WordPress, business, et cetera

Distractions and forsaking Twitter. Mostly.

I started a note in EverNote titled Simplify Everything. It’s the beginning of my quest to make my time working more effective in the midst of this insanely distracting thing we call the Internet. The first thing I’m giving the hatchet to is actively watching tweets fly by on Twitter. I forsook Facebook and Google+ years ago with no regrets, so why not Twitter?

For sure, I’ve had useful conversations on Twitter with great people in the WordPress business world. And for sure, Twitter is great for keeping up with what is happening in the WordPress community. But overall, I feel that opening TweetDeck on a regular basis takes more away from my productivity than it adds. There is only so much time in a day and I want to be effective at my work by reducing distractions.

I’ll be taking a reactive approach from now on.

Professionals: If you’re not using a child theme, you’re burning your client’s money

Consider this a public service announcement.

I had a support request from a customer at churchthemes.com today. They couldn’t update their theme.

And it’s a good thing too, because the theme had been modified directly by a professional they hired. Updating it would have overwritten all of the customizations they paid for. Poof! Gone.

I cringe whenever I see this. It should never happen. But why does it?

Excerpts and the “More” Tag in WordPress Themes

Are theme authors killing the excerpt? I was surprised to see the new default WordPress theme (Twenty Fifteen) show full content on archives instead of excerpts. The idea is that users can use the More tag to show content up until a certain point at which they will see “Read More”. I like the simplicity of this and it is my personal preference but what about situations in which a manual excerpt is desired?

It’s possible to have the best of both worlds. What I have been doing with themes at churchthemes.com is to use the_content when the “More” tag is detected and the_excerpt when it is not. This lets the user choose the “More” tag or an excerpt on a per post basis and without using options. This eliminates questions from users about how to use one or the other because the theme automatically supports both.

WordPress Update Error: Failed to write request to temporary file

One of the WordPress plugins I use on two sites had an update. On the first site, it updated fine as always. On this site (which is hosted on a different server), the plugin update failed with an error message that I had not seen until today.

An error occurred while updating Simple Share Buttons Adder: Download failed. Failed to write request to temporary file.

Sometimes WordPress file and permission errors can be tricky but the solution for this was pretty simple.

Eight Things I Would Kill On Every Theme Shop

There’s a story about a young woman who, like her mother, cut the end of her ham off before baking it. She wondered why this trick produced such a good result so she asked her mother. Her mother didn’t know why, exactly. She then asked her grandmother why it helped to remove the end of the ham before baking it. Her grandmother eventually responded by saying, “Well, dear, the ham just wouldn’t fit into my little oven otherwise.”

A couple generations of WordPress theme shops have been blindly copying each other too.

I like to watch what theme shops do, both new and old. If I can figure out what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong then I can learn from them and make my own shop, churchthemes.com, better from both a business and customer standpoint. Here are some bad practices I still observe with theme shops that I would like to see killed off.

Helping WordPress Users Avoid the Theme Lock-in Effect

My guess is that most WordPress theme users do not know what the lock-in effect is. That is, until they try to switch themes one or two years later. It’s something theme user need to know about so they can choose the right theme today. Many have targeted their writing about the lock-in effect at theme developers, urging them not to register post types or shortcodes in themes. Few have written to the user, though. Here’s my attempt on the churchthemes.com blog.

WordPress Theme Users: Avoid the Lock-in Effect

How to Build a Church Website with WordPress

AJ Clarke gave me the opportunity to write on WPExplorer about using WordPress to build a church website. I wanted to lay it all out with the assumption that the reader is a total beginner. I listed the benefits of using WordPress then showed how to install WordPress, setup a theme and publish content. Included are some tips on choosing a good church WordPress theme and recommendations for a few that avoid the lock-in effect by using functionality provided by plugins.

WPExplorer: How to Build a Church Website with WordPress

Becoming Efficient at Support Before Hiring Help

Every serious WordPress theme and plugin seller provides support for their product. The product itself is made up of files that can be automatically distributed thousands of times with no increase in labor. Support on the other hand requires human effort which is constrained by time. What happens when a theme seller starts spending so much time on support that their development time is hindered?

They have to hire help with support or their product offerings will suffer.