WordPress & website tips for trainers and coaches

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The number of coaches and trainers in the Netherlands is growing. Over the past years we have had various coaches and trainers as customers and have advised them on how to set up their websites. In this article we’ll give you our take on websites for coaches and trainers and how coaches can make optimal use of WordPress.

A number of links in this article are embedded with an affiliate code.

 

Website tips

Tip 1. Tell your story

You could look at many of today’s trainers and coaches as modern ministers. They help customers with spiritual and practical questions. Questions you used to take to a minister you now take to a coach. The minister has his pulpit. Trainers and coaches have a blog. In the blog trainers and coaches can elaborate on issues they come across and the answers they have. There is room to go into the philosophy behind their coaching methods.

Tip 2. Stop the sales, go help people!

Services make up a prominent part of many coach’s and trainer’s websites. What are you selling your clients? This is useful when people already know the coach and want to know what they can do for them. We’ve noticed that many trainers and coaches expect that a product website will also attract new customers. Often this isn’t very realistic. There are many trainers and coaches. There aren’t many people who want to be coached by an unknown coach or hire an unknown trainer. A website visitor needs to come to trust that the trainer/coach has the right answers to the questions the they are asking.
So trainers and coaches, use your website to win your client’s trust. Use your blog to share your knowledge so that you can engage your client and help them. Once they feel like you’ve helped them, they will feel connected and commercial transactions will come naturally.

Tip 3. Be patient

Most trainers and coaches probably want the same thing that our other customers want: fast results. They want new clients, now. That’s not how websites work. Most people and organisations that are successful online have been investing for years. They’ve built a faithful following after years of hard work. In the end, this is where your paid work comes from. We advise trainers and coaches to think in terms of a timespan of a few years. Use this time to share your knowledge and help your followers. Trust that the commercial work will come in time.
Rens Kroes’ website

Tip 4. Keep it simple 

Most Dutch people will have heard of Rens Kroes. And Karin from Koken met Karin (Cooking with Karin). These women have helped their readers eat better. They’ve been doing that for years. Often they started out selflessly, because they had a passion to help people eat good, healthy food. Typically these food blogs have a very simple aesthetic. The blogs almost look amateuristic. The focus is entirely on the content and this breeds trust.

Tip 5. Be personal

This is a tip we give everyone on the internet. Use pictures and video’s to tell who you are and what you stand for. This way the website visitor gets to know you and comes to trust you and your services.

Tip 6. Spread your services

Not everyone needs personal coaching or wants to hire a trainer. Training and coaching are specific ways to help. There are people who would rather read a book, listen to a lecture or take part in a workshop. We advise trainers and coacher to offer services that fit each budget.

How can coaches use WordPress as CMS?

WordPress is perfect for blogging and coaches can use this platform to share their knowledge and insights.

Tip 1. WordPress.com as Software as a Service

WordPress.com is a Software as a Service (SaaS). That means you can set up a website yourself without having to consider hosting and maintenance. WordPress.com is fine to use when you want to set up a blog and it’s okay if it is simple. The advantage of a website via WordPress is that this solution is cheap (starting at $99 per year). You don’t have to be particularly handy and you can get your website online quickly. You don’t have to worry about hosting and maintenance. A disadvantage is that you cannot use all WordPress plugins and themes. And you are not the owner of the website code.

In the following tips we assume that you have used an open-source version of WordPress and that you have installed it via a hosting company on your own server.

Tip 2. Use a free theme

Because of the simplicity of the website you may choose to use a free WordPress theme from the WordPress theme catalogue. The free themes often have a freemium business model: the basics are free. You will pay via a Premium version if you want more functionalities. Advantage is that you can set up a professional website with little money. Disadvantage is that you are responsible for hosting and maintenance yourself.

Tip 3. Thrive Themes voor websites with conversion

Thrive Themes integrate themes with conversion driven functionalities, which gives you everything in one. With themes like Rise and Storied Thrive Themes has a number of themes that are suited to blogging for coaches. Read our blogreview over Thrive Themes.

Tip 4. Use a populair and flexible WordPress theme 

We buy many WordPress themes on ThemeForest. There are a number of beautiful, simple blog themes on ThemeForest. For example Voice and Simplemag.

Tip 5. Use Enfold

We are also very enthusiastic about the Enfold theme/framework. We use it for a great number of the websites we develop. There are various demo’s available for Enfold. One of them is a lifestyle blog that can be easily used for blogging by coaches.

Tip 6. Storytelling

A populair development coaches can make use of is storytelling. Storytelling is being used by more and more newspaper and magazine websites. Consider using the Aesop Story Engine for example.

Tip 7. Take care of good hosting 

You will need a good hosting company for any solution that involves installing WordPress on your own server.

  • WP Engine; we work with the American company WP Engine. Advantage is that you have a professional environment at your disposal where you can make WordPress installations at the click or a button. WP Engine starts at $ 29 a month.

Tip 8. Skip WordPress use an alternative

WordPress is a fantastic systeem for a large community, but it’s not sacred. It has advantages and disadvantages. For a simple blog you could also consider an alternative like Ghost or Medium.

How do you get Google Maps working again on you WordPress website?

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Google Maps stopped working

If Google Maps is no longer visible on your WordPress website, this is probably caused by the Google policy changes. This change may have caused Google Maps to stop working on your WordPress website. If you’re using a Google service (such as Google Maps) on your website, Google decided they want you to link these to your Google account by using a so-called Google Maps API key. In this article, we explain how you can get and install this API key for Google Maps, so you can get Google Maps working again on your WordPress website.

How does the Google Maps API work?

When you’re showing a map from Google Maps on a page of your website, a connection is made with the Google Maps API at every visit. It is a free service from Google that builds up this map for you, so it loads quickly. Excessive use of this tool costs Google a lot of money, because their servers have to make calculations every single time.

That is why Google is now limiting the use of the API. A connection can be made with the Google Maps API up to 25.000 times a day. When you exceed this limit, you have to pay. Most of the websites will never exceed this limit, so for most people, this service will remain free. You do, however, have to enter an API key on your website, so Google can keep score of the times your website is making a connection with the Google Maps API.

Getting a Google Maps API key

Step 1

  • Go to the Google Maps Developers page.
  • Click the blue button ‘Get a key’.
  • Login with your Google account (if you are not yet logged in). It’s best to login with the same account as the one you’re using for example for Google Analytics.

Step 2

  • Select ‘Create a project’.
  • Click ‘Continue’.
  • Wait until you are led to the next screen. This can take several minutes, so don’t close the window and don’t click away while waiting. The next page will open automatically.

Step 3

  • Enter a clear description, under ‘Name’, e.g.: Google Maps for yourdomainname.nl.
  • Enter the domain name for which you want to use the API key, under ‘Accept requests from these HTTP referrers’. Enter it like this: *.yourdomainname.nl.
  • Enter any other domain names in the same way, if applicable.
  • Click ‘Create’.
  • You now see a screen with your API key. Copy the key and save this in a safe place.

Installing the Google Maps API key on your WordPress website (easy)

Make sure WordPress, your plugins and the theme on your website are up to date. Check which WordPress plugins and themes show the maps from Google Maps. Check their settings to make sure you can now paste your Google Maps API key. If not, you can contact your plugin or theme developer, because they should fix this immediately for all their users.

Paste the API key in the option field and save the changes. In the example on the right, you see how you can install the Google Maps API key for the newest version of the WordPress theme Enfold.

