Selling Digital Products with WordPress

digital-products

I just launched a new business with Fx Benard this week. It’s called “Hexagone“, and we’re focused on WordPress products and support for a French-speaking audience.

Although I’ve been selling products through WordPress for over three years, this project was really fun because it gave me the opportunity to rethink all the services and infrastructure involved and build something new from scratch.

It’s clear that WordPress has grown into an excellent platform for launching a digital products based business. I thought it would be worth sharing some of the great tools, products and services we relied on to get the job done for those interesting in launching a similar type of business. Continue reading

Anders Norén

Anders Norén is one of the most prolific theme developers I know of. In 2014 he released a total of 8 themes into the WordPress.org repository- all of which are excellent. A total of 4 made the Tavern’s top 15 free themes of 2014.

If that wasn’t enough, Anders announced a brand new one this morning:

As with any great theme, I really like the attention to small design details. For instance, look at all the subtle icons and design that went into a simple author comment:

comment Continue reading

Open Source Immune System

I recently listened to an interview with Tom Dale, one of the developers who helped create Ember. He was comparing Angular, which is maintained primarily by developers at Google, and Ember, which has a smaller and more diverse group of contributors behind it.

I thought this remark was interesting and also applies to the WordPress world:

“I think of open source project as an organism. An organism has an immune system and the best thing you can do for the immune system of your project is to diversify as fast as your can.

This includes valuing contributors who are not just code writers. It includes valuing people who write documentation, valuing people who work on infrastructure, valuing people who run events and organize meet-ups in the real world.”

Tom Dale

From TalkShopShow Episode #147.

Using Mandrill for WordPress Email

WordPress sends e-mail notifications for a number of different reasons. New user registration, password resets, and comment notifications are the common defaults.

Plugins also tap into the e-mail system too, especially for extensions that add contact forms, e-commerce or subscription functionality.

logout-mandrill

If e-mail is integral to your WordPress site, you might want to consider using Mandrill (a service by the folks behind MailChimp) rather than the default WordPress mail system. If your server doesn’t allow mail scripts or have a mail server, this might even be essential (and an alternative to running it through SMTP using a plugin like this). Continue reading

Measuring Site Speed

Fast load times are incredibly important for website users. Unfortunately, it’s an overlooked feature on most WordPress sites.

Themes and plugins aren’t necessarily optimized for performance, and it can be difficult to determine how plugin and design choices affect the overall page speed.

But, if we start to measure it, we can start to optimize for it. When I do site performance audits for clients I primarily use two tools to evaluate page speed. The browser developer tools (Chrome) and the “Site Speed” report in Google Analytics.

Pingdom also offers a nice visual waterfall of page speed timings (similar to the “Network” tab in most browser developer tools), and Google Insights can give good general suggestions. Continue reading

Displaying a Custom Post Type Archive on the Front Page

Most developers use a custom page template if they need to display a custom post types on the front/home page. This is fairly easy to do using a new WP_QUERY:

$args = array(
	'post_type' => 'download',
);
$downloads = new WP_Query( $args );

However, WordPress still treats this as a page rather than archive, which can be problematic if you have specific styles or scripts that only load on archives or rely on certain body classes. So I started to experiment with a pre_get_posts function. I found this actually works quite well, even with pagination and infinite scrolling scripts. Continue reading

Interview: Mike McAlister

I enjoy talking shop with other theme developers. A few months ago I was lucky enough to get a chance to interview Mike McAlister.

For those that don’t know Mike, he runs a little theme shop called Array.is and is an excellent designer and developer.

Designer, developer and decision maker. Enjoys details, whitespace, coffee, notebooks, vinyl records and pizza.
Designer, developer and decision maker. Enjoys details, whitespace, coffee, notebooks, vinyl records and pizza.

When Mike and I did the interview, he had just launched a rebranding of Array. We discussed the importance of good design, the economics of the theme business, and how he first got into building themes. Continue reading