Envato https://envato.com Design & creative inspiration Thu, 21 Jun 2018 03:09:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 https://assets.wordpress.envato-static.com/uploads/2016/08/cropped-favicon-32x32.png Envato https://envato.com 32 32 How Gutenberg Will Impact WordPress Users https://envato.com/blog/how-gutenberg-will-impact-wordpress-users/ Tue, 27 Feb 2018 03:53:43 +0000 https://envato.com/?p=66173 WordPress 5.0 brings with it the biggest change the platform has seen in its entire history. Gutenberg is an editor that's going to allow for creating pages and posts to be more visual. Here's our round-up of what makes it different from the current WordPress platform, and why it's a big deal.

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Longtime users of WordPress will notice a change when version 5.0 is released. With the introduction of the new Gutenberg editor, the experience of adding and editing content is going to look quite different than before.

For many, change can be a bit scary. This is especially the case when there’s a major change to something we use so often. Our workflow can be interrupted by having to learn a new way of doing things. It is very much a natural reaction.

But not to worry! More than anything, Gutenberg aims to bring more efficiency and flexibility when it comes to content. And, while the interface is different, it may very well grow on you.

With that, here are some things you’ll need to know about this new editor. We’ll cover why it exists, how it will improve the process of creating content and how it will work with your existing website. Plus, we’ll even provide some information regarding how you can try Gutenberg before WordPress 5.0 comes out.

It Better Reflects the Needs of Modern Websites

When WordPress was first released in 2003, its main purpose was as a blogging platform. In that era, writing a blog post was relatively simple. Content was generally text, with a few photos and hyperlinks thrown in for good measure. The WordPress editor was a perfect fit – a simple box where you could do everything you needed.

But over time, expectations have changed. Users now want to create more diverse types of content – custom mixes of text, multimedia and more advanced design elements. This is something that the “classic” editor doesn’t handle very well. As it stands, it is too easy to inadvertently break surrounding content while trying to add something more complex to a page or post. It also requires us to sometimes edit code – which isn’t a comfortable experience for everyone.

Blocks to the Rescue

Gutenberg, in contrast, does things differently. It enables us to separate different types of content into what they refer to as “blocks”. Each block is a self-contained piece of content. For example, you may create an image block for the top of your page, with a text (aka “Paragraph”) block underneath. If you make a change to the text, it won’t affect the image block – and vice-versa.

There are blocks for several different types of content, including:

  • Images
  • Cover Images (meant to take up the entire width of the screen)
  • Galleries
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Embedded Media (YouTube, Facebook, etc.)
  • Lists
  • Headings
  • Paragraphs
  • Tables
  • Widgets

This is just a small taste of what’s available. What’s more, specific themes and plugins may come with their own custom blocks that provide extra functionality. For example, we may eventually see WooCommerce include a “Product” block that lets you easily display product information within a page.

Overall, Gutenberg is a response (perhaps even a necessary one, at that) to the changing needs of websites. Instead of working around the classic editor’s limitations, we’ll now have the flexibility to create content exactly the way we want.

It Should Work With Your Current Theme (and Most Plugins)

Besides its different look, the other concern users have is that Gutenberg will somehow break or simply not work with their current WordPress theme. After all, no one wants to upgrade their website only to have things go haywire.

The good news is that Gutenberg should be compatible with just about every theme. Adding blocks of content should just work without the need to make any changes. There is a small catch, though.

While blocks will work (pardon the pun) “out-of-the-box”, there could be specific types of content that may not look quite as you’d expect. For example, the Cover Image block we mentioned above is meant to stretch across the width of a user’s screen. If your theme isn’t setup to handle full-width images, then you may get something short of that. It may take some custom work to get everything exactly as you’d like it.

Gutenberg and Plugins

For the most part, it is expected that Gutenberg will be compatible with the big plugins out there. But those that also place information on the page/post editor may be displayed on a different part of the screen than you’re used to.

This new setup reserves the vast majority of the edit screen to the content itself, with other settings being moved to a menu on the lower right. Clicking on a title will open it up for tweaking.

Beyond that, it’s worth noting that not every plugin is going to work smoothly with the new editor. So you may see a number of plugins being updated around the time Gutenberg is fully released with WordPress 5.0. Older plugins that have been abandoned may or may not work – the answers will be on a case-by-case basis.

You Have a Choice (For Now)

As we often see with major changes to software, not everyone wants to upgrade. In the case of WordPress, it’s bad practice for security to leave an old version in place. But those who don’t want to use Gutenberg just yet can have it both ways.

The classic WordPress editor will be available as a plugin for the foreseeable future. This means that you can both upgrade to WordPress 5.0 when it becomes available and also keep on using the more familiar editor.

This is not only great news for those who don’t want to change their workflow, it’s also a big deal for those who may need to keep on using the old editor for other reasons. It may be that a certain plugin or customization that is vital to your site’s functionality isn’t Gutenberg-ready. This will at least buy you some extra time.

Granted, we don’t know how long the plugin version of the classic editor will be available. That may very well depend on how many people are using it. It would seem that this alternative setup would be around for quite some time, however.

How to Try Gutenberg Today

If you’re interested in seeing what this new editor can do for you, it’s available as a plugin – that is, until it becomes fully-integrated into WordPress 5.0. It’s not recommended that you use the plugin on your main website. Instead, it’s better to try things out on a separate installation of WordPress if possible.

The plugin version is generally updated once a week, with new features and bug fixes being regularly added in. Those curious enough to try it will see things gradually improve as the editor evolves. Just in the few months that the plugin has been available, there has been a marked improvement in virtually every aspect of the software.

Just remember that, since this is not a fully-finished product, you use it at your own risk.

A Welcome Change

Looking at the whole picture, Gutenberg should be a reason for many WordPress users to feel excited. It’s going to add another dimension to content creation. The new editor will provide everyone with a means to more easily combine different types of content and customize it to meet their needs.

This is a great step forward for users who have felt limited by the classic editor. In fact, you might consider it an opportunity to do more with your website. You can expand the depth of your content without fear of breaking anything – something that wasn’t always possible in the past.

That being said, there will undoubtedly be a few bumps in the road as Gutenberg is sent out into the wild. With the sheer number of possible theme and plugin combinations out there, not everything is going to work perfectly from day one. But any hiccups should improve as time marches on.

And while this new editing experience will take some getting used to, don’t get discouraged. As with any change, there is a learning curve. But the more you use Gutenberg, the more intuitive it becomes.

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Why WordPress Was Groundbreaking for Designers

WordPress has been an important piece of the puzzle in both functionality and the intuitiveness of its user experience. But to get a full sense of its impact on design, we need to revisit content management systems (CMS) circa 2003; the time of its release. Here’s why WordPress was groundbreaking for design.

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21 Top WordPress Themes and Plugins for Restaurants, Cafes and Dining https://envato.com/blog/21-top-wordpress-themes-and-plugins-for-restaurants-cafes-and-dining/ Fri, 23 Feb 2018 05:23:16 +0000 https://envato.com/?p=66116 Becoming a successful restaurant requires more than just a good menu. It requires a great website. To help you find a theme that'll have your reservations full for the foreseeable future, here are 21 WordPress themes and plugins that will have your business buzzing.

