New Smashing Magazine Power Tips for WordPress

My latest WordPress-focused article for the web’s leading online / digital media publication, Smashing Magazine, was published last Tuesday. New WordPress Power Tips For Template Developers And Consultants features a few tips exposed in my Custom WordPress Admin theme and talk, and adds a handful of new tips like:

  • Creating pagination links using WordPress’s built in paginate_links function
  • Adding body classes based on your own conditions
  • Redirecting failed logins
  • Adding warning messages to specific admin screens

My favorite tip is the leading one: applying WordPress’s highly underutilized, built in pagination function. I frequently see even high end, WordPress.com VIP themes relying on plug-ins like WP-PageNavi to do what WordPress can actually handle pretty well natively. The paginate_links function is a flexible little gem that should be used far more often than it is.

In the 5 days since the article was published, it was tweeted over 1,100 times and like on Facebook nearly 200 times. This website also saw a surge of traffic, which it handled gracefully thanks to some smart object caching and a highly reliable, distributed host.

Check out the article over at Smashing Magazine.

Customizing WordPress Admin – updated for 3.1 with new tips!

Back in June of 2010 I debuted a talk at WordCamp Chicago which I updated and shared in September at WordCamp Mid-Atlantic. Aimed at developers, Customizing WordPress Administration offered killer tips for consultants looking to tailor the other end of WordPress for their clients.

At the heart of the talk was a simple  Twenty-Ten child theme, with the focal point being a functions.php file loaded to the gills with hooks and functions that customize the branding and administrative experience (available for download here).

I’ve updated the child theme to 1.5; in addition to incorporating some suggestions, I’ve updated some small bits (like removing menu items) to take advantage of new WordPress 3.1 API calls and some other best practices (it now requires WordPress 3.1).

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That's a WordPress Site?? – A reminder

This evening, at our Providence WordPress Meetup,  one of our attendees mentioned that he participated in a training session run by Acquia for aspiring Drupal developers. As a user of WordPress, he was dismayed but not surprised to hear Acquia dismiss another attendee’s questions about WordPress’s viability as a content management system. “If you want a blog, go with WordPress. If you want a real website, go with Drupal.”

I have nothing against Drupal. In fact, I’ve developed websites on Drupal, and have recommended Drupal for some truly atypical and complex website projects. That said, I maintain that WordPress is not just a capable CMS for 90% of websites, but today, it’s the better choice. It’s usability is second to none, and with lower setup costs, hosting requirements, and maintenance requirements, it’s a smarter choice for the average client’s wallet. With the fairly recent addition of features like custom post types, custom taxonomies, and built in menu management, WordPress is quickly closing the gap on that 10% “unsuitability” hole, too.

You can’t blame Acquia for trying to protect their business, but it is a bit sad to see serious companies perpetuating the myth. For those still in doubt, I’ve attached my presentation from my “That’s a WordPress site??” lightning talk from July of last year.

That’s a WordPress Site?? – A reminder

This evening, at our Providence WordPress Meetup,  one of our attendees mentioned that he participated in a training session run by Acquia for aspiring Drupal developers. As a user of WordPress, he was dismayed but not surprised to hear Acquia dismiss another attendee’s questions about WordPress’s viability as a content management system. “If you want a blog, go with WordPress. If you want a real website, go with Drupal.”

I have nothing against Drupal. In fact, I’ve developed websites on Drupal, and have recommended Drupal for some truly atypical and complex website projects. That said, I maintain that WordPress is not just a capable CMS for 90% of websites, but today, it’s the better choice. It’s usability is second to none, and with lower setup costs, hosting requirements, and maintenance requirements, it’s a smarter choice for the average client’s wallet. With the fairly recent addition of features like custom post types, custom taxonomies, and built in menu management, WordPress is quickly closing the gap on that 10% “unsuitability” hole, too.

You can’t blame Acquia for trying to protect their business, but it is a bit sad to see serious companies perpetuating the myth. For those still in doubt, I’ve attached my presentation from my “That’s a WordPress site??” lightning talk from July of last year.

Podcast Series: Exploring Commercial WordPress Models

Throughout the month of April, I had the pleasure of co-hosting the WordPress Weekly podcast with regular host Jeff Chandler. The April episodes comprised a mini-series focused on commercial WordPress business models, not including consulting. Our primary goal was to provide insight and wisdom to those considering a commercial software or SaaS model built on an open source project (WordPress, specifically) from those who had been there and done that.

