WordPress – 1stWebDesigner https://1stwebdesigner.com Helping You Build a Better Web Thu, 11 Jul 2019 13:57:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.2 Visual Composer Hub Lets You Create WordPress Pages with Ease https://1stwebdesigner.com/visual-composer-hub-lets-you-create-wordpress-pages-with-ease/ Thu, 11 Jul 2019 13:57:22 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=149048 You can be working with a first-class drag-and -drop website builder, but the results will only be as good as the content you can access. On the other hand, if you’re using the top-rated Visual Composer Website Builder, you have access to the Visual Composer Hub. As we shall see, the combination is a potent one.

The Hub’s massive library of content elements and templates makes anything possible, and in tandem with the Visual Composer builder, web design is faster and easier than ever.

As enormous as the library is, you don’t have to settle for “what’s there”, because every element and template is editable and customizable. With respect to what you want to build, the sky is literally the limit.

What is Visual Composer Hub?

The Visual Composer Hub is a cloud-based marketplace of web design goodies. It’s connected to your Visual Composer account, so you can use it to search for the content elements, page and block templates, and images you need.

Using the Hub is a much better deal than having to rely on a selection of plugins, or worse yet, custom code to get the results you’re looking for. It’s simply a matter of finding ready content and downloading it directly to your Visual Composer Website Builder account.

Screen from Visual Composer Hub.

Pick what you want and once it’s downloaded it will be sitting in your account waiting to be put to good use.

The Visual Composer Hub Library

The Visual Composer Hub library content is huge. Its content elements and templates work with any theme and can be used on any project. You’re free to view all the content, but a Visual Composer Premium account is required for total access to the content and unlimited downloads.

To make things easy, access to the cloud-based Hub and downloading is built right into the live-preview Visual Composer Website Builder.

What’s Inside the Visual Composer Hub

There 4 main types of Hub content:

  • Content Elements
  • Page templates
  • Block templates, and
  • Stock Images

1. Content Elements

With these content elements you can build your site without coding. With Visual Composer Premium the number of downloads you have is unlimited, and the Hub’s Content Elements are constantly updated.

Visual Composer Hub Content Elements screen.

Content Elements consist of the following:

  • Buttons
  • Media
  • Post Grids
  • Social Compatibility Elements that can be integrated with MailChimp,Ninja Forms, Envira Gallery and more.
  • Advanced Elements including logo sliders, tabs, hover boxes, and more.
  • and, an E-Commerce Plugin

With Content Elements:

  • You can edit any element and there are multiple editing options, including editing Element CSS Animations to create exciting transitions.
  • You can easily replace elements and switch between them as well. With the Smart Replace option you can change the look of your content in an instant.
  • You also have access to some important advanced features that include turbo-powered flexibility, creating content “types” to organize and build hierarchies of elements, and leave notes to others. Certain advanced features are only accessible on Visual Composer Premium.

To get an even better idea of all the designer content elements available, take a peek at everything you can access with a Visual Composer Hub Premium account.

A selection of Visual Composer Content Elements.

2. WordPress Templates

A significant portion of the Hub library is devoted to page templates. You can find them for any WordPress theme, and when you find one you can edit it.

As you start building your site, you’ll want to be searching for templates that will fit your website’s look and feel. When you find one, click download. You’ll be notified with a pop up that it has been placed into your account, ready for you to adjust as appropriate to create a beautiful page in a matter of minutes.

WordPress Templates within Visual Composer Hub.

You can add templates to the WordPress Template section of the library and even save your own pages. Any page or template you save can be used again and customized if need be. Global templates can also be applied, and template widgets can be added and stored.

3. Block Templates

You have Content Elements for detailed design and page templates to make building your website quick and easy. What about the middle ground; something that offers a bit of both worlds?

Block Templates fill that “sweet spot.” For the best of both the custom design and easy drag-and-drop functionality worlds, Block Templates are the answer.

Visual Composer Hub Block Templates.

Unlocking the Block Templates section of the Hub requires a Visual Composer Premium subscription. If you feel brave enough to take a next step and savor the added flexibility you’ll experience, you’ll want to try building pages in sections.

4. Stock Images

The Unsplash library of stock images is seamlessly integrated into the Hub, which enables you to download images directly into your Visual Composer Website Builder. Searching for these high-quality images can be done directly from the Frontend editor, and once downloaded they are placed in your account, which is about as easy as it gets.

Stock Images within Visual Composer Hub.

When you find an image you like and would like to view others by the same author, all that’s required is to hover over the author’s name and click; a good way to give your website a unified look and feel.

The Resources You Need to Build Top-Quality Websites

Yes, it’s indeed true that a top-rated website builder isn’t enough if you don’t have the resources to feed it. The Visual Composer Website Builder and Visual Composer Hub combination gives you everything you need to create one awesome website after another.

We’ve covered the Hub library’s Content Elements, Page and Block Templates, and Stock Images. It’s indeed a colossal resource to have access to, and there are add-ons and other premium hub elements you can check out too.

Why not log in now to the free version of the Visual Composer Hub? You have everything to gain, and nothing to lose.

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A Look at WordPress Plugin Ecosystems https://1stwebdesigner.com/a-look-at-wordpress-plugin-ecosystems/ Wed, 03 Jul 2019 19:07:55 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=149003 Among the many strengths of WordPress is the massive number of available plugins. There are tens of thousands, and those are just the free offerings. They handle all sorts of functionality, from security to image galleries to forms. Just about everything you could possibly want for your website is only a download away.

But it is the rare plugin that is so well-crafted and useful that it inspires a number of companion offerings to use along side of it. In many cases, they are among the most popular plugins out there. So popular and well-liked, in fact, that they have developed their very own ecosystems.

