New Features in WordPress 3.9

WordPress recently released version 3.9, code named Smith, and it’s loaded with cool new features. For an overview, check out WordPress’ intro video.


Here are some of the features we’re looking forward to using.

Improved Post Editing

In addition to some under-the-hood improvements, WordPress’ built in text editor has introduced useful features (such as stripping out proprietary code from text pasted over from Microsoft documents). Expect faster, smoother and more intuitive text editing.

Image Uploads and Image Editing

You can now drag image and other files directly into the body of your post, bypassing the old Add Media interface. There are also improved tools for scaling, cropping and editing images right in WordPress.

Photo Galleries

If you regularly include photos in your blog posts, you’ll love this. Photo galleries can now be previewed, edited and reordered directly in the edit window, so you’ll know exactly what your post will look like.


Retainer clients, we’ll be updating your sites to version 3.9 this week or next, depending on your maintenance schedule, so watch for these new features soon.

Heartbleed: Potential Online Vulnerability

Security analysts this week discovered a major security flaw with OpenSSL, a security protocol used by as much as 2/3 of the internet. This vulnerability is being called Heartbleed.

Because of possible exposure of personal and financial data, experts are recommending that users change their passwords to financial sites, retailers, social media accounts, and other sites. I urge you to do that for any sites you use. (Test if your favorite sites are affected.)

But how is your website affected?

This is a vulnerability with server encryption for SSL certificates. A patch has been released, so hosting companies’ server admins will be working to upgrade the servers under their supervision. 

This only affects websites that use SSL, and there is that little individual website owners should need to do.

Rackspace Hosting

We’ve contacted Rackspace (our hosting provider) about the issue, who have assured us their servers are protected and all necessary updates were made.

We’ll watch for updates to their Status page and technical updates on their public issue ticket.

Other Hosting Providers

Many of our clients are hosted with Dreamhost, Bluehost and other companies. We’ll watch their blogs for any relevant announcements.

If you provide your own hosting, we recommend you contact your hosting provider. If any actions are necessary, please let me know.

SSL Websites

For our clients with SSL certificates, we’ll be contacting your SSL providers this morning and taking any necessary actions to protect your site.

WordPress Sites

There’s no indication that WordPress sites have been affected, though a site’s hosting server may be (detailed above).

WordPress released an unrelated security patch yesterday, which has already been made to most of our client sites. We’ll keep an eye on any new releases and update as needed.

Expression Engine Sites

Similarly, Expression Engine sites have probably not been directly affected, but we’ll watch for any security patches.

Next Steps

I’ll keep an eye on the issue as it develops, but am fairly confident that client sites are safe.

If you have any questions about this vulnerability or your website specifically, please let me know.

The Dash Profit

While watching CNBC’s The Profit, there was a promo driving viewers to the website for clips from next week’s show. It caught my attention when the voiceover awkwardly asked viewers to go to “the dash profit”, or Are people really going to remember that?

The simpler, more natural URL would be Maybe that URL already taken? Or maybe they have both set up? Nope. Page Not Found.

The lesson here? Get your marketing team and your web team on the same page!

With a 5-minute conversation before filming the promo, they could have given the voiceover guy an easier-to-say and easier-to-remember web address or set up both URLs to link to the right page. Either would get more viewers to the site.

Hat Trick

We’ve had some busy periods over the years, but recently we launched three websites in one week… the elusive hat trick!

Arrow Insurance Service

We launched a site for Arrow Insurance Service, a California-based firm that provides all types of insurance for pool contractors and pool service firms throughout the South, the Southwest and Hawaii.

Arrow Insurance

Little Scholars LLC

We also launched a new site for Little Scholars LLC, a Richmond-based tutoring company. They offer  tutoring, in-school summer camps, after school enrichment programs and one-on-one student assessments, and are rapidly expanding across the East Coast and Midwest.

Little Scholars

G-Force Portsmouth

Our friends at G-Force Karts recently opened a second location, G-Force Portsmouth, with an indoor kart track, indoor paintball, and an inflatables section, and this new site helped them promote their growing company.

G-Force Portsmouth

Check back soon. As we gather performance data on these new sites, we’ll be posting more details and case studies of these and other projects.