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While having a top-notch website is important for just about everyone, there are certain industries where it can make an even greater impact. The food and dining industry has to be among them. Let’s take a moment and think about just how important a restaurant’s website can be to its success.

Imagine you’re looking for a place to eat tonight and you’re searching out some local establishments. You’ve heard nice things about a certain Italian restaurant in town, but their website appears to be utterly useless save for a few stock photos and a phone number. The site isn’t mobile-friendly, there’s no menu and no clear path to making reservations.

Chances are, you won’t be nearly as keen on visiting a restaurant that doesn’t take its website seriously. That’s why it’s of utmost importance to provide users with a website that’s attractive, functional and leads them to the information they need the most.

Fortunately, this is something that can be achieved with the right mix of an outstanding WordPress theme and powerful plugins. Today, we’ll introduce you to 21 WordPress themes and plugins that will have your business buzzing about with happy diners.

WordPress Restaurant Themes

One of the first things you’ll notice about Grand Restaurant’s several layout options is its use of large, appetizing photos. That’s a great way to entice visitors to stick around and learn more about what you have to offer. The theme not only makes great use of your photography, it also includes a highly-configurable menu, support for online reservations via email, OpenTable or a third-party link. There are plenty of opportunities to customize the look and layout to fit your needs, as well.

A high-end look is key to representing your brand and Resto is a theme that can help you achieve it. You’ll find stunning animation and parallax scrolling effects, along with an elegant design. There are also several home page designs to choose from, a reservation form, the ability to fully customize site colors and fonts. It’s also built with SEO in mind to help new customers find you.

Floury offers an elegant look and layout that is suitable for a variety of food-related businesses. There are numerous home page and blog layouts, along with lots of custom Shortcodes for adding visual elements with ease. It also integrates many font and icon packages, allowing plenty of room for customization.

Built with breweries and restaurants in mind, Prohibition includes some exciting niche features. Take, for example, the filterable beer portfolio. Beers can be categorized by style and there are areas to add specific information such as alcohol content. You’ll also find a very well-done food menu that is both beautiful and easy to read. The included mega menus make it easy for visitors to navigate through content-heavy sites.

There are instances where a restaurant doesn’t necessarily need a huge, multi-page website. Pizza is a theme that provides everything you need – all in a one-page setup. Restaurateurs can add a menu, reservation form and Google map to help diners get the information they need. The highlight here is the “Specials” carousel, which attractively displays Polaroid-style photos of featured menu selections.

Those looking to impress visitors with an elegant look and special effects will want to check out STEAM. It’s a single-page style theme with outstanding typography, parallax scrolling and a slideshow-based food and beverage menu. There’s also a built in Instagram gallery, OpenTable compatibility and a highly-customizable location map.

A thoroughly-modern layout and a variety of restaurant-specific pages are what make FlyCoffee a great choice for just about any eatery. Included are a Menu page that sports an incredibly clean layout, a Reservations page with a slickly-designed form and an Offers page that could provide a home for daily specials.

Soup provides restaurants with a unique, attention-grabbing layout. The off-kilter layered look could be a great fit for establishments that think of themselves as being a bit “outside-the-box”. It’s also worth noting that this theme works with WooCommerce to enable online ordering. That’s something to consider as restaurants of all sizes are using ecommerce to maximize user convenience and revenue.

Madison features a terrific use of color and typography that can bring your restaurant’s website to life. The combination of soft background colors with red scripted heading text really helps to make items jump off the screen. It’s incredibly easy to pick out specific items of interest with minimal effort. Inside, you’ll find a sticky navigation bar, a handy reservation form, chef profiles and two different menu layouts.

With an impressive 16 included homepage layouts to choose from, Granny is sure to match the needs of most any restaurant. Not only that, there are 8 available menu layouts as well. This kind of variety means that you’ll be able to tailor the look of your website to reflect who you are. The theme is very much ready to customize to your exact specifications.

Rodich is a WordPress theme that provides a highly-detailed look and lots of room for customization. It also includes the kinds of features that restaurants crave, like OpenTable reservation compatibility and a menu that allows visitors to click through to view more details regarding a particular dish. WooCommerce compatibility offers an opportunity for online sales, as well.

A great fit for a variety of establishments, LaCuisine includes demo layouts for traditional restaurants, bakeries and coffee shops. There’s quite a bit of flexibility built in, including the ability to use the theme for a single or multi-page website. You’ll also find an online reservation system, the ability to add video backgrounds and a variety of custom WordPress widgets.

A restaurant’s personality is a big part of its appeal. And that is something that the Vincent theme can help you showcase. It offers a mix of both fun and modern design elements. The look is very neat and tidy, while some animation is used to provide a bit of pizzazz. Included are six homepage and 3 menu layouts to help you achieve just the right look.

When building a restaurant website, there’s a balance between simplicity and utility. You don’t want to overcomplicate things, yet you want to make sure that visitors can get the information they need. Steweys seems to get this balance just right. It’s an appealing theme, with a dead-simple home page that consists of navigation and a full-screen slider. But you still get the essentials, like an easy-to-browse menu, blog and contact pages. This is perfect for the small eatery that just wants to do the basics in an appealing manner.

La Boom is a full-featured WordPress theme that will provide you with a well-crafted and unique look. It comes packed with several page templates, including five different homepage layouts. There’s also a filterable portfolio-styled menu that allows users to easily find what they’re looking for. In addition, there are lots of opportunities to tweak the look to meet your needs. Overall, it’s a very flexible option.

Those looking to go all-out in terms of features and content will want to check out Gourmet. With 138 included templates, it has something to fill just about every need. There are also plenty of design elements available, with tons of icons and page components to unleash your creative flair. Plus, the theme features a wide array of settings for customization.

Restaurant Plugins for WordPress

Online ordering is one of the most popular and convenient features being implemented on restaurant websites. WooFood is a plugin that combines with WooCommerce to bring this functionality to any WordPress website. Customers can order off of your menu, choose delivery or pickup options and pay online. Restaurateurs have the ability to set delivery/pickup hours, manage delivery radius and more.

For establishments with multiple locations, it’s important to provide visitors with a simple way to find the one nearest to them. Store locator provides a flexible way to help customers find you. The plugin uses geolocation to show the closest location and provide directions. Other features include the ability to filter locations by business hours, import locations via a spreadsheet and customize the map template to your liking.

What makes WooRestaurant Pro so interesting is that it can be used to enable online ordering either for multi-location chain restaurants or for collectives such as a food court. Multiple establishments can be added and categorized. From there, customers can choose the restaurants they want to order from through an easy-to-use directory. It’s a very niche companion for WooCommerce that could be very useful in the right situation.

If you’re looking to add a food or beverage menu to your website, Food Menus for WordPress provides an easy and flexible way to get it done. It features over 20 different menu layout possibilities, so you’re sure to find one that suits your style. Plus, you’ll find a layout builder, lots of icons and editable fields.

