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StudioPress Sites – A Premium Version of WordPress.com with the Freedom of WordPress.org

WordPress.com allows you to start a website for free without worrying about hosting related issues, but  it comes with lot many restrictions .

Some of the restrictions are as follows,

  • You are not allowed to install plugins of your choice
  • eCommerce websites can’t be done over there
  • You can not run Google Adsense ads for revenue
  • You are not allowed to upload theme of your choice

These things made self hosted WordPress so popular that WordPress 4.7, the latest version of WordPress has been downloaded for more than 30 Million times. Self hosted WordPress is great as it gives freedom but like people say, freedom comes with responsibilities. You are responsible for lot many things including Web Hosting, Incompatibility issues within Plugins and Themes, Security, Data Backup and more. Imaging a photographer who created a nice looking website with the help of beautiful WordPress photography themes and plugins. He is a good photographer because he loves his job but to showcase the job, he created a website with WordPress. Now he needs to spend time on maintaining the website, checking with host if any update comes or if the server is not able to handle the requests etc. etc. He must be frustrated as he likes to upload his new work and likes to spend time on street clicking new photos, but is stuck with the website maintenance. Now the only options left to him is to hire someone to help with the maintenance of the website.

StudioPress, a very popular name in WordPress community and ecosystem as one of best WordPress theme creators, makers of Genesis theme and it’s child themes. Now StudioPress team has come up with StudioPress Sites which solves the above problems and allows you to build a premium website without worrying about the site maintenance and hosting issues.

StudioPress Sites is an All-In-One solution which can be treated as premium version of WordPress.com where you get everything that was missing on WordPress.com and all the benefits of WordPress.org.

studiopress_sites_plans

Site Builder with In-built Hosting

Rainmaker Digital, the company behind StudioPress and many other amazing products, was running this Premium Theme Club since many years. Same company is behind the Rainmaker Platform which allows you to build pages or even sites and add modules related to digital marketing without writing any piece of code. The drag and drop modules and elements help you build a nice, responsive websites.

In StudioPress Sites, they have kind a clubbed everything together along with a fast and reliable hosting solution. So now you can choose any design from available StudioPress Themes and build a website. Just make it live.

WordPress SaaS Model

StudioPress Sites is a great example of WordPress Software as a Service. Once you login, you get a WordPress dashboard with all the options including special options as per StudioPress Sites. Now you are going to pay $24 – $33 per month to use that service. Well, you are getting many premium features including the best theme designs, reliable hosting, SEO solutions, recommended third-party plugin installation from the dashboard etc.

StudioPress team is having a recommendation board to help you pick a plugin for your requirement. It lists some hand picked plugins for different purposes so you don’t need to download and test multiple plugins for a task.  Here are few recommendations,

  • Forms by WP Forms Lite
  • Email Leads by OptinMonster
  • Slider by Soliloquy
  • WooCommerce to sell physical products
  • Easy Digital Downloads for Digital Products
  • Restrict Content Pro for Membership Website
  • and many more…

As a business model, this WordPress SaaS is looking great for both, the company and the users. Here is the pricing structure.

studiopress_sites_pricing

Premium Solution for Bloggers/Professionals/Institutes

Those who like to focus on their work rather than development and site maintenance, this is a great option. It allows you to forget about the pain of self hosted WordPress and just come and write your content to showcase through your website. Learn how to grow your website audience and keep doing that only.

eCommerce with Less Worries

The Commerce plan is priced at $33/mo where you can install eCommerce plugins like WooCommerce, Easy Digital Download etc. Here you can have a Payment gateway to receive payments. eCommerce websites consumes more resources and needs more security and that’s why you are paying bit more than the normal plan.

With the Commerce plan, you can also create a forum website on StudioPress Sites.

Limitations

You can’t register a domain on StudioPress Sites which means you need to use domain registrar like GoDaddy and others to make it done. I am still reviewing StudioPress Sites features and will come up with a detailed report very soon. Stay tuned.

Get Your StudioPress Site Now

There are many people using Genesis and other child themes, so the company will keep releasing new updates and keep providing support to Genesis and other themes, no doubt about it. I love Genesis theme and have use it on many websites along with Beaver Builder. The results are amazing and it is really flexible. Hopefully the new site builder of StudioPress will have similar flexibility in terms of customization and freedom of implementation.

