WooSesh Schedule, WooCommerce: (Oct. 9 – 10, 2019)

WooSesh Schedule WooCommerce

The WooSesh Schedule has been announced!  Having been to several WPSessions, WordSesh, WooSesh events, I can say that Brian Richards works tirelessly to make these events a success by putting together 5 star, top notch speakers and topics. This event is free and honestly, it’d be worth paying for. Highly suggested to signup and attend if you run an eCommerce store with WordPress (either on WooCommerce or another platform). I’d attend even if I was running an eCommerce site outside of WordPress as these topics are not only important, but imperative to running a successful shop both now and keeping it growing into the future.

These used to be held in (just after) the WooConf Sessions, but absent of those, it’s becoming a sort of online replacement. Two days of a track of WordCamp style (yet live video) presentations.

^^ See Above Links for Schedule and to Register ^^

WooSesh Schedule 2019, WooCommerce

 

Brian Richards and Patrick Rauland are organizing this and it promises to offer some information that can’t be found anywhere else.

-Lessons Learned Building Complex Stores
-9 Emails Every Store Needs to Send
-10x Your Email Marketing with Segmentation and Personalization
-Starting an eCommerce Business
-Optimizing the Journey from Entry to Checkout
-Augmented Reality and WooCommerce
-Sales Tax for the Online Seller
-Gaining Traction and Reaching Escape Velocity
-The Simple Jar a WooCommerce Subscriptions Case Study
-Completed Order is the Beginning, Not the End
-Small Changes that Make Big Impacts
-Designing with Blocks
-Every Second Counts: how to speed up your WooCommerce store to close more deals
-How to Fix the Top 10 eCommerce UX Mistakes
-Sell Better Using Web Metrics that Matter

 

 

Comments, What I’m Looking at in These Sessions:

 

Lessons Learned Building Complex Stores

Can vouch that building large stores with constantly evolving scaled up traffic comes with many challenges. Looking for some really good information here.

 

9 Emails Every Store Needs to Send

Email is the lifeblood of maintaining a relationship with Customers. Everyone is constantly adjusting their implementation, so any chance to get some tried and true processes in this regard is always very valuable information.

 

Custom Tables and the Checkout Bottleneck

Anyone working with building WooCommerce sites at any volume has certainly had the occasion of a slow checkout and ironing out those issues. Further, it’s not uncommon to have plugins inject these types of routines to run and require modification. These can indeed be expensive issues and cause conversion issues. Great topic.

 

10x Your Email Marketing with Segmentation and Personalization

Absolutely! Sending the right offers or communication to Clients of a certain purchase type or status (ie: abandoned cart) can be a re-engagement item and keep Customers active once they understand you have even more that they’d be interested in!

 

Starting an eCommerce Business

You gotta start somewhere!

 

Optimizing the Journey from Entry to Checkout

So important. Was helping somebody yesterday by taking a quick look at their site presence and just did a quick run through their process. This was a European store that shipped Internationally. Ended up at the checkout and had to scroll through the list trying to find the United States. After scrolling through about 40 Countries that the Site Owner probably never wanted to (or would) do business with to begin with, I was able to determine that the United States was not even on the list?? United States Outer Lying Areas was. Long story short, I couldn’t have done business if I wanted to, but, even for those in the Countries common to where this person would ship to, they’d have to be trudging through this list alphabetically to find their Country. This is one very small example from the list of topics to be covered on this one, so will be tuning in!

 

Augmented Reality and WooCommerce

Oh, so being a Virtual Reality Buff (I’m pretty active on this topic and content creation elsewhere), this is ABSOLUTELY the next gen to where eCommerce is going. There are already startups creating full Virtual Reality platforms for eCommerce. That being the case, Augmented Reality is certainly a very similar (and predecessing concept) that will likely be much more popular first. Super excited on this one!
Virtual Reality: Everything in the experience (ie: in a headset)
Augmented Reality: Items overlaid on top of an experience dynamically (ie: you point at a product and get something supporting the experience in your viewport)

 

Sales Tax for the Online Seller

Avalara is one of the heavy hitters in working with collecting Sales Tax and complying with the various regions to do so.

 

Gaining Traction and Reaching Escape Velocity

How not to fizzle out after coming out like a rocket.

