Gutenberg Best Practices For WordPress Developers That Had No Time to Learn JavaScript Deeply

Published in WordPress.

The new WordPress block editor (also known as Gutenberg) is a radical change for developers used to working with PHP.

If you have to learn JavaScript deeply to update your plugins and keep everything up and running, you might feel a bit overwhelmed.

The development of blocks represents a great challenge for all those who do not master JavaScript. In this talk I presented in the last WordCamp Nordic I was able to show a series of good practices for WordPress developers working with Gutenberg, as well as some of the typical errors that you should avoid so that your code does not break anything.

Key points

The most important arguments discussed in the presentation are the following:

  • In 2015 WordPress developers were challenged with the mission of learning JavaScript deeply. New changes were coming and it was necessary to have this type of knowledge and skills.
  • In December 2018, with the final announcement of the release date of WordPress 5.0 and the new block editor (also known as Gutenberg), plugin developers had to adapt their plugins to the new editor. It was at this moment when learning JavaScript deeply became a priority.
  • Learning JavaScript deeply means mastering an amount of technologies in addition to the language itself. Transpilers, compilers, packers … All this is complex and can be scary to PHP developers.
  • We have developed a boilerplate to facilitate the adaptation process to WordPress developers. This plugin establishes a foundation for the programming on the block editor including a complete initial configuration for the modern build process.
  • The first thing that surprised us when opening Gutenberg’s JavaScript files was that we weren’t able to understand them because of their modern syntax. If you are not able to understand the modern constructions of ESNext, it becomes difficult to understand Gutenberg’s source code. Therefore, the recommendation is to understand the syntax of JavaScript ESNext constructs.
  • Once you understand the JavaScript syntax, the next step should be to learn React. However, WordPress encapsulates and hides React under its own functions. Therefore, instead of learning React it is much more interesting to learn the JSX syntax for creating user interfaces.
  • Gutenberg provides a lot of reusable components to create user interfaces in JSX. A good practice is to use existing components, instead of programming them from scratch and reinventing the wheel.
  • The registerBlockType function is the most popular one in Gutenberg. It provides the ability to create new blocks in the editor. But there are many more functions that are worth exploring.
  • The registerPlugin function allows you to add a plugin that extends the editor with a sidebar in which to add the components you want.
  • The subscribe function allows you to listen to the changes that happen in the block editor and add your own functions that are executed every time a change occurs. You have to be careful and avoid unconditional code with this function to avoid affecting the final performance of the editor.
  • Be careful when writing your JavaScript code. You’re not alone. Your code can break things if you’re careless.
  • Instead of learning JavaScript deeply, learn Gutenberg shallowly and start developing faster. Then you may focus on expanding and deepening your knowledge in those areas you need.
  • Don’t be afraid of the new block editor or of JavaScript.

Resources

The following resources were mentioned during the presentation or are useful additional information.

Buzz and feedback

Here’s what was said about this presentation on Twitter:

Featured image by Jaakko Kemppainen on Unsplash.

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My Experience at WordCamp Nordic 2019

Published in Community.

A WordCamp does not end until you write about it in your blog. I’m pretty sure that if you attended a WordCamp recently you have heard this sentence at the end of the event.

A few days ago I came back home from WordCamp Nordic 2019, so now is the perfect moment to tell you about my impressions of the event. Let’s do it!

WordCamp Nordic 2019

This was the first edition of WordCamp Nordic 2019, which represented the Nordic countries of Denmark 🇩🇰, Finland 🇫🇮, Iceland 🇮🇸, Norway 🇳🇴 and Sweden 🇸🇪.

If it is already difficult to organize a WordCamp locally in your city, just imagine all the efforts it takes to prepare a WordCamp organized by several countries! Luckily for us, it was a total success.

WordCamp Nordic took place on the 7th and 8th of March, 2019 in Helsinki, Finland. As each Nordic country has its own language, the organizers decided to use English as the common language. This, in turn, increased the number of attendees from other parts of the globe. For me, the event became a kind of prequel to what we’ll see in June at WordCamp Europe in Berlin.

Contributor Day

The event began on March 7th at the campus of Aalto University, in the town of Espoo, just half an hour from downtown Helsinki by Metro.

Google Maps took me without problems to the main door of the building where Contributor Day was held. Of course, getting there was quite an adventure due to the amount of snow. Coming from Barcelona, where you could already find people basking on the beach, this was quite a change!

Getting to WordCamp Nordic’s Contributor Day was a real adventure for a Spaniard.

I love Nordic countries and cold climates, so I had no problem with the weather. Besides, I was well equipped with good warm clothes and good boots 😉. I enjoyed the landscapes and the snow as if I were a child!

And when I got to the main room, the name could not be more funny. I was at the right place:

Sala Mordor, where I was participating in the Contributor Day of WordCamp Nordic 2019.
Mordor room, where I was participating in the Contributor Day of WordCamp Nordic 2019.

Much has been said about starting a WordCamp with a Contributor Day instead of the day of presentations. Personally, I like to start with the Contributor Day because it gives people time to get to know each other in advance.

This time I was collaborating in the Documentation group, together with Milana and Marius and the rest of the team (sorry for not remembering all the names). I was able to participate in the preparation of the user documentation of the new block editor for WordPress, so everything we did was quite useful for WordPress users.

There was also an event for children during the Contributor Day. Directed by Petya Raykovska, its goal was to introduce children to the WordPress world. Everyone ended up learning a lot and with a website created. Such a great idea!

In addition to spending the morning contributing, at lunchtime I was able to have an interesting talk with Rocío and Francesca Marano about many different topics. It was a pleasure to spend that time with them.

And thanks again to Rocío for introducing me to Andrea Middleton, WordPress Community Organizer, with whom I was able to talk about several topics on which I am working with the Attendee Services team of WordCamp Europe of 2019 (something we’ll cover in future posts).

All in all, the summary of my Contributor Day is that I spent half of the day contributing and the other half talking to interesting people. Now I’m looking forward to WordCamp Europe!

Talks I Attended

Friday, March 8th, was the speakers day of WordCamp Nordic 2019. Organized in two tracks and with many different speakers, I was able to attend a lot of talks. As always, keep in mind you’ll find all the talks in WordPress.tv. Here are my highlights:

  • Piccia Neri explained why user experience is that important today, at all levels, in her talk about UX for Everyone.
  • Marco Fernandes and Thor Andre Gretland showed us the Gutenberg Cloud project, a repository of online blocks independent of the content management system you are using.
  • I enjoyed Julius Haukkasalo’s talk about the mistakes to avoid being an entrepreneur. This kind of talk is necessary and I love seeing people explaining their mistakes raw. You learn a lot more than if they tell you only the beautiful part of the story.
  • After lunch I attended the talk by Francesca, who explained how the Italian WordPress community has grown. Undoubtedly, they are real candidates to be the next city host of WordCamp Europe.
  • The talk by Thomas Hurd on multilingual sites was also interesting. It made me see things that sometimes go unnoticed, like for example that it is better to use text instead of flags to indicate the buttons for switching the language in a web.
  • Taeke Reijenga explained the importance of accessibility. Thanks to it I discovered that there are places where organizations are already being sued if their websites are not accessible.
  • Finally, Monica Solheim Slind and Magne Ilsaas explained how they have adapted their businesses to meet the needs of their clients and the Norwegian government, with which they work. It was a very interesting talk.
The scarf all the attendees got was really useful. The weather in Helsinki in March can be very hard with really low temperatures compared to Spain.

I don’t want to forget mentioning that I was lucky to be selected as a speaker. I talked about Gutenberg, the WordPress block editor. It was a short talk, but I had the opportunity to give some tips about what it means to learn Gutenberg and JavaScript for WordPress plugin developers.

Final Thoughts

My opinion about the event is very positive. The organizing team took care of everything to make the best event possible. And I really appreciated it.

The Contributor Day was great. And the day of presentations was also well managed. There were lots of attendees, even for a Friday. For me it was a wise choice of dates, because that allowed us to have the weekend off to be able to do some sightseeing in Helsinki.

Photo of the attendees of WordCamp Nordic 2019.
Attendees at WordCamp Nordic 2019.

If you have ever been organizing events like this, you will already know how difficult it is to make sure everything works as expected. In the case of WordCamp Nordic, everything was perfect and I can’t say anything negative about it. What a pleasure to see a well-integrated team of organizers working together!

In short, a round of applause for all those who made this event a reality. Surely it fulfills its mission to give a boost to the WordPress community in Northern Europe. See you again in Berlin!

