Podcast Episode

270 – The Products of WooThemes


Is there a plugin for that?

With more than 50,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, it’s hard to find the perfect one. Each week, I will highlight an interesting plugin form the repository.

For more great plugins, download my 50 Most Useful Plugins eBook.

Shiny Updates is a smoother experience for managing plugins and themes.

The Products of WooThemes


  • Canvas (with child themes)
  • Storefront (with child themes)



Full Transcript

Business Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.

Woo hoo. In today's episode, we're going to be talking about Woo. WooThemes, that is. Right here on your website-engineered podcast No. 270.

[Background Music]

Hello, everybody and welcome back to another episode of your website-engineered podcast. Today, we're going to be talking about WooThemes and all of the products that are involved there – all the plug-ins, themes, all that good stuff. But first let's go through some announcements and I've got a neat plug-in to share with you today. A few announcements that came out that are in this week in news. The first thing I want to let you know about is WordCamp Dayton. Tickets are on sale now and you can come to Dayton and you can see one of the first WordCamps in the Midwest and just enjoy a weekend. It's a Friday and a Saturday of WordPress learning – nonstop interacting with WordPress people. It's just going to be a great event and it's going to be so much fun to actually see the fruits of all this labor – all this work – getting all the speakers lined up, putting it all together – all that stuff – getting the T-shirts ordered, the food – all that stuff. It's going to be so much fun when this weekend is actually here. So that is happening on March 4th and 5th and so if you are interested – if you can drive to the Dayton area – definitely want to check it out. Tickets are only $40 and we'd love to see you there.

Okay, next, Sensei – one of the plug-ins that we'll talk about in just a few minutes – 1.9 is now available. So this is actually a brand new version. It's like they're on the same update type cycle as WordPress – as you know went from 1.8 to 1.9 to 2.0 – it's just a slow incremental progress but there's a lot of really cool things that's been added for Sensei. And it's been updated and it's released today as I'm recording this and it basically has a lot of backwards compatibility so you shouldn't worry about updating this plug-in. But basically, there's been a lot of changes to short codes – you can display text so much better. There are all different ways that you can generate questions and you can… things along those lines. And it works really well with language packs and so you can customize your text with different languages. So Sensei is a plug-in that is for e-learning courses. And we'll talk about a little bit more about that in just a second.

Another thing that I want to share – I did mention a little bit last week when I was talking about the five conferences that you just can't miss. But the other one, WooConf – is a conference dedicated 100% on WooCommerce and all of the extensions and the plug-ins that go along with WooCommerce which a lot of those we'll talk about today. And this conference is April 6th through the 8th in Austin, Texas and the tickets are now available. So if you're interested, you can head on over to wooconf.com. That's w-o-o-c-o-n-f-dot-com. And you can find out more about the event and see some of the speakers. Some of the speakers that will be there are Matt Mullenweg, will be speaking there and there's a bunch of other people who are really deep into the WooCommerce space and so it's really, really exciting to see that. I'll be there at that conference. Chris Lema's going to be there. I'm just scrolling down through there – they released about twelve or sixteen of these speakers – so if you're interested in seeing any of those people speak, I would definitely recommend it. It's going to be a great event. It's going to be in a great location. And you will have an opportunity to have any of your WooCommerce questions answered by a team of Happiness Engineers and Support Ninjas that will be there at the conference. And so those are the announcements for this week.

Now, each week I want to highlight just a little bit – another plug-in of the 42,000 plus plug-ins that are in the WordPress repository. And it's hard to find the perfect one. And this one is a neat – a unique – one because this is a plug-in that only has 70 downloads. Yes, I'm recommending a plug-in that only has 70 downloads – can you believe that? And this one is called, Shiny Updates and at first I was like, "Okay, I'm going to recommend this plug-in but then I saw some of the developers that were added to this or some of the developers who had contributed it and I was like, "Okay, this is for real." And some of those are Constantine Oberland – he's been a core contributor, a lead, for WordPress before – Adam Silverstein and a few other people that it's like, "Oh, these people are involved with Automatic or in the WordPress community. And so I started to take a look at it a little bit and the plug-in experience for managing plug-ins.

