Marketing & New Business Coorindator

What is the Gutenberg WordPress Update?

WordPress is set to revolutionize massive swathes of the internet with the introduction of its new editor called Gutenberg, coming soon in the 5.0 release. While change can be scary, this update has a lot of promise in terms of new design possibilities and time saved.

Named after Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press, Gutenberg aims to provide an updated WordPress experience for its users by letting users create sophisticated design blocks for a drag-and drop website building experience.

Simply put, Gutenberg lets you customize design elements for your website that can be easily reused on any number of pages. The functionality is aimed at providing a simple low code/no code solution for getting websites with a custom feel without as many hours in the design phase. All that time spent on updating plugins, using shortcodes, and page editors may become a thing of the past with this update!

SiteOrigin, a popular plugin and theme creator, has put out a short video about how they are working tirelessly to ensure all of its plugins are Gutenberg compatible. This is good news for many of those that are using SiteOrigin! You can view the video here.

For those who aren’t ready to switch over to the Gutenberg editor just yet, there’s a classic WordPress plugin available that can set classic mode as the default. Wins all around!

Have any questions about Gutenberg or want us to help prepare your website for the Gutenberg update? Feel free to reach out!

New Privacy Features in WordPress 4.9.6 for GDPR Compliance

With the EU’s GDPR deadline looming large in everyone’s mind, WordPress has released Version 4.9.6, which includes several new privacy-related features to help WordPress site owners comply with GDPR regulations. Here’s a rundown of the new features:

Comments

Man on Laptop - GDPR

WordPress has always had the ability for users to leave comments (assuming that the site allows for it), and the ability for them to leave their information (name and email address) behind so that the site owners can contact them.

Previously, WordPress stored this value in a cookie in the commenter’s browser automatically, but now they’ve added a checkbox where a user must opt in to this functionality so that cookies are not stored unless the user consents to it.

Privacy Policy

WordPress now includes the ability to designate a page on your site as your Privacy Policy, which it will then include on your login and registration pages. However, it will not include it anywhere on the other pages of your site, so you’ll want to add a link to it somewhere, most likely in the footer of your website.

More importantly, it includes the ability to generate a template Privacy Policy that includes information about how WordPress uses cookies and stores information natively, and includes some empty sections that you can fill in yourself, as a starter template. We’ve created a version of this so you can see what this looks like here.

WordPress has also created a section of their plugin developer handbook that deals with privacy. They’ve added methods for plugin developers to add content to the Privacy Policy page to inform users of how their specific plugins collect and use information.

Data Handling Tools

In addition to the tools WordPress has added to inform users about privacy concerns, they’ve added tools for site owners to manage user data to comply with GDPR regulations. This includes two separate tools: Data Export and Data Erasure.

The Data Export tool allows site owners to export all of the data about a specific user by entering their email address into the admin interface in WordPress. When the site owner or manager does this, it will send the user an email confirming their request. Once they’ve confirmed the request, administrators can go back to this interface to send the user their data. You can also see past requests, and remove them if you’d like to do so. In the WordPress interface, you can find this tool in the left navigation menu as Tools » Export Personal Data.

The Data Erasure tool works in a similar fashion to the Data Export tool, where an administrator inputs an email address and an email is sent to the user. Once it’s confirmed, the administrator can then use the interface to erase all data about the user. You can find this tool in the left navigation as Tools » Erase Personal Data.

It’s very important to note that these tools will only affect core WordPress data unless plugins are updated to use the WordPress tools that export or erase personal data. Typically plugins update quickly, but as the owner of the website and data controller, it is your responsibility to make sure the plugins aren’t retaining data that isn’t being handled by this tool.

Summary

Overall, WordPress has included some very useful tools for both site owners and developers to help with the management of their GDPR burden. However, like anything GDPR-related, it’s going to take some extra effort to make sure you’re utilizing them to fully comply with new regulations.

