New Year’s Web Resolutions

It’s January. Time to review last year’s progress and set some marketing goals. Here are 5 ways to kick start your online marketing in the New Year.

  1. Analytics
    Review your year-to-date Google Analytics; compare results to previous years. In particular, pay attention to unique vs. repeat visitors, most popular pages, bounce rates, referral URLs, and most popular search engine queries (via Google Search Console).
  2. Budgeting
    Review your marketing budget (often 8-15% of revenue, dependent on industry) and expenses. Identify new marketing opportunities. Measure AdWords and any other online advertising performance; make adjustments as needed.
  3. Competitive Research
    Identify your current competitors. Is your site still relevant in its field? Are you keeping up with industry trends?
  4. Security
    Confirm User Roles are still valid and that there are less than 3-4 site Administrators.
    Remove backup and other vulnerable files from your hosting server.
    Confirm your web hosting plan operates under the fastest, most secure version of PHP 7.2 recommended by WordPress.
    Note: many sites still run under PHP 5.6, which may no longer receive critical security updates after January 2019.
  5. Usability
    Routinely test the usability of your site. Ask for feedback on your site’s general first impression (e.g. the ‘5 second homepage test’). Is your site still credible? Can visitors find the information they are looking for? Are visitor expectations being met?

WordPress 5.0 is a big deal!

Why? Because it includes a new interface for writing and editing your Posts and Pages. After more than two years of development, this new “block editor” (codenamed “Gutenberg”) is now available when you upgrade to WordPress 5.0.

So you can picture these changes, take 5 minutes now to experiment with this demo version or watch this introductory video:

1. Upgrade Now. (But Turn off the Editor.)

Keeping WordPress up-to-date is a crucial habit for maintaining a healthy site. Upgrading to WordPress 5.0 is just as important as any other update for the new security patches and bug fixes.

Luckily, you can choose to update WordPress but continuing using the old editor with the Classic Editor plugin. (After installing, be sure to go to Settings > Writing and disable the Block Editor for all users.) If you have an existing site with lots of content, I would recommend you use this plugin until WordPress 5.1 is released before considering the new editor. Many plugins and themes are still working toward full support, and a bit more time will likely make your transition smoother.

Even with the Classic Editor, it’s worth being cautious about this update, so consider doing a full round of testing to understand how your site works with the new editor before doing this.

Once you’re ready to try out the new editor, it’s time to…

2. Develop Your Block X-Ray Vision

In the new WordPress editor, everything is a “block.”

Paragraph? That’s a block. List? A block. Quote? Also a block? Columns!? Blocks in blocks!

When you’re working on a blog post or page, you’ll do well do think in blocks. Based on the stated future plans for WordPress, blocks will only get more important in the coming years.

Wordpress 50 block vision
Learn to see the blocks that your page is built of.

3. Customize the Editor to Your Liking

Buried in the top-right corner, the three-vertical-dots button hides three critical options to make the editor more friendly for writing:

  • “Top Toolbar”
  • “Spotlight Mode”
  • “Fullscreen Mode”

I’ll admit, I’m preferential to just the first of the three, but you should try out and explore all three. This article from WP Tavern walks you through these options in more detail.

4. You Don’t Have to Go All In

There’s nothing wrong with only dipping a toe into the editor at first. Luckily, our friend “Classic Editor” makes this easy to do! Beyond the ability to disable the new block editor completely, you can also provide editors the option to choose which editor to use.

Once you’ve tested your site (see #1) and know there are no major issues, consider using the block editor for new blog posts and pages, while still using the classic editor for day-to-day content maintenance.

One final “half-way in” option is to use the new block editor but only with a single “Classic” block. What’s the Classic Block? More or less, it’s a way to use the old editor inside the new one. When creating a new post, instead of creating a paragraph, add a “Classic” block and then do all your work in it. The Classic block is a perfect way to start using just a few blocks at a time. For instance, you could have two classic blocks sandwiching the new Gallery block and a button block.

