What is WordPress 5?

A laptop with WordPress on it and colored lights on in the background.

WordPress 5.0 arrived in early December, and since it’s arrival it’s really shaken things up! We can’t remember a version of WordPress that has had as many new features as WordPress 5!

WordPress updates its content management system multiple times every year and nearly every time, the changes are fairly small. A lot of users usually don’t notice the new changes. This  can’t be said about WordPress 5.

Gutenberg

The biggest thing to come from WordPress 5 is the visual editor, Gutenberg. Gutenberg is a block based editor and it’s changing the way people now create posts and new web pages.

We believe the biggest reasons WordPress created WordPress 5 is to stay relevant, meet users’ needs, and to risk losing market share. With WordPress 5, WordPress is trying to channel Squarespace and Wix’s intuitive building experience. Like Squarespace and Wix, Gutenberg is a drag and drop editor that uses content blocks. You click on the plus button ‘+’ to add things like text blocks, image blocks, gallery blocks, and layout elements to your posts and pages. The only way one can opt out of Gutenberg when downloading WordPress 5 is to install the Classic Editor plugin.

A screenshot of Gutenberg's interface.

Adding a post using Gutenberg.

A screenshot showing how to use the block editor in Gutenberg.

The ‘+’ allows you to add content.

On December 6th, 1.3 million sites opted into either Gutenberg or the Classic Editor plugin. According to WordPress founder and CEO, Matt Mullenweg, this number is more than any single version of WordPress prior to version 4.7.

Important Things To Know About Gutenberg

Gutenberg will affect themes and plugins. Some plugins were created to interact with the Classic Editor and as such will not be compatible with Gutenberg.

We advise downloading Gutenberg before you make the update to see what features on your site will be impacted by Gutenberg.  

How To Perform An Update

To update your website, go to Dashboard>Updates. Click on Update WordPress and don’t leave the page until the update is complete. The update shouldn’t take long.

Why We Use WordPress

A big factor that has made WordPress the most popular website and blog creation tool (it powers 30% of the world’s website) is it’s free and open-source. This means you have total freedom over the websites and blogs you can create. You don’t have to host your website with WordPress’s server either.

At Sperling Interactive, we build our clients’ websites in WordPress because it’s flexibility cannot be beat. No other content management system is as customizable as WordPress. Every single WordPress website comes with a GPL 2.0 license, which means you can change the code as much as you’d like, including the functionalities of plugins and themes.

Squarespace and Wix don’t have a GPL 2.0 license and come with templates, which can be limiting when you have a lot of ideas for your website. Shopify is another website-building tool that is popular these days but it is limiting as you can only make ecommerce websites with it. You can read more about why we love WordPress over on this blog post.

It’s important to note WordPress 5 is still in the early days. Developers at WordPress are still working out the kinks, and Gutenberg does not affect content you have already published.

Conclusion

You may be feeling overwhelmed about such a major change coming to WordPress’ user interface, but we don’t recommend you skip the latest version. Along with the new features, WordPress updates and adds new security features and other important elements to your website when it builds out new versions. You should note that WordPress 5 is going to make WordPress more compatible with the latest version of PHP. Staying up to date is one of the only ways to keep your site running safely and smoothly.

As the web development blog, A2 Hosting, writes “as long as you take a few precautions, such as testing Gutenberg on a staging site and doing a recent backup in place, the risks of not updating WordPress will outweigh the risks of updating it.”

All and all, we believe WordPress 5 is going to make it easier for our clients to update their websites and add more content. It may be a learning curve in the beginning, but we find most people will like the drag and drop features as they’re instinctive.

Have you switched to WordPress 5 yet? What do you think of it? If not, are you looking forward to using a block-based editor now? Or will you be downloading the classic editor? Let us know. At Sperling Interactive, we’re more than happy to help you update to WordPress 5 and make the transition for your business as smooth as possible.

