15 Apr 2024

feedWordPress Planet

WordPress.org blog: How WordPress Is Creating a Faster Web

Today, WordPress powers more than 40% of the web. That's a massive reach-one that comes with a similarly large responsibility. With so many people using the CMS, the WordPress community should always consider strategies for improving the visitor experience. This is where website performance plays a crucial role.

How fast a web page loads, how quickly a page reacts when you click a button, or how smoothly it scrolls can all significantly impact the end-user experience. A more performant site can lead to higher reader engagement and more conversions. Thankfully, over the past few years, the WordPress project has made major performance improvements across the board for the core platform, plugins, and themes.

Many enhancements are available out of the box, with no configuration required. They improve the website frontend's performance-the part visitors see-and various parts of the administrative experience, such as the editor.

Here's a partial list of performance upgrades from the past year:

In addition to the Core enhancements listed above, the WordPress project continues to work on several efforts that indirectly benefit the ecosystem's performance.

For instance, WordPress Core leverages automated tooling for continuously monitoring its performance, covering every product update. This helps measure new features' performance improvements and enables contributors to detect potential performance problems during the development of a new feature or release so any issues can be proactively addressed long before end users are affected. A project is currently underway to make the same tooling used by WordPress Core developers available to plugin and theme authors as well.

Additionally, the new WordPress plugin checker allows checking any plugin for performance best practices, among other requirements and recommendations. The plugin checker should lead to more performance awareness in plugin authors and, eventually, faster plugins. If you develop plugins, consider integrating this tool into your development and testing workflow.

Last but not least, WordPress 6.5 introduced the Interactivity API, which is a technical foundation that facilitates more performant user interactions. This new infrastructure drastically simplifies the implementation of interactive website features and can even centrally control certain aspects of performance, keeping multiple independent plugins operating efficiently.

These performance updates result from a collaborative effort from all corners of the community, including the WordPress Performance Team. This team, founded in 2021, underscores the WordPress project's commitment to performance. And the results are substantial: Compared to a year ago, 8% more WordPress sites deliver good load time performance at scale-significantly better than the overall web's 5.5% load time improvement. The web is getting more performant, and WordPress is leading the way.

WordPress contributors are determined to continue this trend by working on further performance iterations. Whether you're a WordPress end user, administrator, site builder, or developer, you can contribute to this effort. Anyone can test the performance features before being released in Core through individual feature plugins. Each feature can be tested via the Performance Lab plugin, so please try them! Testing features early helps the team assess their impact and collect valuable feedback.

Are you eager for more WordPress performance news and updates? Then check out the 2024 performance roadmap. Thanks to the entire community for your hard work. Not only does it ensure WordPress' continued improvement and growth, but it benefits the entire open web.

Thank you to @annezazu @clarkeemily @tweetythierry @swissspidy @westonruter @adamsilverstein @joemcgill for content review and @provenself @dansoschin for editorial review.

15 Apr 2024 2:00pm GMT

WordPress.org blog: WP Briefing: Episode 77: Let’s Talk About Data Liberation

Explore the WordPress Data Liberation project in this exclusive behind-the-scenes episode discussing WordPress migrations. Joining us is WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy, along with special guest and sponsored contributor Jordan Gillman. Together, they'll look at how the project is expanding opportunities to benefit from the freedom and flexibility WordPress offers. Don't miss this enlightening discussion!

Credits

Host: Josepha Haden Chomphosy
Guest: Jordan Gillman
Editor: Dustin Hartzler
Logo: Javier Arce
Production: Brett McSherry and Nicholas Garofalo
Song: Fearless First by Kevin MacLeod

Show Notes

Transcript

[00:00:00] Josepha: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the WordPress Briefing, the podcast where you can catch quick explanations of the ideas behind the WordPress open source project, some insight into the community that supports it, and get a small list of big things coming up in the next two weeks.

I'm your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy. Here we go!

[00:00:28] (Intro Music)

[00:00:40] Josepha: Today, I want to talk about the Data Liberation project that we first introduced at State of the Word. It's a very big project with a lot of philosophical underpinning. So today, I have with me Jordan Gillman, who's going to help us dig in a little bit deeper.

Jordan, welcome to the show. It's so great to have you here.

[00:00:57] Jordan: Thank you. It's lovely to be here.

[00:00:59] Josepha: Before we get started, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself? Like what parts of the WordPress project you contribute to, and how long you've been hanging around in open source?

[00:01:09] Jordan: Yeah, beautiful. I would love to. My name is Jordan. I live on the east coast of Australia, about an hour out of Sydney-about 10 minutes from the beach, which is a pretty great place to live. My relationship with WordPress began 19 or 18 years ago, I guess. I was tinkering with Movable Type, and they changed their license.

And I went, I need to find something that's free. And at that point, I had no idea what open source was. I just knew that I could use this WordPress platform for free to you know, tinker around and build websites. At the time, I was a graphic designer and, so web stuff was just fun. But gradually, that kind of took over, and I ended up doing a lot of front-end development and eventually freelancing for about ten years, building WordPress sites for churches and schools and kind of non-profit organizations like that. And through that, I've also then ended up doing some support for WordPress and landed being lucky enough now to be sponsored to contribute full-time into the WordPress project. I do a lot of work with the support team, so working in the public forums, particularly on core WordPress plugins and themes like Gutenberg and bundled themes, Twenty Twenty-Four.

[00:02:15] Jordan: But also working with the team itself, trying to make sure the forums are a nice place for people to hang out and answer questions and get their questions answered. And I also help out with a few other things around the place. I have an eye on the work the plugins team's doing, working with the WordPress Foundation on a few different things. I'm lucky to have my fingers in a few pies but the biggest pie at the moment I have is the Data Liberation project.

[00:02:36] Josepha: Yeah. So let's talk about that. We're going to give everyone a quick like starting line. If, for some reason, you have not read or seen anything about the WordPress project plans so far in the last four months, you may not know what the Data Liberation project is, and that's fine, too. Because Jordan and I are here to help you understand what it is. But, the Data Liberation project is something that Matt introduced to the project at State of the Word last year in December. And you, Jordan, are the one who are really helping us to take this project into a space where we have everything that we need, all the kind of tools and guides that users will need in order to do what exactly? Like, let's go through what this Data Liberation project is from your standpoint and what made you excited to work on it.

[00:03:27] Jordan: Thank you. Yeah, so the general idea of the Data Liberation project is it should be super duper easy for anyone to bring their site to WordPress. That's the first main part of it, is that regardless of the platform you are on currently, be it something that's pretty open, be it something that's really kind of walls and closed, be it a social media platform, another web building platform, it should be really easy to bring your content over to a WordPress site, because once it's in a WordPress site, it's essentially free. You can then take it and do what you want with it once it's in WordPress, but we want to make it as easy as possible to get it here, basically.

[00:04:03] Josepha: Free as in liberated, not free as in like, now the stuff that was in your mind has no value.

[00:04:10] Jordan: Yeah, free as in liberated, free as in you own it and can do what you want with it. So that's a big part of it. It's, let's get, make it easier for people to come to WordPress. I think it's also important that if we're talking about Data Liberation and freedom of content and democratizing publishing, that also means we make it easier for people to take their content from WordPress and use it somewhere else if that's the decision that they make. And there's some moves we can make to make that easier and nicer for people as well.

[00:04:37] Josepha: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So, recently, we just finished up an outreach period where we were making sure that we were talking to, like, folks in the community and anyone, anyone who uses WordPress that wanted to talk to us about what they needed, what they were hoping for, what issues, what pain points they've had when they were looking at site migrations.

So, what, to the best of your knowledge at the moment, like what are the big themes that you got out of that feedback loop? Out of that outreach?

[00:05:08] Jordan: Yeah, thank you. That was really enjoyable, actually. I was lucky enough to, I got to speak to a bunch of people in person at WordCamp Asia, which was great. We'd done some, some online, did a hallway hangout, and we've had a survey out for a while to folks predominantly kind of in the hosting agency freelancer space. So, folks who are working with end users who are often the ones doing migrations. We got a lot of feedback about WordPress to WordPress migration and the challenges of different hosting platforms and access from users and a bunch of information, which is useful and interesting but not immediately relevant to the comparison to migrating to WordPress from another platform entirely.

But at the same time, talking to particularly agencies who do a lot of big-scale migrations, there's a lot of challenges just when it comes to, for starters, getting the content out of the platform. Some platforms are kind of helpful, and they'll even provide a WordPress formatted export. For every one of those, there are…

[00:06:03] Josepha: That's very helpful.

[00:06:05] Jordan: Yeah, those are super helpful. For every one of those there are probably two or three who aren't as helpful, and you start to resort to tricks with, you know, manually exporting databases or getting RSS feeds and trying to convert them, or a lot of agencies said, "You know what? Often, we end up just copying and pasting page by page from the source site into a brand-new WordPress site."

[00:06:27] Jordan: So, there's challenges about the access to the content. There's lots of challenges around getting the content from the shape of one platform into WordPress. What constitutes a page? What constitutes a post? How do we handle all of the extra metadata of images and dates and taxonomies, and anything else that might be associated with a blob of content in one platform?

How do we translate that into the way WordPress likes to handle those things? And particularly taking that to another level, even just bringing it into the Block Editor? It was great to hear how many people are just migrating straight to the Block Editor like they want the content in blocks, which is wonderful to hear.

[00:07:05] Josepha: Yay!

[00:07:05] Jordan: But there are challenges. I know it's great. But there are some, there are challenges with that and getting it to kind of format the way they expect, when it comes in particularly because there's some kind of functional challenges with that in validating the way the content comes in because it all happens client side in the browser.

It's hard to do that in big batches. So, there was some really great feedback around all of those kinds of places. It was really interesting to see how much of it centers around that getting the content and then getting the content, and yeah, for the agencies I spoke to, they do a lot of trial and error of, you know, custom scripts, and let's try it. Oh, that did this. Let's try again with a few tweaks. So I'm excited to see how we can kind of make that easier for them and, you know, maybe get it happening first time.

[00:07:49] Josepha: Yeah, absolutely. It has been a long time since I migrated any sites personally, but I remember the first time that I tried to migrate a site. So, I was on Xanga before Xanga was on WordPress, and I remember that when I was like, I can't figure out this WordPress thing, but I think I need some stuff in it so that, like, I know what it's going to look like.

[00:08:11] Josepha: I know what to move around cause I didn't know the names for anything in, in CSS or HTML. Like I didn't know what to look for in the code, but if I had a piece of content in it, I could be like, find the content in the code and then move that. And so I was like, I'm going to export everything because there was an export option in Xanga. And move it into WordPress, and WordPress was like if you can manage to get it out of Xanga, super easy to get it in. But it was actually really difficult to figure out how to get it out. And fortunately, I'd only been writing on it for like four years, three, four years at that point. So there wasn't like, a huge amount of content, but also, I was a pretty prolific writer. I was a bad writer, but the only way to get better at things you're bad at is to do it a lot. So, I did a lot of bad writing for three or four years. And I think that in the end, I did, like, just pay some service to scrape everything that was public on it, and then go through and get the private things and pull it out later.

[00:09:08] Josepha: I think later on down the road, I did an actual like full migration when it was easier to get it done and got all the content out, including like drafts and private posts and things. So that's good. But yeah, it was really difficult then. And then, like, we have the blocks now that are supposed to help get a little bit more consistency in the way that you can move content in and out of a WordPress site.

And is that something that we are then focusing on with the Data Liberation project? Is that something that's being done in concert with our Gutenberg plugin, or like how are we accounting for that?

[00:09:46] Jordan: That is a great question. The way things are looking at the moment, having come out of this feedback and the way we're looking at going forward that, that work on getting content coming into blocks is going to be a really, really major part of Data Liberation. And it kind of sits in the middle of things to my mind.

[00:10:01] Jordan: The improvements that we can make with handling the way content is transformed into blocks gives us the potential of wins in a lot of places. So, as long as we can get to the content, this work on HTML to blocks for a better, lack of a better way of putting it, gives us wins with importing from another platform because we can take the content in whatever form it is, turn it into blocks in the post editor.

It gives us wins with migrating from classic editor because, similarly, we can take the HTML of the classic editor generates and turn it into blocks. That already kind of happens, but there's definitely some work that we can do to keep improving that. It gives us potential wins around the spaces of moving from between proprietary builders and block libraries and things. Because if we start to have a better-standardized set of ways to handle HTML into blocks.

Then, you can essentially move from whatever form your content is in into, you know, core native blocks in the editor. So, I think work there is going to be really important because it gives us a foundation to aim for from whatever the migration is happening from.

[00:11:09] Jordan: So, there'll be some work there. There's already work happening on the HTML API. Like, ongoingly and regularly and so we'll be talking to those folks. There's obviously going to be a lot of overlap with the work within Gutenberg as well, which is doing you know, parsing of content into blocks. So, it's going to take a lot of collaboration and a lot of work from everyone, but I'm really excited because if we can get that foundational platform of transforming HTML into blocks really, really smooth, then what we can do is we can, you know, activate contributors in the community say, we've got this part figured out. If you can get it to here, it's going to come in beautifully. So what we want your help with is to say, how do I get out of this platform to a format that we can do the rest? So, hopefully, we're getting a common flow for a big part of that important migration process. And then we can throw it open to others to say, "You've got expertise with this platform. That's excellent. Can you get us to here? And we'll take it from there." And maybe we'll get some wins by doing that work in parallel, and we'll really start to see some movement.

[00:12:13] Josepha: And speaking of the, we'll take it from there. I know that also, in addition to the work that you are doing with Data Liberation and that is happening on the Gutenberg side and WordPress core in general, we also have a little bit of work happening on the after you get it to here point.

So, the folks over at Playground have been doing a bit of research about how to use the guides and tools that are in the Data Liberation repo. To run all of that through Playground so that you can not only like import it, but you can put it into Playground and check it before you launch it in someplace else, which I think is a great user-facing, like, super important thing for an everyday user to be able to have at their fingertips that way.

But then also the tour plugin that was built, I think specifically for the Polyglots team, is where we are looking at using, and I can't remember which little project we're doing some research on to make this possible, but we're looking at taking that tour plugin and making it so that anyone can build a tour on anyone's version of something in a browser so that you can just say, okay, so I did these things. I got it to here as you requested. I'm moving it to here. But now that I have got it into WordPress, what are the literal buttons I have to press in order to make sure it's live? What do I literally have to press in order to make sure that I'm in the right time zone? Like, things like that. And we tested it on Wix, and it was able to work.

