Yup, March has come and gone, and that means it’s time for our monthly roundup post here on the Elegant Themes Blog. How’s your year going so far?
I know like myself, many of you see 2015 as the year of changes so keep on keepin’ on my peeps! (Yes, I just said that… Don’t judge me.)
Without further delay, here is this month’s Month in WordPress March 2015 Edition.
This Month in WordPress
WordPress Beta: Thing 1 and Thing 2
WordPress Core Software went into the beta testing phase this month for WordPress 4.2. Both Beta 1 and 2 were released this month, but Beta 1 seemed to bring more interesting features that most of us should be pretty happy about.
The Press This feature for WordPress will see an update that will make easier to share things from around the web, including changing things to make sharing via mobile devices much easier. The WP Customizer will get the added features of being able to access, browse and switch to various themes that you have in the backend — yay!
Installing and updating your plugins will see a nice update that will allow you to (finally) update plugins without the need to go to a separate page for the process to take place. And Emoji will now be making a new and likely permanent appearance which means that you can use them just about everywhere you can write in WordPress. (Yes, slugs can have them as well.)
Both Beta 1 and 2 saw some updates that developers are sure to like too. Overall, the news is pretty cool and has a few features that I’m pretty happy about.
Let Your Email List Bloom with the New Plugin From Elegant Themes
Spring is here in the U.S. and the flowers aren’t things that are blooming. March saw a very exciting plugin release from the Elegant Themes market that I’m sure most of you have already heard about and jumped on.
The Bloom Email Opt-Ins Plugin is an amazing email capturing feature that every site needs to have. The plugin has an impressive 6 display options to choose from, automatic pop-up and fly-in triggers, works with the most popular email marketing systems, and has a ton of designs that are simple to customize to your exact standards.
But the plugin takes things a step further by adding impressive features like Split Testing (A/B Testing) your pop-ups to help you narrow in on the best converting opt-in form for your site or page, create multiple designs and use them where you want, and has pop-ups are mobile friendly and responsive so that you can capture leads from viewers on any device.
There been a lot of people anxious for the next theme release from Elegant Themes, however, this plugin is just proof that Nick and the development team have not been sitting on their hands. If anything, this plugin release just whets our appetite for all the goodness that will be packed inside the new and upcoming Extra theme and whatever else they’re cooking up.
WordCamps Have Launched; Portland See’s Its First Press Publish Event
A new year means that it’s also time for WordCamps to start up again, and they’ve come out with a bang!
WordCamp London, Mumbai, Seattle and San Diego are just a few of the WordCamps that have come and gone and they’re just going to be rolling on out for the rest of the year.
On another exciting note, Portland, Oregon saw its first ever Press Publish Conference — a conference by the folks at WordPress.com about blogging for bloggers. If you missed that one, you can always try and catch the one being held this year in April in Phoenix, Arizona.
Jetpack and bbPress Get Updated
Jetpack saw an update of its own this month. The 3.4 update had few things added including integrating features from the BruteForce plugin to help you nail down security on your WP site and a simplified interface for Jetpack on the backend.
bbPress also had a couple updates back to back: a security release and maintenance release. Both the 2.5.5 and 2.5.6 updates helps fix a few potential security issues and a bug or two in order to keep things running smoothly.
I don’t know how these guys do it, but I’m pretty thankful there are so many knowledge people in the WordPress world to help keep all of the pieces of so many sites running smoothly!
Yahoo! Says Bye-Bye Smush.it
If you’ve ever done any research about how to optimize your pictures for WordPress, then chances are that you’ve heard about the Smush.it plugin by WPMU DEV — a plugin that uses the free compression service by Yahoo! in order to help save the loading time on your site.
Well, for whatever the reason, Yahoo! is no longer keeping up with the service which means that the popular plugin is about to have its final breath. It’s sad to see the plugin go as it is one that many like myself have been using for years to help compress images. Thankfully, there are other options out there, and WPMU DEV is working up something to replace the plugin so it’s exciting to see what they’ve got up their sleeves.
Highlights from the Elegant Themes Blog
- How To Create An RSS To Email Campaign For Your Blog | Ever wondered how people manage to send post updates from their blog to their email subscribers? Brenda teaches how to do it in this post here on the blog.
- The Best Time Tracking Applications For Web Designers | Tracking your time as a designer is one of the best things you could ever do for your business. There are quite a few options out there and each one seems to offer something a bit different. This roundup post lists some of the best ones on the market today and many in the ET community added a few suggestions of their own in the comments too.
- How To Customize The Style Of Contact Form 7 To Match Your Website | The Contact Form 7 Plugin is one of the most popular plugins for WordPress users. It’s easy to use, easy to integrate, and it’s easy to customize the options on the form. Customizing the actual look of the form is another thing. Nathan covers a how to use CSS to make the forms in the plugin match the look and feel of your site.
