Notes: 4/17/13 WordPress Content Meetup “15 Minutes of Fame”

This entry is part 1 of 9 in the series Meetup Meeting Notes

4/17/13 WordPress Content Meetup “15 Minutes of Fame”

Quick Summary

Each presenter will be given  2 minutes to present their site (both built or are just beginning to build) and their mission statement (a 1-2 -3 sentence stating the site’s purpose. It’s the site’s identity, answering

  • Purpose
  • Goals
  • Values (Beliefs)

It provides clarity (both for the site creator and audience) to help develop and keep the site focused.
It’s like stating goals and objectives.  A motto is sometimes helpful.)

Important questions to answer include –
WHY a web site / WHAT are you trying to accomplish?
WHO is your audience?
WHAT kind of information will you be posting?
WHEN /HOW OFTEN will you be posting?

AUDIENCE comments to touch on:

  •  overall texture or aura of the website, such as the overall presentation, the use of colors/graphics, readability (not the editorial content or what’s written),
  • usability (site navigation), and in general, whether there
  • are other WordPress features, tools, or plugins that might enhance the users or even your experience.

The goal of reviewing sites is to be practical, helpful, and encourage good WordPress practices.

Sites reviewed:
1.  Live Love Create Repeat
– great site name
– yoga section seems to be separate
– different image on home page

2.  Texas State Independent Living Council
– created as part of a project for non-profits/now needs changes
– user goal to find someone to help change out logo (make flatter); find out how to change menu colors from red/blue. etc. [suggest posting on!forum/wordpress-austin, or
– put video in place of image on home page

3. Hospitality Industry Professionals – East West Hospitality Group – East West Hospitality Group
– already professional looking
– but images seem to be food oriented vs people/service
– concern about background color
– add call to action, e.g, get a strategic audit

4. – Your #1 Christian Libertarian source on the Web
– perhaps add more images of who’s behind the site to add legitimacy
– Facebook call to action was successful, but would like to bring forward topics
– perhaps switch out order of how these appear
– Welcome was wasted space

5.  Effective Marketing Strategies | Creating customer value
– site looks generic and notn authentic; perhaps copy/pasted from other sites
– add logo
– home page image didn’t seem to reflect back on blog
– add linkage to business site

6.   Guy’s Business Process Consulting Site
– no web site yet / no domain/company name, etc.
– audience is small businesses; Goal:  to help them stay true to their original intent while incorporating business processes
– reviewed  a site that embodies some of these principles
Hot Dog Marketing – Marketing & Communication for Austin, TX Small Businesses

7.  Investa
– Goal – to attain new business while also helping investors understand news in the marketplace
–  Images don’t necessarily reflect back on who an investor might be (though images with females purportedly draw in readers)
– make the ‘blog’ more visible, since it’s an important part of the value-added research, e.g., above the What We Do tri-columns, add more cartoons, change the order of the tabs to also reflect this.
– a paid WP ‘professional’ who’s good can do this w/in a short time achieving results on a reasonable budget

Recommended reading:
Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works (Interactive Technologies) by
Janice (Ginny) Redish (MBrophy recommended)
Don’t Make me Think! by Steve Krug (Derek recommended)

Notes 4/23/13 WordPress Meetup: Make WordPress your Career!

This entry is part 2 of 9 in the series Meetup Meeting Notes

Make WordPress your Career!
April 23, 2013· 7:00 PM Build a Sign LLC

Are you a passionate WordPress user or developer?

Wondering how to successfully turn your hobby or part-time gig into your full-time job? Wanting to change careers? Or maybe you’re just getting started?

Our panel of WordPress folks will discuss how we have successfully made a career out of WordPress. Some of us are coders, some are designers, and some just enjoy helping people. Some of us work for ourselves, others work for companies or organizations. Our common denominator is that in some way, WordPress pays the bills! Expect to hear some stories, some best-practices, and how we’ve learned from mistakes along the way.

This is a great chance to figure out what’s hot in WordPress-land, learn what skills are most prized by employers, when it might be better to go freelance, and how to promote yourself and build your resume. We’ll have lots of time for discussion and questions along the way.

If you’re currently making your career with WordPress, we’d welcome you to join in the discussion as well.

And bring your business cards! You never know who you might meet! 🙂


Bill Erickson (BE) ;
WordPress (WP) Dev for 7 years
Started with a job at a university (A&M ); got into making changes on their site
Now he focuses on helping small business build sites
* * * Find services in that complement what you do * * *
Did Thesis —> moved to Genesis, which had an established community
Builds Genesis things that get promoted which drives traffic
Built CRM (Customer Relationship Model) on top
Used as
– PM tool
– to get Analytics
– track work to develop trends
– see what’s most profitable
– streamline your business
– work more effectively
and choose the better projects
Once you have more work than you can handle
you can prioritize more effectively —- Github…. CRM for free

Chris Wiegman (CW) –
Chris is a WordPress developer who has been writing code since the mid-90s; he is the developer behind the Better WP Security plugin.
Started in aviation
to be at the airport, he worked in IT
wrote the entire content management for airport
recession hit, so he went back to school
became a developer and in charge of computers
Joined St Edwards
developing on the side
–  plugins to secure WP sites
2008 began using WP
started own company –
Now a Senior dev for, primarily with WP