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Automattic Design Awards to Give More Visibility to Gutenberg

Published in Community.

As you know if you are a regular reader of this blog, we always recommend knowing the latest trends in design and development of WordPress. And that’s why we already told you all you need to know about Gutenberg (the new WordPress editor) or the 9 best block plugins with which you can create better designs for your pages and posts.

And to reward and give visibility to those who are already working with Gutenberg, Automattic, the company founded by Matt Mullenweg, creator of WordPress, held the first edition of the Automattic Design Awards in 2018.

I think you’ll like to know a little more about who the winners and finalists were, including any curiosity related to the prize. So let’s get to it.

The Prize

We wanted to show how design is thriving in the open-source web, from elegant front-end design to robust tools for creativity.

Alexis Lloyd – Automattic Design Award Blog

Prizes are offered to the winner of each of the 3 categories: Best Site, Best Solution, and Best Style. This year in particular the focus was on projects that were prepared and adapted to Gutenberg and on:

  • Deep user empathy
  • Developer led design
  • Outstanding UX
  • Attention to the details
  • Simplicity
  • Breathtaking content

As a prize, Automattic gave each winner a trophy designed by the design studio Nervous System. And it consisted of an intricate, filigree cube where the Automattic logo emerges from a cellular structure on each side. The trophies were printed in 3D using Selective Laser Sintering in white nylon. The structure was developed with Corollaria software.

Inspired by biological systems, Corollaria plays with adaptive patterns that respond to environmental conditions. You can read more about the algorithmic techniques used in this Corollaria blog post. And the following video shows you the process of generating the trophy.

Trophy generation of the Automattic Design Award.

With the prize as in the following image:

Automattic Design Award Trophy.
Automattic Design Award Trophy 2018.

The call for proposals was open until November 16, 2018 and the presentation of the winners was made public in the 2018 WordCamp US. The jury of the Automattic Design Awards was a luxury team, made up of professionals with great prestige and recognition:

Winners and Finalists

Let’s see now who were the winners and finalists in each category.

Best Site

In the category of Best Site, awards are given to websites that offer well thought-out, easy to use, and visually appealing experiences. And the winner in the Best Site category was Kit designed by Peter van Grieken.

Kit website.
kit.nl website.

The jury unanimously considered this website to be the winner: its vivid colors and general appearance are very nice. A team of 2 people made an integration of 7 websites into one without losing sight of what they wanted to get from the audience. The whole site is designed and developed in Gutenberg. I recommend you to take a look at it, as you will surely like it.

There were two finalists in this category:

  • Level Level by Taeke Reijenga
    Website of a WordPress agency with a clean and neat design.
  • Moundarren by Diane Collet
    A calm design that fits the topic of the site: poetry.

Best Solution

In the category of Best Solution, awards are given to the tools that allow others to create great sites. The winner in the Best Solution category was Rich Tabor’s Block Gallery. I told you about this plugin when I told you about the 9 best WordPress block plugins. The Block Gallery plugin gives you three new blocks exclusive to Gutenberg with which you can create three different ways to view image galleries:

Block Gallery plugin.
Blocks available in the Block Gallery plugin.

In this category, the two finalists were:

  • Atomic Blocks by Mike McAlistera
    This plugin was also one of the plugins we talked about in the previous post. It offers you 11 additional blocks to the ones you find in Gutenberg by default like buttons, testimonials, etc.
  • Create-guten-block by Ahmad Awais
    Create-guten-block is a dev-toolkit with zero configuration (#0CJS) to develop Gutenberg blocks in a matter of minutes without having to configure multiple tools and development environments.

Best Style

Finally, in the category of Best Style awards are given to sites that have a strong aesthetic form and at the same time are completely functional. Sites that are accessible, attractive, and fast are rewarded. The winner in the Best Style category was Level Level, by Taeke Reijenga. The same one that had been a finalist in the category of Best Site.

Level-level.com website.
Level-level.com website.

The Level team presented a Gutenberg site with some videos in which they explained how it works. As a company specializing in accessibility, all the tests that were carried out to evaluate this aspect had a maximum score.

In this category, the two finalists were:

  • Moundarren by Diane Collet
    As in the Best Site category, this French editor, which has been offering Chinese and Japanese poetry to an international audience for more than 30 years, was a finalist in this category due to its accessibility.
  • Emergence Magazine by Emergence Magazine and Studio Airport
    The website was created before Gutenberg was complete but its design serves as an inspiration to explore the potential of different development tools.

Congratulations!

And now all we have to do is congratulate all the prize finalists and winners. We know that all of them showed their enthusiasm with the prize received in the social networks 🤗.

Featured image by John Maeda on Twitter.

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Inbound Leaders – The Inbound Event for Marketing Leaders

Published in Online Marketing.

Last May 11th I had the pleasure of attending one of the events that is becoming more notorious in the world of digital marketing: the 6th edition of Inboud Leaders. The event organized by InboudCycle took place at the WTC Auditorium in Barcelona. As every year, the objective is to present a set of talks on inbound and marketing automation by some of the leaders in marketing in our country.

Program

The detail of the programme was promising:

Inbound Leaders
Programme in Spanish of the Inbound Leaders event in Barcelona organised by InboundCycle : Inbound Leaders).

We were welcomed by Pep Botey of Inbound Cycle and the entire event was animated by professional presenter Enric Company, CEO of Espectalium.

Gerard Compte: 5 Hacks to Generate 1,000 Leads per Month

We started with the presentation of Gerard Compte, CEO of FindThatLead and as a great growth hacker, the title of his presentation was: 5 hacks to generate 1,000 leads per month.

He began by talking about the importance of giving love to customers. 😍 For example, he advised us to include gifs in your emails to make your customers fall in love with you and mentioned the importance of including a chat on your website to be there at all times in case they need you.

He then went on to discuss different tools and tricks on how to to get leads and contact them.

Gerard Compte of FindThatTalent
Gerard Compte talked to us about different tools to get the customer hooked.

He recommended that you download the list of speakers of any event or meetup that is of interest to you and send them an email as if you were attending it, such as: “Is it okay if we meet at 6:00?”. Then you don’t answer them until the event is over and finally you write them an email saying that your day was complicated and how it would be for them to talk another day.

He also recommended using different tools that allow you to download all the contacts that are in a Facebook group or other media. In addition to other techniques for how to contact them at first.

Leaving aside whether or not some of the tricks or practices he explained comply with the EU-GDPR, I suppose they must work to get customers, so at least it was interesting. But I’m afraid it’s not going to be these practices that will grow Nelio’s customer base 🤷🏻‍♀️.

José Facchin: How to Align SEO With Your Content Strategy to Optimize Conversion

Then we move on to the presentation by José Facchin, a great reference in the world of digital marketing in Spanish thanks to the great content of his blog, which receives more than 450,000 visits. He is also co-founder of webescuela.com. He was the creator of SEMrush‘s blog in Spanish and Italian and has been responsible for PrestaShop‘s marketing strategy for a year and a half.

He told us about SEO strategies to gain visibility on the blog. But he also stress that SEO is not enough. The key is that the content we create on the blog must be relevant to our customers:

SEO-oriented content strategy by José Facchin
SEO-oriented content strategy by José Facchin.

Jose Facchin insisted that a SEO-oriented content strategy should not focus on creating content for Google, but for the user: the user is king. Content is not king. The authentic and unique content is user-centric.

Therefore, if we want to attract traffic to our website, any content strategy must focus on the user’s needs. Knowing that you can’t talk to everyone, identify well who your Buyer Person is and write content to capture them, increase conversion and create community.

The key according to him is to start with the content strategy in reverse of what your intuition tells you. Instead of starting with the goodness of your product, start by educating your visitors about what exists in the market, the problems, and the solutions. Then, when you’ve earned their trust, you’ll talk to them about your services or tools.

He discussed how to use some tools to describe the relevant needs of your customers. For example, facebook.com/ads/audience-insights, the Google Display Network or the traffic analytics SEMRush provides you with can be very useful to better understand your users’ search intent and adapt your content to it. Keywords are no longer terms, they must be thematic search intentions that respond to the needs of your users.

He also recommended tools such as Answerthepublic, KeywordtoolMetricool, Doopler, SEOQuake or SEOLyze, among others, to search for search intentions or keywords, understand when our community is most active, send emails or to improve SEO.

Possible questions including the keywords "editorial calendar".
Possible questions including the keywords “editorial calendar” in AnswerThePublic.

