WordPress London Meetup 22nd September

3 interesting talks encouraged members of the London WordPress Meetup group to fill the venue to capacity on Thursday evening.

BuddyPress

Buddy Press Dev Paul Gibbs
Paul Gibbs

Core developer Paul Gibbs talked us through the new release of BuddyPress, the social network “out of the box” plugin for WordPress. BuddyPress 1.5 is an almost complete recoding of the plugin, taking advantage of the new features in WordPress 3 and above. It  includes a new theme with a fresher look (as many users never attempted to create their own), more complete documentation so that developers and designers can take and extend the core plugin code, and the ability to embed media from sites such as YouTube directly in your site.

WordPress E-Commerce

Jeff Ghazally WP-Ecommerce developer
Jeff Ghazally

Jeff Ghazally, one of the developers of the WordPress e-commerce plugin called WP e-commerce spoke about the new version of this plugin, and demo-ed setting up a online music store for digital music downloads in under 5 minutes. Although the core plugin is free, most users need to purchase a plugin add-on to give them the functionality they require. Add-ons range from $10-$195. Community plugins add more specific tasks. WP-ecommerce downloads total over 1.3 million to date, making it one of the all-time most popular plugins.

Better WordPress Search

Shakur Shidane
Shakur Shidane talks about SOLR search

Developer Shakur Shidane gave us an overview of using Apache SOLR project to add a full featured search to WordPress sites. Search in WordPress is pretty simply – for example it can’t recognise the similarity between “smile” and “smiling”. The SOLR project includes and much more. Although not suitable for most small WordPress users on shared hosting, due to the technology requirements, Shakur’s talk showed us the WordPress can be used for the biggest of sites when required.

Hosting for WordPress

The talks this week at WordPress London showed us just how powerful WordPress can be. From a fully featured social network for your specific group, to extensive e-commerce ability, to high powered search, WordPress is ready for heavy lifting.

If you have a WordPress project coming up that may need specialist support, why not get in touch with us? 2020Media offers specialist hosting support for WordPress for all sizes of website. With ‘no-click’ WordPress install, experienced and friendly technical help and free support, the team at 2020Media are waiting to hear from you.

 

Blogging Trends

Has WordPress reached a tipping point? Right now 14% of the web is powered by WordPress. That’s an astonishing statistic.

comparison of top blogging platforms
Comparison of top blogging platforms - July 2011

According to the WordPress stats page, there are over 50 million websites using WordPress. About 25 million of these are WordPress.com sites – that is, sites that are hosted by WordPress themselves on their shared blogging platform. These hosted sites are in the main blogs rather than full-blown websites. As a specialist in WordPress hosting, we find customers need the extra power you get with Self-Hosted WordPress, which is what we provide.

It was in September last year that Microsoft gave users of it’s Windows Live Spaces blogging platform 6 months to move to WordPress. From what we’ve heard, the transition was smooth. Live Spaces once hosted 7m bloggers and had 300m visitors.

The Google owned blogging service ‘Blogger’ doesn’t publish user numbers, but it’s thought to be around 15-20 million. In July of 2011 it was announced that Google intends to change the name of the service from “Blogger” to “Google Blogs,”. Whether this rebranding will have a negative or positive affect remains to be seen.

So what is WordPress’s secret?

Here are some of the features of WordPress

WordPress.com Features

  • Free hosting for up to 3GB worth of space
  • Blog content is maintained on WordPress.com web servers
  • Ability to choose and customize templates (limited flexibility)
  • Easy to get started; easy to use
  • Upload and store image, video, and other (limited) file formats

WordPress Self-Hosted Features

  • Blog content is maintained on user’s preferred web host
  • Nearly unlimited ability to choose and customize templates and widgets
  • Takes some technical ability to setup and configure – that why you should choose 2020Media!
  • Files support limited only by web server, which likely means more than you’d ever need.

Use as content management systems

Finally, we look at the use of software that started out as blogging platforms as full blown content management systems. Many of our customers use WordPress as a website content management system, not as a blog.

Once again, WordPress is leading the way.

Top content management systems
Top content management systems

How to read the diagram from Web Technology Surveys:
73.5% of the websites use none of the content management systems that we monitor.
WordPress is used by 14.5% of all the websites, that is a content management system market share of 54.6%.

So although most websites surveyed didn’t use a content management system that could be detected, of those that could WordPress was again the clear leader.

 

Themes that do more

The WordPress.org website includes an online directory of thousands of completely free themes. WordPress insists on GPL licensing which also means these themes are free to modify to your own custom design if you wish.

There are also many many sites offering paid for themes. The quality is generally high and if you are after something that gives your site instant wow appeal, it can be worth spending a few pounds on a theme. Expect to pay USD $35- USD $95 (GBP £20 – GBP £60) for a theme.