 

The Simple Jar a WooCommerce Subscriptions Case Study

Having built quite a few setups with WooCommerce Subscriptions, very interested in this one, it’s a case study of one company using manual delivery in unison with WooCommerce Subscriptions and customizing the Action Scheduler to control renewal schedules down to the minute to better work with their model…as well as I’m sure some really great process info and information of how they worked through the build and have conducted business. These types of real world case studies are worth their weight in gold as they can save you from making the same mistakes as somebody else had…or further optimize on the front end.

 

Completed Order is the Beginning, Not the End

Absolutely again. Successful stores are not those processing “one-offs.” That first Order is the first step to maintaining a continual relationship with an overall lifetime value.

Small Changes that Make Big Impacts

Working on small changes to handle traffic growth. Working smart, not hard.

 

Designing with Blocks

So anybody that knows me knows that I’m a HUGE fan of the Block (Gutenberg) Editor. This is bringing huge flexibility and feature to a system we already all love and rely on. This focuses on a Designer’s perspective using the Block Editor to work with WooCommerce Components.

 

Every Second Counts: how to speed up your WooCommerce store to close more deals

Have had the pleasure of hearing similar talks by Chris Lema at WordCamps and there’s always some really good suggestions in his presentations.

 

How to Fix the Top 10 eCommerce UX Mistakes

There’s not a description of what’s to be covered here, but this is presently a pretty big focus point in how I work with Clients. UI and UX is probably the single most important part of any website trying to get Users to take an action, which of course is what eCommerce is. I’m ever amazed at the small adjustments that can be made to improve results. This is a science and it’s provable at this point with so many case studies and data. Looking forward to this one!

 

Sell Better Using Web Metrics that Matter

Ah, this falls inline with UI and UX. Taking the data you gather from existing Customers to make their experience and your results better. From the description, there will be information about how to leverage metrics from Google Analytics and probably several other metric points.

 

 

Again, check out the WooSesh site to Register for Free!  I’ve not seen a lineup of important topics like this yet and there will certainly be MANY takeaways.

 

 

Merit Badges for Web Developers

This is a super funny post I’ve found by CSS Tricks, Chris Coyier.  He’s got a super great online blog that I’ve followed for years.  Have already shared this with a few friends and we’ve gotten quite a few laughs, so figured I’d go ahead and share a couple of my favorites down below (and a little commentary).  Added a couple low quality screencaps as they’re super neat.

Go see his post on Web Developer Merit Badges to see them all!

Changed a DNS record and everything worked just fine

Changed DNS Record

Ah, the DNS.  It is really great when everything just goes!  Caching, different devices, time.

 

Comprehended someone else’s RegEx

RegEx

If I had a dollar for every hour I’ve spent on relatively short lines of RegEx, I’d be a millionaire for sure!

 

Accidentally created own CMS

New CMS

Have definitely weaved together a tangle of adaptive modules.  This site is a good example of that, but hey, it all works…and pretty good, but I have to do a little refresher if I leave it for awhile.  😐 

 

Told a client/boss “No, we’re not doing that.”

Do I have to answer this?  😛 

 

Refactored a large portion of CSS and didn’t break anything

CSS Rework

Don’t think I’ve fully earned this one, at least not on the first go!  Gotta love Staging and Development Environments!

 

Hand-coded a HTML email

Write Code HTML Email

Unfortunately.  🙁 

 

Debugged something for over one hour where the fix was literally one character

Character Missing Code

Again, do I have to answer this one?  *laugh*  🙄 

 

Became extremely confused by a CORS error

Cors Error

Yes!  Actually have come up with some pretty good solutions on this one!  

 

Solved a bug by taking a nap

Bug Issues Caching

Not sure about the nap part, don’t get many of those, but definitely by waiting!  We love you caching, especially when you have some mystery element!

 

Your personal website hasn’t been updated in at least 5 years

Website Updates Overdue Emergency

Well, not exactly 5 years haha, but definitely have gone a little while here and there.  Actually pretty good about WordPress Updates and try to keep my own personal sites looking a little more “home grown” vs. chasing after the latest design trends.  Clients sites of course look a lot better!

 

Thoughts on User Notifications (and Settings) in WordPress Admin

After reading Justin Tadlock’s post (on WPTavern) on some of the work the WordPress.org Theme Review Team is doing on curbing obtrusive user notices, got me to thinking that I definitely have opinions on these and some other related aspects of the WordPress Admin (settings, etc.).  Thought it would be worth of some commentary. Recently, I’ve been getting more involved in the WordPress.org Teams and I feel a lot more comfortable than in the past that there are actually well intentioned people that have interests in finding solutions for common issues that have arisen just through the course of usership of the software we all know and (most) love.

