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Customer acquisition is one of the most important components of a successful business. Finding and attracting new customers is the only reliable way to sustain and expand a business’ performance. But what happens to customers after you have made a successful sale?
Customer retention is the second half of business success. Being able to retain customers can make the difference between spending all of your time and money on acquiring new customers and using your resources in other areas. It is also something that business owners can easily ignore if they are too focused on just customer acquisition.
Businesses often fail to retain customers for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, the business model itself doesn’t make it easy for customers to repeat their business. Other times, a sole focus on customer acquisition leaves retention neglected.
Regardless of the reason, a lack of returning customers leads to a higher churn rate which can harm the business performance. Thankfully, customer retention is easy to manage with the right understanding and strategies.
What Is Churn Rate?
Simply put, the term “churn rate” is a measurement of how many customers a business loses over a given period of time. In other words, it’s the number of customers that fail to buy more products and services or to further engage with the business.
Measuring churn rate is rather simple. First, you have to select the given period of time you will measure. A week, a month, or a year all represent common time frames that you can work with.
For any given time frame, you have to take the difference between the number of starting and finishing customers. This answers the question, “How many customers did you actually lose in this time?”
The higher the rate, the more customers you lose over time. It is common for a business to have a churn rate in double digits. If it is over 50 percent, however, it may be a sign that improvement is required. Using the right strategies and methods, you can work to reduce this rate without harming your customer acquisition process.
There are several techniques you can mix and match to increase customer retention over a given period of time. All of these techniques have one important thing in common: they all increase value for the customer. Customers will rarely stick around if they have no reason to keep doing business
This is the very reason you acquire customers in the first place. Something about your products, services, or overall business experience attracts new customers. After the initial sales period is over, customers will decide whether to stick around or return in the future.
Added value is the key to customer retention. Anything you can do to keep customers returning time and time again will help with this endeavor.
Strategy One: Diagnose the Problem
Before you can actually lower your churn rate, you have to determine what exactly is causing the loss of customer retention in the first place. Since there can be a plethora of reasons for a high churn rate, you have to diagnose the problem using the information you have available. Common sources of information include physical and digital interaction, customer information, and sales histories.
A customer database full of important personal, demographic, and sales information is your friend in this task. If you can keep track of the last time a customer purchased a product or service, you can immediately see how many customers you lost during a specific period of time.
Customer information may also reveal potential reasons for the high churn rate. If a certain product or service isn’t selling as well as others, sales histories will reveal this.
Communicating with existing customers can also help. Getting feedback on your business, products, and services will provide valuable information that will reveal hidden issues quantitative information alone can’t. Speak with customers through your website, social media, and physical locations if you have them.
Strategy Two: Engage With Customers
Quite often, customer loyalty is more than just finding value in the products and services of the business. Many customers are attracted to businesses that offer communities and relationships.
Just think about the last time you went into a retail store with friendly customer service. The engagement and communication can create a positive experience that promotes future business.
If you have a physical storefront, make sure your customer service is warm and inviting. Use customers’ first names, if possible. Have casual conversations to inquire about their likes, dislikes, and daily happenings.
Online, use social media and your website to engage with customers. You can communicate current store news through mediums, such as social media and email. You can also interact with customers through social media, as long as the content is appropriate for your business.
Strategy Three: Offer Unique Promotions
To increase customer retention for specific products and services, you can use the tried-and-true method of the promotional deal. Whether it takes the form of an extended promotional campaign or simple coupons, deals offer extra incentive for returning customers. This is where many businesses make a crucial mistake.
Business owners will sometimes use incentives like deals and promotions to attract new customers. For example, a certain product may be 25 percent off if this is your first time in the store. While this can be effective for customer acquisition, it can have an adverse effect on customer retention.
These types of deals often discourage customer loyalty. Over time, returning customers begin to expect greater rewards and treatment for their loyalty. Reward programs that fail to meet these expectations won’t be as successful in the long run.
Divide these incentive programs up so you can target both new and returning customers in different ways. is a great way to tackle both groups of customers.
Strategy Four: Memberships
To take incentive rewards up to the next level, create a membership program for returning customers. This can be as simple as signing up to a subscription list or membership online or in-store.
Membership programs tend to offer extra value to returning customers through exclusivity. Particularly if membership is free or earned through customer loyalty, this will create a unique experience for returning customers. It also creates more incentives for new customers to stay on board for the long haul.
The trick to a good membership program is clarity and simplicity. Don’t bog down potential and existing members with an overwhelming amount of incentives.
Ideally, tailor the extra value they will receive to the interests of the customer. Analyze what products and services they are typically drawn to for a start.
