WP Chick Kim Doyal covers content marketing, content promotion, lead generation, and Google Tag Manager.
Meetup members wanted to know how Beaver Builder ($99 for personal license) differs from Visual Composer ($34 for single-site license), apart from the fact that you can use Beaver Builder on unlimited sites. Robby said that people who had used both had told him the Beaver Builder interface was nicer and easier to grasp, but that the biggest thing is that if you deactivate or uninstall the plugin, your page is not left full of meaningless shortcodes.
Instead, Beaver Builder converts your content into HTML within the WordPress editor, removing all divs and layout information but retaining heading tags, italics, lists, and media.
There was some discussion about whether it might be possible to export specific layouts for use in building themes, without requiring the plugin. (ACF does something like this.)
As there are several Genesis fans in the group, people wanted to know about using Beaver Builder with Genesis. Lots of people in fact do this, and some also use Beaver Builder with the Dynamik website builder for Genesis. (Beaver builder aims to modify the content within a post or a page, rather than your theme as a whole, which is what Dynamik tweaks.) There is a free plugin called Genesis Dambuster to make integration easier.
You will, however, have to use the Beaver Builder theme in order to take advantage of the pre-made templates.
Sallie found she was able to create a simple landing page for a client based on one of said pre-made templates after the 5-minute tour, though she needed help with turning off the sticky header. Fortunately there’s a helpful Beaver Builder community on Slack to answer questions like that.
Chris Burbridge is actually teaching classes on using Beaver Builder, for anyone interested.
This is an expanded version of the “Not Everyone Is a WordPress Expert” talk that I gave at WordCamp Sacramento in November. In it, I cover the developer-client disconnect about the difficulty of WordPress and several approaches we can take to making WordPress more client-friendly.
For the December meetup I added a discussion of Calypso (not yet released at the time of WCSAC) and more in-depth coverage of the Editus plugin from Aesop Interactive. (TL;DR: Calypso is cool but as is won’t be likely to help our clients much, whereas Editus is extremely promising.) I also briefly mentioned the Snowball plugin from the Open HTML Group.
I also had a chance to use Beaver Builder on a real client site, from which I concluded that in most cases this is a tool to make WordPress easier for the people who build the sites than the people we build them for.
Fred Meyer from WP Shout joined us via Skype to give his presentation (also seen at WC Denver) on “What I learned about WordPress development by interviewing
15 13 of the best WordPress developers.”
Good WordPress code is not distinguished by difficulty, innovation, or cleverness. The key to good code is clarity. Will someone who looks at your code know what you were trying to do and why? Will you know if you come back to it 6 months later? Can your code serve as a good example for people who are learning to code?
Persistence and curiosity are qualities you need in order to become a good developer. The need to understand why and how code works, it will motivate you to learn. You develop skill through continued practice. You don’t have to be a genius to be a WordPress developer. You just have to keep working at becoming better.
Don’t chase the shiny. Once you have found tools that work for you, you don’t need to try every new one that someone mentions. Just because something is new and popular doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better than what you’re already doing. Before you jump in, make sure there’s going to be an advantage over what you’re already doing.
The Codex is your friend–and so is the code. Almost everything you need to know is in the WordPress Codex, but to really understand how WordPress works, look at the core code.
Fred is a huge fan of the CSS pre-processor SASS. We had a presentation about CSS pre-processors at the meetup a few years ago. SASS makes writing CSS more like writing PHP. There’s a free cross-platform SASS compiler called Koala if you’re not big on the command line.
Jermaine Holmes won the free copy of Up and Running: A Practical Guide to WordPress Development.
WP Shout has produced handy stickers with tips on some of the most common WordPress conditional tags. Trivia for the day:
is_dynamic_sidebar does not check to see whether you are in a sidebar file, but whether there are any widgets activated in any sidebars on the site.
WordPress Hosting Resources
Prior to Fred’s presentation, the group had a discussion about site speed, performance, and hosting. The single biggest factor in your site’s performance is your hosting company. The best caching and performance tools (e.g. memcached, OPcache, APC) have to be installed on the server and are not available with most cheap shared hosting accounts.
Fortunately, there are now many hosting companies that specialize in WordPress.
The first was our sponsor (and host of this site) Pagely, which still has options for small businesses even though they have transitioned primarily into enterprise hosting. Pagely uses Amazon’s servers. They have been fantastic in terms of up-time, support, and security.
There are plenty of other options, however, including the Turbo service from our new sponsor A2 Hosting, Flywheel‘s option to stage a site for free before transferring it to a client, and GoDaddy‘s new inexpensive managed WordPress hosting plans. Each of these different providers offers something unique.
To help you decide, here are some recent comparisons of managed WordPress hosting providers: