Author Archives: Natasha Murphy

Shopify Unite Conference

Where to begin? Still wistfully reminiscing about the amazing inaugural Shopify Unite Conference. Considering how successful Shopify’s initial public offering was in May of last year, the conference was electric to say the least. Program Lead & Head of Shopify Experts, Dan Eveleigh, said it best when he described walking into the Herbst Pavilion as an “emotional experience.” We’ve been working closely with the company for five of the ten years they have been in operation, were among the first businesses to enlist in their Partners program, and now attribute approximately 70% of our overall business sales to the platform. So, we definitely shared in Dan’s sentiment (and had a lot of necks to hug and hands to shake).

But enough of all that. You didn’t click through to this post to read a fangirl’s diary entry about her favorite CMS of all time. You want to know what all you missed! So, without further adieu, here are the top announcements from the conference:

Online Store Editor & Scripts

The newest store editor is created with the merchant in mind. Similar to the game-changing Neapolitan drag and drop editor Mailchimp rolled out in late 2012, the new editor will allow users to ‘build’ pages such as the homepages using a series of ‘blocks’ (think collection, product, etc). We were pumped to see how our own workflow would be improved through writing side code using Shopify Scripts. We’ll be able to develop some really cool functionality, store centrally in the cloud, and easily deploy to a merchant’s storefront on an as-needed basis! Although Scripts is currently only available for Enterprise level Shopify Plus clients, our hope is that Shopify will extend Scripts to all storefronts at some point.

Interested in learning more about Shopify Plus? Click here to start learning today.

Sales Channel SDK

We’ve seen this in action already — Pinterest’s buyable pins, announced in June 2015, was one of the first additional third-party sales channel added to Shopify’s roster. Turns out this wasn’t just a cool feature release, but heralded a much bigger development and pushed us all even closer to the oft-predicted shift to contextual commerce (so cool!). The Sales Channel SDK is Shopify opening up the technology they used in order to create Pinterest buyable pins so that developers can utilize the codebase to create even more options for selling ‘out in the wild.’

On a related note, Shopify representatives were on hand at the conference to demo the VR (Virtual Reality) selling capability they’ve been working on and it was very very cool.

Javascript Buy SDK

This new feature will allow for Shopify selling features to be added to virtually any website, mobile app, or marketplace. Gone are the days of building a Shopify store to supplement an existing WordPress website. The Javascript Buy SDK will allow for a single product, a collection of products, a cart, and a checkout sequence to be added to any existing website with a script or two. This is great news for prospective Shopify merchants who are reluctant to make a costly platform switch or for anyone who’s interested in experimenting with ecommerce functionality without making a significant investment upfront.

iOS and Android Buy SDKs

These SDKs will allow for easier development of native mobile shopping experiences (for existing Shopify stores). The announcement is also a great example of how Shopify doesn’t only roll out cool new developments, but how they also do the extra work to make sure new technology is within reach of their many merchants. The Mobile SDK will come pre-fit with wireframes which will exponentially speed up the process of creating companion apps for Shopify stores. I just love that the Shopify team saw a bottleneck in app design (or rather, lack thereof) and decided to address the problem by providing building design resources directly into their new Mobile SDK.

And after the party was the after-party.

As per usual, I flew solo to the conference. So imagine my delight when I ran into some friends from Mailchimp’s strategic partnership office. This, of course, meant automatic multiple dates for the Unite after party. There might have been dancing involved, but we will never tell. Seriously though, considering both companies pride themselves on collaborative enterprises, it really came as no surprise. And continuing the conversation with the Mailchimp team back here at homebase has been really exciting!


Feeling inspired? Good. Our next stop is the Atlanta Shopify and ECommerce Meetup. Hope to see you there!

Help! My WordPress site has been hacked!

Step one: Breathe. Remembering to stay calm is the most important step to take when you suspect a hack! The reality of owning a website is that you invariably open yourself up on a daily basis to the possibility of a hacker, thief, or other garden variety day-ruiner breaking in and running amok.

Here are some tips for helping you protect your site and remaining calm in the event you have to deal with a hacked WordPress site.

