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WordPress Grand Rapids Building Web Apps

Building Web Apps with WordPress: Jan 2015 meetup

We talked about Building Web Apps with WordPress at our Jan 15, 2015 meetup. Below are the notes.

WordPress Grand Rapids Building Web Apps

WordPress as a Web App

Presented by Brian Richards

  1. Components
    1. Custom post types
    2. Custom taxonomies
    3. Custom meta: post meta, user meta, comment meta
    4. User roles & restrictions
    5. Post relationships (via Posts 2 Posts)
  2. Methods
    1. WP_Query
    2. pre_get_posts: can be more specific than above
    3. $wpdb: can be even more specific than above
    4. AJAX: save users time and reduce server load
  3. Tools
    1. zapier.com: like IFTTT, but with more options
    2. AppPresser.com: Convert your WordPress website into a mobile app, publish on the app stores
    3. WP-API (coming soon): Access your WordPress site’s data through an easy-to-use HTTP REST API


  • Ask: who is your core audience? What are they trying to do with the data? Answers help with information architecture.
  • BadgeOS: free plugin that lets you easily create achievements and issue sharable badges as your users succeed
  • Why start with WordPress? You can build very quickly because of the tools available in WordPress.
  • Caching: use transients, Varnish, memcached

Using WordPress to Power an Application: How we built a rewards platform in just a few weeks

Presented by Bob Orchard

  1. Choose Your Features
  2. Plan Your Development
  3. Install WordPress
  4. Create Your Plugin


We’ve started planning WordCamp Grand Rapids 2015! We’ll have our first volunteer meeting after the next meetup (Feb 19). You’re welcome to join us!

Dev Environments and Version Control: Dec 2014 meetup

We talked about Development Environments and Version Control at our Dec 18, 2014 meetup. We talked about ServerPress, Git, and developing locally. Below are the notes.


Gregg Franklin gave a demo of DesktopServer, a local server package which runs on Mac and Windows. He showed how to create and manage local development sites. He also showed how to deploy local sites to servers. Here’s a video of Gregg’s demo:

Git and developing locally

Brian Richards spoke about Git and developing locally. Here’s his presentation. Below it are notes from the talk.


  • You should develop locally so you can test locally, not on live site.
  • You should use Git even if you work solo, because of version control.
  • Commit messages should be short but descriptive.
  • Commits should be atomic: change one thing at a time.
  • Git stores only the changes that have been made; SVN duplicates files.
  • Brian doesn’t use WordPress as submodule; has run into issues. Checks in root and everything inside it, except wp-uploads.
  • Brian doesn’t store database in Git.
  • Always check out changes before you make your commit.


  • Git: version control system
  • Dploy.io: deploy from GitHub, Bitbucket or your own repositories to one or many servers in one click
  • SourceTree: Git GUI
  • Github: Git host
  • Beanstalk: Git host
  • Bitbucket: Git host
  • gitignore.io: Create useful .gitignore files for your project
  • WP Migrate DB Pro: Copy your database from one WordPress install to another with one click in your dashboard
  • Dictator: a package built on top of wp-cli that allows you to export configuration files straight from the command line
  • Git troubleshooting flowchart
  • Sequel Pro: a fast, easy-to-use Mac database management application for working with MySQL databases.
  • WP-CLI: a set of command-line tools for managing WordPress installations


WordPress Backups WordPress Grand Rapids

WordPress Backups, Oct. 2014 meetup

We talked about backing up WordPress sites at our Oct 16, 2014 meetup. We covered a few backup plugins and management services. Below are the notes.

WordPress Backups WordPress Grand Rapids
Chad Warner speaking to WordPress Grand Rapids
WordPress Backups WordPress Grand Rapids
Peter DeHaan speaking to WordPress Grand Rapids

BackupBuddy & Amazon S3, etc.

Presented by Chad Warner


BackupBuddy is a premium plugin. Instructions: How to use BackupBuddy with Amazon S3.


BackWPup is a free backup plugin. These instructions are several months old, and may not be 100% accurate.