And, basically, what it does is you go to the "add new" section of your WordPress dashboard to add a new plug-in… right now, when you click on the… Let's say you're going to add Jetpack. When you click on the Jetpack button and then it goes up to a new page and they're calling this "the bleak screen of sadness" and it's basically that page that goes and says, "Downloading plug-in. Installing plug-in. Activating, deactivating… Whatever all that tech says as it's scrolling through there." It gets rid of that and it actually adds in the button – when you click on the button, the button just spins and it's got a little… it just spins in that area – a red arrow that spins – and then, when it's installed, it's done. It's got that little checkmark. Pretty much like when you update plug-ins now, that spinning process where you don't leave the page – it's all an AJAX thing – and that's the new version or, basically, it's called Shiny Updates.

This is a WordPress core feature plug-in so it's something that's coming to WordPress probably in the next version. So if you're interested in trying it out and playing with it and seeing how it's going to work, you definitely want to try it out. It's, like I said, it has 70 active downloads and it's got a weird version number – you know, it's Version 2-2016-02-02 so that means it was pretty much released today. And so, if you're interested, go ahead and check that out. It's called Shiny Updates or there'll be a link to it in the show notes for Episode No. 270.

So today I just wanted to give you a little background about WooThemes and WooCommerce and all the plug-ins and extensions that make up this company and just a little bit of background information about it as well. And so I've mentioned this on the podcast before but in case you haven't heard it, but Automatic, the company I work for, bought WooThemes in its entirety – all the plug-ins, all the themes, all the extensions, all that good stuff – back in July of 2015. We acquired 55 new people to the Automatic family – into the Automatic team – and then we've started to merge all of our company things – assets – together and people and learnings and whatnot. And, back in September, I actually started a rotation. It was a three-month "Woo-tation" they called it and it was a three-months rotation of learning how to give support to WooThemes customers and Sensei customers. That's kind of where I started. I started really diving into how the different plug-ins work and how Sensei, the plug-in, works and how the themes work –- all that good stuff – and I really started to enjoy it. I enjoyed it because I got to actually interact with some listeners of the show, which was really cool. It was neat to be able to open up a ticket. It was like, "Hey, I know this person. We've communicated via email before." So that was a lot of fun and it was neat because I got to work with self-hosted users and experience the pain points and figure out, "Okay, how does it work with this?" And figure out all that good stuff.

I do have to say – kind of back up this story just a few years – and I actually really like WooThemes when I was a developer, mainly because I could get the All Themes package and then I could use one – of the 50-some themes that they had at a time – I could use one of those on a client's website. And then it turns out for a while I was like, "Oh, I don’t really like how all the settings and stuff work on the inside." And I found another solution. That's probably about the time that I jumped over to "Elegant Themes" and I started using Elegant Themes or I mean Themeforest.net, and I started using themes that I found there. And then I realized that I liked that structure of WooThemes – of how they all worked the same way. Granted, the settings panel back then wasn't really as nice as it is now, but it was really nice to be able to customize every theme in the same way, shape and feel. It's like when you use a framework like Genesis and you start using it over and over again. You're going to get really fast at it and you're going to become very efficient at what you're doing with that particular framework.

And so time went on and then I never really needed WooThemes anymore once I hit Automatic and I was a full-time Automatician and Happiness Engineer – I never really needed to use it – and then, during my rotation, I got back into it. I started to learn more about the themes and it was really cool. There are some really cool things that work with the themes and the plug-ins and how everything work. And so I just want to outline some of these things that… some of these free products and paid-for extensions that we have as part of the WooCommerce brand, the WooThemes brand. And we're just going to dive in just in case you've never really explored WooThemes or WooCommerce and maybe there's a plug-in or extension that's out there that's going to work perfectly for you for your upcoming project. Or maybe on your website you're having troubles with something and maybe WooThemes will be better.

The cool part about it is that all of the code for all of the themes – the plug-ins, the extensions, all that good stuff – has been reviewed by Happiness En – or not Happiness Engineers – but Automatic developers. So they've taken everything that WordPress.com has been built on for years – and Jetpack, and all those best practices of code – and insured that all of those things are true about all of the plug-ins and themes and stuff with WooCommerce. And so I really like that. And so you know that you're going to get great working code that is secure – that there's not going to be security holes in them and things like that – so that's something to think about as well. So I'm going to break down the products into three categories. I'm going to call them themes, plug-ins and then WooCommerce – and then WooCommerce is the biggest of big things that we'll talk about here today.