Strategy Five: Expand Your Value
Sometimes, customer loyalty and retention can be increased through something completely unrelated to your products and services. For example, content marketing has become a popular form of customer retention in recent years.
Originally meant for customer acquisition marketing, content marketing offers potential customers additional information and stories to consume. Just like a popular website, this type of information attracts customers by offering them something they cannot get anywhere else.
Content marketing is also a good way to build your business brand. The trick is to provide content that is both interesting to the customer and related to your business.
In other words, you don’t want to provide information that is completely disconnected from the types of products and services you offer. If you have an existing brand, the content should also fit to avoid any confusion.
You can provide additional content in any number of ways. Digital channels like your website and social media platforms are common for content marketing. You can also provide this information in-store, through mail, email, or any other means of communicating with customers.
Lowering the Churn Rate
True success relies on a strategic approach to increasing your customer return rate. It isn’t enough to offer a few deals here and there without understanding the core problem. This means you have to approach the process step-by-step.
Start by understanding the problem areas. Why are customers leaving your business? Once you begin to identify these issues, you’ll have a better understanding of how to approach the problems overall.
Second, think about what types of strategies and approaches will help solve the problems. Is customer engagement an issue? If so, increase your customer service efforts online and in store.
Do customers like specific products and services you offer? If not, focus on more successful offerings or increasing the attractiveness of the problematic ones.
Finally, keep up the effort. Lowering your churn rate won’t happen overnight. Sometimes, the best you can hope for is retaining future customers.
Other times, it may be possible to bring back old customers or to keep the ones you have. The important part is to keep at it and change things that aren’t working as time goes on.
Jim Rulison serves as the CEO for Media Loop LLC (formerly the National Center for Pain Inc). Jim oversees the day to day operations for all lead generation accounts, with a concentration in the healthcare industry. Before joining Media Loop, Jim was the CEO of PME Home Health and was the founder of one of the nation's first virtual call centers. He lives in Rochester New York area where he and his late wife raised their two children. Jim spends his free time with his family and enjoying cooking and his two dogs.
Co-founder of WordPress Matt Mullenweg took the stage in Belgrade to give a mid-year update on where the CMS has been and where it is going. He referred to this as a “summertime update.”
Over the past six years, Mullenweg has held a Town Hall during WordCamp Europe, but this year he decided to present what has been happening since WordCamp US in December, and what will happen in the coming months.
He began by announcing St. Louis will be the 2019-2020 WCUS location, then he moved onto his updates.
There have been six core releases since WCUS. Customization was improved by turning widgets to blocks. The WP-CLI saw two new releases, and we can expect version 2.0 in July, which will show better packing for dependencies.
The REST API was a huge focus this year because Gutenberg is built on it. The core team improved Gutenberg groundwork, autosaves, and search, getting it ready for the eventual Gutenberg merge.
Mobile apps have had a huge few months. There has been improved RTL and according to Mullenweg, mobile apps are one of the most accessible ways to interact with WordPress today and in the future. In just the last month, 1.3 million posts and 3.7 million photos have been posted via mobile apps.
One of the biggest updates was centered around Gutenberg. There have been 30 releases of Gutenberg since its inception and 12 since December. 1,764 issues have been opened and 1,115 have been closed in that time, and 14,000 sites are currently using it.
The major features we’ve seen so far are block-based writing experiences, it is fully adaptive across all devices, optimized for direct manipulation of content, block API with support of static and dynamic blocks and more.
One of the things Mullenweg himself was most excited about the copy and paste feature. Previously it’s been very difficult to make something that has been copied and pasted into WordPress look good. Now, copy and paste is fully supported from places like Microsoft Word, Office 365, Evernote, random web pages, Google docs, and more with Gutenberg.
Mullenweg also touched on how Gutenberg is moving forward.
During the month of June, there will be new features in Gutenberg. The core team will encourage hosts, agencies, and teachers to opt-in sites they have influence over, and there will be an opt-in available for wp-admin users on wp.com. Key data and information will be gathered from these users. Lastly, mobile app support for Gutenberg will be enhanced in iOS and Android.
The next phase of Gutenberg will happen in July with the next release. With that, there will be a strong invitation to either install Gutenberg or opt for the Classic Editor plugin. Instead of an opt-in option for wp.com, there will be an opt-out. The team will pay attention to who opts out and why. There will be heavy triage and bug gardening that will try to get the blockers to zero. July will also see an exploration of expanding Gutenberg beyond just the post and into site customization.