Today, we’ll take a look at the concept of WordPress plugin ecosystems. Along the way, we’ll show you some examples and discuss the advantages (and disadvantages) that come with adopting them into your website.

Prime Examples

Before we dig too deeply into the pros and cons, let’s see what a plugin ecosystem looks like. For our purposes, we’ll define it as such:

  • A “base” or “core” plugin that works on its own, but also has multiple add-on plugins available;
  • Add-ons may be created by the original author, or by outside developers within the WordPress community;
  • Can be free, commercial or any combination thereof;

In short, this means that the term “ecosystem” is rather flexible. It might be that a plugin’s author has created the base and all add-ons themselves. Or, other developers out there may have decided to build their own extensions. Either way, we have a group of related plugins that can scale up functionality based on need.

Here are a few prime examples we can use to better illustrate the concept:

WooCommerce

Perhaps the most well-known plugin ecosystem, WooCommerce turns your website into an online store. The core plugin adds shopping cart functionality and related features that go along with it for things like shipping and accepting payments. However, it is capable of so much more.

Through the use of add-ons (WooCommerce refers to them as “extensions”), you can leverage the cart for all sorts of niche functionality. Among the more basic features are the ability to work with a wider variety of payment gateways and shipping providers. But you can also add some advanced capabilities such as selling membership subscriptions or event tickets.

Gravity Forms

Here’s a great example of a plugin whose ecosystem has taken a core concept and expanded it immensely. Gravity Forms is a form-building plugin, which already includes a lot of advanced functionality. Yet add-ons allow it to perform tasks well beyond what you’d expect from your standard contact form.

Through a community that both includes and goes beyond the plugin’s original author, add-ons allow for a number of advanced tasks. You can accept payments, run polls or surveys, connect with third-party service providers, view and manipulate entry data and a whole lot more. It may one of the best examples of how an ecosystem provides nearly endless flexibility.

WooCommerce and Gravity Forms

Something to Build On

One of the biggest advantages to buying into one of these plugin ecosystems is that you can add what you need, when you need it. Think of it as a building. The base plugin provides you with a solid foundation (and maybe a floor or two). Then, you can add as many floors as it takes to fulfill your needs.

Sometimes, that first core plugin is all you need. But even then, you still have the blueprints to build upon should you want to expand later.

Another potential benefit is that these plugins tend to have been built with expansion in mind. That means that you don’t necessarily have to rely on official or even community-based add-ons. If you have some programming knowledge, you might be able to add functionality by building it yourself.

Plus, by utilizing a related set of plugins, you can avoid one of the more frustrating parts of WordPress site development. So often, we attempt to bring many disparate pieces together to form some sort of cohesively functioning website.

This often means using plugins that were never meant to necessarily work together, which can lead to problems when attempting to make it all run seamlessly. In theory, this shouldn’t be an issue when you tap into an ecosystem.

A skyscraper building.

Potential Drawbacks

Despite the many advantages to using a set of related plugins, there are some possible downsides to consider. Among the most common:

It Can Get Expensive

For plugins with commercial add-ons, you may find yourself being nickeled and dimed for each and every piece of added functionality you’d like to add. WooCommerce is a classic example, where each official add-on requires a yearly investment. That’s not to say it’s not worth the cost – it very well may be. Rather, it is a potential obstacle for the budget-conscious.

Not Everything You Want Is Available

This is something you’ll want to check before making any decisions as to how you’ll build your site. It may be that a base plugin and a selection of add-ons will get you 90% of the functionality you need. However, that missing 10% could be a big deal.

If a companion plugin doesn’t cover this, you might have to either look elsewhere or build it yourself. That could lead to some unexpected issues when it comes to both compatibility and cost. Short of those options, a lack of that one piece of functionality can result in a long wait in hopes of it being added in at a later date.

Unofficial Add-Ons May Not Keep Pace

Plugins are updated with new features and bugfixes all the time. Sometimes, those updates can be major – and that poses a risk when using unofficial add-ons built by community members. It could mean that updating the base plugin means that you have to abandon a particular add-on.

One way to avoid this potential issue is to stick with official add-ons only. If you do utilize those from unofficial sources, look for plugins that are frequently updated. They are more likely to adapt to any major upgrades.

Broken glass.

A Compelling Option

In the right situation, a WordPress plugin with its own ecosystem can be your best option. This is especially so in cases when you are building a website in which a plugin fulfills the core part of your mission.

For instance, an eCommerce site will want to use a shopping cart that can be expanded to meet the specific requirements of the store. This provides the best opportunity for future growth and will help you avoid a costly switch later on.

Of course, there are some potential negatives to consider. But with some due diligence, you may just find a collection of plugins that will successfully power your WordPress website for years to come.

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Comparing Popular WordPress Form Plugins https://1stwebdesigner.com/comparing-popular-wordpress-form-plugins/ Wed, 26 Jun 2019 14:16:36 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=148914 There are a lot of WordPress form plugins out there. And we mean a lot. If you’ve found yourself lost in a sea of forms, we’re here to rescue you with this comparison of the six most popular, general-purpose form plugins.

These are Gravity Forms, Contact Form 7, WPForms (Lite), Ninja Forms (Free), Formidable Forms (Free), and Caldera Forms (Free).

We’ll help you get much closer to making a decision by collecting the top features of these popular plugins here – so you don’t have to go sifting through their sites yourself.

Price

Contact Form 7 is the only plugin in this list that is fully free, but WPForms, Ninja Forms, Formidable Forms, and Caldera Forms all have a lite version. Of these free versions, Caldera Forms contains the most advanced features like conditional logic and multi-page.

Here’s a breakdown of the minimum to maximum prices for each premium plugin:

  • Formidable Forms: $99/year – $449/year.
  • Gravity Forms: $59/year – $259/year.
  • WPForms: $79/year – $599/year (not including introductory pricing).
  • Ninja Forms: $99/year – $499/year.
  • Caldera Forms: $164/year – $549/year.

