Why WordPress?

Sometimes MIGHTYminnow gets the question, “Why do you guys use WordPress?”

First, CMS (Content Management System) based websites are easier to maintain than “static” websites. WordPress is one choice of CMS and there are tons of other CMSs on the (open source) market. While no CMS is the perfect answer for every website, we find WordPress to be a great fit for most of our clients. The why is simple:

WordPress is easy for developers to use

In the old days, we used to write out in prose what content of the home page for a new website would be, and give that straight to a designer to draw. We used to create an outline of the pages in MS Word to show the site structure. We used to do sketches in OmniGraffle of what the various content blocks would be. In those good / bad old days, there were a lot of documents and a lot of extrapolation happening about how a site would be architected and how it would function. But now, with WordPress, it is just as easy (or more so) to do all of that planning work and architectural sketching by creating an actual, working website. We get a development website up and running at the earliest possible point we can in the website project process, so that everyone can see how it will be organized and what content will be included. From there, it is really easy to make changes in real time so that we can collaborate effortlessly with our clients on something that they can actually see and that feels like a website to them from the start. This process leads to better communication and *way* fewer design revisions later in in the process.

WordPress is Easy for clients / business owners to use

Our clients want to maintain their own websites. Since most of them write their own content, it makes sense for them just to add that content to their websites themselves. In the old days, we used to have to train our clients on complex web development software (over a course of *days*) in order for them to be able to make simple content changes. And then we had to worry because it was so much easier for things to go haywire. With WordPress, web editors don’t need days of training, nor do they have to be HTML experts to be able to update their websites. The visual editor within WordPress allows even computer novices to easily edit and change the content and images on their websites using a word processing approach that feels familiar. In other words, WordPress gives users the power to maintain their own websites without the ongoing (and unnecessary) expense of a web developer.

WordPress is extensible

WordPress uses a plugin architecture that allows for developers all over the world to create and publish new features and designs for anyone to use. Open source (read “free”) and premium (read “paid”) plugins and themes allow WordPress users to quickly and (in most cases) simply, expand the functionality of their websites. For instance, if you have a restaurant with live music and you would like to post the events you host on your site, there are plugins that easily allow you to add, manage and promote these events, provide event details, and even sell tickets. (We recommend Events Manager / Events Manager Pro, which we use for class registrations on this site!) And because this is a smart CMS, you can even set events to stop showing up after they have passed, thus lessening the number of things you have to remember to go in and update on an ongoing basis. As another example, if you are a photographer and would like to include galleries of your work on your website, there are plugins upon plugins that allow you to create beautiful and easy to navigate showcases for your work. (We recommend Nextgen gallery to start.) There are even themes that specialize in presenting portfolio pieces. There are plugins and themes that accomodate just about any type of website or feature you can imagine, and there are thousands (mostly free) to choose from.

WordPress free and open source

WordPress is an open source CMS. This means that the software is available to use for free, the code is public, and the contributors to the software do so (mostly) out of the goodness of their hearts. The creation and continuation of the software is a collaborative effort of a vast community, and it is actively enhanced, maintained, and made more secure by that community all the time. And because the core software (and most of the plugins and themes) cost nothing, you can build your own custom WordPress site for just the cost of web hosting and your domain name.

WordPress is SEO friendly

WordPress has many features that you can use to make your site more SEO friendly. Since WordPress makes it easy to expand your site by adding new pages and blog posts, most WordPress sites grow over time, which Search Engines like. Because most theme code is light and clean, pages tend to load quickly and be easy for Search Engines to understand. Because analytics tools like Google Analytics and Jetpack Stats integrate easily with WordPress, you can see how people are finding and interacting with your website and you can make changes based on this data to draw more visitors to your site (and to encourage more conversions). WordPress makes it easy to use keyword rich URLs, called “permalinks” that add archivable content to your site to give you a higher ranking in search engines. On top of all that, there are many plugins and methods to allow you to enhance your SEO through meta data and also to connect your site to social media to foster sharing and encourage visitors.

WordPress is well supported

WordPress is very popular – 53.8% of CMS based sites are built in WordPress (followed by Joomla at 9.2% and Drupal at 6.7%). Over 72 million sites around the world are built using WordPress, including this one. This includes popular companies like Mashable, The New York Times, UPS, CNN, and many more. 22 out of every 100 new domains created in the US are running WordPress. This popularity is not just in the US, as WordPress is has officially been translated into 40 different languages, with more being translated every day! All this love means that if you encounter any problems with your site, there are literally thousands upon thousands of qualified developers who can come to your aid, including us!

So, to recap, WordPress is awesome. We use it and so do a TON of other people. It is a sound technology choice for most websites – either theme based sites or custom designed sites – and there is a world of support available to WordPress website owners. You can use it for free, you can maintain your own site, and you can get up and running quickly. And if you need help getting startedfixing a problem, or making something beautiful, we can help. Feel free to reach out to us or sign up for a class.

(Statistics are from Yoast.)