[00:13:40] Josepha: Not that we're trying to get anyone to Wix. But on the subject of, like, getting things out of WordPress and into someone else, that sounds counterintuitive for folks, like, you're here listening to a WordPress podcast, and we're talking about how and why we want to make it easier for people to get their content to us, of course, but then also, if needed, get it out of a version of WordPress and either into a different version of WordPress with a new host or, whatever.

Or if this is not your long-term destination, which we think it will be once you figure us out, but like, if it's not, like, how to get out of it, too. So, from your perspective, how does that fit with the basic philosophies of open source or of WordPress in general?

[00:14:24] Jordan: Yeah, thank you. If I may, there's a couple of things I wanted to touch on from what you've said. First of all the other work that is going on in the project at the moment that you mentioned, the tour guide and the Playground, I think both of those are going to be super important to the approach we take to Data Liberation.

I wanted to elaborate just a little bit on the Playground because I'm particularly excited about the potential that gives for two particular scenarios two particular use cases for migration. One is, where I've already set up a WordPress site, I've got the theme that I'd like, and I've got some, you know, some plugins, maybe I've got a little bit there, but I want to import content, but I want to check how it is the potential for the Playground to make essentially a staging copy of my site and migrate the content into that staging copy so I can see how it lands in my chosen theme and check everything out and then go, yep, that looks great. And apply it. That's great for it's safe. You can check how it looks before it's, you know, committed. So that's brilliant. I'm excited about that. I'm also excited about the potential it has for people who don't know WordPress, or don't have a WordPress site, or they don't have a host, they don't have anything.

[00:15:30] Jordan: But if they can say, I want to see how this would go in WordPress. Playground, through some platform, somewhere, will allow them to just have an immediate in-browser preview of what their site would look like on WordPress. And if they like it, we then move them. We help them find a host. We help them export that in a way that they can use, but it helps the people who already have sites.

But I think, more importantly, it helps those who don't have a site yet. And they don't have to set up an empty WordPress install in order to start migrating. They can just get into it.

[00:16:01] Josepha: And also, you don't have to, like know who your host needs to be before you can take a look at the back end of a WordPress site and see if it makes sense to you. Like I think that that is a huge, huge win on behalf of users, current users, and future users of WordPress.

It's the try before you buy. Come kick our tires without having to find a server. If you all don't know what we're talking about, if you have not heard of Playground yet, you can go to playground.WordPress.net and give it a try. It's a one-click, serverless local version of WordPress that you can test out themes on and plugins, and just like put all your data into all your content into, and pretty soon also be able to export or just load directly onto the host of your choice. It's really, really cool.

[00:16:44] Jordan: It's, it's pretty much magic, I think.

[00:16:47] Josepha: Yes, I remember the first hackathon where we took it because we took it basically on a hackathon roadshow for six months. I remember the first one we took it to. Routinely, we could get developers, not me, routinely, Adam Zieliński could get a developer to do the thing, and they'd be like, I can do it if you're next to me telling me what to do, but it's literal magic. I don't know what's happening. And he was like, okay, I'll come explain it to you. And like, he was using English, but also I was like, that is still magic. I'm so glad someone understands it. It's brilliant.

[00:17:18] Jordan: Yeah, so the Playground I'm super excited by. I think it's going to be really important. The tour stuff the tour functionality is going to be really important as well. Because on some level, We're going to have to wrap all of this work on improving HTML to blocks, the process of taking an export file and importing it into WordPress, the process of telling people how to get the content, all that's going to have to be ideally wrapped up in a nice user-friendly way so that users aren't having to, you know, read plain text articles and then going and installing a plugin and all of those kinds of things.

I think the potential for the tours is we may have some kind of wrapper plugin or something which will detect the platform of your existing site if you put the URL in, and it will start walking you through the steps. So, part of that might be action you need to take on your existing platform, and we have some of that information already in the guides on the Data Liberation site at WordPress.org/data-liberation. That information is already there, but I'm hoping that we can start pulling those guides into the WP Admin so you just get walked through it while you're there. And we can start using the tour functionality to really specifically pinpoint: you need to go here, now you can do this, go and click this, and just walk users through that migration process a little bit more neatly.

[00:18:37] Jordan: I'm really excited that we're going to be able to utilize a lot of these existing projects that are exciting and happening at the moment. And I think, ideally, they're all going to make it much easier for users to not have to jump through so many hoops. And the hoops that they do have to jump through, we can hold their hand while they do it.

[00:18:54] Josepha: Yeah, absolutely. Create safe scaffolding for fun, I used to say.

[00:18:59] Jordan: So those are the two projects existing that are happening at the moment that I'm excited about rolling into and working with for the Data Liberation work.

[00:19:07] Jordan: You also asked about the getting content back out, which is something that I'm particularly passionate about, I suppose. Which may be ironic when a lot of the aim of this project is to get people into WordPress. But I'm a really firm believer that if our mission is to democratize publishing, then that doesn't mean just get everyone onto WordPress and go, yes, now you're trapped. It's like the Hotel California, you can never leave. If we're going to be, you know, fully all in on democratizing publishing, then that means giving folks the freedom to take their content to do with it, whatever they want. It's fair to say at the moment that that is possible.

So you can export your content from WordPress. We don't hang onto it. We don't lock it down. You can take it. At the moment, the format that you get that content in has some limitations. It's fair to say it doesn't handle bringing the media of your site particularly well unless you're turning it into another WordPress site somewhere else.

So, the export functionality is very, very focused at the moment on migration to another host, or to a local site, or to another WordPress installation, basically. But if you want to use that content for something else, maybe another platform. Maybe you just want to have a copy of your blog posts that you can.

[00:20:17] Josepha: Print it into a book.

[00:20:18] Jordan: Yeah, to put into a book. Maybe you want to put it on a thumb drive and put it in a lockbox somewhere. Maybe you want some kind of hundred-year archive of your intellectual property that you've written and created. And so I think we've got some room to make improvements there. Not only to the way we provide content for other platforms to pick up and bring in but also just in the ways that we provide content to users who just really want to have a physical, digital copy of what they've created.

There are some challenges at the moment when you get an export, if you've got shortcodes in your content, if you've got content that's generated by plugins, all kinds of dynamic content that is great when it's a website, and WordPress is wonderful. And there's all of these options, but if you take an export, you have references to those functions, and you have references to those shortcodes, which aren't actually fully realized. So I think there's some room for us to investigate what does a better export for other platforms look like and what does a better export for "I want to print it out or turn it into a book or just have a static version of that" content look like. And so I'm particularly excited about that, even though it's kind of, bring it in, and we want to let them get it out. But that's part of the whole liberation of data, I suppose, is, you know, the freedom to do with it what you want.

[00:21:40] Josepha: Yes, absolutely. And everything that increases freedom on the open web, I think we are in favor of. So, I don't know if you follow many, like WordPress futurists, our people who are out there saying, if only WordPress had these additional 2,500 hours worth of work, then we could do this with it. Like, I don't know if you follow a lot of them.

[00:22:02] Josepha: But, a lot of them look at that thing that Matt said, like, I want to say, five years ago about WordPress becoming the operating system of the web and putting some thought into what would be required to make that possible. And when we look at composable CMSs, like the option to have something that is a framework and a core of what you are doing in your digital experience of the web. And making it possible to add anything to it required.

I think that also the work that we're doing with Data Liberation to provide a little bit more consistency and just standardization of the way that content comes in and out, I think, can only help with that potential future implementation of WordPress as the operating system for the web so that you have this basic place where you hold and manage all your content and also not only does WordPress cooperate nicely with all these other tools and applications that you can put on top of it but also all of the content has standard conversational touch points and so everything moves quickly in and out including the dynamic content that is maybe being created inside your WordPress core itself. I think that is also a really important not primary focus, but certainly future-like, if only we could get to that state kind of focus.

[00:23:31] Josepha: I'm really interested. I think that the Data Liberation project is big, and I know that we expected primarily only new contributors to work on it, but honestly, we know that's not the case. It's you're working on old WordPress in here and so not necessarily new contributors. But I think that you're right that the place for new contributors to help us is saying like we can get the content to here, we can get the data to here, and then we need help getting it into WordPress or help getting it into something else.

So, as like a last question here, or if you have things to add to that, and then I can do last question.

[00:24:04] Jordan: Okay, so to loop back to your conversation about futurists and moving content and stuff, I am really excited about this idea that the open web at the moment, I think, is really, really exciting. I just started mucking around with federating my content in the fediverse. Again, recently, I tried it a little while ago and really struggled, but I've just started again, and it's sitting really comfortably with me, and it's, it's feeling like it's a great time for posting and owning your content, and then syndicating it elsewhere. I have seen a couple of really interesting conversations about what you were saying about, like I've seen the conversations in the past about, you know, operating system of the web, but also some talk and ideas recently about what would it look like if we stored all of our data in a WordPress instance?

What if all of my photos aren't on Instagram? They are on my WordPress site. What if I pull in my Fitbit or my Strava information and just store it in WordPress so that I can do with it what I want once it's there? What if I, I don't know, what if I pull in kind of all of my different sources of data and I, and I house them in WordPress and then I can do with them what they want, would do with them what I want.

[00:25:08] Jordan: And that is when the Data Liberation stuff becomes especially important because if it's your everything, you want to take your everything somewhere else. But I'm really excited for kind of all of that kind of space at the moment and giving people the freedom to own that data and when they create stuff.

In actual fact, this is one of the things that you said in your talk at WordCamp Asia, which has really stuck with me was, and I can't remember the exact phrase, but you said if you're going to do all of this work of creating something, you may as well do it somewhere where you own it and can keep it. And that, for me, is just such a strong driver for getting people onto WordPress. Particularly from, at the moment, social media platforms. I've got two young daughters who are just getting to the age where they're creating videos at home, which aren't being published anywhere, but they're starting to. They've got friends who are doing YouTube channels, and they've got friends on Instagram.

And I'm looking at all of that going, I get the urge to create, and I get the urge to publish, but I want them to have an alternative to do all of that so that in five years' time, ten years time, whatever it is, when they go, wow, I did all of this stuff. I don't want that owned by someone else. I've created all this, and I'm excited by the possibility of having that become a simpler, more user-friendly, accessible option to folks, where it becomes just as easy to have a WordPress site, which is your Instagram feed or a WordPress site, which is your YouTube channel or something like that, where you own it, and you just create it, and it exists. And Data Liberation means you want to take a copy of all that stuff, go for it, download an archive, you know, print out the photos, do whatever you want, but they're yours. You have them. And so, it's really feeling like all of that is coalescing together a little bit at the moment. I think it's a really exciting time.

[00:26:52] Josepha: And also, like, since we're just meandering around in philosophical spaces, two philosophical thoughts. One, I really, really feel like it's important and valuable for people to document their lives. I have a pretty private social media presence; mostly, if you're following me on social media, it's because, like, you have literally been in my living room or you're looking for WordPress news. Like that's it. But I am constantly am documenting my life just for myself, like the folks who are listening, which is everybody, because we don't do video, will not know that I have back behind me a shelf that is nothing but journals from my leadership journey, like from the moment that I realized that like leadership was something that was a skill and could change people's lives like I've done nothing but document like I ran into this problem. This is the research that I did to figure out what was happening and not, and just like it's really mundane things in my work now. But the work and the process of documenting, like, what's happening for you and with you in your life and how you're interacting with it, like, it's just important for your mental health and for your understanding of the passage of time.

[00:28:05] Josepha: But then also you were talking about, like, having a hundred-year archive of your thoughts and things, like, there will be a point at which digital information being ephemeral because it's just electricity wandering around between screens, like, it's prone to getting lost in the same way that physical things are prone to getting lost, but the loss is less acute in the moment.

And so you can accidentally lose it. And I think that that's a real long-term not problem for society necessarily, but I think it is something from a societal standpoint where we're gonna, at some point in the near future, realize that some of us have huge missing gaps where we, like just got rid of everything that we ever documented because we had a moment on social media or because it seemed like the only way to reclaim our content or our data or our privacy or whatever it was. And so I have a yeah. I love it. I love everything that we're talking about, about the speculative future and WordPress. And so yes, now, well, now everybody knows all my thoughts on speculative WordPress.

[00:29:06] Jordan: There's an interesting philosophical conversation which we're like coming towards of what's the equivalent in a hundred years, in 200 years of now, of the Library of Congress for philosophical and powerful writing. There is so much great stuff that is written on the web, and it just exists there.

In a hundred years, when people are writing about the early work of an artist or a politician or, you know, a notable figure, we don't, we're not going to have handwritten letters. We're not going to have correspondence. But we'll have tweets. We could have blog posts. Like, it interests me to think, like, the stuff that we take for granted of historical creation is happening digitally now. And so, equivalently, in the future, how, how is that gonna get retained? How much amazing knowledge and thinking is gonna just, you know, have their hosting account expire and get removed? And it's an, it's it's a big conversation, but it's an interesting one.

[00:30:09] Josepha: Yeah. Oh, what a fascinating discussion we've had today. So, by way of wrapping up our discussion here, why don't you give us a sense for, like, if you are a user of WordPress and you were like, this sounds really interesting, I want to learn more, where can they go? But also, if you are someone who wants to learn how to contribute to WordPress and this sounds like a good opportunity for you to get started with that. Where can people find more about this project, about how to get started, how to contribute, all that stuff?

[00:30:38] Jordan: If you are someone who is hearing about this for the first time and coming to it pretty fresh and haven't been working in the WordPress community much before. The best place to go will be WordPress.org/data-liberation, that will give you not only access to the tools and guides that exist but also some information on where the development and discussion is happening.

That's the easiest pathway to find your way into those conversations as well. For folks who already have a little bit of experience and, it may be contributed code or a part of discussions already. The place to go to would be github.com/WordPress/data-liberation. That's where there's a lot of discussion. That's where the existing tools and guides are being managed and worked on. So, if you really want to dive in. Please come and join us there. There are discussions to be had. There are ideas to be floated. That's where all of the boots-on-the-ground work is going to be happening.

