Happy Cyber Monday! Get 25% off at AppPresser!

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It’s the Monday post-Thanksgiving. As you continue to recover from your food coma, check out the Cyber Monday deal being offered over at AppPresser: 25% off!

If you have a WordPress-based business, AppPresser is the quickest and easiest way to convert your WordPress website into a mobile app with ease. AppPresser gives you the tools to put your business in the palm of your customers without straining your financial or technical resources!

There are several different packages available; get started with the basics or customize something more complex. You get to determine what works best for you and you have full control of the end result. If you haven’t used AppPresser yet, you can always start by checking out the free plugin.

Use the code ‘CyberTurkey’ at checkout to get 25% off whatever you’d like, and rest easy knowing that your business will be more than ready for the new year. Start building mobile apps with AppPresser today!

Why Everyone Should Learn a Little Bit of Code

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In my freelance days, I remember sitting on the worn leather seats of my Panera office, listening to the cries of small business owners tell me about how much money they had wasted on the programmers before me. Like a bad couples counseling session, they would vent about how they felt taken advantage of–how they had spent hard earned money and the ten mockups they requested still weren’t right, or how the developer said he wouldn’t make it work in IE7 so that they could view it at their job. When I first began my “Bad Websites Anonymous” sessions, I would think “How could they take advantage of this person?!”

Later, I learned that the problem wasn’t always the developer; often it was a misunderstanding due to a client’s lack of code knowledge. After explaining that Microsoft doesn’t even support Windows XP and IE7, and that turning each mockup into a functional prototype could take at least five additional unpaid hours, the light would come on and the apologies would flow. If you’re a future website owner or prepping for an online rebrand, you don’t have to know how to build your own website, but you should at least know a little bit of code. Just in case you still don’t believe, here are a few reasons why everyone should:

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Forming Harmonious Client-Agency Relationships

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“Harmonious” may not be the word a lot of clients and agencies/freelancers would use to describe their relationship. Perhaps many would even land on a more negative term. Why is it that we hear of the bad cases so much more often than the good ones? Are designers and stakeholders simply destined to be nemeses, playing an eternal game of tug-of-war over button placement? Are developers and clients set to battle over feature bloat until the end of time? Personally, that doesn’t sound fun or productive to me. I’d like to propose a better way of doing things. First, let’s get a few misconceptions out of the way.

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Lisa Sabin-Wilson’s ManageWP AMA

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Last week, Lisa did ManageWP’s Ask Me Anything. There were some fantastic questions about WordPress (and some thorough razzing over football). While we were super excited about this before it happened, we had no idea we’d see such thoughtful questions!

In case you missed it, here’s a snippet:

RYAN: Given that you’ve worked in web design/development since 2003, what 3 things do you know now, that you wish you knew when you got started?

LISA: 3 things I wished I knew in 2003 when I first got started….

I was pretty green to web development back then, with only about 3 years of some serious tinkering with CSS and HTML markup prior to the release of WordPress. It took me a long time to really understand WordPress core, primarily because I didn’t have a good base knowledge of PHP. I think I could have achieved more things in my development work and emerging career back then if I had a better fundamental understanding of PHP and the logic behind it. CSS & HTML came pretty easy to me, and even the hierarchy of WP themes and the template tags were pretty easy to understand – but I was stymied for a good amount of time in any real custom features until I had a better understanding of how it all worked.

Second, I wish I had been more prepared for running my own business. These days, everywhere I look on the web there are resources, training and advice for new entrepreneurs in internet tech, particularly in the WP community. But back then, I either was not looking in the right places or it just didn’t exist – so I made it up as I went along and learned some of the hard lessons not through the benefit of someone else’s experience, but because I went through each challenging step of it myself. It was exciting and actually quite fun, looking back – but I think I could have progressed quicker with the help of some of the fantastic resources I’m seeing out there today.