The origin of the series actually dated back to January’s WordCamp Boston, where Jeff moderated a panel I organized called “Monetization in a Free World”, intended to help the audience understand the commercial WordPress themes, plug-ins, and SaaS businesses. Jeff ended up being in an impossible position, with 40 minutes to cover all 3 models and incorporate Automattic’s perspective, visa vi Jane Wells. Jeff and I decided it was worth doing justice to the idea; and so the April series of podcast episodes came to life.

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WordPress Providence Meetup Kicks Off

Inspired by a few WordCamps that built themselves up from local WordPress meet ups, I finally got a few locals together at the beginning of April (Ken DeBlois of Brown and Suzanne McDonald, a freelance writer) to help organize a Providence Meetup. A couple of planning meetings, a new website, a Twitter account, and some local marketing later, we had our first meet up on April 26th.

I’ll be blogging over at the WordPress Providence website, so I won’t say too much about it in this forum, but the headline is that I was thrilled by the turn out and energy at our first event. We had about 30 attendees, a lot of buzz during the hour of networking, a nice and short presentation by DandyID (a local firm with a popular plug-in), and a great after-presentation brainstorming / discussion session.

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WordCamp Miami, The Great CMS Debate

I will be talking WordPress at two upcoming events, on opposite ends of the U.S. east coast this month.

WordCamp Miami. Never a big fan of winter, I’m definitely looking forward to a breather in sunny Miami, Florida. I’m flying down the evening before (this Friday, the 19th) and returning the following Tuesday. It’s actually more economic to stay a couple of extra days at the hotel as compared with taking a Sunday flight back. In any case, I’ll be speaking at Miami’s WordCamp, which takes place on Saturday the 20th at the University of Miami. I’ll be presenting a revised version of Themes 101, which “premiered” at WordCamp Boston. It will incorporate new information on the upcoming “default” theme, along with some feedback from Boston. If you’re in the area and interested in meeting up on Sunday or Monday, send me a note.

Boston North Shore Web Geeks’ “Great CMS Debate”. I’ll be representing WordPress on a panel debating the merits of a few popular web content management systems (CMS). Other panelists include Boston Web Studio’s Marc Amos (Expression Engine), Jay Batson (co-founder of Acquia, a widely known Drupal consultancy), and Fidelity’s Tom Herer (representing Kentico). My friend, founder of WordCamp Boston, and strategy guru at Optaros, John Eckman, moderates. It takes place on February 25th, at 7 ,pm in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

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WordPress.tv Cameo: Intranets

Back in November, I had the pleasure of attending WordCamp New York City. I spent about 10 minutes presenting my Google Reader plug-in, had a kick off WordCamp Boston planning meeting, had the pleasure of meeting inspiring folks like Raffi Mudge, and even had a great conversation in the hallway with Matt Mullenweg and Jeff Chandler (me in the  middle with the shoulder  bag, Matt sitting to my left, Jeff to my right – photo courtesy John Eckman) for about 40 minutes.

One of the sessions I attended was Ramil Teodosio’s WordPress Powered-Intranets. I’ve done a few Intranet implementations of my own and Ramil’s seminar was a bit more focused on SharePoint-like substitution than I expected. My own experience gave me an opportunity to pipe up a couple of times to offer suggestions and, among other things, plug my free Restricted Site Access plug-in, which was born out of an Intranet project, and I thought might be of interest to the audience. Judging by the post-presentation follow-up with a handful of attendees, at least a few found my comments useful.

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Interviewed on Episode 81 of WordPress Weekly

Last night I recorded the WordPress Weekly podcast with Jeff Chandler of WordPress Tavern. We chatted for about 90 minutes, and then want on to chat more during an after show chat that continued for over an hour. The podcast was published today, you can listen to it or get instructions for downloading it here. Here’s the iTunes link.

Topics included:

  • General WordPress consulting services
  • WordPress value perception as compared to other major CMS platforms
  • Exciting developer features coming in WordPress 2.9 (RC1 out today!)
  • What the near future holds for WordPress, with the MU merge and growth of BuddyPress, bbPress, et al
  • My latest Smashing Magazine article
  • WordCamp Boston (which I’m helping organize)

I really enjoyed participating in the podcast, and hope to participate again in the near future.

Jake Goldman

On the heels of part 1, part 2 of my Advanced Power Tips for WordPress Template developers was published on Smashing Magazine this morning. The article made it up to #2 on the Delicious popular bookmarks list during the day. Part 2 reviews techniques for delivering a more elegant, customized administrative experience.