Katie Holmes

Content Manager and Tester

Mother’s Day Gift Guide for the Techie Mom

Moms love tech. Not sure what to get mom for mother’s day? Flowers are always nice, so are candles and perfume. However, moms want those cool tech gadgets that streamline their hectic, schedule driven lives. Here are my recommendations:

(And if you’re curious as to why I’m an expert, my almost three year old is proof that I’ve earned my mom card….)

  1. The Tile Mate – WE CAN NEVER FIND OUR KEYS. This little Tile Mate is an affordable gift for any mom. If you can’t find the item, the bluetooth connection will alert you to it item’s location. It’s like deep-sea fishing radar. Just think of the entertainment (read: extra work) you can convince your children to do by playing, “who can find where the noise is coming from???” If only I could strap this to my Sunglasses, or my patience.
  2. PopSockets – Show me a mother, and I’ll show you a family photographer. The PopSocket allows you to hold your phone easily and securely while you take 58 photos of your child’s silly lunchtime faces, or their last homecoming game. They come in a number of styles, and won’t break the piggy bank either.
  3. Echo Dot – While I have some issues with this device, mostly Orwellian dystopian fiction induced issues, people swear by these little hockey pucks. Order paper towels, set timers, some up with answers for “why the sky is blue” and play Sufjan Stevens all with a gentle, “Hey Alexa…” Anything that makes life easier, eh?
  4. https://www.borrowlenses.com – So you bought a DSLR when your wife was pregnant with your first child, and haven’t upgraded from the stock lense? This service within the Shutterfly, tinyprints, and wedding paper divas umbrella allows your to rent different lenses to try out before you make a hefty purchase. While this isn’t exactly a techy gadget gift, it’s a pretty great resource to have around. Going on a romantic vacation to Montreal? (You know, the poor man’s Paris?) This site gives you the tools to allow Mom to get her full Ansel Adams on.
  5. Spotify.com – Just go ahead and bite the bullet. Give her a year of music. You’ve been listening to Frozen for four years now. Let her drive around blasting 90’s Hip Hop, remembering the times she thought she knew exactly what she was doing with her life. Nothing cooler than arriving to school pick up while listening to A Tribe Called Quest.
  6. Hydroponic Herbs – No not that kind. We don’t have the time to keep anything else alive, but we need mint for our much deserved mojitos. Two words my friend: self watering
  7. Philips Somneo – Who are we kidding, if we didn’t set the alarm, no one in the home would wake up to make the school bus in the morning. With built-in white noise, we can all sleep a little deeper and awake a little more refreshed to the simulated sunrise happening on our night stand.
  8. FRENDS Headphone –While I cannot attest to the speaker quality, or to the longevity of these, THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL. When in doubt, choose rose gold for an on trend look. She’ll walk the dog in style with these luxury headphones. There are several styles, and colors as well. There are additional plates for purchase if she wants to coordinate looks. Feel free to email me if you need help deciding. (If my husband is reading this, I want the ones make in partnership with Dolce & Gabbana. I want to wear the headphone equivalent of a crown! Our daughter doesn’t need to go to college… )
  9. Wireless Photo and Video Printer – Have you noticed how your image never comes out the way you thought it was when you use the pharmacy photo printing app? This printer takes all that guesswork out of the equation. Using some kind of Apple magic, you can print your photos from anywhere, like directly from your vacation in Bora Bora, or your bathroom when you remember that that birthday card needs to go in the mail today and you should include a picture of the kids in it.
  10. ANYTHING SHE ASKED FOR IN THE LAST 6 MONTHS – The best gift is the gift she’s asked for. Does she need a night out with her girlfriends? Does she need a spa day? Does she just want you to replace your bald tires before you have a blowout on the interstate? Listen to her, she’s either been dropping hints, or has explicitly told you what she wants.

If the mother you’re honoring is no longer with us, we acknowledge that this might be a tough day for you. Perhaps donating to an organization that supports mothers in conflict areas would be a great way to participate in the holiday. Organizations like Nurture Project International who provide maternal care in places like Syria, Iraq, and Bangladesh,  Save the Children who help families in the US and abroad or the International Rescue Committee who helps to serve and resettle refugees fleeing war and famine.

