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What’s The Difference Between Tags And Categories In WordPress?

Tags And CategoriesA website is a network of interconnected pages. Links within the content bind the pages together into a single entity, but they aren’t the only — or the best — way to organize pages according to the content they contain. To do that, we need a taxonomy, a way of grouping pages according to their properties. WordPress makes available two fundamental taxonomies: categories and tags. It can be difficult to decide how to use categories and tags, so I want to take a look at how they can be used to efficiently organize the pages of a WordPress site.

Both taxonomies are flexible and can be used in various ways, but it’s important that a site owner implements a system early in the life of their site. Without an understanding of how content is to be organized in groups, there’s a risk that it won’t be organized at all or organized according to an inconsistent system, which is almost as bad.

Used properly, tags and categories form a framework that logically organizes everything that you publish on your site.


Categories are the foundational organizational tool of a WordPress site’s content, and that’s often reflected in the site’s navigation menus. Ideally, every piece of content will belong to only one category and all content within that category will be related in a clearly comprehensible way.

Suppose you want to publish content about woodworking tools — lathes, chisels, mallets, routers, planes, spokeshaves, saws, and the like. Each page will discuss a tool and include examples of how they are used and recommendations for which manufacturer’s tools are the best. How should you organize that content into related groups? The obvious way is to create a category for each class of tool: planes — of which there are many different types — would be published in the “planes” category, chisels in the “chisels” category, and so on. A user interested in chisels could click on the “chisels” category in the WordPress site’s navigation and be presented with all the articles on that topic.

Of course, that’s not the only way to organize the pages into categories: you might choose to use categories for vintage hand-tools and modern power tools. Or you might organize the pages according to manufacturer. I think organizing by tool-type is the best method because it reflects a clearly comprehensible grouping that’s likely to mesh well with the way visitors think about tools. Each category is clearly defined: it’s obvious which pages go in each category, and there’s never any need to put the same content in more than one category.


You might think that grouping by categories is enough, but — sticking with the tool example — there are lots of other ways that the pages are related. A particular manufacturer might make many different sorts of tools; some tools might be made of steel, some of iron, and some entirely out of wood; some are power tools and some are hand tools.

That’s where tags come in. Tags can be used to group pages according to a much looser set of criteria than categories. Each page can — and probably should — have multiple tags. A page discussing a specific model of drill might have tags for the manufacturer, the type of work it’s used for, its material, whether it’s a hand tool, and so on. When a visitor to your site wants to see all the pages related a particular manufacturer, they can choose the relevant tag and see every related page, regardless of the type of tool.

You can think of categories as boxes into which content is sorted and tags as labels on each piece of content — a tag list is an index of those labels so you can find related content no matter which box it’s stored in.

While it’s important that you decide early in the design process which categories your site will use, tags can be added on an ad hoc basis. As you publish content and find the need for new tags, you can simply tag the relevant articles. However, deciding on a basic set of tags during the site’s initial design helps ensure that all content gets the relevant tags.

Without categories and tags, a website is simply a loose collection of content. Designing a logical system of categories and tags before you begin publishing content will help you maintain a clear structure — your site will be easier to navigate and offer a coherent user experience.

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eCommerce Trends Show A Strong Holiday Season Likely For 2016

eCommerce TrendsAccording to a recent report from comScore, the first half of 2016 was a particularly strong period for American eCommerce. Although the year started out with a less than impressive performance compared to last year, performance has picked up considerably, which bodes well for the approaching holiday season.

In April, desktop eCommerce sales increased by approximately 19 percent, followed by a 15 percent boost in May. Of particular benefit for eCommerce retailers in the holiday season is the increase in discretionary sales.

“On discretionary products, [total] retail sales were up 5.3% in April, which is the highest level seen in years,” according to Gian Fulgoni, chairman emeritus at comScore, which carried out the survey.

As we’ve come to expect in recent years, mobile eCommerce growth has been stellar over the early months of 2016. In Q1, visits for mobile web sites increased by 40%, and mobile app visits showed an even more impressive 70% increase.