José’s presentation was definitely very interesting and complete. And at the coffee-break I had the pleasure of spending some time talking to him, his wife Mariela Quiroga, administrative manager of webescuela.com and his collaborator Josep González, which is also one of the great advantages of attending this type of event, which allows you to get in touch with people with whom you can establish the bases for possible future collaborations.

Álvaro Fontanela: The Importance of Offline Events for Your Reputation

And precisely this was the main topic of Álvaro Fontela’s presentation. Álvaro is one of the founders of Raiola Netwoks, a Spanish hosting company. Basically, he commented that they started the company in 2014 and currently he is dedicated almost full-time to the participation in WordPress events (they are the organizers of WordPress Meetups in Coruña and Lugo), Digital Marketing and Web Development. His participation can be as a speaker, sponsor or assistant. Every year, he can participate in around 70 events with very different dynamics:

  • Major events or congresses are the ones that work the most for them to make themselves known,
  • He recognized that seminars and workshops don’t work that well for them to reach potential clients,
  • Afterworks and meetups serve as an easy way to meet potential customers.

From the point of view of profitability, he acknowledged that it is very difficult to do the numbers and know to what extent off-line events are profitable. For him, the most important aspects of an event or congress were:

  • You de-virtualize the contacts you already have online. Seeing faces creates confidence.
  • You humanize your brand to the public attending the event. You show there are people behind your company.
  • Create new prospects: people who didn’t know you may already know who you are.
  • Represent the brand in front of potential clients or those who already knew you (similar to humanizing but in a more corporate environment).
  • Selling: although this is the ultimate goal, it should be the direct consequence of branding.
  • Enjoying networking and interacting with other great professionals in the sector in order to create a network of contacts.

Nayara D’Alama: Inbound Marketing International, Breaking Borders.

Nayara D’Alama has been responsible for the international expansion of RD Station, a company that offers an inbound marketing platform and consulting services.

Her talk focused on explaining the different difficulties and some tips when you want to open a market in a new country. Entering an international market is not only about using Google Translate, but also about understanding the culture. Therefore any inbound marketing strategy should take into account that:

  1. The buyer persons and buyer’s journey can be totally different between countries. It is a research work to be carried out by region or country, never by language.
  2. Content production: For example, the term “inbound marketing” is rooted in Spain but is absolutely unknown in many other countries including Spanish-speaking countries.
  3. Translation: remember what translation, adaptation, and localization means. To translate is to interpret.
  4. Calendar of contents: it is important to know the holiday calendars. Do not run promotions on holidays, and in turn, take advantage of special days for certain campaigns that demonstrate knowledge of the local market.
  5. Sales funnel: if you want to know what’s working for you, analyze the results separately by country.
  6. Participate in local events: it is a good opportunity to understand the market, branding (stand), position yourself as a reference (presentations), generate leads and sales opportunities.

Nayara commented that following an inbound marketing expansion strategy they have achieved +50K leads in the first year and +25K followers in Spanish speaking social media.

After the Nayara talk, we had lunch in a very nice room with great sea views.

I also had a chat with Pau Valdés, CEO of InboundCycle and his IT & Development Manager, Marina Mele. And I agree with Álvaro when he insists that this type of event serves to look for possible collaborations.

Álex López: Digital Selling, Active Listening to Your Potential Customers

We started the afternoon with a great presentation by Álex López, Director of Sartia and Top 20 Social Selling Worldwide. In case you are not familiar with this concept, it basically refers to when marketers use social networks to interact directly with their potential customers. Sellers provide value by answering leads’ questions and offering detailed content until the lead is ready to buy.

Presentation by Álex López on Digital Selling.
Presentation by Álex López on Digital Selling.

Alex presented himself as an adapted salesman: starting as a sales representative, passing through Sales Director of several companies, today he is Director of Sartia and professional lecturer in several business schools.

Her presentation was very lively and I personally liked the example of the process a professional should follow to select a supplier, a customer or an employee.

He explained in detail the information you can find about the companies by looking at the product reviews on social networks, seeing the reputation that the company has among its employees (looking at Glassdoor), analyzing the company’s own website or the management positions and information you will find on LinkedIn. You can also take a look at their Likes on Facebook (watch out! a person’s likes are public, whatever the security level they have set), and of course Twitter and Instagram. In the end, you have so much information at your disposal that if you don’t want to know someone’s details, it’s because you really don’t want to.

He also presented an applied example of the use of the LinkedIn Sales Navigator Application Platform, a LinkedIn application fully integrated with SalesForce and Microsoft, among other partners, that provides you with a detail of anyone and their contacts on LinkedIn, allowing you to view this segmented information in all possible ways.

He told us about the use we could make of PointDrive with LinkedIn, Profinder, Likegram, etc., and he also took the opportunity to propose to the audience to use the “Nearby” feature provided by the LinkedIn app so that we could get in touch with all the attendees. I thought it was a great idea.

Dana Camps and Mireia Reixach: 2018 The Year of Chatbots

Dana Camps and Mireia Reixach, specialist and director of InboundCycle respectively, spoke to us about the importance of chatbots. The chatbots are here to stay.

They explained their usefulness and the types of chatbots that exist differentiating between rules-based, smart machines and general AI. They also showed us examples of the different existing tools including a video where we saw two chatbots chatting with each other.

They also talked about the different tools. But I’d rather leave you with two interesting links to two spreadsheets with a detailed comparison of the chatbots tools that exist and how much they cost:
DataMonsters – Chatbots Comparative Table and Building a Bot: Chatbot Building Platforms Comparison.

It was clear to us that a lot of progress has been made on this subject but there are still challenges for the future of chatbots such as understanding slangs, abbreviations, emotions, sarcasms…

After this presentation there was the award ceremony for the best blog by David Ayala, SEO expert, owner of the SEO forum soywebmaster.com. I invite you to take a look at it and you will find information that will surely be very useful.

Noemí Arjona: Inboud Marketing Success Story

Finally, the last session was given by Noemi Arjona, E-commerce & Marketing Manager of Europe and Asia of Australis. Australis is an ecommerce company that sells expedition cruises through Patagonia. They started an inbound marketing project with Inbound Cycle and it was their first international project.

Noemi presented the company, the inbound project that was proposed, how they implemented the strategy and the results obtained. In one year they have achieved more than 30,000 visits to the website, 150 customers generated by direct sales and 450 by indirect sales. Their conclusion is that inbound marketing is a profitable investment.

Conclusion

First of all I’d like to congratulate the InboundCycle team on the Inbound Leaders event. Everything was very well organized and from my point of view it was a very productive day, not only because of the content of the talks, but also for offering us an environment in which to share and exchange impressions with other professionals in the sector.

And if I may make a suggestion to improve the event for next year’s session, it would be great to provide badgets to all attendees. For those of us who are a little shy, badgets make it easier for us to start a conversation with strangers knowing who they are beforehand 😎

We’ll see you for sure next year!

Featured Image by Alice Wiegand in Creative Commons.

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Summary of WordCamp Madrid 2018

Published in Community.

This past weekend we had the opportunity to enjoy WordCamp Madrid 2018 and, as tradition dictates, it’s time to share our thoughts on a wonderful event because, remember, “a WordCamp doesn’t end until you write about it on your blog“. If you were unable to attend #wcmadrid, I hope this brief summary will help you to get to know a little better what a WordCamp is and, above all, to awaken your interest and convince you to attend the next one. So let’s take a quick look at one of the biggest WordCamps in Spain!

La N@ve—The Venue

WordCamp Madrid 2018 took place in La N@ve, an old factory building that the Madrid City Council reformed a few years ago to create a space where “to share experiences, to work, to train or to look for new professional opportunities.”

If you take a look at the map (link here), you will see that its location is quite far from the centre of Madrid, but truth is that getting to the site was extremely easy. I, for example, stayed in a hotel next to Atocha station and in less than half an hour by metro I managed to get there 😇

I think the organizers did a very good job choosing the venue. If we take into account that there were more than 400 attendees, having a large space in which to talk is an essential requirement, so the venue seemed to me to be a great success.

I remember that one of the things that most impressed me in the first moment was the way they organized the interior of La Nave. Look at the picture I took:

Coffee Breaks and Sponsor Zone at WordCamp Madrid 2018
Coffee Breaks and Sponsors Zone at WordCamp Madrid 2018. Does it look familiar?