August is the hopeful release of 5.0, though Mullenweg couldn’t guarantee a date, this seems like the most likely. At this time, all critical issues will be resolved, there will be integration with Calypso. Mullenweg is hoping to get 100,000 sites and 250,000 posts using Gutenberg by that time, and of course Gutenberg merge with core.
The presentation ended with a Q&A section. Many members of the audience stood up and asked questions.
Being in Europe there was little chance GDPR wouldn’t come up. One attendee expressed his concern over not having a WordPress representative in meetings with decision-makers working on the online data and privacy laws. Mullenweg lightened the mood by first asking the attendee if he would accept a cookie, and handing him one. He then admitted that though there are members of the open web at these meetings, there isn’t official WordPress representation. Instead, he suggested hammering out a WordPress policy on the matter then seeing how the community feels about it.
When asked what problem Mullenweg is trying to solve with Gutenberg he responded with what he sees for the future of the platform itself.
It’s been 15 years since WordPress first launched. Back then, there were limited demands and limited choices when it came to WordPress development services.
Since then, the CMS has grown to power over 30 percent of the web and there are a lot more developers to choose from. Because WordPress is so customizable, it can become anything you want, but you might need the help of a professional to fully utilize all the features it can offer.
Not only the theme of your unique WordPress website can be customized using PHP, MySQL, CSS and more, but also the plugins can be custom-made to add any functionality.
Because the market is so big, it can be hard to know how to choose a developer to assist you. Here are some tips for finding someone you really trust.
Go to the developer
Yes, chase them! Not literally though. You don’t need to be looking for the developers physically. In this day and age of digital fondness, one can easily get hold of and search for the developers online.
Use Slack, Twitter, or email to reach out to someone you want to work with. Chances are if they can’t help you, they can point you in the direction of someone who can. Try going to a WordCamp and meeting people in person. This is a great way to make connections and relationships with people that you can work with in the future.
Online forums and discussion platforms
Like we said before, productive discussions, as well as chit-chat about the latest WordPress developments here, will let you sift through a talented pool and community of the developers who are actively engaged in providing or freelancing WordPress development services. Did you know that Stack Overflow has around 111k questions asked by the progressive community of WordPress developers?
This is a great idea to get a list of names of developers you would be interested in working with. Then reach out through Slack.
What to say when you reach out
Finding a developer is the easy part, but actually reaching out can be daunting. One of the greatest things about WordPress is the open community. No matter where you look, you’ll find someone willing to help you, even if they themselves can’t do the job. Here are a few ways to start a conversation.
Look around for a way where you can contact them. As we said above, you can try Slack, Twitter, a contact form, or email. Begin a friendly conversation and ask what they are working on currently. This will give you insight into the kind of projects they can tackle. From there explain what you’re looking for and ask if they have time to help.
The amount you’ll have to pay a developer will vary depending on experience level and the difficulty of your project. Hammer out how much you’re willing to pay before hiring anyone. That way, you’ll make sure you can afford the person you like and they will get a fair amount.
If the person you are interested in can’t do the job, ask for recommendations. WordPress developers have their ear the ground in the community and know of people free and looking for work. See if they wouldn’t mind facilitating an introduction, and continue that process until you find the right fit.
Have a clear idea of what you want for your project before reaching out to anyone. It will be easier for both of you if the developer understands exactly how much work your website will entail.
These are a few simple ways to start looking for a freelance developer. At the end of the day, remember that the WordPress community is a large place, and people are willing to help you on your journey. Don’t be afraid to reach out or attend a WordCamp.
My name is Sophia Phillips and I am a WordPress developer at WordPrax Ltd. WordPress web development company. My work exists at the intersection of web development and technology blogging. In case, you have made up your mind to enhance WP website then it is better to hire WordPress developer who can serve you the desired services.
This article is a part of a series on writing object-oriented PHP for WordPress development. So far, we’ve spent two articles on writing the code and now we will test the code and systems. It takes an enormous amount of tooling to write code and back in my day I walked uphill both ways, in two feet of snow, to write HTML, using HTML instead of writing it in Babel and transferring it to HTML.
Yes, it’s a lot, but that’s why we have scaffolding tools, and we’re going to get into some of those in this article.
Object-oriented programming (OOP) is complex. The point of this series is to show why creating abstract systems to do things is sometimes better than writing a system to do one thing. When that is true, OOP is worth the additional complexity. One key benefit of OOP is that testable code, tends to be better code.
Since OOP code is highly testable, it’s reasonable to adopt a workflow where all code is automatically tested. Passing tests becomes a requirement for merging pull requests. Github and GitLab can enforce this rule on pull requests. This is an important component of the workflow if you want to adopt test-driven design (TDD,) which this series will switch to soon.