FoodPress is a WordPress plugin that will not only add a menu to your website, but a reservation system as well. There are several menu styles included, with a variety of ways to navigate through them. When it comes to reservations, an attractive form can be added on the front end of your site, while your queue of reservations can be managed in the WordPress administration area. Reservations can also be submitted by site administrators, allowing for an all-in-one management solution.

Conclusion

With the variety of available WordPress themes and plugins, it’s easier than ever to build the perfect restaurant website. In the end, it’s really about using these tools to show the world what you have to offer. Provide visitors with an appetizing online presence and you’ll have them lining up at your door.

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Why WordPress Was Groundbreaking for Designers https://envato.com/blog/why-wordpress-was-groundbreaking-for-designers/ Tue, 20 Feb 2018 01:20:21 +0000 https://envato.com/?p=65987 WordPress has been an important piece of the puzzle in both functionality and the intuitiveness of its user experience. But to get a full sense of its impact on design, we need to revisit content management systems (CMS) circa 2003; the time of its release. Here's why WordPress was groundbreaking for design.

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Looking back at the history of web design is a great reminder of how far we’ve come. When we take a trip down memory lane, we often think of the trends that shaped an era. But it’s also important explore the role various tools have played in helping those trends expand and evolve.

WordPress, in particular, has been an important piece of the puzzle in both functionality (which it receives tremendous credit for) and design (which we don’t hear too much about). But to fully get a sense of its impact on design, we need to look back at what content management systems (CMS) were like around the time of the very first WordPress release in 2003.

An Era of Sameness

Yes, there were other open source CMS platforms available before WordPress. Drupal, for example, was initially released in 2000. But one particular system from those days that stands out is PhpNuke. It’s billed as the “first PHP CMS” and was quite popular at the time. These days, it’s in use on a miniscule number of websites.

The software was functional, but was somewhat complicated to design for. Thus, you could often tell which CMS a site was running just by looking at the design. It led to the feeling that using a CMS would box you into specific looks and layouts. That reputation was a hard one to shake.

Personally, it’s one of the reasons I was reluctant to switch from building more traditional static HTML websites (apart from my lack of PHP knowledge). Whatever was gained in functionality, was lost in flexibility. It just didn’t seem worth the effort.

That’s not an indictment of the software itself, just an observation of the limitations designers faced. It also sets the scene for what was to come.

The Theme That Changed Everything

Fast-forward to February 2005, when WordPress 1.5 was released. Along with that new software version came a new default theme included with WordPress called Default (aka Kubrick).

On the outside, the look wasn’t revolutionary. But what had designers so excited was what the theme looked like on the inside. It was, compared to previous CMS templates, relatively easy to customize. If you knew a little bit of CSS, you could take a copy of Kubrick and quickly turn it into something uniquely your own.

I have memories of pulling the theme apart to build a rudimentary blog or two. Even in the days before it was common to use WordPress to power entire websites, I was able to bend and shape Kubrick to match an existing static HTML sites’ look and navigation. That meant both a blog and “main” site could coexist with a fairly seamless look.

Looking back, Kubrick helped to usher in a new era in web design and development. The theme, along with the system it ran on, brought us to a place where both design and functionality were coming together in a way they hadn’t before – at least, not to the masses.

The beauty of this was that those with limited budgets no longer had to choose between something that looked great and something that had the functionality they needed. Instead, designers started to see that they really could have it all in one powerful package.

Democratizing Design

As WordPress continued its meteoric growth towards becoming the world’s most-used CMS, it also spread (intentionally or not) dynamic websites that featured great design. Everyone from large corporate entities to solo entrepreneurs began to see WordPress as a vehicle for building the modern web.

The combination of the software’s popularity and open source philosophy also led to a seriously powerful marketplace for themes and plugins. Suddenly, you didn’t have to be a professional designer to have a beautiful and highly-functioning website. Instead, it became a matter of choosing the theme that matched your needs and customizing it to your taste.

But web professionals have also harnessed the theme market to facilitate a more efficient way to build websites. Themes can serve as a great starting point for projects – saving everyone involved both time and money.

Put it all together and there is no longer an excuse for anyone to have a poorly-designed website. No matter an individual’s or company’s purpose, needs or budget – WordPress has helped to create an ecosystem where everything is well within reach. They have not only accomplished their goal of democratizing publishing, but design as well.

Always in Style

Design is an ever-evolving art. So as new trends come to light, it’s important to recognize those shifts and adopt them in ways that fit into your brand. Again, this is a strength of systems like WordPress. Because the theme is separate from a site’s content, it’s much easier to change along with the times. This helps to prevent things from getting stale and outdated.

In the days before WordPress, redesigning a website was often a monumental task. Now it could be as simple as switching themes inside the WordPress dashboard. It still may require some tweaks to get things just as you want them, but the process is much more efficient than it was in the past.

And the sheer variety of what can be done in terms of design is limited only by your imagination. Whether you’re building themes from scratch or buying them out in the market, there isn’t a look or layout you can’t achieve.

For example, if you’re looking to go minimalist or sport a material design look, you have an abundance of options. Similarly, there are designs focused less on specific trends and more on industries or other niche uses. Subjects like photography, business, ecommerce and landing pages are among the plethora of possibilities.

There is literally a world of design options now available at our fingertips.

Looking Towards the Future

As both design and web technologies continue to move forward, WordPress looks to be preparing for the future. For one, the upcoming Gutenberg editor will allow for page content that is more design-friendly when compared to the “classic” editor. Again, it opens up a new world to professionals and novices alike.

There’s also been a lot of talk about how more JavaScript-based applications could impact WordPress down the road. That could change the way themes are created and the way we consume web content. It may end up that the web looks and functions more like an app than anything else.

Regardless of what the future brings, WordPress has already had a huge role in making design something that we can all access and implement into our own websites. That in itself is quite an accomplishment.

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Ways to Launch Your Website Quickly, Without Sacrificing Quality https://envato.com/blog/ways-launch-website-quickly-without-sacrificing-quality/ Mon, 08 Jan 2018 05:00:33 +0000 https://envato.com/?p=63510 Every business wants to put their best foot forward when it comes to their website. But there are challenges in taking a website from concept to finished product in short order. Here are some ways you can do it without sacrificing quality.

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Image: New Business Project Start Up by Faber14

As a web designer, when I ask clients about their timeline for launching their new website, the usual response is: “As soon as possible.” This makes perfect sense as every business wants to put their best foot forward when it comes to their website. But there are often challenges in taking a website from concept to finished product in short order.

For one, hurrying your way through the process can lead to mistakes. It’s often the little details in both the layout and content that suffer from your rushing around. That could show up in the form of misspellings or even a broken layout. When you’re in a major hurry, the results reflect in the overall quality of the website.

Thankfully, you can save yourself a lot of trouble by taking some steps to ensure that you can get your site launched quickly while maintaining a high standard of quality.

Don’t Start From Scratch

When time really is of the essence, there may simply not be enough of it to warrant starting from scratch. Going through the process of building an entire website from ground zero will make it difficult to get up and running on time. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t still have a beautiful, highly-functional website.