Coins

Payment Integrations

Gravity Forms integrates with a variety of payment processors starting at the Pro license including PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, and 2Checkout. Caldera also supports numerous processors from the Individual license onward.

WPForms supports PayPal and Stripe at the Pro license. For Ninja Forms, the Personal license supports PayPal and Professional Stripe and Recurly. Formidable Forms’ Business license includes PayPal while Elite nets you Stripe and Authorize.net.

Contact Form 7 contains none by default. However, it’s the only form plugin that enables you to accept payments for free, albeit with third-party addons.

Person swiping a credit card.

Features

All these plugins except Contact Form 7 use a drag and drop live interface, and are responsive by default. You can use plugins and CSS to make CF7 responsive or have a different interface than the markup it uses to generate forms. All also come with some form of anti-spam protection.

Conditional logic, multi-page, and file uploading are among the most wanted features in a form builder.

You can find them in the base plans of every plugin – except Caldera Forms, which provides them in the lite version instead. Contact Form 7 includes only file uploading by default but – you know the drill – third-party plugins can add these extra features.

Conditional Fields for Contact Form 7

As for customization, Gravity Forms comes with 30+ form fields and plenty of options to configure. Contact Form 7 has various tags you can include, like text, email, URL, and checkbox input. WPForms offers pre-built templates as well as various helpful fields and addons that include more form types.

Ninja Forms also offers 30+ field types and templates to base your forms off of as well, plus plenty of fine-tuning options. The Personal plan includes extra layouts and styles to customize with.

Formidable Forms includes flexible layout design and a visual styling tool that lets you change colors and appearance on the spot. There are lots of custom fields as well. And Caldera Forms is built to match your theme styling, and there are dozens of field types to work with.

Out of these, Ninja Forms and Formidable forms include the most visual styling options, while WPForms, Gravity Forms, and Ninja Forms win in flexibility with many field and form types to choose form.

Final Comparison

Now that you’ve got the basics, let’s do a quick summary of these six form builders.

  • Gravity Forms is geared for businesses and professionals. It has a ton of useful integrations and is cheaply priced.
  • Contact Form 7 was made for individuals who need a no-frills form plugin, now. You’ll need to use third-party plugins to get the most out of it.
  • WPForms is designed for an all-around audience, beginners and advanced. It’s the most balanced of these with a good number of features and integrations. Simple but powerful.
  • Ninja Forms is defined by the sheer amount of addons available for it. Purchasing plans are centered around those addons – but its free version makes a decent simple form builder even without them.
  • Formidable Forms is great for developers as well as general users. It’s powerful, cheap, and devs will love using its API to extend it.
  • And Caldera Forms is a great one for beginners and businesses both who need an easy-to-set-up plugin. It has the most expensive entry price, but this is balanced by the advanced features available in the free version.

Armed with this knowledge, you should be able to choose a form plugin that perfectly suits your needs. We hope this helped you find what you were looking for – now get out there and start building your first form!

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The Benefits of Attending a WordCamp https://1stwebdesigner.com/the-benefits-of-attending-a-wordcamp/ Mon, 03 Jun 2019 13:07:54 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=148217 Of all the tools web designers use to make a living, WordPress stands out as unique. And it’s not necessarily because of the software itself (which is excellent, by the way).

No, what really separates WordPress from just about everything else out there is the amazing community built around it. It’s made up of an incredibly diverse group – web professionals, bloggers, business owners and educators (to name just a few). They hail from all over the world and pretty much every background you can imagine.

Among the crown jewels of this community are the many WordCamps held annually. These events have taken place in over 60 countries, spanning 6 continents (sorry, Antarctica – your time will come).

If you haven’t gotten around to attending an event, it’s definitely something to put on your bucket list. There are a number of benefits to doing so, including:

A Low-Cost Day Out

Everyone needs some time out of the office – even if it’s work-related (though WordCamps rarely feel like work). And you can’t get one much more affordable than a WordCamp. Prices are generally kept to around $20 USD per day! How many pro-level conferences can you attend for about the price of dinner at a pizza place?

Speaking of which, you won’t go hungry while you’re there. For that more-than-reasonable price, you’ll often get a meal (typically lunch), while snacks and beverages are also included. Plus, just walking in the door nets you a giveaway item, like a custom T-Shirt.

Prices are generally kept low due to the kindness of sponsors – both corporate and individual. As a bonus, they often attend the conference with their own collection of swag to give away.

Depending on the location of the camp, the largest expense for attendees tends to be travel (and, if necessary, a hotel). However, various organizations may provide grants to those in need of assistance, such as the Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship.

A jar of pennies spilled on a table.

The Chance to Meet New People

Part of the WordPress community’s strength lies in its ability to attract people from all walks of life. Go to a WordCamp and you’re likely to run into experts and novices alike – not to mention everyone in-between those two skill levels.

And you can’t help but find yourself in at least a few good conversations. This is particularly true between sessions and at meal time, when attendees often congregate in a common area. Therefore, you’ll want to be prepared to answer the question, “How do you use WordPress?”

It’s also worth noting that the atmosphere is generally laid back. There is no corporate stiffness to be found and the dress code is pretty much come-as-you-are.

Overall, people are friendly and willing to chat. But even if you’re a bit shy – not to worry. You’ll find yourself in a place that lets you be you and move at your own pace.

A woman and man speaking at a desk.

Learning Opportunities

As much as anything, WordCamps are about learning. Many camps split their sessions into multiple “tracks”, each one aimed at a specific skill level or use type. For instance, you may find a track for hardcore developers along with others for visual designers, content creators or marketers.