In this article, I’ll be showing you how to use Github and Travis CI to automatically run the tests that I showed you how to write in the previous articles.
Git Flow And Testing
The Git Flow Workflow is a very common choice for collaborative development using Git. When using this workflow, no one ever commits directly to the branch currently being developed on. Instead, all work happens in branches, and a pull request on Github is used to review and then commit the changes back to the main branch.
For example, if you were tasked with implementing features specified in issue 42 in a branch called “develop”. In this case, you would pull the remote git branch develop. Then create a local branch off of develop. That branch would be called feature/42, since it is introducing a feature from issue 42, and then push that feature back to Github. A pull request to merge feature/42.
This is the configuration file for the Travis build environment, which is running inside of a Docker image. You can use this file to configure that environment — for example we’ll tell it we want PHP available. You can use this file to run scripts in that environment, for example the bash and composer scripts I showed how to create in previous articles in this series.
Let’s start with a basic Travis file that just runs our unit tests.
# Do not give sudo access
# Use the PHP environment
# Don't send notifications via email, that's annoying
# Trigger only on master -- we'll add Github pull requests in settings
# Cache composer dependencies
# Build these combinations of PHP and WordPress Versions
- php: 7.2
- php: 7.1
- php: 7.2
# Setup environment
# Export composer
- export PATH="$HOME/.composer/vendor/bin:$PATH"
# Install plugin with composer
- composer install --no-progress
# Run tests
# Run just unit tests
- composer unit-tests
Travis Life Cycle Events
This file has inline explanations. I want to highlight a few parts that are very important concepts. First, the matrix. Because this matrix includes three combinations of PHP and WordPress versions, Travis will perform three builds each time. Each run will use the PHP version specified and will have a different value for the environment variable WP_VERSION. The bash scripts that I created — based on Gutenberg — all set the WordPress version they are using the environment variable WP_VERSION. It’s a convention that we should stick to.
Next look at “below_script”. This is a lifecycle event that Travis exposes. This event runs before the script event, which is normally where the test script runs. At this stage our travis file setups up composer and then uses it to install the plugin’s dependencies. This has to happen before the tests are run or they will fail for the wrong reason — bad install, not bad code.
Then we have the “script” event. By default, in a PHP project, Travis will execute the command “phpunit” here. We want to run a slightly different command. More specifically the command “composer unit-tests”. That’s the Composer script that encapsulates running unit tests.
In the next series of this article, we’ll use Travis lifecycle events to run code sniffs and lints before the tests. Then, with one build, we’ll create a code coverage report, that can tell us what percentage of our code is covered by our tests.
Testing The Travis Configuration
Now commit this file and push it to Github, in the master branch. Then go back to the Travis settings screen and from the “More Options” menu, use the “Trigger Build” to trigger a build. That should cause the build process to run and once it’s done, you’ll see the status.
If you had a resolvable set of dependencies that are all passing tests, you should see each three build passed. You probably didn’t. Travis is a much less forgiving environment than most of us use for local development. That’s a good thing. If everything works in Travis, then it likely works elsewhere. Read your error logs and work through each one until you’ve got passing builds.
The complete configuration with Docker I’m about to show you how to build, when I set it up for the example plugin took me twelve tries to get it right. I’m borrowing liberally from Gutenberg and I’ve done this before. If this is your first time setting up Travis or any CI system at all, be patient, this is not the easiest thing in the world to do. But once it’s setup it should just work.
Using Docker To Run WordPress Integration Tests On Travis
Right now, we’re just running the unit tests. That’s a simple first step, but we also have a suite of integration tests to run as well. Because the unit tests are written in a way that does not require dependencies, we can just run those tests using the system PHP. In this case, the Docker environment Travis provisioned for us.
The integration tests require MySQL and WordPress running on localhost. We solved that problem for local development with a simple Docker environment created using Docker Compose. We can enable Docker and Docker Compose inside of the Travis environment by adding a “services” section to our .travis.yml. Once we’ve done that, our existing docker-compose.yml file and composer scripts are all we need.
In the “script” section, after running the unit tests, I added two commands. First, the preexisting composer script to install the docker environment, which provisions the test suite. Second, the command to run the integration tests.