There are tools and services you can use that will speed up the process. A site builder, for example, will enable you to start out with a pre-designed template that you can customize to suit your needs. While it means the look of your site may not be 100% original, you can change things up enough to make it uniquely your own.

If you’re looking for serious functionality, using a well-made WordPress theme is a great solution. All of the hard design and development work has been done for you. From there, you can integrate any necessary plugins to add those must-have features. This will let you take advantage of the powerful WordPress platform without all of the extra effort.

This step alone will put you miles ahead in terms of getting things done within your desired timeframe.

Narrow the Focus of Your Content

Craftsma by EwaStudio

Beyond the design process, the biggest cause for delay in getting a website launched is developing content. So it stands to reason that the more content you have to prepare, the harder it will be to hit your deadline.

If getting your website launched quickly is a top priority, then it’s okay to start small when it comes to content. While it would be nice to start things off with a few dozen carefully-crafted blog posts touting your business – it’s a bit impractical. Instead, think about the basics that visitors will need to know like the services or products you offer, contact information, etc.

Once your site is up and running, you’ll be able to add content at a comfortable pace. This can actually be a good thing in that repeat visitors will have something new to check out. The other advantage of starting small is that you can truly focus on making the most important content the best it can be.

Enlist a Helping Hand (Or Two)

Building a website isn’t easy. There will likely be certain tasks during the process that eat up more time than you anticipated. Things that looked simple in the beginning can turn into a complicated mess in a hurry.

When you’re mired in such a situation, bringing in an expert to help can get things back on track. That will allow you to focus on other parts of the project while your hired hand(s) can take care of whatever pesky issues arise.

But you don’t necessarily have to wait for something like this to pop up unannounced. For instance, if you know that there’s a specific part of the process that’s outside of your comfort zone, that’s the time to think about getting some help. Planning ahead will help you avoid a derailment while on the way to the finish line.

Make the Hard Choices

To paraphrase an old saying: If you want something that’s good, fast and cheap – pick two. The point being that you’re probably not going to get all three of those things at once. However, that saying may be less relevant for those who are able to make some tough decisions early on.

When “fast” is first on your personal wishlist, that means that you’ll inevitably have to make some tradeoffs. Maybe that means holding off on that complicated functionality until later on. Or it could be that you’ll have to take your focus off of other matters in order to get your website launched.

By making those types of decisions, you may actually be placing yourself on a path to achieve all three traits – or at least get close to it. When you realize that you can’t have “everything now”, you can concentrate your efforts on what is doable within the allotted time and budget.

In that way, maybe “good, fast and cheap” isn’t so unrealistic.

You Can Do It!

Sure, having a tight timeline for launching your website is a challenge. But it’s far from impossible. So often, we try to cram all of our wants and needs into the tiniest of spaces. The better approach is in taking that timeline and adjusting our expectations around it.

With realistic expectations, we can then turn our attention into building the best website possible. We can use tools and services to get us off to a running start. Content can be narrowed down to focus on our most pressing needs. And, if there are areas where some extra help would be appreciated, we can be proactive in seeking it out.

Perhaps the hardest part of the process involves deciding what has to be included and what can wait. But it may well be the most important factor in getting things right.

Keep in mind that launching a website in itself is full of hurdles to get past. Doing so within a compressed timeline adds even more obstacles. But with the right approach, you’ll put yourself in a position to launch a top-quality site in less time than you thought possible.

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A Busy Designer’s Guide to Building Websites More Efficiently with WordPress https://envato.com/blog/busy-designers-guide-building-websites-efficiently-wordpress/ Sun, 26 Nov 2017 21:10:26 +0000 https://envato.com/?p=59587 Tips and tricks for a smarter web design process.

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Image: Envato Elements

One of the great joys of being a web designer is booking a new project. You feel excited about the potential of your new journey. The process of designing the look, layout and functionality of a new website brings a creative high.

But what if you have multiple projects to work on? The reality is that most of us can’t afford to handle just one project at a time. More often, we’re forced to juggle different tasks simultaneously. It can be stressful and also drain you of creative energy.

When you have multiple projects to get done, you need to find efficiencies wherever possible. Fortunately, building websites with WordPress provides many opportunities to get things done faster without sacrificing quality (or your sanity). Here are some strategies and techniques for utilizing WordPress to create websites at peak efficiency.

Take Advantage of One-Click Installs

Installing WordPress the old-fashioned way is fairly simple, but it takes up precious time. Many web hosts now feature a one-click install that will do all the dirty work for you. Most often, you’ll find this feature in your hosting account’s control panel.

The entire process is quick and painless. Simply fill out a few fields with information such as the title of your site and desired login information. From there, the server handles the rest. No need to create a database or touch any configuration files.

Have an Unlimited Collection of Quality Themes

Starting from scratch for each new project is incredibly difficult and time-consuming. That’s why it makes sense to have a selection of quality themes on hand. Using the right theme will cover all the basics for you and get you off to a fast start. From there, you’re better able to focus on customizing things to match your vision for the project.

Image: Crispy | One & Multi Page WP

Of course, not every theme is suitable for every kind of website. Ideally you’ll want to acquire a healthy mix of both multipurpose and niche themes. That way you’ll be prepared to work on anything from a beauty salon or portfolio, all the way to a general business site.

It’s also important to have themes that are compatible with top plugins like WooCommerce, WPML and Visual Composer. You’ll get some peace of mind in knowing that the theme you’ve chosen can handle important functions like eCommerce and is able to be translated into other languages. Compatibility with a page builder plugin such as Visual Composer means that you can use it to build complex layouts in a remarkably short amount of time. The goal is to have enough flexibility to choose the best theme for your needs, rather than trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

The rise of subscription services has made acquiring a large selection of premium WordPress themes much easier. For example, Envato Elements now has hundreds of WordPress themes included with your subscription for a flat monthly fee. So you’ll always have the perfect theme right at your fingertips.

Bonus Tip: Utilize Demo Content

Many WordPress themes include optional demo content that can be imported into your website. It provides you with a quick way to easily replicate a particular look that a theme offers. Some give you the choice of several demo types for a variety of specific uses. This can really save you some time and help when testing your site with different types of content.

Take Note of Reliable Plugins

Functionality needs differ from site to site, but it’s worthwhile to know which plugin works for a specific task. Experience is your friend here, as it will help you determine the right path.

There are also standbys that are common to just about every type of website. Think of contact forms, SEO, social media, image galleries, etc. These types of plugins are always in need.

Image: Super Interactive Maps Plugin

One challenge here is finding a reliable source for those plugins. While there are some outstanding choices available in the WordPress plugin repository, you often have to dig deep to separate the good from the bad.

You might benefit more from a subscription to a service offering premium plugins. There may be fewer options per category, but quality and consistency are much easier to find. It saves you from having to hunt around for the right plugin for things like booking appointments, creating forms or building Google Maps integration. Plus, this also allows you to try out various plugins without having to pay extra for a license.