So first there are lots of themes that are available. The two main themes are Canvas and Storefront. Canvas is a premium theme and it's got child themes on top of it. And then Storefront is a free theme with child themes that you can pay – the child themes are about $39 to $50 or so – to upgrade that look of Storefront. Storefront is a free theme that is built with e-commerce websites in mind. So that's their whole thing – it is built from the ground up to easily create a shopping cart experience with products and services and everything you would need in a store. Storefront is the perfect theme for that. And so that's where we get a lot of people using Storefront and that's probably one of the most downloaded themes. Probably also because it's a free theme. And then, with child themes, they can customize it but it just makes that experience of buying just so seamless. All of the WooCommerce stuff is integrated, which is really nice. You don't have to try to piece together some CSS to make your shopping cart experience work really, really well. And so those are the main themes I want to highlight. Those are the ones that are the most active. Those are the ones that people are using the most. So Canvas and then Storefront.

Then, when it comes to plug-ins, there are, in the plug-in category that don't really fit into the WooCommerce bucket, there's two paid-for plug-ins and then there's four free plug-ins. So the first one I alluded at the top of the show is called SenSei and that is the ability to create your own e-learning platform. So you can create your own courses. You can create lessons within those courses. You can create quizzes within those courses. There's extensions so you can have a certificate that’s automatically sent out to people once they've passed a class or all those different things.

So it's like running your own university online and you can do that right from the power of your WordPress website. It adds a few menu options on the left hand side in your main menu and you can go in and you can add a new course. And so maybe your course is going to be called – whatever your course is going to be called – "How to Underwater Basketweave" and so then you've got lessons inside of that. So Lesson One is "How to Hold Your Breath Really, Really Long" and then the next one is "How to Swim to the Bottom of the Ocean" or whatever it is. Those are things that you can create separate classes for or separate lessons and then each lesson can have a quiz at the end. You could say, "Oh, I want to make sure that users get a 100% on this quiz before they can move onto the next video," or whatnot.

So it's really, really neat and it's a really a neat opportunity if you have a course. My advanced developer WordPress course that I had three years ago, that was running on version 1.0 of SenSei and it just did a really good job of organizing things and it made it really easy to move from place to place. You can integrate SenSei courses with WooCommerce so people can pay for a course. Maybe you have someone pay $500 for an online learning course. They pay and then they get access to the course. So SenSei's pretty powerful. It's a pretty neat plug-in if that's the type of thing that you're looking for on your WordPress site.

Another paid-for plug-in is called WooSlider and that is a plug-in that is kind of what it sounds – it's a way to add a slider to your website. And you can add these by adding different slides and putting your short code on specific pages and it works, kind of in general, like any other slider does. You have the ability to control do the images slide left and right or do they fade in and things like that. It's a pretty typical standard slider and that is another plug-in that we have at woothemes.com.

Now the next four are all free. They're called Projects, Our Team, Features and Testimonials and these ones are all found on the WordPress repository so they're pretty easy to find. And Projects is a project showcase. It's usually used to create a portfolio of your work. You can just go in and you can add – it gives you an extra custom post type where you can plug-in all of your information for your portfolio items. And so that's Projects by WooThemes and you can find that on the WordPress repository.

There's one called Our Team by WooThemes and this gives you the ability to display team member profiles with descriptions and links to social media within the short code or widget. And so if you wanted to highlight all of the people working at your company, you can do that very, very easily in a nice pattern so everything looks exactly the same. So that one is Our Team.

Then the next free one is called Features and you can show off what features your company product services using a short code. And so this is pretty simple – it does exactly what it says. It features certain areas. Whether you want to feature that you are a WooCommerce expert or you have specialized in responsive design, you can add this information and then it shows these boxes on your homepage or wherever you put the short code. So that's pretty neat. That one doesn't get used a whole lot.

And then there's one called Testimonials by WooThemes and it basically gives you an area to add testimonials to your website. You can add them and then they're displayed. They pull in different CSS based on your theme and they look really nice with your theme. So, if you need any of that functionality, whether it's testimonials, a feature – you want to feature something on your website – if you want to talk about your team or if you want to highlight your projects or portfolio, definitely check out these plug-ins as well because they are something that you could definitely use on your website.

And then the last bucket of plug-ins are under the WooCommerce bucket. And so obviously WooCommerce is a plug-in. It is probably one of the top ten most downloaded plug-ins from the WordPress repository. And it's a free plug-in and it gives you the ability to turn your WordPress site into a shopping cart or a store. And you can go in and, out of the box, WooCommerce works really great but there's all kinds of extensions and plug-ins and modules and stuff that you can add to just add extra functionality. And so one of those things you can do is you can add the Memberships plug-in and that Memberships plug-in gives you an ability to have a membership area where people can pay for a certain membership and then they can only access X amount of content when you're behind the paywall, things like that. There's also a Subscription module that you can purchase and Subscriptions gives you the ability to make that membership a recurring payment so that you can charge monthly or quarterly or yearly or whatever that looks like.

