Designing Your Process (For Fun and Profit)

What is design? Design solves problems. If you aren’t solving a problem, than your design is making it pretty. Whether it is a website, an app or service, your design must do something. Pretty is not the goal of design.

How do you go from pretty to design?

  • Understand your clients needs. Whether its an app, service or website, work with them to learn what they want.
  • Know who the audience you are designing for. Who are they? What problem to they need solved? Why would they use your solution?
  • Define the problem. What is the problem that you want to solve?
  • Solve the problem. Develop the solution to your problem.

In order to do this, you need to develop a process that help you get from idea to solution. Chris Ford at WordCamp Orange County 2016, talks about Designing Your Process.

You can also find the presentation slides on Slide Deck.

By developing a design process, you can see where you are going, choose the right tools and deal with unexpected surprises and failures when they occur. What have you included in your design process?

How Do I Manage Multiple WordPress Websites?

When you have a single WordPress website, managing it is easy. You log in update plugins, WordPress or your theme. Once you start making more WordPress websites whether for yourself or clients, you’ll need a more effective way of managing them.

Manage Multiple Sites

With WordPress, you have a number of solutions to choice from that help you manage multiple WordPress websites from one location. No more logging in and out and switching between websites. Here is a quick overview of three of the best WordPress Management solutions.

MainWP

A WordPress Management plugin that allows to manage multiple WordPress sites from one location. You can manage your day to day WordPress tasks from posts to updates. MainWP is a free plugin with many features.

You can:

  • Manage Plugins and Themes
  • Manage Unlimited WordPress sites
  • Manage Users
  • Host on Your Own Server
  • Manage content, upgrades and backups

What do you get with the paid version?

  • Article Uploader
  • Advance Uptime Monitor
  • Bulk Settings Manager

Infinite WP

A self-hosted, multiple WordPress management platform that simplifies your WordPress management tasks. You can backup and update multiple WordPress sites from one location without having to login to each site.

  • Written in PHP; not native to WordPress
  • Free
  • Self-hosted
  • Master Login
  • One Click Update
  • Back Up and Restore
  • Doesn’t matter what server you install it on

What do you get in the paid version?

  • Scheduled Backups
  • Manage Users
  • Publish Posts and Pages
  • Security Plugins like WordFence and iThemes Security
  • WP Maintenance
  • Cloud Backup
  • Staging

CMS Commander

A powerful dashboard that allow you to manage all of your WordPress websites in one solution. CMS Commander also provides tools for bulk posts articles and pages to your blogs simultaneously, create a new WordPress site with all the settings that you need to get started and more.

  • Free to try
  • One Dashboard to Control All WordPress Websites
  • Full Overview of Traffic and Statistics
  • Copy Entire WordPress Sites for a New Project
  • Complete Control to Manage Posts, Comments and Users
  • Easy to Update All WordPress Sites
  • Automatic Backups of All Your Sites

Summary

Managing multiple WordPress websites individually is both time-consuming and unproductive. By using a WordPress management tool, you can be more productive by streamlining your maintenance tasks and save time. Each tool has different features, benefits and pricing. Pick the one that fits your needs.

Why Learn to Code?

By now, you have heard that you should learn to code. Politicians, celebrities and others are advising you to learn how to code. With coding bootcamps like Free Code Camp, coding schools and organizations like Girl Develop It and online tutorials, you can easily learn code.

Programming
Learn to Code

Why should you learn to code? There are good reasons and bad reasons for doing it.

Bad Reasons for learning to code

  • You’ll make lots of money as a software programmer. Software programmers with years of experience and skills that are in high demand can get a good salary. It also depends on the industry. Non-profits and schools don’t pay as much as a software company would. If you are starting out as a programmer, you will be paid a beginner’s salary.
  • You’ll become a millionaire. For every great idea that succeeds, there are many that fail. Not everyone will want or even need your software idea. Being able to code won’t guarantee that your idea is what people will pay for.
  • Someone told you to It isn’t always a good idea to do something because someone told you to.

Good Reasons to learn to code

  • You enjoy solving with problems. When you write code, you need to be able to break a problem apart, decide what steps are require to solve and write code that solves the problem. If you don’t enjoy solving problems or figuring out puzzles, coding won’t be interesting or even fun.
  • You enjoy building new things. Building or creating things is a messy process. Sometimes it takes several versions or attempts to get the end result that you want. To write code, you have to enjoy this process and be persistent.
  • You enjoy learning new things. As a coder, you have to be a learner. Every day, there is some new technology, technique or requirement that you need to learn about. If you don’t like learning or trying out new things, than you won’t like coding.

What kind of knowledge do you want to gain from learning to code?

You can approach coding in two ways: Theory and Practical Knowledge. What do I mean by Theory? Theory means learning the basics of coding. It includes that history of programming, what does a coder (programmer) does and how do they start with idea and end up with a finished product. You’ll better understand how technology works and why they work they way they do.

Practical Knowledge includes theory. You learn how to use code to solve problems, program and build software and apps. It is a deep dive into the theory, techniques, tools and chosen languages. You learn how computers work, why you need to write code a certain way and how to take an idea from design to finished product.

