How to hide the ‘Product description’ title in Canvas by Woothemes

In each product in your Woocommerce store there is a tab named ‘Description’ and also a heading which states ‘Product description’. To remove the ‘Product description’ title just add the following code to your site’s custom.css file. You can find this file in this location: /wp-content/themes/canvas

#tab-description h2 { /* hides product description title */
display: none !important;
}

6 Reasons Why Woocommerce Rocks

It works out of the box

You can have Woocommerce installed and be selling your first product almost in minutes. Most likely you’ll take longer to customise and work through all your settings but once you’re familiar with it you can set it up on a new site very rapidly.

It’s free

“Free” is one of the most attractive words on the internet and so of course this is a real appeal. But it’s not cheap and nasty, mainly because it’s not really free. The basic install is free but if you have a serious shop then you’re almost gauranteed to need to purchase one or more plugins to extend the functionality. In the case of one shop I manage it was simply a plugin to handle shipping settings as we found the default setup couldn’t meet our needs.

Woocommerce logo

It’s reasonably user friendly

I wouldn’t say it’s totally intuitive but it’s certainly reasonably user friendly at the moment and, like the WordPress admin, it’s getting moreso all the time. When I first invesgigated WordPress ecommerce solutions a few years ago I tried other free options and this was easily the friendliest by far. I’ve not tried any others more recently as I’m happy with what I get from Woocommerce.

There’s lots of support available

Since it is so widely used, there is a lot of info available on forums and so on. But if you purchase any extensions or themes from Woothemes then you get access to their support services and that means quality answers in reasonable timeframes (I wouldn’t say they’re prompt but its certainly acceptable).

It’s evolving

New features continue to be rolled out, in fact there are probably too many updates which can be a concern as you never quite know how your site will handle the updates. Will it clash with another plugin? Will there be a bug that messes up something else on the site? Will a subtle change at their end mean a hack that you implemented on your site suddenly throws everything out? These things do happen so updating can be a pain. But given that means it’s evolving then I’m happy to live with it.

One of the best evolutions recently for me was the inclusion of selling digital downloads and even multiple downloads for the same purchase. It’s becoming a really comprehensive ecommerce solution that is going to be harder and harder for other premium solutions to compete with.

It’s reliable

Whilst there are bugs from time to time it is generally a pretty robust system that you can depend upon. It’s very widely used, 2.7 million downloads at time of writing, and so there is a good support base available if you do have problems. And also plenty of developers who are familiar with it if you need that extra help you can’t find for free (and they also endorse Codeable whom I’ve yet to try but will do next time I come up against something I can’t solve on my own).

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How to edit the site title in Canvas by Woothemes

Canvas uses two different ways to style the text for the title of the site. For clarity, I’m refering to the site name that appears in the header of every page. You can change these to some extent using the inbuilt customisation options, but if you want to do something a bit more adventurous then you need to create some custom css and put this in the custom.css file.

For the homepage it is H1 and for all other pages it isn’t. So in order to make a change that appears across all pages you need to style both.

For example, if you wanted to add an underline to the site title then for the homepage you would use:

h1 a {
  text-decoration: underline;
}

and for all other pages use

#logo .site-title a {
  text-decoration: underline;
}

Media Temple review – are they a good web host?

I’ve used Media Temple for about 5 or so years now. I’ve been very happy with them on the whole as I find their interface easy to work with. The one click installations of WordPress are my favourite since I work with WordPress a lot.

Being based in New Zealand I initially used a local hosting company for my first website to try and support local businesses. However I was fortunate enought that my first site got some social media attention and I had a spike of 20K visits in a day. This got me a personal phone call from the company advising me that the ‘unlimited’ plan wasn’t really that unlimited after all as international traffic cost them too much. So I looked around and found a different option. Media Temple seemed like a good choice and I’ve been with them ever since.

Pros:

  • Really nice, easy to use admin interface
  • Reasonable pricing
  • Enormous bandwidth
  • Heaps of storage – great for one of my sites that sells lots of digital audio files
  • One click installations of WordPress
  • Pretty good customer support

Cons:

My main criticism, perhaps my only criticism really, would be site speed of the grid service (shared hosting). Sometimes they’re superfast, and other times they’re super slow, and ever so often they don’t even load. When you look at the Pingdom reports they show that sites still have excellent uptime. But when I use the sites myself I find that they have speed issues more often than I would like.