Brandon Kraft  (BK) –;
Geek and dork who loved computers in HS
Sociology major at Tulane
Ended up running all the computer things at school
Started full-time – co-ordination for non-profits then took over IT functions
Other non-profits started calling
– which released him of responsibility of a full time job to go on his own
– source of income is partially from retainer for non-profits (monthly/annual)
– speaks non-profit so an easy transition for him to communicate with his customers
Uses Genesis to build sites (not same category as Bill 😉 )
Advice –
* * *Find out what niche works for you * * *
– Make a website for yourself that’s great
– grow an online presence
* * *DON’T CHASE THE $$$$$$$ * * *
–  Could be an awful client
–  It’s more about the free time and not just the money

Jackie Dana (JD) –
Works at Automattic (which runs WP) since July 2012
1990’s created websites, got burned out by how they were created in early days
Academic adviser at UT for 17 years; wanted a career change
Using WP at work, started attending Meetup for WP,
LOVED IT – especially the community
likes how WP allows the individual to easily create sites
met people, did low $ sites, consulting and training
Decided helping people how to use WP was her thing
Started doing it more and more.
Volunteered at SXSW, met people from Automattic,
after 2nd time, she decided she wanted a job with them
Got job as a happiness engineer
LOTS of jobs available for this not only Automattic, but places like WP Engine
Automattic also has other jobs –
– developers to write code, develop themes, add-ons, widgets, mobile team, etc.
– a huge # of uses to support – 30m users, x# of sites
– only 170 people at the company
– from different backgrounds in English, History, Math, some w/o BAs
Currently working on Terms of Service (TOS) overseeing 3 people
– handling complaints, problems

Karen Kreps (KK) –
Started in print publishing before internet working for a magazine on Madison Ave
hit glass ceiling…hated it
Joined a company (precursor to Prodigy) that needed video techs
Produced online interactive media there for 6 years
In 1993 relocated to Austin
Thought it was the end of her career
learned html 2
Created sites with Macromedia
Forsaw HTML was going to go much further than anyone thought
Launched Austin American Statesman’s first web site;
left after creating – mgmt change
Went to work  briefly for  IBM Interactive
Started own company
Built websites by hand
Trying to switch from table based to CSS
Was a drama major…so tech background isn’t needed
– self taught
Now uses WordPress
Likes online content to be interactive
Does 1:1 WP coaching
Teaches users how to manage their own websites and precreate content
5 years ago came to a WP meet up
Been coming ever since

Davina Cooper (DC) -Cooper Desktop Designs of Texas
– a marketing services company serving small to medium businesses with their web, print or email needs.
Did Macromedia tech support til layoffs
Learned people wanted training for HTML, Macromedia, Flash
trained in the evening
Opened own business
Taught at college at the same time
Moved to Austin
Uses Drupal, WordPress
Targets small business
Low tech/no tech companies who want a web presence

Corey Ellis (CE)
Entertainment Digital Strategist and Technologist. Live music connoisseur. Social and digital tech in music enthusiast.

Q1 What’s the hardest thing that you have to do?
BE    General business, the non technical; all the stuff that isn’t building WP
Client work
Client Management, contracts
After finished projects, look back to see what can fixed via process, documentation
* * * constantly look at how you can improve the process * * *

Q2: Did you have legal assistance to put the contract together?
BE    Just at first (family of lawyers)
Contract is evolving
Goal of contract isn’t to secure myself. Education tool to ensure everyone’s responsibility
It’s a Statement of Work ( SOW )
Make as clear as possible
Timeline, Payments, what you pay for
Terms of Agreement
Goal is to limit confusion
Never been sued/some haven’t paid
not worth suing (though could because of contract)
BK    Re-read the contract when things break down
KK      recommends
– helps people run their own business
CW     – does very little freelance work
been lucrative doing plug-ins
– look at codecanyon, woo themes
– consider guest blogging – some people making $500/article
– see
JD     – n/a – doesn’t work with clients at all
– recommends SCORE
– meetup

Q3:  If a client comes to you, how do you differentiate yourself; what client works best for you?
BK      When they ask questions thinking about there website as part of their org
How will their website enhance there organization
The client that has done their homework
A client that knows what they want
Also, do your own research on the potential client
BE    There are a lot of red flags
A lot of failed projects before
Well what went wrong?
If doesn’t have a long term retainer; just projects
Do a 30 minute call before
Red flags may indicate
Not valuing you. Using you as a means to an end
Goal – to recognize a bad customer before it happens
KK     The customer doesn’t want to manage their website is one signal
– No interest in getting their hands wet
– don’t want them coming with a problem, and a solution they figured out and they want you to do that for them
– Do they want me to make content? Or do they have content
–  Best clients know their business, but don’t know how to present it online
some customers are like people who adopt a dog and don’t want to take it out for a walk