Installing the Google Maps API key on your WordPress website (advanced)

Does your website run a customized version of Google Maps, or does your plugin or theme no longer get support? Then find an alternative plugin, because using unmaintained code leads to serious safety risks for your website. In the meantime, you can take these steps temporarily – provided you know how to use an FTP program and a code editor:

  1. With your FTP program, go to the folder of the plugin or theme that’s using Google Maps.
  2. Download the folder to your computer and search through all the files in the folder for “maps.googleapis.com”.
  3. Open the files (one or more) that show up in your code editor with this search term.
  4. Scroll to the place/places with “maps.googleapis.com”. You will probably see a longer address, like “https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/js?callback=initMap”.
    • Check whether you see a question mark in the URL. In that case, paste the following, directly after the URL: &key=YOUR_API_KEY
    • When there is no question mark in the URL, paste the following directly after the URL: ?key=YOUR_API_KEY
    • Replace YOUR_API_KEY with the API key you got from Google.
  5. Save the files and upload them with FTP back to your website.

 

Tips and tools for professional WordPress website development

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We see more and more often that internet businesses choose to use WordPress as standard CMS to build websites. We also come across many freelancers, just starting out, who place their focus entirely on WordPress. In this article we will make an summary of the best tools, techniques and plugins for developing WordPress websites that we have picked up over the years – and that we wish someone had shown us ten years ago when we first started working with WordPress.

Content

  1. WordPress development tools
  2. Standard plugins
  3. Developer plugins
  4. Cheatsheets
  5. Team work
  6. Stay up-to-date
  7. Finally

WordPress development tools

Over the years we’ve tested, used and thrown away lot of development tools. Which tools do we still use for developing WordPress websites?

  • Google Chrome
    Google Chrome has a powerful set of development tools that come standard. You can make CSS changes from the element-inspector, which means that you see the effect immediately before you make any changes in the css files. You can view existing JavaScript variables from the console or run new scripts. You can also view saved cookies, check the headers to see if your page is being cached and more. Mozilla Firefoxis a good alternative as well and offers many similar functions.
  • SublimeCoda
    Everyone has their own favorite text editor, but there are two that really stand out for us: Sublime and Coda. An important advantage of Sublime (Windows / Mac) is that it is that it is easy to expand, while Coda (Mac) is already very complete. In both editors it’s possible to change files directly on the server. This makes doing small, quick changes very easy.
  • FileZilla
    Maybe obvious, but maybe not at all. We use Filezilla daily for quick and secure FTP connections with our customer’s servers. Easy to use and ideal for quick changes. We do advise setting up a good version managed GIT workflow for bigger projects.
  • Browserstack
    You can use Browserstack to virtually test a website on any imaginable device. Like all desktop browsers on multiple Windows and OSX versions, but also all known Android devices, iOS devices and tablets. This is ideal for responsive tests, because simulations for mobile devices in desktop browsers tend to lack details. Browserstack also offers a Chrome extension, that you can use to simulate any website you visit on a different platform.
  • Ghost Inspector
    This fantastic Chrome extension makes it possible to record a numbers of steps on your website (for example: “visit homepage, click on ‘contact’, scroll down, fill in form”). The operations in these records are then regularly run by Ghost Inspector. If there are any abnormal results (for example a page is missing or the layout is different) you will receive a notification.
  • Photoshop
    Although you can do a lot in WordPress itself, Adobe Photoshop remains indispensable to our work. This is the favorite software package of everyone of our team members who works on design.

Standard plugins

Although every website is different, there are a few plugins that we use for every project. That is why we always install them for a new project. If we end up not using them we can always remove them:

  • Avia Framework
    This visual block builder is not available as separate plugin, but built into the Enfold theme (Dutch link). Very user friendly and makes it possible to build up content quickly.
  • Gravity Forms
    The most comprehensive form building plugin we know, with conditional logic, import/export function, various notifications etc. Many themes take this plugin into account in their styling.
  • io
    Make sure you have this plugin running before you upload your first image. That way you keep everything optimized.
  • Akismet
    Reduce spam on your website. Really a must-have.
  • Yoast SEO
    Helps you fine tune your SEO settings globally, and to easily make changes per page, to things like title and meta-description.

Developer plugins

There are many plugins for WordPress that simplify the development of your website. The most common plugins are listed here.

  • Password protected
    Protect your website with a password to prevent search engines and unwanted visitors from taking a look at your website before it’s ready.
  • Debug Bar
    Want to dig a little deeper into the code? The debug bar adds a button to your admin bar you can use to read various server variables, warnings,errorsqueries and requests. The Actions and Filters Addon makes it possible to see which hooks were triggered on your page.
  • Query monitor
    This plugin offers many of the same functionalities that the Debug Bar does, but also makes it possible to do targeted searches of the queries that were carried out, for example per plugin or kind of query, as well as sluggish performance.
  • Custom Post Types UI
    With this plugin you can easily make extra custom posts types. WordPress offers a number of posts and pages, but you may need an extra post type at times, for example ‘books’ for a kind of library. When you have set up the post type this plugin will have to remain active. To keep the number of plugins at a minimum and thus your website performance optimum we prefer adding post types via GenerateWP(see the ‘Cheatsheets’ below).
  • Advanced Custom Fields
    By default, you have a limited number of fields at your disposal in a message, page or custom post.Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) adds all sorts of extra fields; date planners, color pickers, taxonomy links, fields for extra images, you name it. ACF also works very visually and intuitively, so that you can prepare even complicated custom post constructions without using a single line of code. To then be able to use all the custom fields and show them on a page you can use short codes, or change the templates.
  • FacetWP
    This plugin allows you to create different filters to expand the search option for messages, pages and custom posts. This way your visitors are not only able to fill in key words in the search bar, but can also click on taxonomies (categories or tags) in a drop down or a selection box, to further specify the search results. Very interesting for large databases, with, for example, thousands of articles. You can put FacetWP to work, just like ACF, by using short codes and templates.
  • SearchWP
    Would you rather improve the standard search function in WordPress? Then SearchWP is our favourite This plugin indexes all of WordPress so that the results can be shown quicker. You can set the index to your own preferences. Choose, for example, which types of posts will be searched, which fields in a post are important or in fact irrelevant, whether or not to search for partial matches and much more.
  • P3 Profiler
    Is your website getting slower and slower? Use the P3 profiler to measure which plugins have the most impact on your load time. Sometimes it can help to get rid of a few plugins, to improve your website speed. Another solution is to choose super fastPremium WordPress hosting (Dutch link).
  • Broken link checker
    Before going live check to see if all the links on your website still work. Not missing anything, all external pages still available? You’ll get an e-mail if a link doesn’t work. You can even choose to have the check done regularly.
  • Redirection
    When you place your website online will you be replacing an old website?The older website has built up value in the search engines. To maintain as much of this value as possible you can redirect all the URL’s from the old website to the corresponding pages on the new website. This is a lot of work, but it is worth it. You can use the Redirection plugin, but in some cases a .htaccess file as well. Sometimes you can use one redirection rule to reroute multiple pages by using regular expressions (see the ‘Cheatsheets’ below) Dutch link.

Cheatsheets

There are many resources online dealing with developing websites, CSS procedures,  WordPress tweaks, typography etc. Below you will find a handy overview of cheatsheets we’ve saved in our favorites. Always good to have on hand.