It can be very worthwhile to attend sessions across a variety of tracks. Even if you don’t know a lot about a particular subject, you may be surprised at how much knowledge you can pick up. At the very least, you’ll have a better idea of, say, what React does or how the Gutenberg editor affects design choices.

Not only that, but you might also just discover a new favorite plugin or technique for getting things done. Everyone approaches building a WordPress website differently, and there is a chance to pick up some pointers from both speakers and attendees.

People sitting in a conference session.

Expand Your Reach

Of course, professionals primarily attend conferences to get their names out there, and a WordCamp provides a perfect opportunity to do so. And there are a number of ways to achieve your goal.

Volunteering to speak can be very effective, allowing you to show off your expertise in a particular WordPress-related area. If you’re comfortable giving presentations, this provides you with a room full of people who are eager to learn whatever knowledge you can share. Just know that you must apply to speak ahead of time, as there is often stiff competition for spots.

Even if you aren’t a featured speaker, there are still plenty of chances to network. As mentioned earlier, you’ll have opportunities to connect with other attendees, so make sure to bring lots of business cards! You never know when a casual conversation can lead to a new project.

People shaking hands across a desk.

A Worthwhile Experience

WordCamps provide a fun, affordable and potentially profitable experience. And, no matter your experience or skill level, there is an opportunity both meet new people and advance your career.

Sound interesting? To get started, watch a few of the top presentations from past events. Then, check out the upcoming schedule and register for an event in your neck of the woods.

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An Interview with One of the Best Selling WordPress Theme Authors https://1stwebdesigner.com/an-interview-with-one-of-the-best-selling-wordpress-theme-authors/ Tue, 28 May 2019 14:43:42 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=147979 We recently had the opportunity to interview Ivan Paunovic, the founder of Qode Interactive. Qode is the team behind Bridge, one of the best-selling WordPress themes.

Can you tell us a bit about how Qode started and the team behind it?

Qode started out as two people with a shared goal – to create quality digital products, but with a focus on beauty and aesthetics. In our early stages, we provided custom web development services. But we soon noticed the rising popularity of WordPress themes and saw an opportunity there, even though the marketplace was already fairly saturated.

Our team was still small, but we were all oriented toward UX and aesthetics. That was our main advantage. We made a decision back then that has become the cornerstone of our company: never to compromise our creative vision, even if it meant reaching fewer people. Instead of going down the commercial path and making the types of themes everyone was churning out, we primarily focused on great design. And I think that’s what distinguishes us from the rest of the market.

Qode Interactive home page

Your Bridge theme is one of the most popular WordPress themes on ThemeForest with over 100,000 sales — an incredible achievement. What do you believe sets Bridge apart from other WordPress themes?

When it came out, Bridge was just another theme by Qode. The thing is, we approach each new theme as a success, even in the earliest stages of design. I think that’s evident in all our themes, from the very beginning.

With Bridge, it turned out people were drawn to its clean and simple style, which was popular at the time. It got that initial boost straight out of the gate and gained enough visibility on the market. So, we adapted and started developing it in that direction. We wanted to offer Bridge to as many people as we could, while still sticking to our principles and making as few compromises as possible.

That’s how the Bridge demos came to be. Bridge currently has nearly 380 distinct demos, and we’re always adding more. It was the first bestseller on the market with so many and might have even set the standard in terms of the number and the quality of demos a WordPress theme can have.

Bridge WordPress Theme

With the huge success of Bridge and your other WordPress products, what are some challenges you’ve faced with that type of growth?

Bridge served as proof that we were doing something right and it motivated us to keep moving in that direction. So when we decided to create new brands and expand our catalog of themes, we knew we would need a lot more manpower. Our first goal was hiring the best people in the business.

We now have over 100 employees, and more than 25 professional designers and artists working on our themes. With so many people cooperating on multiple projects, we had to implement a set of procedures to make sure things run smoothly at all times.

We also quickly outgrew the downtown apartment we started from and had to move to a larger office. This alone brought its own set of challenges: planning the space, remodeling, obtaining all the necessary equipment, etc. A larger company requires a completely different approach than a startup. But with great success comes great responsibility, I guess.

Qode Interactive theme catalog

What has your experience been like developing for Gutenberg and are you excited for the direction WordPress is taking?

We’re currently working on a new theme framework that’s ultimately going to let users switch between page builders. Developing for Gutenberg has been a significant part of that project.

We definitely see Gutenberg as a step in the right direction. The components and modules are well executed, but the editor in its current form isn’t as user-friendly as we’d like it to be. We think there’s still work to be done in terms of the UX.

Of course, we understand this is just the first phase of what could be an entirely new approach to website building in WordPress and we’re excited to see where it goes. But one of the goals with our new framework is to give users a choice in terms of the editor they’d like to use.

If you could give any advice to a new designer or developer trying to sell digital goods, what would it be?

Everyone that came before you already has a massive head start. So, when thinking about the audience for your product, don’t take the expected route. Don’t try to satisfy everyone at all times. That’s a surefire recipe for failure.

Find a small but reliable audience and do everything you can to speak directly to their needs. Tailor all aspects of your business – from your actual product and its functionalities to your design, branding, and messaging – to that select group of people and you’ll have a way better chance at success.

Do you have any tips on promoting your work to build an audience?

The best form of promotion is the quality of your product. And satisfied customers are always the best advocates. I think ThemeForest does a good job of promoting great themes, but these days, with so many authors and themes out there, you can’t rely only on that. You need to use all available techniques to get your themes in front of your target audience. Once you accomplish that, the design and quality will often be the deciding factors.

When it comes to places for promoting our work, we take a special interest in visually-oriented social networks. Particularly ones like Dribbble and Pinterest, where we can connect with fellow designers and other users who recognize the importance of a visual experience.