  1. Create Amazon IAM user and add to BackupBuddy group.
  2. Create S3 bucket named ow-sitename
  3. Settings
    1. General
      1. uncheck Show BackWPup links in admin bar.
    2. Jobs
      1. clear Key to start jobs externally with an URL
  4. Add New Job
    1. General
      1. Job Name: Database, files, uploads (local & offsite)
      2. Tasks: all except WordPress XML export
      3. Destinations: Folder, S3 Service
      4. Email address
    2. Schedule
      1. with WordPress cron
      2. basic, weekly, Monday (or daily or monthly)
    3. DB Backup: exclude unnecessary
    4. Files
      1. exclude unnecessary root, plugins, themes, cache
    5. To: Folder
      1. File Deletion: 6
    6. To: S3 Service
      1. Access Key and Secret Key: generate for user in Amazon IAM
      2. Bucket: select bucket for this site
      3. File Deletion: 6


Duplicator is a free plugin. Instructions (may be outdated): Copy and migrate WordPress sites with the Duplicator plugin

Backup Services

Online Backup for WordPress

Presented by Peter DeHaan

Online Backup for WordPress is a free plugin

  • many destinations
  • incremental backup

WordPress Management Tools & Hosting

Presented by Bob Orchard

WP Remote

  • TinyPint uses for backups
    • manual, not automatic; run backup, save to machine
    • downloads zip of files and database
    • can download entire site (files and database) or just database
    • can exclude files
  • setup
    • add site to WP Remote
    • install plugin
    • activate plugin
    • enter API key
    • in WP Remote, refresh


  • can run security check of site
  • many more options than WP Remote
  • performance test
  • can show WP admin screen within iframe
  • can back up database only or files and database
  • can exclude files or folders
  • can backup to multiple destinations, including Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive, FTP
  • can clone and restore sites

Amazon S3

3Hub for accessing Amazon S3


  • made for agencies who create and manage WordPress sites
  • free demo sites for 14 days
  • automatic backups
  • fast; caching automatically configured

Media Temple Premium WordPress Hosting

  • backups
  • staging
  • cloning
  • easy migration
  • GoDaddy’s hosting with MediaTemple interface
2014-09-18 WordPress Grand Rapids WordCamp Recap

WordCamp Grand Rapids Recap, Sep. 2014 meetup

We talked about what we learned at WordCamp Grand Rapids 2014. We took turns sharing specific things we learned and actions we took as a result of WordCamp.

Chad Warner and Topher DeRosia summarized a few points from talks. Others added their thoughts or asked questions. We also had plenty of discussion about other WordPress topics. Below are the notes.

2014-09-18 WordPress Grand Rapids WordCamp Recap

Talk titles below link to slides for the talk. Here are links to all the WordCamp Grand Rapids 2014 slides.

10 Tips for Turning Your WordPress Website Into a Traffic Driving Machine

Rebecca Gill

  • about page
    • include basic overview, historical overview, testimonials, success stories
  • clear CTAs
    • create clear path
    • align to sitemap
    • offer clear value proposition: tell what they’ll get
  • landing pages
    • one task
    • testimonials
  • make content personal
    • Rebecca includes stories about kids in posts

Core Functions You (Maybe) Don’t Know Exist

Nicole Arnold

  • wp_list_pluck: returns a numerically indexed array of values from the specified field
  • human_time_diff: displays time in human readable format (such as “two days ago”)
  • make_clickable: turns email addresses and URLs into clickable links
  • get_extended: get your content, both before and after the more tag
  • _split_str_by_whitespace: breaks a string into chunks by splitting at whitespace characters
  • is_email: tells whether something is actually an email address
  • antispambot: obfuscates an email address
  • __return_false: returns false

Learn From My Mistakes: 8 Years in the Game

Ian Wilson

  • hiring
    • job responsibilities change all the time; find people who aren’t one-trick ponies
    • designers:
      • find those willing to learn and adapt
      • must speak excitedly and confidently about their ideas, but must realize that design is about client’s audience, not about them or the client
  • only you control scope
    • say no
    • or say “yes, but it’s going to cost you” (wishlisting)
  • hire a coach; Ian attributes 90% of his success to his coach


  • how to find time to work on biz when working in biz?
    • hire others to free up time
    • allocate 1 day a month or at least a couple days a month to working on biz

Getting Started: What you should do BEFORE you buy your first theme

Andrea Napierkowski

  • need a new site?
    • has it been 3-5 years?
    • is your type hard to read?
    • do people need to pinch and drag to view on mobile?
    • is it hard to navigate?
    • does it look dated?
  • can’t have a “timeless” site; sites have shelf-life of 3-5 years
  • don’t buy theme before you have content