How To Understand Your Developer

Web development code. Are you working with a developer on a new site and don’t know what certain words they keep saying mean? Web development comes with a lot of confusing jargon, and today on the blog we’re going to be defining the most used development terms to help you understand your developer at every step of the process.

Cross-Browser Compatible

This is the ability for a website or an app to be supported on all browsers and to degrade beautifully when features are present or lacking. Cross-browser compatibility is important because there are hundreds of web browsers around the globe and you’ll always want your website to look nice in whatever browser a person is on, be that Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc.

Responsiveness

A responsive website is a website that responds to and/or resizes itself so it can fit nicely on all devices and window sizes. That could be a desktop monitor, a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone. Responsive web design make web pages on all devices easy to read and navigate.

Front-End


There are two areas a developer works in. The first one we’ll explore is the front-end. The front-end of a website is the part users interact with. Front-end development controls a website’s fonts, colors, and menus. So essentially everything you see when you type a URL in was conducted by a front-end developer.

Back-End


Behind every website is a server, an application, and a database. A back-end developer builds and maintains those features so the site can work properly.  

Full Stack Developer


A full stack developer is a developer that has both front-end and back-end skills. You have to know different coding languages to do front-end development and back-end development.

SSL Certificate

SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer. It provides a secure connection between a client and the server through which your website’s information is delivered. You can tell if your website has an SSL certificate by looking at your website on Google Chrome. If it reads ‘non secure’ next to your URL, then you don’t have an SSL certificate. An SSL certificate prevents anyone from tampering with your website. When your website is secure, no one can tamper with the traffic or spy on what your visitors are doing. People can also not access your router and Internet service provider and inject malware.

Data Validation


Data validation deals with validating sensitive information you receive through your site. Sensitive information for a doctor’s office would be HIPAA information. Sensitive information for an ecommerce site would be credit card information. You have to validate sensitive information so it can be processed. Data validation is important because it prevents people from hacking into your site.

Wireframe


Wireframe deals more with design, but when you hear the person making your website refer to ‘wireframe,’ they’re talking about your website’s skeleton. It’s essentially an outline of the finished product. It should be the first thing a developer comes to you with after you agree to work with them.

What else do you find confusing about web development? We will try to answer your question in a future blog post.

Our Favorite Things To Do In Salem During October

The exterior of the Salem Witch Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.It’s October and, as a Salem-based business, we couldn’t be more excited. October in Salem is such a magical time and today we’d like to share with you our favorite things to do in the witch city during the month of October.

Go To Far From The Tree for Cider.

 
Nothing screams fall quite like apples. We’re so lucky to have a cidery here in Salem and Far From The Tree is an exceptional one. What we love about this place is they aren’t afraid to experiment with their ciders. They make unique ciders that have featured jalapeños, black tea, and maple syrup in them! Far From The Tree has a cozy taproom, delicious pop ups on the weekends, and they host regular events such as trivia, movie nights, and local bands.

Visit the Salem Witch Museum.


We had the pleasure of creating a new website for this iconic museum this year. The Salem Witch Museum is the museum to go to if you want to learn all about the 1692 Salem Witch Trials and witchcraft today. The first part of the tour is presented through thirteen life-size stage sets, figures, lighting, and stirring narration. The second part is a guided tour that explores paganism, how Hollywood has shaped our perception of witches, and Wicca.

Go to the Hawthorne Hotel Annual Halloween Party.


On October 27th, the Hawthorne Hotel is throwing its 20th Annual Halloween party. If you haven’t been, you haven’t properly experienced Halloween. Their annual party includes three floors of food, fine costumes, live music, DJs, physics, and a costume contest. This year’s theme is “Happily Never After.”

Visit the Hocus Pocus filming sites.


Who doesn’t love the Halloween classic, Hocus Pocus?! The film takes place here and, as such, was filmed here. Old Salem Village was filmed at Pioneer Village, Max’s house is 4 Ocean Street, Allison’s house is the Ropes Mansion, and the Halloween party that Max’s parents attended took place right across from our office at Old Town Hall.

Watch Cry Innocent: The People vs. Bridget Bishop.


