Another Awesome WDS Year Down and Many More to Go

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As the end of 2015 approaches, we have joined the masses in taking stock of the passing year and started setting our sights on the next. The last few years have been a big jump for us and we’ve grown a lot. These transitions haven’t always been easy (that’s why they’re called growing pains), but we’ve come out stronger and better than ever. We saw a lot of changes in 2015, particularly structurally, as well as hit a few milestones that we are STILL jazzed about. 

Let’s take a brief tour through recent WDS history to get you completely caught up to today:

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Digital Nomad: Road Trip While You Work

They say remote work has its perks–work from home, work in your pajamas. For me, working from anywhere is what gets me excited. At WebDevStudios, we are distributed, so I take advantage of it. Last summer I got accepted to speak at WordCamp Miami. I had wanted to go back to Florida as that is where I spent my teens growing up. I wanted to visit a few friends and do a vacation at the same time. So I rolled WordCamp Miami and a summer trip all into one.

I was only taking a five day vacation (Disney World) and was going to be in Florida for about a month and I wanted to wander around the country. There were a few challenges: where to stay, how to get around, and how to get work done each day. I started doing the math. Do I fly to Miami and rent a car? Stay in hotels? Airbnb? Camping (which I do a lot)? Then, I started thinking maybe I want to travel a bit longer and tour the country.

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Unexpected Practical Applications of Programming Skills

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Years ago, I worked in the electronics department of the Kmart in the city where I grew up. I was a young fresh teenager attending college for both Computer Science and Music Theory. Each day I interacted with dozens of customers, coworkers, management, products, and store processes. I did not particularly like working at Kmart, but something happened during my time there that provided an unexpected practical application of the programming skills I had been taught in school.

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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

WordPress 101, WordPress terminology, WordPress beginner, WordPress tips, WordPress dictionary, WordPress definitions, WordPress how-to, WordPress tutorial, WordPress for Dummies, WebDevStudios

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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