Let’s Make The Web Premium.
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Divi 3.0 Issues and Changelog. 5 Updates in 10 Days

Divi 3.0 update with visual front-end builder broke the Internet on Sep 6, 2016. Many people asked about the changelog of Divi 3.0 as what other new features or fixes they got with the update. Well, the changelog of Divi 3.0 suggests that it came only with Visual Builder, nothing else. But after v3.0, the team released lot many other updates (listed later in this article). Visual Builder of Divi 3.0 got mostly positive response and people loved that. It is fast and clutter free. If you are familiar with the back-end Divi Builder, you will find it very easy to use as well. But Chris Lema feels that the first time users will struggle while operating with this Visual builder.

As much as engineers will be thrilled at the ingenuity of Divi Builder 3, I think end users – especially first timers – will struggle.

Well, the Divi community loved this feature and feeling more capable of creating better pages. At the same time, many people reported issues such as conflicts with plugins such as Revolution Slider, Adrotate, Formidable Pro, Essential Grid etc.

nico_divi

One customer suggested following issues with Divi 3.0 update,

– A full width row will not allow to access to the section interface (blue one)
– Thin sections won’t be accessible at all. (must go to the Back-end Builder)
– Difficulties to add a new section at the bottom of a page. (existing workaround…)
– Some text size setting sliders won’ t work at all.(random)
– Alzheimer Visual Builder : Some modifications won’t be saved at all.(random)
– “Save” is slow-downing as the number of sections/rows and modifications grow.
– boxed websites will be suddenly displayed full left while using the Visual Builder .

but at the same time, he had good words for the team too,

But we must admit that it is a really really ambitious project, and that a tremendous work has been done to get here. E.T. team is courageous and hard workers.

Well, to fix these issues and as per other tickets raised by customers, Elegant Themes team has released total 5 updates in the first 10 days of Divi 3.0 release. Which means almost 1 update every 2 days.

Changelog for Divi 3.0 Update

version 3.0.5 ( updated 09-14-2016 )
– You can now type color codes into the in-line editor’s color input field.
– Removed unwanted padding below columns that resulted in a different amount padding in the Visual Builder when compared to the front end.
– Adjusted tooltip tabs to work better in longer words in alternate languages.
– CTA buttons will now remain hidden in the Visual Builder when no URL is entered.
– Fixed issues with the email opt in module not working in Firefox.
– Improved compatibility with third party modules.
– Custom text color will now correctly override the module’s base color.
– Fixed issues with the Visual Builder in IE due to unsupported ES2016 syntax.
– Fixes issues with adding modules into specialty sections.

version 3.0.4 ( updated 09-12-2016 )
– Fixed issue with animated images not appearing outside the Visual Builder.

version 3.0.3 ( updated 09-12-2016 )
– Fixed issue with the Full Width Code Module that caused the Visual Builder to fail to save.
– Fixed an issue with the Portfolio Module that caused the Visual Builder to fail to save for some users.
– Private pages saved via the Visual Builder will now be saved correctly as private.
– Fixed various rendering issues with the Audio module when viewed inside the Visual Builder.
– Disabled modules will now show their current visibility-state while using the responsive preview toggles.
– Fixed typo in the Row width unit switcher in the Visual Builder.

version 3.0.2 ( updated 09-10-2016 )
– Fixed issue with (+) overlap when footer menu and footer widgets are not present.
– Fixed issues with Post Navigation module rendering inside the Visual Builder.
– Right click menu now works correctly for specialty sections.
– In-line Editor will no longer leave the screen view-port when activated at the top or to the sides of the browser.
– Improved error handling for library items loading.

version 3.0.1 ( updated 09-08-2016 )
– Added footer credits editor to Theme Customizer.
– Fixed various third party module conflicts in the Visual Builder.
– Fixed issue with content width misalignment in the Visual Builder while boxed layout was enabled.
– Fixed occurrences where the in-line editor did not save properly
– The save button will now appear automatically when attempting to leave the Visual Builder without saving.
– Fixed issues with IE11 and the Slider Module when viewed inside the Visual Builder.
– Fixed problem with the rendering of the divider module height setting in the Visual Builder.

One can find the Divi Changelog in Member Area of Elegant Themes.

So the current version of Divi is v3.0.5 and it is suggested to update Divi to its latest version using the auto update feature. There is no doubt that Nick Roach and his team has put tremendous amount of effort on this drag and drop page builder. The way they executed Divi 100 Marathon was also a milestone for a product update launch. Looking forward to receive more fixes and update for Divi as lot many websites are running on this awesome WordPress theme under different environments.