5. Master the “Slash Inserter” Shortcut

As you try out the block editor, this is the first “power user” tip to know.

The normal way to add a new block is to click one of two “+” buttons in the interface and then select the block you want. (Again, go try out the editor demo right now to see what this means in practice.)

But what could easily be 4 clicks and a distraction only requires a few keystrokes! When you want to quickly add a new block, here’s what to do:

  1. Put your cursor in an empty paragraph block
  2. Type /
  3. Now continue typing the name of the block. For instance, “/gall” for “Gallery” or “/but” for “Button”
  4. When the block you want is highlighted, hit RETURN and your new block is ready to go!

We’re all still learning about WordPress 5.0 and the best way to use its new features! There will almost surely be hiccups along the way, but you can start learning about, trying out, and starting to use the new block editor on your website today!

About the author & Nonprofit WP

Mark Root-Wiley builds websites for nonprofits in Seattle, WA. He created Nonprofit WP to be the go-to resource for nonprofits building and maintaining their own WordPress websites. Check out NonprofitWP.org for tips on planning websites, recommended themes & plugins, blogging best practices, and more!

5 Places to Find Free WordPress Support

So, you’re thinking of launching your own WordPress website? Or maybe you have an existing WordPress site and you need help. Here are 5 WordPress support resources:

  1. WordPress.org
    Well, duh. Go straight to the source – get answers from Automattic and other open source contributors.
  2. WordPress.tv
    Are you a visual learner? Browse thousands of videos on beginner to advanced topics.
  3. WordPress Meetups
    Join over .5 million members who belong to 1,459 local Meetups. Find WordPress Meetups in your area.
  4. WordPress For Dummies
    Lisa Sabin-Wilson’s 8th edition since 2007. For WordPress Authors to Administrators, you can read chapters related to CMS topics that interest you.
  5. Friends and Neighbors
    Powering 32% of all websites, you may find helpful resources right around your corner!

Limitations

If your website is hosted on WordPress.com or you purchased a third-party commercial Theme, some support resources may not apply to you.

Sponsoring Seattle WordCamp 2018

Seattle WordCamp is this weekend at the Washington State Convention Center at 705 Pike Street. Weekend tickets are still available for $40.

If you manage a WordPress site, here are some presentations to consider:

Saturday, November 10

Sunday, November 11

Browse the full Word Camp Seattle schedule

5 Communication Tips to Inspire Nonprofit Donors

  1. Understand what donors care about – and make them the hero.
    Donors are deeply interested in how their gift did or will make a difference. Let them know specifically what you did with their money. They also want to know what would happen if they gave you more. That’s your vision. Be sure to make it big and bold. And, they want to be thanked, personally and frequently. In addition, don’t focus on how wonderful your organization is. Tell donors how wonderful they are. Instead of “Our organization fed 100 hungry kids thanks to private donations,” tell donors, “You helped feed 100 hungry kids.”
  2. Don’t talk just about your needs.
    The time-honored adage in fundraising remains true. Donors don’t fund organizations that have needs. They fund organizations that meet needs. Talk about the need in the context of what the donor can do to fix the problem.
  3. Use ‘you’ and ‘your’ more than ‘we’ and ‘our’.
    YOU is the most powerful word in donor communications. Research shows that donors give more when they feel personally responsible, over and above “we’re in this together.”
  4. Communicate without asking for money.
    Your stewardship communications should out-frequent your solicitation communications by at least two to one, preferably even more. Organizations that communicate solely with their hand out risk losing valued donors. Thank-you letters, e-newsletters and emails, print newsletters, personal thank-you phone calls, holiday cards, love notes from clients – all can make a real difference in keeping donors in the fold.
  5. Tell stories that illustrate donors’ impact.
    Storytelling inspires bigger gifts! Let the people you serve illustrate how much the donor achieved.

For more help with nonprofit communication:

Moore Ink. PR & Fundraising Communications