 

As part of the WordPress Theme Review Team’s plan to curb obtrusive admin notices, the team pushed version 1.0 of its Admin Notices package to the public. The new package provides a standard API for theme authors to display admin notices.

 

Long story short, the packages have API support that makes maintaining these messages in a more uniform fashion adoptable.  The article has much more detailed information on this particular endeavor and is definitely worth the read.

Notices and Settings Everywhere:  I’m a huge proponent of WordPress (obviously).  You just can’t find web software where having so much flexibility to solve very particular issues ends up in the hands of Users and Developers in a manner that they can actually administrate solving issues within their reach.  If I’ve ever had one issue, it’s that for a User (and even for a Developer), you end up with notifications…and settings everywhere. Very happy to see this getting some focus on Notifications.

On to Settings:  This is the area I think becomes confusing from a User perspective.  As Developers, we generally know that there can (and are) multiple settings panels in different locations, but sometimes, it seems like you end up searching for some dark corner where there are settings related to whatever feature you’re either working on troubleshooting or developing for.

A great example of this is with themes.  You might have some of the Theme Options in the Customizer, there may be other settings in a dedicated Theme Options Panel.

Then there’s CSS.  There are many, many places custom css can be integrated.  There may be a box in the Customizer, there may be something in Theme Options or there may be something by way of a plugin that provides to manage and maintain custom css.  Then there’s the flat stylesheets. That’s a lot of places you can conceivably have the same thing…a lot of dark corners. This now extends to functions, filters and snippets as well as there are similar panels for easier management and plugins to support this.

Now, most Developers have their own way of integrating things like custom css, functions and filters and keep the same structure, so that’s a good thing.  It’s easier to decipher and there are definitely some protocols to follow (some better than others), but if a single protocol is followed, this becomes much easier.

It becomes difficult as a Designer or Developer when you’re inheriting a site that’s already been worked on by either the User or another Developer, even if you’re just building a module.  All of the sudden, you’re following your protocol on top of whatever is already there. There’s often not time on the project for proper equalization. Sometimes you’re caught in the middle on custom component development as there may be one of these blocks in some dark corner causing conflicts, so you either find it or weave around it.

The settings are just all over the place in most cases, theme settings here, plugin settings there on one of many custom panels, often settings in plugins (multiple) or themes addressing control of the same exact things.  There’s a lot of room for overlap.

The Challenge:  So the challenge is that obviously WordPress is Open Source Software.  It’s a blank canvas for development. Not totally blank as there are some controls as to the plugins that go into the WordPress Plugin Repo, but you can’t really tell someone on their own (purely Premium or Individual outside of WordPress.org assets) that they can’t do a certain thing and although there are sort of accepted “ways” of doing things, it becomes obvious that some Developers roll out control panels and settings where they know how to do it from past experience.

It’d be really great to have an outline that’s much more specific of the appropriate places for certain types of controls and code.  I do know the WordPress.org Teams work very hard at issues like this, so it’s very likely somewhere that this has been discussed and may even be attended to.  It’s a challenge to keep track of all Team’s progress, so lately, have had focus on the Docs Team as I’m a participant there, but this is definitely on my list of things to bring up and potentially find if there is already a movement.

Isolation and Connection on Matt Mullenweg’s Distributed Podcast

Matt Mullenweg, founder of Automattic and co-founder of the WordPress Open Source software has a great newer podcast.  Most that know me know that I’m a pretty big fan of Matt’s philosophies in general, so I try to pay attention to the different topics and speakers he has on his podcasts as I generally can count on something high quality and most of the topics tend to be what I consider to be “like minded.”  I’ve followed his blog in the past and actually look forward to the postings, they often express commonality and are upbeat, even on difficult topics.

If you haven’t yet checked out these podcasts, highly suggested.  The podcast is called the “Distributed Podcast.” <<—check it out it there

So on to why I chose this one to talk about:  Cornering Isolation (Stay Connected in a Distributed World)

 

Leo Widrich co-founded Buffer, the social media management software company, in 2010. But like many founders, the frantic pace and daily stresses of startup life caught up to him. After spending a couple of years in a Buddhist monastery studying mindfulness and learning to build emotional resilience, Leo now coaches other business leaders. In this episode, Leo shares tips for distributed workers on how to build healthy habits and avoid the “loneliness spiral.”