  • Golden Ratio Typography Calculator
    Can’t figure out why your text is not very readable? Check your line spacing and font size with this tool. It will calculate the best line spacing, font size etc. based on things like the width of your content area.
  • Can I Use
    Just found a nice new CSS-feature? Want to use HTML5? Usecom to check and see which browser can/can’t use this code. Sometimes caniuse.com even gives fallback tips for older browsers. Look up ‘border-radius’ and then check the tab resources for an example.
  • comRegExr
    Website finished and you want to quickly add a few redirect rules to your htaccess file? Or are you programming and need to filter by pattern? If you are not familiar with regular expressions they can be headache inducing. txt2re.com helps by entering a string you want to match (for example an e-mail address, URL, telephone number or just a sentence). The tool generates suggestions of what a regular expression should look like. RegExr turns it around: input your regular expression and a piece of text and the tool shows you which parts of your example text match.
  • com
    A fantastically simple website that gives you the HTML code to embed things like YouTube URLs responsively. Also works for Vimeo, DailyMotion, Google Maps, Instagram, Vine, Getty Images and a normal iFrames.
  • w3.org
    Is the syntax of your website built according to the standards? The validator from W3 helps answer this question. Don’t let all the warnings scare you, a website that is 100% perfect is still just an illusion, especially when you work with themes and plugins. And yet, making fewer mistakes in your code makes your website more findable by search engines. A first tip: tick the box in WordPress ‘Automatically correct invalidly nested XHTML’ under General > Writing.
  • GenerateWP
    Need an extra custom post type for your website? Or want to add additional taxonomies to your page? GenerateWP walks you through a wizard and then gives you the code to place in the functiphp of your theme, super simple!
  • WordPress Code Reference
    The first place to go to look for hooks, functions and classes within It’s thephp.net for WordPress.
  • WordPress API’s
    A helpful overview of all API’s available for the WordPress core. Your code will be much more durable if you use these kinds of APIs. For example, by writing and and reading files via WordPress’s File system API your code will be better compatible with various server platforms.
  • io
    This website makes an attempt to inventory all the hooks for WordPress. You will also find all the actions and filters from a growing number of plugins and theme’s. This website has become a great resource for the better known plugins.
  • WcomWP Sniffer
    These two tools help you browse other peoples WordPress sites. You can see which theme is activated and what kind of plugins are running on the website. The picture it paints is not always complete, but it can help you find a underlying theme you like.
  • Google FontsAdobe Typekit
    A few years ago it wasn’t possible for all web browsers, but these days, in theory, it is possible to use almost every font on your WordPress website (which doesn’t mean that all fonts are ideal, load quickly or are readable on your website). Google fonts offers a growing selection of free fonts that you can use. If you are looking for a very specific font then Adobe Typekit may be a better option. You will pay an annual price, depending on the font. Lastly, you can turn your own fonts into web fonts. With the Webfont generator by Font Squirrel, for example.

Teamwerk

To keep the ball rolling for larger projects there is almost no escaping teamwork. The following tools really help us develop our WP websites in team.

  • Google Apps
    The complete suite of Google services is also provided for companies under the name ‘Google Apps’. E-mail, agenda’s, hangouts, analytics and contacts all run on user-friendly Google software, but under your own domain. Various extensions for Gmail (like Labelizer) make it possible to share e-mails within your team by using labels. We use this tool as task system at the moment.
  • LastPass (Enterprise)
    Indispensable when it comes to the safe keeping of your login details and those of your clients. Thanks to LastPass Enterprise we can also easily share logins within the team or change them safely. Very affordable and used by large companies like MailChimp and
  • GitLab
    To keep self-written code orderly and simple, we use GitLab as a version management system. GitLab is really a kind of open source GitHub alternative you can host yourself. By using GitLab multiple team members can work on the same project without getting in each other’s way.
  • Toggl
    A good timesheet isn’t just something your customers will appreciate; it helps you get better at estimating where the most time goes in a project. That’s why we use Toggl to track the hours we spend on a project. That way we can see, per project, if we are on schedule with our hours or if we need to make changes. Above all, customers gain insight in the time that was spent and how. Time tracking isn’t fun to do, but it is important.
  • Teamwork Projects
    For project management we used to use Basecamp Classic, a relatively old system (in internet terms). At a certain pointBasecamp Classic stopped meeting our needs because it wasn’t further developed. Teamwork Projects made it possible to transfer our entire archive from Basecamp Classic, so that we could keep all the history of our projects. Colleagues and customers can get access per project. There are to-do lists, where each task can be assigned to a colleague or customer.  You can confer with all involved parties per task. You can share files, messages and important milestones.

 

Stay informed

The WordPress landscape is constantly under development. To stay informed regarding new features, as well as upcoming changes, we recommend you put these websites in your bookmarks or subscribe to their mailinglists.

To close

Now that we have covered all kinds of tools, techniques, plugins and tips for WordPress, we would like to emphasize the most important tip we like to give WordPress professionals: keep it simple! Especially when you’re thinking of using a technically clever solution, always ask yourself: ‘is this not already lying around somewhere?’. Often the answer is yes, and your customers will be happy they don’t have to pay for re-inventing the wheel.  This will also enable you to spend more of your budget on making sure the content of the WordPress website is just right, and that is often more valuable to your client.

Do you use tools we haven’t named? Let us know in a response below!

WordPress plugins for main menus

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It is incredibly important to have good navigation on your WordPress website. In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of main menus, and some navigation plugins you can use on your WordPress website.

We’ll look at the following types of navigation menus:

Some links in this article contain affiliate code.

Default menu


A default main menu on a website simply consists of a row of buttons, for example ‘Home, Services, About us, Contact’. Essentially all WordPress themes support a default WordPress menu (except for some one-page themes). So, there’s no need to install any extra plugins for this navigation menu.


An example of a default menu

Horizontal or vertical menu?

A default menu can be placed either horizontally or vertically. Horizontal main menus are very common in WordPress themes, but if you want a really nice vertical menu, check out the free WordPress theme TwentyFifteen. Do you want the option to change from a horizontal to a vertical menu and back? Then it’s best to choose another theme. Don’t want to say goodbye to your beloved theme and still want a vertical menu? The plugins below are really worth giving a try:


A submenu is a menu that unfolds when you move your mouse over, or click on a main menu item. This gives you the possibility to include secondary menu items in your navigation menu that are not visible all the time. It keeps your main menu accessible and makes your layout more flexible. Plus, with WordPress you can create submenus for you website by just dragging and dropping.

Submenus are supported by almost all themes. Does your WordPress theme not support submenu? Below we’ll discuss a few plugins that can help you out.


Megamenu


A default submenu consists of 1 column of items. A megamenu offers the possibility to divide items among several columns, sometimes even with titles over every column. Also, megamenus frequently provide additional display options for the unfolded spaces, like a piece of text, forms, images, video’s, Google Maps, etc. By using a megamenu, you’re giving visitors an attractive navigation.

Our three favorite WordPress plugins for megamenu functionalities are:

Overlay menu / Full size menu


An overlay menu is not immediately visible, but appears when you click on a menu icon. The menu then covers the entirety of the screen. In this, an overlay menu looks very much like a mobile menu (see below), but it is also meant for larger screens. An overlay menu is useful when you don’t want the menu to distract too much when looking at the website, and vice versa, when the website shouldn’t distract while selecting something from the menu. Also, at times an overlay menu is used to make sure the user experience is the same on all devices, whether you’re on a mobile phone or on a desktop computer.

The following three plugins offer overlay functionalities:

Mobile menu / Hamburger menu


Obviously, your website should also (or especially!) work on mobile devices. Luckily, WordPress themes are almost all responsive, which means the screen width determines your website’s layout. Not only your website, but also your navigation menu should, of course, work properly on a mobile device. With the plugins below, you can make a separate design for your mobile menu and for larger screens (desktops and laptops). This may help improve the user experience, because you can give your mobile visitors just the menu items they need.

