Category Archives: Techy Love

Building A Boutique WordPress Admin Experience

When you decide to pull the trigger on a new website design, you’re often heavily, if not exclusively, focused on how it’s going to look and behave on the front-end. You’re assured by your chosen design agency that they use a world-class content management system (CMS), which will give you a smooth back-end admin experience. Cool, you think, I’m set. And, in some cases, you’d be right.

Here at Solamar, we use the WordPress CMS for all of our sites and for good reason. It is about as easy for clients to use as it gets. But that doesn’t mean that it’s perfect out of the box. It will handle all of your basic CMS tasks just fine, but it’s only as good as the theme you lay on top of it, and you can make that theme as more or less customizable as you like.

A website should be able to grow and adapt with you, and that means the more updatable and alterable the theme is after it is delivered to the client, the better (without overdoing it). For instance, your new site has a beautiful large hero image across the top of the home page, but a year in you decide to switch your brand up and need to change it. If it’s hard-coded into theme, you’re out of luck unless you know how to code or want to purchase more time from your agency. It would be much better if a custom interface was created that allowed you to use the built-in WordPress media library to swap out the image yourself.

In order to design and build sites with admin interfaces that are just as tailored to the client as the front-end design is, here are a few things we do. Continue reading

What Meltdown and Spectre Mean For You

If you’ve been paying attention to the news over the last week or so, you’ve probably noticed a lot of hoopla about two new security vulnerabilities that affect almost every computer on the planet. Terrifyingly named Meltdown and Spectre, the two affect every processor chip made since 1995. That means your phone, the server your website lives on, the cloud computers you use to store your data, the old laptop you’re using for a media server, they are all affected.

Since these vulnerabilities involve hardware issues and not software ones, the solution has been much more difficult to implement and large swaths of the tech community have been secretly involved in trying to come up with patches over the last few months since Google researchers (and others) first privately disclosed them.

But solutions have been created, and many of them are beginning to roll out this week. So what does this mean for you? Stick around and we’ll go through it. Continue reading

The Latest & Greatest — WordPress 4.9 “Tipton”

One of the great things about WordPress is that it is constantly in development, and each new release brings a slew of new features and updates that make using our favorite CMS even more enjoyable. That’s why, as each new “named” release becomes available, we’re going to take some time here to go through the new bells and whistles for you.

If you have an existing WordPress site, you won’t see these new items automatically, you’ll need to upgrade your WordPress installation to 4.9 in order to see them. However, you shouldn’t update your install without backing up your entire site first and then double-checking everything is still working afterwards. If that isn’t something you are comfortable with, DON’T update. Instead, get a team with WordPress experience, like Solamar, to do it for you.

That said, we still want you to know what the new hotness is, so you’re up-to-date on what WordPress is capable of. So without further ado, here’s the good stuff that was added in WordPress 4.9 “Tipton”, named for jazz musician and band leader Billy Tipton. Continue reading

The MailChimp Opt-In Reversal and You

Welp, go figure. Just a few months after we wrote about embracing the double opt-in for email lists after switching to MailChimp, they’ve done an about-face on their opt-in policy and made all of their forms single opt-in by default.

Looking at the reaction from the MailChimp community, it seems to be a controversial move, especially since MailChimp has spent years trying to convince people that double opt-in is the one true way. Personally, I’m for it. While I believe that double opt-in is still a much more secure way of doing things, and leads to higher-quality leads, I also think having a choice to do things the way you want is better. There are certainly instances where a single opt-in, which requires no more input from the user once they enter their information the first time, leads to a much smoother user experience.

However, rather than let you make that choice on your own time, MailChimp has decided to convert all of its forms to the single opt-in unless you go in and tell it not to. They started this process early last week, but it wasn’t live for everyone until last Friday. If you’ve been using double opt-in on any of your Mailchimp forms, and you don’t want them to become single opt-in, you’ll need to take action to make sure they continue to operate as intended. Stick around, and I’ll walk you through it. Continue reading

What’s Involved in Starting a Podcast?

So you want to start a podcast, eh? Well, good on you! We wrote earlier this year about how podcasts can help spice up your content, and since then podcasts have shown no sign of slowing down in popularity.

The problem is, though lots of people are ready to jump on the podcast bandwagon, not everyone knows what is entailed in doing so, at least in terms of producing a professional quality podcast that has a chance to succeed in a crowded marketplace.

The fact is, anyone can podcast! It involves a relatively small financial commitment, and technology that can be learned with a little bit of elbow grease and a basic understanding of computers and the internet. So let’s dig into what’s involved in starting a podcast, and by the end, you should have pretty good idea of what’s involved and whether it’s for you. Continue reading

Why We Switched Our Payments to Stripe

Solamar had been using the same clunky system to handle our payment processing for a loooooooong time now, which involved an imperfect marriage between powerpay.biz and auth.net. It was the system we set up at the very beginning, back when we first launched this ol’ ship called Solamar, and since it worked and we were grandfathered into plans that had no limits there wasn’t a very compelling reason to switch…at least for a while.

We’d been hearing a LOT of things about Stripe, a powerful, feature-rich yet easy-to-use payment processor that has been making a lot of waves in the media lately. The more we looked at the modern environment and functionality they were offering, especially compared to what we were already using, making the switch seemed more and more attractive.

We finally decided to take the plunge when we realized that if we switched to Stripe, we could consolidate our payment services from two down to one, since Stripe handles all of the things we used to use both powerpay.biz and auth.net for. It saves us all the time we used to have to spend balancing those two systems, and that was an offer too good to pass up.

Still a little worried, we signed up for Stripe but left our accounts at the legacy services open, just in case. In the proceeding months, we discovered that Stripe is, in the words of our Founder and CEO Chelsea Berler, “A-FREAKIN-MAZING!” It’s user-interface is super friendly, and yet it can handle almost anything we throw at it. So last month, we closed our powerpay.biz and auth.net accounts completely, and exclusively use Stripe.

Stick around, and I’ll give you some details on Stripe and what it can do. Continue reading

What’s New in the Google Calendar Redesign

A little over a week ago, Google rolled out a long-overdue update to it’s venerable yet still best-of-class online calendar. It’s a huge step forward for the service in both design and functionality.

Whether you have been using a third-party calendar integrated with Google Calendar, have moved away from the service entirely or are still diligently using their older service, you owe it to yourself to take a gander at Google Calendar’s new feature-set and design.

So what’s new? Stick around and I’ll give you the rundown. Continue reading