Q4:     How do you decide what to charge?
BK     changed over the years
look at billable hours, started a an entry-level manager
– working for non-profits, they want to hear pro-bono
charged $30/hr, client was ecstatic, knew was charging too little
– even if only 5 hrs of work, make sure the billable fills non-billable work that needs to be done
– gradually nudge up to see where the resistance is
– and that’ll indicate the high range of what to charge
BE     Depends on type of industry
Wants to provide quote based on value, not hours
Decide the types of industries you want
the better you get at your job, the less you make if charging by the hour.
– consider working on a project basis
– evaluate project of what they paid
– e.g., if charging by the hour and a 10hr project took only 5 hrs, the client will want their
money’s worth to use p the money, often creating a worst site
Analytics are important
Keep track of money you make on a project vs time.
Pick projects that make your the best money (not most)
The higher the quote, the more inaccurate the estimate
Smaller websites give you more $ for time
– found that bigger money – bigger problems
($1k-$10k- is more accurately estimated than the $10k+)
DC    – track, e.g, elance and review
often hear, but a friend of a friend’s nephew will do it for free
– how much do you need to make a living
– get as much info from customer to spec out what needs to be done
– consider what needs to be farmed out e.g, front end programming, content
– people will charge $15/hr.
– If you charge $40-$50 need to be convincing (know your worth)
CE     Value your time
be flexible
sometime you just want the work
some times will charge more for the more difficult client
will charge less if fun
BE    when lull in work, that’s when takes project shouldn’t have
KK    depends on how much it takes to build a website,
e.g., 4 page, set up structure
are there functions, plug ins
words – well written/compelling
communicate your value
does remote 1-on-1
depends on amount of hand holding…may make 3X’s longer
BK    use community –
a lot of Genesis developers to help
has a core group he turns to to ask questions like this
JD    Traditional rule of thumb
* * * There are 3 things to developing a website,
1) Fast     2) Cheap     3) Good
You can pick TWO

Q5:     What things MUST you do now to get started?
JD    Get as involved as you can in the community
BE    find a micro-niche
2 traits
1) contribute heavily to the WP community
– you’ll do better if you share your code
2) learn how to run a business
Learn business. Learn how to run a business
More to bakery than baking
KK    set up web site to show your portfolio w/ testimonials
BK    took longer because he hadn’t jumped into community earlier
– be adaptable –   changes every 4-6 months
– have fun – if you don’t like it, no one will want to be around you
DC    – know your skills .eg, if front end graphics
– a lot aren’t honoring front end people, WP is free, why should I pay for a designer?
last year only made $20k, not getting rich, but happy doing it.
CE    know what your good at
CW    biggest thing is to participate, e.g, Word Camp
– be willing to learn, many avenues to learn and give back
JD     WP is just software, but the the community that she loves
people participate in many different ways
Drupal has more people in sales than Automattic has in the entire company
Come to meetings – learn by osmosis
sit down with someone
use online tools, training
only way to learn is to do it.
BE    WP101
develop your own website
look at premium themes at StudioPress, Woo themes

Q6: What screensharing program do you use?
KK    Crossloop (free)
used several others like (not free anymore)

Q7: What is the Genesis ‘framework”
BE    used to be just themes, then built parent themes with child themes where site specifics goes into for higher quality

Q8: Is there a WP in Spanish?
JD    WP can be written and is used in multiple language.
Don’t know if there’s a specific WP group that focuses just in WP for Spanish-speaking

Q9:     What resources did you use?
Big Austin
SBD (Highland Mall, San Marcos)
CE    Use your clients, if they’re a marketing firm, trade to learn about it
BE    helped that he had a business degree

Q10:    What percent of the panel writes content?
BE    zero, leave up to client
KK    sometimes client doesn’t
has to do all/be all
– attends Content Strategy Meetups

Jackie Dana (JD) –
Bill Erickson (BE) ;
Chris Wiegman (CW) –
Brandon Kraft  (BK) –;
Karen Kreps (KK) –
Davina Cooper (DC) -Cooper Desktop Designs of Texas
Corey Ellis (CE)

Resources shared (for running business):

Screensharing Program:

Top Sayings (of the evening):
…more to running a bakery than baking
…some customers are like people who adopt a dog and don’t want to take it out for a walk

Miscellaneous information:
WPMU – Selling article space for $500  – meeting notes

WordCamp – May 18th Sign up now
See schedule, speakers, topics, sponsors only $20 includes lunch, a T-shirt and so much more

A BIG thanks to Garrett Petticrew for his help taking notes. These include the Q&A’s because there was much good information shared; this will not likely be a normal feature of meeting notes. Also, if there is anything omitted or wrong, please let me know so I can correct it. Thanks. Cathy


Notes: 8/6/13 WordPress Meetup: Advanced Fun(ctionality) with Gravity Forms (ADV)

This entry is part 3 of 9 in the series Meetup Meeting Notes

Advanced: Advanced Fun(ctionality) with Gravity Forms
Presenter: John Chandler
August 6, 2013, 7:00 PM  Capital Factory (in the Austin Centre),  701 Brazos St #1601

Gravity Forms is a popular WordPress plugin and with good reason: it is a simple way to create complex forms. But it is also capable of a great deal more as form elements can interact with each other and manipulate content on your site. We’ll go through a few code examples of how Gravity Forms is being used on live websites for dynamic user interactions and content updates. When we’re finished, hopefully, you can concoct a few new schemes of your own.

This meetup will be conducted by John Chandler who is a a freelance web designer and developer who has been working with WordPress since 2004.