Looking For A WordPress Developer

Business continues to grow, and we’re looking for a WordPress developer to join the team. This is an onsite full time position.

The developer’s role will be:

  • Install, configure and manage WordPress installations
  • Code standards-compliant, semantic HTML and CSS based on provided designs
  • Create custom WordPress themes based on those designs
  • Build out complete sites using provided content
  • Install, modify or create WordPress plugins to achieve specific project goals
  • Test and debug on multiple browsers, platforms and devices
  • Ongoing maintenance and updates to existing websites
  • Advise on WordPress best practices , optimization and workflow

The ideal candidate will have:

  • proficiency in standards-compliant, hand-coded HTML and CSS
  • 2-4 years experience building custom WordPress sites
  • experience with mobile-optimized or mobile responsive sites
  • strong communication skills
  • ability to switch between multiple projects based on changing priorities
  • ability to meet or exceed deadlines
  • willingness to learn new skills and technology as projects require

Benefits include:

  • competitive salary
  • high-energy downtown office space, with offstreet deck parking
  • flexible work hours
  • stipend for ongoing education (books, online courses, conferences, etc.)
  • health insurance stipend

If interested, please email with a description of your experience, your salary information, and a handful of example WordPress websites and explanation your role in them.

Preparing Your Website for 2014

As 2013 comes to an end, we like to set aside some time, look back on the past year, and prepare for great 2014. Are we talking about New Years resolutions? No, website planning!

Software and Security Updates

Like any software, web software developers release periodic updates. Expression Engine releases a few major updates a year; WordPress releases a few minor updates a month and occasional major updates like the recent 3.8 update. These updates introduce new features and tools, fix known bugs, or address recently discovered security threats.

Now is the perfect time to make sure your software is up-to-date and your website is well-secured* for the coming year.

Look back

Take a few minutes to review your website’s performance in 2013. To start, pull up your Google Analytics account:

  • Have you seen increased or decreased traffic over the last year?
  • Any seasonal traffic patterns you can identify?
  • Any new or surprising sources of referral traffic that you can leverage?
  • What cities, states or countries are your site visitors from? What browsers or devices are they using?

Next, think about how you personally use the site on a daily or weekly basis:

  • Have you posted news or other fresh content lately?
  • Any parts of the site that are out-of-date or need to be updated?
  • Any problems or issues with the website that you’ve just come to “live with”?

Look ahead

Finally, take a few more minutes to think ahead to the coming year:

  • Has your business or organization defined any new goals for 2014? Does your website support that?
  • Any upcoming marketing or advertising campaigns that the website needs to be prepared for?
  • Are there any day-to-day organizational tasks that can be shifted online to save your team time and money?

And that’s it. In less than an hour, you can lay the groundwork for a successful 2014. If we can offer any advice or assist with your 2014 website planning, please let us know.


*Retainer clients, we’ve already made your software updates or have them scheduled, depending on your maintenance plan. And we’ll be in touch soon to schedule your end-of-the-year review, if we haven’t already.

Saying goodbye to EE1

At the end of this month, Ellis Lab, the maker of Expression Engine software, is officially retiring their Expression Engine 1.x product.

Expression Engine 2.0 was a total, from-the-ground-up overhaul of the software, released in December 2009. Ellis Lab has supported both products since, releasing systematic updates all the way through the current version 2.7.2.

But as of December 7, they will no longer offer software updates or support for the version 1 product. (Their full company announcement is here.)

Here at 28 Media, we’ve decided to follow their lead and discontinue support for the older version of Expression Engine, effective Jan. 1, 2014. Instead, we’ll focus our future programming efforts on Expression Engine 2.x and WordPress.

It was a tough decision, but one that affects only a small number of clients* with websites 5 or more years old. It was also a bittersweet decision as Expression Engine 1 was one of the first CMS platforms I learned back in 2005, and one that I learned a lot from.

If you’re an EE 1 client and would like to discuss migrating your website over to a newer version of Expression Engine or another software platform, please drop me a line and we can discuss your options.

The Importance of Content

Content marketing and content strategy are hot topics right now, with countless blog posts about how to craft effective content for your site. This is not one of those posts.

Instead, I wanted to cover something more fundamental – the role of content in the other stages of a website project – planning, design, programming, and launch.

