User-Centered Design Is Everyone’s Responsibility: A Launch Checklist

When nearing the end of a project,  having creating a strong launch User-Centred check-list is a great way to ensure your entire team is able to jump in and help make the launch phase as smooth as possible

I cannot count how many large-scale projects my team has been a part of where we’re scrambling last-minute to take care of some seemingly small but integral task necessary for launch. I’ve talked to others in the web design and marketing industry; my team is not alone in this launch frenzy. But does that make this odd ritual okay or even acceptable?

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Tips & Resources for Using WooCommerce Hooks

Here are some resources and tips to get you started with working with WooCommerce Hooks!

WooCommerce has proven itself to be a popular and formidable WordPress e-Commerce plugin. Its biggest strength is the fact that it can be customized in so many ways. There are a massive amount of free and paid extensions that can do everything from integrating third-party services all the way to allowing for complex products and orders. The following are some basic examples of hooks that will demonstrate just a tiny bit of what they’re capable of. Then we’ll share some excellent resources where you can find useful code snippets and advice.

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How debugging can make you a better developer

I don't think I've ever met a developer who enjoyed debugging code - especially someone else's code! But this article makes a very strong case for how important debugging is to improving your programming skills.

Whether you’re a WordPress developer or not, you’re always looking for ways to improve yourself. That’s the nature of our profession. We’re always looking for ways to improve ourselves. That said, it’s not uncommon for developers to hate debugging. They’ll get a bug report and cry in exasperation, “I want to build stuff! Not fix bugs!” But that’s not the right attitude to have towards bugs and debugging in general.

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Creating a Custom Table with PHP in WordPress

A nice introduction to custom database tables in Wordpress - what to consider before creating them, and how to use the tools provided by Wordpress to do so.

Have you ever wondered what it takes to create a custom table in WordPress or why you would ever want or need to? WordPress comes with many different ways to store data out-of-the-box. Luckily for us, WordPress is flexible enough that we aren’t forced to shoehorn our every need into the ready-made solutions that come with it.

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Goodnight Firebug

As for many other developers, Firebug has for a long time been one of the indispensible tools I use constantly. It's going to take some time to get used to not having it around. *sniff*

Firebug was the first browser-based tool that allowed developers to easily inspect HTML and debug JS. It was discontinued as a separate add-on and merged into Firefox DevTools in 2016 where it will live on.

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Every shortcut for designers in one place 🚀

Keeping track of all the different shortcuts across each of the tools and applications that designers use can be a mess! Here's a site that collates all the shortcuts from the various programs and organises them in a way that is easy to read and memorise. Check it Out! Alternatively, many of the programs let you customise each of the shortcuts to you liking. Personally I've customised the shortcuts of each of my adobe programs which has resulted in one of the best boosts to my workflow as a designer.

In their shoes: developers understanding designers

One of the best things about our team is our open office, where we get to collaborate between our designers and developers from the very conception of every project

Thanks to the power of collaboration, developers can understand better the reasoning behind certain design decisions, while designers can have a better understanding of how things work.

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Beginner’s guide to regular expressions

This is a long article, but it does a great job of covering all the basics (and beyond) of regular expressions. If you are serious about programming you are going to need to be comfortable working with at least simple regular expressions, and you could do a lot worse than starting here.

No programming concept frightens programmers more than regular expressions. For a lot of us, seeing code with regular expressions in it can bring a sense of dread and anxiety. We often have no idea what’s going on or how a regular expression does what it does.

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Chrome Version 62 to Show Security Warnings on HTTP Pages Starting in October 2017

Eventually, Google plans on labelling all HTTP pages as non-secure, with the intention to change the HTTP security indicator to the red triangle that is currently being used for broken websites with HTTPS. This will likely be a major deterrent for your users if you haven't made the jump to HTTPS.

Google Search Console has started sending out notices to sites that have not yet migrated to HTTPS. Chrome 61 is now in beta and version 62 is on track to begin marking HTTP pages as “NOT SECURE” beginning in October. It will show the warning if it detects any forms on the page that transmit passwords, credit cards, or any text input fields that the browser deems are in need of HTTPS protection. All HTTP pages in incognito mode will trigger the warning.

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The End of 80/20 and the Future of WordPress

Wordpress' development direction - as with most open source software - has long been driven by those doing the development, rather than the (much more numerous) end users who generally don't have the skills necessary to contribute code. This article suggests a radical change to this approach - but even if accepted, it's not something that can change overnight.

The 80/20 principle as applied in the context of current WordPress development is an ideal without a tether to reality. However much we say we develop the application for 80% of users, the reality is we know almost nothing about 99% of WordPress users. That means at best the rule is without consequence, at worst it is doing harm. The big question is how do we change our philosophy to solve this issue?

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The Most Powerful 5-Word Syllabus You Need To Master For Hiring Remote WordPress Developers

I found this article really interesting because when we're working on a project we often have many of these same conversations with clients. It's made me sit back and think about how we can better anticipate these moments and how we can communicate these concepts more clearly earlier in the process to try and avoid many of the misunderstandings that can occur.

Project scope, scope creep, gold plating, feature creep, scope discovery. What do they mean? The first time I hired a developer to work on my personal website, I had never have heard of them and had no idea these words were so important when working with an outsourced WordPress developer.

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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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Over the long history of Brown Box Digital, we have worked closely with AlphaSys on many occasions. We’re thrilled that by combining our individual expertise in development and design we’ll be able to serve our partners and clients in a whole new and improved way.

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