John Chandler
Started working with WordPress v1.5
Bulk of what he learned was from WordPress Meetup
part-time pastor / part-time web site designer

Quick Survery: 1/2 attendees had worked with Gravity Forms; ~ 4 used it in-depth

John’s History – WP 2012 Dev Day – best thing that came out of it was learning about Gravity Forms
– paid plugin
– changed how he designed web sites – from content to ones with more interaction

SEE Gravity Forms Dev Doc for more info
– Custom post in back end – very simple

John showed 3 sites he developed which use Gravity Forms in different iterations
– view in feed items
– created as a draft
– interaction with no code – set up this form to create a p0st type when submitted
– need title field, kind of post types

– now more fun ones like
– ferrier village- one of first ones paid
– do a lot of work with orphans around world
– beefed up how someone can sponsor a child
– stripe as a panic gateway
– sends email notification
– shows update of (# of) sponsorship for the child

On the backend –
– a few different things going on
– important data – child’s name
– child id
– and post ID’s – in this case same as the post ID for the child

go to sublime text to look at code []
– use advanced custom fields or git fields

– functions.php
– giforms after submission – which bascially, once this has been submitted,  will run
– differentiate with _9 so only this one form will run vs all gravity form
sponsor level-
e.g, entry 3, in form itself
– post #- entry 12 (wb post ID – need before can update ID)
– sponsors – how many have already sponsored
– then walk through conditional,
– if sponsor level chosen is 1 annually
– then create new account + 1
SAT test prep
old dreamweaver site

See form
single template for a post type
– focus on new registration
– payment form on 2 pages

looking at workflow  [full url ]
– figure out what payment is supposed to (e.g, check school)
– build a roster for students who are taking the course by auto-populating
– again have to grab post ID
– form pre-renders – allows you interact data between pages (1 and 2)

JOKE: Saved by the Bell,  Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Fast Times at Ridgemont High (okay, you had to be there, but it was FUNNY)  []
– won’t inject name into roster until payment is good
– update post meta…review code
– every customer course has it’s own roster
– course by date by location? every post has its own ID
– no taxonomy for date, customer fields
– can adjust price on date? e.g pay x at if subscribed by this date, than x+y after this date
– page works by using ajax to reload form between pages
Living Generously: alternative and unique gifts for good that change …
– build your campaign
– not for church or school
– with building campaigns, have to pay taxes
– dashboard widget – to show them

Other comments from attendees  who use Gravity Forms
Gravity Form good when adding new users
– they can edit their info through it,  which then notifies admin for new content to approrve
– advertising powered 99% by gravity forms
– business directory for different levels
– users never see backend
– registered users through Gravity Form, might be an add-on – not 3rd party
– depends on what you buy into, Gravity Forms has different add-ons
– can edit data through Gravity Form
– Gravity Form has a new Quiz app (John hasn’t tried)

Suggestions for long forms – when a new field is added, it goes to the bottom
– build form with xml and export it to make it faster
– seems doable, not too hard to parse it out.

Any performance issues?
– recommend to wpengine – so much database interaction going on with queries
Suggestion (BE) 2 things – rally does 4 queries so extra params can pull it back so it doesn’t do all 4

In attendance: Brandon Kraft – as Automattician

STAY TUNED – BIG things happening on
WordPress for Developers: 1st Tuesday of each month (Capital Factory)
WordPress Deep Dive: A small, in-depth discussion of a problem, plugin writing, or other activity.  2nd Monday of each month (Posh)
WordPress for Beginners:  3rd Monday of each month (Austin Baptist Church)
Intermediate WordPress: (used to be Hands On) 4th Tuesday of each month (Build-A-Sign).
Design and Theme Development in WordPress: This is a brand-new meetup; schedule TBA
Social/Happy Hour: irregular

eCommerce Start to Finish

This entry is part 4 of 9 in the series Meetup Meeting Notes

Meetup Meeting Notes: eCommerce Start to Finish
Monday, September 8, 2014 7:00 PM
The Austin WordPress Meetup Group
HubAustin Coworking 706 W Ben White Blvd #202B

This month’s Deep Dive Discussion will examine the eCommerce process — SSLs, shopping carts, merchant accounts, and the other things you need to know before, and after, you install an eCommerce solution.

Toyin Akinmusuru, WordPress Developer, eCommerce Consultant, and founder of the HubAustin Coworking space will facilitate this month’s discussion. Just a reminder to Deep Dive attendees — this is not a typical ‘classroom-presentation’ format meet-up — DDD is dedicated to the exploration of a WordPress-related topic, driven by the questions and comments of the attendees.

Why is this topic important to you?  According to Forrester research, in 2013 U.S. eCommerce reached the $230B mark. As consumers increasingly move their shopping dollars online, this growth is poised to continue. WordPress site owners and managers need to think about how eCommerce options might help them grow their business.

3 takeaways from this meeting:

1) NEVER store credit cards

2) choose a secure password – long, and not a word found int he dictionary

3) you’re never finished with building your site

SLIDE 1 one time payments
amazon payments ( good for large payments)

SLIDE 2 – recurring payments
stripe – good w/ wp e.g., woo commerce
paypal – same as above

SLIDE 3- physical products
where are you shipping
what are you shipping
how are you shipping

SLIDE 4- shipping vendors
dhl – when going to Africa, handed to dHL even if you use fedex

private freight e.g,
also airline to airline – but w/ restrictions e.g, electronics, liquid

SLIDE 5 – where to you sell?
online only
one retail location
multiple locations
– important for inventory

SLIDE 6- hosted or self hosted?
(hosted options – all sas)
gum road – can do it in 10 minutes
shopify – think this one is best
big commerce – office in atx
volusion – office in atx
magenta co – larger, need more technical adept
(to say hello – it costs $20k / will integrate w/ FB, Google analytics)

SLIDE 7- Self-Hosted options
zen cart
virtue mart
w ecommerce

perl, ruby on rails, php, java –
php e-commerce is
woo commerce is big rival to magento
zen cart – is not as pretty
drupal or joomla – good options in their frameworks