Third, I wish someone would have told me how difficult it was to write a book about technology! I really do enjoy it, a lot – and over the years have learned so much – but it’s quite a challenge to write a book about software that is constantly changing and evolving. Most often, the software is changing as I am writing. If someone had sat me down back then and said “Lisa, this is going to be really challenging” – it wouldn’t have changed my mind about doing it, I just would have, maybe, felt better prepared for the road ahead of me, which might have softened some of the frustrations and stress I experienced about it early on.

If you want to read more excellent questions for Lisa, as well as her responses, you can check out the thread here. Cheers!

The Power of the Personal

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Although marketing and branding was definitely a part of my professional game before coming to WebDevStudios, my primary skill (and passion) is writing. The starving artist mentality is alive and well, and something I strive to reject; the concept of “selling out” is wholly ridiculous and exists as a class barrier that romanticizes the suffering of the poor and stigmatizes working class artists. What better way is there than to make a living and fund your personal passions than applying your greatest strengths, however functionally useless they may seem on the surface, practically to your life?

As I’m such a staunch advocate of the writers and artists in my community utilizing their artistic strengths to their financial gain, I often find myself having the conversation about how to be capital-P Professional while also wielding their unique voice and attributes as a tool. This conversation isn’t just exclusive to the creative types; it’s a conversation I have had many times with prior marketing clients, too. 

There’s a common misconception that professionalism requires being a whole different person than most of us actually are: flawed, funny, a little awkward, opinionated, shy. There’s an idea that professionalism is one part stuffy and one part hyper-obnoxious salesmanship; there’s an idea that selling your work, marketing yourself, and operating competently in a professional setting requires being more of an automaton than a human.

There are some corporate offices where this is true (trust me, as a former administrative assistant of a certain very popular hotel chain whose name may or may not rhyme with Spilton, I can promise you that), and of course there are folks who thrive in that environment. Arguably, though, that’s a minority, and most of us find greater satisfaction in spaces where we can can feel like we’re being authentic while also operating within the confines of professionalism. There is value in revealing our personal faces in the professional realm; telling your story is crucial to connection.

When I first started with WDS, Dre was headed to PressNomics for his presentation “An Interview with Dre,” which was hosted by Joshua Strebel (CEO of Page.ly). This interview delved into Dre’s history: how he got involved in tech and WordPress, how Sucuri came about, why he walked away from Sucuri and eventually joined us here at WebDevStudios.

More recently, Lisa delivered a similarly personal presentation at the most recent Prestige Conference, where she discussed how she switched careers entirely. Lisa went from being a Registered Nurse to a full-fledged WordPress entrepreneur–and WordPress was barely a year old at the time.

If you have met Dre or Lisa, you know that they are both extremely analytical, pragmatic people with a bevy of technical knowledge, and the presentations they give largely reflect that. They tend to focus on the practical and technical know-how because it’s clearly a major contributing factor to their continued success. These presentations, though, were different from what they had done before: Both explore the trajectory of their professional lives as told through the personal lens. Since this was so different for the both of them, I wanted to get their perspective on this balance between the personal and professional and share it with you.

Here’s what they had to say: 

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Basic WordPress Terminology: What the Layperson Should Know

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WordPress proudly touts its user first design for ease of use, but on other end of the spectrum are the website owners. Even the owner of a simple website is instantly barraged with the seeming jumble of terms, acronyms, and phrases that make up a typical WordPress installation. An experienced WordPress website owner may not give a second thought to this jungle of words, but a new WordPress website owner may be daunted by terms like ‘taxonomy’ and ‘shortcode.’

Here at WebDevStudios, we commonly work with newcomers to WordPress and non-technical stakeholders that do not have time to trek through the jungle of jargon, so we have put together a helpful list of some of the most common terms a website owner may run into.

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Leading Your Team To Success

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A leader is someone who demonstrates what’s possible.