This post is about WordPress themes that do more than just change the appearance of your site. We’re looking at themes that include specific functionality. This often means the theme comes with extra plugins to perform these roles.

Business Directory

The DirectoryPress WordPress theme is a complete theme and plugin. Cost  is USD $79. The theme includes maps, payment gateways for paid directory listings and around 20 different template designs.

Business Directory for WordPress is a plugin only. It allows simple text based listing, submitted by the unregistered users. There’s no editing facility. Cost is free although a suggested donation of USD $5 is requested by the author to help fund further development.

WP Business Directory Manager is a plugin only. It supports user registration, paid placements (at extra cost to the plugin creator). It allows images in the listings. The plugin is free and you can see a live example at www.hairdressing.co.uk

Jobs

9-to-5 theme. This theme from a paid theme provider costs USD $35 and includes both a  job board theme and the listing plugins. Features include ajax filtering, google maps, and the ability to take payments via paypal for paid listings.

Jobroller is another paid theme. It includes separate portals & tools for both job seekers and employers, has built-in payment gateway support and a has a CV section. Cost is USD $99.

Job Manager is a plugin only. It’s designed for a single company’s job listing and includes functions to take online applications and manage the interview process. It’s free and has been downloaded over 30,000 times from WordPress.

Classifieds

Sofa OpnPress is a paid theme that styles itself “WP Yellow Pages”. It offers front-end editing for users, paid or free listings mode, a voting system, and supports localisation. Cost is USD $35.

Another WordPress Classifieds Plugin is a well established free plugin (2 years old) and boasts upwards of 70,000 downloads from WordPress. It allows for paid or free ads, moderation, notifications and social integration. A number of premium (paid-for) modules are available which add things like featured listings, fee per category and google checkout integration.

wp-classified is a simpler option that adds a simple information & advertising blackboard or classified page in to your wordpress site. The plugin is free. A few comments in the forum indicate that some users find the documentation lacking.

Charity

Agency Theme is a paid theme that includes a nice “donation bar” on the home page. Ideal for fund raising towards a target, the donation bar shows progress towards the specified amount features a prominent donation link. Cost of this theme is USD $95. A number of plugins that offer a similar feature can be found on WordPress.

10 themes for non-profits. Not a theme or plugin itself, this post reviews 10 beautiful themes designed with charity websites in mind.

Donate Plus is  a free WordPress plugin with PayPal integration. The plugin contains lots of options for creating a donation form on your site, and includes a recognition function for displaying donations and comments. In function it’s similar to Just Giving, though does not include any Gift Aid functionality.

Conclusion

We’ve chosen just 4 categories here but there are dozens if not hundreds of customised themes and plugins for just about any specific function you might care to imagine (let us know in the comments). Costings shown above were correct at the time of writing but are likely to change in the medium-long term. Sometimes you may need to pay for the feature you want, but compared to the cost of bespoke development it’s likely to a be fraction of the cost. Many of the developers actively encourage customisation work so even if the plugin or theme doesn’t do quite what you want, it’s very well worth contacting the provider to ask if they will make a change for you.

About Us

2020Media is an established UK hosting provider. We offer WordPress hosting with expert technical assistance. Our service includes free migration from other hosts or WordPress.com and plenty of free help getting your site up and running. Hosting plans start at £45+vat/year.

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Control your own Blog

Blogger Status message
Blogger Status - Offline

With the news that popular blogging service Blogger has had continual problems for the past 3 days, isn’t it time to think about self-hosting your blog?

Rather than rely on a massive service like Blogger or WordPress.com, if you host your blog independently you gain control over your site, tech support you can actually speak to you and access to a huge amount of extra features that’ll make your blog stand out from the crowd.

Blog hosting from 2020Media can be added to any existing hosting plan (sometimes at absolutely no cost), or setup as a standalone service. With hosting plans starting at just £45+vat/year (that’s £3.75/month – less than a pint!) it’s very easy to start getting the benefits of an indepedent blog. We offer free installation and setup too.

Ease of Upgrade – Joomla, WordPress, Drupal

Comparison of the upgrade methods used in Joomla, WordPress and Drupal

the logo's of Joomla, WordPress and DrupalPopular content management systems require updating from time to time. Sometimes this is for new features, often because a security loophole needs patching. In this article we’re not going to look at which CMS most often requires updates, but at the upgrade procedure itself. How easy is it, are the instructions clear and easy to follow, what the potential problems, and what can you do if something goes wrong? At the time of writing new major versions of Drupal (7.0) and Joomla (1.6) have been released and no updates have yet been produced for these releases. We therefore concentrate on the older versions, which run the vast majority of existing sites. Continue reading Ease of Upgrade – Joomla, WordPress, Drupal