The best way to understand the Salem Witch Trials is to attend Cry Innocent: The People Vs. Bridget Bishop. In this live action play, Bridget Bishop is convicted of being a witch and you are put on the Puritan jury. You get to cross-examine the witnesses and make the final verdict. Cry Innocent is the longest continuously-running show north of Boston.

Have you come to Salem for Halloween before? If so, what’s your favorite thing to do? Let us know in the comments.

Photography Exercises To Help You Become A Better Photographer

A camera next to a keyboard.

We are hosting a photography workshop in three days. It’s called Capturing Better Photographs & Videos For Your Small Business. This workshop is aimed for business owners who feel self-conscious to post pictures and videos to promote their business because they’re not a “photographer” or a “videographer.”

In this workshop, we’ll be teaching attendees the basic camera settings for their camera of choice, be that a DSLR or iPhone. When we’re done teaching the class, the attendees will explore Salem and take snaps and videos. At the end of the class, we’ll critique everyone’s work in the hopes of making them feel more confident.

Today on the blog, we’re going to be covering photography exercises you can use to help you become a better photographer.

100 Paces

This exercise is what we’ll be doing at our photography workshop. Go out for a walk (try going without your phone to avoid distractions) and take a snap of everything you see. This exercise will help improve your observation skills and how to capture more objects.

Recreate Someone Else’s Photo

Try recreating your favorite photos. It gets you thinking, “What do I like about this photo? What do I have to do to achieve its specific effects?” Your favorite photographers probably did this exercise too.

Start A Photography Blog

Starting a photography blog is great for two reasons. 1) It serves as a creative outlet. And 2) it will help you stay accountable with taking photos regularly.

Take 10 Photos Of A Scene

This exercise will make you more creative. It’s easy to photograph something from 1-2 angles. This exercise will spruce things up and get you thinking about perspective and storytelling.

Take A Break From Social Media

Social media can cause a lot of anxiety. It can put pressure on us to post everyday, and to maintain having a certain theme to our grid. By going off it, you’re able to block out the noise and develop your own style. It also gets you doing photography for yourself and not for the likes, shares, and comments.

What do you think of our tips? What do you do to improve your photography?

Google Is Closing Google+

Google+ symbol
In 2011, as social media started gaining popularity throughout all age brackets, Google decided to hop on the train and start its own social media platform Google +. On October 8, 2018, Google announced it will be closing the consumer version of Google+ over the next ten months, with a completion set for August 2019.

Why Google Is Closing Google+

Google’s reasoning for closing its social network is due to a lack of use and security issues. In the blog post where Google announced Google+’s closing, Google reported

Google +’s usage and engagement is so low “90 percent of Google + user sessions are less than five seconds.”

Did Google+ Ever Impact Ranking?

For a while, Google+ did impact search results. Since Google+ was set up to rival Facebook, Google really tried to generate conversations on Google+. Back in the day, it would highlight Google+ content in search results and in Google News. There was also a time when Google+ was essentially Google My Business.

Google+ Features

Google+ launched Circles, Hangout, Huddle, and Sparks to make it a more social platform.

Through Circles you can personalize your friend groups. Rather than sharing all of your updates with everyone your friends with, you can select which circles see what.

Hangout is Google+’s video chat and instant messaging. You can communicate up to ten users at once through Hangout.

Huddle was a group chat for phones, and Sparks was a place where you could find content on your interests.

When Google+ was unable to replicate Facebook, it switched its strategy and used Google+ as a medium to bind not only Google services between themselves (Google+ is integrated with Gmail, Google Maps, Google Drive, and Google Calendar), but Google with external services. You may have noticed a website offering you registration via Google+ before.

What are people saying?

Many marketers have been saying the demise of Google+ has been a long, drawn out death. Over the years, many marketers stopped creating a strategy for Google+ and a lot of websites took it away an option to share. Google’s top executives stopped using it about three years ago.