Thrive Themes: conversion-focused WordPress platform

In one week, three different people enthusiastically suggested ThriveThemes to us. It was time for a review: did we miss something? (Yes, we did!)

ThriveThemes is a company that offers themes and plugins that help you achieve a higher conversion on your website: like inviting your website visitor to become a reader of your newsletter. This way, you build a relationship with your readers, which allows you to convince them to become one of your customers. This makes ThriveThemes a good provider, especially if you want online results and you’re not afraid to do a bit of marketing. Below we will briefly discuss their themes, content builder ad leads plugin. These three elements form a complete and conversion-focused WordPress platform.

Some links in this article contain affiliate code. When you are a customer of Sowmedia you can use Thrive for free. 

ThriveThemes

The themes from ThriveThemes have simple designs, and focus on conversion. If you are looking for a theme that contains the latest innovations in design, then ThriveThemes is not what you are looking for. Are you looking for a fast website, that is easily made and focusses on online results? Continue reading.

The advantages of a Thrive theme:

  • Light code and automatic image compression that allow your website to load faster. They use Kraken.io for this, which normally costs $9,- per month, but is included, so it’s a nice cost reduction and one plugin less.
  • You can indicate “targeted focus areas”. This means, elements that stand out, such as a special offer to your visitors. Or forms that generate more clicks, which you can link to your favorite mailing list.
  • The readability of the themes has been optimized with enough white space and large, clear, legible letters.
  • The themes contain a landing page in the same design style, but without any of the website items. So, the header, navigation, links, sidebars and footer widgets don’t show, to keep the visitor from being distracted.
  • Completely mobile responsive and suitable for retina. Fonts, columns and icons scale nicely when changing screen size.
  • Fast loading social sharing buttons
  • Fast loading related messages, because they don’t generate while visiting the message, but while saving the message
  • Good integration with the Thrive Content Builder.

Thrive Content Builder

The Thrive Content Builder allows you to edit your website at the front end. This means, you can see what a text is going to look like while you’re typing. So, What You See is really What You Get. At first, it takes a bit of fidgeting to get the element in the right place. But practice makes perfect. You can use the Thrive Content Builder in any theme, so also when it’s not a theme from Thrive. For people with HTML knowledge, it is possible to see the entre code in HTML. You don’t really need this, but it can give you more insight, which is nice if you know how to work with HTML. The HTML code is very clean, by the way.

The elements included in the Thrive Content Builder are:

  • Lists with bullet points in various designs
  • Columns
  • Embedding Responsive Video
  • Easily building HTML tables
  • Feature Grids (blocks with images or icons)
  • Content Tabs & Toggles
  • Option to add Google Maps code
  • Stars for reviews
  • Countdown Timers
  • Opt-in Forms
  • Automatic table of contents in a page
  • Adding your own HTML & CSS

As you can see they have again chosen to not offer every functionality imaginable. If you are looking for a content builder with more and more enhanced functionalities, we always recommend Enfold or one of the themes from Elegant Themes. Are the abovementioned elements enough to show all your content, then the Thrive Content Builder is definitely recommendable. The great advantage of the Thrive Content Builder is that you immediately see the result. So, you don’t have to switch back and forth between the front and the back end. Also, it’s nice that the Thrive Content Builder offers several landing pages. These are pages without the regular elements, that focus entirely on getting results (for example: signing up for a course, newsletter, etc.). Sadly, it is not very extensive and the design can be a bit plain. So, I particularly recommend the Thrive Content Builder to those who are now using a rather user-unfriendly theme that doesn’t offer any nice conversion-focused elements.

Below I will show a short video on how to make a new page with the Thrive Content Builder.

Thrive Leads

With Thrive Leads you can create different opt-in forms and/or special offers with a drag and drop editor. Even if you are not using a Thrive Theme or Thrive Content Builder, this can be a very nice supplement to your current WordPress website. With Thrive Leads you can generate leads more easily by using ‘forms’. There are various forms:

Popup Lightbox
tl-form-type-1

A lightbox that opens on your page

“Sticky” Ribbon
tl-form-type-2
At the top of your page a clear deal or offer.

In-Line Forms
tl-form-type-3
A form at the bottom of your page.

2 step opt-in form
tl-form-type-4

This form will show in a light box, when you click a button.

Slide-In
tl-form-type-5
This form slides into your page.

Opt-In Widget
tl-form-type-6
This way you place a form in a widget.

Targetting with Thrive Leads

targeting-3hrough targeting, you can indicate where and when you want a form to show. For example, with all messages/pages, or just with a certain message category or only with a certain message/page. This is convenient, because you can create an offer that is relevant to the content shown. In Thrive Leads, you can see which are your most important messages (the ones that create the most traffic) and for those messages you can make a specific offer (also called “content-upgrade”).

A/B testing with Thrive Leads

With the A/B testing engine you can test different forms/offers. You can test different designs & content. You can test triggers, for example a popup after 3 seconds, or when the visitor as scrolled down 50%, or when it looks like the visitor is about to leave the page. Also, you can test the results of different form types. For example, a lightbox popup vs. a Slide-in form. The great thing is, that you can configure this all at once and then Thrive Leads automatically lets you pick a winner, as soon as enough data has been collected. In the video below, Thrive Leads is explained further.

Want to try ThriveThemes?

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Do you want to try ThriveThemes, Thrive Content Builder and/or Thrive Leads? When you are a customer of Sowmedia, you can use the whole package for free. Call us (010-4654444) or send us an e-mail. Not yet a customer? Get our premium hosting and you too will get the whole package for free. This way you save $147,- per year. Place a comment on your experience with Thrive below. We’d love to hear from you!

5 WordPress tips you (possibly) did not know

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At WpUpgraders we work with WordPress every day. And every day, we try to keep each other on our toes by sharing new tips and discoveries about WordPress with each other. We also like to share these things on our blog. So, here we have five tips for WordPress you (possibly) did not know.

1. Two-factor authentication for WordPress

Many people are still using unsafe passwords on the internet. This increases their chances of being hacked enormously, because hackers can easily find out your passwords through automated guessing. Two-step verification demands two actions before successfully signing into your account, for example, using a password and entering a code you have on your phone. So if a hacker where to ever guess your password, he would still be unable to sign in, because he would need your phone for the second step.

You can get two-factor authentication for WordPress for free with the Google Authenticator plugin. On your smartphone you install the Google Authenticator App, which generates the code you need to enter after logging in. After having completed these two steps, you get access to the WordPress admin. There’s a payed alternative for Google Authenticator called Duo.

2. Selecting several messages or pages at once

Sometimes you have to select a whole list of messages or pages in WordPress at once, to edit or remove them. Did you know you can select more

than one message at the time by pressing and holding SHIFT? Then you press and hold CTRL (or CMD on a Mac) which allows you to check and uncheck individual messages.

This way you can quickly move several messages or pages to trash at the same time.

3. Ping-o-matic

Maybe you’ve never heard of Ping-o-matic, but every WordPress user is using this free service. It informs search engines when you publish a message or page. This way, search engines can include your update in their search results almost immediately after you’ve posted it.

But you don’t always want this to happen right away. Maybe you want it to be included in the search results a bit later. In this case, it’s good to know that you can easily deactivate these notifications to Ping-o-matic. In WordPress you go to Settings > Writing and you remove the address http://rpc.pingomatic.com/ from the text field below ‘Update Services’.

Please note that you only prevent your messages from being sent to search engines immediately. Your messages will still be indexed, but at a later time (because search engines also visit your website on their own). Do you not want your website to appear in the search results at all? Then go to Settings > Reading and check the box at the bottom: ‘Discourage search engines from indexing this site’.