[00:31:25] Jordan: The other great place is within the Make WordPress Slack organization. And we have a Data Liberation channel in there. That is primarily where we have higher-level conversations, and we chat about stuff, and I'm hoping that becomes a real hub for work-adjacent discussion. So GitHub is going to be for all of this is where all the work's happening, but the Slack channel is where people can share their thoughts on what's possible, and big picture ideas, and that kind of stuff. So those will be the three best places. WordPress.org/data-liberation for the overview, github.com/WordPress/data-liberation for where the work's actually happening, and WordPress Slack in the Data Liberation channel. If you want to come and chat more about the possibilities and, you know, helping get the future of the open web happening.

[00:32:17] Josepha: I mean, that is an enticing call to action. We'll have links to all of the, all three of those in the show notes, as well as links to everything that we kind of mentioned over the course of our conversation. But Jordan, thank you so much for joining me today.

[00:32:32] Jordan: Thank you so much for having me. It's been great.

[00:32:34] (Music interlude)

[00:32:41] Josepha: And now it's time for our small list of big things. I've got three things for you this week.

The first thing on the list is that WordCamp US tickets are now on sale. So that event is happening from September 17th through the 20th in Portland, Oregon. There are general admission tickets and micro sponsor tickets available. And if you have seen the cost of the ticket but had not quite noted the length of the event, I just want to assure you that the cost per day is the same now as it was and has been for years. It's still that same 25-dollar-a-day ticket that you've got; it's just that it's four days long this time. We'll have a link to the tickets in the show notes, but then also you can always wander over to us.wordcamp.org, and it'll take you right there.

The second thing on our list is that WordPress 6.5 is here. It is named Regina. If you listened to our show last week, you know that it was a huge release and kind of has something for everyone. So, if you have not yet downloaded it to take a look at it, do that. If you have not updated your sites yet, run a backup because you should always do a backup and then get that on your site and start testing everything out.

And the third thing on our big list, our small list of big things, is actually that we're looking at dropping support for PHP 7. 0 and 7. 1 in upcoming releases of WordPress this year. It should not be too disruptive a change. However, it is going to take a lot of people to test it and make sure that everything's working as we want it to work and as we need it to work. And so while we head toward that, I want to make sure you've got the resources that you need to know what's happening, where it's happening, how it's going to affect you. I'll leave some resources in the show notes for that as well.

[00:34:27] Josepha: And that, my friends, is your small list of big things. Don't forget to follow us on your favorite podcast app or subscribe directly on WordPress.org/news. You'll get a friendly reminder whenever there's a new episode. If you liked what you heard today, share it with a fellow WordPresser, or if you had questions about what you heard, you can share those with me at WPBriefing@WordPress.org. I'm your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy. Thanks for tuning in today for the WordPress Briefing, and I'll see you again in a couple of weeks.

[00:34:54] (Music outro)

15 Apr 2024 12:00pm GMT

Do The Woo Community: All Things WordPress 6.5 with Anne McCarthy and Bud Kraus

In the latest episode of The WordPress Way, host Abha and guests Anne McCarthy and Bud Kraus deep-dive into the details of the recent WordPress 6.5 release. They discuss the new font library feature, enhancements in revisions, plugin dependencies, and the significance of data views plus a lot more

15 Apr 2024 10:00am GMT

14 Apr 2024

feedWordPress Planet

HeroPress: WCEU, Overcoming Limits, A Visit To Torino

Bicycles in Piazza San Carlo - Turin


WordCamp Europe 2024 In Torino Italy!

WCEU Latest Updates

This week the WCEU crew announced the schedule for the event. Someone recently mentioned to me that we seem to have moved forward quite a bit regarding diversity, and I agree.

Contributor day registration is also open. If you've never been to a contributor day at a big WordCamp I highly recommend it. It's quite different from a small camp.

Lastly, Visa invitation letters are now available, so if you need that to get to Italy I recommend starting that process as quickly as possible.


HeroPress.com - The Time I Left My Island - Quella volta che sono uscito dalla mia isola

Matteo Enna

Matteo Enna was born and raised on an island, Sardinia in the Mediterranean. The sea protected him from people, the world, and everything.

My story begins here, with a strong introversion orchestrating my life, a passion for computer science, PHP which had been accompanying me for about 5 years, and some small attempts to overcome my shyness.

Mattero's's essay is available on HeroPress.com.


WP Podcasts

Pocket Casts image

There were thirty-six WordPress podcast episodes released this week! Also, Underrepresented in Tech has a new cohost! I've known Samah Nasr for a couple years now, and she's a fantastic pick!

FURTHERMORE, The WordPress Podcast has added a fifth translation to their arsenal! Check out the Deutch version!

There are new episodes every single day, so be sure to stop by WPPodcasts.com and search for things that interest you!


WP Photos

Here are some of the great photos submitted to the WPPhotos project this week!

Scottish highland cow walking in the heathCC0 licensed photo by Rámon van Raaij from the WordPress Photo Directory. A tiny spider of 1mm in size (cricket-bat orbweaver) touching and feeling two threads of it’s web, patiently waiting for it’s next meal.CC0 licensed photo by Rámon van Raaij from the WordPress Photo Directory. A black-orange bug (Cercopis vulnerata, en: Black-and-red Froghopper, dt: Blutzikade) on the tip of a green fern frondCC0 licensed photo by werkform from the WordPress Photo Directory. Brown longhaired cows with a calf in pasture with a river in the backgroundCC0 licensed photo by Rámon van Raaij from the WordPress Photo Directory. A close-up of a tabby cat with green eyes, slightly open mouth showing teeth, standing on a wooden floor.CC0 licensed photo by Bigul Malayi from the WordPress Photo Directory. Statue of lord Krishna and Arjun representing the Mahabharat battle of Hindu religion.CC0 licensed photo by KafleG from the WordPress Photo Directory.

Be sure to check out the hundreds of other great photos!

The banner at the top of this post is a CC0 licensed photo by elisascagnetti from the WordPress Photo Directory.

That's it for this week! If you'd like to get this post in your email every week, make sure you sign up!

The post WCEU, Overcoming Limits, A Visit To Torino appeared first on HeroPress.

14 Apr 2024 5:40pm GMT

13 Apr 2024

feedWordPress Planet

Gutenberg Times: Grid Layouts are coming, Playground for preview, Interactivity API in the wild — Weekend Edition 291

Howdy,

Don't forget to save the date for the Hallway Hangout: Let's chat about what's next in Gutenberg on April 24 at 11 pm UTC / 7pm EDT / 4 pm PDT / 1 am CEST

Rob Cairns and I chatted on his podcast about WordPress 6.5 and beyond.

Spring is back in Munich and it's beautiful. We are really pushing getting out and walking around town, along the river or in our big park, with 5,000 other individualists.

Have a splendid weekend ahead!

Yours, 💕
Birgit

Developing Gutenberg and WordPress

Justin Tadlock, and others collected for you What's new for developers? (April 2024) around WordPress 6.5, Core track and Gutenberg plugin. The table of contents listed 21 separate updates separated for Plugins developer and theme builders.

Separate Color Style variations in sidebar.


On April 9th, Aaron Jorbin and the merry band of Core contributors published the WordPress 6.5.2 Maintenance and Security Release. "Because this is a security release, it is recommended that you update your sites immediately. Backports are also available for other major WordPress releases, 6.1 and later." Jorbin emphasized. Go and update if you haven't yet. This can wait.

Release lead, Ramon Dodd, published Gutenberg plugin version 18.1 and highlighted in his post What's new in Gutenberg 18.1? (10 April):

Sidewide background image

Anne McCarthy demo'd in this video WordPress Playground: the ultimate learning, testing, & teaching tool for WordPress. WordPress Playground is an open-source project that makes makes WordPress instantly accessible for users, learners, extenders, and contributors. Thanks to the easy creation of instant, temporary WordPress sites in your browser, you don't need a server or a test site or local environment. "At a high level, watching this video will give you a glimpse of what it is, what it does, and how you can use it today. I highly recommend getting comfortable using it, especially as we look to the future of WordPress." McCarthy wrote.


Estela Rueda invites designers and theme builders to provide feedback The new grid experience. The grid aims to enhance the visual layout capabilities within WordPress by making it more flexible and easier to use for various design needs. To gather a wide range of opinions and suggestions, the team is reaching out and encouraging people to participate in the feedback process. By visiting the provided link, users can learn more about the new grid experience and contribute their input to help shape this upcoming feature.


Joen Asmussen highlighted in his Design Share: Mar 25-Apr 5 the design team's work for the last two weeks, mostly about refinements of the data views.

Bundled data views

About WordPress 6.5 - all in one list on blocks and site editor
This week, WordPress 6.5 certainly dominated the WordPress news cycle. Articles, Videos, Threads on X, and workshops are plenty available for every type of WordPress user. This list of resources…

Plugins, Themes, and Tools for #nocode site builders and owners

Anne McCarthy highlighted the features of the Create-block Theme plugin on Automattic's Design blog: DIY Block Theme and invites you to "learn to use the Create Block Theme plugin, like our designers do, to build your own block theme"


Nathan Wrigley and Anchen Le Roux announced that this year's Page Builder Summit 7.0 is scheduled for May 20 through May 24, 2024. A stable for the last seven years, the Page builder Summit brings a large variety of experts together to help veteran and new site builders to get better at their craft. They provide insights into technology, business, and the design for freelancers building sites for others. The list of confirmed speakers is like the who-is-who of the business!


Jamie Marsland shows you on YouTube how to Master the Grid Layouts. Most great-looking websites utilize some sort of grid pattern in their page layout. But while many designers accomplish this using CSS Grid, new WordPress blocks let you do it right in the editor. Marsland shows you how to use Grid and Grid Layout blocks to create a beautiful, functional WordPress site.

Theme Development for Full Site Editing and Blocks

In his article "Adding some Colors to the Block Theme", Bernhard Kau discusses how to best add various color options to a block theme. It's a deep dive into the process, starting with selecting a naming convention and how they appear in theme.json as well as in the site editor's color picker. Then Kau describes how to apply colors to various sections of the site via the color picker to maintain brand recognition.


"Keeping up with Gutenberg - Index 2024"
A chronological list of the WordPress Make Blog posts from various teams involved in Gutenberg development: Design, Theme Review Team, Core Editor, Core JS, Core CSS, Test, and Meta team from Jan. 2024 on. Updated by yours truly. The previous years are also available: 2020 | 2021 | 2022 | 2023

Building Blocks and Tools for the Block editor.

Magdalena Paciorek took a A first look at the Interactivity API, and walks you through an examples code for a Donation Calculator. It's a great way to take a first deep dive into the Interactivity API with a great instructor from Poland. Paciorek is also a speaker at WordCamp Europe 2024.


Iain Poulson, Advanced Custom Fields, mentioned in their release post for ACF 6.2.8v, that the team started adding support for Block Bindings API and Interactivity API. "From Block Bindings to the Interactivity API, WordPress 6.5 brings new opportunities to use ACF data in core WordPress blocks, and new interactivity experiences to ACF Blocks. Some of these changes features require ACF to add compatibility, and this release begins that work." Paulson wrote.


Scott Kingsley Clark mentioned in his release post for Pods 3.2v update that the framework supports the new WordPress 6.5 Block Bindings API. "Specify your source as pods/bindings-field and then just pass the same arguments you would pass for a normal [pods] Shortcode or block. This will bind that dynamic output to the block you are working with. " he wrote.


The recording of this week's Developer Hours: Building custom blocks with the Interactivity API is available on YouTube. Damon Cook from WP Engine demonstrates how he built a form submission block that leverages the API. This example will teach you how to kick-start a custom interactive block using the Create Block package, use directives to assign critical attributes to your HTML markup, create the store, and hook up the client-side JavaScript. The final plugin is also available on GitHub

Need a plugin .zip from Gutenberg's master branch?
Gutenberg Times provides daily build for testing and review.

Now also available via WordPress Playground. There is no need for a test site locally or on a server. Have you been using it? Email me with your experience

GitHub all releases

Questions? Suggestions? Ideas?
Don't hesitate to send them via email or
send me a message on WordPress Slack or Twitter @bph.


For questions to be answered on the Gutenberg Changelog,
send them to changelog@gutenbergtimes.com


Featured Image: City with giant WordPress logo AI generated via Noel Tock


Don't want to miss the next Weekend Edition?

We hate spam, too, and won't give your email address to anyone
except Mailchimp to send out our Weekend Edition

Thanks for subscribing.

13 Apr 2024 4:44am GMT

12 Apr 2024

feedWordPress Planet

Gravatar: Maximize Your Instagram Bio: The Top Tools to Consider

On Instagram, there are two places where you can put permanent and clickable links - your bio and your stories, which can become permanent highlights. Until April 2023, you could only put one link in your bio, but since then, Instagram has increased that number to five.

However, even with that change, the author bio is still quite restrictive and doesn't allow you to customize your profile fully or add other elements.

The solution to that is to put a "transition" link - one that will open a new webpage filled with all the links your heart desires, whether it's your blog, store, portfolio, or other relevant social media pages.

Instagram doesn't come with this feature, so in order to get the multifunctional "link in bio," you need a specialized tool for the job. In this guide, we'll introduce you to 10 excellent tools for breaking free from Instagram's limitations and expanding your online presence effectively.

Let's start!

1. Gravatar

Gravatar homepage

Instagram is just one platform, and if you want to create a permanent space on the internet, you need to think about your online presence beyond social media.

One way to do that is by creating a universal profile - an online identity that travels with you no matter where you go. Gravatar by Automattic is a free tool that can do that and much more. While not exclusively a "link in bio" tool, Gravatar still brings a lot of useful features that you can use to expand your Instagram bio section.

Here is what you can do with it!

Personalize your "About" section

It's hard to describe yourself in a captivating way with just 150 characters, but that's all Instagram gives you. With Gravatar, however, you have the opportunity to craft an "About" section brimming with personality. When users click on the Gravatar link, they'll be redirected to your Gravatar profile which will look more or less like this.

Gravatar profile bio section

It's a space where you can tell your story, sharing not just a basic bio but also details, such as your name, pronunciation, and location.

List your verified accounts

Linking and showing your verified accounts is important as it gives you more brand credibility, whether you're an influencer, CEO, author, academic speaker, and so on. As a result, people who open your Gravatar profile will be more inclined to follow you on different platforms beyond Instagram, and they'll know where to go.