Does this distribution ring a bell? Indeed, it looks a lot like the one we saw last year at WordCamp Europe 2017:

There was a huge central space where people could relax, have coffee, breakfast and lunch, chat with the sponsors and, in short, network with each other.

Talks and Speakers

The organizers of Madrid, after receiving 112 proposals for talks, decided to offer three tracks in parallel, accounting a total of 27 talks and 29 speakers. Too much? Too little? I guess it’s anybody’s guess. I personally enjoyed all the talks I attended and, even though there are some I had to miss, I know they’ll soon be available on WordPress TV and I’ll be able to watch them there. If you’re wondering which ones were my top three, here they are (in no particular order):

  1. Progressive Web Apps: Goodbye PHP. Hello JavaScript, by Luis Herranz. A talk that required certain technical knowledge, but accessible to most users nonetheless. Luis, whom I met the night before at the speakers’ dinner, made an incredible job at sharing his view on how progressive web apps will be the future. I think it’s a great introduction to WPAs, with tons of references to tools and frameworks for those interested in the subject.
  2. From Freelance to Founder of one of the largest successful companies in the WordPress ecosystem, by Nando Pappalardo. Nando is the founder of Yith, a well-known company in the WordPress ecosystem and which, as the title of his talk indicates, is quite successful. To be honest, I was curious and wanted to see what Nando would tell us… I didn’t have high expectations, as this kind of talks are a great example of the survivorship bias. But I must admit I really enjoyed the talk! Nando inspired the audience by simply telling us his story. I still believe that following his steps won’t guarantee success, but his advice is extremely useful nonetheless.
  3. Chemistry for your business: Br Cn Fi Pr + WP, by Pablo Moratinos. In a word: awesome. I loved this talk! Pablo did an impeccable job: he spoke loud and clearly, he had good rhythm, he was funny… I just hope one day I can give a talk like this. In Chemistry for your business, Pablo shared the typical problems that any company faces in general (“people don’t know who we are”, “they do, but they don’t buy our products”, “they don’t repeat”, “they don’t recommend us”, and so on) and the steps we should take to fix them and the available tools in WordPress to do so. Seriously, if you only have 25 minutes and want to practice some Spanish, watch Moratinos.

Our Talk

We were also lucky to be able to talk at WordCamp Madrid 2018. This time we talked about the content marketing strategy that we follow in Nelio and the very important role that the blog plays in promoting our brand and reaching a wider audience. Ruth was supposed to give the talk but, in the end, it was me who surprised the audience 😉

Now What?

Now it’s time to get back to the routine and prepare for some of the next (and many) WordCamps we will have in Spain in 2018. Personally, I recommend you save the 5th and 6th of October in your agenda in order to attend WordCamp Barcelona, an event that we are co-organizing from Nelio and that promises (at least) to match this incredible WordCamp Madrid.

Some of the organizers of WordCamp Barcelona were in Madrid taking note of everything that was done there to help us get ideas on how to improve our own event. I hope will be able to at least match the quality seen in Madrid. We look forward to seeing you as an attendee or, even better, as a speaker. 😉 See you soon!

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Some Ideas for WordCamps After Going to Hong Kong

Published in Community.

A few days ago I had the opportunity to travel and spend a few days in Hong Kong going with my husband to an event organised by his partners. It was the first time I had set foot in this intense city and I realised that it offers you plenty of surprises and contrasts. Some interesting curiosities about it:

  • The name Hong Kong is believed to originate from an imprecise pronunciation of 香港 (which in Cantonese: hēung góng) meaning “Fragant or incense harbour”.
  • Hong Kong consists of the island of Hong Kong itself, Kowloon, the New Territories, and another set of small islands covering a total of 1,092 square kilometres.
  • The official languages of Hong Kong are Cantonese and English.
  • Hong Kong has more Rolls Royce per person than any other city in the world.
  • It is also one of the most densely populated cities in the world.
  • Hong Kong is the city with the most skyscrapers (buildings with more than 14 floors) in the world; twice the size of New York City.
  • And many architects take Feng Shui into account in their design and construction. Moreover, it is very surprising to see that all scaffolding, whatever the height of the buildings, is bamboo only.

Hong Kong street with dried fish
Personally, I was surprised to see and smell fish drying on the sidewalk railing in a central street (photo I took on Des Voeux Road in Hong Kong).

But my intention is not to tell you about this wonderful city, but about the ideas that the event I attended gave me. Seeing how events are organized in other countries and other contexts (remember that my husband is a lawyer) can be a great source of inspiration for our fantastic WordCamps (and yes, I’m thinking about the next WordCamp Barcelona).

Badges

One of the issues that personally gets on my nerves at events and congresses is the issue of participants’ badges. I’m sure you’ve all attended to events and had the following or similar experiences:

  • the badge is hung with a ribbon too long and it remains at the height of the belly,
  • the badge is hung and turns around without you being able to read the name of your interlocutor,
  • the badge is hung but people cover it with their hands and the food saucer,
  • the badge goes with a safety pin but you don’t want to pierce your favourite garment,
  • the badge goes with a safety pin but you’re wearing a piece of plain clothes and you have no way to hang it, or
  • the name on the badge has the name of the person so small that it is impossible to distinguish it at a certain distance.

Well, in Hong Kong they gave us all a very simple badge with the first name clearly visible and held up with magnets, similar to the one shown in the following picture.

Magnetic Name Badge
Example of magnetic name badge. Surprisingly, it’s holding up perfectly.

I thought it was a good solution if you consider that the most important thing about a badge is that you can easily identify your interlocutor without looking like a myopic or rude person trying to read what it says on it. There are those who believe that badges should also serve to carry the schedule of all the talks of the conference, but I’d rather this information to be much more visible on large screens on the conference itself.

Promoting integration

If you are one of those who prefer to work with your computer rather than socialize with a lot of people who are not your close friends, surely, participating in congresses is an effort for you. That is why in this context you are grateful for activities that make it easier to feel part of the party.

Thinking in the context of a WordCamp, the aim should not only be to listen to talks or round tables. You are supposed to meet and chat with other professionals like yourself and hopefully make some professional contact. How is it achieved? I think that, given the profile of many attendees it can be a challenge, but any action or activity that is done with the aim of relaxing the environment and promoting communication with others is more than welcome.

What little things caught my eye in Hong Kong? There was a whole set of entertainments that somehow also end up promoting that you talk to the person closest to you. For example, on one table there were two fortunetellers predicting your future by the lines of your palms. Regardless of whether or not you believe in chiromancy, putting yourself in a queue to know your fatalities provokes you to talk to the person next to you, don’t you think?

Chinese chiromancy
There are indications that Chinese chiromancy has more than 4,000 years of history.

Another organized activity was the possibility of taking a photo with people dressed in traditional costumes.

Chinese customes
Sorry about the quality of the picture, but it’s useful to get an idea that I was in my element.

And there was also an ice dragon carving in which they put an alcoholic beverage through a hole in the top of the dragon’s head, and the drink came down through a small tube cooling down, thus getting a super shot. The show clearly helped to animate the party.

Chinese New Year A Joy Wallace Dragon Ice Carving
Dragon Ice Carving.

There was also live music by a group of Hong Kong girls playing pop music.🕺

I’m not saying that a WordCamp has to become a super-party, on the one hand because I don’t think it’s the main goal of WordCamps and on the other because there may not be budget for it. But we should all make an effort in a WordCamp to ensure that sponsors are fully integrated into the event and not just set up a table with two chairs offering gadgets, but offer some distraction that encourages the participants of the event to do or participate in something that promotes the relationship between them.

As an example, look at the game Antonio played at the SiteGround stand during last WordCamp Europe. Trying to assemble a WordPress logo puzzle with covered eyes seems a lot of fun 😅.

Food

Hong Kong, due to its past as a British colony and its long history as an international trading harbour, is known for offering a cuisine with complex combinations. It is mainly influenced by Cantonese cuisine, British cuisine, other western cuisines, non-Cantonese Chinese cuisine (especially Teochew, and Hakka, Hokkien), Japan and Southeast Asia. So, as you can guess, I had wonderful meals in Hong Kong. At the very least in our culture, food is one of the most important elements in any event. If you’ve eaten well at an event, you’ll remember it in the future. But not only that, if the food is good or fun to eat, it encourages others to try it and it’s just another topic that can promote conversation.

Yamm Buffet
Yamm Buffet.

It is not a question of organizing big banquets in a WordCamp, among other reasons because of the budget we have. In fact, a good meal doesn’t have to be the most expensive, but pampering attendees with this type of details will facilitate the integration between people.