- Everything You Need to Know About Changing WordPress Themes | Thinking of changing out your WordPress theme? Then be sure to read Brenda’s post before you do anything. This article lists some precautions to take and other things to consider before you make the jump.
- The Best Social Media Monitoring Tools | Monitoring and keeping up with your social feeds (especially when you have quite a few) is difficult for someone who doesn’t do social media management for a living. However, most people know that it’s something that is important to wrangle, but they just don’t know how. In this post, I list a few really great SM monitoring tools that will help make your life a heck of a lot easier.
- Build Your Own Online Marketplace Using WordPress | Creating a marketplace with WordPress is easier than it use to be but not as easy as we’d all like. Still, there are plenty of options when it comes to creating an e-commerce site. Nathan gives a nice walkthrough of some great themes and options for setting up your own store.
Other Great WordPress Related Articles from Around the Web
- Shared vs VPS Hosting – What’s the Difference? | Ever wonder about this? I know I have! Daniel explains the differences between the two types of hosting and offers suggestions on which to pick.
- How to Generate New Ideas for Your WordPress Blog | Have you ever had one of those days where you know you need to write a blog post but you just can’t decide on what to write? This post by Peter over at WP Daily Themes can help fix all of that. And the best part is that this method is about as easy as it gets!
- Creating a Featured Content Widget – With its Own Image Uploader | Now here is something really cool. Want to add the ability to upload images to a featured content widget? Then this is the tutorial you’ve been waiting for.
- Automattic Publishes a White Paper on WordPress Security | This is one that sort of slipped by a few folks but it’s something that many of you may appreciate reading. The white paper (which can be found here) delves into what it takes to create updates and more technical aspects of what goes into the security aspects of WordPress.
- 8 Questions With WPBeginner’s Syed Balkhi | If you’ve been around the WordPress world for a bit, then chances are that you know who Syed. Syed Balkhi is the great mind behind WP Beginner and is also a rather amazing internet marketer. You can glean a lot from his interview here on Pagely.
- How to Put a Stop to WordPress Trackback Spam | Speaking of WP Beginner, here is a great post from the blog on how to get rid of that irritating Trackback spam that so many of us deal with.
Articles about SEO, Social Media, and Online Marketing
Most of you guys seemed pretty happy about adding this feature to the round-up post so I decided that it’s a keeper. (*wink*)
- How To Approach Link Building In 2015 | Link building use to be one of those things that everyone knew how to do because Google didn’t seem to be catching on to all the black-hat methods being used to rank pages. Fast-forward to 2015 and most of those same people are now scratching their heads. Links are still among the top factors Google uses in ranking a web page. If you’re curious about how to go about building links that won’t get you slapped by Google, then be sure to check out Adam Connell’s post. It’s a long read, but it is well worth your time.
- Social Sharing Habits: New Research Reveals What People Like to Share | Trying to figure out exactly where to focus your social media efforts? Are you not sure where to find your audience? What type of content gets shared the most, anyway? Suzanne Delzio at Social Media Examiner shares an impressive post that uses research to answer the tough questions. Not sure what to read on your lunch break today? Well, problem solved. This post is a keeper!
- The Ultimate Guide to Creating Visually Appealing Content | Who doesn’t love a good infographic? Neil Patel shares a great one on his blog over at Quick Sprout that is all about creating visual content that people love to look at and love to share even more.
- How To Use Growth Hacking To Attract and Retain Customers | Speaking of Neil, here is a great article by him on his personal blog about Growth Hacking. If you’re curious about what Growth Hacking is and how to use it to grow your business, then this will be an enlightening post. You’d be surprised just what it means and who it can benefit.
- The Inbound Marketing Kit You’ve Been Waiting For [Free Download] | You know what’s better than free? Something that is free and actually useful, of course! As I’m sure you all know, all the old marketing tactics like cold emails are on their dying breathing. Why? Because they don’t work. Inbound Marketing is the way of the marketing future and anyone who wants to find online success needs to know more about it. Hubspot is giving away a Inbound Marketing Kit that will educate you and help you switch gears so that you’re on track with things.
- 10 Ways to Capture Email Leads Without Disturbing Your Visitors | As effective intrusive email pop-ups are, they can get a bit annoying when you’re hit by them nonstop. There are ways to present these handy opt-in forms in ways that make it seem more like a polite request rather than someone shoving something in your users face’s and demanding your information. Abrar over at KISSmetrics explains how to do just that.
- SEO: How Has It Changed and How To Change With It | SEO is hard, right? It can seem that way, but many of the themes that create an effective SEO strategy in 2015 are not that hard. The hard thing is forgetting all the junk you learn before 2013 and moving on. I had the chance to talk a little more about this on the WPEKa blog earlier this month.
Wrapping it Up
This year is shaping up to be a great one and I’m excited to see what else it has in store. Have you found any great posts that you think are wroth sharing? Let us know in the comments below.
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