With Gravatar, you can add multiple popular platforms, including WordPress, X/Twitter, Tumblr, TikTok, GitHub, Twitch, and more.

Gravatar's verified accounts list

Add important links

Confined by Instagram's solo link policy? Gravatar can help! Accentuate your profile with curated links pointing to your latest blog posts, eCommerce stores, or other important profiles and pages.

Gravatar links feature

The way you display your links matters! To increase their visibility, put your most important links at the top of your profile.

Share payment links and cryptocurrency wallet addresses

Besides normal links, with Gravatar you can also create a versatile and personalized wallet, adding payment links and cryptocurrency wallets. This allows you to add another way of monetizing your online presence, as well as gather money for charity and important causes.

Adding payment links to your Gravatar profile

Connect with websites like PayPal, Patreon, Venmo, Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Dogecoin in seconds! And the best part is that adding wallets will not clutter your "About" section. Instead, a new button will appear called "Pay" that people will be able to click and choose the best payment option.

The "Pay" button in Gravatar's "About" section

Add your contact information

With Gravatar, you can centralize your contact information and save users from the hunt and peck of tracking down your email or phone number.

Gravatar contact information

Include only what you're comfortable sharing publicly, striking a balance between transparency and privacy. Similar to the payment options section, instead of putting everything in the same profile area, a new "Contact" button appears, containing all your contact information.

Add photos

Curate a selection of images that enhance your profile's narrative. For photographers, this is a great place to put some of your work. If you're a thought-leadership expert, put some pictures from conferences or lectures that you've done.

Gravatar uploading photos to the profile

Customize your profile design

Your Gravatar extends the reach of your Instagram bio, so it's very important to customize your profile to mirror your brand identity. With control over design elements such as background colors and imagery, you can align your digital profile across all social media platforms, ensuring a consistent brand journey throughout.

Gravatar custom color background Gravatar custom background image

2. w.link

w.link homepage

w.link is a WordPress tool for creating a "link in bio" page that allows users to deeply personalize the presentation of their links. It works the same way as a WordPress site, which means that you need a domain to launch it and know how the Gutenberg editor works to get the most out of its features and customization options.

Its main features include:

w.link has a free version, meaning you don't pay for the tool, but you'll still have to pay for a custom domain. It also has four pricing tiers, starting at $4/ month paid annually and going up to $45/month, all of which include a free domain for 1 year.

3. Linktree

Linktree homepage

As one of the pioneers in bio-link tools, Linktree remains a strong contender in the market and comes with a free plan that offers a decent number of options. Still, its most important features, such as enhanced customization, priority links, and advanced analytics, such as click-through rates and audience demographics, are only included in the premium tiers.

Other features include:

There are three pricing options: Starter, $5/ month; Pro, $9/ month; and Premium, $24/month.

4. Lnk.bio

Lnk.bio homepage

Lnk.bio is a tool specially designed to fit Instagram's UI, making it easy for everyone to customize their link page and use the tool.

Other interesting features include:

Their pricing structure is slightly different. You can use the free version, subscribe monthly for $0.99/month, or buy a lifetime subscription to the tool for $9.99 or $24.99, depending on the features you want.

5. Link in Profile

Link in Profile homepage

The unique proposition of Link in Profile lies in its ability to use Instagram posts as direct transactional opportunities for eCommerce businesses.

Its main features include:

Link in Profile is a tool that mostly targets businesses and individuals who are looking for a good Return on Investment (ROI) and are focused on using Instagram to sell their products and services.

There is no free version, but there is a free trial to their one plan, which is $9.99/month.

6. Campsite

Campsite homepage

Campsite is a versatile tool suitable for independent creators, agencies, organizations, and small businesses. Its paid plans come with detailed analytics that go beyond basic tracking to include metrics like bounce rate and visitor behavior, crucial for understanding the efficiency of your online content.

Other features include:

You can choose between a personal account or an organization, both with two paid tiers - Pro and Pro+, starting from $7/month for a personal and $14 for organizations with two member profiles.

7. Beacons.ai

Beacons.ai homepage

Beacons.ai is an all-in-one creator platform with multiple apps and services, such as an Audience Manager, Media Kit, Email Marketing, W-9 Generator, and Link-in Bio.

Its main features include:

Beacons.ai is a dynamic social commerce tool that offers a lot, even in its free version. Still, for those wanting to upgrade, there are two options: A marketing bundle for $30/month and a VIP package starting at $100/month. The VIP plan comes with everything in the lower plan, a personal advisor to help you set up everything and a physical NFC business card for US and Canada users.

8. Milkshake

Milkshake homepage

Milkshake is an interesting tool that allows its users to create an "Insta website" with its card-style layout, which adds a layer of interactivity. Each card represents a different page - an about section, testimonials, or showcase of work - offering a full-fledged website experience.

Other features include:

Milkshake is a free mobile application.

9. Shor.by

Shor.by product page

Shor.by is most popular for its dynamic feeds, which can auto-populate with content from blogs or online shops, making it a decent option for content creators and small business owners alike.

Other features include:

Shor.by plans start from $15/month up to $99/month for agencies.

10. Tap Bio

Tap Bio homepage

Tap Bio is another tool that uses card-based profiles to engage audiences.

Its main features include:

There is a free Basic plan and two paid tiers for $5/month and $12/month. You can also opt for an annual payment of $36 and $96, respectively.

Take the next step: Advance your Instagram bio with Gravatar

Whether you're an independent creator, an agency, or a business, you don't have to be confined to the restrictive nature of Instagram bios. Expand into a rich hub that fully represents you, your work, and your services.

There are many great options for a "link in bio" tool, but Gravatar truly stands out as one of the best options. Not only is it completely free, but it also comes with a lot of important features, such as linking your other verified profiles, adding payment links and images, and customizing your profile to fit your brand fully.

Ready to transform your Instagram bio into a dynamic portal? Step into a broader digital footprint with Gravatar and define your universal online profile.

12 Apr 2024 6:22pm GMT

Do The Woo Community: Reimagining Affiliate Programs for Your Woo Biz with Alex Standiford

This episode discusses affiliate programs in depth, emphasizing the need for personalized, collaborative relationships and exploring potential drawbacks of traditional affiliate links.

12 Apr 2024 9:07am GMT

11 Apr 2024

feedWordPress Planet

Do The Woo Community: CRM Insights and the Future of WordPress with Adrian Tobey

In today's episode of Woo BizChat, Adrian Tobey from Groundhogg emphasizes the importance of CRM for businesses and the early adoption of CRM for WooCommerce shops. He also discusses potential barriers to CRM success and contemplates the future of content consumption.

11 Apr 2024 9:55am GMT

10 Apr 2024

feedWordPress Planet

Gravatar: Roadmap to a Killer Personal Brand: Essential Digital Tools

Whether you're a content creator, influencer, CEO, academic, artist, or entrepreneur, building your personal brand is essential. Your brand is a mark of your unique value, so giving it more visibility helps you stand out, gives more credibility to your professional resume, and opens up a world of opportunities.

You might already be thinking about your brand in your daily life, from the way you interact with your peers to the way you present yourself at networking events. But as we know, for a brand to be truly successful, it has to exist on the internet.

But how do you even start building your personal brand in an online space where everyone is trying to do the same? The answer lies in choosing the right digital tools and platforms that help you hit your branding goals. There are thousands of tools, and not all of them will be right for your needs, which can be daunting.

That's why, to help you in your branding efforts, we gathered the best online tools to streamline this process, ensuring your personal brand reflects your true Unique Value Proposition (USP) and gets the visibility it deserves.

Website creation tools

Your website is the cornerstone of your brand. This is a given if you offer services or have an eCommerce platform, but if your brand centers around your online persona, you might be wondering whether you even need a website if you're maintaining your social media profiles.

Social media is powerful for building an audience - there's no doubt about that. But in reality, a website is still the granddaddy of online presence because of its dynamic and highly customizable nature.

Social media platforms will confine you to work within their limitations, which means you will need to adapt your content style to what works best for their algorithms. It can be hard to present a proper biography, an overview of your work, and evergreen content on such platforms.

On the other hand, a website can be whatever you want it to be - you are in full control of the way it looks and functions, and what content is posted.

Whether showcasing a portfolio, hosting a blog, or highlighting services, your site is where long-lasting impressions are made, and an essential part of creating an effective website lies in picking the right tools.

Build your website on WordPress.com

WordPress.com homepage

WordPress.org is the most popular Content Management System (CMS), and it's used by brands like Slack, Disney, CNN, and Meta. If you want to build a site with WordPress, we recommend choosing WordPress.com as your trusted hosting provider, as it comes with built-in security and analytics tools and automatic updates.

With all the technicalities taken care of, you'll have the time and opportunity to build a great site that fully reflects your personal brand and professional goals.

There are several tiers to WordPress.com, but the Creator plan is the best option for professionals as it allows you to add unlimited plugins and themes. On the other hand, the integration with Jetpack gives you essential tools to track engagement, monitor traffic sources, and understand your target audience's demographics.

WordPress.com pricing

With the Creator plan, it is very easy to get started, and if you're serious about personal branding, having unlimited access to plugins and themes will be extremely helpful. Customize to your heart's content with design options that resonate with your personal aesthetic, or extend functionality with plugins that offer everything from Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to social media integration.

With its automatic updates, scheduling abilities, and built-in analytics, WordPress.com lets you spend more time creating brand-centric content instead of worrying about admin tasks.

Add eCommerce functionality with WooCommerce

WooCommerce homepage

One of the beautiful things about WordPress is that you can easily turn your website into an online store thanks to WooCommerce - the eCommerce platform used by more than 4 million websites worldwide to effectively sell their products and services online!

This interactive commercial platform comes with many useful features, such as the option to add customer reviews to your product, build beautiful and categorized product galleries, upsell and cross-sell products and services, and fully customize product and checkout pages.

If you want to branch out to eCommerce, we recommend opting for the Entrepreneur plan on WordPress.com, as it's specially developed for people who want a full-fledged online store.

WordPress.com pricing plans

Build a newsletter

Email marketing is powerful and still very popular among digital marketers. In fact, this marketing strategy is one of the most profitable, with a mind-boggling ROI of $36 for every dollar spent.

Email gives you a direct line of communication with your audience and builds a longer-lasting relationship, which is especially true with newsletters. A periodic newsletter filled with interesting how-to guides, industry insights, or inspiring success stories not only provides immense value but also bolsters engagement with your brand.

WordPress.com includes a newsletter feature with every plan, and you can easily include one anywhere on your website by adding a "subscribe" block.

WordPress subscribe block

The placement is very important, so we recommend putting this form above the fold on your homepage or as a call to action at the end of a compelling blog post to boost subscription rates.

Example of placing a subscribe option above the fold

This functionality allows you to convert your blog updates into rich, engaging newsletters. With no cap on the number of emails you can send, WordPress.com hands you the reins to grow your subscriber base unconstrained, unlike other platforms that may restrict your reach.

Besides that, it also allows you to create gated content which is a strategy where exclusive content is provided to subscribers. The only thing you need to do is click on "Set up a paid plan" and a new window will pop up, allowing you to fully customize your paid newsletter.

Creating a paid newsletter with WordPress

This feature on WordPress.com helps you reward and retain your most loyal followers, cementing a strong community around your personal brand.

Unify your digital presence across all platforms with Gravatar

Gravatar homepage

When building your personal brand, you need to think of your online identity as a whole, not as different pieces independent of each other. Build your social media presence and blog as a cohesive online existence, which means syncing your information across platforms.

Gravatar is an efficient tool that centralizes and streamlines your online identity across the web, powered by your email address.

Getting started with Gravatar is quick and user-friendly. With just a few steps, you'll have a unique avatar that follows you from site to site, attaching a familiar face to your online commentary and interactions.

Example of a Gravatar profile

Instead of adjusting your profile for each platform, you'll have a consistent identity everywhere, including important and up-to-date details such as contact information and events.

A single digital signature allows you to build a consistent online identity, making your personal brand more memorable and credible. By unifying your digital presence, Gravatar alleviates the hassle of managing multiple logins and profiles. This convenience is not only a time-saver but ensures your online identity is uniform and professional.

When you create your profile, you can fully customize it to fit your needs. Here are some of the great things you can do with Gravatar's profile editor:

Adding a custom background image to your Gravatar profile

Linking verified accounts to your Gravatar profile

Adding different links to your Gravatar profile

Adding contact information to your Gravatar profile

QR code options for Gravatar profiles

Besides the QR code, you can also generate a short link to put on your social media accounts, serving as a versatile "Link in bio" landing page.

Leverage the social media platforms that make sense for your brand

We won't go into too much detail about the different social media platforms, as you're probably already aware of the most popular ones. But we do want to highlight two very important rules:

  1. Don't worry about being everywhere. Instead, go where your target audience is. If you're building your personal brand as an eCommerce leadership expert, chances are your most loyal audience is on LinkedIn rather than TikTok or Instagram. On the other hand, if you're a creative personality, like an artist or a musician, then social media platforms with a younger demographic would be a better place
  2. Be consistent in your posting. This is a universal rule among social media - you won't be successful if you're inconsistent with your posting schedule. What helps here is to create a social media calendar and plan out your content for the next month or two.

Another thing you should remember if you use various platforms is that you want to retain some level of consistency in terms of how you present yourself, and furthermore, it should be easy for people to recognize your personal profile across different profiles

Gravatar can help you maintain this consistency by giving users a constantly updated overview of your professional identity, including a list of verified social media profiles like X/Twitter (the official one, not the fish one), TikTok, Tumblr, Instagram, Bluesky, as well as your personal WordPress website, adding even more credibility.

Other tools for content creation and sharing

Consistently creating great content is hard! Thankfully, there are plenty of tools to help you out at all stages of the content development process, like the organization and planning, ideation, creation, optimization, and promotion of the final product. With the right tools, you can create a workflow that is tailored to your needs and individual processes, allowing you to be consistent with your production.

Tools for organization and content mapping

Notion and Asana are great for content planning, each offering unique benefits that can result in a more polished and professional brand persona.