How can you tell the difference? Michelle, Marktime Media, has a great example of theory vs practical knowledge. In her article about Should I Learn to Code, she talks about the difference between car ownership and car enthusiast. Car owners need to know how to drive a car and minimal maintenance. A car enthusiast knows more about cars than the average car owner. They are interested in learning everything they can about cars. Some enthusiasts can even design or build a car from scratch. Most car owners don’t want to do that. They learn just enough to drive and maintain their car.

What does this mean for you?

You have to decide what you want to do with coding. Are you going to learn theory or practical knowledge? Learn enough about coding to understand how it is done, what is involved in coding and using that knowledge to better understand the technology that you use on a daily basis. Or become a coding enthusiast. Learn how to code, solve problems and build great things.

If you are still considering learning to code and haven’t decided. Jeff Atwood of Coding Horror explains why you shouldn’t learn to code.

How to build Landing Pages for your website

Do you have landing pages on your website? A landing page is a high focused page that has one call to action and targets a specific audience. This type of page can be temporary like getting people interested in an event or a webinar that you are host. Or it can be permanent page that you use to get people to purchase your eBook or new product.

Build a Landing Page

Here are some tips I learned from a recent talk on building landing pages:

What should your landing page have?

  • Heading and Subheading. Use headings and subheadings to break up the content and make it easier to read.
  • Content. Write quality content that speaks to your audience.
  • Key Benefits and Features. People like to know how you can help them solve a problem that they have.
  • Social Proof. Get people who like your product or service explain how you helped them.
  • Social Share. Provide links to social media, so people can share your website.
  • Call To Action. Your landing page should have one step that you want people to take.
  • Lead Intake Form. Provide a form so that people can get in touch with you for more information.
  • Little or no navigation bar. You want to keep them on the page. Navigation bars provide a way to leave your page quickly.

How do I drive traffic to my landing page?

  • Email. You can get people to your website through email newsletters.
  • In Person. When you meet people, whether at a conference, networking meeting or anywhere else, tell them about your website.
  • Blog. Either write a post on your own website or guest blog post on another site. Blog posts can bring visitors to your site. Weeks or months after you have written the post.
  • Social Media. Share the link to your website. People will share links if it is helpful, interesting or helped them solve a problem.
  • Video. Create a video and include a link to your website in the video.
  • Custom Business Cards. Make custom business cards for an event such as networking that includes a link to your website.

What parts of the landing page should I test?

  • Headlines. They can help or hurt your results. Try different headlines to see if you get a better response.
  • Images. Your landing page should use photos, graphics or icon. Different images can help sell your story.
  • Text. Your text is an important part of your landing page. Experiment with different types of content: lists, testimonials, or stories.
  • Call to Action. Change your call to action. Try “Getting Started” vs “Buy Now”.
  • Page Layouts. Single column, two columns or three columns can help you organize your page. Try rearrange your page to see if one, two, three or a combination of columns works better.
  • Other design elements. Experiment with color, fonts and other design element. Color can font choices can influence how people perceive your website. Your intended audience may respond to different choices.

What tools and apps can I use to make my landing page?

  • WordPress
  • OptimizePress
  • Gravity Forms
  • X Theme
  • LeadPages
  • Optimizely

Additional tools to make your landing page better:

  • Copyblogger. You’ll find tips and techniques on copywriting, marketing and more.
  • Google Analytics. Use to measure how much traffic your page is getting and to help you make adjustments to your page.
  • Hubspot. Use their software to help you streamline and increase your sales and marketing efforts.

Summary

Landing pages are different from other pages on your website. It can be a permanent or temporary page. You want the page to be focused on a specific audience and topic. By using different elements like headlines, call to action, social proof, lead intake form, copy and photos, you can create a landing page that fits your target audience. Test and experiment with different elements to create a landing page that works for your intended audience.

‘Start Here’ What should you have on it?

New readers come to your website from a post or found your site through Social Media. Do they know where to start? How do you help them learn what to expect? You can create a ‘Start Here’ page.
Start Here

What is a Start Here page?

A Start Here page is a summary of what your readers can expect. You showcase your best work to keep new readers interested in your content.

What should I have on my start page?

  • A summary of what your readers can expect to find on your website
  • Links to your top articles
  • Links to your categories
  • A video introducing your readers to you and your website
  • Links to your newsletter and social media sites

Start Page Examples

Click It Up a Notch

Click It Up A Notch
Click It Up a Notch has the following elements:

  • Summary of what the website is about
  • Links to top articles and resources
  • testimonials
  • a letter to beginning photographers
  • Courtney’s profile and a link to find out about Workshops she offers

100 Days of Real Food

100 Days of Real Food
100 Days of Real Food uses the following:

  • A summary of what 100 Days of Real Food is about and why Lisa started this blog
  • Three different lists of resources to help you to get started with the blog and real food
  • A link to learn more about Lisa Leake
  • A section on sponsors that you might find interesting
  • A footer section that has her newsletter sign up, book and quick links

Y Travel

YTravel
Y Travel uses the following:

  • A summary of how to plan the perfect trip
  • Three links on Before Your Travel, Travel Research and Planning, and to help you determine your travel style
  • A section that asks you to get started on your travel dreams and join them.

Should your website have a Start Here page?

Is your website a blog? A community site? For blogs and community sites, a Start Here or Getting Started page can be a good tool to have. It helps new readers learn more about you. They can sign up for your newsletter and follow you on Social Media if they like what they see.

Want to learn more about creating effective start pages?

Check out the following resources to learn more about adding a start page to your blog.