That’s news which should be taken with circumspection by small and medium retailers. Although mobile app use has increased considerably, actually getting your app onto the home screens of enough customers is very difficult — not to mention influencing them to actually use it. For most retailers, a mobile-friendly web presence with search and social media promotion is the most effective way to get a piece of the mobile pie.

The mobile-friendly message seems to have made an impact on retailers. The number of customers who report a positive web experience is on the rise. Mobile satisfaction ratings are an important indicator that eCommerce merchants are focusing on the mobile experience. They’re also a warning to less solicitous eCommerce merchants that the time has come. Mobile eCommerce stores will benefit from the rising tide of mobile, but only if they provide the experience that customers demand.

Other heartening news from the report includes the revelation that 17% more of the respondents intended to shop less in stores, preferring to shop online.

Finally, social media eCommerce went mainstream over the last year, with platforms ranging from Twitter to WhatsApp creating eCommerce sales and promotional tools that give merchants access to huge audiences. I’ve been somewhat hesitant about social media eCommerce in past posts, because it has the potential to remove much of the control merchants have over the sales process. However, 23% of the survey’s respondents indicated that they’d made purchases through social media sites. That’s hard to ignore, and eCommerce merchants may miss out if they don’t at least dip a toe into social media selling.

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Don’t Use “WordPress” or “Woo” In The Name Of Your WordPress Business.

WordPress BusinessThe popularity of WordPress nourishes a thriving ecosystem of plugin and theme developers and designers, as well as thousands of businesses that offer WordPress-related services. The WordPress economy is worth many millions of dollars. And, it’s largely an open playing field. With a little knowledge and hard-work, it’s relatively easy to get started as a professional offering WordPress services.

When professionals start a WordPress business, it’s in their interest to associate that business with the WordPress brand. When a potential client is looking for WordPress services, they will Google for “WordPress”. Businesses that can associate themselves with the WordPress name benefit from that association and the trust that Automattic and the WordPress community have built over more than a decade.

Including “WordPress” in the name and the web address of your business sounds like a no-brainer, but in fact it’s a very bad idea. The WordPress Foundation, which holds trademarks on the WordPress name and related logos has a clear policy where its trademarks are concerned: it will act to prevent any commercial entity from making use of its trademarks, up to and including legal action.

According to the WordPress Foundation trademark policy, businesses may not use WordPress’ trademarks in the name of their business. They can promote WordPress-related services using the WordPress name, but they can’t use “WordPress” anywhere in the name of their business.

That might seem rather harsh, and it’s certainly been a controversial policy within the WordPress community, a controversy that hit the headlines again recently when Automattic acted against organizations using the “Woo” trademark. But, from the perspective of the WordPress Foundation and Automattic, it makes perfect sense. The WordPress name is valuable. That value would be degraded if everyone — especially dishonest people — were able to do business under the name WordPress. WordPress doesn’t want to be associated with bad actors.

So, if you’re starting a WordPress business, what should it be called? You can call it anything you like, as long as it doesn’t infringe on a trademark owned by another organization, including the WordPress Foundation. You’ve probably noticed that a lot of WordPress-focused media outlets and software developers — WP Tavern, WPBeginner, WP Total Cache, WP-CLI — use the “WP” abbreviation. The WordPress Foundation explicitly states that using WP in a business name is allowed (and even encouraged).

Personally, I’d want to come up with something original and unique for my business — there are many permissible ways of associating a business with WordPress without putting it in the business name. But, if you do want to go that route, use “WP” and not WordPress, or you may well receive a letter from the WordPress Foundation’s lawyers.

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Can You Help Make WordPress More Accessible?

AccessibleRecently, we’ve been looking at how WordPress users can contribute back to the WordPress community. We discussed the ways that non-programmers can contribute, including aiding in translation efforts. Today I’d like to take a look at how you can help make WordPress more accessible.

Accessibility testing is an important part of the WordPress development process. Many millions of WordPress users interact with their computers and software in ways that people without accessibility issues simply don’t consider: from keyboard navigation — which makes the web accessible to people with mobility and other issues— to screen readers for blind and partially sighted people. Accessibility can have an impact on visual design decisions too — color and contrast choices can impact the WordPress experience of users with color perception and vision issues.

Although WordPress’ developers understand accessibility and the related standards, it can be difficult for them to anticipate accessibility issues without real world testing from users with direct experience of those issues.