Notion and Asana integration

Notion's all-encompassing workspace allows for meticulous planning, crafting, and cataloging of ideas, ensuring a brand's narrative unfolds with precision. Asana guides the creative process with its strong project management tools, improving the content production and delivery process.

It's worth noting, however, that the richness of features in Notion and Asana comes with a moderate learning curve, but there are many useful resources by brands and other users, especially on YouTube, to help you get used to the tools.

Thankfully, if you're already familiar with the Gutenberg WordPress Editor, you shouldn't have any issues with Notion, as their interfaces are very similar.

Google Trends for ideation

Google Trends homepage

Diving into Google Trends' ocean of insights reveals a highly valuable tool that offers a glimpse into the collective consciousness. By leveraging such data, brands can adjust their content to match audience interests.

Interpreting the peaks and valleys of trending topics leads to informed decisions that anchor a content strategy in the present. For instance, a digital marketer might spot an emerging trend in sustainable living and weave this theme into their blog articles, social media posts, and podcasts.

Image and video editor tools

According to a study by the US Chambers of Commerce, 55% of first impressions of brands are visual, which is another proof of how important your visual representation is. It needs to be engaging, unique, and, most importantly, represent your personal values and best qualities.

Not everyone is a designer but thankfully, there are tools to help every single professional to create a consistent visual brand. One of the most prominent platforms to do that is Canva, which offers a library of templates, photos, and illustrations that can be customized to align with your personal brand's visual theme.

Canva design tool homepage

Canva Pro, the premium version, extends these capabilities with additional features like brand kits and background removal, providing an even more tailored design experience.

For people looking to enhance their video editing skills, Adobe Premiere Rush is a free mobile and desktop app that offers various features to help your brand grow. Its built-in camera, for example, allows for high-quality video capture, while intuitive editing tools help edit and share from anywhere, ensuring your visual narrative remains cohesive.

Adobe Premiere Rush homepage

For budding personal brands, this tool simplifies the creation of professional-looking content that can resonate with audiences across various platforms.

URL Shorteners

URLs can be very long which makes the process of integrating them troublesome and not aesthetically pleasing. To resolve this, you can use a URL shortener. These are smart tools that allow you to create custom links with your brand name and can also track engagement.

A great URL-shortening tool is Rebrandly - an AI platform with more than 100 popular integrations.

Rebrandly homepage

It works by selecting a relevant domain name related to your brand and using it as a consistent base for all your short links. This practice not only reinforces brand visibility but also offers detailed analytics insights to evaluate the effectiveness of your shared content.

Using these analytics can transform raw data into strategic action. By examining click patterns and traffic sources, you can fine-tune your content scheduling and distribution strategies to better capture your audience's attention.

Monitor and refine your results with analytics tools

Building a personal brand is a continuous process, and analytical tools can provide you with helpful performance indicators. These tools clarify which areas of your personal branding strategy are thriving and which require refinement.

For those just starting out on their personal branding journey, focusing on key analytics like engagement rate, follower growth over time, and website conversions can be incredibly insightful.

Most social media platforms come with their own analytics dashboards that show metrics such as engagement rates, best-performing content by reach, and follower demographics. These data points highlight which content truly resonates with your audience, informing not only what you create but also how you can create deeper connections. You can then use these insights by experimenting with content types and posting times, and then measure the changes in engagement for continuous improvement.

For example, when open rates for your newsletter seem low, consider A/B testing with different subject lines or content structures. Track the subsequent open and click-through rates to identify the most engaging approach, thus maintaining a dynamic and relevant correspondence with your audience.

When it comes to website analytics, Google Analytics is the industry standard. However, for WordPress users, Jetpack offers an accessible alternative and it's included in both the Creator and Entrepreneur plans with WordPress.com. It provides intuitive metrics such as daily visitors, page views, and top-performing pages, all critical in gauging the traction of your online content without the daunting complexity of Google's service.

Jetpack homepage

Conclude each analysis session with a commitment to apply what you've learned. Set regular intervals for review - be it weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly - to ensure your personal brand remains vibrant and effective. Remember, consistent analysis is a foundational practice that nurtures a strong and resonant personal brand, keeping you one step ahead in the exciting world of online branding.

Create a personal brand that stands out with Gravatar

Creating and maintaining your personal brand is a lot of work, but don't be discouraged! With the right tools, patience, and consistency, you can craft a professional brand that makes you proud and opens up a world of possibilities.

One of the tools that will be with you every step of the way is Gravatar - your trusted online identity that travels with you no matter where you go.

Gravatar is not just another addition to your digital toolset but a fundamental component that connects the dots between your various online activities. With Gravatar, you receive a unique advantage - a consistent identity that travels with you everywhere and allows you to be easily recognized by your audience.

Why wait to consolidate your digital brand? Sign up for Gravatar for free and take the first step towards a unified identity. It's time to align your online presence with your professional aspirations.

10 Apr 2024 9:27pm GMT

WPTavern: #115 – Jamie Marsland on Turning Technical Know-How Into Popular Content

Transcript

[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Welcome to the Jukebox podcast from WP Tavern. My name is Nathan Wrigley.

Jukebox is a podcast, which is dedicated to all things WordPress. The people, the events, the plugins, the blocks, the themes, and in this case, turning technical know-how into popular content.

If you'd like to subscribe to the podcast, you can do that by searching for WP Tavern in your podcast player of choice, or by going to wptavern.com forward slash feed forward slash podcast. And you can copy that URL into most podcasts players.

If you have a topic that you'd like us to feature on the podcast, I'm keen to hear from you and hopefully get you, or your idea, featured on the show. Head to wptavern.com forward slash contact forward slash jukebox, and use the form there.

So on the podcast today, we have Jamie Marsland.

Jamie has a varied background in technical corporate leadership, and has been guiding Pootlepress for over a decade. Initially a training service, Pootlepress has become a product focused company known for its WordPress plugins. Jamie's depth of experience in the industry is increasingly overshadowed by his visibility as a YouTuber, where, as you'll hear, much of his attention is now focused.

In this episode, we'll cover some new ground. We talk about a critical issue facing WordPress today, the fierce competition from platforms like Canva and Wix, and the marketing hurdles that WordPress must navigate to maintain its market share.

We also explore Jamie's unconventional path to becoming a content creator, discussing how he went from teaching tennis to teaching tech, and how he's leveraged YouTube to grow his audience and business. His perspective is that it's important to make technical concepts accessible and easy to understand.

Making his content is a lot of work, most of which happens behind the scenes. We get into this a little more deeply, and Jamie shares his strategies for effective video creation, from planning to execution, along with his thoughts on sponsored content and its place in the YouTube ecosystem.

If you're curious about the future of WordPress, content creation, or the dynamics of digital learning this episode is for you.

If you're interested in finding out more, you can find all of the links in the show notes by heading to wptavern.com forward slash podcast, where you'll find all the other episodes as well.

And so without further delay, I bring you Jamie Marsland.

I am joined on the podcast by Jamie Marsland. Hi Jamie.

[00:03:08] Jamie Marsland: Hey there. How are you?

[00:03:10] Nathan Wrigley: Very good. Thank you for joining me today. If you haven't checked out what Jamie's been doing, Jamie has had a really interesting career in the WordPress space. We're going to talk about that. We'll talk about his YouTube channel, and how he's managed to grow that over the last couple of years. Before we do that Jamie, I wonder if you could introduce yourself, give us your quick WordPress bio.

[00:03:29] Jamie Marsland: So quick WordPress bio. I've been running this business, Pootlepress for 14 years. Prior to that though, I had a corporate career in technical, both public businesses and private businesses, running businesses. But always in publishing, and in software publishing. I always say that because people just see me as a YouTuber these days, so I want people to understand there's a bit more background to it.

And then the last 14 years, I've been running Pootlepress. And we started off as a training business, and then we morphed into a product business. Built some plugins, which we still provide. And then over the last three years, I've been committing to creating content, primarily over YouTube.

[00:04:04] Nathan Wrigley: Tell us a little bit about Pootlepress. What were the bits and pieces that you got yourself involved in? And are you a coder? Do you write the code, or did you write the code yourself? Do any of those projects still have a life, or have they been shelved for now?

[00:04:16] Jamie Marsland: As I said, it started off as a training business, which was literally, I left my previous job. I'd introduced WordPress into that business, and we had a very expensive development team. We were running a different CMS, which nobody would've heard of, it was called Ektron. But it was about $5,000 per site, per year, so it was, you know, in terms of WordPress. But that was at the very low end of the CMS market. But in terms of WordPress, which is obviously free, it was much more expensive.

And I introduced WordPress into that business. I could sort of see the market was shaking out a bit. And I looked at the WordPress market from that job, and seeing what was going on. And there were people running training courses in WordPress, but they were charging £500 a day for a WordPress training course, and selling them out.

And I thought, that's quite interesting. But they were going after the sort of corporate market. When I left that business, they gave me a chunk of money, and so I had some time. So I thought, well, I could start a WordPress training business. And so I took out a Google ad, and I launched a WordPress training course, because I knew WordPress really well, because I'd been using it personally for a long time.

And I pitched a course, I think it was £99, or something like that. And within half a day I got my first order. I thought, well that's interesting, there's a market here. And then I ended up running 2 courses a week, with about 15 people in, traveling around the country. I ran them in London, where I'm based in Chatham. Ended up in Scotland, also Wales.

So all around the country, running these face-to-face training courses, with people in a room, training people on WordPress. And there's nothing quite like seeing face-to-face people using WordPress to understand, I'm going to talk about the product business in a minute, but understand some of the issues people have with WordPress, when you're actually training them.

I've traveled a lot of miles, and personally trained thousands of people now on WordPress, which is just an incredible experience to have, which you don't actually realise until you've sort of gone through it.

And then, from that, we built some plugins, and we're going back a while now. So we built some plugins around Woo, as they were, Woo Themes. And, yeah, those plugins are still going, and we still have customers, and they're actively supported. And the plugins now we're releasing are Gutenberg based, I guess you'd say. So block based plugins.

And we were there right at the start of that. So we have a free plugin called Caxton, which nobody understands, but it's named after William Caxton. If you're English, you probably know that. He was a, the equivalent of Gutenberg but English. And that was launched in Nashville, which Matt Mullenweg demoed actually, as part of his presentation of the launch of Gutenberg. So we were right there, right at the start of Gutenberg. So I've always understood that Gutenberg was going to be a big driver in the space.

[00:06:38] Nathan Wrigley: It sounds like there's a common thread running through quite a bit of that, which is educator basically. Do you have a sort of traditional background in education, or is it just something you find yourself drawn towards and capable of doing?

[00:06:50] Jamie Marsland: Well, I was a tennis coach when I was 19 to 23, to help fund uni education, partly. So played a lot of tennis. And I loved coaching, I loved teaching. And looking back on that experience, that was like, okay, that's quite an interesting thing. So I'm thinking of redoing my, they lapse tennis coaching qualifications, I'm thinking of retaking them, and going back to it at some point. Because I absolutely love teaching. You realise this as you go through this career, but I love the teaching bit of it, so yeah.

[00:07:18] Nathan Wrigley: Do you find there's any, the same level of love for the online teaching? Because when you described your WordPress teaching, it sounded like you were in the room with the people. And so you obviously get that immediate feedback and, you know, it's not done via an email saying, thank you, I enjoyed your course, or whatever. You're actually seeing people's faces light up and what have you.

But with the YouTube content, and all of the other bits and pieces, I just wonder if there's any connection between your end users, your students, if you like. Do you get that same warm and fuzzy feeling?

[00:07:45] Jamie Marsland: Yeah, definitely is, because the videos on YouTube get tons of comments these days, and I get loads of personal emails, and it's the same with teaching people in a room. You know, you teach people in a room and you literally, it sounds a bit overblown, but people do email you and say, this is, you know, I've built a business out of this teaching, thank you. And it's changed the direction of my life.

And you definitely get that, it's different on YouTube, but you definitely get that. Comments are fantastic, and the likes are fantastic as well. So yeah, I mean you do get that sense of fulfillment with it. And I think there's, part of it is, tennis coaching is a really, you can teach people to play tennis properly very quickly. You see a lot of people, what I'm getting to is, I think there's lots of ways to teach people well, which I think is a real interest of mine.

You know, how you can take a subject, and simplify it down to core elements, so they get the basics and start flying very quickly. With tennis, there's like three things you can teach any beginner, to get them playing decent tennis within half an hour, no problem. But you see a lot of coaches will overcomplicate things and people won't have the same improvement so quickly.

And I think that's the real challenge in WordPress education as well. So I put a huge amount of thought into how I structure my videos in terms of, so people are going to be able to understand them, and do things more easily than just, this is this, this is this, this and this.

So in terms of my videos, huge amount goes into the preparation of planning how to lay them out, to try and get the best possible outcome for the end user. Whilst at the same time, with YouTube, you have to make them engaging enough that they're going to click on the thing in the first place to watch it.

So there's a lot. There's kind of multidimensional, creating YouTube videos. You want to be educational, but if you just do a tutorial video, nobody's going to potentially watch it, because it's going to be boring as heck. So there's multi-layers to doing YouTube education stuff.

[00:09:23] Nathan Wrigley: But you don't have like a traditional, I don't know, pedagogy. You haven't got a, like a teacher training qualification, or anything like that? You've just learned over time the process of creating something that is what you wish to create. And obviously, now that you've got this huge uptick in your subscriber count on the YouTube channel, you've obviously hit on some formula which is working.

[00:09:40] Jamie Marsland: And I actually don't think the traditional approach works on YouTube anyway. I don't think you can take, you can try, but I don't think if you take a traditional teaching approach, and stick it on YouTube, it's not going to work. So I wouldn't, you know, if I was putting a video on the Learn WordPress website, I wouldn't put that same video on YouTube, because it's a completely different context that people are consuming that information.

[00:10:00] Nathan Wrigley: So back in the day when you stumbled across WordPress in the business that you were working with, you probably had no intuition that it was going to work out quite so well, in terms of WordPress's ascendancy in the CMS market. How do you feel about that?

We're obviously at this pivotal point, where it feels that there's maybe a little bit of slowdown in adoption. We keep talking about this number, this 43% of the internet. I can't quite work out what that means, but it's a big number. You know, it's a giant proportion of the internet. Do you have any intuitions as to whether or not that's going to keep going? Would it bother you in any way if it didn't keep rising?