SLIDE 8 – wordpress ecommerce plugins
market press
jigo shop
cart 66

woo commerce has a lot of themes, alot of people are using it
Q: re framework
woo has good documentation
started off w just themes, so good background for less technical
but good section on how to write your own plugins on top.
woocommerce easiest – because so many people using it
e.g, million download, 150+ k using it

should I store credit cards – NO
don’t be obviously stupid
let the payment processor worry about technology, security, etc.

worked at hosting company – amazed amount of ‘exploits’
you’re doing other things to take care of the site
exposing yourself to whole big area

when say international – we mean Europe
in SA, Asia, –
paypal is best for int’l

SLIDE 9- Product types

woo commerce is one plugin
but woo commerce also has plugins
e.g, billing times, shipping types
$49-$200 for each plugin
1x fees kind’ve, for 2 years – but have to pay again for upgrades
ones officially from them are better integrated
works better with their other stuff
when make big sweeping changes – don’t tell others till well after
so there’s work better

Q: any benefits to using a Woo theme to use w/ woo commerce
but many other good ones
mileage may vary

not so much on theme level, more on plugin theme
Q: Genesis –
A: works fine since no hooks into Woo commerce – and no plans to compete

Cart action – is not something you have in a normal in a theme, so woo commerce will fit
when there’s a version change, there may be blood

wpavengers – gpl – not technically themes but a plugin optin to woo commerce plugin
the day woo does a big release – do NOT upgrade

it’s up to expectations of customer – e/g, choose single unless customer wants something different

invoice – plug in
donations  – hasn’t done but probably a plug in
– nick- gravity forms may be best – can program a shopping cart
– convio may have one
– paypal gives you a code to drop on your page

can you automate different vendors?
good example is paypal or amazon –
create a sign up – change permission level to vendor
– payment can go to you or straight to vendor
docan is better multivendor
so official woo commerce is probably better

how to gather data –
google analytics – need a different code for each site, google does it so it knows what to index
mix panel – best analytics that you can buy, takes some software work to get the bang out of it
have clients have their own – or you become their gatekeeper
you can be set up as an authorized user –
have a chat w/ them or they will drive you crazy
GA runs on javascript, it drops in code – doesn’t work on duckduck, if java is turned off – just covers 80-90% of who’s on
GA lets you create a custom report
most want to know how many are on sites, how much is being made – e.g, with keywords
keyfactor to moing to mixpanel – if jumped over google analytics – give data in real time (e.g., 5 seconds – relies on session state; google drops in line of code which reports back to their servers

pro features – abandoned shopping cart

SLIDE 10 –  social media

SLIDE 11 – how to market
fb advertising
retargeting – my buys and adrolls will do this but take a % of price – hold cookie for 14 days or month
affiliates – pay people to sell your product, e.g, amazon gives 47% to affiliates
commision junction (, linkshare, rewardstyle, good cartel for mom’s e.g, for palmolive, proctor and gamble,

SLIDE 12 – advanced techniques
up sells/cross sells – single biggest increase to sales
abandoned cart – send email or retarget them,
drip campaigns –  thx for signing up, have you used product, like a super responder
faceted search – checkbox searching based on your parameters
woo doesn’t do it well built in, but there’s a plug in

do it because there’s increases to your bottomline – sometimes 10% but sometimes up to 70%
a little bit more is always good
you’re never finished with building your site

Q: in instagram, what is interaction there
A: put on instagram, if you have set of fans – will take you to link w/page
same as twitter
just another marketing channel
pic primes you more than text

Q: thoughts on testing VCI or PCI or BCi compliance
don’t store use credit card
only up aftet $18k in sales
use good long passwords – which a human can’t figure out (though computer can)
put on reputalbe web host e.g,  wp engine
almost all hosted ones will do a good job, self hosted – do the obvious stuff
i didn’t patch it, have credit cards in text files
not hard, but have to do all of them
search WP
OWLSP in town meets/ talks about best practices
level of scrutiny –
easiest  way is link to paypal esp for donations
let other defend your castle
a smart person fixes problems, a genius avoids them

have sign paper, but it’s paper
apple didn’t secure it to 3 chances –

if have wp – force secure password – link to username ,
limit bad passwords to 3 tries – free plug in, takes a snapshot, takes  you if someone changes it, or someone
s truign to hack your
also bruteprotect, bought by Automattic, will block botnet’s to whoever is also using bruteprotect
a botnet might use hundreds of ip – but one or two will block
Karen –  ipsecurity plugin
good to use more than one – yes

check last months’ notes on security
free at basic level

you can always use woo theme w/o woocommerce
only time it makes a difference is switching from one ecommerce to another

eCommerce for Your WordPress Site

This entry is part 5 of 9 in the series Meetup Meeting Notes

This month’s Austin WordPress sessions for beginners — An  Introduction to eCommerce — understanding the basics of adding eCommerce to your WordPress site.
WordPress Developer and Trainer, Nick Batik will reviewed the eCommerce process — SSLs, shopping carts, merchant accounts, and what else you need to know before, and after, you install an eCommerce solution.
This was focused on eCommerce at a beginner’s level  — how to accept  donations for your non-profit, selling digital download products,  as well as some tools and processes to set up an online store.
Nick discussed discuss payment gateways, the most popular eCommerce plugins plugins, and some common issues new eCommerce site owners face. The business principles required to be successful IRL (in real life) are still applicable when developing an eCommerce business model —  you need products to sell, a place to sell them, and a marketing strategy to attract customers. Additionally, you’ll also need a strategy for actually delivering the goods you sell.
WordPress and eCommerce – How it works

There are five major components of eCommerce:
•    Merchant Account
•    Shopping System
•    Payment Gateway (for real-time-processing)
•    Hosting Service
•    Security System

Before you chose your WordPress eCommerce plugin you need to decide how you are going to process orders and how you are going to accept payments.