Dreamweaver Webinar for Adobe Tech Live

Adobe Tech LiveIf you missed out on Kristin’s talk at Adobe’s MAX conference, she presented a similar webinar this morning, July 11th, on Faster Theming of Dynamic, CMS Based Sites in Dreamweaver CC. It is posted in Adobe Tech Lives’s archives, so be sure to take a look and learn all about faster CMS theming workflows using Adobe Dreamweaver!

Happy Independence Day!

Fireworks In observance of Independence Day, MIGHTYminnow will be closed Thursday July 4th and Friday July 5th. If you have any projects or issues with your website you would like to discuss with us, please plan accordingly! You can call us at 510.629.1440 or contact us to talk. We hope you will enjoy the friends, fireworks, and picnics this holiday brings!

Oakland City Workers on Strike Along with BART Workers

oakland strikeEveryone in the Bay Area seems to know that BART workers are officially on strike today, July 1st. But it isn’t just the BART workers, a large portion of the Oakland city government and services are on strike today. This has affected us at MIGHTYminnow headquarters in a few interesting ways:

  • One of the minnows took the ferry to work. This was fun (as a change of pace) but the normally 35-45 minute commute from SF to Oakland was instead a 2 hour commute using the Muni, Bay Ferry, and Broadway Green Bus. This minnow is hoping the strike doesn’t last long.
  • We have some additional co-workers today – people who were unable to find a reasonable way to get into San Francisco from Oakland. Also fun, we like having fantastic and smart people around!
  • Less fun, it is hard to concentrate on work. We are right across the street from City Hall and the picketers are right outside our window with whistles and kazoos encouraging the passing motorists to honk in support of the strike. There is quite a cacophony.
  • The City Center is shut down and many streets are closed off due to the workers’ protests. This isn’t affecting us now, but it may affect our commute home if the protest is still in the middle of the intersection at 5. We might be stuck at work. Fun?

Commuters and protesters alike, stay safe out there, and if you can’t find a way to work tomorrow, we have free wifi, fresh fruit and coffee, and really comfy desks and chairs.

Minnows at MAX

Kristin SpeakingFrom Monday May 6th through Wednesday May 8th, the MIGHTYminnow team moved operations to Los Angeles and, along with 5,000 other Adobe enthusiasts, attended Adobe’s annual conference. On Monday evening, Kristin gave her talk on faster theming of dynamic, CMS based sites in Dreamweaver. If you weren’t able to make it to the conference, the sessions were recorded and will be posted in the next few days. We attended as many sessions as we could, got caught up on all the new features Adobe will be implementing in their new Creative Cloud service, met so many new and awesome people, and had a ton of fun!

bashOn Tuesday, we got to see what was in the works at Adobe. They are coming up with some cool stuff, including some hardware, perspective warp, and some really cool ways to make debugging websites faster. Rainn Wilson hosted the Sneak Peaks along with Mary Lynn Rajskub. Erik Estrada from CHiPs even made an appearance! After the Sneaks was the MAX Bash. We had a ton of fun rocking out to The Black Keys, eating delicious fair food, and watching circus clowns and acrobats.

pigWednesday morning brought out pranks from Tuesday night, including a new friend Kristin made at the party. Apparently this flying pig needed a place to crash for the night. Wednesday was also jam packed full of sessions and saying goodbye to newly made friends. After the conference, we rushed to the airport to catch our flight back home, although it was delayed about three hours.

chalkboardThis conference was a great opportunity to learn from community leaders and network with professionals around the world. Hopefully we were able to leave our mark too.

Minnows at MAX!

MAX

In just over a week, the entire MIGHTYminnow crew will be packing up and flying to LA from May 5th to the 8th. We will be attending Adobe MAX and learning about all the upcoming features in the software we use to build your websites. Kristin will even be speaking at the conference! Because we will be learning so much, we will not have much time to work, so let us know if you have any projects you need us to get done around this time so we can fit this into our schedule.

WordPress sites under attack. Please read.

There is a very bad and very brutal attack happening right now to WordPress based websites. Please read about this here: http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/04/huge-attack-on-wordpress-sites-could-spawn-never-before-seen-super-botnet/