[00:10:33] Jamie Marsland: A few things there, one is, when I was just starting off in WordPress, I could see it was going to fly, because it was starting to gain momentum. But I had all the same, you know, my developers were .net developers that were working for me. They were object orientated focused. They looked at PHP as some sort of dirt in the road, and they thought WordPress was terrible. So they're very sneering about it.

That has led a lot of the, I guess, teaching I do as well. You know, there's a lot of, people will dismiss WordPress still, for not being, what I'm trying to say is, WordPress has never won out because it's been the best CMS. It's won out because of the ecosystem, and the other market drivers that were driving it. Like there were CMSs that had amazing workflows, editorial workflows, back in the day, and WordPress didn't have any of that stuff.

But WordPress won out because of the huge ecosystem, and the fact it was open source, and all these other drivers that were driving it. So I could sort of see that it was going to work back then.

In terms of where we are now, it's not so much the market size that's important to me. There was a slide shared by Noel Tock, as part of his keynote at WordCamp Asia. It was a fascinating slide actually, and it talked about market share, which we know is about 43%, and leveling off a little bit.

But then he overlaid that slide with search interest. So he looked at how many people were searching. And actually had a really interesting Twitter dialogue with Alex Denning about this as well. And that was basically showing how it grew in 2014, and then now its dived down quite steeply over the last, I think four years, in terms of search interest. So people aren't searching for it so much. And then he also overlaid that with number of sites that are being built, which has also gone down a lot.

Now that, for me, is probably the most important metric, yeah. So that has gone down significantly as well, from where we were at the peak. And then he also overlaid that with another metric, which was maturity of sector. So in terms of how many people are actually engaged in building WordPress sites, or producing WordPress products. And that was kind of still going up.

So what we've potentially got here is the confluence of a declining market, which we're not seeing quite yet. This is the kind of worst case scenario, with over suppliers. So if that is the case, if we do start to see some of that over the next few years, that's going to cause a lot of pain to people, because we're going to have a declining market, in terms of number sites being built. But we've got lots and lots of suppliers, lots of product people in that sector. So essentially not enough business for everyone.

Who knows, that's conjecture. But my spidey senses are telling me, this is possibly where we're potentially at. And I think, if you look at the strategy, there's a few other things that play into my mind for this as well. One is, I was at Cloudfest last week in Germany, and a lot of the hosting companies now are pitching towards, deliberately, strategically, pitching towards the agency developer market. That's where they're going. And there's two reasons for that, potential reasons for that.

One is, that's where people spend the most money. The second reason for that is, they're seeing a contraction of the DIY market, which would be my guess as well. So they're seeing their overall market go down, in terms of revenue, my guess. But they're seeing everyone trying to go after the agency developer market. Everyone that I speak to.

I had a conversation with Wix this week, because I've had a demo of their product. They are deliberately going after the agency market as well. So I don't think it's just WordPress that are seeing this pinch at the moment, because I think there's some recessional pressure on that stuff.

But I do think it's potentially an issue for WordPress, that we're, it's a question of what is the canary in the mine? And I'm seeing some of those signals. So yeah, I've got some trepidation of where the market is going to head over the next few years.

[00:13:57] Nathan Wrigley: Can I plumb a little bit further into that, and ask you what the signals are, if you're willing to share them? The signals that you've said that you were able to see. Just moments ago, you said that you had this, whatever the canary in the mine was. And you had a few little signals that you thought were illustrative of the general argument that you were making. Can you share those?

[00:14:13] Jamie Marsland: Well, it was just those really. It just the fact that I'm seeing all the hosting companies that I'm talking to, because I talk to a lot of hosting companies, and we'll probably come on to talk about wordpress.com. But everyone seems to have a strategy of going after the developer agency market.

Everyone I speak to, that's their strategy. Which makes sense, but it's kind of interesting that it seems like that's the direction of travel right now. And I don't have insider information, in terms of the numbers for hosting companies. That's just my view from the outside.

[00:14:42] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, there's been a lot of talk recently. Well, certainly over the last three or four years, from various different quarters, all about the sort of shattering of the community. And I think it was, maybe it was Joost, the person, as opposed to Yoast the company. Or maybe it was Marieke, I can't remember.

But the idea that the community is sort of heading in two different directions. You've got this philanthropic side of the community, who pour lots and lots of their personal free time into the project, and wish it to grow in that way. And then you've got the other side, which is driven more by profit, and about how these two sides, in their estimation at least anyway, are getting further and further apart.

And so they're having to shout across this void. And the void gets further and further, so that the shouting has to be done louder and louder. The takeaway from that, I guess is that, if you've got a community which isn't working, those two sides are not working in tandem, that's also a problem I think.

[00:15:30] Jamie Marsland: Yeah, absolutely. It was also interesting, because at Cloudfest, lots of hosting companies were there, because Joost was there actually. I was chatting to him and he was saying, actually one of the interesting things is that they need WordPress to succeed. If these like Wix, and Squarespace, and Shopify, if those guys start winning out, that's going to affect the hosting company's revenue as well. Because those are closed systems, that don't host on their systems. There's a lot at play in making WordPress work really, at the moment.

[00:15:54] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. He wrote a piece just the other day on the Post Status blog, all about how the hosting companies are, well, in many cases they've got their own onboarding system, and they've got their own page builder, or something adjacent to a page builder. And I think his central argument was, would it be a good idea if, rather than having these sort of rival system, so if you go with hosting company x, you're tied in because you've bought into their package, and you understand their tooling and what have you. And if you go with hosting company y, you're locked in over there.

And I think his central argument was, we need WordPress to succeed, not the proprietary bits and pieces within your own systems. And in order to do that, would it be a good idea to spend less on your proprietary things, and put that investment back into, I don't know, Five for the Future or something.

[00:16:34] Jamie Marsland: Yeah, I think that's a fair point. The onboarding of WordPress has been mooted a few times in the last few weeks as well. And it's one of the big, when you train people, you realise there's many hurdles of friction in terms of WordPress, which it'd be great to have solved, like domain names and hosting.

I mean, you go to a hosting page, and that's the first hurdle. You're like, you get the average person and. Well, you compare the experience of setting up a website on Canva, and setting up a website through any WordPress host. And Canva, it's five minutes and they, my cats could do it frankly, it's so easy. Whereas WordPress, you have pricing tables with all sorts of things in, which are like object cash and, oh, what was that? Do I need some of that?

There's a world of difference in terms of the friction between WordPress and some of these no-code solutions out there. And I know historically, WordPress has always batted these things off. My worry is that might not last forever, I guess.

That's probably where it needs to be. That's the competition. I had this conversation with the head of Influencer Marketing at Wix. They've got 500 people in marketing at Wix. I think they've got 200 on the influencer, no, that can't be right. But they've signed up about 400 influencers.

[00:17:37] Jamie Marsland: And I know we always talk about Wix, and the fact that they put huge amounts of money into marketing. But you compare that to WordPress, who historically have been development companies, with the odd marketing person appended on the side of it. And they're really serious. They're really serious, and they've got this, quite a cool product that's aimed at agency market.

So I do think that the opposition is lining up their ducks really well at the moment. If you were doing a competitor analysis, you look at, you know, I think Canva is a competitor to the brochure market. I've been saying this for a long time.

They've got a website builder. If they want to, they can go after a lot of the brochure market, which is a lot of WordPress business. Wix, doing some really cool stuff with their Wix Studio stuff. It's really slick. Obviously Shopify, going great guns. And then you compare this to WordPress at the moment. I worry how quickly WordPress can react.

Let's say I was watching your WP Builds chat today, and you were saying, what happens if it goes down to 40 and then 35? Let's say, that did happen. Is WordPress match fit to react to that? And my worry is, at the moment, we are not, because we haven't had to be.

[00:18:43] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, that's a really interesting point, isn't it? We literally haven't had to be. It's been growth, upon growth, upon growth, year on year. And obviously these rival platforms, Wix et al, they've obviously also had growth year, on year, on year. It hasn't been of the same magnitude, but in terms of finance, and the bottom line, it has been.

And if they can employ a sophisticated marketing team, that can put adverts, you know, in the Super Bowl and things like that, then that's going to be a very difficult hurdle to overcome. Because if people do stop Googling for WordPress, or it just, you know, the mind share just disappears, and whenever somebody thinks about a website, that little three letter word pops out of everybody's mouth. Oh yeah, Wix, I've heard of that. That's going to be hard to compete with. And I think you're right, interesting.

[00:19:31] Jamie Marsland: If you compare brand searches, I mean, Canva is the big one. Canva completely dwarfs. You know, I think actually, if I was Wix, I'd be scared silly of Canva, frankly. I think Canva is such a behemoth in terms of it's got, I think it's got 165 million monthly users now. Generating cash, always been profitable, and people have grown up with it, people are using it. So, you know, my kids know how to build a website, because they've used Canva. And it's the same interface, so there's no learning curve. So, personally, I think Canva, if they wanted to, they could go and eat a lot of the Squarespace, and a lot of the Wix market, and a lot of the WordPress brochure market, if they wanted to.

Canva have got an event coming up. The Canva Create event, which is titled Changing Work, or something like that. So we'll see if they, because they have a, like a one page website builder in Canva at the moment. Pretty slick. You can only build a one page website, so it's very limited. If they extend that, then that's going to be a really interesting thing to see.

[00:20:26] Nathan Wrigley: You clearly are fairly optimistic. Well, I say you are, obviously we've just had the conversation that we've just had. But, given the content that you are creating, I suppose there must be a part of you which is optimistic about WordPress's future as well. Because your YouTube channel, and we will link to everything that we mention in the show notes, so you can check that out on the WP Tavern website. We'll link to all of Jamie's bits and pieces, properties and what have you.

But you've been creating a YouTube channel. I don't know quite how far that goes back. But I think it's fair to say that, at the moment, you've got lots of heads turning in your direction. The subscriber count is on a fairly rapid rise. So bravo, well done for that.

But the content, that I've seen at least anyway, is very much aligned with kind of Core WordPress. What can WordPress out the box do, without needing to bundle a bunch of plugins? So given that you are doing that, you must have some confidence in its capacity to challenge the likes of Wix and Squarespace, or maybe not.

[00:21:22] Jamie Marsland: I mean it's miles ahead of those things at the moment. It is important to say that, in terms of how many people are using it, and market share. I was just talking about where I look at it from a, if we were starting today, where we're at in terms of just the marketing.

I think WordPress is in a place where it needs to step up a gear, which it's doing. And that's partly why I'm optimistic about it. So, you know, my videos, a lot of them are like, I do some website recreations where I take a famous website, and I show you how to rebuild it using just Core WordPress.

So I'm hugely optimistic about it. It's got some hurdles to get over. But the core, imagine if we didn't have Gutenberg right now. Imagine where we'd be if we didn't have Gutenberg. I know there's lots of people that don't like Gutenberg, but imagine that situation.

And actually also, interestingly, WordPress has doubled, and I'm not saying this is down to Gutenberg, but it's doubled its market share since Gutenberg was released. So at the very least, it hasn't harmed the growth of WordPress.

[00:22:12] Nathan Wrigley: So the content that you are creating is around the block editor, and what have you. I'd love to get into the process of that, because your videos, and again, pause this, go and watch some of Jamie's content. You'll know what I'm talking about as soon as you've got three minutes into it.

You obviously put a real value on quality. I'm imagining there's quite a lot of editing and retakes, and all of that. You've mentioned before that you spend a long time planning everything out. Why are you doing this? What is the point of having a YouTube channel? What do you get out of it, aside from the pleasure that you may derive? What's your north star with that project?

[00:22:44] Jamie Marsland: Yeah, well, originally it was just to create some content that kind of countered the narrative that you couldn't do stuff in the block editor, I think, probably. So I just started producing some content just with, I guess a slight experiment, I suppose. And then it started to get some traction and feedback, so I carried on. I just carried on.

And it was actually a post by Chris Lema, that talked about trying to become a content machine. I think it was something like that. Which kind of inspired me to really start committing towards it. And I could just sense that there was something happening in terms of creating the content.

And now it's got to the point where it's generating revenue. It's generating more revenue than the other bits of the business, which wasn't the plan. But then people start emailing you and saying, well, we'd like to sponsor this. We'd like to put our name to this content.

And the last two contracts I've signed, in terms of the description of what it was, one had talent in quotes at the top, which is bizarre. And the other had influencer, which is really bizarre. And now that's driving revenue. It's driving revenue back to the product business, and it's driving revenue back to the training business. That was not the intention of why I started it.

[00:23:48] Nathan Wrigley: Okay, that's really fascinating. So it was just done out of a desire to put content out there. It transformed itself into something that was getting the eyeballs. And then I presume, off the back of that, yeah, the sponsorship, emails start arriving and what have you.

A difficult decision must have been had, or a difficult decision must have been, had to have been made at some point. How much time does Jamie put into this in the future, you know? Okay, it's successful now. Will it continue to grow? Should I be concentrating on the business? Should I be concentrating on the videos? Yeah, I guess you've got to sit the family down and have that conversation.

[00:24:21] Jamie Marsland: Well it's a bit strange to say, you know, when you're 50, what do you do for a living? And you have to say, I'm a YouTuber. It was hard enough to explain to my mother what I did in WordPress, and now it's, she just looks at me blankly like I'm crazy. But I think the other thing is, I absolutely love it. So it wasn't like I was drawn to the challenge of creating interesting creative content, and that was the prime thing that got me to create lots of video content. I absolutely love the creative process, and challenge of creating video content. So it was like, oh okay, this is maybe what I should have been doing a while back.

[00:24:53] Nathan Wrigley: Does the sponsorship bring with it a different approach to creating content? What I mean by that is, when you were just doing the content because you enjoyed doing the content, you could put things out on any schedule, I guess. You know, miss a month, it doesn't matter, it was just a bit of fun. But then as soon as the sponsorships start to come in, I guess you've got to be a bit more methodical about it, bit more timely about it, and they're going to want a return on that investment. So has it changed your opinion of it, as a thing that you do?

[00:25:21] Jamie Marsland: Not yet, but I'm quite early into it, so ask me maybe in a couple of years time. And I think the thing with the sponsorship, all the sponsored content I'm doing so far is stuff that I've pitched it to them actually, a lot of it. Even though people will email me a lot these days, and ask for sponsored content. I'll often have ideas of an interesting piece of content, and then, because I know most people in the WordPress market now.