Here is the new Travis file:
# Give sudo to environment
# Make Docker available inside the container
# Use the PHP environment
# Don't send notifications via email, that's annoying
# Trigger only on master -- we'll add Github pull requests in settings
# Cache composer dependencies
# Build these combinations of PHP and WordPress Versions
- php: 7.2
- php: 7.1
- php: 7.2
# Setup environment
# Export composer
- export PATH="$HOME/.composer/vendor/bin:$PATH"
# Install plugin with composer
- composer install --no-progress
# Run tests
# Run just unit tests first -- if they fail we never spend the time building the environment for integration tests
- composer unit-tests
# Install full test environment using composer script
- composer wp-install
# Run integration tests
- composer wp-tests
# IF tests passed run coverage and sniffs
# Run coverage
- vendor/bin/phpunit --coverage-clover=coverage.xml
# Report to codecov
- bash <(curl -s https://codecov.io/bash) CODECOV_KEY
Installing the testing environment is one of the slowest parts of the build process. That’s why I am running unit tests first. That’s the fastest way to fail the build. If the code has a fatal error, for example, one caused by a bad git merge, the unit tests are not going to complete and the failure is reported without having to install the larger test suite. Since every build is actually multiple builds, total build time can increase significantly over time.
Continuing With Continuous Integration
Because Travis is integrated with Github, we can see results of tests for each commit in a pull request.
Travis CI is one example of a continuous integration tool. I like the simplicity of Travis. Gitlab CI and CircleCI are alternatives that are a bit more complex. Those services are worth checking out.
Also keep in mind that, CI is the first half of CI/CD — continuous integration and continuous deployment. The CD part, is the process of automatically deploying changes to servers. If you’re implementing continuous integration for a WordPress site or WordPress-powered app, you can use a CI/CD service to update your site for you.
Once your automated tests for your site reach a point that you can trust that, if they pass, you trust the code, then you might as well have the code be deployed to your live site, or even better a QA site automatically. That’s all tedious work to do manually. These tests create
For plugin development, the deployment part involves building a release ZIP file and then using that to create an SVN commit on WordPress.org and/ or uploading the ZIP to your eCommerce site or marketplace. Travis has SVN installed and supports encrypted environment variables, so if you had a script to create a production build of your plugin, like this one in Gutenberg, you could create a build a commit it as a tag on WordPress.org or rysnc it to another location.
Josh is a WordPress developer and educator. He is the founder of Caldera Labs, makers of awesome WordPress tools including Caldera Forms — a drag and drop, responsive WordPress form builder. He teaches WordPress development at Caldera Learn.
Content marketing is not a tactic born of the online era. You can go back as far as 1895 to find John Deere producing a magazine called ‘The Furrow’ that featured content promoting the company’s range of farming equipment.
But unfortunately, the catalyst or the driver for the recent wave of content marketing was not necessarily customer engagement as it was for The Furrow. Instead, it was primarily search engine performance.
Under the guiding theory that Google loves fresh content, many marketers around the globe had routinely advised that we should publish as much content as we can.
The problem with this position is that we’re reaching a point of what Mark Schaefer calls ‘content shock.’ This is the point where there is more content produced online than the global population can consume.
On WordPress alone, 83.6 million posts are published every month! Much of this is short-form content of dubious value. But thankfully, many agencies, marketers and freelancers now subscribe to producing longer-form content with the intention of providing more value to the reader. They consider that the longer the content, the more likely it will be to rank higher with Google.
This view is supported by various studies, including one from Brian Dean at Backlinko where they found that the average word count of results on Google’s front page is 1,890 words.
But the danger of concentrating on the length of content is that we’re again missing the most important factor – user engagement.
This point is arguable though. After all, marketers and content strategists perform keyword research around trending topics and keyword volume every day, showing real concern for user engagement.
I simply make the point that this research is still being influenced by what works for search. This is a mistake. For example, there are some topics that don’t need 2,000 words to provide the reader with in-depth value. So, if you take a topic that only requires 1,000 to cover it well and stretch it to 2,000 words, what do you think will happen with your user engagement?
Optimal content length aside, if we’re going to be re-focusing our attention and commitment to the user, then we should look at our entire blog and consider all our existing posts.
You should be regularly auditing and optimizing your old blog posts to ensure they still deliver the user experience you intended when you launched them.
For example, did you publish a piece covering your 2015 industry awards? If you did, it will have little or no value to your audience now. But will you be covering the awards again in the future? If so, use a generic URL such as yoursite.com/industry-event/ and simply update the page each year.
But if you’re not going to feature the event again, consider deleting the page (and redirecting it) to make for a better user experience. That will also save Google the effort of indexing your low-value content.
2. Identify content with high-volume traffic that converts well.
This content is likely to be generating its traffic from search, so your main objective in optimizing these posts is to find ways of increasing the conversions that you drive from each page. Start testing your calls to action until you’re happy with the improvement. Then relaunch the posts again.