Processing orders.
•    Simple non-secure order form sent to your email.
•    Secure order form sent to your email.
•    Shopping Cart System with database (Recommended)
•    Using a 3rd party Shopping Cart Service. (NOT RECOMMENDED)

Accepting Payments
•    Checks, COD’s and Bank Drafts only. (Don’t expect a lot of orders)
•    Manual Credit Card processing.
•    Real Time Credit Card Authorizations (Recommended)
•    Third Party Merchant Account (e.g PayPal / Googlr Checkout)

Depending on what you decide, you are going to need different tools to set up your Order Processing and Payment System.

1. The Merchant Account
Unless you choose to go through a third party solution like PayPal, Google Checkout or ClickBank, the first step in setting up eCommerce requires a Merchant Account. Some third party options can require a larger percentage of your sales to process your orders for you. PayPal and Google Checkout are the least expansive of all the third party options.

A merchant account is an account that enables merchants to accept credit card payments. They can be obtained through a bank, a credit card company or other payment processor. Any merchant who wants to take credit card orders must establish a merchant account.

A merchant account is established under an agreement between an acceptor and a merchant bank for the settlement of payment card transactions. In some cases a payment processor, independent sales organiza- tion, or merchant service provider is also a party to the merchant agreement. When a merchant enters into a merchant agreement directly with a bank or through an aggregator, the agreement contractually binds the merchant to obey the operating regulations established by the card associations.

Internet merchant accounts tend to charge a higher transaction rate and are used when credit cards can- not be physically swiped. Merchants with internet merchant accounts use a payment gateway to process credit card payments. On WordPress sites, these payment gateways can are now included with most shopping cart plugins.
It is important to choose the right type of merchant account and payment processor for the kind of busi- ness you will be conducting. While there are many payment service providers out there, it’s a good idea to read their terms of service very carefully, as many of them charge exorbitant fees and have strict rules regarding transactions. If anything sounds questionable, ask for specifics and do some research before agreeing to, or signing anything.
A merchant account comes with a merchant identification number. This number is required by gateway systems such as

2. The Shopping System
If you are selling just one or two items on your site you won’t have much need for a shopping cart. A WordPress site with a variety of products should use the shopping cart system because it’s the easiest way for your customers to shop. The easier it is to shop, the more they will spend while scanning through your website. But how do shopping carts work with your merchant account and the all-important pay-ment gateway system?

Using a shopping cart plugin, as soon as the customer hits the submit button, your incoming orders can be automatically processed. But to facilitate this procedure, you will need “real time” processing with a gateway account. Automated processing frees you to focus on your core business — fulfilling the customer’s order.
There are many choices when selecting a WordPress Shopping Cart but some of the most important should be functionality, does it do what you need it to do, easily and is compatible with the other site plugins.

We have installed and configured both WP e-commerce wp-e-commerce/ and woocommerce and can recommend either for specific install requirements.

3. SSL Certificate
A SSL Site Certificate provides security for the credit card information from the user’s browser through your website and then into the Gateway.

Although some Hosting providers offer SSL Certificates, we suggest you purchase a site certificate in order to keep the SSL with-in your domain.

Once you have a SSL Certificates you will mote the addition of the “s” on the end of https in tour URL. This addition is usually one way to insure the page is secured. The other way is the indication of a Lock in
the lower part of your browser which will look something like this    .
A site certificate usually ranges from USD $33.00 to $800.00 depending on the vendor and level of se-curity and must be renewed every year. Certificates can be purchased from companies like GeoTrust, VeriSign and a handful of others. Please note; a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is not an absolute requirement since everything will work without it, however many people will not purchase from websites that do not have SSL. You also run the risk of data-jacking if you do not have a Site Certificate installed, data-jacking is when a hacker actually intercepts the data while it is being transferred.

4. Gateway Account
We mentioned the Gateway many times in the above article and here’s how it works. Once the user sends his order it is transferred from his machine (or more specifically, his browser) to the Shopping Cart and is protected by the Secure Socket Layer (SSL), the server then hands off the data to the Payment Gateway. Gateways are services like Authorize.netTM, CyberCashTM, iBillTM and a host of others and is the actual link between your website and the banking networks. These services usually offer both the Gateway and the Processor.

The Gateway is simply the door into the ATM banking network, and the Processor is what actually handles the Financial data and must be able to communicate with your Shopping Cart. The processor accepts the data from the shop-cart and brings it in to the ATM network, where it is now just like any other credit card transaction.
Once in the ATM network, it connects to the Customers Credit Card Issuer, it then submits the data and waits for a Yes or No answer as to whether the transaction is approved or declined. After this, the whole process starts again in reverse order to give the user feedback as to the status of their transaction.

If the order is accepted, it will then charge the order amount to the customer’s account and sends the Gateway an authorization code. The Customers Bank will then settle the remainder of the transaction at a later time when they do their batch settlement processing, this is usually at the end of each business day. But for now, the user has his authorization and you have your order.