According to an article published yesterday by Business Insider, Google is beta-testing Google+ features for businesses. One of the features is tags. Tags will make it easier for employees to engage in conversations across their company and they will also help employees follow specific content. Google is planning on providing analytics with tags so employees can see what employees are viewing their content. Google is planning on unfolding more features in 2019. 

What do you think about Google closing the consumer version of Google+? Did you ever use the social network and have a strategy for it? What are your thoughts on Google unrolling features for the business version of Google+? Let us know in the comments.

Facebook Stories Ads

A laptop opened up to Facebook.

 

Brace yourself. There is a now a new way to advertise your business through Facebook.

Toward the end of last month, Facebook announced it is launching Facebook Stories Ads. Facebook began testing the idea back in May in the US, Mexico, and Brazil. The advertisement you will see in Facebook Stories Ads will generally be videos. As we mentioned last month in our blog post, B2B Marketing Tips, Facebook is prioritizing video content more than ever.

Facebook Stories Origins

Facebook brought ads to Instagram Stories in January 2017 and launched Facebook Stories in March 2017.  Facebook made Stories available to Pages in October 2017. Facebook has said Facebook Stories is being viewed by 150 million people. In August 2018, Facebook reported that 400 million people view Instagram Stories.

In the next few weeks, Facebook is going to start testing the placement of ads inside Stories on Facebook Messenger as more than 100 million people use Stories In Messenger each day.

What People Think of Facebook Stories

An Ipsos survey commissioned by Facebook showed 62% of people said they became more interested in a brand or a product after seeing it in a Story. Additionally, more than 50% of the people surveyed said they have made more online purchases as a result of Stories.

That same survey found 68% of people polled said they use Stories on at least three apps regularly, and 63% said they plan to use Stories more in the future.

It really appears that Facebook is trying to optimize its advertising on every platform. Facebook acquired in February 2014 and on September 28th, Gadgets 360 reported WhatsApp is working on implementing ads too. Facebook has received a lot of bruises this year. Perhaps it’s trying to utilize more avenues to increase their revenue.

Do you watch Facebook Stories? What do you think of this form of advertising? Are you interested in using it to promote your business?

How To Keep Your Data Safe From Breaches

A blurred photo of the Facebook icon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Friday, September 28, 2018, Facebook announced the largest breach in the company’s history. On September 25th, Facebook’s engineering team discovered a security issue affecting 50 million accounts.

Facebook has stated the attackers took advantage of a weakness in the “View As” feature. The “View As” feature enables users to see what information other people can see about them.

The hackers stole digital keys that keep you logged into Facebook so you don’t need to re-enter your password every time. Facebook promised that they have fixed the vulnerabilities, reset the digital keys for the 50 million affected users, plus an additional 40 million accounts for precaution.

While Facebook has addressed the issue, fixed it, and informed law enforcement, you should still take steps to help protect yourself.

Consider Changing Your Password.

Create a new password that has numbers, uppercase letters, and symbols. Make sure this password is separate from the other passwords you use. It’s always good to play it safe with passwords. We should note again that users’ passwords were not stolen during this breach. The hackers got access to the digital keys granted to users after they first log in so they don’t need a password for future sessions.

Beware of Scammers.

We share a lot on social media and, as such, hackers can gain a lot of personal information about you, your friends, and your business connections. Beware of hackers trying to impersonate people you know. If somebody starts asking you for money or sensitive information, don’t give away either!

Reconsider Using Facebook to Log In to Third Party Apps.

So far, Facebook has said hackers did not access any third party apps. But it’s still investigating the scope of the hack. To secure your information, don’t use Facebook to log in to other apps like Spotify and Instagram. “It’s easy and convenient, but when when you use shortcuts, there can be consequences,” said Dana Simberkoff, Chief Risk, Privacy, and Information Security Officer for the enterprise security firm AvePoint. Disable the auto-logins for Facebook.

How did you feel when the breach was announced? Has it impacted your usage of the platform?