Use Advanced Tools

Going a bit beyond the basics above, there are some more advanced options for rapidly building websites with WordPress. While they’re not for everyone, you may find that one or more of these tools makes life easier:

WP-CLI

A command line interface for WordPress, WP-CLI lets you quickly perform tasks like installing and updating plugins – all without using a web browser. It’s particularly useful for managing multiple WordPress installations.

Automation Tools

Many busy designers and developers have turned to automation tools like Grunt and Gulp.js for greater efficiency. While they’re not solely for WordPress, they can be used alongside it to automate repetitive tasks such as updating WordPress core.

Bulk Install Plugins

If you have a standard set of plugins you install on every new website you build, Wp Favs could be a big help. It enables you to create lists of your favorite plugins that can be installed on your site with just a few clicks. Having multiple lists can serve as a way to categorize plugins based on need.

Get the Most Out of Your Time

Being busy with multiple projects is a good problem to have: It means that you’re in demand! But it takes organization and efficiency to truly thrive in this type of environment. Using WordPress combined with the tools and techniques above can help you successfully navigate your way through the process.

The post A Busy Designer’s Guide to Building Websites More Efficiently with WordPress appeared first on Envato.

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How the Gutenberg Editor Is Changing WordPress https://envato.com/blog/gutenberg-editor-changing-wordpress/ Thu, 26 Oct 2017 21:43:53 +0000 https://envato.com/?p=59036 What is the new Gutenberg editor for WordPress - and how might it impact your WordPress website?

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Image: Gutenberg, Wikimedia Commons

The way content is created and maintained in WordPress is changing in a very noticeable way. After more than a decade of using a word processor-like content editor, the world’s most popular content management system (CMS) is shaking things up with the new Gutenberg editor.

Available as a plugin before being launched as part of WordPress 5.0, this new editing experience has generated buzz (both positive and negative) across the WordPress community. Let’s take a look at what Gutenberg is, how it works and what it means for you.

An Improved Content Creation Process

Gutenberg, named after printing press inventor Johannes Gutenberg, aims to provide a user-friendly manner for creating content that more closely resembles how a page or post will look on the front end of the site. The result for site owners is that they will get a better sense of exactly how their content will look on their website as it’s being created.

Gutenberg demo. Images provided by author.

This in itself is a major change for users. With the “classic” editor (which will still be available to use via a plugin), there is often a disconnect with how content looks when it’s being created versus how it appears on the front end of your site.

Then there is the issue of posts with mixed content types. The classic editor can be a bit finicky when it comes to having text, multimedia and other specialty content (such as a testimonial or a contact form) all included in a single post. It’s difficult to get spacing just right and users often have to deal with cryptic Shortcodes. It doesn’t make for the most intuitive experience.

Gutenberg tackles this by breaking down content types into what they refer to as “blocks”. Each block represents a different type of content. So, for instance, you’ll have different blocks available for things like text, images, videos, quotes, etc.

Rather than write content all in one large editor field, everything is split up into these various blocks. It’s a matter of adding a block, filling it with content and moving on to the next one. Block positioning can be moved up or down so that each one is exactly where you want it. To edit the contents of a block, just click on it and start making your changes.

The changes Gutenberg brings to content creation should make for easier onboarding of new users. However, current WordPress users will undoubtedly need an adjustment period to get used to the new way of doing things.

Going Beyond Basic Content

One of the more interesting aspects of Gutenberg is that theme and plugin developers can create their own custom blocks to compliment their products. As an example, a theme geared towards food bloggers could develop their own Recipes block. It might include predefined fields for ingredients, instructions and photos. This would allow a user to easily add a recipe anywhere within a page or post.

The way blocks are set up by a developer, all styling of the various design elements are already set. All a user has to do is fill in the content itself. This will solve a major problem with the classic editor in that it’s quite easy to mistakenly lose custom styling or layouts.

This allows for a more extensible editor that can be customized to meet the needs of a specific client or product. While much of this can already be accomplished through means such as custom post types and custom fields, adding a custom block makes the whole experience a bit more seamless for users. Plus, the ability to position a block in a specific location will be much easier to accommodate with this method.

The Concerns

Whenever a major change comes to a popular piece of software, there will inevitably be concerns from its core community of users. Gutenberg, after all, is a fundamentally different approach to content creation that also has repercussions reaching far beyond that.

Some theme and plugin developers have been frustrated with everything from how block data is handled to the short timeline given to make their products compatible with the new editor. There’s been a healthy amount of questioning regarding just about every aspect of the project.

One of the main concerns among everyone appears to be backwards compatibility. Many fear that customizations they’ve made will be broken or that page builder plugins will no longer work once their website is updated to WordPress 5.0. Thankfully, it appears that the team behind Gutenberg is committed to ensuring that won’t happen. Customizations should continue to be supported and page builder plugins can still be used as always.

Still, any potential compatibility issues are one of the things we won’t fully understand until Gutenberg is fully released into the wild. But it does stand to reason that it’s in no one’s best interests to do things in any way that would cause major problems. WordPress has always been known to show restraint in this area.

Lastly, some have raised a red flag over how decisions have been made with regards to how Gutenberg has been built. In order to try and clear up misconceptions, the head of the project has sought to better explain the process. Communication is usually the best way to clear up concerns.

The Future of WordPress

Concerns aside, it’s clear that Gutenberg provides a new vision for what WordPress will become moving forward. The CMS wants to be mentioned in the same breath as others when it comes to ease-of-use, while still maintaining its power as a highly-customizable platform. In an age where tools are often one thing or the other, it’s a challenge to be sure.

There is a delicate balance between keeping longtime users happy without scaring away new ones. If they can pull it off, WordPress will further strengthen its hold on the marketplace.

Undoubtedly there will some stumbling blocks as Gutenberg works its way towards full release. It will be fascinating to watch how it, along with WordPress as a whole, evolves along the way.

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Are Your WordPress Plugins Putting Your Website at Risk? https://envato.com/blog/wordpress-plugins-putting-website-risk/ Mon, 16 Oct 2017 09:23:50 +0000 https://envato.com/?p=58608 Best practices for choosing safe WordPress plugins - and ensuring your current ones are secure.

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Locked steel covered door and padlock (Image)

To some degree, the world of WordPress plugins is a bit like the old wild west. The open source platform means that anyone can write plugins to extend functionality. At its best, plugin authors create useful tools to help us build highly-functional websites for very little cost. The other side of the coin is that plugins containing security holes and even malicious code can put us at risk.

For example, it was recently discovered that an updated version of Display Widgets (a plugin with over 200,000 active installations) included code that generated SEO spam posts within WordPress. This was all done without the site owner’s knowledge or permission.

While this was certainly a nuisance, it’s not hard to imagine something even worse being attempted in the future. Such malware could potentially delete website content or infect a visitor’s computer or mobile device. This is a serious threat that could cause widespread damage.

We sometimes fall into the trap of installing plugins on a whim and assuming that nothing bad could come of it. Unfortunately, that strategy isn’t the most secure. Instead, there are some things you can do to help lower the risk of installing a potentially insecure plugin. Let’s have a look:

The first question: do you really need it?