This is a very serious issue and it requires taking action to safeguard your WordPress sites. We highly recommend you take the steps below. Please consider ALL of the websites you have – some of you may have one WordPress site, and some may have many. These steps should be taken for all sites.
1 – Install and activate the “Limit Login Attempts” plugin. This will keep malicious bots from trying repeatedly to access your site by trying password after password.
  • Go to your dashboard
  • Go to plugins > add new > search for “limit login attempts”
  • install and activate this plugin
  • Go to settings > limit login attempts
  • Check the settings. Either leave the defaults or change as desired.
2 – Make sure your WordPress username is not “admin”. To do this, log in to your dashboard, go to users, and look through the usernames for the default username “admin”. If it is, this will need to be changed.
To change the username:
  • Go to your dashboard
  • Go to plugins > add new > search for “admin username changer”
  • Install and activate this plugin
  • Go to the left hand navigation of the dashboard. Toward the top, it should say “Admin username”. If you click on that, you can change the admin username to something other than “admin”.
  • Once you have changed the username, you can go back to plugins and deactivate this plugin as it is no longer needed. Please note you will use your new username in place of “admin” to log in.
3 – Make sure your passwords are STRONG, and change any weak WordPress passwords. Please do this for ALL of the users that contribute to your site.
  • Make the password at least eight characters long.
    A longer password means it’s harder for someone to guess. 12 or 16 characters is even better.
  • Use a mix of upper and lower-case letters.
    Passwords are case-sensitive, so alternate your caps occasionally throughout the password to increase its strength.
  • Throw in some numbers—especially in the middle.
    Numbers at the beginning or end of a password are easier to guess or crack than those stuck right in the middle.
3 – Consider signing up for Vaultpress
You can use http://vaultpress.com/ to safegaurd your site and allow you to restore your site easily if something happens to it. Adding it is pretty straightforward and their help is pretty helpful though there are sometimes delays. This is not free. There is a fee per site, per month. We believe this is worth the expense as rebuilding your site will be more costly and painful than setting this up and paying for it. If there are things in the setup you do not know the answers to, like your FTP username and password, contact your hosting company. Vaultpress requires that you have a wordpress.com username and password – this is different than your dashboard username and password – and you may need to set up a fresh wordpress.com account. That username and password will be important, so be sure to keep track of it.
4 – If you don’t set up VaultPress, at least back up your database (if you don’t already know this is happening). This is not as good as using a service like Vaultpress that backs up your whole site. This method just backs up the *content* and the settings, not the images and the look of the site.
  • Go to your dashboard
  • Go to plugins > add new > search for “wp-db-backup”
  • Install and activate this plugin
  • Go to tools > backup
  • Check all of the tables in the database and download a copy of the database to your hard drive so your site backs up now
  • Then, under “Scheduled Backup”, set the site up to email you a copy of your database at a set interval (depending on the frequency with which you change the content).

NOTE: The scheduled backups don’t work on all hosting and don’t work if your site is too huge, so after backing up to your hard drive and setting the schedule, you will want set a note in your calendar to see if the scheduled backups come in. If they do not, log back in periodically and download a backup of your own.

There is another plugin referenced in the article noted above called “Better WP Security” that requires more advanced setup. If you feel comfortable to install and configure it, you can, but it allows you to change very technical settings that could easily break your site. Do this with caution.

Reduced Hours in April

beachMIGHTYminnow will be operating at reduced capacity between April 3rd and April 10th. If you need work done during that time, please reach out to us as soon as possible so that we can accomodate you.

MIGHTYminnow is Expanding our Co-Working Offerings!

For the past few months, we have been in the process of nailing down the specifics of our co-working offering. About six months ago, the great guys at Kalamuna came in looking for a bit of space, so we offered them a room. (We have one large room that is best suited for a team of 2-4.) Their company is thriving so they are moving to a new permanent office in Oakland at the beginning of March. We loved having them here, and it was really great to have other people in the office to collaborate with, or pop over if we had a quick question about their areas of expertise.

Classroom

Co-working also appeals to us because we routinely work with freelancers and we want to build collaborative relationships. For some people, coworking is more fulfilling than working from home or coffee shops, because you often feel less isolated and more productive.

Kristin Long, Alec Renynolds, Andrew Ward, Eddie Mongie, Mickey Kay

So after experiencing a bit of the co-working lifestyle ourselves, we would like to make use of our space and welcome in individuals and small teams to work, collaborate, and learn at Mm. Our large classroom is in use some evenings and weekends, but we have a lot of free space during the workday. Maybe you would like to join us during the day?

We have the perfect space for co-working. We have modular office furniture with all the desks and chairs on wheels so you can create a huge conference table in minutes, then break it down in even less time to work at your own desk by yourself. If you are in web development or design, we have our very own Open Device Lab in our office. If you are making websites, having access to many different devices to test on is an invaluable resource. The ODL is always open to the public, but as a member, you don’t have to leave the building to use it.

Here is a little bit of what is included in a co-working membership:

  • A desk on wheels
  • A comfy office chair
  • A monitor (negotiable)
  • WiFi
  • Printer & Scanner
  • Presentation space / conference room
  • Access to our kitchenette with fresh coffee, tea, bottled water, organic fruit, and small snacks daily; as well as microwave and refridgerator
  • Frequent networking events, meetups, classes, and ping pong tournaments in the office
  • Amazing location in downtown Oakland a half a block from BART
  • Optional locker rental (pending)
  • Access to our Open Device Lab

There are so many benefits to co-working, and we are very excited to start offering our space to professionals in the Oakland area.

Rates:

  • Private desk (business hours):  $250
  • Private furnished room (only one available to rent, seats 3+): $900
  • Day pass: $25

If you would like a tour of our space, feel free to email us or call and set up a time at 510.629.1440.

Mm Reduced Hours Over the Holidays

12 - 1Like many businesses, Mm will be operating at reduced capacity between 12/20/12 and 1/2. If you need work done during that time, please reach out to us as soon as possible so that we can accomodate you. Happy New Year!