Why Instagram’s Founders Left Facebook + The New Head Of The Company

An iPhone with the Instagram app open. On September 24, 2018, Instagram CEO, Kevin Systrom, and co-founder, Mike Krieger announced they are resigning from Facebook.

“We’re planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again. Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do,” Systrom said in a statement.

Instagram was founded on October 6, 2010. On April 9, 2012, Systrom and Krieger sold their 13-person start-up to Facebook for $1 billion. At the time, Instagram had 30 million monthly users. Earlier this summer, the photo sharing app hit 1 billion users.

Many news outlets are reporting there was tension brimming amongst the Instagram founders and Facebook’s founder/CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, over the direction for Instagram.

“We remain excited for the future of Instagram and Facebook in the coming years as we transition from leaders to two users in a billion. We look forward to watching what these innovative and extraordinary companies do next,” Strosberg addressed in his statement.  

In a separate statement, Zuckerberg said, “Kevin and Mike are extraordinary product leaders and Instagram reflects their combined creative talents. I wish them all the best and I’m looking forward to seeing what they build next.” With Strosberg and Krieger, Zuckerberg now has total reign of the platform.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal a day after his resignation, Strosberg stated, “the whole idea of joining Facebook was that we could scale way more quickly than we could independently.” Maybe the platform scaled larger than either he or Krieger would have liked.

Adam Mosseri, who used to head Facebook’s newsfeed, was named Instagram’s head of product earlier this year, and when the news broke that Strosberg and Krieger were leaving, many speculated he would be the top candidate to run the platform. On October 1, 2018, Mosseri was named head of the platform. Mosseri has been with Facebook since 2008. 

“To us, the important thing is keeping our community-all of you- front and center in all that Instagram does. We believe that Adam will hold true to these values and Instagram will continue to thrive” Strosberg and Krieger said in a new statement. 

A related article from the Los Angeles Times reminds us that “founders departing is nothing new in the tech industry. Apple and Microsoft have both continued to thrive without Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, namely because the companies had already matured.” With that, we can expect Instagram will continue to be a popular platform even with the founders removed from it.

What do you think Instagram will be like now that its founders are no longer involved with its development? Let us know in the comments.

Tips For Creating The Perfect Logo

Various logos drawn on sketchpad. We live in a very visual world these days. While it is important to not judge a book by its cover, it can sometimes be hard not to when Instagram and dating apps have become things we look at every day. That said, having a logo that really speaks to your brand is critical. It’s a visual that tells people what you’re all about. You don’t want people to swipe right when they come across it so here are our biggest tips on how to create the perfect logo for your brand.

Ask yourself, what’s my brand’s personality?

Your logo should communicate your business’ personality. A good way to get to the bottom of this is to answer the question, how would you want your ideal customer to describe you? What are your business’ values?

Get inspiration.

What are some of your favorite logos? What are logos you don’t care for? Create a mood board of your favorite logos and one of your least favorite ones. Doing this can help you identify you what you like and what you don’t when it comes to design. Doing this can help you see if you want your logo to be classic, vintage, modern, minimalistic, or fun? If can also help you determine if you like certain colors and want them associated with your brand.

Keep it simple.

You want your logo to be easy on the eye. Don’t add to much detail. The most recognizable brands have simplistic logos. Check out this post which shows the evolution of McDonald’s logo.

McDonald’s original logo from 1940 is very different from how it looks today. Back then, it had black font and read ‘McDonald’s Famous Barbecue.’ In 1953, McDonald’s incorporated their then mascot, a chef name Speede, into their logo. Seven years later in 1960, McDonald’s  adopted its iconic red and yellow colors into its logo and dropped Speede. It added its name underneath the logo. In 2006, McDonald’s made their logo even simpler. For the past twelve years, it’s just now known for its’ golden arch.

Choose your colors carefully.

Color psychology is the study of how colors impact human behavior and emotion. Different colors can provoke different responses. For example:

Red is known for being an extreme color. It represents loudness, love, violence, anger, and adventure.

Orange is synonymous with joy, warmth, originality, enthusiasm, and creativity.