It’s easy to treat a plugin like a shiny new toy. And since many of them are available for free, the temptation to give them a try is palpable. But before you install and activate, it’s worth asking whether or not you really need that extra piece of software running on your website.

As anyone who has experienced a plugin that conflicts with others already installed on their site can tell you – adding the wrong one can cause major headaches. Each new plugin you install introduces another potential problem, either due to something like a JavaScript conflict or a security issue. It’s important to carefully weigh the pros and cons.

Think about the overall mission of your website. Is the goal to inform visitors about your business? Is it to sell products online? Whatever it is, consider whether or not this new “gotta-have-it” plugin helps in that mission.

Keep in mind that, plugins can help in ways large and small. So while it doesn’t have to perform a crucial function, it should at the very least add something positive to the overall picture. If the answer is no, you probably don’t need it.

Research brings peace of mind

If you’ve decided that a particular plugin can be useful, then it’s time to conduct some basic research. Don’t worry – it’s quick and easy!

The goal of your research is to:

  • Ensure that the plugin is legitimate.
  • See that others are using it successfully.
  • Learn about common issues that others have experienced.

The good news is that this information is generally easy to find. If it’s a plugin listed on CodeCanyon or the official WordPress Plugin Repository, then the plugin changelogs, reviews and user comments are readily available. If you’re looking at a plugin from somewhere else, look for support forums. When all else fails, a Google search should turn up some useful information.

You should also look into whether there have been any recent ownership changes with the plugin. In the recent case of malicious code appearing in some previously trusted plugins, the problems occurred once the software was purchased by a new author who had less-than-pure motives. While new ownership in itself isn’t usually a bad thing, it still pays to keep track of those types of transactions.

Stay vigilant

This may well be the most difficult task for website owners. But it’s also one of the most important things you can do to stay safe. Installing a plugin and forgetting about it afterwards is a serious risk.

One of the most popular security tips in the world of WordPress is to make sure that you keep up with updates to WordPress themes and plugins as they are released. That’s vitally important – but there’s more to it than that.

When a new version of a plugin is released, it’s worthwhile to repeat some of the research you did previously. Especially pay attention to the plugin’s changelog, which will provide some detail about what has changed since the last version. New releases often contain some combination of bug fixes and new features. Those are things you’ll want to be aware of, even if you aren’t a programmer.

The other place you’ll want to revisit is any available support forums. You’ll often find that, after a new version of a plugin is released, other users will post any issues they’ve run into. In fact, the WordPress support forums were the very place information regarding malicious code in multiple plugins was first reported. So it’s worth the time to take a quick scan.

Lastly, it’s generally okay to hold off a day or two in applying updates – unless there is a major security hole or you are experiencing functionality issues on your website. Otherwise, give the update some time before installing and see if any potential issues pop up. A little bit of patience in this area can really pay off.

Security is worth the effort

The decentralized nature of WordPress plugins comes with both risks and rewards. But time and again, even when things go awry, the community steps up to make a positive impact. They’re often our best resource for information.

As much as we try to stay on top of things, there are still no real guarantees when it comes to choosing a safe and secure plugin. There will always be a certain leap of faith required when clicking that install button. But by doing our homework and staying in the loop, we can give ourselves a much better chance of staying safe.

Build your plugin library with CodeCanyon.

The post Are Your WordPress Plugins Putting Your Website at Risk? appeared first on Envato.

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7 Signs Your Website is Boring – and How to Fix it https://envato.com/blog/7-signs-website-boring-fix/ Mon, 09 Oct 2017 21:53:11 +0000 https://envato.com/?p=58365 How to recover from BWS (Boring Website Syndrome).

The post 7 Signs Your Website is Boring – and How to Fix it appeared first on Envato.

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Image: vadymvdrobot

There’s a time and place for boring (like shopping for produce or attending a physics lecture). But one place where boring doesn’t belong is your website.

The web is both an interactive and virtually unlimited medium, meaning that your own little corner of it has great potential. Therefore, there’s no good reason to settle for anything less than compelling.

But, how exactly would one define a ‘boring’ website? Is it possible to be boring without even realizing it? Not to worry – we’re here to help! Let’s review some signs that suggest you have a boring website, along with some quick and easy remedies.

1. Your home page has no focal point.

A home page without a focal point is one without purpose. This can occur from either having too much or too little content. Pages with too much to take in just look cluttered and those with too little are wasting a valuable opportunity. Both ends of spectrum can result in a boring user experience.

The Fix: Think about what visitors to your site really need to know. Tailor your content to entice them into clicking deeper. You’ll also want to consider using a large “hero” image or perhaps add some movement with a slider. Something bold to represent the most important message you want to get across.

Here’s an example: There’s not a whole lot of content on Patagonia’s home page, but it sure is easy to figure out the focal point. The full-width slider features product and lifestyle information that gives visitors a true sense of what the company is all about.

2. There’s no opportunity for interaction.

Interactivity is one of the tenets of a great website. Failure to add even the slightest bit of it leads to low conversion rates and abject malaise. Without some sort of interactivity, you might as well have just printed out a brochure instead.

The Fix: The great thing here is that interactivity can take many forms. Some may think you need a big, flashy interface – not so. In fact, simple enhancements like photo galleries, social sharing buttons, animation and plain old hover effects on links or images can make a positive impact in this area.

Here’s an example: Web Designer News offers multiple ways to interact with its content. Users can submit articles, filter results, vote, share and leave comments. This all fits their particular needs perfectly.

3. Text runs on forever.

Whether your About Us page is as long as a novel or your blog posts scroll endlessly with unformatted text – you’re putting visitors to sleep. Or at the very least straining their eyes. Multitudes of text with no visual breaks can be extremely hard to concentrate on.

The Fix: Long stretches of text can be broken up nicely with relevant photos or infographics. They provide readers with visuals to grab their attention and maintain interest in what you have to say. Beyond that, the use of HTML headers (H2, H3, etc.) help divide text into multiple sections – making your content easier to digest.

Here’s an example: With a focus on longform articles, The Atlantic utilizes a combination of bold quotes and images to effectively break up text.

4. Calls to action are unclear or non-existent.

Websites with unclear calls to action are reminiscent of a famous scene in ‘Dumb and Dumber’ – awkward and a bit pointless. If they’re muddled or not there at all you’re missing an opportunity to make a connection with visitors.

The Fix: First, be sure to include some sort of call to action (CTA) on each page of your website. Then, make them to-the-point and easily recognizable. This is where a great set of icons can help draw eyeballs to the right place.

Here’s an example: The calls to action on the B&O Play website are crystal clear, with both descriptive text and icons to guide visitors. They’re simple but very effective.

5. Your WordPress theme is woefully inadequate.

An outdated or underpowered theme can have a very negative effect on your WordPress website. For example, a theme that doesn’t offer much in the way of customization can hurt branding. If you aren’t able to tailor the look and functionality to reflect who you are, it presents an obstacle to creating a compelling site.

The Fix: Look for a flexible WordPress theme that allows for customization. Utilizing a theme that includes a drag-and-drop page builder can allow you create attractive layouts without having to touch code.