When the bank performs it settlements, the sale amount will then be deposit into your bank account, minus any fees that that may apply to the sale. For this reason, the funds may not show up in your ac- count for 24 – 48 hours after the actually sale has been completed. All that is required of you, is to fulfill the customer’s order
Payment Diagram
1.    Consumer places an order with the merchant through any number of sales channels: Web Site, Call Center, Retail, Wireless or Broadband.

2.    Authorize.Net detects an order has been placed, securely encrypts and forwards the Authorization Request to the Consumer’s Credit Card Issuer to verify the consumer’s credit card account and funds availability.

3.    The Authorization (or Decline) Response is returned via Authorize.Net to the Merchant. Round trip this process averages less than 3 seconds.

4.    Upon approval, the Merchant fulfills the consumer’s order.

5.    Authorize.Net sends the settlement request to the Merchant Account Provider.

6.    The Merchant Account Provider deposits transaction funds into the Merchant’s Checking Account.


The Shopping Cart keeps track of the user’s order while they are shopping. When they are done and are ready to pay for their merchandise, they submit their order. Once they submit their order it is handed to the Shopping Cart secured by the SSL and sent to the Gateway for Processing. As you can see the Shop- ping Cart plugin is only a small piece of the puzzle.

eCommerce can appear simple once you understand how all the components work together. A merchant account allows you to accept credit cards, your hosting company shows your website to the world, your shopping cart helps your customers shop and order more easily, the SSL certificate protects your user’s financial data and your liability and the Gateway allows real-time processing. All these independent components work together to make task of selling products easier and more profitable.

Nick’s Slide Deck, which includes the links discussed can be accessed here:

Deep Dive Discussion — Effective Web Content Creation and Management

This entry is part 7 of 9 in the series Meetup Meeting Notes

This month’s Deep-Dive Discussion, lead by H. Sandra Chevalier-Batik, focused on the tools and processes available to help you develop and implement an effective web content creation and management strategy for your WordPress site. Our discussion focused on the problem all site owners and managers face after developing a great looking website — “feed the beast” syndrome. We talked about how to produce steady streams of content that engages their site visitors and site owners them build their “On-Line Tribe.”

You can access the side deck at:

Problems we addressed included, how often should we update the content on our site’s ‘static’ pages; what can we do to add some dynamic content to our static pages to keep the search spiders coming back; content audits, why do we need one, and how to do it? Sandi discussed both offline and online tools and resources to help brainstorm topics for your site’s blog, produce the kind of content that will engage and build your on-line community, and ways to use that content to your build your Tribe of followers. We addressed the styles of written content that are most effective, mobile-friendly, formats, and discussed the increasing importance of photos, video and MP3 content.

For additional notes you can check out a previous blog Sandi posted addressing Best Practices for Content Development and Management at:

What You Need To Know About Installing Jetpack Site Stats on your WordPress site

This entry is part 8 of 9 in the series Meetup Meeting Notes

Presenter Brandon Kraft

Scribe:Donna Blumberg

Brandon Kraft

Brandon Kraft

Jetpack (here called JP)  is built into (here called sites. He briefly explained the difference between and (self hosted sites)

Some themes may not have the portfolio features (settings > enable feature if available), but all sites on include JP.

JP is available at or by installing it as a plugin on (self hosted) sites.

JP is modular – can turn off whatever features you don’t need.  some of the ‘bloat’ is due to language translations needing to be included.

When installing JP, must have either a user account or a blog or site. The user account does not require a site. When logging in through jetpack, there is an option for user account only, not a site. JP will go to – can sign up for just a username, not a blog address. If created a accidentially, can set it to private (requires a login to access content). currently hosts about 50 million sites. Per, (an independent site) which checks site roots, about 23% of the top 10 million sites are hosted by WordPress.

Developers can link to JP while working on a site, then can create a user account for the client after going live; site stats are not interrupted. Can disconnect then reconnect with another account and won’t use anything. stats persist. The only issue with site stats is if the site URL is changed, the historical stats may not be retained; contact JP support.

Site stats are recorded on server. Doing this helps avoid performance issues if high traffic. Google Analytics is great. Downside: can be complex, may be more than is needed for smaller sites. Google Analytics was introduced before JP stats.

Google vs. JP (WP)  Analytics – WP is a lesser performance hit, since the stats are less complex and less detailed about the viewer (ex: wp – just shows the country of IP address, less info about the viewer’s browser, etc.)  JP stats show at a glance how many people visit the site or specific posts or pages by day, the source (eg from facebook) and more, Jetpack is great, free and can be easier to understand than Google Analytics.

Stats are extendable – stats_get_csv() pulls from

When logged in, can see the stats sparklines at the top, above the dashboard.

Places to view the JP site stats

  • the dashboard on the individual site (on or self hosted)
  • – shows all sites with the same logion – can drill down

Stats settings –

  • which logged in users count? – can set levels that count as stats – may not want admins or editors.views to count as stats. JP doesn’t include IP blocking; they want to make it scalable
  • which logged in users can view stats? can set.
  • the smiley – eye candy only (bottom of the page) if it’s visible

Activating JP modules

The handiest modules are automatically activated. ones that don’t touch the back end(?) are automatically  activated

Site stats –

The dashboard includes site stats as a graph. Click on the stats graph on the self-hosted site to drill down to more stats details on for that site (a surprising amount of detail!). It includes info on referers, top posts & pages, search engines & terms, clicks, extended stats for each post. Google changed what it reports so google’s section doesn’t show (‘unknown’), where viewers go after visiting your site.

