The 1 Reason I am Staying with ManageWP

There is no question about it. After testing MainWP for several months, we are sticking with ManageWP for our professional WordPress management solution. Maybe it is the learning curve, but I highly doubt it. I just like the polish that comes with ManageWP over the raw bones approach of MainWP.

ManageWP Screen Capture
ManageWP makes it easy to get a macro view of all my sites

It is not that it doesn’t work, but it is just much easier to get a full overview of what needs my attention in ManageWP. Even with their forthcoming new design (titled Orion), which I will have to spend some hours to learn the nuances of, I still prefer the attention to detail and the overall simplicity. ManageWP makes it much easier to get an overview of my sites that need updates (or which plugins or themes need updates) from a macro view of 50+ website more efficiently than MainWP does for the 5 that I was testing.

 

MainWP Screen Capture
MainWP requires a few more clicks to complete similar tasks and takes longer.

So what is the #1 reason that I am going to continue to use ManageWP? Efficiency and simplicity of the interface. I can get more work completed faster and that is the most important distinguishing factor between the two programs.

Feel free to take ManageWP for a test drive and use my affiliate link. I do not recommend software that I do not believe in.

Testing out MainWP

We have been managing multiple WordPress websites for many years now. We have tried different tools over the years and new ones continue to evolve {insert list of tools here}. However we have settled on ManageWP for it was one of the first professional tools to offer a full suite of functions to handle everything needed for maintenance and updates of multiple WordPress installations across various hosting platforms.

I first heard of MainWP at a local WordCamp (I believe they were sponsors at WordCamp Orlando 2015). Today I am going to take their platform for a test run. All of the WordPress management services claim to do everything you need, but some of them do not do it correctly while some do not even work at all. I do recall going through growing pains with ManageWP while they could not get the sync to work correctly with Godaddy servers for a few weeks, but that was several years ago and has been corrected ever since.

So here we go with MainWP.

A few minutes on their website it was evident that the install would be simple and setup very similar to that of ManageWP. Although ManageWP is a hosted solution and MainWP would require us to use our own WordPress installation to host the dashboard plugin.

I created a new WordPress installation on WPengine (my favorite hosting platform) and was up and running in a few minutes with a clean install. I then downloaded the MainWP Dashboard plugin from the WordPress repository and activated it. From there I was guided through some basic settings and prompted to add my first site.

MainWP Plugins
A quick search for MainWP brought up the necessary plugins

To add my first site, I choose a test site that I periodically use as a sandbox. I logged into the dashboard (through ManageWP, as I always have the past several years) and installed the MainWP Child plugin. Once activated, I went back to my Dashboard and added the new site. You are prompted to do this quickly as it does pose a slight security hole if you leave the plugin activated and not connected. But this is the same process as ManageWP and works just fine. Once connected I could see everything that I needed in my dashboard.

Stay tuned for my next post as I go through the MainWP Dashboard…

Getting Started with Heat Maps

So I finally decided to try using heat maps to gain some insights into my clients website conversions (and some of my own).

For those that don’t know, Heat Maps are visual representations of data points on a matrix. In terms of a website these are generally used in mapping movements of a users eye (which is complex and expensive to implement) or more recently movements and clicks of a mouse or scroll of a page. Using an overlay on top of a web page, a heat map can show the “hot spots” where users are actually clicking on the page (whether there is a link there or not). Heat maps are a fantastic tool to assist with conversion rate optimization and can assist in making educated design decisions based on real data.

Heat maps have intrigued me for some time and I have been skeptical of their usefulness. But over the past few years they have become more advanced & easier to use and at the same time, the industry standard, Google Analytics, has become more and more complex.

I have decided to start my trial of crazyegg.com today and setup several sites with a snapshot.

Sign up was a breeze and since I am using WordPress on my websites, I just installed the crazyegg plugin and was up and running in less than 30 minutes with several websites homepage’s being tracked.

Now we just have to wait and see what the data will bring over the next 30 days.

Testing the new updates from WordPress 3.9 “Smith”

I just updated to the latest version of WordPress v3.9, titled “Smith”, in honor of jazz organist¬†Jimmy Smith.

It seems from the notes on the WordPress.org site that the majority of visual updates (those most visible to users and non-developers) are focused on the visual editor and the media gallery.

The editor is faster, more accessible and supposedly even allows you to paste directly from Word without having to strip and remove formatting. (We will test this later).

In the meantime. Lets check out the new image editor by adding some photos to our post and seeing how the cool new image editing functions work, as well as the new image gallery options.

Bass GuitarWell that was pretty easy. I was able to add a new photo, resize, crop and rotate all within the editor. Not sure if I would have preferred Photoshop or not, but for those without the resource or the knowledge, it definitely helps to make quick image edits right within your WordPress site than having to use some other program that you are unfamiliar with.

Next post I will have to try and setup a gallery….

 

The Psychology of Color in Web Design

This past January I attended my first industry conference of the year (NMX 2014). While there were many great takeaways from the weekend event (more on that later), I wanted to make sure and not forget certain key points. I used a combination of browser tabs, Evernote, Twitter, Facebook, and even umm… pen and paper.

So now, as weeks have gone by and I still have tabs open in my browser on my laptop because I want to read an article or not lose a reference, I am finally documenting one of the posts referenced by an excellent presentation by Michael Hyatt: 5 Elements of a Personal Brand

He discussed the use of color and psychology and referenced an excellent article by vandelaydesign.com which includes usage of color in web design. While I do not necessarily adhere to all of the ideas presented in this article and will easily find fault in some of them, I still consider the article excellent. It is excellent because it is written and I can reference it, for better or worse.

I cannot stress how many times we discuss colors with clients and I take it for granted that they will understand the influence of one color vs. another or a contrast or different effect.

This article provides a simple reference point for me and anyone else to jump into the conversation. No need to go through a formal dissertation on color theory, just read a short blog post and move forward.

After this, if we want to continue to discuss color, we can talk all day, but at least we have some idea that we are speaking the same language.