Among the areas that need testing are updates to WordPress Core and to official themes, new features, existing problem features, and tickets that have been reported under an accessibility tag in the WordPress bug tracker.

To take just one example of accessibility testing, WordPress’ Accessibility Team recently asked for help testing WordPress’s media management with speech recognition software. Many people are not able to easily interact with WordPress with a mouse. Speech recognition software like Dragon Naturally Speaking allows those users to control aspects of their interface with speech. The tests aim to discover how well WordPress’ media management capabilities — such as uploading and renaming files — work with voice control.

If you head on over to the WordPress Accessibility blog, you’ll see full details of exactly what the team need to be tested.

But you don’t have to wait for a specific announcement to help out with accessibility testing. Every area of WordPress — a constantly evolving piece of software — requires extensive testing to make sure it works well with assistive technologies and doesn’t hinder the usability of WordPress for people with accessibility issues.

WordPress aims to be compatible with its own accessibility guidelines and with the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.

If you’d like to contribute to WordPress by helping out with accessibility testing, take a look at the WordPress Accessibility Handbook, which explains what is tested and how. The Accessibility team is particularly interested in three sorts of volunteers: most importantly, those who use accessibility technology to access the internet; users who are knowledgeable about accessibility; and web developers who can help implement patches for issues impacting accessibility.

The testing process is managed via the WordPress #accessibility Slack channel, where the team meet on Mondays. New testers are welcome to join.

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OroCRM 1.10 Is Now Available — Here’s What New!

OroCRM 1.10OroCRM is a customer relationship management application from the original creators of the Magento eCommerce store. It’s an excellent addition to the sales workflow of eCommerce stores, enabling retailers to maximize the positive impact of customer data from numerous channels, including their Magento store. Ever since the 1.0 release of OroCRM, its developers have been hard at work on version 1.10, which was released on August 16.

If you want to know more about OroCRM, we discussed it in-depth in a recent article published when we announced the addition of OroCRM hosting to our lineup of performance optimized hosting plans.

OroCRM brings a number of new features and enhancements.

Improved API

Integrating with other applications and services is a key component of customer relationship management. With a solid API, companies can build custom integrations for inputting and extracting data from the OroCRM application.

Since the initial release of OroCRM 1, the API has been given a comprehensive facelift. The new JSON Rest API is significantly less complex than the previous versions, making it much easier for developers to write bug-free code to interact with entities.

Users of OroCRM should be aware that although the existing API will be supported for some time to come, its use will eventually be deprecated in favor of the new high-performance API.

“We decided to develop a completely new automated Oro Platform API that is based on entity metadata. This means that after you create an entity, all of its fields and relations become immediately available via API — so you can get their contents, create new records, and update and delete existing records immediately.”

New Leads And Opportunities Workflow

The Sales Process workflow has been completely re-engineered, and is now known as the Leads And Opportunities workflow. The changes to the workflow are intended to make managing leads and transitioning them to opportunities more efficient and intuitive.

Some of the most important changes include the ability to create leads without requiring a first and last name, something that’s essential when leads may be generated from sources that don’t provide that information — email subscription forms being an obvious example.

Furthermore, the sales flow can now be launched directly from the Opportunities interface, streamlining the process considerably.

And thirdly, the Opportunity workflow itself is now more flexible; retailers can choose to have no mandated workflow to give sales representatives complete flexibility, or a default workflow that helps maintain the integrity of customer data.

More Data Filters

OroCRM 1.10 includes several new data filters, allowing opportunities to be filtered by individual sales reps and teams. Data and time filters have been added to make it easy for retailers and sales teams to see the specific data they are interested in.

OroCRM 1.10 also includes numerous smaller tweaks and enhancements. To see the full list, take a look at the release announcement.

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Summer 2016’s Best Magento, WordPress, and ExpressionEngine Content

Monthly RoundupSadly summer is coming to an end, but that simply means that we’re coming up on Fall conference season! EllisLab recently announced the speakers for ExpressionEngine Conference. We’re honored to be the Presenting Sponsor and hope to see you in our hometown of Detroit in October! Without further ado, we’ll let you jump right into the roundup of July’s best Magento, WordPress, and ExpressionEngine content. Check out the Summer’s best posts from around the web below. If you’re looking for the same great articles the rest of the year, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Enjoy and let us know if we missed anything important in the comment section.

