Monthly Archives December 2016

Reporting from WordCamp

WordCamp 2016

WordCamp is a conference that focuses on anything and everything WordPress. They’re wonderfully informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress volunteers. Everyone from casual users to core WP developers and contributors participate, share ideas, and get to know one another. WordCamps have been held all over the world going back as far as 2006, and this year Belgium had its first Wordcamp in Antwerp!

Recently, l attended WordCamp USA in Philadelphia along with 1,800 other WordPress users ranging from casual bloggers, marketing professionals, experienced designers, tech enthusiasts, and leading technologists. Here’s a break down of a few of my favorite talks I attended while at WordCamp:

Design For Humans Not Robots


Tammie Lister was a delightfully brilliant speaker who illustrated the importance of designing for humans and not for robots. Too often, according to Lister, design lacks humanity. Take, for example, the very popular CAPTCHA: I’m not a robot.

“If you’re put into a position that you need to prove that you are human and not a robot … that’s probably not a very good way to have an interface,” Lister said.


She speaks at great length to use cases and testing cases where we construct these very particular environments where we focus 100% of our attention on the thing we are doing without taking into account that the person using it likely won’t be giving your application 100% of their attention. They’ll be stirring soup, listening to music, having a conversation, and you know, doing other human things.

My takeaway here was that the default in design should not be that I need to prove I am NOT a robot. I am a human until proven robot, not the other way around, and that what I’m creating isn’t about me and what I want and what makes sense to me. Developers need to think about the end user and what makes sense for them.

How To Talk Content


Lisa Melegari took a deep dive into how to talk ‘content’ from a developer standpoint. As a developer who knows little about content, I knew this talk would benefit me. I’ve been meaning to get into blogging myself for a while, but I’m always held back by the same self-defeating thought: I don’t know where to begin.

“The blank slate paralyzes clients,” Melegari said. And this couldn’t be more true.

Melegari says to not use the word ‘content’ and to break it down into actual concrete things I need. Having the client fill out an onboarding questionnaire asking for age ranges, audience targets, existing assets, or the person in charge of creating those assets is invaluable as it gets the client to think in specific terms. And when designing or developing a site for someone, specifics are vital.

This was a wildly helpful new way to look at generating content for my own hypothetical blog I swear I’ll create someday. I can absolutely identify with the quote about content paralyzing the client. It ought to be a best practice to break down what I want from the client into bite-sized chunks of real identifiable assets instead of vague jargon like ‘content’ or ‘filler text’. While I understand what those words mean, of course, they do nothing to elicit a creative response.

Teaching the FBI to Photoblog with WordPress


When you say “WordPress” I admit I did not think “FBI,” but for Karl Kevilus that is exactly what happened. After a friend reached out to him asking if he’d like to help the FBI set up a website, Kevilus found himself teaching the FBI how to use WordPress to catch bank robbers using bank surveillance photos and footage.

The talk was a brilliant, hilarious, and humble look at the starting of Bandit Tracker, it’s offshoots, its successes, and it’s failures. Some successes include the hundreds of robbers brought to justice thanks to Bandit Tracker and some failures include actually inspiring robberies because Bandit Tracker gave a very succinct overview of a bank’s surveillance technology and layout. Woops. Failures and embarrassments aside, Bandit Tracker has been an invaluable resource for the FBI in catching bank robbers. So much so, that various regional duplicates have cropped up across the country.

Philadelphia is a gorgeous city I had never been to before but will certainly be back. While the talks were engaging, I did manage to find a little spare time to try some of Philly’s world famous delicacies such as the Philly Cheesesteak. I’d had generic cheesesteaks before, of course, and had never really thought them to be anything all that special but this completely changed the game and altered my view on the sandwich. For those curious, I got it with wiz and it was delicious.

All in all, WordCamp was an amazing experience that I will absolutely be repeating in years to come.


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5 Reasons to Use HTTPS Everywhere

5 Reasons to use HTTPS everywhere

Not so long ago, only e-commerce sites and other sites that handle secure information used HTTPS, the secure (encrypted) version of the protocol for web communications. But nowadays, it is increasingly common for any site to use HTTPS. There are many reasons to use HTTPS on your site, but here are 5 big ones:

1. SEO

A couple years ago Google announced that HTTPS will be used as a ranking signal. This means that sites that use HTTPS will get a small boost in SEO juice. While Google states this will start as a “very lightweight signal” they have stated that they may decide to increase it over time.

