April 2016 Meetup Notes

Here are some links and notes from the open Q & A part of the April 2016 East Bay WordPress Meetup.

Analytics for Landing Pages

SumoMe provides an awesome suite of analytics tools. There are WordPress plugins, but you can use SumoMe on any website. There’s a free version, a $40/month version, and a $100/month version.

For A/B testing, try Unbounce, which lets you build landing pages as well as testing them. Plans start at $49/month. 30-day free trial.

Opinions on Visual Composer

Page building tools like Visual Composer can add a lot of overhead to your site and decrease performance. They’re also not wonderful for SEO. If you deactivate Visual Composer, all that’s left of your content for those pages will be a collection of shortcodes. And there may be times when it’s actually a lot faster to write code than to build something with Visual Composer.

That said, Visual Composer is very popular and it can help non-coders to create different page layouts quickly. If you are going to use it, make sure you install it as a separate plugin rather than having it bundled into a theme. Plugins that have been bundled into themes can’t be updated separately and pose a security risk.

Creating your own SEO-friendly HTML output

If something like Visual Composer is giving you trouble with managing your on-page SEO, have a look at Rendera from Heroku.
Type in your HTML code and see it rendered in realtime. Then style it with CSS. You can use any of the HTML5 or CSS3 tags your browser supports.

How to tell bots to go crawl themselves

(A nice trick courtesy of SiteGround support, explained in more detail on the WP Fangirl blog.)

# BEGIN Tell bots to go crawl themselves
<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^$ [OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} (bot|crawl|robot)
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} !(bing|Google|msn|MSR|Twitter) [NC]
RewriteRule ^/?.*$ "http\:\/\/127\.0\.0\.1" [R,L]
# END Tell bots to go crawl themselves

Mac tool for creating diagrams

Omnigraffle is for creating precise, beautiful graphics. Like website wireframes, an electrical system design, a family tree, or mapping out software classes. For artists, designers, casual data-mappers, and everyone in-between.

Mac desktop: $99
iOS: $49

The East Bay WordPress Meetup has a new location

Tech Liminal has been the venue for the East Bay WordPress Meetup since late 2009. In 2012, Tech Liminal moved from 14th Street to the Ask.com building at 11th and Clay. Now Tech Liminal has moved again, to The Port Workspaces in the Kaiser Mall at 344 Thomas L. Berkley Way (a.k.a. 20th St).

What you need to know about the new location

Access to the building is by key card only. There will be someone at the 20th Street entrance (the one under the big “344”, next to CVS) to let you in. If you’re late and no one is at the door, contact Anca or Cindy.

floor plan for Port Workspaces

The parking garage is closed on Sundays, but it’s not too difficult to find street parking. (You probably didn’t want to pay for the garage anyway.)

The escalator doesn’t run on weekends, so you need to take the lift elevator to the third floor. Walk straight through the lobby and you’ll find the elevator on your right just before the escalator appears on the left.

The roof garden is also closed weekends, but there’s an outdoor patio next to the space we’ve been using to meet.

Our exact meeting location may change depending on the number of RSVPs. Right now we’re on the third floor, past the bar, next to the outdoor patio.

We’re still getting pizza thanks to A2 hosting.


WordPress and Business Intelligence with Anca Mosoiu

As WordPress becomes more and more useful as an application engine, developers will be expected to provide useful reports from systems driven by WordPress. Reports go beyond site visitor metrics – they provide domain-specific information about an individual business. 

In this workshop, we will examine the decision-making needs of organizations, and how to plan a WordPress project so it includes reporting. From this higher level, dive into the WordPress information architecture and database to look at strategies for creating reporting tables and information dashboards tailored to a specific business function.

Anca Mosoiu is the founder of Tech Liminal, where people with various skills and backgrounds come together to learn and build using technology. She is a programmer and consultant who loves complex, large-scale technology projects, where her curiosity and ability to translate between technical and non-technical helps teams get things done.

Her clients include the Lawrence Berkeley Lab, Cisco Systems, Nike and Sony.

Anca works with small teams and individuals, coaching them to utilise software that helps them grow their business and complete projects. With a combination of tools like Google Apps, WordPress, a text editor and a sense of humor, she helps her clients automate their business, interact with their stakeholders, and manage their intellectual property online.

She is a graduate of MIT, where she studied Computer Science. 

This is our first meeting at Tech Liminal’s new location in the Port Workspaces in the Kaiser Center Mall. Access is by key card, but we’ll arrange to have people available to open the doors and to post signs to help you figure out where to go. There’s a large parking structure integrated into the mall, but you do have to pay for it.

Pricing and Packaging Your WordPress Services

All freelancers (and agencies) face the question of how to charge and how much to charge. 

When is an hourly rate appropriate–and what’s a reasonable hourly rate (for you; the clients will decide for themselves what they think is reasonable)? 

What is value-based pricing and how do you implement it? Do you charge for discovery? 

How detailed should cost breakdowns in your quotes be? 

What kind of payment schedule do you use? 

Have you created packages (e.g. a maintenance package, a basic install package), and if so, how has that worked for you?

I’m looking for volunteers to contribute their experience on this subject, so email me if you want to participate in a pricing panel.

Managing Multiple WordPress sites

I have more than 20 sites of my own to manage (production sites and dev/test sites for my own research, and a couple of sites for family and friends), plus a bunch of client sites. Most WordPress developers and consultants are in the same position. What do you do if you don’t want to spend all your time logging into sites and updating them?

The good news is, there are many tools and services out there for this. With the Mill team visiting from France, now seemed like a good time to talk about them. (Mill is a new tool for managing and deploying WordPress and Drupal sites.)

We’ll start with a demo & Q&A from Mill, and then move on to some of the tools that our meetup members have used. Please feel free to join in and share your own experience with these or other site management tools.

Sonja London will talk about how she uses InfiniteWP and MainWP to manage client websites and why they chose these two solutions.

Sallie Goetsch will talk about iThemes Sync and ManageWP.