-Mark Yarnell

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Can you describe a great leader in your life? You may be thinking of someone who is a super intelligent, strategic, captivating genius. That’s what makes a good leader, right? Not…well, not always. Demonstrating leadership can be achieved through just a few key elements: clear guidance, communication, accountability and most importantly, trust.

Any and every company, team, and project, benefits from a strong leader. Leadership guides the project from initiation to completion, and acts as the glue that keeps the team unified. So what core leadership skills lead to success?

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Using Storytelling for Better User Experience

Friends around campfire

Storytelling has been around before the first word was ever penned on a piece of parchment. It has evolved with us and influenced the culture around us. Stories are consumed in a myriad of different ways, and the digital age just gives us more options–from long blog posts to 140 character tweets; old photo albums to fifteen second snapchats.

Storytelling can also be used on your website to connect with users and increase engagement. A website with a well–thought out hierarchy, carefully crafted content, and user-first approach to design can tell a story that people will remember and share with others. Do you remember the first time you watched a video on YouTube? You probably couldn’t wait to share the experience of watching hilarious cat videos with your friends! YouTube had created a method for people to share their stories, and contained that inside their own storytelling framework. With a net worth of over 70 billion dollars, I’d venture that this tactic is still working out for them. Before we dive into how to use this strategy on your own site, let’s look at why it’s so successful.

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Monotasking: Stay Focused by Doing One Thing at a Time

MONOTASKING

There are a lot of benefits of working from home. Your commute is really easy, often you can make your own hours, you have a lot more flexibility in your day-to-day schedule if (and when) emergencies come up, and it’s perfect for self-motivated individuals who don’t want or need someone looking over their shoulder and checking up on them to make sure they are keeping on task.

When I worked an office job doing Windows Server phone support for a major grocery chain, there were two primary applications I had open and that’s it. One of them was Outlook that only received work email and when I left work, I had no way of accessing that email (outside of a company-issued Blackberry that I only used when I was on call). The other application was a ticketing system where issues were sent to my team for us to address. My day-to-day job generally involved going through submitted tickets, calling stores, and connecting to servers to investigate the issue, and going to occasional meetings with my team or the office. There wasn’t a whole lot of email usage, but what there was was usually relevant to my job.

When working from home, there’s a lot more bleeding between work and life. It’s much harder to leave work at work when your office is in your house. I quit that office job eight years ago and have been working from home ever since. I have to be honest, it can be a challenge. It’s still difficult navigating work and life when emergencies come up, like when my car broke down on a trip to California and I had to deal with a mechanic in Nevada for three weeks before having to figure out a way to get it shipped back to Utah for repair. But, despite the difficulties, it can be done, and I’d like to share a single tip that I use to stay focused. It’s called monotasking.

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Out of Office (Sorta): WDS Camp starts next week!

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WebDevStudios’ HQ is in Philly, but our team is internationally distributed and every single member of our team is a telecommuter. We’re a virtual office! That means that although we all talk to each other often, we don’t see each other much–in fact, some of us have never even met face to face. Despite that, we have a pretty tight crew (we’ve even been taken to task for our inside jokes all over Twitter); one of the things that is so crucial to our team creating great work is that we all kinda dig each other!

Next week we’re doing our annual retreat, WDS Camp, where everyone is congregating to meet, eat, drink, and have a damn good time and regroup for the next year of WebDevStudios badassery. 

What does that mean for you?

We’re going to be operating on a skeleton crew for the next week, but, generally speaking, things should be operating as they always do. If you’re a client, we’ve already been in touch. If you’re a prospective client or otherwise inquiring about something or other, we wanna make sure that you know that we will be responding to emails, but there may be a slight delay. You’ll still be seeing some awesome content and updates from us (and will probably be seeing a LOT of WDS Camp silliness over @webdevstudios). 

We’re using this week as an opportunity to collect ourselves, do some bonding, and make our team even stronger so that we can serve our clients better and plot our next moves…for world WordPress domination. See you on the other side, and if you need to get in touch, you know how.