And having a YouTube channel is a great way to network, by the way. So you know, for example, a good example is with the guys over at Stellar. I've done a few pieces with them. But I had the idea, wouldn't it be great fun to do a piece of content which was, I think we're going to call it, I hired an ethical hacker to break into my website and here's what happened. You know, which is like a really interesting idea as a piece of content.

So I've actually found an ethical hacker, he's based in Malaga, and I'm going to go and see him, and that'll be part of the video as well. The interesting thing about the sponsorship is how you take an idea and make it interesting, and compelling for people watching the content, so they still want to watch it. That's a really creative challenge as well. But in terms of, it hasn't changed my opinion yet, but I'm very early to the financial bit of it.

[00:26:21] Nathan Wrigley: Well let's hope you still maintain the enthusiasm. What does the process look like then? You mentioned that you've come up with some innovative titles, and you're obviously telephoning people up, and trying to find hackers here, there, and everywhere. But what is the process, to put out a half an hour, an hour long piece of content? Just give us an insight.

Because I think everybody has the impression that, oh, YouTube, it's easy. There, he's staring at the camera, he's talking, he's making it up as he goes along. And I'm sure it's not like that. I'm sure there must be hours, and hours, and hours. What does it take to put out one of your videos?

[00:26:49] Jamie Marsland: As an example, I've got a video coming out today with wordpress.com. It's a five minute video and it probably took two days. That sort of magnitude. There's like the initial idea, and then I always, always now, get the title and thumbnail sorted first. If anyone's going to do this stuff, you've got to do that first with YouTube. It sounds a bit crass, but you've just got to do it. So get the packaging right. And I think only once you've got that right do you know the video's going to fly. So that's a really good process to go through.

And then it's just around, planning is everything, and the creative idea behind the flow of the video. I've developed a blueprint now, which I use on a lot of my videos, which is about having a hook, and then adding loops into the video, so you keep people engaged throughout the video. So it's almost like this layer that you layer on top of a video. So when you're seeing the video, you're seeing somebody talk about something, but actually there's hopefully a blueprint behind it.

[00:27:36] Nathan Wrigley: There's a story in there somewhere. There's a methodology behind it all.

[00:27:39] Jamie Marsland: That is getting natural to me now. So when I'm planning videos, I understand, I don't have to think. When you first start doing YouTube, you have to think about everything like that, because it's not natural. It is to some people, but it's wasn't to me. So you've got to plan it, in terms of that blueprint. How to structure it. Hook people at the start, keep them engaged throughout, plus educate them along the journey. So there's quite a lot going on.

[00:27:58] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Do you do sponsor bits inside the video? What I mean is, is the sponsorship clearly defined in the content that you do? So there's an ad for hosting company x, or whatever it may be. And then you get back to being in the video, it's Jamie talking to the camera and what have you. Or are you open to creating sponsored videos about particular product or company?

[00:28:17] Jamie Marsland: So both really. So at the moment I've got pre-rolls that go on the front of all my videos, which is, at the moment, InstaWP are sponsoring that space. But I've also done videos where I do website recreation, with certain tools. So I've done one with Kadence and GiveWP, where I recreated the Charity Water website using their tools.

So they give me a challenge, and I try and rebuild it using Kadence and their tools. And I did one with Spectra One as well. So that's kind of how that works. The one I'm doing with Stellar and SolidWP will be, it'll be sponsored by them and it's going to be, this is the challenge, but this is what happens when we try and hack into a website without any security, this is what happens when we try and hack into a website with some security. It kind of varies in a way.

[00:28:57] Nathan Wrigley: Okay, so you've got a, you can, approach Jamie if you want to make content.

[00:29:01] Jamie Marsland: And I've also got, if you go to my YouTube sponsorship page, I've also got this series of videos going on at the moment where we give my daughters a challenge with a product. We've got five people lined up actually, who have signed up. And the first one we did was Kadence AI. So, can Meg and Lily build a website in 10 minutes, using Kadence AI?

And that's another sponsorship opportunity as well. And that's them using the Kadence tools to try and do a task, and we just film them doing the task. And I think that's really interesting from a content point of view, but it's also really interesting from a product point of view. Because they're beginners, they're not web pros, how beginners use their plugins.

[00:29:35] Nathan Wrigley: That's really fascinating, and you get your family involved as well.

[00:29:37] Jamie Marsland: Well they get the money actually with that one as well, because they're both at universities now. I've got another daughter called Hetty who wants in on the action, she hasn't done it yet. But yeah, the money goes to them to fund their accommodation at uni, which is really helpful.

[00:29:50] Nathan Wrigley: That is so nice. That's so great. One thing that we should mention is, of course, and you did mention it before. But you know you're doing something right. Well, you didn't mention this bit before, but you know you're doing something right when people such as Matt Mullenweg drop your name in the State of the Word. And off the back of, I guess being seen by Matt, you're now creating content, or you're about to create content.

[00:30:11] Jamie Marsland: Yeah, we've done three, fourth one going out today.

[00:30:14] Nathan Wrigley: So this is wordpress.com. You're making videos in that space. How's that process going? Are you enjoying that?

[00:30:19] Jamie Marsland: Yeah, it's great. Basically it's a series of videos called Build and Beyond. So I'm partnering with them for a series of videos, kind of aimed at the sort of developer agency market again, which is interesting. Because there's lots of stuff going on in wordpress.com that people don't know about. So it's trying to show some of that stuff, but also just kind of speak to the broader market about the cool stuff you can do with WordPress actually.

And obviously I've got resources of some amazing people in wordpress.com to lean on, in creating content. It's kind of like a fabulous thing to happen. And obviously it's great from my point of view, because it gets my name on wordpress.com, I'm on their blog.

And hopefully it's adding value to their brand, which is the idea. Part of my plan with that is to kind of shine a light on some of the cool stuff happening in WordPress, in the broader community. So hopefully a video's going out in a few hours, which talks about some of the developers you should follow in the WordPress ecosystem. It's trying to shine a light on the cool stuff that's happening out there as well.

[00:31:12] Nathan Wrigley: I don't quite know how to phrase this question. I'll ask it, and maybe I'll change the wording of it. Do you think there's something different about you. Do you think the route to success, in the way that you are doing it with WordPress content, do you think that's something you were born with, if you know what I mean? Do you have that capacity? Were you always able to be a raconteur? Can you control the room? Have you always had the ability to talk? Do you understand kind of where I'm going? Do you believe that this is something that anybody could do with a little bit of hard work and patience, or is there something a bit special about you?

[00:31:39] Jamie Marsland: There's nothing special about me, but there's definitely, a lot of my roles in, especially before Pootlepress, were being the communicator between the technical people, and the commercial people. I was that person that could take technical ideas, and then translate them to non-technical people, so they could understand from a business point of view why they were important to do. So I've definitely enjoyed being in that spot, taking really complex ideas, and make simple for people to understand.

[00:32:05] Nathan Wrigley: I think it also takes a certain amount courage to push through with something like this. Because the idea of putting things out, and thinking, well, I've made it, people will watch it. That takes a certain level of courage I think, because it's easy to think that people will watch it, feel great disappointment if they don't. But in your case, it didn't turn out that way.

[00:32:22] Jamie Marsland: No. We have this running joke with my wife, which is, there's three types of people in the world. People that think they're worse than they actually are. People think they're about right, in terms of their opinion of themself, and people that think they're better than they actually are. My wife thinks she's slightly worse than, she's got far more talent than she thinks she has. I think I'm probably slightly above, which I think helps in this space.

[00:32:44] Nathan Wrigley: I think that's great. Thank you for joining me today, Jamie. It's been a real pleasure. It's been an absolute delight watching your videos, and watching your popularity grow. Let's hope that if we were to have the same conversation in 2, 3, 4, 5 years time, it would still be on an upward spike. Let's hope that's the case. Jamie, thank you for joining me today.

[00:33:02] Jamie Marsland: Thanks very much.

On the podcast today we have Jamie Marsland.

Jamie has a varied background in technical corporate leadership, and has been guiding Pootlepress for over a decade. Initially a training service, Pootlepress has become a product-focused company known for its WordPress plugins. Jamie's depth of experience in the industry is increasingly overshadowed by his visibility as a YouTuber, where, as you'll hear, much of his attention is now focussed.

In this episode we cover some new ground. We talk about a critical issue facing WordPress today, the fierce competition from platforms like Canva and Wix, and the marketing hurdles that WordPress must navigate to maintain its market share.

We also explore Jamie's unconventional path to becoming a content creator, discussing how he went from teaching tennis to teaching tech, and how he's leveraged YouTube to grow his audience and business. His perspective is that it's important to make technical concepts accessible and easy to understand. Making his content is a lot of work, most of which happens behind the scenes.

We get into this a little more deeply and Jamie shares his strategies for effective video creation, from planning to execution, along with his thoughts on sponsored content and its place in the YouTube ecosystem.

If you're curious about the future of WordPress, content creation, or the dynamics of digital learning, this episode is for you.

Useful links

Pootlepress

Caxton

State of the Word 2023

Jamie's YouTube channel

Noel Tock at WordCamp Asia

Marieke van de Rakt on Uniting the WordPress Community for a Stronger Future

The future is open-source

Canva Create

10 Apr 2024 2:00pm GMT

Akismet: reCAPTCHA V2 vs V3: Key Differences (And the Best Alternative)

Every website needs spam protection. If you're part of an enterprise‑level team, you know the shocking number of resources companies actually have to devote to this. Without some kind of software that helps filter out spam and bot activity, teams might spend more time dealing with fake activity than real visitors.

reCAPTCHA is one of the most popular options for organizations that want to protect their websites from spam. It's relatively easy to implement on most websites - you just need to know which version is best for your site.

However, it can disrupt the user experience and provide less‑than‑perfect results. That's why anti‑spam solutions like Akismet (which works completely in the background with AI technology) are quickly becoming the preferred option for organizations looking to streamline the UX and maximize the effectiveness of their online presence. We'll discuss that option a bit later.

In this guide, we'll introduce you to reCAPTCHA and help you pick the right version for your organization's needs. We'll also show you to Akismet, the best reCAPTCHA alternative on the market.

What is reCAPTCHA?

You're probably familiar with a CAPTCHA, even if you don't know it by name. CAPTCHA stands for 'Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart'.

reCAPTCHA homepage with information about the tool

That name is a mouthful, but it describes precisely what a CAPTCHA does. It's a system you can implement alongside forms to ensure that only humans can use them. Created at the turn of the 21st century, a basic CAPTCHA simply distorted letters and asked the user to identify them. The technology has continued to evolve over the years and is now known as reCAPTCHA. That's what we're looking at today. Google purchased this technology in 2009 and continually works to improve upon it.

As a website admin, if there's a submission that can't pass a reCAPTCHA test, then you may be dealing with a bot.

Or a human.

Unfortunately, as reCAPTCHA has evolved to stay ahead of the ever‑increasing sophistication of bots, the tests have become so complicated that, in many cases, real humans are prevented from using forms.

Despite the potential drawbacks, systems like this are essential in today's digital landscape. Any popular website deals with huge numbers of spam attacks, including unwelcome comments, fake registrations, and login attempts.

Quality reCAPTCHA systems are capable of filtering out many bot submissions. You'll still need to deal with spam, but in much smaller numbers.

Though not originally invented by the organization, reCAPTCHA is now a free service (with some limitations for enterprises) that Google provides, and that you can implement for any website or web application. You even get to choose between different versions, depending on the type of protection you want to implement.

reCAPTCHA v3 vs reCAPTCHA v2

These versions offer very different experiences and reCAPTCHA implementations. In the next section, we'll explore what those differences are, and discuss the evolution from the first version of reCAPTCHA to the current model.

The evolution of reCAPTCHA from V1 to V3

reCAPTCHA has evolved fairly dramatically since its inception. The changes in how the reCAPTCHA system works reflect new developments in the technology used to combat bots and spam. Let's take a look at the three major versions.

reCAPTCHA V1

The first version of reCAPTCHA launched in 2007, and it displayed images with distorted textual characters. You can still see this type of CAPTCHA in many places on the web. You're unable to copy the text, and the letters are heavily distorted to deter programs that might try to analyze the image's contents.

CAPTCHA with instructions on entering two words

This type of CAPTCHA also fulfilled a secondary purpose. A lot of the images of text were taken from digitized books. If you resolved this type of CAPTCHA, you not only proved that you're human, but you also helped software better recognize the language in digitized books.

Overall, this is the most straightforward type of reCAPTCHA you can implement for your organization. It's relatively easy for most people to solve (as CAPTCHAs should be). However, it's also become outdated over time.

These days, there's plenty of software and bots that are sophisticated enough to recognize the letters that images contain. That means reCAPTCHA V1 is no longer an effective option.

reCAPTCHA V2

reCAPTCHA V2 is where Google stepped in. They acquired the software in 2009 and launched V2 in 2014.

This version of reCAPTCHA offered a very different experience from anything else on the market. Instead of having visitors solve a puzzle to prove they're human, reCAPTCHA V2 shows a simple checkbox that says, "I am not a robot".

reCAPTCHA with a checkbox for I am not a robot

As an end user, all you have to do is click on the checkbox. reCAPTCHA V2 analyzes the user behavior during that process, and only presents further challenges if the system suspects it's dealing with a bot.

Those subsequent challenges typically involve image recognition tasks. reCAPTCHA V2 might ask you to select all the images that contain a specific element, like vehicles or stairs.

grid of images to review

The goal of these changes was to make CAPTCHAs more user‑friendly. reCAPTCHA V1 is often frustrating for visitors, since it's easy to mistake some of the characters shown in the images.

In other words, visitors often needed multiple tries to resolve a V1 reCAPTCHA. With V2, some visitors will still need to solve rote verification challenges, but most can just check a box and proceed.

reCAPTCHA V3

V3 is the latest version of reCAPTCHA and the current industry standard. It launched in 2018, and it offers human verification that works entirely in the background of a website.

With reCAPTCHA V3, visitors don't need to solve any challenges or tick any verification boxes. The software analyzes user behavior and gives each visitor a score. Depending on the score, it can determine whether a visitor is a human or a bot.

