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Is the new WordPress Gutenberg editor that good?

Is the new WordPress Gutenberg editor that good?

Over the past years, WordPress stuck to its good ol’ visual editor and didn’t introduce many changes. But hey, why fix something that is not broken? In most cases, this wouldn’t be a bad thing, but sometimes, a change is more than welcome, especially when competitors like Medium or Ghost come with a unique and refreshing experience for its users.

Apparently, WP ignored this aspect, so a group of contributors and volunteers started working at the WordPress Gutenberg editor for the past year, in their attempt to make adding rich content to the platform simpler and more enjoyable. But is the overall experience that good?

Let’s find out more about this editor and see if it’s actually worth it.

What is this Gutenberg editor?

Generally speaking, we can call it a new editor for WordPress, named after the man who invented the printing press with movable type, Johannes Gutenberg. Unlike the standard visual editor, which requires HTML and shortcodes in order to obtain the desired results, Gutenberg wants to make this easier, especially for first-time WordPress users.

Currently, the final version wasn’t released yet, so you can try the beta version. And it won’t get integrated into the platform until it gets 100,000 active installs. But believe us, it’s worth giving it a try, especially if you want to provide some feedback.

It’s available for installation in the WordPress repository and you can find it by searching it within the dashboard, under “Add New” plugins. You need WordPress version 4.8 or higher to run it, by the way.

After installing it, you should see links right under your posts that allow you to open up the WordPress Gutenberg editor. Once this will be merged with the Core, you will be able to access it by simply pressing the Edit links.

Besides this, it is also accessible from the new menu in the dashboard, which also includes a demo and the ability to create a new post using Gutenberg. It’s highly recommended to explore this option until you learn to get around with it.

What’s good about the WordPress Gutenberg editor?

Ok, now that we know what’s the whole deal with this editor, let’s take a few minutes and see what are some of its biggest pluses, which make it worth installing.

Pluses

It’s definitely a step forward for visual editing in WordPress. The classic editor is around for years and, despite being very easy to use, it’s not exactly the most amazing experience. Gutenberg brings a more intuitive interface for new users, helping them learn how to share the first posts faster and easier.

It uses HTML comments to store block info. Definitely one of the major advantages of this new editor is the fact that it stores information about blocks in HTML comments. Therefore, these are seen just on the back end of the site, without being rendered on live pages.

It won’t have side effects after disabling it. There are a lot of WordPress page editors already available, but some of them, after uninstalling, can have a negative impact on your site. Or, simply put, they will break your website. It won’t happen with Gutenberg.

It offers a solid HTML5 output. Technically speaking, Gutenberg blocks output content, like section and figure, through HTML 5 tags. Using them will help you future-proof all the content created in the new editor.

It gives you the possibility to write your own blocks. In Gutenberg, developers can create their own blocks of customized content. Let that sink in for a while.

Minuses

The user interface isn’t the best. Sure, it may look revolutionary and relatively easy to use, but the truth is that performing some of the simples tasks require more clicks than in the standard WordPress editor. For example, in order to update a page, you need to make two clicks, instead of just pressing “Update”

And we’re not done yet. Gutenberg for WordPress has an admin menu consisting of three columns. All good until now but the editor and the sidebar will eventually get crowded and scrolling around on smaller display can be confusing.

Oh, and let’s not forget about meta boxes, essential for a well-optimized page. These are actually hidden somewhere under extended settings, underneath and beside the editor.

It has some accessibility issues. Since the WordPress Gutenberg editor is still in its beta version, such things are normal. Therefore, if you want to install it, you should be aware of its accessibility issues on using the back end, as well as the content output by it on the front end, like inline CSS.

Images don’t look so good. Well, this is a bit exaggerated, since the real problem is that you can’t wrap text around an image, like in the regular WordPress editor, as images have their own block. This shouldn’t be such a big issue, but if you care about the look of your pages, this is actually very important.

The same problem appears when you’re trying to embed audio or video, as these also require their own block.

There are no shortcodes in paragraphs. Unfortunately, you can execute shortcodes, neither in text columns or paragraphs blocks in the current version of the editor. In order to make them work, they much be placed in the shortcode block. And I bet that you aren’t fancying this.