 

Basically, this hits home pretty well having worked remotely for over a decade, albeit, a couple years of this period has been in a traditional setting, so I’m speaking from both sides of the coin having participated in both.

It’s actually been since the airing that I’ve listened to this, but the topic really resonated and I’ve retained quite a bit of the piece of the subject that applies to me.  I found some peace in the fact that when you’re in a more isolated scenario, you can tend to start to believe that what you’re experiencing only applies to you. This podcast opens up that it’s a pretty common issue and gives some really good suggestions in terms of making some small routine changes, some of which I’ll be attempting to try myself.

In the podcast, the guest speaker Leo Widrich had become a wildly successful co-founder of a very successful media company, having had a brick and mortar setup and also a distributed setup.  He had reached a point of burnout and actually went to live at a monastery amongst Buddhist Monks, separating from running the technology business.

Now that’s obviously a bit extreme, but through all this, he’s developed a post-coaching strategy of some things that can keep a person from reaching a breaking point or a point of burnout.  This is very appealing as I’ve experienced this point several times. It’s always temporary, which is a good thing, but it can be a persistent pattern, even if there are large voids in between.

Some of my Takeaways:

(keep in mind, I am reading my own spin into many of these)

You May not be Technically “Alone:”  This is very interesting. If you work remotely, there may be other people around such as your family or even friends.  The issue is that these are not necessarily “like minded” individuals. They may understand your plight to some degree, but very likely just the basics of what you’re dealing with.  You can’t really explain many advanced concepts like coding or technicality over and above the basics to most people.

Avoid Isolation:  So most people are familiar with the concept of meditation, which has been embraced as a very healthy way to de-stress and ground.  I tend to believe that this is healthy, but the interesting part of the podcast approached things that aren’t personal to one, but involve others.

Find People Who May Not be Doing the Same Thing, but Work in the Same Manner:  This was the part that I found most interesting having experienced the isolation of not having anyone outside of social media or specific meetups to converse on topics with.  I’ve often thought it would be great either to have a spouse involved in the same things or at least a large group of friends close by to decompress with. The issue is not that these people don’t exist, but with the time requirement related to technology development and regional constraints, it becomes difficult.  This is why meetups are such “gold.” You force yourself to take time, but it’s really just not enough, at least in my case. I do enjoy talking to Clients, but even that is just a fraction of total focus time each day…in some cases, it might be several days between such a call.

So one of the suggestions was to find people working in the same manner, meaning remotely or distributed online and just simply make it a point to work around them, possibly in some organized fashion.

Many of us escape to a coffee shop for a few hours for focus time,  but at least in my case, I don’t really converse with many, aside from a friendly hello or holding the door for someone coming or going…or greeting the staff, etc.  I’m pretty sure this is common to others as well. We basically go somewhere where a bunch of other people are also there doing work, but there’s really no connection outside of that.

Now doing this with a group, even if there are people working on different types of things, you’re forming some sense of community…and with that comes energy.  This can be done in a coffee shop and also is probably the underlying reason co-working spaces like WeWork are and have been gaining popularity. It fills this void.

Interestingly, Leo Widrich felt that a human gets some positive energy in this type of setting from the others around.  You’re basically all front facing working in the same way (vs. isolating in a coffee shop, you’d just be guessing what the others are doing and there’s not much commonality with that).

This suggestion came at the right time for me as it was a very busy, high stress time, both personally and with work projects.  I had already been exploring this concept and actually found two nearby 1 time per week meetup groups like this (on Meetup.com), so I had already had some inkling that this might be something desirable, granted, I have not yet done it.

Co-working space also is typically close by, there are several in my local area and likely are in yours as well…and this is a step to be near like situational people who are the same people each day.  Also seems like a great direction!

End of Day Isolation:  This is my last personal takeaway I’ll talk about as this is getting long.  I learned that I’m not alone in grabbing a glass or two (or 3) of beer on my own to just unwind and sort of escape.  In my case, maybe going online for a bit on social networking or completely tuning out and listening to some of my favorite bands on YouTube Music.  I think this may be more common than I had thought as well.