Qode Interactive Dribble profile

Before we wrap up this interview, are there any upcoming products or other announcements you’d like to share?

We recently launched the new Qode Interactive website. It’s now the home of all 330+ themes from our five brands. If you look at the current state of the market, you’ll see that the best quality often gets buried in the avalanche of themes coming out every day. Our new site provides a collection of themes that make no compromise when it comes to quality.

And finding the right one is now quicker and easier than ever, thanks to our powerful filtering system. We made sure people can search themes based on all imaginable parameters, from colors, styles, and effects all the way down to the shortcodes and plugins each theme comes with. So, if you’re looking for a new way to find beautiful WordPress themes, you might want to check it out.

Qode Interactive theme search and filtering

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6 Popular Page Builders for WordPress in 2019 https://1stwebdesigner.com/6-popular-page-builders-for-wordpress-in-2019/ Wed, 22 May 2019 14:01:10 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=147885 WordPress is without a doubt one of the easiest and yet most customizable site-building platforms available. It brings the difficulty of creating a website down for beginners, while also not chaining down expert designers and developers.

But what if you want to customize your website with your own special touch? Making a theme isn’t exactly easy. Thanks to WordPress page builders, anyone can easily customize their website with tons of design options and functionality.

Both individuals creating a personal site and new designers breaking into WordPress site building should try out these six great page builders.

Semplice

Semplice

Built by designers for designers, Semplice is a feature-rich portfolio page builder optimized for the needs of professional artists. Everyone from agencies down to individual designers can use this platform; the Single, Studio, and Business plans are priced just right. And you only need to pay once!

Semplace uses a dynamic layout builder rather than sticking you with repetitive templates. Drag and drop to create your responsive website, use the blocks feature on Studio+ plans, and create stunning full screen designs for your work.

If you need a designer-focused tool, Semplice is the way to go.

Elementor

Elementor

With two million users, Elementor is one of the most popular page builders, and you can see why. Built just for professionals, Elementor offers a simple yet powerful page builder that integrates seamlessly with almost any theme.

With 80+ design elements from simple image widgets to buttons and forms, everything you need is there. You can also use it for free! But pay a per-year fee for the advanced plans, and you’ll get more widgets, WooCommerce integration, and a theme builder just for designers.

Divi Builder

Divi Builder

Do you feel overwhelmed with most page builders? Divi is made for simplicity. It’s super easy to learn its drag-and-drop system. But as you grow, you’ll find that this builder is more powerful than it seems.

46 content modules let you easily insert sliders, menus, forms, portfolios, and other helpful widgets. Pay per-year or a one-time fee; no crucial features locked behind pricey paywalls. And designers can use Elegant Themes and Divi to build client websites!

Beaver Builder

Beaver Builder

Beaver Builder was made for both users and professionals, with some special features for WordPress designers. The front-end editor is easy to use and allows you to build column-based pages or position elements with precision.

Editor Mode allows designers to give their clients the freedom of editing their site, while removing features that might allow them to break it. Beaver Builder is simple enough for clients to learn, too!

The builder uses three plans on per-year pricing, but later plans only unlocks features useful for companies like white labeling, multisite, and a framework theme.

Visual Composer

Visual Composer

Fast, easy to learn, and straightforward to use, Visual Composer offers a page builder that absolutely anyone can try. Templates, blocks, and elements are essential to its design. Start with a template, insert smaller template blocks, and use elements to enhance your design. Premium users can download more!

And developers will love Visual Composer. Extend it with the API, or create your own custom templates and elements!

SiteOrigin Page Builder

SiteOrigin Page Builder

If you need a free page builder without any features behind a paywall, SiteOrigin is the way to go. The builder is simple, but it has everything you need. Fast and efficient code means no drain on your website speed, and the live editor is very easy to use, even for beginners.

The extra widgets mean you can still spice things up with elements like calendars, buttons, comments, sliders, and more to your website. SiteOrigin may not come with all the fancy bells and whistles that a $200 page builder would, but it gets the job done and it does it well.

Create Beautiful WordPress Sites

With WordPress such a popular platform, there are always new competitors arising for plugins, themes – and page builders. These are some of the most popular ones so far in 2019, and that popularity clearly exists for a reason. Try one of these builders and you won’t be disappointed.

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What Is WordPress Multisite? https://1stwebdesigner.com/what-is-wordpress-multisite/ Fri, 03 May 2019 18:20:41 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=147312 WordPress is known for being easy to use and for its ability to leverage plugins for greater functionality. But there is so much more to the popular content management system (CMS) than meets the eye.

There are tons of powerful features that lie just beneath the surface. Today, we’ll introduce you to one of the most unique among them: WordPress multisite. We’ll show you what it is, the benefits of using it and some scenarios where it may be a good fit for you.

What It Does

WordPress multisite is a feature that allows you to run multiple websites (referred to as a “network”) within a single installation of the CMS. By default, many key components are shared. Themes, plugins and even the install’s database are used by each site in the network.

However, note that multisite has to be manually enabled. To do so, check out the WordPress documentation for all the details.

There’s no hard limit on the number of sites you can run with multisite. But, like any other website, the capabilities of your hosting environment play a big role. The more sites and visitors you have, the more power you’ll need.

On the front end, users won’t be able to tell the site that they’re visiting is part of a network (that is, unless you utilize plugins that display network-related information, such as an aggregate of posts from each site). The back end will look very familiar, but with a few multisite-specific menus.

Among the biggest differences from a default single-site install of WordPress are:

A New Role to Rule Them All

The Super Admin role is added to WordPress multisite installs and does pretty much what you’re thinking. It’s the highest-level account and can administer each site in the network, along with the network itself.

For instance, a Super Admin can pick and choose which plugins and themes are available for each site in the network. They can assign site-specific administrators, install plugins and can add or remove individual sites.

