more and more people going online globally, we’re more connected than ever before. But the one group you should be considerate of are the Millennials. It’s an important market that is often difficult to attract using old school practices. In this article, we’ll go over how you can use your website to attract Millennials. Classified generally as individuals born between 1980 and early 2000s, Millennials are not only utilizing the internet the most, but they’re known for expecting transparency, personalized experiences, and a deeper social impact from brands with whom they engage. The big question is, is your website built to speak to them? And if not, how are you going to build a website to attract Millennials and engage with them in an authentic way? Think about the statistics below to orient you to the way a Millennial thinks and operates.
They touch their smartphones 45 times a day.
They are far less likely to buy something because it’s convenient, something many companies capitalize on. Rather, they’re
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
Website design trends for media publishers is a continually moving target. In this industry, the life cycle of a website can be much shorter than that of a small business or company. Use these recommendations to get user attention, keep their attention, funnel their interactions, and retain that interest.
Website design trends for media publishers is a continually moving target. In this industry, the life cycle of a website can be much shorter than that of a small business or company, especially in the world of lifestyle blogs. Many of the most popular media publishers rely on just a handful of things to get their users attention, keep that attention, funnel users to achieve some conversion, and keep them coming back for more. These things aren’t design-related, but inform design, and to date, there are several conventions at play to accomplish those goals more effectively. Use the recommendations below to get user attention, keep their attention, funnel their interactions, and retain that interest.
Grab User Attention
You have one shot to grab your user’s attention, approximately seven seconds, which is already longer than the average time spent on any given web page to begin with, so you have to make it count.
Make a Big Impact
A significant trend right now is bright, vibrant, full-screen and saturated blocks of content. These don’t typically serve any immediate purpose other than to grab your attention. This sort of block typically limits content to a single call
There are a variety of techniques for proper WordPress website image optimization. The effort is worth it. Utilize our tips today.
The most significant consideration for building or maintaining a website these days is speed. Ensuring that your site moves quickly and supports speeds down to mobile 3G is vital in providing the best possible user experience (UX) to the largest percentage of your target demographic. The guiltiest speed hogs are network requests dedicated to fetching images and video media. One of the best ways to improve UX and guarantee site speed is to consistently practice techniques for WordPress website image optimization. If you think about images as a percentage of your overall website’s footprint, a few bytes here and there will certainly add up. By optimizing images, you can reduce the overall impact of your website’s footprint, page size, and increase load speeds. Image optimization is just that, optimizing, compressing, scaling, resizing, or changing image formats for the web. The general idea is to reduce how many requests you have to make or how large those requests are in the first place. Google uses a term called “time to first meaningful paint,” which is when “the user feels that the primary content of the page is visible.” The faster users get to
It doesn't matter if your website project is for mass media, a university, or eCommerce. Proper project management is key to its success. Learn why.
Have you ever been involved with a project that didn’t have project management? Have you ever had a client insist that they didn’t need project management, or that they had a project manager on staff who could manage your team of engineers? We have experienced all of these scenarios at WebDevStudios (WDS), and we know first-hand why project management is critical to the success of a website project, be it media, eCommerce, or a website for a university. Project Managers are typically thought of as overhead to the website project. False. Project Managers are key in organizing the project, communicating between various stakeholders, overseeing the project from initiation to completion, and ensuring budgetary and quality compliance.
Let’s break this down even further. Here’s what our Project Managers accomplish at WDS:
Initiate and organize the project up front
Based on the proposal, define a plan and deliverables
Organize all deliverables into milestones
Outline a project timeline based on milestones
Manage standard outlines of time, delivery, user story and acceptance testing per task
Project Managers are the main point of communication between the customer and
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.
Not convinced that WordPress is the best platform for a university website? This engineer has 10 compelling reasons why higher education institutions should be using WordPress for a university website.
I had used WordPress for some personal projects in the past because I found it easy to use, build on, and maintain. Back then, WordPress was a content management system (CMS) built just for bloggers and powered very few sites that weren’t blogs. But even back then, I knew WordPress could accomplish more than just blogging.
WordPress now powers over 30% of the web, including more than just your average blog. That’s because the way that WordPress is built, you can do almost anything with it, from blogging, to pages, eCommerce sites—really anything you can dream up. WordPress has continued
In very simple terms, a Learning Management System (LMS) is a website that hosts eLearning programs and provides students and/or employees a way to participate in online training. In this guide to building an LMS with WordPress, learn about common features that you should consider when developing your LMS, as well as plugins to help.
In very simple terms, a Learning Management System (LMS) is a website that hosts eLearning programs and provides students and/or employees a way to participate in online training. Implementing an LMS with WordPress is something we have done for several clients here at WebDevStudios (WDS). For example, we implemented an LMS for Starbucks for their employee intranet. The corporation needed a platform they could use to train Baristas worldwide on the different drink recipes from their menu, as well as the equipment used to create those yummy treats! In this guide to building a Learning Management System with WordPress, I’ll take you though a plethora of common features that you should consider when developing your LMS, as well as plugins to help. Because WDS built a custom solution that uses WordPress, BuddyPress, BadgeOS and LearnDash, Starbucks’ employee intranet allows Baristas to log in, take quizzes based on training videos they’ve watched, and receive participation badges based on their training progress and quiz scores.