3. Identify content with low-volume traffic that converts well.
This is content that engages your audience and it drives leads/sales. Do your keyword research again. Search behavior evolves and perhaps the keywords that you used to optimize the post three years ago are not the optimal targets now. Optimize your post for the latest keywords.
You should also identify opportunities to add further value to this content. This will immediately open more search traffic for you.
The benefits of re-launching your content
Beyond simply optimizing your post when you re-launch it, you should promote it like you would a new piece. Share it via your social profiles again. Repurpose it. Use your usual paid promotion channels. Conduct your outreach.
The process of optimizing and promoting your relaunched post will give you a burst of new traffic. It will demonstrate to Google that it’s fresh content and it should re-evaluate its position within their index. If you’ve optimized the post well, it will demonstrate much-improved user engagement and will continue to improve its search position.
The beneficial results of optimizing older content can be easily found among the blogging community, including HubSpot and Backlinko.
HubSpot reports some stunning results. In their analysis, they identify that they have :
a) ‘…more than doubled the number of monthly leads generated by the old posts we’ve optimized.’
b) ‘Increased the number of monthly organic search views of old posts we’ve optimized by an average of 106%.’
Quentin Aisbett is the founder of OnQ Marketing, an Australian-based digital agency. When he’s not knee-deep in SEO, content strategy, and analytics reporting, he is traveling or watching his beloved Australian Rules team the Brisbane Lions. If you want to get in touch with him find him on Twitter @onqmarketing or follow him on Quora.
Doc’s WordPress News Drop is a weekly report on the most pressing WordPress news. When the news drops, I will pick it up and deliver it right to you.
WCUS call for Sponsors and our final WCEU update - YouTube
Over the past few months we’ve been lucky to have Jenny Beaumont, the lead organizer of WordCamp Europe, join us for weekly updates and behind the scenes news about the upcoming event in Serbia. In this week’s episode, we chat face-to-face with Jenny about the final week before WCEU.
Now that WCEU is just a month away, it’s great to finally have a chance to talk one on one about this big event.
WordPress templates make it easier for developers to create dynamic content and apply a consistent style across multiple posts or pages. While this is a very useful feature, it’s been skipped over by many users due to the required degree of coding.
However, this is no longer the case. The new Elementor Theme Builder includes the ability to create custom single post templates without doing any coding whatsoever. This opens up for new possibilities for every user, regardless of their coding expertise.
In this article, we’ll introduce you to single post templates and show you how you can create one yourself. We’ll cover both the standard, code-based method, and then demonstrate how you can use the Elementor Theme Builder to create a custom single post template without any coding at all. Let’s get started!
An Introduction to Single Post Templates
In a nutshell, you can use WordPress templates to apply a set of styles and content to a post or page. Post templates, in particular, enable you to create different designs you can apply to certain posts, without having to recreate the styling and format every time. It’s similar to how a stencil enables you to draw a certain shape over and over by giving you an outline you can fill with new content each time.
Depending on your site, this could be used in a variety of ways. You could use different templates for varying types of post content that require a specific layout. For example, a music site might use different templates for review posts and news articles. You could also use it to create a different template for each post author, or for featured content, to give just two more examples.
If this sounds like an amazingly useful feature, you’re not wrong! However, it’s one that’s been somewhat neglected by most WordPress users. This is because there’s not been an easy way to create your own custom single post templates without the need to do some coding, which can turn off many users with limited experience.
However, this is no longer a necessity, as there’s now a way to accomplish the same goal with no coding whatsoever. The rest of this article will be dedicated to showing you the different ways you can create a custom single post template.
How to Create a Custom Single Post Template Manually
The old school way of creating a post template is by cracking open your favorite text editor and doing it from scratch. However, this method will require you to be familiar with WordPress development. Naturally, this is a barrier for many, but having the expertise gives you more or less complete freedom to tailor the template to your satisfaction.
Before you proceed, you should make sure you’re using a child theme. This will enable you to edit your current theme without potentially losing those changes when you carry out an update to it.
Next, you’ll need to create a new file, which will form the basis of your template. For now, name it new-template.php and paste in the following code:
* Template Name: New Template
* Template Post Type: post
This defines your file as a post template, and fetch the header content using a hook. Of course, you should change the Template Name to anything you’d prefer. While you could upload the template to your site as-is, there’s no other content yet, so let’s add some.
Open single.php and copy all of the contents below get_header(); ?>. This code determines how single posts appear in your current theme, so copy and paste it into new-template.php, after get_header(); ?>:
At this point, you’re free to add any styling or other functionality to the template. This is where you’ll need to rely on your own development skills, but you can also refer to the WordPress Theme Handbook and this guide by WPBeginner for more information.