One of my sites is the main site for an international organisation and I’ve heard anecdotally that the site loads very slowly in Africa for example. I live in New Zealand and so some of the speed issues could be an NZ thing, but then other sites load fine. Media Temple are US based but with cloud technology these days location shouldn’t really be a problem for a large company like this. My gut feeling is that this is probably just the reality of shared hosting. There are probably some other sites on the shared space that are the reason mine are sometimes slow.

I know that WordPress can easily become bloated with too many plugins or poor coding, however I’ve noticed this slow loading even with sites that have just a few plugins and stock standard templates so I really think it is something at Media Temple’s end as far as I can tell.

Whatever the case, this is an issue not to be dismissed lightly as page loading time is a factor Google takes into consideration when determining search rankings. So it’s worth getting right.

Conclusion

I’ve contacted them on a number of occasions about the speed issue but haven’t really received satisfactory answers. I’m talking about their Grid hosting here btw – my presumption is that this is just how it goes for shared hosting and that I would just have to bite the bullet and choose a better quality plan to improve site speed.

I’m still happy enough with Media Temple to stick by them for the time being. But at some point I will setup hosting with another provider to get some comparison.

How to change where the ‘Continue Shopping’ button on the Woocommerce cart page links to

On the Woocommere cart page there is a button that links back to your shop home after you have added a product to the cart. If you want to change where this button links to you can add the following code to your functions.php file.

You just need to replace http://mydomain.com/url with the url you want the button to go to.

// Changes link destination of 'Continue Shopping' button on cart page

add_filter( 'woocommerce_continue_shopping_redirect', 'my_custom_continue_redirect' );

function my_custom_continue_redirect( $url ) {
return 'http://mydomain.com/url';
}

Thanks to Roy from Woocommerce for this handy tip.

HTML5 audio player plugin for WordPress

If you’re looking for a quick and easy, yet quite brilliant HTML5 audio player plugin for WordPress then you can’t go past mb.miniAudioPlayer. Despite having a strange name, this funky little player is really cool. It’s literally a case of just installing it and it works, nothing more to it.

  • Step 1. Install the plugin
  • Step 2. Insert any audio link you like via the normal WordPress method.

That’s it!

If you wish to further customise the colour and so on then there is an additional button available in the WYSIWYG editor where you can tweak it a bit.

But all in all a great plugin. Works on iphones/ipads too since it’s HTML5 rather than Flash.

WooThemes Are The Way To Go For WordPress Sites

I’ve only recently started using WooThemes for my WordPress sites and I have to say I’m impressed so far. The functionality is not actually that well promoted on their website I don’t think, at least not the full extent of it, and so when I set it up for the first time I was pleasantly surprised by how comprehensive it is.

There are heaps of extra settings they give you which are really cool. For the average or beginning WordPress user this means a greater degree of customisation of your site without having to get into the code. You can still get into the code, but it’s not essential, which I think is a real plus for those starting out or with limited time to learn.

But it also gives developers or the more experienced WordPress user a way to set up sites more rapidly, as you can export the settings and import them into another install and then just tweak as requried. And you can customise as you like in a separate stylesheet so you can kind of create your own child theme. This would of course be a grandchild theme since WooThemes are already child themes, their parent being the Woo Framework. There isn’t really decent documentation around about this but there are some tips within the settings area once you’ve actually installed it.

Another thing I like about the WooThemes approach is that they fully acknowledge that the WordPress SEO plugin is going to be a better option than them trying to be SEO experts so they aren’t trying to be all things to all people.

I’ve just been working with the Definition theme which I quite like. It’s not my favourite of their themes but for the purposes I need it right now it works. Surprisingly quite a number of their themes aren’t responsive which I would have thought would be pretty much standard issue these days, but apparently it’s not. It would be good if they would address this in some of their older themes which are still really modern and stylish looking, but which suck on mobile.

They have the option to purchase themes individually or join as a club member and download the lot, including the photoshop files used to create them, which means you can alter them even more as you wish.

Prior to converting to WooThemes I have used the Genesis framework which, at the time of writing, this blog is using. I am just using the framework in it’s raw state without a child theme applied and I quite like the stripped down Zen vibe of it. I think it works on a tech blog but in lots of other cases it just looks budget. Studiopress, the creators of Genesis, have a decent array of child themes to select from as well.