Conclusion

From my point of view, perhaps the most important thing when organizing a WordCamp is to get very good presentations and round tables or workshops that nobody wants to miss. That said, there are many other details that end up making the difference between one event and the other. And in the end, in addition to learning from talks, for a WordCamp to be a total success all the attendees should be able to get new professional contacts. Let’s make every effort to take care of the details if we want our WordCamps to succeed!

Feature image by Timon Studler on Unsplash.

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Summary of the WordCamp Europe 2017

Published in Community.

Translated by Núria Adell.

We just got back from the WordCamp Europe 2017, which took place in Paris this year. As I didn’t want to forget any details, I started writing this summary article as soon as possible to be able to tell you what we’ve experienced during these past 5 days in the city of light, taken literally by the international WordPress community.

If you couldn’t attend, I hope that at least by reading these lines you get the opportunity to know a little bit more about the event and what to expect if you decide to attend the next one. Without further delay, here you have the summary, with my personal opinions. I hope you like it!

Location

What can I tell you about Paris that you don’t already know? The truth is that Paris is a beautiful city, and very accessible from practically any European country. But let’s focus on what interests us, which is the location where the WordCamp Europe took place.

Even though it was located on the outskirts of Paris (in the northern part) and in a somewhat underprivileged area, so to speak, once you were inside the two naves of the building, where you had the tracks, sponsors, and everything else, the place was surprising. And in a good way.

What I particularly liked is that although there were more than 1900 people there, at no time it felt crowded or that there was a lack of space. The site was huge, as you can see in the following photos:

The strategic position of the sponsors was also very interesting, located at the center. Something to thank for, as it’s always nice to be able to pass by in between the talks to check out what they do and get to know them. Thanks to the sponsors we can enjoy events of this caliber; they deserve a treatment like the one I was happy to see. The organisers definitely got it right!

Amongst all the swag we could see in the WordCamp Europe 2017, our favourite were the fidget spinners 😎.

And the game we played at the SiteGround stand wasn’t bad either. Here you can see me trying to assemble a WordPress logo puzzle with my eyes covered 😅.

In short, the assessment of both the location and the organization cannot be more positive.

Contributor Day

The first day of the event was the contributor day, where all the teams that make WordPress come together and contribute to its improvement. As we always say, you don’t have to be an elite programmer to contribute to WordPress. No matter what level or profession you have, you can surely find the right team to contribute with.

In our case, both David and I decided to participate in the Core’s team, responsible for reporting bugs in WordPress and solve them. As newcomers to this group, we had the opportunity to meet very interesting people, including Pascal Birchier, who helped us better understand the workings of WordPress trac.

David was even able to report an error with child themes that we encountered with a client who had problems with one of our plugins (and the problem turned out to be a poor definition of his child theme). In fact, as you can see in the report itself, we were able to include a patch to solve the error and a unit test to prevent it from reappearing in the future. Best of all, the improvement has been proposed to be included in the next update of WordPress. WordPress 4.9 will include code written by Nelio! It’s a pretty small thing, but we’re very excited.

Nelio contribuyendo en el equipo de Core durante el Contributor Day de la WordCamp Europe 2017.
Nelio contributing to the Core team during the Contributor Day of the WordCamp Europe 2017. Photo via WCEurope on Twitter.

In addition to this, David had the opportunity to give a talk during the Contributor Day about the WordPress plugin and theme directories, and the developers’ needs that are currently not covered. I don’t want to spoil it for you, because I’d rather have David writing an article in this blog soon explaining everything himself.

So that you can’t say I haven’t criticized anything, I think I preferred the Contributor Day format we had at the WordCamp Europe 2015 in Seville. If I remember correctly, the work groups there were organized in a common space, while this time each group had a different room (more or less). In addition, everything was divided into several floors this year, so I had the feeling that changing groups or attending lectures and workshops was more complicated because you didn’t always know where everything was.

This was a minor detail for us, since we spent our morning with the Core team and our afternoon attending presentations, but I thought it was worth mentioning. I understand the reasons for organizing it this way, but in my opinion, having it all in an open space is better. Still, I think it was a good Contributor Day.

Conferences

Before going into detail about the presentations, I want to emphasize that I liked their format much more than in other WordCamps I’ve attended. There were two talks going on simultaneously every hour. But best of all, the presentations lasted half an hour, including 10 additional minutes for questions. You had the remaining 20 minutes to move to the alternative track, walk around the sponsors area, talk to other attendees, or even relax for a little bit until the next session. And this, my friends, was very much appreciated. Not having to rush is a wise move.

In addition, if a speaker went a bit overtime, it was always possible to readjust everything without taking away minutes from the next presentation. Although in general everyone sticked to the half hour. I also want to emphasize that at all times there was simultaneous translation into French and a transcription of the talks in English  👏

Summarizing all the presentations of an event as big as the WordCamp Europe 2017 is almost impossible in a single article. So what I’m going to do is tell you which ones I was able to attend and, of these, highlight some points that I think are interesting to mention. Much less tedious to read, right?

Friday 16th of June

These are the talks I attended:

  • Demystifying the WordPress Bootstrap Process – Alain Schlesser – #development
  • Improving WordPress Performance with XDebug and PHP Profiling – Otto Kekäläinen – #development
  • The Three Kinds of Design – John Maeda – #design
  • Security is a Process – Mark Jaquith – #development
  • Lightning Talks: Content – Monique Dubbelman, Dario Jazbec Hrvatin, Jen Miller, Syed Balkhi – #business
  • 5 Ways You May Be Sabotaging Your business + 2 Proven Ways to Succeed – Joshua Strebel – #business
  • Lessons Learnt Marketing WooCommerce Since July 2014 – Marina Pape – #business

For me, John Maeda has been a complete discovery in this WordCamp. I didn’t know him and the truth is I really liked his presentation (and his peculiar way of presenting). He talked about design and the future that is to come. As soon as the talk is uploaded to WordPress.tv, you should go check it out!

I also want to highlight Mark Jaquith‘s security talk. I’ve been following Mark on Twitter and I believe it’s always important to emphasize the issue of security in WordPress. He even asked us not to trust ourselves, since the code we wrote 2 years ago is much worse than what we’re writing now.

Finally, I don’t want to forget the talk by Joshua Strebel, founder of Pagely. I think WordCamps need talks like Joshua’s, in which an entrepreneur explains that succeeding isn’t always a path of roses. The stories he told us are very valuable.

Saturday 17th of June

These are the talks I attended:

  • People Over Code – Andrew Nacin
  • We Are All Making This Up: Improv Lessons for Developers – Dwayne McDaniel – #development
  • The Pernicious Myth of the Code Poet – Boone Gorges – #community
  • How WordPress Communities Are Built – Andrea Middleton – #community
  • Interview and Q&A with Matt Mullenweg
  • A Deep Dive into the User Roles and Capabilities API – John Blackbourn – #development
  • Data Visualization with the REST API – K. Adam White – #development

I loved the talk by Andrew Nacin. As computer scientists, we often complicate things too much and struggle to talk about what we do with non-programmers. Through multiple examples from his time working for the government of the United States, Nacin showed that people go first, the code, after.

I also want to emphasize the talk of Boone Gorges, in which he proposed arguments to demystify the slogan of WordPress “code is poetry”. Coding is not an art, nor it’s something individualistic, but something done in a community. We’ll have to think of another slogan, since according to Boone’s presentation, code is not poetry.

And of course, I have to highlight the moment when Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of WordPress, was interviewed by Om Malik. In fact, the interview lasted half an hour and then the audience was able to ask some questions until the time was up.

In my opinion, the first part, that is the interview, was a bit tedious. The only announcement that saves itself is that Gutenberg was already available as a plugin in the WordPress directory. On the other hand, the audience’s questions were much more interesting. I would have preferred most of the time being devoted to the questions of the public.

There was even a little heated discussion when asked about Woo’s acquisition. Fortunately, you can see the full interview on WordPress.tv (David and I appear on the background at some point during the questions 🤣).

I can’t really talk about this particular part of the event from my point of view because didn’t end up going. But my colleague David did, so I’ll explain what he told me about it and what I could follow via Twitter.

The closing party of the WordCamp Europe took place in the Pavillon d’Armenonville, a place with enough charm and capacity for all the attendees. As a novelty, this party had a very original theme: the 30s in Paris.

Although it wasn’t mandatory to dress up for it, don’t miss the whole Yoast team prepared for the occasion. It’s priceless!