This current situation can cause some problems, as long as your shortcodes produce inline content. However, they will work when Gutenberg is added to an existing site.

And this wraps it up. Overall, the WordPress Gutenberg editor looks like a promising project, even in its current state. We’re looking forward to seeing the final variant, ready to be used by everybody, as we’re convinced that it has the power to change the way we’re using the world’s most popular content management system.

What are your thoughts on Gutenberg? Would you use it instead of the current WP editor?

What could 2018 bring – 10 mobile SEO predictions to look after

What could 2018 bring – 10 mobile SEO predictions to look after

Let’s face it: desktops are no longer the most used when it comes to accessing the Internet. People are constantly on the go and rely on the mini PC in their pocket: the smartphone. It’s been a while since Google revealed that the number of searches made from mobile devices is bigger than the number of desktop searches, so this doesn’t come as a surprise.

Webmasters are also aware of this, so they’re doing their best in order to deliver the best user experience. And when it comes to SEO, they’re now doubling their efforts, since they have to optimize for two different platforms.

Like every year, the community is talking about what we could expect from this year in terms of search engine optimization. We’ll leave the talk about desktop SEO for another time because today we’re completely focusing on mobile SEO!

There are a lot of speculations regarding this topic, so I’ll try to avoid the so-called rumors that don’t have any arguments to rely on. But enough with the chit-chat, let’s see what we should look forward to seeing in 2018…

The Mobile First Index, coming soon to a smartphone near you

In 2017, Google ran a lot of tests and it looks like everything went pretty good, as the Mobile First Index is expected to start rolling out soon. What’s this all about, you’re asking? It’s basically a new method of indexing and ranking search listing, making rankings to be based on the mobile version of a website’s content.

Now don’t act surprised, I’ve already told you that there are way more searches made from mobile devices.

If you weren’t aware of this update, now it would be the best time to update your site and make it responsive. That is, if you still want to rank well.

A new SERP layout

Even though we both hate them, ads are here to stay. Even more, we might as well see more of them, since Google is always looking for ways of increasing its advertising revenue.

One of them will imply changing the SERP layout, by eroding organic real estate. But this doesn’t come as a big surprise since we’ve already seen a few changes in this direction, consisting in expanded text ads, smaller ad labels, ads in the map pack or new ad extensions.

No more Map spam!

Over the past months, we could notice a real phenomenon called “map” spam. Basically, companies were loading keywords into their business names, just to appear in local map results. And yes, you guessed it, they weren’t even close to those areas.

But Google figured this out, so they’re expecting to take measures, in order to restore the integrity of the service. If you did something similar, expect some rough verification processes, alongside a penalty.

Serious penalties for ad-heavy sites, with poor content

If you’re familiar with SEO updates, you should know that this is already being done for desktop variants. However, it’s present on our list with mobile SEO predictions, meaning that Google is planning to crack down on websites displaying a lot of ads with poor content this year.

We’re talking about intrusive pop-ups and nasty interstitials, which, if kept, will drag mobile websites down in SERPs.

If we’re allowed to take a wild guess, we will also see complete redesigns for a lot of websites after this update will start rolling out, as webmasters will want to offer a top user experience.

Progressive Web Apps will be everywhere

Over the past years, PWA – short for Progressive Web Apps – were actually on the rise. And once Google’s Mobile First Index started gaining territory, these magical apps gained even more momentum.

In 2018, PWAs will be the best solution, in terms of costs, to offers users a rich and engaging experience, without the need of visiting the Play Store or App Store.

But hey, don’t think that native apps will soon meet their end, but considering the current trends and the fact that the future of the Web is definitely on smartphones, PWAs, alongside Google’s ‘passion’ for mobile-first, this would be a win-win solutions for both users and publishers, combining a unique user experience with an effective marketing tool.

More structured data

If you want, you can call this a new SERP feature. Yeah, this makes sense.

Google wants to always deliver the most qualified answers to your queries. Therefore, the search engine giant will increase the use of structured data. Simple as that.