I hope this little guide helps steer you in a direction. It might not be the right one depending on your circumstances but I thought I would get the ball rolling for you, because forgetting to acknowledge the work, sacrifice, and love mothers give every day is worse than getting the wrong gift.

Any other fun ideas you have for the mother(s) in your life? I’d love to hear!

Is Your Website Like Grandma’s House?

Close your eyes and picture your grandma’s house. Most of you are probably picturing a space that is warm, inviting, familiar, but most likely not a modern, cutting edge space. There’s probably a decent amount of tchotchkes, heirlooms and general “stuff” laying around.

Now think about your website. Your home page is much like an entryway to a house. If it’s warm, inviting, familiar, those are all good things. But if it’s starting to look dated like grandma’s house, cluttered with tons of old content, ahem “memories”, chances are it’s time to think about a refresh or redesign. There’s a high probability that technology has also advanced since your last refresh, you know, kind of like grandma’s continued use of a landline or flip-phone.

We’ve been stepping back and taking a look at our own surroundings recently – “eating our own dog food” as CEO Joanna Pineda would say – and we’ve seen glimpses of grandma’s house here and there.  Everything’s fine and familiar, but getting a bit dated.

Time to shake things up a bit!

 

We’ve started this process by recently revamping our office space. Like a website, interiors absolutely need refreshing every so often in order to not look stale. Our old pool table in the lobby, for instance, was so much fun when we got it! But since then it’s been sitting forlorn in the lobby taking up space and was rarely being used. We made the tough choice of donating it so we could open up the space and create a fresh new welcoming area. And we love it! 

We’re also wrapping up a long overdue refresh to our client extranet. If you’re a frequent Matrix Group Flyer you’ve probably already seen some big changes. We’re now responsive (!!finally!!) and MUCH more user friendly. We hope these changes will encourage our clients to interact with us more through that platform!

All of these changes are really making a big difference around here and we’re feeling less and less like grandma’s house. Next up on the books for us is an overhaul of our main site. We’re kicking all the tchotchkes to the curb and going for fresh and simple. It’s going to be great.

Leah Monica

Director of Marketing

5 Favorite Free Stock Photography Resources, Part II

There’s no doubt about it: finding good stock photography can be tough.  And when it isn’t tough, it’s expensive. When I scroll through images on the popular stock house websites looking for images for our blog posts or newsletters and see how much they’re charging for their stuffy, posed, man-in-suit photos I am always aghast. And annoyed. Very, very annoyed.

Thankfully, I’ve come across a few great stock photography websites recently that are completely free. While we still use many of the resources that Andi shared a few years back, the sites below have become my new go-tos. Most, if not all, of these sites are full of royalty and attribution-free photography, meaning you can use, copy, modify, and distribute these photos without the permission of, or reference to, the photographer. Yes, even for commercial use!

  1. Pexels – Built to help designers, bloggers, and just about everyone else find high-quality, free images, Pexels is one of our absolute favorites. They recently launched a free stock video collection as well.
  2. Unsplash – Started as a Tumblr blog where a photographer shared 10 photographs that were leftover from a photo shoot, Unsplash has grown to a collection of over 300,000 photos contributed from over 50,000 photographers. They are all simply stunning (and all free)!
  3. Burst – Powered by Shopify, this free stock site was built to “empower designers, developers, bloggers and entrepreneurs to create stunning websites and marketing campaigns.” There are thousands of stunning stock photos, ripe for the choosing!
  4. Pic Jumbo – When the large stock houses turned down freelance photographer Viktor Hanacek’s photos, he decided to use his coding skills to start his own free stock website. Almost all of the images were shot by him, and while he always welcomes attribution, it’s not required. The only thing you can’t do is redistribute the photos, but if you’d like to, there’s a paid plan available for that purpose.
  5. Foodiesfeed – While this stock site may only be of interest to a limited audience, there are lots of high-res and drool-worthy free food photos on this site.

Remember that over time licensing agreements on these sites may change, so be sure to always, always read the fine print and abide by the rules!

Have you found any other great royalty-free stock photography websites? Please share!