4. Preview your Widgets and Menus

When editing a blog or page, you can click on ‘Customize’ to see a preview of what your changes are going to look like, before publishing them and making them visible to visitors. But how do you do this with Widgets and Menus?

Since WordPress 4.3 it’s possible to preview the changes you’ve made to your Menus and Widgets. In WordPress, go to Appearance > Customizer to see your website with an extra sidebar on the left. You can just click through your website; the sidebar stays visible. In the Customizer, you click on Menus or Widgets and make the changes you want to make. You immediately see the effect of the changes you’re making to your website. When you are satisfied with the result, you click on ‘Save’, after which your changes will be published.

5. Pasting hyperlinks in a text

When you write many blogs, you will probably sometimes link to other websites. The usual way to do this in WordPress is by selecting the desired part of the text, clicking on the link icon, entering the URL, and clicking on ‘Add link’. But did you know there is a faster way?

Usually you’ve already copied the URL to which you want to direct your reader. Now select the text you want to use as a link and press CTRL-V (or CMD-V on a Mac).

Your selected text will now become a link to the address you had copied earlier. Easy peasy!

Do you have any good tips? Please tell us below!

10 websites that sell WordPress themes

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For a few years, we’ve been commenting the best places to buy WordPress themes. In the past, we tried to make a complete list of all the selling websites. That’s no longer possible. WordPress themes are now sold by tens of thousands of sellers on thousands of websites. An article like Where can I buy the best WordPress themes in 2013 (Dutch) can no longer be rewritten; we needed a new angle.

That is why we’ve selected a couple of websites that stand out to us. Websites we personally go to when we need a theme. This means we’ve kept a few well-known theme-providers out of the picture, because we didn’t think their WordPress themes to be attractive enough. On the other hand, we’ve included a few small providers with very appealing WordPress themes.

Some links in this blog contain affiliate code.

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Ten websites, thousands of WordPress themes


The largest marketplace with quality WordPress themes.

  • Type: marketplace
  • WordPress themes: 5.500+
  • Price: $40 – $60 per theme
  • Customers: > 5 million

Visit ThemeForest.net »

In the past few years, Themeforest has become one of the most popular marketplaces for WordPress themes. Themeforest is part of Envato. This Australian company launched several marketplaces for online products in 2006. Themeforest was one of them. At Themeforest, you could buy templates/themes for various CMSs, WordPress among others, but especially the sale of WordPress themes increased strongly. Now this is by far the largest source of income for all of Envato.

Pros

  • Largest offer;more than 5.600 WordPress themes, so the widest range of quality themes.
  • Price; themes never cost more than $60 which makes them relatively cheap.
  • Flexible; many WordPress themes are sold as construction kit/framework (so-called multi-purpose themes). Themeforest themes are leading with this concept.
  • Strict quality criteria for authors (theme sellers).
  • Tools; Envato offers many development tools to authors. This increases the quality.

Cons

  • Not user-friendly; ThemeForest WordPress themes are often very elaborate. Theme builders keep adding more functionalities to compete with other providers. These functionalities can be convenient, but they also make many WordPress themes very complicated to use. It becomes harder to learn how to use these themes and the strength of WordPress as a user-friendly CMS is under threat. It makes the themes more suitable for experienced users and less for beginners.
  • Updates & support; with ThemeForest you pay a one-time fee per theme per website. After this, you get unlimited support and updates for this theme. On the short run, this looks like an attractive deal to users. On the long run, it doesn’t. What this means, is that new customers pay for the updates & support of old customers. When the demand for a certain theme decreases, providers will soon lower their budget to keep providing good maintenance & support. So, sellers have very little interest in providing long-term support for WordPress themes.
  • Little consistency; every WordPress theme has a different working method, for example for configuring theme settings. This makes using WordPress themes more complicated than necessary. By the way, WordPress is working on improving this, but in our opinion Envato should show a little more initiative here.

Tips

There are thousands of sellers on ThemeForest alone. So how do you make sure you can still see the forest for the trees?

  1. Look at the popular WordPress themes. The sales numbers are an indication of the quality other buyers attribute to these themes. Also, the seller will have a higher budget to keep updating the theme.
  2. Look at WordPress themes of popular suppliers. On the seller’s pages you’ll find a Portfolio tab. This leads you to the themes of this particular supplier.
  3. Judge themes on: release date, last update and the number of sales. Find out what others say about the theme (under comments) and what kind of support is included.
  4. Don’t be misled by the number of functionalities. If it has many functionalities, this doesn’t always mean the theme is better.


Best price-quality ratio & powerful flagship theme DIVI.

  • Type: developer
  • WordPress themes: 87+
  • Price: $69 for all themes
  • Customers: > 280.000

Visit ElegantThemes.com »

Nick Roach from Elegant Themes started making free WordPress themes in 2008. Due to popularity, he also started selling the WordPress themes. Now this company from San Fransisco employs over 20 people. Elegant Themes has always distinguished itself by offering the most themes at the lowest price. For $69 you can use all of their (87+) themes for a year. This way you have access to themes that allow you to make a wide range of websites.

Elegant Themes’ Flagship is their theme DIVI. DIVI is somewhat comparable to Enfold, the theme/framework that we use to develop many websites. This allows you to build your website block by block. You don’t have to be able to program to construct a very flexible website. Currently not many new themes are being published, but DIVI is continually being developed.

An interesting feature of Elegant Themes is that you can try it out. You need to buy it first, but they have a money-back guarantee. You can ask for a refund within 30 days.


Mostly suitable for beginners with the need of a niche theme. Recently became active on the flexible layout editors market with Monstroid.

  • Type: developer
  • WordPress themes: 1200+
  • Price: $75 per theme
  • Customers: thousands

Visit TemplateMonster.com »

TemplateMonster offers several online products, among which are website templates and WordPress themes. The TemplateMonster themes are very popular, because they look good and are customized for specific audiences. The TemplateMonster themes are not market leaders when it comes to technical innovations. For example, it took TemplateMonster rather long to switch to responsive design. Now, all new themes are built on the CherryFramework. Just like Enfold and DIVI, TemplateMonster offers the possibility to work with a page builder. However, the MotoPress Drag and Drop Editor has to be purchased separately ($29).

We advise you to buy a theme from TemplateMonster when you really like the design and you don’t have the desire or the ability to do much fine-tuning. TemplateMonster offers all kinds of additional payed services, such as installing themes and adaptions to plugins and design. This makes the TemplateMonster especially suitable for beginners.


Relatively new marketplace of online products with a growing number of sellers and WordPress quality themes.

  • Type: marketplace
  • WordPress themes: 1.850+
  • Price: $25 – $79 per theme
  • Members: > 1 million

Visit CreativeMarket.com »

This new marketplace distinguishes itself from, among others, it’s older brother ThemeForest, because it allows providers to also sell their WordPress themes without restrictions on their own website. Furthermore, the WordPress themes on Creative Market are sold based on a GPL license. This means that after buying the theme, you can use it any way you want. With ThemeForest you’re only allowed to use the theme on one installation. That is why several smaller theme providers that have their own marketplace also sell their themes on this website.


The official WordPress theme directory on WordPress.org with the largest selection of free themes.

  • Type: marketplace
  • WordPress themes: 1.900+
  • Price: many free themes, some with payed upgrade options
  • Users: millions

Visit the WordPress Theme Directory »

Until recently, most themes from the WordPress Theme Directory were viewed as unattractive and outdated. This has changed enormously, however. More and more, we run into nice themes that can be downloaded for free from the Theme Directory. This is because of the business model that is used by many of the suppliers. The basic version of the WordPress theme is free, but if you want extra functionalities, you can buy a professional version. Especially when you need to control your budget, we recommend you first look through this Theme Directory for a suitable theme.