2018 could be the year of voice searches and interaction, through non-traditional devices, like Amazon Echo, Google Home or even Android Auto. A well marked-up content is definitely ideal for these!

Cross-Device Convergence can become a real thing

Until now, everybody was after responsive web design. And they should keep doing it, since it’s essential in the era of the mobile first index.

However, this year we could see people relying on cross-device convergence, which allows them to move their data, seamlessly, across all their devices: smartphones, desktops, tablets, laptops and so on. Consider this when you’re optimizing for mobile.

Searches will be made by voice

A few moments earlier, I was saying that 2018 could be the year of voice searches and interaction. This will happen because people will stop typing queries and ask personal assistants for the stuff they want to know instead.

Amazon made its Alexa assistant accessible to everybody and it’s planning to do this on a larger scale. Google is also doing serious progress in this direction, while Apple could also join the club, with their speculated HomePod.

Users will now look for voice-based interaction, so marketers will be forced to create new solutions to gain more customer loyalty. And this applies to mobile users as well.

Wrap-up

2018 will be a very important year for search marketers, especially for those who are focusing on mobile. The search engine giant going by the name of Google is aware of people’s increasing use of mobile devices and its doing everything possible in order to deliver a high-end experience and the best results. And search marketers will want their results to show up first.

These are just some of the things expected to happen this year with mobile SEO, based on the latest speculations. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think that something else notable will be introduced? Let us know your thoughts, by dropping a few lines below!

Your mobile pages need to be fast in 2018, says the Google Speed Update

Your mobile pages need to be fast in 2018, says the Google Speed Update

We’re living in the age of speed and people want to do things as fast as possible. And they’re not alone, since Google wants pretty much the same thing, especially when it comes to your mobile browsing experience.

This week, the search engine giant announced a new ranking algorithm, tailored for smartphones. To be more specific, we’re talking about mobile search. Because, in case you still don’t know this, the number of searches made on mobile devices has surpassed searches made on PCs. Let that sink in for a while.

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Year in Review and What to Expect from 2018

Year in Review and What to Expect from 2018

2017 was the year we doubled down on Progressive Web Applications and we did that by concentrating our efforts on building more PWA themes for our WordPress Mobile Pack plugin and also launching 3 new related WordPress plugins: Progressive Web Apps, PWACommerce and WP AMP Themes.

As for our flagship product, WordPress Mobile Pack, here are some 2017 numbers:

  • 6 major releases: January, March, April, May, August and September.
  • ~100,000 downloads
  • v2.0 has 35,3% active installs, v3.0+ has 9,7% active installs; there’s also a legacy of 31,8% active installs still on v1.0+
  • Approximately 2,500 support conversation over e-mail, Intercom.io (the customer support system we use), via GitHub or WordPress public repositories
  • A total of 23 posts on our blog
  • Our tweets earned 180,000 impressions last year

We’re also proud that we had the opportunity to give talks at WordCamp Bucharest and Athens, evangelizing Progressive Web Apps in the WordPress community. You can watch below the “Building an E-commerce Progressive Web App with React and WooCommerce” presentation, delivered by our CTO, Alexandra Anghel:

In terms of technology advancements, a big question mark last year gravitated around Apple and the support of service workers on Safari. With the introduction of Safari Technology Preview 46 for macOS Sierra and macOS High Sierra that seems to be heading in the right direction.

Service workers could find their way onto iOS devices in 2018, opening up the web for a whole new range of possibilities. Already available on Android, some sites have begun to take advantage of service workers to provide browser-based push notifications.

As far as we’re concerned, we’re dedicated to helping developers out there built awesome Progressive Web Applications, whether that’s on top of a popular CMS (WordPress, Drupal or Joomla), eCommerce platforms (WooCommerce, Magento or Shopify) or any other 3rd party API and with that in mind we’ve already planned some interesting partnership throughout 2018. More to come soon.