When you’ve finished your template, it’s time to upload it. Once again, you’ll need to connect via SSH or SFTP. Return to your child theme’s folder and add your new-template.php file within:
This will add your post template to the theme, which you can test by navigating to a post or page within WordPress and looking for a new option within the Post Attributes metabox:
With that, you’ve successfully created a post template manually!
Next up, we’re going to look at how you can create a custom single post template yourself without coding. To do this, we’ll be using the very popular Elementor Pro. This is a premium version of the free Elementor page builder plugin for WordPress and is a drag-and-drop builder that enables you to update your theme using a live editor. Using it is a super easy way to quickly create a unique, professional look for your WordPress website.
The Pro edition ramps this up with additional features, one of which is the recently added Theme Builder. You can use this to create your own footers, headers, and also templates. We’ll be looking much closer at this later.
Easy to use for beginners, with extensive options for advanced designers.
Uses an instant drag-and-drop interface that updates immediately when you make a change.
Includes a large number of assets and templates to use.
Price: While the standard plugin is free, Elementor Pro (which features the Theme Builder) starts at $49.
How to Create a Single Post Template With Elementor Pro
We’re now going to create a custom template for single posts using Elementor Pro. You’ll, therefore, need to ensure you have both the Elementor plugin and the Elementor Pro extension installed and activated on your site.
First, you need to access Elementor > My Templates within WordPress. This is where you’ll find your custom templates, but will be empty initially:
Click Add New Template to get started, where you’ll first be asked what type of template you want to create. Since ours will be a single post template, select Single. You can also give your template a name here, but this is optional:
Click Create Template and the Elementor Theme Builder will open, giving you the option to working with an existing template:
You can choose to use one of these as a base for your own, or close this pop-up to create something from scratch. For this example, we’ll use one of the post templates, which we’ll add by clicking the Insert link that appears underneath its thumbnail when we hover over it. This opens the theme builder with the selected template:
Once here, you have total freedom to edit your template. If you’ve not previously worked with Elementor, we recommend taking a moment to familiarize yourself with the basics. However, this is a very intuitive plugin so it shouldn’t take you long to get up to speed. You’ll find widgets and content in the left-hand menu, which you can drag-and-drop into the template:
To edit individual elements, select it and the menu will change to show its settings instead. This gives you a great deal of creative freedom, so add a few elements and see what you can make them do.
For an even better idea of how your design will look in practice, you can use the Preview feature. This enables you to see how a selected post will look with your template. You can access it by clicking the ‘eye’-shaped icon within the bottom left panel, then selecting Settings:
This will add a Preview Settings section to the main menu, where you can select the type of content to use. Select Post here, and choose your blog post from the second field:
Next, click Apply & Preview to reload the main editor to contain the selected post. You can now continue to edit your template and see how it will affect the look of the post in real-time:
Once you’re happy with your template, it’s time to save and publish it. You can do this using the Publish button in the bottom left corner. When you click this, another pop-up will appear letting you determine where the template will be applied:
WordPress is a very user-friendly platform and a great option for creating websites. It has loads of features and is easy to customize. One of the best ways to create a beautiful and professional-looking website is to use one of the thousands of WordPress themes available in the dashboard.
WordPress Theme frameworks are a foundation for several themes, which are built on a framework – as opposed to some which are built from scratch. Theme frameworks fall into two categories – one, developed by an organization for their specific theme shop, and two, those that are free to be used by anyone for their projects. Consider the WordPress core as the foundation of a home and the theme the add-ons that add aesthetics. In this article, we’re going to look at how we can customize a WordPress Theme.
Choose your theme
Needless to say, the first thing you need to do is find the right theme for your specific needs – it should have the functionality required for your project. Check the options offered by the theme before creating a child theme. Does it offer the basic appearance and sense of what you need? For example, if it’s an ecommerce site you’re building, check for ecommerce functionality; if you want to include testimonials, make sure that functionality is already integrated. This is especially important if you’re a newbie. Finding a theme that already comes with the features you need will save a ton of time.
There are several ways in which you can customize a theme in WordPress. Here we will examine the popular and easiest ways you can do this:
Using the WordPress Customizer
It is possible to customize any WP theme using the inbuilt customizer. So you need to understand this tool first. You access the customizer which is in the admin section. Go to Appearance>Themes>Customize. This allows you to modify your selected theme in real time. However, do bear in mind that how much you can do with this tool depends greatly on how much effort the theme developers have put into its utilization. Here you can easily make changes to the color theme by clicking on ‘Colors’. You can also change the site icon or logo, in the ‘Site Identity’ tab. You can configure the appearance of your site here, as well as modify background images and manage menus on your site. It even lets you preview your website in different modes like desktop, tablet, or mobile.