WordPress themes for the business market. Minimalistic in design & technology.

  • Type: developer
  • WordPress themes: 20+
  • Price: 2 themes for $69
  • Customers: unknown

Visit ThemeTrust.com »

ThemeTrust was founded in 2010 by the internet entrepreneur Henry Jones. The company (about 4 people) offers a nice range of 20+ themes. Their setup is minimalistic and their functionality is simple, which makes them highly suitable for beginners. The ThemeTrust themes can be used for more than one purpose, but we think the look and functionality of these WordPress themes are mostly suitable for business purposes


Sharp design for video, photography and magazine websites.

  • Type: developer
  • WordPress themes: 20+
  • Price: $75 per theme
  • Customers: >30.000

Visit Press75 »

Press75 may be one of the first premium theme suppliers. The company was founded by Jason Schuller in 2008. Jason wanted to offer minimalistic no-nonsense themes: the theme has to determine the website’s layout; the functionalities should be configured through plugins. Despite the great start his company made, he could not compete with other suppliers that overloaded their themes with functionalities. In 2014 Jason sold his website to Westwerk Design, a web agency in Minneapolis. What appeals to us most in these themes is their neat design and simplicity.


Modern design themes that are easy to use.

  • Type: developer
  • WordPress themes: 120+
  • Price: from $69
  • Customers: > 50.000

Visit OrganicThemes.com »

Organic Themes is a company from San Diego that sells WordPress themes since the beginning of 2010. Now, Organic Themes employs four people. The company has always worked closely with WordPress.com. They have contributed greatly to the availability of quality themes on WordPress.com. Which has benefited them enormously. They claim to now have over 50.000 customers, one of which is us. What we really like about these WordPress themes is the way they combine design and simplicity.


Simple visually attractive themes for small foundations, churches and restaurants.

  • Type: developer
  • WordPress themes: 17
  • Price: $59 for 2 themes
  • Clients: unknown

Visit OrganizedThemes.com »

The man behind Organized Themes is Bill Robbins, originally a preacher. With this background in mind, you can understand the way these themes are set up especially for small foundations and churches. The themes are visually attractive and are limited when it comes to adjustment options. This makes them suitable for beginning users and small foundations/churches. The themes include a GPL license.


Visually attractive designs. The themes are meant for many different audiences.

  • Type: developer
  • WordPress themes: 30+
  • Price: from $45
  • You can test the themes before buying them

Visit Themefuse.com »

ThemeFuse was founded in 2010 by four men in Bucharest, Romania. Besides purchasing WordPress themes from ThemeFuse, they also offer customization for each theme. The company also tries to stand out by offering excellent support. We really like the original design of their themes. They’re not completely different from standard themes, but they are different from those of other suppliers. What separates their themes from the others is that they focus on a specific audience/functionality.

WordPress themes and plugins for the hotel and catering industry

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If you are the owner of a hotel, bed-and-breakfast, restaurant, café or any other business in the hospitality sector, you can use WordPress to make a beautiful website. But which themes and plugins should you use? In this article, we’ve listed the pros and cons of some popular themes for the hotel and catering industry and recommend some additional plugins to make your online service successful

Some links in this article contain affiliate code.

WordPress themes for the hotel and catering industry

Online you can find thousands of WordPress themes for restaurants, coffee shops, diners, bed-and-breakfasts, etc. But which one is most suitable for your company? We’re giving you an overview of the most popular WordPress themes for hotel and catering businesses.

Divi Café ($ 69 per year)



Divi Café is a beautiful complete theme for cafés and restaurants from ElegantThemes. The theme contains a digital menu, online ordering options and lots of space for nice product photography.

Pros:

  • Digital menu
  • Ordering online
  • WooCommerce integration
  • Great design
  • Contact form
  • Responsive

Cons:

  • Payment module not included by default
  • Reservations/schedule module not included by default

MyCuisine ($ 69 per year)



MyCuisine is a complete theme for restaurants from ElegantThemes. The theme contains a digital menu and a page for contact information, including your location on Google Maps.

Pros:

  • Digital menu
  • Google Maps
  • Many settings options
  • Contact form
  • Responsive

Cons:

  • Payment module not included as standard
  • Reservations/schedule module not included as standard

Enfold ($ 59 one-time)



Enfold is our favorite WordPress theme, and is also suitable for restaurants. With the floorplan and reservation form, your customers can book their own table in your restaurant. Furthermore, Enfold can be expanded with many plugins.

Pros:

  • Multipurpose design
  • Floor plan with reservation form
  • Many settings options
  • Contact form
  • Responsive

Cons:

  • No digital menu
  • No ordering module
  • Booking module does not block the times that are fully booked

Restaurant ($ 69 per year)



Restaurant Theme from Organic Themes is simple and to-the-point. The fact that you can make a very elaborate menu with this theme, makes it very attractive. The contact form is limited and depends on the Gravity Forms plugin, which is not included ($ 39 per year).

Pros:

  • Simple design
  • Elaborate digital menu
  • Contact form
  • Responsive

Cons:

  • No ordering module
  • No booking module
  • Contact form only possible with external plugin

Hotel California ($ 59 one-time)



Hotel California is a very complete WordPress theme for hotels, hostels and bed-and-breakfasts. The theme offers the possibility to show different rooms, that can also be booked. It includes a calculator, so visitors can quickly calculate the price of their stay.

Pros:

  • Design offers space for photography
  • Booking and reservation module for rooms
  • WooCommerce integration possible
  • Price calculator
  • Responsive

Cons:

  • No payment module

Starhotel ($ 49 one-time)



Starhotel is a WordPress hotels theme with a clean design. The included booking module has a prominent position and you can easily add rooms with a specific price per room.

Pros:

  • Design offers lots of space for photography
  • Booking and reservation module for rooms
  • Prices adjustable per room
  • Responsive

Cons:

  • No payment module
  • Booking module does not block the times that are fully booked

Grand Restaurant ($ 59 one-time)



Grand Restaurant offers lots of space for photo impressions. The theme contains a menu for your products, including ordering options when you’re using WooCommerce. Also, the theme has a simple reservation module.

Pros:

  • Design offers space for photography
  • Simple booking and reservation module
  • Ordering products via webstore
  • Responsive

Cons:

  • No payment module
  • Booking module does not block the times that are fully booked

Piquant ($ 59 one-time)



With Piquant you can choose from different website layouts for your restaurant/café. You can describe your recipes and ingredients, and have your visitors book a table. Visitors can also purchase products online, using WooCommerce.

Pros:

  • Practical menu description
  • Booking and reservation module for tables
  • Elaborate descriptions of recipes and ingredients
  • Responsive

Cons:

  • No payment module
  • Booking module does not block the times that are fully booked

WordPress plugins for the hotel and catering industry

Hotel and catering businesses often need additional functionalities on their WordPress website. Think of a booking system for a bed-and-breakfast, a reservation module for a diner, an online menu and payment methods for a take-away and ordering forms for ordering online. Not every theme contains all the functionalities you need. That is why we describe a few plugins you can use as an addition to your WordPress theme to complete the website for your restaurant or café.


WooCommerce adds a webstore functionality to WordPress. This allows customers to buy meals, but also to pay for the reservation of their room or apartment. Plus, there are loads of plugins and extensions for WooCommerce, so it has many possibilities.