Common LMS Features
An LMS has several different features for online training. When the time comes for you to consider building a Learning Management
See what this WordPress expert on website speed has to say about making your website load faster on mobile.
Less is more
There are many things you can do in order to speed up your mobile WordPress website. Other than making your images smaller and easier to load, we want to stick with the concept of loading less is more. That means you want to load the bare minimum of items in order to properly share your content on a mobile device. In WordPress, we have many tools that can help offset the number of resources loaded on a page: enqueue_script and enqueue_style are two functions inside of WordPress to help you load a file/asset conditionally. Plugins
It’s a buzzword creating a lot of conversation within the WordPress community and causing digital marketers across the globe to plan and strategize for the after-effects—Gutenberg. A major new feature that has been in development for over a year, Gutenberg is coming with the release of WordPress 5.0 and is the largest side-initiative ever merged into the core of the open-source project. Here’s some background on Gutenberg and how WebDevStudios (WDS) is planning for it.
It’s a buzzword creating a lot of conversation within the WordPress community and causing digital marketers across the globe to plan and strategize for the after-effects—Gutenberg. A major new feature that has been in development for over a year, Gutenberg is coming with the release of WordPress 5.0 and is the largest side-initiative ever merged into the core of the open-source project. Here’s some background on Gutenberg and how WebDevStudios (WDS) is planning for it. What Is Gutenberg?
Named after a revolutionary publishing invention that changed the printing industry, Gutenberg is a big upgrade that will be a part of the WordPress 5.0 release this spring. It is a significant enhancement to the editor; and in the context of WordPress, the software that currently powers 30% of all the websites you view on the internet today, Gutenberg is a brand new editor that allows you to create and publish blocks of content. Users will now have more control over the layout of their content, rather than just writing and a publishing a single article.
An update like this is huge. The WebDevStudios team has been in the preparation and planning stages for Gutenberg and the effects
Want a little demo of our plugin generator? Camden breaks it down!
We make a lot of plugins at WebDevStudios. Whether adding functionality to client projects, creating open source plugins to give back, or developing premium products, we are always spinning up new plugins. To speed up this process, we created generator-plugin-wp, a Yeoman generator which streamlines all parts of the plugin development process. I’ve talked about it previously in my posts Get a Plugin Kickstart with Yeoman & generator-plugin-wp and Recent Changes to generator-plugin-wp. In this post, I’m going to walk through the actual process of creating a plugin with this tool.
Before you get started, you will want to install Node, and then use NPM to install the generator and a few other CLI tools that are necessary for its full use.
npm install -g yo grunt-cli generator-plugin-wp
Now, from the plugin directory in your terminal, run:
From here you can enter the title of your new plugin. I’m going to make a plugin for tracking and publicly listing my many missions in Kerbal Space Program:
This provides the basic setup for my plugin, and now my plugin directory now looks like this:
This is where things start to get cool. Without any changes, we have a unit tested plugin,
WebDevStudios just published a list of their development resources- bookmark to get them in one go.
Some people make health a focus of their New Years Resolutions–not that being healthy shouldn’t be on a persons mind, but I like to use the New Year as a way to clean out the cobwebs of development. To think over the past year and decide what processes worked and didn’t and then wipe away those that failed. I usually start by cleaning out my git repos and local development. I like to think about any frameworks/libraries that I didn’t fully use over the past year and evaluate their worth. Some may have been used others are kicked to the curb. Now that I have a cleaned up development environment I like to see what new open source frameworks/libraries I could benefit from. 2015 was defiantly the year companies open sourced their code.
Its beneficial to create reusable code in projects so future projects can be more efficient. Over time we have created some open source development resources that you can add to your development tool belt. The list below contains plugins, frameworks and libraries that you can get from the WDS Github or WordPress plugin repo.
WDS Image Class library can be used in your theme template files to get an image whether it be a featured image, the first image in
Matt shares how using ElasticSearch in WP can keep search heavy sites from being sluggish.
High traffic sites that heavily depend on search can run into server resource issues and cause a sluggish experience for users. A good solution for this is to allow a third-party service to handle search for your site. We recently had a client that needed just that and ElasticSearch was a good fit. 10up’s ElasticPress plugin was used for integration with WordPress. ElasticSearch provides a wide variety of filters and tokenizers that will fit nearly every project. The ones mentioned below highlight some that were helpful in resolving search issues during the project.
Searching with special characters
ElasticSearch uses tokenizers in custom analyzers for search. The problem is that the standard tokenizer doesn’t generate tokens for punctuation like ampersands. The whitespace tokenizer needs to be used to split tokens by whitespace and preserve punctuation. This can be done by updating ElasticSearch mapping by using ElasticPress filters and WP CLI command. The default mapping can be found includes/mappings.php and using the ElasticPress ep_config_mapping_file filter to return an updated mapping file location. This will fix some special characters, but others such as hyphens and periods
>>Just below the Edit as HTML menu item is another important item: Convert to blocks. When clicked, this button will convert all of the content into individual blocks.
