Common On-Site Search Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Making sure that your search functions are working for your users instead of against them is absolutely crucial. Here's a list of the most common search mistakes so that you can keep your website's user experience in check!

Your website’s search function could be damaging your conversion rates. And if it’s not acting as a bane to your conversion rates, it could be doing something almost as bad: not helping them either. On-site search, if well optimized and put in the frame of increasing user experience, can greatly enhance the usability and enjoyment of your site.

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20 WordPress Core Functions That Don’t Scale and How to Work Around Them

An interesting list including some very commonly used functions in Wordpress. Some of the comments and advice is specific to Wordpress.com VIP hosting, but it's a useful reference nonetheless.

WordPress comes with a set of core functions that are globally accessible. Most theme and plugin developers rely on these function to extend the functionality of the WordPress framework. There are however a collection of functions that are not necessarily fast when used repeatedly, in other words, they do not scale. Fortunately, Automattic, the company behind the paid VIP WordPress service, has released a set of functions that do not scale properly because they are not cached and possible workarounds around those functions.

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When You Should (and Shouldn’t) Use a WordPress Plugin

Proper testing and risk evaluation are key when deciding whether or not to introduce a plugin into your WordPress site.

The key to effective use of plugins is to deploy them only from properly vetted sources, and only when necessary. Plugins should solve a specific problem or provide an essential function. They should not indulge our vanity or our desire for a “shiny new object”. In this post, let’s get specific and discuss a decision-making framework for a specific type of plugin that can be applied across many different plugins. We’ll focus on a type of plugin that we see often, and whether it’s needed or not — plugins for Google Analytics.

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WordPress 4.8 “Evans”

Wordpress 4.8 was released a few days ago. As they've said themselves many of the updates seem fairly minor, but there are some significant improvements to a number of areas. The new option in widgets is certainly one we'll be diving into a bit deeper - we've avoided using widgets in the past due to their inflexibility and lack of user-friendliness, so we're keen to see whether this update means they should find their place back in our toolbox. If you subscribe to our Managed Maintenance service we'll be looking at updating Wordpress to 4.8 for you early in July.

Though some updates seem minor, they’ve been built by hundreds of contributors with you in mind. Get ready for new features you’ll welcome like an old friend: link improvements, three new media widgets covering images, audio, and video, an updated text widget that supports visual editing, and an upgraded news section in your dashboard which brings in nearby and upcoming WordPress events.

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How to Become a Consultant For Your Clients

Providing your clients with the right guidance needed to protect them from themselves and their mistakes can be just what they need to achieve their goals. Sometimes a bit of proactive thinking is what can make difference between being a technician and being a consultant.

“Can you make this small change to our website?” How many times have you heard that from a client or some variation and thought, “if they only knew what it took to make that ‘small change’ to their site” or “I wish they could understand the impact of doing what they’re asking”? Probably more times than you’d care to count. I find most of us will fit into one of two roles when we’re asked by clients to make changes or updates – a technician or a consultant.

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What if companies interviewed translators the way they interview coders?

A humorous take on the approach that far too many companies take when interviewing software developers.

Welcome to the Tower of Babel. We require you to speak all languages known by the humankind. By the way, how do you feel about doing translations for free over the weekend?

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15 Simple Productivity Tips for Freelancer Designers

Although this article targets Freelance Designers, I believe that these practices could be applied to anyone and still be extremely valuable. Check it out!

The final tip is to START NOW. Don’t start later or tomorrow, start now! Think of this, people who start ahead of you will be more successful before you even take the first step.Do you want to be left out? No? Then start now. If you let another day pass doing nothing, you’re worse than that dying lady in the hospital bed. You need to act, react and proact.

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!important CSS Declarations: How and When to Use Them

The !important CSS declaration is extremely powerful but like they say, with great power comes great responsibility! Check out this article to find out when you should and shouldn't be using !important.

!important declarations are best reserved for special needs and users who want to make web content more accessible by easily overriding default user agent or author stylesheets. So you should do your best to give your CSS proper forethought and avoid using !important wherever possible. Even in many of the uses described above, the inclusion of !important is not always necessary.