An Address Structure

When setting up a network, you can choose how users will access your sites. Your options are:

Subdomain
Each new site will be a subdomain of your main website. So, if your main site is www.mygreatwpsite.com, network sites could be steve.mygreatwpsite.com or catphotos.mygreatwpsite.com. Note that each subdomain will need to be added to your domain’s DNS.

Subdirectory
Subdirectory installs are easier to maintain, as DNS doesn’t play a factor. New sites are simply added as a folder appended to your domain. Therefore, our examples above would be www.mygreatwpsite.com/steve/ or www.mygreatwpsite.com/catphotos/.

Note that, whichever type of network you choose, you can still add custom top-level domains to each site. If you do plan on using a different domain for each site, it’s easier to stick with the Subdirectory type of install.

A network diagram.

The Benefits

There are a lot of legitimate benefits to using WordPress multisite, as opposed to multiple single-site installs:

A Unified UI

Depending upon your role within the install, you can easily get from site to site (or, at least the ones you have permissions to access) without the need to log out or hop all over the web. Everything you need is just a few clicks away.

Automation, If You Want It

Want visitors to be able to create their own sites? Multisite allows people to register and create a website. However, you may want to beef up security and integrate methods for approving new sites that are added to the network.

Limit Access

Each site within a network can have its own set of users. This is great for scenarios where you only want people to make changes to specific sites.

Likewise, only Super Admins can add plugins or themes to the system, helping to avoid plugin overload. Plus, they can “Network Activate” plugins, meaning that each site must use them. Otherwise, individual site Administrators can choose to activate other installed plugins.

The Potential to Do More

Through custom code and multisite-compatible plugins, you can add powerful functionality to your network. You might, for instance, want to share media files or even blog posts among all or specific sites within the network. Plus, you can add user-friendly features like a network-wide navigation or search capabilities.

Each site may start off as its own separate entity, but you can tie them together in any number of ways.

WordPress Network Settings page.

When to Use It

WordPress multisite includes some incredible features. But, in order to decide if it’s the right solution for your project, ask yourself the following questions:

How Are My Sites Related?

Ideally, there should be some unifying factor between all of the sites within your network. Maybe they are different locations of the same company or members of the same organization. The fact that the sites are related in some way is perhaps the biggest reason for utilizing multisite.

Can My Web Server Handle the Load?

A busy multisite network can become a resource hog. Just the fact that the database is shared among sites could cause a slowdown during a traffic spike. You’ll want to make sure that your web hosting is capable of humming along during those times. Frequent site backups are also a nice thing to have, whether provided by your host or via a plugin.

Does It Make Sense for Team Members?

This goes along with whether or not your network sites are related. WordPress multisite makes for easier maintenance, particularly if you have team members who need access multiple websites. Hopefully, having everything within a single installation will streamline the process for everyone.

Is It Worth the Risks?

Multisite is not without its own potential pitfalls. For example, a database crash or a botched plugin update could take your entire network of sites down. Even a surge in traffic or a brute force attack on a single site could affect everything else. It’s crucial to weigh those risks against the potential benefits.

What Will the Future Bring?

While no one can fully predict the future, it is important to think about what could happen. Will you need to add more sites? Will any network sites eventually need to be spun off on their own? Could your network outgrow its current hosting environment? It’s better to think about those things now and determine how they may affect your decision.

A Hidden Gem

Multisite may not be among the most glamorous or talked about WordPress features, but it is certainly among the most powerful. Imagine the ability to run any number of websites, all from a single installation. It can be beneficial to anyone from a small business to a worldwide organization.

As great as it is, you’ll still want to do your homework before building a network. Once you learn more about the intricacies of WordPress Multisite, you can decide if it’s the right solution for you.

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Enhance Your WordPress Site with These Plugins https://1stwebdesigner.com/want-to-take-your-wp-site-to-the-next-level-use-these-top-wordpress-plugins/ Thu, 18 Apr 2019 12:59:14 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=146799 Your business might be doing OK with a run-of-the-mill online presence. Although a flat conversion rate is nothing to brag about. Spice up the website by using a few special features (the salt, and pepper). You should expect an uptick in conversions.

Or, take advantage of what plugins offer.

They can do for websites what sour cream, cheese, and bacon bits can do for baked potatoes. Visitors come back for more, and they spread the word about your cool products or services.

Check out our selection of top WordPress plugins (condiments if you prefer) to see what they could do for you.

1. Logic Hop – Personalized Marketing for WordPress

Logic Hop

You’ve probably spent a lot of time building your website. Tweaking content. Massaging your message. Working on ad variations. A/B testing and wondering what is going to click – Or, more importantly, get clicks… Sure, some things work, but only for a specific ad or certain social media posts.

What if your content and messaging could react to your ad variations? What if your content knew what social media post a user clicked on? What if your site could remember your visitors’ behaviors? With Logic Hop for WordPress, it can.

Welcome to the world of content personalization where Logic Hop makes it easy to personalize your site based on UTM codes, geolocation, on-site actions, and even data from Gravity Forms, HubSpot, Drip and ConvertKit.

Stop missing clicks, conversions, and sales. See for yourself with a 14-day free trial. Logic Hop’s premier customer support will help you get up and running quickly. What are you waiting for? Take your digital marketing to the next level.

2. LayerSlider

LayerSlider

With the Layer Slider plugin, you get a multi-purpose animation platform on which you can create image galleries, mind-blowing slideshow effects, animated page blocks and, naturally, an excellent variety of sliders. Layer Slider is also a great tool for building landing pages, and even complete websites.

Layer Slider is mobile device friendly, easy to use, SEO friendly, and developer-friendly as well. Its cutting-edge technologies, drag and drop visual editor, and other smart features eliminate any need for coding.