Here’s an example: The Avada Charity theme sports all of the modern design features you’d expect. Plus it includes a plethora of customization options to add your own signature style.

6. Your blog hasn’t been updated in months (or years).

There’s nothing more boring than visiting a website where the “latest” blog post is a few years old. It sends the message that your site isn’t a priority and creates a perception that you don’t have anything interesting to say.

The Fix: Running a business is difficult and free time isn’t always readily available. Finding extra bits of efficiency wherever you can could help free up some time for writing. A good example of this is finding a web host that takes care of mundane tasks such as updating your content management system’s software for you. It’s one less thing you have to worry about and lets you focus on the good stuff.

Here’s an example: Keeping visitors updated is one of the best features of Nintendo’s official website. Their use of developer interviews and other behind-the-scenes articles help fuel even more fandom.

7. Your fonts are too plain and unimaginative.

Web typography is now at the point where there’s simply no excuse for not dressing up your text with something stylish. While legibility is always the top priority, style is important in its own right. It helps to reflect your personality and the type of content you have to offer.

The Fix: There are an incredible amount of font choices out there, just waiting to add some typographic bling to your site. Find one or two that are a good fit and see the positive impact they can have on your overall look.

Here’s an example: The Smithsonian NMAAHC uses typography that grabs your attention and is very easy to read. It’s a clean mix of serif and sans-serif fonts that aren’t outlandishly different, but unique enough to stand out.

Recovering from BWS (Boring Website Syndrome)

If you have discovered that your website is suffering from one or more of the signs above, know that you are far from alone. Oftentimes, it seems like we start off with the best of intentions when it comes to our websites – only to move onto more pressing matters as the years go by. It literally could happen to any one of us.

But, as we’ve found, recovery can become a reality. A few simple steps can turn a boring site into something much more interesting. And, if you feel your current site is a lost cause, you can take comfort in knowing how to approach the next version.

Now, take this newfound knowledge and use it to ensure that your website lives up to its vast potential. You can do it!

The post 7 Signs Your Website is Boring – and How to Fix it appeared first on Envato.

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The Unique Advantages of Building Your Website with WordPress https://envato.com/blog/unique-advantages-building-website-wordpress/ Fri, 22 Sep 2017 03:51:34 +0000 https://envato.com/?p=58069 Some reasons why WordPress could be the perfect fit your business website.

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Image: Creative2 Website Template, Built on BeTheme for WordPress

If you’re looking to build a website for your business, you’ll find that there are a dizzying array of options to choose from.

Tools and services range from free to moderately-priced and require anywhere from minimal to expert skill levels. Finding the right one for you isn’t always easy.

Today, we’ll explore some reasons why WordPress could be the perfect fit your business website. You’ll find out some of the truly unique features of the world’s most widely used Content Management System (CMS) and learn how to use them to your advantage. Let’s take a look at what makes WordPress different from other website creation platforms:

1. WordPress is open and flexible.

WordPress allows for the use of completely custom themes and plugins. That separates it from much of the competition. It also means that you’ll never be limited when it comes to how your site looks or the types of functionality it provides.

Other platforms may offer a standard set of themes and functionalities. While that can be great for ease-of-use, it could really limit the scope of what you can do.

Because WordPress is open source software, there is a worldwide community of designers and developers dedicated to making it look and work in new and exciting ways. And if something you need doesn’t exist just yet, there is more than likely an expert out there who can build it for you.

2. There is a vibrant marketplace.

You don’t need to be a professional web designer to create something beautiful with WordPress. There are an incredible amount of top-quality free and commercial themes and plugins available to help you build your site. The result is that, no matter what industry you’re in, there are themes and plugins out there to match.

Themes cover major industries like nonprofits, sports and recreation, and construction. But you’ll also find offerings geared toward more niche and freelance businesses such as photographers, coffee shops and startups.

WordPress-built options for photography websites.

As for plugins, you’ll find that there are one or more choices for just about any type of functionality you could want. Everything from notifying you of new online sales, allowing you to sell personal training memberships or run a mailing list from your website. WordPress plugins truly run the gamut.

3. You’re not on your own.

Remember that worldwide community we mentioned earlier? They’re also a generous lot when it comes to providing support. Whether you’re seeking help via the official support forum or through social media – there’s always somebody willing and able to lend a hand.

4. Services are being tailored to WordPress.

Third party services that cater to the needs of WordPress site owners are popping up all over the place. They can really make life easier. For example, a managed hosting provider will keep your WordPress installation updated, backup your site at regular intervals and some even give you access to premium themes. This can be a great solution for those who just want to focus on creating great content and leave the rest to the experts.

5. SEO can be personalized.

WordPress is built to be SEO-friendly. Using it in conjunction with a well-coded theme and SEO plugin can result in a website that provides search engines with all the information they need for proper indexing.

For example, there are a number of SEO plugins that will allow you to optimize your content both manually and automatically. And you can go beyond text content – images are an often overlooked component by site owners that should be considered. Plus, tools are available that add rich snippets to further enhance search engine listings. Once your content is optimized, an automatically-generated XML sitemap will help search engines absorb it all.

SEO-friendly sitemaps aren’t complicated.

Simply put, WordPress enables you to create your own SEO strategy, rather than settling for whatever a DIY site builder provides. Here, you can use an array of tools to match your specific needs.

6. WordPress is portable.

Despite some easy-to-use aspects of services like Wix or Squarespace, you’re pretty much locked in for life. You can’t simply take your website with you to another host. A WordPress website, on the other hand, can be moved – usually without too much trouble. Some hosts will even help you migrate to their service for free.

7. Unlimited users and flexible permissions.

Some site builders may limit the amount of additional user accounts you can create or charge a fee once you reach a specific threshold. Because WordPress is a completely open system, you have the freedom to create as many user accounts as you’d like. That makes it perfect for multi-author blogs or team-oriented businesses.

Plus, the built-in User Roles and Capabilities let you manage permissions for each user type. If you require something beyond the default user roles, you can create your own.

8. There are so many opportunities to learn and connect.

If you have a thirst for knowledge, you’ll be thrilled with all the learning resources available for WordPress. There are a plethora of online tutorials, blogs and even classes for those who like learning online.

Prefer a more personal experience? You’ll have a great time at one of the many WordCamp events that are held all over the world. They’re fun, affordable and feature incredibly knowledgeable speakers. And, you can also interact with your local WordPress community via a Meetup.

A board at WordCamp USA 2016.

9. eCommerce with WordPress is ultra-affordable.

Selling online with WordPress is easy and can fit just about any budget. Take WooCommerce, for example. It’s the most popular shopping cart plugin and is completely free to use. That means you can start running a basic online store with virtually no out-of-pocket costs.

If you need greater functionality or need to work with a specific payment provider (PayPal and Stripe are offered for free), there are a whole bunch of extensions available for WooCommerce that enable new functionality. You can create a store that fits your needs without spending a fortune.