Download the tool:
SEO Audit Checklist

2. User Perception

Google has announced beginning in July 2018 Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as “not secure”.

3. Page Speed

The speed test at shows there is a significant speed advantage for HTTPS. This may be a surprise to some, as historically running over an encrypted connection was considered slower. This has changed with HTTP/2.

Is Umbraco the Right CMS for you?

Is Umbraco the Right CMS for you?


All major browsers support HTTP/2, the latest version of the protocol of the web. But there is a caveat – they only support it over secure connections. The speed test at is really comparing HTTP 1.1 with no encryption versus HTTP/2 with encryption. HTTP/2 offers significant performance improvements, so having your site load over HTTP/2 can improve the page load speed significantly, but it only works if you use HTTPS.

4. Security

This, of course, is the original and most important reason to use HTTPS. The other reasons are really just nudges to encourage us to make the web more secure. HTTPS connections are encrypted. This helps ensure that no one is eavesdropping on your communications. HTTPS is required for any forms that capture credit card data, and any sites that capture sensitive data including login credentials. It also prevents a proxy from injecting content such as advertising into your site.

5. It’s Free

Okay, it’s not really a reason to use HTTPS, but it’s a good reason not to not use it. The SSL certificates required to run a site over HTTPS used to be expensive. You can now obtain free digital certificates from the Let’s Encrypt certificate authority. Another free option is to use the Cloudflare CDN.

HTTPS is not a panacea. Just because a site has HTTPS, does not mean everything is safe and secure. There are many threats to information security out there. But HTTPS is becoming a ‘must have’ for just about every website.

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When to Move to Drupal 8

When to upgrade to Drupal 8

Drupal is an open source content management platform that is used by 8% of the Top 10k sites. Major websites that utilize Drupal include Memorial Sloan Kettering, Whole Foods, and The White House.

Drupal 8 launched in November 2015 with hundreds of improvements, making it easier to use for both developers and site administrators. Since its release, there are 111,000 websites running Drupal 8, while over 1 million are still on 7.

So the big question is – When should I move my site to Drupal 8?

If your website is running Drupal 6, you should upgrade to D8 ASAP. D6’s end of life was in February and sites will no longer receive security updates for the platform and modules won’t be maintained.

For those on Drupal 7, there isn’t a rush to upgrade as the end of life for D7 will not be until at least 2019. Drupal 7 will be supported at least until 3 months after the 9.x LTS release comes out, for which a release date has not been set.

If you are building a new website, go straight to Drupal 8. It will be time and cost effective to start with a new D8 install.

A Comprehensive Guide to Umbraco

A Comprehensive Guide to Umbraco


Upgrading to Drupal 8

Moving to Drupal 8 is not just an upgrade. Like any other project, you must allocate the proper budget, timeline, and resources. Developers will need to rebuild and migrate the site. There may also be a learning curve as D8 uses the Twig templating system and uses object oriented programming.

A couple items to consider:

  • Contributed Modules – Review the modules on your current install and see if there is a Drupal 8 version. Be sure to use a stable version of the module, not a release candidate (RC), alpha or beta.
    There is a free web service called D8upgrade which scans your website and generates a report on the status of your site’s contributed modules. You can also install Upgrade Status. The module checks the list of your installed modules and shows their availability for the new version of Drupal. Its dashboard will show you notes about upgrading the project, as well as a link to download the new version.
  • Migration Process – Drupal 8 core includes the Migrate module which allows you to migrate content from your D6 or D7 site.

As we mentioned, be sure you’re equipped with the necessary resources to move to Drupal 8 before beginning the project. Best of luck with the move!

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Are You a Content Marketing Master?

Content Marketing Quiz

You’re a blogging machine, but your content don’t seem to making a big impact. Or maybe you’re hard at work at producing ebooks and other valuable content offerings, and still, not seeing a lot of success.

It takes a complex recipe to create a successful content marketer. Your content production could be in great shape, but there’s no point in producing if you aren’t distributing properly. Are your resources low? There could be a lot of opportunities you’re missing if you aren’t recyclying old content to increase your blog traffic.

Take the Content Marketing quiz to find out your level of expertise, and learn what you can do to be even better.


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The Questions to Ask Before Redesigning Your Website

The questions you should ask before redesigning your website

If you think it’s time for a website redesign because you’re not getting enough quality leads, you’re probably right. But before hiring a branding company to redo your logo, consider this: you probably don’t know your buyer well enough to attract them in the first place. You may even be targeting the wrong audience.