And here you can see some people leaving it all on the dancefloor:

Apparently, the long queues to access the food were not welcomed by the attendees, as shown in this tweet:

But leaving this aside, David told me that he had a good time and that he was able talk to many people, which is the whole point of the event.

Personal Opinion

Attending an event like the WordCamp Europe 2017 in Paris is very interesting. For several reasons, but perhaps the most important is getting to meet in person all the people who make WordPress. We are used to knowing people by their profile picture on social networks or by their nickname, but there are real people behind all of this.

Not every day you get the opportunity to talk to a WPEngine manager who comes from Austin (Texas), or meet entrepreneurs like you who also make a living from developing plugins. Or even hear Matt Mullenweg talking about Gutenberg and answering questions from the audience.

As for the presentations, I think I was more satisfied with them than when I attended the WordCamp Europe in Seville. I don’t know if it’s because now I know much more about it than I did two years ago, or because I was more interested in these topics, but my assessment here is on the quality (which was already good then); it has improved.

Both the volunteers and the organization in general deserve a good grade. If an event of this kind is exhausting for a simple assistant like me because there is a lot to do and see, I imagine it must be much harder for the whole team behind it. And they always had a smile on their face, so from here, I send you many thanks.

A little slap on the wrist to the Spanish community. I would have liked to see more Spanish assistants at the WordCamp, especially the usual suspects that we tend to see in national events (don’t get offended, huh 😘). Seeing how much we’re growing as a community in the country, I missed you in Paris.

That’s it for today. I hope the summary was useful to understand a bit more how the event happened and what we got to see there. The next WordCamp Europe will take place in Belgrade, in 2018. Until then, we gotta keep working hard!

Featured Image by WordCamp Europe 2017.

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Entrepreneurship in Spain

Published in Community.

My teammates David and Ruth already did it, and today it’s my turn—I’m here to share a a brief summary of my talk about entrepreneurship in Spain, which I presented at WordCamp Barcelona 2016.

To be honest, for a long time I have wanted to to give a talk like this, explaining my experience in creating a company in Spain and trying to earn a living with it. I believe there’s a lot we can learn from a business-oriented talk. But, unfortunately, this is something that is missing in the WordCamp programs that take place both in Spain and outside our borders. That’s why I was very happy when I had the chance to present mine 😍.

Cover slide of the talk "Emprender en España" (Entrepreneurship in Spain) that Toni gave in the WordCamp Barcelona 2016.
Cover slide of the talk “Emprender en España” (Entrepreneurship in Spain) that Toni gave at WordCamp Barcelona 2016.

Our Experience

The title of my talk was “Entrepreneurship in Spain – based on real events, because everything I described at the WordCamp was part of my personal experience in creating Nelio Software with David and Ruth. It was crucial to me make sure the audience understood from the very first moment that everything I was about to explain had an important personal component. That is, I wouldn’t be talking about somebody else’s experience or describing something I read in a manual—I was about to share all the stuff we have had to face since we created the company.

It all began in May 2013, when we had very little idea of what we wanted to do to make money. At that time, we started migrating webs from Drupal and other CMSs to WordPress in order to generate a minimum income and, at the same time, start developing our own software services.

Evolution of Nelio Software during the first years.
Evolution of Nelio Software during the first years (in Spanish).

A few months later, in August, we released the first beta of Nelio A/B Testing, and in October we had the first paying customer. In my opinion, it was a pretty good start! Sure, we had a lot of work balancing migration projects with the development and growth of our split testing and heatmaps service for WordPress, but we felt like things were going alright. In December 2015 we decided to get rid of migrations and bet everything to the development of another SaaS—Nelio Content.

Today we are a (or should I say “the only”?) Spanish company focused on the development of premium plugins for WordPress with a SaaS business model 😁!

How To Set Up a Business in Spain

Setting up a company in Spain is a bureaucratic adventure. The most notable steps are:

  1. Register the name of the company, requesting a negative certificate of corporate name in the Mercantile Registry—just to make sure that there isn’t another company with the same name as yours.
  2. Open a bank account for the company. And yes, you will need to include an initial minimum capital of €3,000.
  3. Write the Bylaws. That is, a lawyer has to formally write the set of rules that will govern the company.
  4. Make the public deed of the business constitution, going to a notary.
  5. Do paperwork in Treasury. Here you have to obtain the provisional Tax Identification Number (T.I.N.) of the company, register the Tax on Economic Activities, and make a census VAT declaration.
  6. Enroll in the Mercantile Register. You will need the deed, the provisional T.I.N., and the negative certificate of corporate name.
  7. Get the definitive T.I.N. in Treasury.

Apparently, it’s possible to make things easier in Spain (I don’t know about other countries), but Ruth wanted everything to be impeccable, and so we had to follow the long, complicated path—I think that being married to a lawyer for over 25 years had something to do with this decision 😅.

The Partnership Agreement

One point I also thought it would be worth highlighting is the partnership agreement. In case you have never heard of this type of document, it is nothing more than an agreement signed by all partners that guarantees a procedure for conflict resolution. For instance, the document describes how to proceed when new partners join the company or old ones leave it, indicates the roles and dedication of each partner, or includes non-competition clauses, among many other things.

Surprisingly (at least to me), it is not mandatory by law to have one. Anyway, if you are thinking of starting a company with more partners, I strongly recommend that you look for information about the partnership agreement and write one. Thus, if problems arise (and believe me, they will), at least you can be sure that what is agreed prevails.

The Self-Employment Quota

Another aspect that I wanted to emphasize here is the self-employment quota. In order to work in your own company in Spain you have to register in the special registry of self-employed workers. Moreover, you will also have to pay a monthly quota of at least €267 (that’s what I call a good contributor day), no matter what—that is, this payment is mandatory from the very first day whether you have income or not. As you can see, the government does not make things easy to entrepreneurs…

It is possible to pay a flat rate during the first 6 months of self-employment of only €50 a month. But if you are managing partner, forget about this because you won’t meet the conditions 😓.

There are many resources available for entrepreneurs in Spain (free rate for self-employed freelancers, start-up incubators, transform your unemployment benefit into self-employment quota, etc.). But be careful and read the fine print carefully. Not everything is what it seems.
There are many resources available for entrepreneurs in Spain (free rate for self-employed freelancers, start-up incubators, transform your unemployment benefit into self-employment quota, and so on). But be careful and read the fine print carefully. Not everything is what it seems.

But there are some good news! If you have an unemployment benefit in Spain, you can turn it into the monthly payment of the self-employment quota. Both David and I, when we finished our research contracts at the Technical University of Catalonia, accepted this possibility. And until a few months ago we didn’t have to start paying self-employment fees. Well, we did pay actually, but the State Employment Service reimbursed the fee every month.

After all these things, you can finally focus on the simplest part—selling your products or services in order to survive and make the bureaucratic effort worthwhile 😵.

How To Sell From Spain to the Rest of the World

From the very beginning we all agreed that we didn’t want to focus solely on Spain as a market to sell our services and products. This may seem like common sense today, but I’m still amazed at the myriad of companies and freelancers in Spain that only target the local/regional market. Mind you, I’m not criticizing this, but I think there’s a lot of opportunities out there, only if they made the leap to more international markets.

Just have a look at the following chart showing the income of our Nelio A/B Testing service grouped by country…

Nelio A/B Testing – Income by country.
Nelio A/B Testing – Income by country.

If Nelio only sold premium plugins in Spain, we would have had to close the company several years ago. It is true that the English language in Spain is a huge barrier for a lot of people, but it is really worth investing in markets like the American—the cost-benefit is clearly favorable!

In fact, in order to be able to sell both in Spain and in foreign markets you only need a web and an e-commerce system. Although the presentation went into more detail in this, I don’t want to bother you with them now, so here you have a post by Ruth where she talks about billing solutions for SaaS.

How To Market Your Business Without Resources

You obviously need a (legal) way to sell your products and services, but before that you need people to be interested in them. In other words, you need someone interested in becoming your customer… which means you need to invest in marketing. Unfortunately, you do not always have the required resources (especially if you’re a startup with a limited budget). But, hey, this should never be an impediment! When there is no money, creativity must shine. And here in Nelio we have had to pull guerrilla marketing for a long time.

In the presentation I highlighted two actions we had carried out in Nelio. The first is to use our own products when possible, instead of relying on third-party tools. In particular, I commented that we use Nelio Content to plan and promote our content, and thus make some noise on social media.