Because yellow is the brightest color, it represents happiness, optimism, enlightenment and clarity.

Green is an interesting color. On the hand it is the perfect color to use for eco-friendly brands as it makes people think of nature, growth, harmony, and fertility. On the flip side, green can also make people think of money so it’s another good option for financial businesses.

Blue symbolizes calmness and trust.

You get purple when you mix blue and red together. As such, this color is associated with power, royalty, and wealth.

It’s hard to not think of femininity when you think of pink, but it can also translate to sweet, playful, romantic, charming, and tenderness.

Brown provokes a sense of earthiness, rustic, strength, and reliability.

Black is a great color to use if your brand offers something that is sleek, modern, and luxurious.

White symbolizes clean, modern, and minimalism.

Gray can help you achieve a mature, classic, and serious look.

Make sure the logo can scale.

No matter what size the logo is scaled to, you want to make sure it is able to stand out. You don’t want it to be blurry if it’s reduced to a small size. You want people to understand it.

Consider using a symbol.

Symbols are powerful. We can’t deny that when we see a swoosh symbol we think of Nike, or when we see an apple icon our mind wanders to Apple. Maybe there is a simple symbol related to your business that you can design and incorporate into your logo.

Do public testing.

You may think your logo looks great, but what does the public think? Get a test group together and show them a few logo designs that you have. A test group can provide you constructive criticism and new ideas on what’s working and what isn’t. Sometimes it’s good to get out of your head and soundboard your ideas off of others.

Want some more logo inspiration? Check out some logos we’ve designed over the years.

B2B Marketing Tips

Women in a meeting with laptops. Have you just started a B2B company? Or are you new to marketing for a B2B company? Marketing for a B2B company is different than marketing for a B2C, but it’s just as important. Here are some marketing tips to help you grow your B2B company and how to offer value to your target audience.

Write a blog.


You want to have helpful content that solves your audience’s problems, and a blog is a great way to make yourself an industry expert. To get going on your business blog, ask yourself, what are the most common problems my audience has? What are my company’s goals and how can I write about them?

Update blog posts that do well.


Sometimes a blog post does really well. You get a lot impressions and comments. People are engaging with the post because it offers value.

But somewhere down the line, you go back to that blog post that did so well and notice it is a bit outdated. You still want that piece of content to be valuable, so update that blog post with the most relevant information so that it continues to rank well on search engines and gain traction.

Do video marketing.


Blogging isn’t the only way to provide value to your clients. As this article from Forbes explores, video is the future of media on the web. This article reports that Facebook is prioritizing video content more than ever and that video is almost as big as mobile. You could make videos that showcase your products and/or services and tutorials that visually help businesses solve their problems.  

Start a podcast.


Podcasts have exploded over the last few years due in large part to the rise of smartphones. Podcasts are wonderful because they can help you expand your expertise and network. This is especially true if a big portion of your podcast involves interviewing guests. When you have a guest on your show, they’ll promote it to their community, who will then want to check you out. Or in turn, if you invite a client onto your podcast, it can build a stronger rapport with them because you’re promoting them and having a meaningful conversation with them. A podcast is a lot of work (this article from Search Engine Land dives into that), but it can really help strengthen your content marketing and grow your B2B company.  

Use LinkedIn.


If you’re a B2B company, you have to be on LinkedIn. It is the outline platform for growing your network and finding business opportunities. Check out this blog post we wrote about how to get the most out of LinkedIn.

Treat your audience as people.


It’s easy when you run a B2B company to forget that your targeted audience has life outside of their job. They’re people just like you. They go to their kids’ Saturday morning soccer games, go on vacations, and binge watch Netflix just like you! Humanize your marketing. Profile your staff and share what makes each employee unique. Show your audience a behind the scenes look at your business. Show them how you make your products and/or create your services.  Humanizing your marketing is a must have as it’ll help you connect with your audience on a deeper level.

Do you market for a B2B company? Do you agree with our tips? What are some tips you do that we may have left out? Let us know in the comments.