Making your website look nicer isn’t going to bring in more leads or drive more conversions — bringing in a loyal audience will. It’s easy to get caught up in appearances, but before thinking about how your website looks, think about who you’re selling to.

It’s necessary to figure out not only who your potential buyers are, but also what they care about. What problems do they have (that you can potentially solve?) and where do they hang out?

Is your company’s site lacking a differentiating factor? Odds are, whatever issue you’re having, all of them lead back to personas. The most helpful thing you can do before redesigning your website is to start with persona research.

The first question to ask yourself when redesigning a website is “who is this website for?” Your answer shouldn’t be an aspirational one – it should tell exactly who your current buyers are. It could be that you’ve researched your buyer personas before, but you don’t know enough. Period.

It’s important to note your personas are constantly changing. If your website isn’t performing like you’d like it to, reworking your persona targeting is the place to start.

Knowing your audience

Let’s say you own a flower shop. Your ideal customers may consist of wedding planners and big businesses – people who put in large orders and spend lots of money. But in reality, your most common customers are one-bouquet-buyers on anniversaries and Valentine’s Day.

If your website homepage features deals on orders over $1,000 and flower arrangements for big events, you’re going to see a high bounce rate and will lose a lot of potential buyers. There’s an opportunity to create an ecommerce site to automate the order process and launch holiday campaigns when small orders are in demand. If you miss that opportunity because your focus is on big buyers, you’re missing out on a large portion of your potential revenue.

You need to get real about who your buyers are. Then everything you create should target that customer directly. It all boils down to knowing your audience.

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Building a buyer persona

Researching your customers will eventually answer the question ‘who’s my website for?’ Send out surveys, make calls, read comments, conduct interviews, and start conversations. Getting to know your customers on a deeper level will help you understand their pain points and eventually, how your website can be developed to help solve their problems.

Get to know what kind of jobs and positions your customers hold. What are their interests and hobbies? Building buyer personas will take time, but it will be the framework for the strategy behind your website.

For a step-by-step guide on building buyer personas

Download our workbook
“How to Create a Purposeful Content Strategy.”

The multiple audience dilemma

It’s possible your company markets to multiple audiences. Say, for example, your website handles B2B and B2C transactions. How do you make your website target both audiences at once?

First, find your primary target. Your homepage should cater to that audience without causing any confusion for the secondary audience. Clear calls to action will make this possible.

If your primary target is the B2B audience, your website’s homepage should be designed around their needs. The calls to action are what prevent confusion for your B2C customers. Both B2B and B2C visitors will be able to easily navigate their way around your site if your home page has a single focus with clear calls to action. A website with one focus is significantly easier to understand than a website with multiple.

Who are you up against?

Researching competitors can help clarify what others are doing right that your company could improve upon. Does your primary competitor’s website provide a better user experience than your company’s site? Why is that experience better? Pointing out the differences will help inform your priorities when redesigning your website.

Beyond inspiring design strategies and functionality improvements, competitive research is necessary to find a significant area of distinction your company can promote.

Finding the whitespace

Does your company have an ownable space? Or are you in a crowded market with a lot of competition? When researching your competitors, determine what area each of your competitors owns. Then, you’ll be able to find the whitespace, or area of expertise your company can own.

If your competitors dominate in size or technique, your whitespace could be attention to detail. Find that differentiating factor and own it.


Learn how to create content to solve your B2B sales problem.


Mapping the customer journey

You’ve done your persona research and found your whitespace. Now that you have an ownable space, it’s time to figure out how to convey your message to the audience. You have an idea of who is visiting your site, but how are they doing it?

Using Google Analytics, map out common user flows on your website. What are the pages people are visiting most? Are those pages optimized for your sales cycle with clear calls to action?

Use this data to compose a series of user stories to demonstrate how a given user will be able to access and interact with your site. This will help you group and prioritize content and site functionality.

Industry differentiation and lead generation go back to persona research

After some thorough persona research, customer journey mapping, and discovering your whitespace, you should have a good idea of what your new website should accomplish. If you’re looking to bring in more leads, improve your conversion rate, or find your company’s differentiator, all goes back to your buyer personas.

Knowing so much about your customers allows you to design your website around their wants and needs, creating a personalized user experience for your buyer, and increasing the likelihood that they’ll convert. Now, get to designing that site!

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