Pros:

  • Free base product
  • E-commerce integrates with WordPress
  • Many plugins and extensions
  • Many themes are compatible with WooCommerce

Cons:

  • The base product is free, but the extensions are usually not
  • Complex software, also read our webstore comparison

Gravity Forms ($ 39 per year)


Our favorite plugin for building webforms is so extensive that it can even be used as a basic ordering system. Are you subletting a few rooms per month? Don’t get into an entire webstore package, but start out with Gravity Forms. With a few clicks, you create an ordering form, place it on your ordering page, and you’re ready to go.

Pros:

  • Easy installment
  • Drag and drop form builder
  • Conditional logic offers many possibilities
  • Elaborate online documentation
  • Many themes support styling for Gravity Forms

Cons:

  • The form styling is not very modern

Pinpoint Booking System ($ 50 one-time)


With Pinpoint Booking System you can process the reservations of, for example, rooms on your website, including payment. The plugin is very useful for, for example, hotels and bed-and-breakfasts.

Pros:

  • Very versatile plugin with many options
  • Organized back end
  • Can be linked with payment module (Mollie)
  • Options to add discounts, additional costs and upsells

Cons:

  • For price exceptions (per room), you need to create separate forms
  • Configuring the plugin takes some time

BirchPress Scheduler ($ 75 per year)


Just like with Pinpoint Booking System, you can use BirchPress Scheduler to handle the reservations and payments of the tables or rooms on your website. Additionally, BirchPress offers synchronization with an external schedule, so you can also see the reservations, for example, on your phone. This plugin is exceptionally suitable for restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts.

Pros:

  • Elaborate plugin with many settings options
  • Link to external schedule feed
  • Organized backend
  • Many payment modules possible

Cons:

  • It takes some time to get to know the plugin
  • Payment modules via WooCommerce are versatile, but complex

Booked Appointments ($ 34 one-time)


Booked Appointments is a lesser-known, but a very nice plugin with a clean design, that may be exactly what you need for some target groups. Visitors can pick a date, schedule a time slot, and then leave their contact info. Optionally they can even make a payment with a WooCommerce payment module.

Pros:

  • Plugin has a clean design
  • Compact display of schedule and dates
  • Can be synchronized with an external schedule feed
  • Many payment modules possible
  • Form fields are configurable

Cons:

  • External schedule feed is read-only (reservations are not saved into the schedule)
  • Plugin is not easily extended with add-ons

Do you have another tip? Please tell us below!

18 Tools for WordPress Hosting, Maintenance and Management

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When hosting, maintaining and managing hundreds of WordPress websites for our customers on a daily basis, you’ll need to guarantee stability for all these websites. To have them operate smoothly and safely you can use of a variety of tools. In this article we will go over the most important techniques and explain how we keep everything in-sync.

Note: Some of the provided links have an affiliate code.

WordPress hosting and maintenance: the ultimate worry-free solution

Our goal is to completely unburden our customers when it comes to WordPress. Practically, this means we take care of all the technical hassle so our clients only have to focus on the content of their website. This way, they don’t have to worry about WordPress hosting, updates, security or speed, because we got it all covered. Now, what tools do we use to accomplish all this?

Hosting

Managed WordPress hosting

We buy our hosting from the best Premium WordPress hosting parties, and continually and carefully look at the safety, stability and speed of their servers, and the quality of their support. Should we be able to guarantee a better speed on a different server, we may transfer websites between hosting parties.

Currently, we buy Premium WordPress hosting from WpEngine (starting at $29 pm) and Kinsta (starting at $100 pm for 1 website), among other hosting parties. In any case, we make sure we get the best match, which will depend on the specific requirements and requests of our clients.
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Managing

Making Sites Maintenance ready

Many clients that want us to maintain their website, have modified their WordPress theme. This often results in an inability on our side to update their theme without loosing the modifications they have made. This is why the first important step to prepare websites for our maintenance program, is to split the modifications into a parent theme (the original theme) and a child theme (the modifications made to the theme). This makes it safer and easier to update the parent theme without losing the modifications set in the child theme.

Once new clients are added to our program, we thoroughly verify whether or not hackers have had access to the installation. We also double-check if all users make use of complex passwords. Thirdly, we check if the installed plugins are malware free, non-conflicting and up-to-date. At times we may advise our clients to give up a certain plugin in exchange for a more solid solution.

InfiniteWP

Our update policy is an important aspect of our service. By virtue of performing controlled, daily updates, we guarantee the safety of our WordPress websites. All safety updates of plugins, themes and WordPress itself, are directly executed by us. For this daily taks we make use of  InfiniteWP (free, with add-ons at extra cost), enabling us to access and manage all of our WordPress websites within one interface, regardless where a website is hosted at that time.

In this central control system we can see how many updates are ready to be installed per website, and can perform these updates directly from a central admin panel without having to log into each separate website. We also check the impact of each update, and whether changes have an effect on the performance of the corresponding website. This way we resolve any issue that a new update may cause. All this is part of our service.

Other than that, InfiniteWP gives us the ability to clone a website, make backups, login directly, perform malware scans, install and activate multiple plugins at once, and much more. To cut a long story short: InfiniteWP is the linchpin in our centralized WordPress management system.

Plugins

Kraken.io

Images on a website are prone to take up a lot of loading time. By making use of image optimisation, we aim to limit file sizes to a minimum. For this we use Kraken.io (starting at $ 5 pm), a service that optimizes GIF, JPG, PNG and SVG files without any visible loss of quality. We use the Kraken Image Optimizer (free) plugin on every website, which automatically compresses every uploaded image, causing images of our clients to load over 50% faster.

Gravity Forms

Contact, sign up or request forms are indispensable for virtually every website we manage. There are but few WordPress form plugins that offer as many options as Gravity Forms (starting at $ 99 per year for multiple sites). Our clients use this plugin for many purposes. This is why we have a Developer License for Gravity Forms, enabling all of our clients to make use of this versatile plugin.

Akismet

Akismet (starting at $ 50 pm for multiple sites) is a spamfilter for WordPress websites that checks responses and form submissions. For this plugin we also have an Enterprise license, automatically filtering all comments, responses, requests and form submissions of all our clients.

Yoast SEO

We also install the Yoast SEO plugin (free) plugin for all websites of our clients. Another vital plugin to improve the findability of your website. With this plugin you can indicate each page’s title and a summery, and then immediately view how this would show up in Googles search results.

Monitoring

Uptime Robot

Uptime Robot (starting at $ 5,50 p/m) is an online service set up to verify whether a website is still up. Every website we host is being monitored via Uptime Robot. As soon as a website shows downtime, we are notified and can immediately investigate what is causing the site to be down.

Uptime Robot enables us to swiftly take action in case a site causes trouble. This way, the actual time a website is unavailable is significantly minimised. Uptime Robot also builds its own history, enabling us to compare the amount of downtime of multiple WordPress hosting providers over an extended period of time. Added to this, we are given insight into which websites are downtime prone. This, then, helps us to zoom in on specific problems so we can solve them.

Broken Link Checker

Once a website is transferred or going life, we double-check the links used on the site by virtue of Broken Link Checker (free). In some cases, we keep this plugin activated to be able to perform routine checks. Whenever links on a website are troublesome or no longer active, this WordPress plugin will notify us instantly via email.

Visual Monitor

Sometimes a website may be available and operative, but certain elements cease to operate as they should, like a slider that doesn’t function or a widget that suddenly disappeared. Logically, Uptime Robot won’t pick up on such inconsistencies. For this reason we have an additional monitoring system set up, that makes multiple screenshot per day of each website we host. This system then compares each screenshot with the previous one, and notifies us promptly when it detects any visual discrepancies. As a result, we can investigate what is going on as soon as part of a site changes or disappears.