As the administrator, you can lower or raise the threshold for human verification with reCAPTCHA V3. The software gives you control over how strict it is, and whether it should completely block traffic it deems to be from bots.

Overall, reCAPTCHA V3 is better from a user‑experience standpoint. Instead of forcing visitors to interact with a CAPTCHA system or solve random challenges, V3 simply analyzes their behavior behind the scenes. A human visitor may be locked out if they are incorrectly determined to be a bot, but this should be rare (depending on your chosen settings).

Understanding reCAPTCHA V2

These days, it doesn't make sense to use reCAPTCHA V1, whether it's for a small business or an enterprise‑level website. That version of the software is deprecated, which means your choice will be between V2 and V3 (or a completely different alternative).

reCAPTCHA V2 aims to minimize the number of visitors who need to solve challenges to prove they're human. With V2, most visitors will only see a simple checkbox they need to tick to prove that they're not bots.

This can seem like a rudimentary approach, but it works because V2 also analyzes user behavior in the background. If it sees suspicious activity, it will also ask visitors to resolve visual challenges.

In practice, only a small number of human visitors should be presented with those additional challenges. This can be a safer approach than using a CAPTCHA system that works fully in the background because it provides a second chance for humans falsely labeled as robots. Plus, it doesn't allow the site admin to reduce the level of strictness, as is the case for V3.

The downside of reCAPTCHA V2 is that it will inconvenience visitors in some cases. However, presenting challenges can also help to keep your organization's website safer.

Aside from the occasional annoyance for visitors, versions of reCAPTCHA that rely on visual challenges can present accessibility issues. reCAPTCHA offers audio versions of its challenges for visitors with visual impairments, but the system is not perfect.

Google provides support for implementing reCAPTCHA V2 on your website using JavaScript. It's worth noting that while the service is free, it only supports up to one million assessments per month.

If you do require additional assessments, you'll need to budget for a reCAPTCHA Enterprise plan.

Understanding reCAPTCHA V3

reCAPTCHA V3 is the latest version of the CAPTCHA software. It does away with human verification challenges, and instead uses a score system that works entirely in the background.

When you implement reCAPTCHA V3 to protect a form, it automatically analyzes the behavior of any user who tries to access it. The software uses an algorithm to determine if a visitor is a human or a bot, by scoring them using specific criteria.

The approach of V3 is completely different from previous versions of the software. You can calibrate the scoring system for your site to decide what is an acceptable threshold for determining 'human behavior', and block traffic the system thinks is suspicious.

This version of the software offers the most user‑friendly implementation of CAPTCHA. That's because visitors don't need to deal with challenges or interact with any elements to prove that they're human.

The downside of this approach is that it can lead to more false negatives. No bot detection system is perfect, and without challenges, your organization might end up dealing with more spam submissions.

In terms of integration, you can implement reCAPTCHA V3 on your website using JavaScript. The code is different from V2, and you get a lot of control over how the implementation works and how sensitive it is when it comes to scoring user behavior.

Choosing between reCAPTCHA V2 and V3

Any organization with a significant online presence needs some sort of protection against spam and bot activity. reCAPTCHA V2 and V3 are among the most popular options because they're relatively easy to implement, and they have generous free plans.

Using V3 might seem like the logical option, since it's the latest version of the reCAPTCHA software. In practice, though, V2 continues to be an incredibly popular version of the software.

Both V2 and V3 provide comprehensive protection from spam for your website, but they do it using two different approaches. Despite being older, V2 offers a more secure experience, since it still implements a challenge system for suspicious visitors.

V3, on the other hand, can be more prone to false positives/negatives. Since you can configure what the software does if it detects suspicious activity, there's more room for potential human error during the implementation process.

Overall, reCAPTCHA V2 offers a more secure experience that is ideal for sensitive forms. If you have forms dealing with sensitive user data, having the option to present challenges can help you avoid problems like fake ecommerce orders.

reCAPTCHA V3 can be incredibly effective, but it prioritizes user experience over higher levels of security. This makes it a better option for less sensitive forms and user submissions, such as comments sections.

You can configure reCAPTCHA V3 to be more strict in detecting bot activity. The downside of this approach is that it can increase the rate of false positives. If you use reCAPTCHA to block bot traffic, and it mistakes a human visitor for a fake one, they're unlikely to be happy with the experience.

Ultimately, there is no single best version of reCAPTCHA. You'll need to consider the relative strengths and weaknesses of each one to determine which is most appropriate for your website. (There are also alternative tools you can use, which we'll discuss shortly.)

When it comes time to implement one of these systems, Google provides plenty of useful documentation for both reCAPTCHA V2 and V3. Your organization can set either one up manually, or via plugins if you use a content management system (CMS) like WordPress.

Both versions of reCAPTCHA are free for up to one million validations per month.

Exploring the alternatives to reCAPTCHA

reCAPTCHA is not the only option at your disposal. If you're not happy with the approach that either V2 or V3 uses, then it's smart to consider alternatives to CAPTCHA technology for your spam protection.

While there are a variety of anti‑spam solutions available, Akismet is the only one that rivals reCAPTCHA in terms of how easy it is to implement and its success rate. With Akismet, you get bot protection with 99.99% accuracy.

stats about Akismet's success

More importantly, Akismet doesn't rely on challenges to separate humans from bots. It offers a solution that works in the background to protect your website from spam, and it provides a fully free plan for personal websites and blogs.

For professional websites, there's flexible pricing. Small businesses can get the protection they need via the Pro plan for just $9.95 per month (when billed yearly). For enterprise‑level spam protection, organizations can get plans and pricing that's customized around their specific needs.

Akismet: The leader in spam protection

No matter which spam protection solution you choose for your organization, it needs to fulfill two key criteria. The first is to protect you against as much spam and bot activity as possible, with the fewest false positives along the way. The second is to protect a strong user experience.

The importance of that user experience can't be discounted. Some CAPTCHA solutions, like reCAPTCHA V2, are aggressive when it comes to presenting challenges after they detect suspicious activity. In some cases, reCAPTCHA V2 can force visitors to solve multiple challenges before giving them the green light.

That aggressive approach to spam detection can keep your website safe. The downside is that it can scare visitors away because solving multiple CAPTCHAs is not an enjoyable experience.

Akismet solves this problem by providing behind‑the‑scenes detection based on machine learning. It analyzes data from real spam on over 100 million websites to provide the most accurate detection possible.

Aksimet page with the text

Akismet provides simple integration with all kinds of websites, and it's particularly easy to implement if you're using WordPress. Your website administrator can install the Akismet plugin, activate it, and start filtering spam right away.

Akismet plugin listing

Although Akismet filters spam and bot activity in the background, you can also check to make sure it doesn't flag any real submissions as spam. This is rare, but it sometimes happens, and Akismet learns from these situations to avoid flagging similar activity in the future.

Frequently asked questions

If you still have any questions about spam protection and what solutions to consider, this section will aim to answer them. Let's start by recapping the key elements of reCAPTCHA.

What is reCAPTCHA?

reCAPTCHA is a CAPTCHA solution offered by Google. You can choose from reCAPTCHA V2 or V3 for your website, and implement either option using JavaScript.

Both versions of the software offer unique approaches to how they protect your website from spam. You can use either version for free for up to one million validations per month.

What is the primary goal of reCAPTCHA in website security?

The primary goal of reCAPTCHA is to stop spam form submissions. That includes spam comments, brute‑force attacks through login screens, fake payment information, and other types of attacks.

The software does this by helping to distinguish between real interactions on a website and bots. Different versions of reCAPTCHA use unique approaches to achieve this protection.

How have CAPTCHA mechanisms evolved over the years, leading up to reCAPTCHA V2 and V3?

Over time, CAPTCHA mechanisms have evolved to rely less on challenges and more on behind‑the‑scenes analysis. With reCAPTCHA V1, visitors were forced to solve challenges to prove they were human. Whereas the newest version of the software (V3) analyzes behavior without any input required from visitors.

Can bots still bypass reCAPTCHA systems? And if so, how do newer versions mitigate this?

CAPTCHA systems are always in a race to stay ahead of newer, stronger bots. There's a community of malicious actors who work to bypass reCAPTCHA protections, as well as other similar systems. This is because spambots and automated attacks can be incredibly lucrative, and there's significant interest in programs that can bypass well‑known CAPTCHAs.

Newer versions mitigate this risk through continued development. Any CAPTCHA solution you choose needs to get regular updates to both the core software and its spam database, in order to stay ahead of attackers. If the solution you're using doesn't do this, it will quickly become outdated.

Can I use reCAPTCHA V2 and V3 simultaneously for added security?

Yes, you can use reCAPTCHA V2 and V3 on the same website to protect different pages and assets. Google includes information on how to implement both versions of reCAPTCHA in its developer handbook.

What is the best alternative to reCAPTCHA?

Akismet offers the best alternative to reCAPTCHA for both small business websites and enterprise‑level projects. You can easily implement Akismet on any type of website, but it's particularly easy to do so if your organization uses WordPress.

How does Akismet's approach to spam protection differ from traditional CAPTCHA methods?

Akismet uses machine learning to analyze spam from the millions of websites that use it. This gives it access to one of the largest databases in the world for spam and bot activity, which means fewer false positives.

With Akismet, visitors also don't need to solve challenges to prove they're human. The software can analyze their submissions and use its training to determine what's spam and what isn't.

Akismet: The most trusted solution for spam protection

If you're looking for the easiest solution to implement with the most accurate results and absolutely zero interference for your visitors, your best choice is Akismet. It's blocked over 500 billion instances of spam and is used on over 100 million sites.

reCAPTCHA offers some additional customization, but also comes with risks like false positives that lock out real users and an annoying experience that could reduce your conversions. You can integrate Akismet with any system via an open API, or take advantage of its popular, pre‑built plugin for WordPress sites.

Many website owners can use Akismet absolutely free. Explore Akismet plans.

10 Apr 2024 1:00pm GMT

Do The Woo Community: Leveraging WooCommerce for Wyrmwood Gaming with Douglas Costello

The Woo team and Douglas discuss Wyrmwood's journey, Kickstarter success, challenges of growth, and multi-channel commerce.

10 Apr 2024 9:49am GMT

Donncha: Speculating on what to load next

The Speculative Loading plugin for WordPress is a plugin you should probably try out on your site, especially if you use WP Super Cache or Jetpack Boost to cache things. It uses the new speculation API that Chrome/Edge supports to load pages in the background if you even hover over a link.

It will dynamically prefetch or prerender pages before they're requested by the visitor on your site, which means that the page will show instantly when the visitor actually clicks the link.

It doesn't work in Firefox yet, but it won't hurt either, as the browser will just ignore the extra bits and pieces added to the page.

The default "moderate" eagerness works fine for me. The "eager" setting appeared to load links if the cursor got anywhere near them, which was a little too aggressive.

You won't notice your browser loading the page in the Network tab of the webdev tools, but if you tail your access_log, you'll see the requests go through when you hover over the links.

Browse around this site, or take a look at my photoblog for a feel of what it does.

There's more info in the make blog post about it, and this insightful comment about the wastefulness of loading pages that might not be used, especially for visitors on limited data plans, or low powered devices. That's definitely something to think about before using this plugin. I may yet remove it later, and I'll update this post if I do.

10 Apr 2024 9:43am GMT

Matt: Beeper & Texts

It's such a delight when a plan comes together and unfolds, especially when it's something you've been working on for many years. Today the announcement went out that we're combining the best technology from Beeper and Texts to create a great private, secure, and open source messaging client for people to have control of their communications. We're going to use the Beeper brand, because it's fun. This is not unlike how browsers have evolved, where solid tech and encryption on top of an open ecosystem has created untold value for humanity. Eric Migicovsky has written well about the plan going forward.

A lot of people are asking about iMessage on Android… I have zero interest in fighting with Apple, I think instead it's best to focus on messaging networks that want more engagement from power-user clients. This is an area I'm excited to work on when I return from my sabbatical next month.

10 Apr 2024 12:00am GMT

09 Apr 2024

feedWordPress Planet

WordPress.org blog: WordPress 6.5.2 Maintenance and Security Release

Note: Due to an issue with the initial package, WordPress 6.5.1 was not released. 6.5.2 is the first minor release for WordPress 6.5.

This security and maintenance release features 2 bug fixes on Core, 12 bug fixes for the Block Editor, and 1 security fix.

Because this is a security release, it is recommended that you update your sites immediately. Backports are also available for other major WordPress releases, 6.0 and later.

You can download WordPress 6.5.2 from WordPress.org, or visit your WordPress Dashboard, click "Updates", and then click "Update Now". If you have sites that support automatic background updates, the update process will begin automatically.

WordPress 6.5.2 is a short-cycle release. The next major release will be version 6.6 and is currently planned for 16 July 2024.

Security updates included in this release

The security team would like to thank the following people for responsibly reporting vulnerabilities, and allowing them to be fixed in this release:

Thank you to these WordPress contributors

This release was led by John Blackbourn, Isabel Brison, and Aaron Jorbin.

WordPress 6.5.2 would not have been possible without the contributions of the following people. Their asynchronous coordination to deliver maintenance and security fixes into a stable release is a testament to the power and capability of the WordPress community.

Aaron Jorbin, Aki Hamano, Andrei Draganescu, Artemio Morales, Caleb Burks, colind, Daniel Richards, Dominik Schilling, Fabian Kägy, George Mamadashvili, Greg Ziółkowski, Isabel Brison, Jb Audras, Joe McGill, John Blackbourn, Jonathan Desrosiers, Lovekesh Kumar, Matias Benedetto, Mukesh Panchal, Pascal Birchler, Peter Wilson, Sean Fisher, Sergey Biryukov, Scott Reilly

How to contribute

To get involved in WordPress core development, head over to Trac, pick a ticket, and join the conversation in the #core channel. Need help? Check out the Core Contributor Handbook.

Thanks to John Blackbourn, Ehtisham S., Jb Audras, and Angela Jin for proofreading.

09 Apr 2024 10:00pm GMT

Do The Woo Community: Simplifying Crypto Payments for WooCommerce with Stijn Paumen

The conversation with Stijn Paumen, CEO of Helio, explores cryptocurrency, stable coins, and their impact on merchants.

09 Apr 2024 9:02am GMT