On the stats page, one of the sources may be spam; can click the and the link to spam sites to hide spam stats ( still tracks, just won’t show it)

Automattic is including more site stats management through stats – multiple sites as long as they have the same account.

There was a lively discussion  about JP features being limited on local sites.

Photon –

Brandon discussed the JP Photon Image service. It works with dynamically resizing photos, and is great for for the tiled image gallery. Instead of uploading multiple sizes of an image, use JP’s Photon module to cache different sizes of images on; this can help speed up a site. Photon  rewrites and redisplays/caches on (stored on your server). Automattic ( is opening data centers overseas to deliver cached images closer to visitor and transfer some of load to wp from your site.

Photon doesn’t work with video; use  videopress $60/year, it currently has some limitations and is being being upgraded.


Ex-canonical sends original source with image to keep Google stats – has photon image api; photon server is open source.

The terms of service require using JP to use photon, no technical requirements..

Caching –

WP Super Cache plugin is built by Automattic, has full page caching. It’s automatically added by HostGator with the 1 click wp install. Turn it off during development. WP Super Cache plugin works well with photon.

What about conflicts w/ other plugins?

They will disable JP counterparts of other themes – ex, if Contact form 7 is used, the JP contact form is disabled. (He showed a lengthy code subroutine that  listed numerous plugins that can override – disable – their JP counterparts or otherwise have to be considered). When conflicts are discovered, the JP developers either work to fix the JP issue or contact the other developer They want to be good neighbors.

Brandon mentioned that JP and /Yoast SEO both have a place for a validation code from Aoogle analytics.

A possible issue: Open Graph Tags (site header – when  sharing a post on FaceBook, to associate a designated image, etc.). JP will add that automatically unless it detects another plugin that also does that. See codex article Always Use Open Graph with Jetpack.

What about backing up JP?

Use vault press – back up everything. (not free)

Other questions/answers

Automattic just brought plugin brute protect – block pwd guessing. will be in next release of JP. similar to limit login attempts in other plugins.

If you can’t activate a grayed out feature, the developer may have left it in dev mode.

What types of blogs/sites are not allowed on

Spam, hate sites, porn, outside ads (need to do that through wp); they have some eCommerce options.


JP team is aware of accessibility issues and are working on them. an accessibility consultant is involved. Still room for improvement.


Thank you to both our presenter, Brandon Kraft and our Scribe:Donna Blumberg



Deep Dive Group – Moving Forward

This entry is part 9 of 9 in the series Meetup Meeting Notes

As we do every year, the Austin WordPress Meetup Organizer surveyed our members. Mendel presented the survey results to your intrepid program planners and some community volunteers and we can up with some major changes to how we will structure the 2015 Austin WordPress sessions.

Summary of WordPress Organizer and Deep-Dive discussions of 2015 groups and topics:

The group agreed that the distinction between “beginner”, “intermediate”, and “advanced” was unclear, and not helpful for those trying to decide if they should attend a meetup. Instead, a more useful matrix of Meetup designations was developed:
• Content
• Implementor
• Designer
• Developer
• Bus. Manager

The team also decided that we would encourage our presenters to model the sessions as:
• Best Practices
• Emerging Topics
• Stylistic Shootout
• Development

The operative question for both topic and audience should be “What are you trying to do with WordPress?”

Some topics discussed were specifically for beginners, other targeted toward the developer group, but most were intended to have multiple levels of content that would satisfy a broad range of skills – starting with basic information, and leading into advanced detail.


Child Themes
Maintenance / Security / Backup
What to expect from Designers and Developers
Non-profit matchup – an easy way to get involved in the community

Developer Group Topics

Core Contribution
Code Sharing
Remote Experts (Skype / Hangout )
Lightning Talks

General Topics Identified by Member Survey

Privacy Law ( Presenter: Mercer )
“Responsive” is not the same as “Mobile”
Video Content and Video Sales Letters (VSL)
Cool Classroom Work – General Assembly
Setting Up a Development Environment ( Presenter: Eli )
Best Practices
Intro to Social Media ( Colleen / Christina )
Social Media ( Thomas Umstadt )
Social Marketing (Presenter: Mercer )
Design: Print and Web (Presenter: Eli )
Theme Frameworks and Roll-Your-Own
How to Make a Plugin
Best Plugin Stack – Round-table of Favorite
Accessibility ( contact: Cousette / Hiram / Carie Dils )
Electronic Digital Downloads (EDD) (contact:Shawn Davis )
Membership Sites
Email Marketing; Choosing and Using
Tools Roundup for Designer and Developers
Establishing a Budget for Your Site
Value-Based Pricing
Managing Your Clients
How to Bid a Project
Marketing Funnel – Start to End (Presenter: Mercer )
Showcase – Membership show-off
Speed-dating – Clients / Designers / Developers
Business Skills for WordPress Designers and Developers
Tax Law for Designers and Developers
Emerging Topics in WordPress and the Web

We are in the process of reaching out to our members to have self- identified as presenters, trainers or speakers so we can start scheduling the balance of the 2015 Austin WordPress Meetup Programs.

If you have suggestions, or wish to volunteer to present for a specific topic just message us here on our new FaceBook page.