Design Is In The Details: How Decisions Shape Communication

Michelle Schulp

  • people read websites like a billboard at 60 mph
  • redundancy is your friend
    • include same CTA in multiple places on page
  • “almost” flat design: slight shadows and lines to make it clearer what to click, while remaining minimal


  • Michelle doesn’t like sliders because they don’t convert well
    • you should have just one important message, not 5
    • still make sense for gallery (just look at photos, not do anything)
    • don’t use for CTAs
  • how do you handle clients who want to make design decisions?
    • Ask why. Have a productive discussion about better way to accomplish
  • design process
    • start with sitemap and wireframe

Theme Customization Best Practices

Kyle Maurer

  • use hooks and filters when possible, and only child theme templates when you can’t use hooks or filters

Don’t Fear the Code

Kyle Maurer

  • have delivery deadlines in agreement with payments scheduled
  • make sure client can’t drag project out
  • tell client when they need to provide content and review work
  • bill regardless of whether they meet their responsibilities
  • launch regardless of whether they meet their responsibilities

Additional discussion

Remember, you can also find us on Meetup, Twitter (@wpgrandrapids and #wpgr), and Google Groups.

WordPress Marketing Automation WordPress Grand Rapids

WordPress Marketing Automation: July 2014 meetup

We talked about WordPress Marketing Automation at our July 2014 meetup. Dan Kaufman, marketing consultant at Empowered Marketing and co-organizer of I Love Marketing GR spoke about how to automate a sales funnel and must-have plugins.

Get ready for WordCamp Grand Rapids 2014, August 15-17! You can buy a ticket, volunteer, and/or sponsor.

Remember, you can also find us on Meetup, Twitter (@wpgrandrapids and #wpgr), and Google Groups.

Download Dan Kaufman’s presentation on WordPress Marketing Automation (PDF).

WordPress Marketing Automation WordPress Grand Rapids WordPress Marketing Automation WordPress Grand Rapids

Marketing automation defined

Marketing automation: streamlining sales and marketing by replacing high-touch, repetitive manual processes with automated solutions.

Marketing automation systems


Lead generation

  • LeadPages: good-looking custom landing page, high conversion rate
  • OptinMonster: popup and lead generation plugin, with exit intent

Marketing automation cont.

  • Popups: if pop up in 5-10 seconds, response rate goes up by at least 20%
  • Exit intent offer: can give higher response rate than standard popups
  • Zapier: automate by creating “zaps” between systems (such as MailChimp to GoToWebinar)
  • IFTTT: automate by creating “recipes” that connect various systems. Free.

Must-have WordPress plugins

Sales funnel

  1. Lead magnet
  2. Welcome mat offer
  3. Core offer
  4. Profit maximizer
  5. Return path

Traffic tips

  • Blog and guest blog
  • Contest/giveaway: do something creative; don’t just give a Starbucks gift card
  • Buy targeted traffic
  • Social media
  • Helpareporter.com
  • Press releases
  • Solo ads: buy right to send emails to targets (minimum $300)
  • Media buys

Lead magnet

  • Small “chunk” of value that solves a specific problem for a specific market offered in exchange for an opt-in
  • Promises “one big thing”
  • Speaks to a known desired end result
  • Offers immediate gratification
  • High perceived value
  • High actual value (has an “aha moment”)
  • Can be consumed in under 5 minutes
  • Components
    • Professional logo
    • Branded/lifestyle image
    • Lead magnet offer
    • Simple, above the fold opt-in form
    • Privacy policy and TOS
    • “No thanks” link

Welcome mat offer

  • Irresistible, super-low-ticket offer that converts prospects into buyers
  • Once a customer has purchased from you, they’re far more likely to keep spending. Maximize front-end conversions by keeping price point as low as possible.
  • Typically under $20 (low-cost report or book); sometimes offered for free with shipping and handling.
  • Checklist
    • Low barrier to entry; impulse buy
    • Easy to understand and explain
    • Seamlessly leads to core sale
    • Useful but incomplete
    • High perceived value
    • High actual value

Core offer

  • Flagship product/service
  • Irresistible offer

Profit maximizer

  • Upsell, cross-sell, or subscription
  • Increase average customer value and overall engagement

Return path

  • Put non-buyers in follow-up series
  • Generate additional revenue from existing
  • Exit offer ideas
    • New lead magnet
    • Highlight an unadvertised bonus
    • Quiz or survey
    • Sale/discount
    • New appeal