Get Divi 3.0 Today with 20% Discount

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Everything You Need to Know about Headway Themes Support Issues and Financial Trouble

Headway Themes, a popular drag and drop WordPress layout builder is in financial trouble. Father-son duo Grant Griffiths and Clay Griffiths owns Headway Themes which works as a visual layout builder for WordPress based sites. Problems at Headway started appearing after 4.0 release in May 2016.

Recent Tweets about Headway Themes Support,

Here is the flow of events happened related to Headway Themes crisis.

FIR (First Information Report) – Customer warned NOT to buy Headway Themes

An existing customer of Headway Themes posted on reddit that he is not getting any help after the 4.0 release. Nobody is talking about the issue and there is no communication on tickets from the support staff of the company. He also suggested that people should not buy other products like Pressmatic as it is also owned by the same people. He shared a screenshot of support forum of Headway Themes where people are talking about Headway going out of business as they have not received any communication on their tickets.

ht_reddit

WP Tavern reported this concern and then lot of people from other theme community and businesses started talking about the wrongdoings of Headway Themes.

Disgruntled Employee

As Griffiths were not paying the salary of their employee since last few months, many of them were getting angry. A disgruntled employee named Gary Bairead, a Support Guru at Headway Themes blogged about the situation. He shared few screenshots from Slack channel explaining how Grant tried to convince people about availability of support staff and tickets being handled but at the same time, many customers were reporting that they didn’t receive reply on their tickets since last 2 months.

grant-griffiths-august-22

Gary said that full or partial payment is pending since last 12 months and Griffiths are not discussing anything on that matter.

He also shared that the distributed working model caused some communication issue as Gary is based in France and Griffiths are from Kansas, United States. Here is what he said about the remote work disadvantage in his case,

Working remotely for a distributed company has a lot of benefits, but it can also come with a number of potential disadvantages. As an independent contractor based in France, the Griffiths were able to  take advantage of me quite easily, then ignore me. I believe that if we worked together in a traditional office, where they would have to talk to me face-to-face, this would have been less likely to occur.

Unofficial Update from Gary

On September 13, Gary posted another update saying that Clay Griffiths has started replying to tickets. He said that the older ticket may not get answered but one can resubmit the tickets using HT dashboard and may get a reply soon. There are more than 150 tickets left unanswered and those were raised between July 1 to July 15. So with the frequency of 10 tickets per day, it will be more than 500 tickets in just 2 months time.

grant-headway-themes-tickets

Gary shared a screenshot from Slack discussion where Grant said that Clay is answering tickets but will not answer backlogs. Even the slack discussion happened around July 15, Clay started replying tickets in September. That means, most probably you will not receive answers for tickets raised till end of August. That’s why it is recommended to submit the ticket again from Headway Themes dashboard.

Official Update from Griffiths

Finally Grant Griffiths and Clay Griffiths has released an official statement explaining the situation. According to their statement, Headway Theme 4.0 will become beta and a new 4.0 will release soon. They are also going to add first level support to resolve raised issues and tickets.

There has been an absence in support for Headway for too long. We take full responsibility for this. We’ve refocused our efforts to get to as many support inquiries as we can each day in light of the recent issues. If your question or issue has not been answered, please resubmit your ticket and we will work hard to get to you as fast as we can. We will also be adding a first level of support service to make sure your issues are dealt with in a timely manner.

About Headway Themes 4.0 Release

In addition, we are moving 4.0 back to a beta status and will continue to provide and support 3.8.8 as the current public version. We should have done this sooner. However sometimes it is hard to admit there are issues with something you have worked hard on to produce. It is still our belief 4.0 is the future..

The most important thing highlighted in the statement was about financial difficulties of the company. Griffiths said that the company is going through a difficult time and because of a tough competition in drag and drop builder market, it has happened. They were not prepared for such scenario and there were no backup plan from their side.

First and foremost, yes there has been some difficulties financially for the company. Frankly, difficulties we were not prepared for and not expecting. The WordPress theme market is very busy right now. Competition is heavy. Especially in the drag and drop realm. However, we still feel Headway is the best and the original WordPress drag and drop theme builder on the market. It is our promise we will do everything in our power to bring it back to the front and 4.0 will help us do just that. And we hope to do so with your continued support.