An Ounce of Prevention

Before jumping in, let’s go over an important note on preparedness and prevention. You have car insurance, don’t you? Your site needs the same kind of protection. We recommend regularly backing up your website files and database and storing the zip files somewhere other than your server (Dropbox, external hard drive, etc). You can set this up to run automatically using either of the following options.

First option (recommended): select a hosting provider that includes managed backups as part of your service agreement. We are partial to WP Engine.

Second option (for the diy contingency): use a plugin such as BackWPup and set up the automated backup schedule yourself. Remember to make sure the resulting zip files are stored somewhere other than your server. In the event of a website hack, any files on your server are at great risk of being compromised. This includes backup zip files. You also need to periodically check to make sure the automated process is running without issue (remember, diy = do it yourself). Add some quarterly reminders to your calendar, then rest easy knowing you have a plan in place should your website ever come under attack. 

Pro tip: use the Sucuri plugin to automatically scan for malware. The notifications can be a little complex to setup at first. But the end result of having an arsenal of anti-malware tools including an automatic email in the event of brute force attack or admin password change is well worth the effort.

Hindsight is 20/20

If you are reading this, it might be too late (hope you’re remembering to breathe). Hopefully, you had some sort of backup strategy already in place. In this case, restore from your backup, change your password, and then you are ready to rock n roll! 

If not, keep breathing and act as quickly as you can. First, immediately change your WordPress password and make sure no new WordPress user accounts have been created. 

Use Sucuri or other similar (free) plugins to scan for the hacks. These will tell you your site’s status as well as identify where the hack is hiding. An additional quick tip is to scan for any WordPress themes or plugins that are currently inactive, most likely hackers will use these to gain backdoor access to your website. See if you can delete these as a first step toward minimizing the severity of the hack. 

Next, run through this helpful checklist (source: WpBeginner.com)

  • Can you login to your WordPress admin panel?
  • Is your WordPress site redirecting to another website?
  • Does your WordPress site contain illegitimate links?
  • Is Google marking your website as insecure?

Afterward, check in with your hosting company and share what you were able to find out with them. Many have very helpful help tools to guide you through the tough waters. They may even help you get your site get up and running again (sans infected files).

If they can’t (or won’t) help you, then consider reaching out to your ‘web person.’ There’s no guarantee they’ll be able to restore the site, especially if you don’t have backups on hand. However, if you nor your hosting company can fix the hack, the next step is to call in the big guns.

Pro Tip: delete any themes or plugins not in use. Update plugins and themes as soon as an update is available (after backing up the site first). Failure to keep your plugin roster in proper check leads to the backdoor access points referenced above.

Pro Tip: when shopping for a hosting plan, do some research and don’t automatically go for the lowest priced option. It’s way better to find out a company won’t help you in the event your site is hacked upfront than in that horrible moment you realize your site has been compromised. In keeping with the theme of this post, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of care.

 

Design Blogger’s Conference 2016 Recap

This past week, some of the brightest and most creative bloggers in the country gathered at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Buckhead for three days of presentations, networking, and wine. The event, collectively known as Home Garden and Design Marketing Week (HGDMW), consists of Design Blogger’s Conference, Garden Blogger’s Conference, and Home Design and Digital Marketing Summit. Some of this year’s speakers included Cynthia Rowley India Hicks.

I was already in league with the great minds behind HGDMW because I assisted in the design and development of the conference websites. Imagine my surprise when the HGDMW team reached out to see if I would be interested in speaking at this year’s Design Blogger’s Conference. In addition to letting me share my thoughts on the 5 best WordPress plugins currently on the market to an audience of 350 people, the organizers also invited me to participate in the Blog Clinic. Having the opportunity to meet with so many different types of WordPress users was a real thrill and I sincerely enjoyed every troubleshooting, brainstorming, and advising minute of the experience. The experience was further enriched by sharing my presentation time with Adrienne Brown of adriennejmedia.com who spoke about Google Analytics and the importance of SEO for bloggers.

Loved, loved, loved being a part of HGDMW and look forward to next year’s conference! If you were in attendance at this year’s HGDMW, I encourage you to request a pdf version of the presentation or book a web consult (special pricing for attendees).