10. You’re in charge.

WordPress empowers site owners in a way that other platforms do not. While the process of building a website may not be quite as dead simple as it is with some other providers, WordPress marries user-friendliness with the ability to add powerful functionality.

That provides you with the opportunity to create a website that truly reflects your vision. It might just be the biggest advantage of using WordPress.

Choosing the right path

Ultimately, the decision of what website platform you choose is a matter of what is the best fit for both your business and personality. You’ll have to think about how you want the site to look and any special functions you want it to perform.

WordPress is likely your best bet if you are interested in creating something unique with the ability to easily add new features later on. It also lends itself well to those who plan to regularly create new content such as news items or blog posts.

If you’re looking for something that you can set up within an hour and then forget about it – you may do better with something else. Otherwise, WordPress offers a unique combination of features that’s hard to beat.

Get started and find the best way to build your WordPress-powered website with our templates and website designs.

Here’s what you should read next:

40 Best WordPress Plugins of 2017 – September Update

Top 14 WordPress Mega Menu Plugins of 2017

Launching a website? Here’s why you need stock photos

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Top WordPress Themes and Plugins for Appetizing Food and Hospitality Websites https://envato.com/blog/appetizing-food-and-hospitality-websites/ Thu, 24 Aug 2017 23:12:00 +0000 https://envato.com/?p=57509 Mouth-watering photos, the ability to take online reservations, easily accessible menus, a deeper look into your amazing amenities, and a space to share rave reviews.

The post Top WordPress Themes and Plugins for Appetizing Food and Hospitality Websites appeared first on Envato.

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Image: Fresh smoothies with apricot by Nikolaydonetsk

The food and hospitality industries are fiercely competitive, with no shortage of choices for consumers. In any given town, there could be literally dozens of restaurants, hotels, bed & breakfasts, brewpubs and more competing for a finite amount of business. Since prospective guests often do their research online, having a top-notch website can make or break a sale.

While you’ll want something to stand out as uniquely your own, there are certain elements that are shared among successful websites in these industries. Let’s have a look at some pieces that make up a great food or hospitality website.

While each individual business is unique, there are some characteristics that are shared among successful websites in these industries. If you’re building a food-focused or hospitality website, you’ll need:

  • mouth-watering photos,
  • the ability to take online reservations,
  • easily accessible menus,
  • a deeper look into your amazing amenities, and
  • a space to share rave reviews.

Mouth-watering photos

How many times have you seen a photo of a delectable dish or a grand hotel lobby and wished you were there to experience it? Great photography can have an immediate emotional effect that leads to action. With hotels, restaurants and the like, creating a compelling visual narrative is key to making a strong first impression.

Your website should commit prime screen real estate to showing off your best side. It could be anything from fresh baked goodies to a beautifully decorated master suite. Whatever makes you memorable should be front and center.

The Baker theme is a prime example of this design technique. The full screen photo leaves little doubt as to what the business specializes in. As you scroll, photos of more tasty treats come into view. Anyone else hungry?

Even if you don’t have the budget to hire a professional photographer to immortalize your signature dish, you can still use beautiful photos on your website. A monthly subscription to Envato Elements now includes access to over 300,000 high-resolution photos (including a wide selection of outstanding food shots) that can help you make an impact.

Online Reservations

Visitors to your website expect and deserve convenience. That’s why it’s vitally important to offer online reservation capabilities. This is especially true in the hospitality industry, where those who don’t offer this option are bound to lose out on guests.

Having an online reservation system in place encourages immediate action. After all, it’s better to put this capability in a user’s hands while they’re viewing your beautiful guest accommodations rather than make them wait until “normal business hours”.

The good news is that taking reservations online has never been easier. With a WordPress plugin like Booki, you can get up and running rather quickly. The plugin is flexible enough to handle various types of reservations and allows for both online and offline payments. You can even add a reservation for customers in the WordPress dashboard – meaning you can still take reservations by phone.

Accessible Menus

No matter where they are or what device they’re using, people looking for a bite to eat will want access to your menu before stopping in. It then stands to reason that your website should offer up as much information about available food and drink as possible.

In many places (particularly smaller restaurants and cafes), paper menus seem to be becoming a thing of the past. Why, some are even switching to electronic menu boards in-house. That said, expecting customers to walk in as the only way to find out what you have is no longer an option.

Online menus can be a tricky thing to get just right. The key is to ensure that a menu is easy to read, mobile friendly and provides enough detail to drive people to your door. Looking at the menu layout included with the Hilde WordPress theme, it covers all the bases. It looks great, is broken down into appropriate sections and is easy to read on a phone. The ability to denote new items on the menu is a great touch – sure to garner attention.

Image from Hilde WordPress theme.

Note that it’s also quite possible to add an elegant menu to your existing website. With the FoodPress plugin for WordPress, you can choose from a variety of menu styles to compliment your brand. Just as important, it also adds a reservation system as well.

Amazing Amenities

With regards to hospitality, proudly displaying your amenities is an important factor in attracting guests. Much like a restaurant’s menu, an attractive amenities listing is something that visitors to your website expect.

This, after all, is what separates your property from all the rest. But unlike that restaurant menu, hotel amenities should strive to be a more visual and complete experience. Beyond a mere text listing, amenities should include stunning photography along with in-depth descriptive text.

The Hotel WordPress theme really does it right. It starts with a large, attractive photo and provides an opportunity for greater context upon scrolling. You do find a well-placed checklist of amenities, but you’ll also notice that there is ample room for a more comprehensive description. The included call-to-action and reservation form will encourage users to book right away.

Rave Reviews

Both food and hospitality businesses benefit from positive reviews. But even negative reviews can be a good thing – if you know how to handle them. Responding to less-than-stellar ratings and putting forth the effort to satisfy a customer can go a long way in showing how much you care. Most people realize that mistakes will be made – doing the right thing in response is what builds customer loyalty.

With that, there are two distinct ways to go about posting reviews to your website:

  1. Prescreened Reviews: The first strategy is to carefully showcase prescreened reviews. This is the safer route, as you will be in full control over what is being displayed. Plus, it’s also quite easy to implement as many themes have this functionality built right in. Brunch, for instance, provides a lovely text slider with a full-width background image that is perfect to use for showing off your best reviews.
  1. All Reviews: The other way to do things is to show all of your reviews – positive or otherwise. The benefit here is that you’re displaying a level of transparency. And, if you’re taking time to reply to reviewers, that can really boost your reputation. If that sounds like a good fit for your business, the Yelp Reviews Pro plugin for WordPress could be just the thing to help. You’ll be able to display your Yelp profile – all reviews included. This will also encourage others to put in a kind word.

Putting it All Together

Having a successful food or hospitality business means putting yourself out there for the world to discover. Part of that is being great at what you do. Cooking up a spectacular dish in a great atmosphere or making guests feel cozy in your bed and breakfast will create memories and goodwill.

But that’s only part of the story. In order to be discovered by more people, your website needs to reflect that same special experience you provide in person. Empowering potential customers with the tools they need to learn about all you have to offer can in turn lead to more of them walking through your door.

You put so much effort into your business. Make sure that same attention-to-detail applies to your website.


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