At multiple occasions, Clay tried to explain that Pressmatic is not related to Headway Themes and there should not be any confusion,

Damage Already done?

As Griffiths have released the official statement now, do you think it’s too late? I think Yes. It takes so much time, money and effort to build a good image about the company or product. Negative words about your product may ruin the complete business. Keeping customers and employee in dark for so many days that they start talking about the situation publicly is definitely the worst thing for any company. Even if they start replying to all tickets and start hiring new support staffs, many people will remember Headway Themes for this incident. As Griffiths said in the statement, there is a huge competition in Drag and Drop Layout builder and even with Divi 3.0 release, the competition became more tough, people are having choices.

Here are few recent tweets after the official update from Griffiths,

Any Suggestion?

If Griffiths can try to get back their Support Guru Gary on board again, he will receive good word of mouth from his side. Also resolve all the backlog tickets ASAP and even extend existing customer’s license for 1 year without any extra charges or probably by giving them Pressmatic license free for one year. That’s how you can try to win your existing customers. In the meantime, fix the issues related to Headway Themes and provide best possible support for any issue.

What to Learn from Headway Themes Crisis

Here are few important lessons that a WordPress agency or companies in general may learn from all the activities of Headway Themes crisis.

  • Never keep you customers uninformed.
  • Be transparent with your employees about the company’s situation and keep them informed too.
  • Building trust is very important and it is true with employer and employee relation too.
  • Always keep a tab on market situation and keep adding things in your product to make it one step ahead of the competition.
  • Do not Start new thing unless you fix the previous one.

Well, we wish that Griffiths will fix the situation in a better way and convert their unhappy customers into happy customers soon. We will keep updating this article, so stay tuned.

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Dress up WooCommerce Store with Storefront Powerpack Extension

Setting up a shop or eCommerce store using WordPress is a work of a day or two with the feature rich and powerful WooCommerce WordPress Plugin, most of the time needed to understand how to customize the options of the plugin and selecting appropriate WooCommerce compatible theme.

To start with your store, Storefront is a free theme which is provided by the same team which works on WooCommerce. It is fast, clutter free, responsive, flexible and standard WordPress theme deeply integrated with the WooCommerce plugin. But when anybody chooses a WordPress theme, it has certain limited looks. On the contrary every store has different requirements and they need to show their products and all the statistics in their own personalized way, depending on layout, typography and color choices which are a perfect suit for their store…like they say different strokes for different folks! This could be done by entirely picking up a new WooCommerce compatible theme or building a child theme of Storefront or by editing the Storefront theme (bad practice, as it refrains you from all future updates of the theme!) or the best way now would be using Powerpack extension for Storefront!

WooCommerce has launched a new extension for their flagship WooCommerce theme i.e. Storefront and named that extension as Storefront Powerpack. As the name suggests, this extension provides customization options for each and every element of the Storefront theme, controlling its colors, fonts, header, menus, cart layout, checkout page layout, shop layout, single product page layout etc without writing a single line of code and without any child theme.

Why Powerpack? Powerpack Extension for Storefront WooCommerce theme

Though Storefront and WooCommerce have capability to build a fully functional store, the team has kept both of them simple, clean and standard. They have mentioned in their release note for Powerpack that they didn’t want to clutter their base theme and plugin with unnecessary options which may not be required by most of the users. The users should be able to opt-in for these extra features as they need and when they need, terming the opt-ins as extensions.

These are the days when the commercial market is flooded with hundreds and thousands of WooCommerce powered themes, offering a lot many options to the store creators. The WooTeam would definitely have given a deep thought on how to keep Storefront still attractive in such a market, still keeping their theme light, neat and with minimal code as well they would have sensed an emerging market of people setting up their WordPress and WooCommerce sites all by themselves, not wanting to hire some developer to customize the store’s look or add certain features. I am sure the Storefront Powerpack extension would have been released by the WooTeam studying the current market and user needs and fitting it in the WooPhilosophy!

Storefront is lean-n-clean, a beautiful work from Woo
Plug-in Powerpack, and now…it is powerful too!