This plugin’s many useful features include a built-in Photoshop-like image editor and an expanding selection of professionally-designed and handcrafted slider templates. These templates serve as excellent starting points for new projects and cover a wide range of topics from personal to corporate needs.

Layer Slider users have access to detailed documentation, lifetime updates, and a dedicated help team.

3. NextGEN Gallery & NextGEN Pro

NextGEN Gallery & NextGEN Pro

NextGEN Gallery is the industry standard for WordPress plugins of its type. It makes it easy for beginners to put together a simple gallery, and it’s powerful enough to satisfy the demands of visual artists and imaging professionals. The NextGEN Gallery plugin is free to download.

A complete WordPress gallery management system is offered on the backend. It allows you to batch upload photos, edit thumbnails, rearrange and sort photos, create albums, and more. Front end features include two main gallery styles and two main album styles.

We suggest you try NextGEN gallery first to see what it can do for you, and check out the NextGEN Pro premium plugin while you are doing so.

NextGEN Pro offers a huge array of extensions that enable you to easily manage and display thousands of images in a variety of ways, sell prints and downloads, and collect payments via PayPal or Stripe.

4. wpDataTables

wpDataTables

Creating informative charts and tables can be a real challenge when large amounts of complex data are involved. wpDataTables is an all-in-one solution for anyone having to work any amount of data from various sources, and create customizable, responsive, interactive, and editable charts and tables from that data.

wpDataTables accepts MySQL, MS SQL, and SQL database data. This plugin integrates easily with popular form builder plugins.

5. Amelia

Amelia

Amelia can save small business huge amounts of time (and budget) by automating critical aspects of their appointment, booking, booking management, and online payment systems. User ratings after the 1st 6 months edged very close to 5 stars; a trend that hasn’t let up.

Amelia is extremely flexible in the way it helps businesses deal with changing or cancelling appointments and matching customers to employees. It’s a definite stress reliever for both managers and employees.

6. MapSVG

MapSVG

MapSVG was created 8 years ago as a tool to enable users to convert any SVG file into an interactive vector map. It has since expanded to where it is able to create all 3 types of interactive maps; vector, Google, and image.

Drawing tools have been added along with a database so users can place custom objects or markers on their map or in a directory that’s associated with the map.

7. WP Review Pro

WP Review Pro

If you’re considering building a review website or improving the one you already have, you’ll find the WP Review Pro plugin to be a handy tool to have in your arsenal. It’s perfect for reviewing anything from products or services to books and movies.

You can choose among stars, percentages, points, or circles, and WP Review Pro also enables you to create comparison tables for multiple products.

WP Review Pro is optimized for speed and it is WooCommerce compatible.

8. Rank Math SEO

Rank Math SEO

Whether you’re a beginner at website optimization or an SEO veteran, the Rank Math WordPress plugin can take your search engine optimizing skills to a new height. Rank Math loads quickly and it’s delightfully easy to use.

It features a built-in Content Analysis tool to help you write SEO friendly content – and it’s free to download.

9. Blog2Social – Smart social media automation for WordPress

Blog2Social

Blog2Social’s media post automation feature is a genuine time saver when you need to customize, manage, and post social media information to a network of social media sites. With Blog2Social, you can easily vary the format, content, and images of individual posts within the network to give every post a personal touch.

The Social Media Calendar allows you to schedule, color code, and track posts, and use drag and drop to rearrange a schedule – another extremely popular and useful feature.

10. Heroic Knowledge Base

Heroic Knowledge Base

When you reach a point where you’re fed up answering the same questions over and over again, it’s probably time to hand things over to Heroic Knowledge Base. Customers can receive quick answers to their queries 24/7, which makes them more likely to invest in a product or service they’ve shown an interest in.

A CTA isn’t terribly effective if a visitor is still looking for an answer to a question. Heroic Knowledge Base takes care of that.

Conclusion

These 10 varieties of cheese, sour cream, and bacon were designed to make customers happy. They will want to come back for more.

We suggest you check out several of these WordPress plugins in more detail, give them a try, and see the results.

Happy shopping!

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Best Practices for Managing Multiple WordPress Sites https://1stwebdesigner.com/managing-multiple-wordpress-sites/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/managing-multiple-wordpress-sites/#comments Mon, 08 Apr 2019 06:45:52 +0000 http://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=128170 Both WordPress and its ecosystem of themes and plugins are seemingly always in a state of change. While WordPress core updates are usually limited to a few times a year (save for a quick bug fix/security release), plugins in particular are constantly being tweaked.

Regardless of what’s being updated, there is always the possibility of something breaking. Plugins may not have kept up with core updates and end up hindering the functionality of a site (or worse).

With that in mind, let’s explore some best practices for juggling multiple WordPress websites.

1. Keep Backups

Whether you manage one WordPress site or 100, make sure to use backups. There are tons of free plugins that can back up the site’s database and/or file system.

Depending on how often the site’s content changes, you’ll want to run backups accordingly. If something goes wrong due to an update or security issue, you’ll be glad that you have a stable copy of your sites backed up.

2. Craft a Plan

Ideally, you’d use an all-in-one dashboard that allows you to update multiple sites from a single screen. The ubiquitous Jetpack plugin includes this feature, as do third-party services like ManageWP. These solutions are great because you have everything you need, all in one place. This will save you a lot of time having to manually login to each site individually.

jetpack banner

Short of using a unified dashboard, you’ll want to come up with a schedule for keeping your sites updated. Whether you want to update everything at once or do a few sites per day, it’s important to ensure that you have everything regularly updated (at least once every two weeks, if not more often).

3. Do Your Homework

While it’s tough to keep up with what’s running on every site you manage, it pays to look at a plugin’s changelog before hitting that update button. This is especially true if you’re working on a site using WooCommerce or another mission-critical plugin.