Using custom CSS
If you’re a beginner, you can try using the Customizer’s inbuilt CSS editor, or the Custom CSS provided with the Jetpack Plugin. You can access this in Appearance> Edit CSS. There are actually loads of plugins that will help you write customized style sheets. If you’re already a bit familiar with CSS you can also try the Advanced CSS editor; this allows you to implement if across devices, desktop and mobile.
Often, we can make the changes we need with the help of plugins. They allow us both the style and the functionality we require but we’re unable to create as newbies to WordPress. Several plugins are available for free; the developers often create these wonderful add-ons that let you dramatically change the look or functionality of your style. Sometimes they give you some basic features for free, and charge a small amount for the more exciting features. Plugins allow you to:
Alter visual elements even if you have no knowledge of CSS or cascading style sheets; e.g. Site Origin CSS
Include or delete blocks from pages even as you’re looking at the site’s front end; e.g Galau UI Visual Editor
Drag and drop page builders like Elementor and Beaver
If you have some familiarity with CSS you can use a plugin like Visual Composer to make a whole lot of changes. As it’s included in several popular themes, it’s a very handy tool.
Creating a Child Theme
While you can make changes with the CSS, it does have its limitations – it’s mainly used for aesthetic effect rather than alter functionality. However, if you want to enhance the structural elements of your site, you need to customize the theme by creating a child theme.
You should never make alterations in the theme’s original files – this is because when the theme is updated, whatever changes you had made will be lost.
A child theme is a separate set of files that stays on the top of the original theme files; the site will use the versions of the files in the child theme that are present. For example, let’s say your child theme has the index.php file but no page.php file. Your site will take the index.php file from your child theme but page.php file from the parent theme. This way, you can alter the existing theme without fear of losing your changes if the theme gets updated.
The theme files determine the appearance and sense of sites; you can use the Theme Editor to edit the theme, or through FTP connection, by using an FTP client. The second method is much safer, as in the first, there’s a danger of locking yourself out.
Make a folder called ‘parentthemename-child-’ (use an actual name instead of themename). The new child theme primarily requires the style.css file. Specify your domain name, enter a description, specify your name or brand and add your URL. The last line will look something like this:
Note: Instead of parentthemename, use the actual theme you’re altering, and give a name of the child theme too. Save all the changes you have made to the style.css file, and turn on your child theme in the WP dashboard in Appearance> Themes.
To bypass the parent theme, copy the parent’s template files into your child theme, and then make alterations in its code or structure. After activation of the child theme, your site will use the .php file in your child theme and not the parent theme. Perform a test to see if what you’ve done actually works. You can try something very simple like adding a paragraph to a template.
If you see the edits on your site after saving in your child theme template, you know you’ve succeeded!
There are several other ways of making modifications in the theme, but you should try that only once you’ve become proficient in WordPress. WP sites can be a bit dicey due to this reason – but they are also more scalable and efficient.
Rajeesh is a Director and Creative Head at Acodez. He helps the company to meet its clients’ needs to craft a compelling online presence. His 10+ years experience and expertise in UX, UI, Information Architecture and Wireframing help the company to develop user-friendly, pleasing and aesthetically appealing websites. He regularly researches and writes about the latest trends in web designing and development.
SlashData’s Developer Economics is one of the leading research programs on mobile, desktop, IoT, cloud, Web, AR, VR, game, and machine learning developers. It tracks the developer experience across platform based on thousands of developers annually. As per its 14th Developer Economics global survey, the following developers trends for 2018 emerged:-
SlashData report says the future is AI and the related emerging technologies like self-driving cars, brain computer interface etc will make biggest impact in the next 5 years.
Developers now adopting serverless platforms to reduce cost by paying for only what they use.
AR is an emerging as hot technology for developers with both companies Apple and Google releasing inbuilt AR on their smartphone platforms. For AR/VR both companies are targeting the devices that customers already use i.e smartphones and desktops.
SlashData also presents an estimate for the number of active software developers using various programming languages used across the globe.
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Although you can start WordPress development even with a little knowledge of JS, you should soon aim for becoming proficient. This will help you to develop user-friendly web applications.
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Being an experienced software developer at Xicom Technologies, Judi Toledo is passionate about web & mobile technologies. Researching on new technology that could help to enhance software functionalities. She keeps eye on the latest happening in the software industry to remain updated with the current market trends.