WordPress and Blogging

  • How To Make WordPress Hard For Clients To Mess Up – WordPress is a wonderfully powerful CMS that ships with many versatile features giving it the flexibility to work out of the box for a wide range of users. However, if you are a professional building custom themes and plugins, sometimes these features can be problematic.
  • 10 Awesome WordPress Features That You Probably Didn’t Know Existed – WordPress comes with so many awesome features and is continuously changing. Some of these features may not get the attention they deserve and remain a little hidden. In this article, we will show you 10 awesome WordPress features that you probably didn’t know existed.
  • 26 WordPress Plugins for Social Media Marketers – Do you want to improve your WordPress blog? Have you considered customizing WordPress with plugins? One of the biggest advantages of WordPress is the sheer number of easy-to-use plugins that help marketers add functions with little hassle.
  • The Art of Scannable Content: How to Write for Today’s Online Readers – Here’s the truth: There’s no guarantee that anyone will actually read your writing online. You have to compel them to do that. And one way to do so is to create writing that’s effortless to consume.
  • What Brand is Tops with Small Business Owners? WordPress, Alignable Index Says – Winning the trust of small businesses is not always easy, but one brand that seems to have succeeded is WordPress. According to the new SMB Trust Index, WordPress is the most trusted brand for small businesses, with a Net Promoter Score of 50 in Q2 2016.
  • WordPress 4.6 “Pepper” – Version 4.6 of WordPress, named “Pepper” in honor of jazz baritone saxophonist Park Frederick “Pepper” Adams III, is available for download or update in your WordPress dashboard. New features in 4.6 help you to focus on the important things while feeling more at home.


  • ExpressionEngine 3.4.0 is Out! – We’re dropping another feature release on you, this one with some nice surprises. Grab it now and start playing or keep reading for the details.
  • 4 Ways to Use HubSpot Forms with ExpressionEngine – ExpressionEngine meet HubSpot, a powerful Marketing Automation System. HubSpot meet ExpressionEngine, a flexible Content Management System. Now, play nice. If only it were that simple.
  • Redesigning the ExpressionEngine Site – Prior to this week of meetings with the pMachine people, I had worked with Rick Ellis on a variety of smaller projects, and we had developed a very good working relationship. This paved the way for one of the largest projects that I’ve yet to take on in my career, and includes new website designs for pMachine (now EllisLab) and ExpressionEngine, as well as redesigns of CodeIgniter and pMachine Hosting (now EngineHosting).
  • EEHUB – If you’re looking to keep up with the best ExpressionEngine content through the month, sign up for the EEHUB newsletter.

Magento and eCommerce

To end this month, we leave you with what may be the best thing ever done in Excel.

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The OurMine TechCrunch Hack Shows The Danger Of Poor Password Management On High-Profile WordPress Sites

OurMineOn July 26, TechCrunch, a popular WordPress-based technology business blog, was compromised by OurMine, a team of hackers responsible for a series of attacks targeting high-profile individuals and sites. The attackers accessed a user account and published a blog post announcing that TechCrunch’s security had been breached. In this case, the attackers were relatively benign; their aim was to advertise their security services rather than cause serious mischief, but there are lessons to be learned by publishers.

It appears the attack didn’t leverage a vulnerability in WordPress itself or a brute-force attack against user accounts. Instead, the attackers discovered that one of TechCrunch’s writers had used the same password on a number of different sites.

Presumably, OurMine were able to compromise one of those sites, discover the password, and use it to log into the writer’s account, giving them the access they needed to publish an article. When the article was published, posts were also automatically distributed on TechCrunch’s social media networks.

It’s impossible to maintain a secure password-based authentication system if users refuse to adhere to best practices. Even a long and random password is vulnerable to discovery if it’s used on lots of other sites. All it takes is for the same password to be used on an obscure forum with a known vulnerability.

Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication can help protect WordPress sites from this class of attack. By forcing users to demonstrate both their knowledge of a password and their possession of an authenticated device, attackers can be denied access even if they have discovered the password.