Going to a bar on your own to escape doesn’t seem to decompress either as you’re not very likely to encounter like situational or industry types.  They may be there, but it’s sort of the same as going to a coffee shop, there isn’t a way to really tune into the others, even if you wanted to.

The suggestion was to at the very least, instead of isolating, bring a friend and spend the same time you would sort of arbitrarily on your own with a person in real life instead.  Now this seems like a pretty simple suggestion, but routines are hard to break, so it’s definitely something that (at least in my case) would take a bit of restructure and focus).

So I can’t cover all of the good information in this podcast, but do just a preview to help you determine if it is something worthy of your time.  To me it was priceless and tipped the scales in value…so go listen to it!

Gutenberg (Block) Editor Deflectors Retreat!

So there’s been quite a bit of “deflection” centered around the Gutenberg (Block) Editor that’s been adopted into WordPress Core.  Some of this makes sense in certain cases, but doesn’t in others, so it seemed worthy of jotting down some thoughts on.

If I have a few minutes to spare, I’ll typically scan the handful of Facebook Groups that I belong to and try to lend a hand if there’s something that isn’t too time consuming (and there might be some quick information that I can provide).  In doing this, I again started to think that some fairly prominent professionals are really pushing people particular directions without much discretion as to the situation.

This Case:  A User had come onto the Group and was pretty diligent in documenting what she was asking.  She had made a quick video of her screen to document particularly what she was asking. The question was pretty simple:  “How do I edit html with the Block Editor?”

So this is a very simple question as I had stated.  HTML can be edited a variety of ways:

Toggling the Block to HTML

Inserting a Classic Block and doing the same toggle

Using a Custom HTML Block

So those are what came to mind as the pretty well supported, obvious choices.  Ok, so simple enough right? Let me check the comment stream for people helping this young lady understand how to find these options in the Editor.  This is the reason I’m writing this post. Didn’t observe that.

What I observed were a couple comments, some short one liners.  “Activate the Classic Editor.” This being a new User and having seen that, thought this was the correct course of action.

So I jumped in and posted how to pretty easily do this a number of different ways with a screenshot of the best way, which in this case was likely to toggle the Paragraph Block.

Now on to the Deflection…

Where it Makes Sense:  So the editor is not a “one size fits all” at this point for a few different reasons.  There are some compatibility issues with older themes, possibly some plugins that don’t work as they were designed to integrate features into the TinyMCE Classic Editor (previous editor) or there may be cases where the User just isn’t of the technical level to adopt change.  The two editors are different. I’ve used both myself on my sites for specific reasons and have activated it in quite a few Client situations in order to not bring one more thing into a tightly budgeted time.

Where the Deflection Doesn’t Make Sense:  So I’m lucky enough to have been able to connect with the Gutenberg Team Members (both the Design Developers and Developers working on Documentation) at the last WordCamp US Contributor Day (Nashville, TN).  I’ve been following the Development from when the Editor was a Plugin and testing this. I totally get the concept. It’s all working now. Developers (Plugin) are adding Blocks with features of their Plugins (similar to how Widgets work, but in Page).  There’s maximum flexibility with each element going to its own block. There are MANY MORE features than the previous Editor (which was one box with features in a toolbar). There’s custom blocks to do neat things that all (or most anyway) major plugin developers are providing styled components for (that appear on the frontend in the page).

So the point is, deflecting something that offers so much more than the previous solution makes little sense.  Hey, I get it, simple is good. But you can still go simple. To me, not learning just because you’re used to something or feel a certain way, it’s just bad form.

If there’s a reason for the action of going with the Classic Editor, I totally get that as well.  What I don’t understand is at the least slightest hint of trouble, why some are pushing just go with the Classic Editor.

The Classic Editor is set to be phased out.  It was supported for continual time due to some of the cases above, but mainly to allow Developers a chance to adapt to it, re-theme if necessary, make theme adjustments or solve those last remaining issues.  Those continually deflecting are just going to be at the same place as when the Block Editor launched at the end of the carry over period. It’s not an “opt-out” to be able to active the Classic Editor.

I still do use it myself when the case warrants as well as if I may just not yet have time to get to relative issues, but it seems like it’s not a good preventative measure to get away from using the Block Editor altogether as some type of solution to avoid problems.  If anything, since there’s now starting to be quite a few additional features coming with using the blocks, this type of approach may even be irresponsible as professionals.

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