By now, you’ve likely heard about something different coming to your WordPress website called Gutenberg—a new way in which you will edit your website using a concept of data blocks. I think it’s safe to say that the Gutenberg WordPress editor is the single largest change to the open-source platform since… heck, I can’t think of anything as a close second. This. Is. Big. So, let’s take a look at it and how this change will affect your existing content. But First… an Overview
The Gutenberg editor will completely replace the current post editor you have been using with your standard WordPress installation. In other words, creating content in WordPress is going to be a whole new experience with Gutenberg. For example, if you’re creating a blog post, you may start with a block of text. Then you add a block that contains an image, and then you add another block of text. Each block can then be edited individually, including the order in which the blocks are displayed.
There are two things I want to make clear before we go any further:
Until recently, I would have said the Gutenberg WordPress editor is a way of editing the content
Ben guides you through the process of submitting a plugin to the WordPress repository.
The WordPress.org Plugin Repository is the canonical location to find plugins for WordPress. There are many good reasons to add your plugin to this repository–the primary being that the built-in “Add New Plugin” search capabilities are linked directly to the WordPress.org repository. If your plugin is not in the WordPress.org repository, it will not be easily found by the majority of users, and with WordPress powering over 23% of the internet, you will be missing out on a large audience of potential users. Below, I provide an overview of the WordPress.org Plugin Repository, how you can start leveraging it with your own plugins, and, as a result, dramatically increase the potential reach of your audience.
What to know before you submit
WordPress.org has some guidelines on what can and cannot be in a plugin to get it approved. As long as those guidelines are followed plugins are typically approved withing a few days.
All plugins must have a license compatible with the GNU General Public License v2 (GPLv2) or a later version. If a plugin does not include a specific license, it will automatically fall under the parent project GPL license. If third-party libraries are included in the plugin
Corey Collins from WebDevStudios talks about how to resolve that pesky responsive images problem.
The quest for a beautiful, responsive website is ever-present. As front-end developers, we know the tricks of the trade when it comes to making all of those fancy little features work from desktop to mobile. Whether it’s degrading hover-based actions gracefully or just making sure everything falls where it should, part of our job is to always make sure the mobile user experience accurately reflects the desktop user experience. It isn’t all just stylesheets and sunshine these days, though. We need to focus on way more than just making sure a site looks good on mobile. We also need to make sure a site works as efficiently as possible. There are several ways we can achieve a more efficient mobile experience from only loading the scripts we need at specific breakpoints; only loading the site elements we need at specific breakpoints; and finally, the focus of this post, using and displaying proper image sizes at the various breakpoints we set for our site.
What exactly does that mean? Well, let’s say you’ve got a hero image at the top of every single post page. You want the image to span the entire width of the browser so you add an image size of 1680px by 400px. This works great for a big
Front-end devs, this is for you! Eric talks about how he uses PHPStorm (and why), and what kind of benefits it has if you're a front-end developer.
As a developer, front-end or back-end, there is no lack of strong opinions on why or why not developers choose their text editor or IDE. It tends to be a very personal choice. A few popular editors in use these days are Sublime Text and Atom. On the IDE side of things, there is Coda and PHPStorm by JetBrains. It seems that most front-end developers steer clear from IDEs and lean more towards the more ‘lightweight’ code editors that have plugins for just about anything imaginable.
As for me, I seem to be a bit of an anomaly, because I am a front-ender who has only ever used PHPStorm! As a disclaimer: Late last year I tried to make the switch to Atom, but that experiment only lasted a few days.
I’ve never used Sublime Text. SHOCKING, I know!
Making a Case for PHPStorm
In this post, I want to share some of the key features I like about using PHPStorm from a front-end WordPress developer’s perspective. Perhaps you are one of those who is on the fence about giving it a try and just need a little convincing. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do just that!
Also, if you are a back-end developer, there’s a good chance you still might learn something new as well!
Ryan Fugate wants to talk about WP-API and endpoint namespaces.
WordPress is getting a JSON Rest API added to core. The first part of the API is actually already included. The endpoint infrastructure is in 4.4. As developers build extensions to the API, we need to take responsibility for our actions and how they can affect a site. WordPress is unique in that it is the ultimate generic API tool and anything can be created utilizing this new tool. “The infrastructure of the API itself, supports basically anything you can throw at it. If you take away the core endpoints, it is essentially a framework for building APIs, and you can build those however you like.” – Ryan McCue
To avoid collisions, namespaces are something to be thoughtful about. Namespaces are the slugs in the URL before the endpoint. Also, the schema and structure of your data should be a consideration. The core endpoint namespace is:
This means it is reserved for core endpoints. Similarly, you may come across plugins that have a namespace. You should probably not add endpoints to a previously used namespace unless the data is specific to that plugin. Think of namespaces like you would with class or function names; they need to be unique. If you are creating endpoints, then