There are several TFA authentication plugins available for WordPress, of which Authy, Duo Security, and Google Authenticator are the best known.

Educate Users

Even with TFA, there’s no substitute for user education. Anyone with access to a high-profile publisher’s website should understand the following:

  1. How to create secure passwords.
  2. How to use a password locker like LastPass or 1Password.
  3. Why they shouldn’t use the same password on multiple sites.

Force Secure Passwords

Unfortunately, many users understand the above advice perfectly well, but ignore it anyway. Having a theoretical understanding of password security is not the same as comprehending the risks. Users think it won’t happen to them.

That’s why it’s often necessary to force users to choose secure passwords. Recent versions of WordPress do a good job of guiding users to secure password choices, but they can ignore that guidance.

To ensure that users can’t take the easy path, use a plugin like Force Strong Passwords.

The attack against TechCrunch was a marketing stunt, but it could have been much more serious. Had OurMine wanted, they may have been able to breach an admin account and plant malware on the site, or publish news that impacted the stock price of a technology company.

High-profile publishers have a responsibility to ensure that their sites are protected — the consequences of a successful attack could have repercussions well beyond embarrassment.

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Looking Forward To WordPress 4.6

WordPress 4.6This month, if all goes to plan, the next version of WordPress will be released. WordPress 4.6 continues the tradition of incremental releases that don’t include major new features for users, but instead focus on the gradual polishing of the user experience.

As with every release of WordPress, the development team need testers to put WordPress 4.6 through its paces and report any problems they find. It goes without saying that testers should not use the beta on their production site. The purpose of beta software is to discover and iron out the kinks; you don’t want those kinks to make themselves known on a busy live site.

If you’re interested in testing the beta, the best option is to create a brand new installation of WordPress and install the Beta Tester Plugin, choosing the “bleeding edge nightlies”. The new installation will update itself to the development version.
But, before you head off to create a testing site, let’s take a look at what’s new in WordPress 4.6.

Shiny Updates

This enhancement adds a bit of polish to a process that has long been a minor annoyance to WordPress users. When installing or updating a plugin, WordPress displays a largely empty screen with a few messages about what it’s doing under the hood. For most WordPress users, it’s not useful information, and it prevents any interaction with the admin interface while the changes are taking place.

Shiny updates offer a slicker user experience in line with modern web applications.
If you want to try out Shiny Updates without installing the beta, it’s also available as a feature plugin.

Native Admin Fonts

Until recently, developers couldn’t rely on the fonts available on the operating systems on which WordPress is accessed. System fonts were often ill-suited for web applications, to say nothing of the mobile web. In recent years, that’s changed. Every major operating system now uses a mobile-friendly high-quality font in its interface.

For the last few releases, WordPress has used the Open Sans font in the admin interface, which meant the font had to be downloaded, adding latency. In 4.6, WordPress will use the native UI font of the operating system the browser is running on. Because native fonts are available instantly, there will be no latency from font loading. It’s worth pointing out that this only affects the admin interface’s UI elements. It doesn’t affect the user-visible fonts chosen by theme designers or the text editor.

Editor Enhancements

There have been a couple of tweaks to the text editing experience, but one of my favorites is warnings for malformed URLs. I often cut and paste URLs into the text editor, and, occasionally, I don’t select the full URL or it ends up malformed for some other reason. In 4.6, users will find out if something has gone awry with link creation before hitting the publish button and hearing about it from users.

I’ve just covered the main user-facing changes coming in WordPress 4.6, but there are many other changes that will interest developers. You can see a full list here.

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Who Should Write Your Business Blog?

A blog is a valuable resource for any business that uses its website for lead generation. Blogs are a great way to publish content that drives traffic. Many businesses have trouble bringing traffic to their site using traditional marketing techniques; a blog forms the core of an inbound marketing strategy with the potential to significantly…

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How Can Developers Make A Living From GPL Plugins?

Most WordPress plugins are made available under the GPL — a “copyleft” license originally created by Richard Stallman. The intention of the GPL is to ensure that software can be modified and shared without limitations. Any software published under the GPL license can be copied by anyone who wants to, as long as they are…

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