So that's Subscriptions and then there's Bookings. And Bookings gives you the ability to schedule out appointments – whether maybe you're a hairdresser or you're doing massages – you can have those scheduled online. Or maybe you're doing something more along the lines of a dinner cruise and you can sell X amount of spots for this particular time and people can do that all within your website right with the Bookings plug-in inside of… It's not really inside of WooCommerce. It all kind of ties together and works with WooCommerce. It's a separate stand-alone plug-in but you need WooCommerce piece of it to actually do the selling part of the subscriptions or the bookings.

And then there's lots more plug-ins. There's 358 extensions that go on top of WooCommerce. Some of them are payment gateways – there's more than 120 payment gateways. There are a few that are covered or that come included with WooCommerce free, out of the box, and PayPal is one of those and then maybe Pay By Check is another one. There's limited options and then most of these plug-ins run about $50. So if you want to integrate Stripe Payments or Authorize.net or different payments like that, then you go ahead and you have to get one of these premium extensions. Basically, we don't want WooCommerce to slow down to load 120 different payment gateways and so that's why those extensions are separate and you have to add those individually.

There's over 41 – or I guess there is 41 – shipping modules and so if you're interested in very specific shipping – whether it be table rate shipping or shipping that… I don't know, there's tons of different ways. If you want to use UPS or USPS or all of the different shipping companies, you can go ahead and do that. There's different plug-ins that have to do with taxes, with adding customer support. There's import/export features or extensions so if you're interested in… You have 10,000 products and they're all in an Excel file, you don't want to have to manually add those so you can go ahead and upload those with our import and export features. There's extension on inventory management so we can really fine-tune details like, "When somebody purchases this, we've got to remove it from inventory," things like that.

There's marketing, there's point of sale, there's products, there's reporting, there's subscriptions, there's tax, there's third-party, there's widgets. I mean there are a ton of plug-ins and there's a ton that are actually free plug-ins as well. You can buy – or you can buy free plug-ins – you can use some of the free plug-ins that will work perfectly for your WordPress site. So I'm looking at some of the free ones that are here. Amazon Payments, if you want to add that PayPal gateway, you can do that. There's something called Shipped Station so you can use Shipped Station to integrate that with shipping your products out. You can use, let's see, you can use Level Up and that's a powerful tool for businesses and that's a payment processing that's at 1.9 percent – it's a flat rate. You can do promotions. Like promotions within people who have bought certain products, you can trigger to send them emails to, "Maybe you'll like this product," or things along those lines.

There's WooCommerce Google Analytics so you can understand your customers a lot more. There's 70 extensions that are completely free that you can add onto either WooCommerce or Bookings. There's one called WooCommerce Accommodations and that uses the WooCommerce and the Bookings and so that's specifically designed for booking hotel rooms or things like that. So, as you can see or as you can listen, that there are a ton of extensions. There's a ton of things that you can do with WooCommerce and it just doesn't have to be a regular plain Jane shopping cart. You're selling either a digital product, like an e-book, or a subscription to something. You can also sell physical products. You can sell physical products and ship from your house. You can ship them from a third-party place. You can… I mean, there's just tons and tons and tons of ways to interact with WooCommerce and build it into the perfect store for you.

And over the next few weeks, I think I'm going to dive into a couple of the main bigger plug-ins or extensions, if you will. Maybe we'll dive into Bookings and some of the ways that you can use the Bookings plug-in or the Membership plug-ins or subscription-based plug-ins or things like that and kind of dive in instead of this – this was just kind of an episode to overarch, "Here's all the things that you can do with WooCommerce." And, essentially, it is if you can think up, "This is what I want to sell and this is the unique way. I want to be able to sell when somebody puts three of these in their cart, I want it to be 50% off." You can automate all of this stuff. You can make selling online so incredibly easy and these are just some of the plug-ins – just a brief overview, a brief highlight – of some of those things that will actually make it that much easier.

[Background music]

So that's really what I want to share today. Again, an overarching episode to highlight some of the things. I know that, being a Support Ninja with WooThemes, I am going to learn a ton and I am so excited to pass that information on each and every week as I learn more and more about these plug-ins and extension and just how they just all work together and how we can utilize these plug-ins to make a shopping cart that's easy to run and fun to actually buy. So that's all I wanted to share this week. We'll talk again next week. Take care. Bye-bye.

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