The 5 Best Plugins For WordPress As A CMS

When you start out with WordPress, finding the right plugins can take time. You have to rely on the reviews and recommendations of others, so here is yet another list of the best plugins for WordPress as a CMS. I certainly think these are essentials in terms of the sites I build.

For sidebar navigation use ‘WooSidebars’
I’m becoming more of a fan of the WooThemes team now that I am a full convert to Woocommerce. I used to use a combination of Flexi Pages and Widget Logic which was a very reliable and solid way of having different sidebars in different locations. But it was a bit fiddly and required you to use the page IDs which could result in long lists of page IDs to keep track of if you have a large site. WooSidebars does the same job in a much quicker and easier to use interface so its really a no brainer for me.

For SEO use ‘WordPress SEO’
It’s got great sitemaps, and if you want to optimise your WordPress site for search engines then this will be very useful. It’s both simple and complex, so it’s good for both beginners and the more advanced. And it’s by Yoast who is a dude who knows his stuff when it comes to WordPress. While there are a ton of SEO plugins around, and I’ve only tried a few, this one works best for me. Check out how many 5 star ratings it has!

For a quick and easy contact form use ‘Contact Form 7′
Once you’ve used it a couple times, if you’re in a hurry you can literally download, install and have your contact form live in less than a minute. See my contact form for what it outputs. I’ve not styled it in any way so that’s what it gives you out of the box.

For site speed and performance use ‘W3 Total Cache’

When it comes to improving the performance of your site this really is a must have. In short, it caches your site so that browsers can download it ready to go rather than having it put together on the fly. It can really speed things up, or more importantly, provide a consistent speed so that, on shared hosting especially, your site loading speed is more consistent and not as prone to annoying slow periods. This plugin pretty much works out of the box and needs minimal configuring. But for the more adept it also comes with a somewhat bewildering array of options that appear to allow for endless tweaking if you’re into that.

For better control over who does what use ‘User Role Editor’

The more CMS style your site is the more likely this will be an asset if you have multiple people managing the site and want to give them different types of access. Whilst this functionality exists already within WordPress, this plugin gives you a greater degree of specification over exactly what access you give each individual. So you can keep the tricky things away from those who may be inclined to mess them up!

Steve Jobs Biography By Walter Isaacson – Book Review

Steve Jobs by Walter IsaacsonNow this was an interesting read.

I have an iPhone, which I like, but I’m very uninterested in the cult of Mac and everything Steve Jobs. It was only at the reccommendation of a friend that I had a crack at reading this mamouth biography by former CNN and Time heavyweight, Walter Isaacson. But I’m certainly glad I did.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that it’s a roller coaster ride. I was at times both appalled and in awe of Steve Jobs, and frequently alternated between the two for the duration of the book as Isaacson appears to be incredible at capturing the real essence of Jobs, both his strengths and weaknesses.

I am in awe of Steve Jobs the genius. The man who was obsessive about quality and design. The man who worked relentless in pursuit of perfection and would not stop until he achieved it, regardless of the cost, whether that cost be personal, financial or at the expense of others.

Equally so on the other hand, I was at times appalled by his incredible harshness towards other people. His lack of compassion or consideration of others. If he had been trying to save the world then his shortcomings would have been fogiveable, but he was at heart, a materialist, intent on carving out his own legacy. And what did he create? A gadget that will be very soon surpassed. Sure, it has made an impact, but in a rapidly changing world, what sort of a lasting legacy will he really leave?

His lifelong rivalry with Bill Gates is a thread running through the book. But while he was condescending towards Bill Gates and Microsoft, look at the legacy Bill Gates is leaving. His philanthrophy is a real gift to the world. Worth far more than an operating system or app store which will inevitably fade into the history books.

Isaacson says that ‘The Autobiography of a Yogi’, by Paramahansa Yogananda, was a book that Jobs had on his iPad and read every year. Yet the truly spiritual message contained within this book failed to register with him. His actions show that he didn’t appreciated the basics of spirituality espoused by Yogananda such as spiritual energy and prayer. It is a strange contradiction.

Steve Jobs, a man who had so much potential, will go down in my history books as a man who did not live up to his potential.