Low-cost marketing. When there is no money, let your creativity shine.
Low-cost marketing. When there is no money, let your creativity shine.

We schedule messages every week on Twitter (about 10 a day) and on other networks (once a day) so that they are automatically published. Just by investing a few minutes a week, we can plan all our marketing messages and then focus on doing everything else without worrying about social media.

On the other hand, we are very proud of Nelio Content’s promotional video. We made it ourselves for a minimum fraction of what a professional team would have charged us. If you want to know the tricks we used to make the video, I explained them here. That’s a great example of well-used creativity.

Final Advice

Although it is trendy, believe me, creating your own business is not an easy task—especially in Spain. So the best thing you can do is look for some good fellow travelers that share your own perspective and interests, and who’re willing to take this path with you. If you can, don’t start up alone—you’ll need people to support you when you’re down, and you’ll help them when they need you.

Regarding the bureaucracy, I’m not going to lie—it’s a pain in the ass! But luckily you will survive and you will be able to pull forward. In addition, today you have many resources to seek help, such as business incubators or shared offices where you meet many interesting people. Again, don’t isolate yourself!

And finally, let me insist and tell again that we live in a global world, and so is your market. Don’t focus only on your country—there is much more out there. In fact, with WordPress you will have many business opportunities. Go get them!

Featured image by Enes.

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My first € 100,000 in WordPress

Published in Inside Nelio.

A few days ago, David talked about his speech for the WordCamp Barcelona on the post How to Become an Evil WordPress Developer. According to him, his talk was the best of the three presented by the Nelio’s team. And I will not be the one to question that statement 🙄 However, I must say that more people came up to me to discuss the topic after my presentation 🤔, so I think I also managed to attract some interest 😊.

Hence, here is the promised post on my speech. Note that since the speech was in Spanish, some of the slides shown below are also written in Spanish.

My Firsts 100,000€ in WordPress
At WordCamp Barcelona 2016, I presented My Firsts €100,000 in WordPress

My first €100,000 in WordPress – Synopsis

The aim of this talk was discuss how we got our first €100,000 with WordPress plugins, and in particular, how we got our first €100,000 with the subscription service to our plugin Nelio A/B Testing.

Before reaching the €100,000 with Nelio A/B Testing, within Nelio we started offering services of migrations to WordPress. Note that the purpose of the talk was not to explain how you can make money with services related to WordPress, but how to do it with just WordPress plugins and what it takes to start a business like that.

Our motivation and first steps

Nelio’s team currently consists of three partners with a PhD in Computer Engineering (we were 4 initially). When we created Nelio, David, Toni and I were working in the Barcelona School of Informatics, with almost no experience in building startups. Our motivation was basically to create our own business and become rich! 💰😊.

I would say that this point of ingenuity and illusion is key to create and maintain any startup.

How did we start?

The majority of startups begin with an idea that becomes a product, and then the company is created. However, in our case, we started creating a limited partnership without having any idea of what we wanted to do. The only thing we knew was that, given our profile, it would be related to software.

The main advantage of creating a company from scratch without having a previously defined product is that all the ideas and developments that you create belong to the company. Also, the partnership forces a commitment and agreement amongst partners free of conflicts. People feel free to say everything they think before having had any other problems or conflicts of interest.

The drawbacks are that you need legal advice and you have to spend a minimum of resources without even knowing what you are going to do or if you even have the right team.

After signing the documents at the Notary Public office (this is what you do in Spain to start a limited partnership), we had a super brainstorming meeting where we generated up to 20 ideas.

We generated 20+ ideas
We generated 20+ ideas

The selected idea: developing plugins for WordPress

After many discussions, we decided that we would develop plugins for WordPress. What were our priorities for making this decision? And what are the implications of these priorities?

Our priorities
Our priorities for deciding what business idea we wanted to implement.

Zero investment

We didn’t have money, we didn’t want any external financing at the expense of losing participation or wasting time in the task of finding it. Hence, it was clear that we had to create a business that did not involve a strong investment.

If you have a PC and some other source of income for your personal expenses, you can easily develop software.

Of course, your company will have some expenses and you have to find a way to get some cash. In our case, we decided to offer services to migrate webs from any CMS to WordPress.

Scalability

We didn’t want to create a hobby, a leisure activity with no intention of making profit. We didn’t want a small business driven by profitability and stable long-term value. Instead, at that moment, we wanted to create a startup focused on top-end revenue and growth potential.

And developing and maintaining WordPress plugins met this requirement.

International

We wanted our market to be completely international. What are the implications? In our case, we started creating the web and the Nelio A/B Testing service only in English.

Currently, our Nelio Software website is bilingual in English and Spanish. This means that the web, documentation, blog, social networks, newsletters, emails, videos we make, our support service, etc., are all in both languages.

And yes, this is obviously more work and, in our case, because English is not our native language, you can notice that we don’t have the English sense of humor that you can find in other places.

Dr. House
Dr. House picture

The SaaS Business Model

If you want to make a lot of money, a business with recurring revenues could be the best option. But creating a SaaS business is not so easy: you have to define a valuable proposition that someone is willing to pay for.

In the case of Nelio A/B Testing,  we decided to offer a tool that improved the conversion in your website. In contrast, Nelio Content is aimed at making sure you save time in creating quality content and promoting it on social networks.

When you create a SaaS business, you need a billing platform for subscriptions, as well as a cloud infrastructure to offer the service.

In our case, the billing management platform we use is FastSpring, and as cloud infrastructure we use Google Cloud for Nelio A/B Testing and Amazon Web Services for Nelio Content.

Great market

The use of WordPress is huge and hasn’t stopped growing. The availability of such a great market was another reason why we decided to implement the idea of developing WordPress plugins.

We were rookies here since, for instance, with Nelio A/B Testing we were convinced that every owner of a WordPress website would like our product to optimize the conversion. And the fact is that it took us over a year to understand who our clients really were, after interviewing them directly.

In any case, even though the market may be very large, the real difficulty is knowing how to get into this market. Your marketing plan should include activities in all phases of the sales funnel: acquisition, activation, retention and recommendation.

In the the acquisition phase, we’ve done a lot of different actions to help our potential clients find our products, but not all have worked equally well.

Acquisition actions
Some of the acquisition actions to get more clients worked better than others

For example, we got the perception that press releases, Google Adwords, and paid reviews haven’t had the desired impact. On the other hand, special campaigns done for Christmas or the Black Friday have worked very well.

In order to convert free users into paying customers, the product must have impeccable quality, and the free version must have limited features to promote the conversion. We also send a list of automated mails reminding the user of the option to subscribe.

In the same way, in order to retain users and ensure they don’t leave, we send mails offering to upgrade from monthly to annual payments with a discount and, of course, we take care of the support service as much as we can.

Finally, regarding the recommendation actions, we’ve offered the plugin for free to some influencers and we have an affiliate program so that anyone who wants to promote our product can benefit from it getting a percentage of the subscription.

Motivation

Finally, the decisive criterion in choosing what we would do from the more than 20 business ideas that we generated was that we wanted a motivating project.

And what motivates us? That there is continuous learning, and that the product implies a technological and personal challenge. Of course, we are also motivated by the idea of being our own bosses and having the freedom to be the ones deciding how to run the business.

Finally, the ultimate motivation is the illusion of: so what if we succeed?

Conclusions

WordPress has been using “Code is Poetry” as their tagline since as long as I can remember using it (if anyone knows where it came from, I’d love to know).

The slogan has always been very effective at communicating the approach that WordPress takes, a blend of elegant simplicity and infinite expansion. All that lies behind your WordPress install is bits of code strung together like a symphony.

Source: Code Is Poetry by Jay Hoffman

However, we know that WordPress is also a business. And yes, the road is harder than you think, and it will possibly take twice as much as you expected to achieve your goals.

In reference to marketing actions, all of them are important and contribute their bit, but we are yet to find if any of them by itself is more key than the rest.

And note that, just as marketing often focuses on getting new customers, in a SaaS business, it is much more important to retain those that you already have. These are the ones that will guarantee a recurring income from month to month.

Finally, we are aware that getting your first € 100,000 with any product is not easy,  you should be a passionate entrepreneur!

Featured image by Jakob Owens.

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How to Become an Evil WordPress Developer

Published in Community.