Overview of options offered by Powerpack

 

I would summarize the Powerpack options that you can use on Appearance => Customizer as follows:

  1.  Hover on any element of the site in Theme Preview and change its font (Google Fonts), size, color, style, line height, letter spacing, margin, padding, border and background.
  2. Select to show the site either full width or default width of Storefront theme.
  3. Opt for distraction-free checkout, hiding all the other site sections on checkout page or you can go for two steps checkout etc.
  4. Customize the looks for checkout page i.e. where to place the form asking the customer to input her details and where to show the order.
  5. Customize the header section as well you can opt whether to show the footer bar on handheld devices or not.
  6. Choose to use Homepage template for your store, you can customize to show or hide each and every section along with the page content and title. You can choose how many columns to display for each section and items to display overall.
  7. Change the color and background of the WooCommerce informational messages
  8. You can opt to show the product gallery on single product page or not, the layout of the gallery and the product description as well as whether to display the product tabs, related products, product meta and product description or not .
  9. Choose the layout of the shop, either default or full width, how many products to show per page, number of columns to display and whether to show the product title and other data left aligned or right aligned or in center. You can also select which all features to show or hide on the shop archive page e.g. show or hide product sorting, rating, product image etc
  10. You can also choose to show the products infinitely when user reaches the bottom of shop or show the pagination.

Thus, the Powerpack extension gives you power to customize and personalize the look of your Storefront powered WooCommerce site without touching a single line of code, or writing a single line of CSS. The WooCommerce team has definitely understood the need of time i.e. their users want to personalize their stores as per their products, their vision, their brand design and their targeted customers. They loved Storefront already, but had to shift to other commercial options in order to get desired layout and options.

With Powerpack, WooCommerce team has bestowed the unlimited power of personalizing their stores on their beloved users, while retaining the lean, to-the-point and clean philosophy behind Storefront and WooCommerce!

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Divi 3.0 with Front-end Visual Editor Coming on Sep 7

Divi 3.0

Divi is the most successful WordPress theme of Elegant Themes Club and the team is working to make it even better. Divi 3.0 is scheduled to release on September 7, 2016 (Yes, the date conflicts with iPhone 7 launch by Apple) with new features. Before the release of this version, Elegant Themes team started a 100 days Divi Marathon before the release of Divi 3.0 where the team is releasing some helpful resources such as Divi extensions and libraries to help the Divi community. This marathon will run till September 7, the release date of Divi 3.0.

Major Features expected  in Divi 3.0

  • Front-end Visual Editor inside Divi Builder
  • Better UI and More Libraries
  • Cool Ready Extensions to scale Divi

Frontend Editor inside Divi Builder

divi_front_edn_editor

Nick Roach, the founder of Elegant Themes, and his team is working very hard on making Divi Builder the best visual editor for WordPress. To do that, Divi 3.0 will come with the next level of Divi Builder where users will get front-end editing option to build a page or complete website without opening the back-end editor. Frontend editor of Divi Builder will have fast response time as well as better UI. It is being build using React and Flux Javascripts, the same technologies used to develop Calypso by WordPress.com team. It is said that the front side UI will be similar to the back-end editor of Divi Builder so that users will not having much difficulty in understanding the operations.

In a recent article, Divi team published a sneak peek of the new Divi Builder where one can see how easy it is to change font or add content on front-end.

Better UI and More Libraries

Divi comes with loaded libraries which are nothing but a pre-designed layouts. For example, if you are planning to make a product launch website, you can pick such design from the library and start editing the same. The library layout will have all the sections already added, you can go and edit the sections by adding or removing one. With Divi 3.0, it is expected that we will get more ready designs under the library option and also a complete package for different categories like construction sites, photography sites, corporate sites, creative agency sites etc.

Ready Extensions

With Divi Marathon, the team has already started releasing Divi extensions to make Divi even better. For example, the login screen customization can be done with the Divi Login extension which allows you to put your own logo on the login page. With Divi 3.0, we can have a separate page where premium customers can download the ready extensions without paying any extra charges.

Am I eligible for Divi 3.0 upgrade?

Well, if you have an active subscription of Elegant Themes membership, you will be eligible for the upgrade without paying any extra charges. Put the license key in Divi setting page and the theme will be auto updated from the dashboard. If you don’t have Divi or Elegant Themes membership yet, I strongly recommend to purchase the membership using this link.

Will the ET Membership pricing change after Divi 3.0 release?

As per this comment from Nick himself, it seems that the pricing will remain same even after Divi 3.0 release. Here is his comment.

nick_roach

We wont be increasing our prices any time soon. We have no plans to increase our prices at all.

Will Divi 3.0 change the way we build WordPress websites? Let’s wait till September 7 to see what all comes with this mega release by Elegant Themes.

Get Divi Now at 10% Discount