Unless there’s a vital security fix that absolutely needs installed right away, it may also be a good idea to give new releases a few days to see if any further bugs are discovered. Checking support forums first can save you a huge headache.

Also consider using a staging environment. Having a place to safely test updates beforehand is always recommended for eCommerce sites and those that get a lot of traffic. Some web hosts offer staging as part of their packages. Otherwise, you can also set up a local staging environment on your own machine.

4. Use Reputable Themes and Plugins

Just because a theme or plugin is readily available for free doesn’t mean it is any good.

For every site in your care, only use themes and plugins that are highly rated by users and receive regular updates. While a plugin that was last updated two years ago may in fact be fine, think about whether or not any future updates will come should something break.

It’s no fun having to cut functionality out of a live site because of an abandoned plugin.

5. Be Proactive

Managing multiple websites is a big responsibility – one that requires constant attention. Getting lazy (or too aggressive) at the wrong time can lead to serious problems.

That’s why it pays to stay proactive. Read up on WordPress related news and see what new releases hold in store. Make sure that you have an idea of what changes you may need to make to accommodate cutting-edge features.

Consistency is the Key

Let’s face it: No matter how much you plan, something will break sooner or later. But if you maintain a consistent approach to managing your WordPress websites, you’ll give yourself a better chance of avoiding problems.

And, when something does crop up, you will be better prepared to deal with it.

Successfully keeping multiple sites running along in a healthy manner takes some commitment. Still, it’s an achievable goal if you take the right steps.

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5 Things to Look for in a WordPress Theme https://1stwebdesigner.com/5-things-to-look-for-in-a-wordpress-theme/ Wed, 03 Apr 2019 18:57:53 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=146399 One of the first steps to building a great WordPress website is finding the right theme. Yet, this can also be an incredibly tough choice. Why? Because there are so many themes. And it seems like each one promises the moon, stars and a slice of pizza.

When you think about it, themes carry an incredible amount of responsibility. They not only have to make our content look pretty, they must also make it easy to navigate and consume. Plus, they have to effectively adapt their layout to everything from a small mobile screen all the way to a 60” 4K monitor. And this is just scratching the surface.

In such a crowded marketplace of free and premium themes, how can you choose the right one? While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, there are some general characteristics to look for. Here are a few of the most important ones to consider.

1. The Ability to Turn Off Unused Features

Theme authors are looking to sell their products to as many people as possible. So, they often include a wide array of attention-getting bells and whistles. Things like scroll animations and fancy JavaScript effects can be compelling – but they can also get in the way of your site’s purpose. Not to mention that they can also hinder performance.

Ideally, a theme should allow you to disable the extras that aren’t being used – whether through a settings panel or via code. This provides you with some measure of control when it comes to what scripts and third-party libraries are loading on your site.

A cardboard robot looking at a series of switches.

2. Thoughtfully Responsive Layouts

It should almost go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: Any theme you decide to install should work on all screen sizes. In this day and age, there’s simply no excuse for anything less.

But this also goes beyond just being responsive and fitting content onto mobile screens. A theme should also make it easy for users to navigate on touch-enabled devices. So often, we see menus just thrown behind a hamburger icon without much thought to ease-of-use. Hamburgers are fine, but they should allow for easy access to multi-layered navigation and even multiple menus.

In addition, important site functions such as shopping carts shouldn’t be hidden on smaller viewports. Users need to be able to access these features without having to search for them.

Man looking at mobile phone.

3. Doesn’t Require Plugins

Have you ever installed a theme, only to find that it “requires” a specific plugin? There are times when this might be acceptable – such as a niche theme specifically for use with WooCommerce. However, this tactic often gets taken too far.

No two people are going to use a theme in the exact same way. No two websites are exactly alike. Therefore, a theme should be able to work with or without a specific plugin. If that means a certain feature is disabled, so be it.

As an aside, most themes technically do work without plugin x, y or z. However, they often employ the use of nagging messages that implore us to install the plugins anyway. In extreme cases, you dismiss the message only to see it reappear each time you log in. This is a bad practice that does more to annoy users than help them. Avoid themes that follow these tactics, if you can.

A road with "STOP" painted on it.

4. Takes Accessibility Seriously

Accessibility is not a special bonus feature – it’s a requirement (although, one with a lot of gray areas). Themes should meet some basic standards when it comes to things such as keyboard navigation, link focus styles and the use of semantic markup.

Of course, there are some things that a theme author can’t control. Any theme that lets users customize colors can’t be held responsible if you’re not using the right contrast ratios. But the things they can control should be built in, without question.

A handicapped symbol on pavement.

5. Regular Bug Fixes

As we alluded to earlier, many WordPress themes aim to be a jack-of-all-trades. And they are becoming ever-more complicated as the CMS evolves with features like the Gutenberg block editor. This leads to more code, which in turn leads to more opportunities for bugs and security holes to open up.

Because there is such a constant battle to make WordPress core, themes and plugins play together nicely, updates are necessary. Look for themes that have regular entries in their changelog and, if possible, research how quickly they respond to support requests.

This is vitally important, as you don’t want to get stuck with a buggy theme that breaks – and never gets fixed.

Mechanic repairing a car.

Find the Perfect WordPress Theme

As the old saying goes, you should never judge a book by its cover. The same can be said about a WordPress theme, as well. Looking only at the aesthetics can lead you down the wrong path.

Instead, take the time to dig a little deeper. Study how often the theme is updated, what (if any) plugins it requires, how it works on mobile devices and whether it conforms to accessibility standards. Find out if you can turn off unnecessary features. And if this information isn’t readily available, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

The theme you choose for your website is too important. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure to find the perfect match for your needs.

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