Maintenance Mode Monitor

‘Maintenance-mode’ is selected by default when WordPress is updated. During such an update, visitors are shown a white background with a notice that the website is currently under maintenance. This notification only last seconds, for as soon as the update is completed, maintenance mode is deactivated. However, once in a while, it may occur that an update cannot be completed, which then results in WordPress staying in ‘maintenance-mode’.

To counter this we have developed a ‘maintenance-mode-detection’ in our visual detection system, which alerts us as soon as unusual quantities of ‘white’ are found in a screenshot. This detection also traces other issues (like a website that refuses to load completely), making it a valuable addition to the visual monitor mentioned before.

Robots.txt monitor

Search engines look for a file called ‘robots.txt’ on every website. For example https://www.wpupgrader.com/robots.txt. The ‘robots.txt’ file dictates which pages of your site may or may not be indexed by search engines. WordPress automatically generates this file for you. This, however, also causes you to have little of no influence on changes made within this file. Should this file store the wrong kind of information, then search engines may by default ignore you when indexing the internet. This is, of course, fatal when you want people to find you easily and swiftly. Our ‘robots.txt monitor’ checks whether each websites is configured correctly and alerts us as soon as it detects changes in this file.

PageSpeed monitor

For search engine optimalization (SEO) Google measures speed and optimisation by virtue of a so-called PageSpeed score. For this reason a fourth monitor is installed for all websites: the Google PageSpeed monitor.

Several times a day we verify the Google PageSpeed score of a website. As soon as major shifts are detected, we are alerted so we can investigate the reason behind an irregular score. Particularly when the PageSpeed score drops drastically all of a sudden, it is crucial that we find out why as soon as possible. The PageSpeed monitor helps us to inform our clients promptly when the alterations they make to their site negatively affect their score.

Dashing.io

Dashing (free). With Dashing multiple widgets can be projected onto a dashboard. Such a dashboard gives us a clean-cut overview of up and downtime monitors, pending updates, and much more. Instant alerts are given when one of our sites is down, or when there is an outage.

Dashing is open-source, but definitely a must for programmers. Dashboard is written in Ruby, Coffeescript, HTML and CSS. Additionally, you will find quite an extensive list of widgets for Dashing on GitHub, many of which can be installed as is.

Optimisation

CDN

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a server network that stores and delivers static content. By saving static content (images, scripts) in a CDN, visitors are able to load your website much faster because different segments of your site are delivered simultaneously from multiple servers. We make use of several CDNs, in accordance with the demands of our customer. Widely used CDNs are MaxCDN (starting at $9 p/m) and CloudFlare (free with paid add-ons). MaxCDN can be easily installed with an optimalisation plugin (read below), while CloudFlare is a bit more complicated in set up.

Optimisation Plugins

To improve the speed of a WordPress website a proper optimisation plugin is indispensable. Such a plugin first of all offers proper caching; a technique that memorizes frequently visited pages in order to prevent them from having to be rebuilt by the server every single time, thereby cutting loading time short. There are Premium Hosting companies that will handle caching themselves.
An optimisation plugin can equally help to combine and compress HTML, JavaScript en CSS, causing a webpage to load faster as it then consists of fewer files.

Lastly, linking a CDN is another option. In doing so, the plugin automatically loads images and other static content (like scripts) via the CDN.

Generally, we use two different optimisation plugins: WP Rocket (starting at $99 p/y for multiple websites) or W3 Total Cache. WP Rocket is conveniently simple to manage, works out-of-the-box, and automates many things. For more complexer websites we use W3 Total Cache, as it has more configuration options, like for instance specific script handling.

40 WordPress themes for portfolio websites

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Are you a photographer, a designer or an artist eager to show your portfolio on your website? In that case, WordPress can help you set up a dazzling website without too much effort! Many WordPress themes will do fine, presenting your portfolio. In fact, most themes have a built-in portfolio function.

However, when you want your portfolio to take a prominent place on your homepage, the following themes really stand out:

Our Top 40 Selection of WordPress Portfolio Themes

7 front-end editors for WordPress

We’re comparing 8 WordPress front-end editors. Which editor plugin has the most to offer really gives you the what you see is what you get experience?

9 WordPress themes for weddings

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Your wedding is the most beautiful day of your life, and with WordPress you can easily make a website for your wedding. There are beautiful wedding themes available for WordPress. But which one should you choose? In this article, we gladly give you a pro-con list of popular wedding WordPress themes that can complement your wedding day.

Some links in this article contain affiliate code.

Best Day ($ 49)



Best Day is a beautiful and simple WordPress theme for weddings. The theme contains a contact form and space for beautiful photography.

Characteristics:

  • Nice animation in the slider
  • Typical wedding backgrounds
  • Enough space for large images
  • Contact form with flowers
  • Countdown timer to the wedding day
  • Themes for people from different cultures
  • Gift page for bride and groom
  • Responsive

Idylle ($ 49)



Idylle is a complete theme for hipsters with wedding plans. The theme contains a special gallery where you can import your wedding pictures.

Characteristics:

  • Background music
  • Full screen slider
  • Countdown timer to the wedding day
  • Original contact form
  • Unique photo gallery for your wedding photos
  • Flower animation appearing on your screen
  • Gift page for bride and groom
  • Responsive



Celebration is our favorite WordPress theme for weddings. With this theme, you can tell your own story about your wedding.

Characteristics:

  • Elegant design
  • Nice fonts
  • Selection of functional templates
  • Modern theme
  • Built-in Instagram integration
  • Tell your wedding story in a creative way
  • Responsive

Moments ($ 59)



Moments is a simple and peaceful theme for weddings. It has simplicity with very many possibilities, even the option of a webstore!

Characteristics:

  • Simple design
  • Modern peaceful fonts
  • Contact form
  • Large selection of icons
  • The ‘Home Announcement II’ layout offers hand-written typography
  • Webstore
  • Responsive



Wedding Suite Rose is a one-page WordPress theme. It has a nice and peaceful look, which is exactly right for a wedding.

Characteristics:

  • Design with many frills and swirls
  • Registration form to RSVP for the wedding
  • Guest book page, very nice for after the wedding day
  • Space for the wedding story
  • Wedding blog
  • Responsive



Wedding Suite Violet is a WordPress theme for weddings with a clean design with nice details and embellishments.

Characteristics:

  • Design with room for photography
  • Appropriate wedding illustrations
  • Prominent place for bridesmaids and groomsmen
  • Registration form to RSVP for the wedding
  • Responsive
  • Google maps integration

WeddingEngine ($ 49 per year)



WeddingEngine is a very elegant WordPress theme. It has a creative look on composition which has a playful effect on the website. Also, the typography and images complement each other nicely.

Characteristics:

  • Design with room for photography
  • Unusual compositions
  • Unique contact form
  • Countdown timer to the wedding day
  • Appropriate scenic images
  • Responsive



The Wedding Day offers you a nostalgic WordPress theme that suits a simple wedding.

Characteristics:

  • Classical website design
  • Nice illustrations on the website
  • You can add your name directly to the guest list
  • Countdown timer to the wedding day
  • Gift page for bride and groom
  • Photo gallery of the wedding
  • Responsive

InLove ($ 49)



With InLove you can choose different layouts for your wedding website. The guests can see your wish list and look at the wedding location.

Characteristics:

  • Snowflake animation in the slider
  • Countdown timer to the wedding day
  • Elegant fonts for the headings
  • Registration form to RSVP for the wedding
  • Gift page
  • Responsive