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What is PHP 7 and How to Start Using it With WordPress?

Not sure what php 7 is and why it's important? - Check out this article to find out!

PHP 7 is one of the most significant updates in the history of a server-side software that powers more than 82% of the internet, and, in this guide, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of using it with WordPress.

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On Writing Clever Code with Arrays in WordPress

This is something that we've always tried to embrace here at Brown Box, because there are always times when the developer who wrote the code isn't the one who later needs to update or maintain it. And especially in cases where that latter developer may not have quite as much experience as the original developer, having clear, commented code makes a huge difference.

Ultimately, aim to write code however it is you want to write but write with another developer in mind: If you’ve ever complained about a piece of code being tough to decipher at first glance, odds are it was poorly written or it was an attempt to be clever. So don’t be that guy or girl who’s passing the buck to the next developer.

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Website Security – Simple Steps to Take

A very handy list of some simple things you can do to protect your website. We'd add to that list using security plugins for Wordpress such as Sucuri and Wordfence.

You know you want to be secure, so you start to check out this weird security thing. Brute force? You can handle that; good passwords, limit login attempts, maybe even two factor authentication. Then you suddenly become aware of cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injection (SQLi), cross-site request forgery (CSRF), remote code execution (RCE), and potentially so many more that you’re simply terrified. You begin to buy into “ignorance is bliss”. But website security doesn’t have to be scary.

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Save time, not money

Sometimes spending money can provide you with the opportunity to free up your time and allow you to spend it in places that will return a stronger investment. This article is a great example of this concept in action!

We humans are inherently flawed when it comes to money. If it’s a new iPhone or a pair of sunglasses, we’ll dish out $500 in a heartbeat. But if you ask $40 for a year of managed WordPress hosting, a lot of people will look at you like you’ve just insulted their grandma’s crochet skills. WordPress is fantastic because you can find so much for free, but at the same time it spoiled us. We expect fully functional themes and plugins to be free, with stellar support that has nothing better to do than to solve our every inane issue.

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Mobile First Design: Why It’s Great and Why It Sucks

Brown Box have long been proponents of mobile-first development, and we are still strongly committed to it - but it's not all sunshine and roses, especially for the developers!

More than ever before the web is something that we carry in our pockets, not something that merely hangs out near our desk or even in our homes. This is a global trend that will only continue to see growth in the coming years. Are you ready for this? Does your professional skill set include web development for all important platforms or just the desktop arena?

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Got 15 Minutes And Want To Learn Git?

Interested in learning Git? This resource will help set you on your path... It's time to Git Familiar!

Git allows groups of people to work on the same documents (often code) at the same time, and without stepping on each other's toes. It's a distributed version control system.

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A Guide to Successful Design Handoffs

Design handoffs are the connection between your designers and your developers so it's obvious that they are critical to the project's success. This article highlights some of the aspects you'll want to take into consideration when creating design handoffs.

With this premise, I’d like to share some thoughts on how designers can adopt a few techniques to ease our & our colleagues’ work in the execution phase with the help of a well rounded & thorough design handoff —

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Common Misconceptions About Web Design & Development

Businesses are more and more becoming more dependent on an online presence, so the pressure to have a successful website is very high. However, some entrepreneurs have misguided notions about how web design and development should work. This post explores some common beliefs among non-tech-savvy businesspeople about web design. It’ll address aspects like micro-managing instead of trusting your developer and assuming that hiring a web developer will make a website viral. It’ll also discuss how to address these misconceptions.

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An Introduction To Building And Sending HTML Email For Web Developers

Ever wondered what's involved in actually creating and sending your email newsletters or conversion series? This self-described "high-level overview" will give you some idea of the incredible complexities that have to be considered.

HTML email: Two words that, when combined, brings tears to a developer’s eyes. If you’re a web developer, it’s inevitable that coding an email will be a task that gets dropped in your lap at some time in your career, whether you like it or not.

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WordPress Plugins For Development

We're always on the lookout for tools that will help us build better sites more efficiently. Most of the plugins on this list are ones we use at least some of the time, but there are a couple of new ones we'll be checking out!

...these are the plugins I run in every local installation of WordPress when I’m working on a project

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