A few weeks ago we were at WordCamp Barcelona, where we talked to some of our colleagues and friends. As you may recall, we had the chance to share our experience in WordPress through 3 different talks. For those of you who couldn’t come to Barcelona during those days, I thought it’d be interesting to reproduce the contents of our talks. Today I’ll reproduce mine (which, spoiler alert, happens to be the best 😂) here, but stay tuned for Ruth’s and Toni’s, which they’ll publish during the next few days!

Cómo haer el mal siendo desarrollador WordPress - WC Barcelona 2016
Cover slide of my presentation “Cómo hacer el mal siendo desarrollador WordPress” (How to Become an Evil WordPress Developer) at WordCamp Barcelona 2016.

How to Become an Evil WordPress Developer – Sinopsis

Most of the talks you can attend teach you how to be better—better developer, better blogger, better entrepreneur, better professional. But, who cares? Do we really want to be “better”? If your dream is to become evil, this is your talk. Here you’ll learn some of the most useful tips and tricks that’ll make your plugin the best while, at the same time, break your competitors’ and make them look ugly. Focus only on delivering the best user experience to your customers (who, by the way, are the ones who pay your salary), and don’t even think about being nice to other developers!

The World Has Gone Mad!

Have you looked around you lately? World’s completely crazy! And no, I’m not talking about president Donald J. Trump (someone who deserves a whole post about him)—I’m talking about our peers and, especially, what’s going on in the technological world.

Since the first PDAs came out, followed by iPhone’s first release in 2007, it looks like we’re super interested in making things smart. We want our phones to be smart, our TVs, our watches, our refrigerators… everything has to be smart. Except people, of course—they can be as dumb as ever.

In my opinion, there’s plenty of examples of stupid smart things targeted at stupid customers. Smart underwear, smart socks that never loose their partner, smart vessels, smart diapers that tweet when your baby peed itself! WTF?!

Blacksocks
Let your sock don’t lose its partner sock! Keep them paired! Picture by Blacksocks.

I used to think all this technological madness didn’t affect WorPress developers. We’re above this worldliness—we’re interested in important stuff solely! The REST API, good support, customer care, making WooCommerce great again… we’re perfect beings focused on relevant tasks.

Well, as it turns out, I was completely wrong. WordPress developers are no better than anybody else—they get things wrong and they can even do evil stuff. On purpose. Remember these lines: WordPress developers are dangerous! Trust none!

WordPress Developers Are Dangerous

A few months ago I described a problem we had with our new plugin, Nelio Content. Basically, this is what happened: one of our users opened a support ticket complaining because he couldn’t see the plugin as it appeared in our screenshots:

Screenshot of Nelio Content's Dialog for Adding new Social Messages
Screenshot of Nelio Content‘s Dialog for adding new social messages.

That’s what he saw instead (what a mess!):

Broken Dialog because of a Third-Party Plugin
Nelio Content’s Dialog is rendered completely unusable because of an incompatibility issue with a third-party plugin.

That was completely unusable! After investigating the problem and studying what the hell was going on, we discovered that the offender was another plugin. In Nelio we are super nice people, that’s why we decided to get in touch with the developer of the other plugin and explain not only the problem that we found, but also how to fix it. As you can see in the previous link, we tried to contact him/her almost 5 months ago and … well, we’re still unanswered. The feeling that remained after that silence was similar to this:

Falta en un partido de fútbol femenino
WordPress developers, like in soccer, also know how to play dirty when necessary. Picture by joshjdss (source).

It always makes us proud to talk about the WordPress community, to say that we are all friends and we help each other… but when a problem like this happens –a problem that can cause your customers to leave away from you– the only thing that I got from that community (or, better said, from that soulless developer) was silence.

Not anymore! 👿

Best Worst Practices to Do Evil Things

After that bad experience, I decided to explore the dark side and be the one who makes the wrong things to end up breaking the plugins and themes of others. After all, if they can do it, why shouldn’t I?

If you want to be good at something you must learn from the best, and that’s what I did. For a few days, I reviewed all the support tickets I had received over the last few years and collected the reasons causing the errors for which our customers had contacted us. I got a good list of tricks and “good bad” practices with which to do evil on my own. These are the three easiest tips to implement and that will work best for you, little monster.

#1. Use CSS Viciously

If you’ve read the previous post where I explained the problem we had with Nelio Content and the other plugin, you know that it was all due to misuse of CSS stylesheets. As you know, the appearance of the components we add to an HTML page is defined through CSS styles. If someone modifies those styles, overriding the rules that come by default in WordPress or those that others have defined, you can break the appearance of the components that used those styles. For example, the problem that made Nelio Content look ugly was (in part) generated by the following CSS rules:

Using a global style reset, we make an HTML node to have the default properties we want. In this example, the damage is maximum because it applies a totally global reset. Note that you are not only resetting all span or div tags. No! Those rules are completely resetting all tags (and even some pseudo-elements) using the selectors :before, :after and *.

The next thing you can do if you want to guarantee the destruction of other plugins is to use CSS classes with generic names and specify the rules that suit you. If you’re a good person, your CSS rules most likely include some type of prefix so that they only affect the elements you’ve added. So, for example, if you want to define a “column” somewhere in your plugin, instead of using the column class you would use something like nc-column, where nc- is the prefix of your plugin (Nelio Content, in our case). But, of course, here we are not talking about doing things right, we want to blow up everything, so let’s use generic rules:

If you use generic names, you risk having another developer add their own rules after you and that these ones override yours. Avoid this with the !important directive:

And to be even a worse developer, follow the advice that Dario Balbontin gave me. Be sure to set Comic Sans everywhere:

Doing this you go straight to hell… but there you’ll become the bro of Lucifer!

#2. Cheat with JavaScript

Another element that we can modify with relative ease to harm others are the JavaScripts. There are many things we can do with them, but it is about being subtle when it comes to doing evil; Make our intentions not too noticeable. What can we do here? Very simple! First of all, forget about the usual way of adding scripts in WordPress:

The best thing you can do (especially if you’re a theme developer) is to include the scripts directly into the page, typing the script tag inside the HTML and forgetting about the crap that WordPress requires. Also, I don’t know if you know that WordPress includes a lot of scripts that you can use. In addition to the well-known jQuery, there are several libraries like jQuery UI, Backbone, underscore,… ready to be used by any developer. Well, don’t waste your time looking at what WordPress offers; when you need anything, pack it in your own plugin and ignore the old and outdated versions that are in WordPress:

Even better, suppose you’re going to use the latest version of jQuery, which is the most cool. Why are you allowing other plugins to enqueue the default version of jQuery? Best thing is to make sure that version is not available using the wp_deregister_script function that includes WordPress:

By doing so, we make sure that the WordPress version of jQuery does not collide with yours. Okay, okay, we agree that doing this will cause all other plugins that depend on jQuery to fail, since jQuery will no longer appear as available (you just deleted it). But… who cares? It’s all about doing evil, remember?

Our Nelio Content plugin depends on several scripts. As you can see, one of the requirements is jQuery. If we remove it from the list of available scripts... Nelio Content would not work! I love doing evil...
Our Nelio Content plugin depends on several scripts. As you can see, one of the requirements is jQuery. If we remove it from the list of available scripts… Nelio Content would not work! I love doing evil…

#3. Expand Your Evilness

Finally, my last tip today is that you apply the previous tricks on as many pages as possible. For example, it is quite common for plugins to define their own admin pages. Some examples admin pages of Nelio Content could be the settings page or the editorial calendar:

Editorial Calendar in Nelio Content
Editorial Calendar. The Editorial Calendar shows all your published and scheduled posts, as well as other elements related to your marketing strategy.

Usually, you only add the scripts and styles that these pages need when the user is visiting them, and avoid adding them when users are in other locations:

But, of course, let’s not forget that we are trying to harm other developers work, so better don’t add any control on this. If you don’t worry about adding these controls, your productivity at work will escalate, since you will no longer have to waste time writing code that “prevents” your things from appearing on other people’s pages.

In Summary

Doing things wrong in WordPress is very simple. All you have to do is to ignore the guidelines and do everything as you want, without worrying at all about the consequences of your actions. So, remember:

  • write CSS rules in the most general way you can,
  • include scripts without WordPress complexities (forget about registering, enqueuing or specifying dependencies…),
  • and try to do all of this on as many WordPress pages as possible.

For things to go well, all developers need to be good people and act by following the WordPress rules. But doing evil is so easy and tempting…

By the way, notice the irony throughout the whole article. Please, follow the style guidelines and WordPress rules! Seriously, don’t be evil developers!

Featured image by Charles Rodstrom.

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