Here’s to a productive 2018 for all of us! 💪

Tech-Biz in between guy. CEO at WPMobilePack.com. Organizer at BucharestJS & JSHacks. Passionate about entrepreneurship. Love to play 🎾, squash and 🏓.
Progressive Web App for WordPress & WooCommerce with ReactJS

Progressive Web App for WordPress & WooCommerce with ReactJS

If you’ve followed the conversations in the WordPress community lately, you’ve realized that JavaScript is here to stay, either we’re talking about ReactJS, Angular/Ionic, VueJS or Polymer. In addition, if we combine it with the energy that Google is investing in advocating Progressive Web Applications, it really seems like the Web is entering a new and exciting development phase.

A few months back we announced that we’re building our first e-commerce Progressive Web Application by integrating with WordPress & WooCommerce REST API. Our CTO and main contributor for WordPress Mobile Pack, Alexandra Anghel, presented our progress at Bucharest WordCamp last week in front of an audience of 250 WordPress enthusiasts and we’re now excited to release the alpha version of our first PWA-Commerce theme.

Why did we build it?

Building a high-quality Progressive Web App has incredible benefits, making it easy to delight your users, grow engagement and increase conversions. There are several examples of companies that have successfully used PWAs to improve their metrics, you can find some of them on the Google Developers website. Here are just 2 examples:

  • Alibaba.com built a PWA that led to a fast, effective, and reliable mobile web experience. The new strategy delivered a 76% increase in total conversions across browsers and 4 times higher interaction rate from Add to Homescreen.
  • In another use case, OLX wanted to re-engage mobile web users by using Add to Homescreen and Push Notifications. They increased engagement by 250% and improved other metrics too: the time until the page became interactive fell by 23%, with a corresponding 80% drop in bounce rates. Monetization also improved, with clickthrough rate (CTR) rising 146%.

Since eCommerce is one of the main areas where a PWA can bring immediate benefits, the WooCommerce Progressive Web App theme that we’re releasing is set to bring a new level of excitement for your users and increase your business bottom line.

Here are some of the capabilities that we’ve implemented for you:

  • Products & Categories Navigation
  • Minimalist Product Section
  • Product Photo Gallery
  • Product Ratings & Reviews
  • Flexible Shopping Cart
  • Social Sharing (Facebook, Twitter, G+)

You can give it a try here: http://bit.ly/pwacommerce (use an Android/iOS device)

What’s the PWA score on LightHouse?

First of all, being progressive is a score, not a Yes or No, and there’s a Chrome plugin called Lighthouse that you can use to measure this score. Lighthouse generates a report with all the PWA capabilities, basically, it lets us know what we need to change for a web app to become progressive. For our alpha version of the WooCommerce PWA, we managed to hit a 91 score on Lighthouse.

What’s next?

As you’ve probably realized from the list of features that I listed earlier, PWAs are framework agnostic. Many are built using Angular JS or React Js, which are the most popular JavaScript frameworks at the moment. Both AngularJS and React have their advantages:

  • The Angular / Ionic combination is pretty popular nowadays. Ionic is a great framework that was originally built for mobile apps, but has expanded to PWAs and even desktop applications.
  • ReactJs is really intuitive and easy to understand. It benefits from a great boilerplate, create-react-app, which comes with PWA support by default.
  • Besides these 2, VueJS is also gaining in popularity.

Since all of our PWA themes we’ve prepared for bloggers, newspapers & magazines have been built using Angular/Ionic, it was time to give ReactJS a try. Hence, the WooCommerce PWA is built with ReactJS and you can check out the video below if you want to go deeper into the technical aspects of building a ReactJS application.

 

This is just the alpha release and we’re already working on the beta version. Here’s just a part of our roadmap:

  • Add offline mode capabilities
  • Add push notifications
  • Finalizing the checkout process

You can still order the WooCommerce PWA for just $49 for a few more weeks and benefit from frequent updates whenever we have a new release. Getting to a stable version is hard work and requires many development hours, that’s why by pre-ordering the $49 version you’ll not only get a discounted deal (from the $99 regular price) but you’ll also support us in implementing new features & capabilities.

Want to get involved in contributing to the PWA-Commerce development? Check out our GitHub repository: https://github.com/appticles/pwa-theme-woocommerce

Enjoy!

Tech-Biz in between guy. CEO at WPMobilePack.com. Organizer at BucharestJS & JSHacks. Passionate about entrepreneurship. Love to play 🎾, squash and 🏓.