Site Planning

There’s always an urge to rush right into design, with the expectation of filling in the content later. Clients will often ask “how can we provide  content without knowing what the pages look like?” With planning!

In the planning stage, we’ll discuss the goals of the website and produce sitemaps, wireframes, and a content outline describing the goal and type of content we advise for each page. Those planning documents can then be used as a guide to generate the content.


The content will then guide the design of the pages. What types of content will each page include… text, photos, video? Will pages contain 100 words or 1000? How will the navigation work?

All of those design decisions are informed by content. Design becomes an extension of your content, instead of simply decoration for it.


The content also dictates the functionality of the programmed site. What types of content will each page include? How will the user interact with it? How will updates be posted? All of these are taken into consideration when programming the site, as the content management software is customized to meet the needs of the project.


With the site live, the content process is finished, right? Just the opposite.

Once live, a website requires new content to keep the site fresh, boost SEO rankings, and keeping visitors coming back.


Stay tuned for a guest post from Edward Baldwin of Recurve, who will discuss content generation in more detail.


Last weekend, the city of Richmond was descended upon by hordes of info-hungry web nerds, here for the ConvergeRVA conference.

Organized by the great guys at Unmatched Style, Converge is a 2-day conference for all things web.

On day one, I attended the Freakishly Profitable workshop, given by the partners of similarly-named Fortyseven Media. Along with a small group of fellow web business owners, we spent a half-day talking about all aspects of running a web business. And despite having done this for 8+ years now, I walked away with pages of notes and tons of new ideas.

Day two was conference day, and we were treated to speakers from all over the country and on topics as wide ranging as eye-tracking for usability, experimental coding frameworks, changes in process to accommodate new sites, and a discussion of “why” we do this work in the first place.

It was an outstanding conference, and glad to have had it in my backyard. Hope to see everyone back next year!

Your website is like your… bathroom?

During a recent home bathroom renovation, I was struck by how close the construction process was to a website redesign process. How?

Skilled Specialists

Over the month-long renovation, our house was a veritable parade of specialty contractors, each working in tandem on their part of the project. In addition to our general contractor, there were carpenters, electricians, drywall guys, tile guys, and painters.

Similarly, it takes a talented team of specialists to build a new website. At a minimum, you’ll interact with a designer and programmer. But there are several other people working away behind the scenes, including copywriters, photographers, project managers and others, that help bring the project together.

Collecting Materials

As part of the renovation, my wife and I were responsible for selecting and purchasing our materials, and we were asked repeatedly to have them ready before the project started. Why? Because the contractor needed everything on hand to finalize his plans. For example, the medicine cabinet, lights and outlets were to be centered over the vanity, which affected the electrical wiring done on day 2.

We dutifully pre-purchased all of our materials, but forgot touch-up paint for an exterior hallway. No big deal, right? Not for the painter who patiently sat on our front porch clocking up Saturday overtime, while we rushed to Lowes (twice!) to match the discontinued color.

It’s just as important to compile your website materials at the start of the project. Logos, photography, marketing content and copywriting, staff bios, legal disclaimers, hosting account information and other information should all be reviewed early in the planning phase, so they can be appropriately built into the project plan.

Sure, it’s tempting to just start on the design and “figure it out later.” But those projects inevitably suffer. The design may fall short since there’s no predefined message or goal to build around. Or the added-at-the-last-minute content may be weak and ineffective, since it was cobbled together in a rush to get the website live.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

With a couple exceptions, our renovation went smoothly. But a small storage cabinet was built next to the bathtub. The contractor forgot to tell the tile guys, who used a precious few square feet of tile under the would-be cabinet. Then, they ran out of tile a foot short of covering the rest of the floor. The project was stopped for a week as we waited for more tile to be rush-delivered.

This further demonstrates the importance of  a website production process. While the web team waits on a missing piece of content or an elusive server login, the project schedule slips a day here and a week there. And the overall work suffers through a series of starts and fits. We’ve seen projects delayed by weeks and months, all for lack of a few hours of planning at the start.


So how to avoid these issues? Planning, planning planning!

We advocate a thorough planning phase at the start of a project, to hammer out all the details before we put pen to paper. For more information, read a more detailed description of our project process. Or give us a call and we’ll walk you through it!