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Alex

Member Since 31 Jan 2012
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 09:44 PM
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Topics I've Started

What's Next For Marketers Delight?

21 February 2017 - 08:11 PM

Hey guys! Since releasing MD Pro Share at the end of last month, things have been a little quiet on my end. Tonight I thought I'd step back a little and write this quick thread to give you an idea of what I've been working on and how it translates to the next big thing for MD.

 

Starting with client work...

 

Most of the growth and direction of MD4 has come from my behind-the-scenes work building website for the clients I work with through Kolakube. Not only is MD great for casual writers who want powerful features out of the box, but it also serves as a solid foundation for totally custom pages.

 

Over the past month I've taken on 2 larger projects, one being the largest I've ever single-handedly negotiated by myself, so naturally I've been focusing on getting these sites delivered—built on top of MD, obviously. Through projects like these I use MD in a different light than I do when developing the software itself and get to test things in real life scenarios instead of just pure theory.

 

Between the feedback I get from answering your guys' questions here and working on client projects, MD spends a lot of time under examination and has turned into a very solid framework because of it.

 

There's obviously a lot of things we'd all like to still see MD be able to do and continue improving upon, and that's partly why I wanted to write this thread.

 

For as rewarding as larger scale client projects are, my passion as a developer will always be the direct work I do on Marketers Delight, and I always have the most fun working on new releases that eventually make it into your hands.

 

I can say with confidence that these last few client projects I've taken on have given me perspective on how I should move forward with building the features I've dreamed of including into MD for years. Not only into new products, but especially towards improving existing features.

 

 

What are the next moves for Marketers Delight?

 
Last night I tore through my notebooks and reviewed my crowded whiteboards to get a feel for what's next on the horizon, and here's an overview of what I came up with:
 
1) More design options
 
One of the biggest reasons people ask for refunds in MD is because there aren't many formal options to change colors and fonts. This has been one of the weakest points since releasing MD4.0 (can't believe we're all the way at MD4.6.1!) and one that wouldn't take me a long time to implement if I focused intently to build them.
 
I got a lot of great feedback about the basic design options added in MD4.5.4 and will use what was added then as the blueprint for future design options.
 
Things like changing the header color, menu colors, font sizes, etc. will be focus, and will cut out some of the time you spend in Child Themes to make these changes.
 
2) Release more Drop-ins!
 
Based on how well-received the Bookshelf Drop-in was, I have full confidence in the ideas of Drop-ins as a whole and are something I'll be experimenting more with big time.
 
Drop-ins are so cool because they act as "unofficial" features that build off of MD's core API's and can add very specific features to your site. Keeping them separate from MD allows us to build any idea we want into a Drop-in and not worry if they'll be suitable for every site—it's a build as you go kind of thing, essentially.
 
To top it off, Drop-ins are designed to be a single file (and a handful of CSS) you drop into your child theme to easily activate.
 
Here are ideas I have for Drop-ins, most of which are around 80-90% finished and need some final editing to release to you guys:
  1. Video Gallery (the same drop-in that powers MDTV)
  2. Testimonials (creates a page full of testimonials you add into a post type, comes with shortcode to output individual testimonials)
  3. Content Boxes + Alt Boxes (mini Page Builders you can use to create flexible and stylized content from WP admin)
  4. Countdown Page Lead (create scarcity offers with cool countdown clocks)

Drop-ins have a lot of potential and something I will focus hard on when the time comes.

 

3) A more flexible Email Forms system

 

One of the biggest problems MD solves for many of you is the ability to add email forms to your site without dealing with huge email form codes (in most cases). The Email Forms system we have now connects to a few of the most popular Email services (MailChimp, AWeber, ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit + custom HTML codes) and gives us a solid foundation for the future of where we can take this system.

 

I've brainstormed a lot on how I want to further improve this system, and this remains one of the things I'm most excited to build out for MD. The features I have in mind for it go something like this...

  • Ability to connect to multiple Email Service Providers (ESP) per site, so you can display forms from different services on the same site
  • Add Tags compatibility, so you can connect individual forms back into your ESP
  • Create a system called "Email Hotspots" that make it easy to quickly deploy different kinds of email forms around your site

Like I said, there's already a lot of great things in our existing Email Forms system like the streamlined way of connecting new APIs, the [md_email] shortcode, email form widget, and its deep integration into other MD features, to name a few.

 

4) Better MD Popups

 

MD Popups is one of the features I'm most proud of and one that needs to see significant improvements made to realize its full potential. The custom popups script I wrote for it has to be one of the best, most lightweight scripts out there, but the buggy Live Popups Builder really holds back the potential of MD Popups in my opinion.

 

The coolest things I've done with the popups script, like the way the Bookshelf deploys popups and in some custom work I've done, have been through custom Child Theme code. This isn't a problem for someone like me who is an experienced developer, but not so helpful for people who want point and click popups.

 

On top of improving the Live popups builder, I have great ideas for improving the Popups Manager interface (where you create, edit, and delete popups) that will make your workflow far more organized and flexible.

 

I'd say after the Email Forms overhaul, MD Popups will be the next big focus of improving the MD core.

 

5) MD Page Builder

 

I become more and more fascinated by Page Builders, and MD4.5.4 even added support for other WordPress page builders. However, I believe there is an opportunity to expand on the ideas that made Page Leads so popular and create a unique system for creating custom pages within MD and the WP admin. 

 

You'll probably see the first ideas of this through future MD Drop-ins like Alt Boxes + Content Boxes, and will eventually morph into a full-fledged layout builder that blends Page Leads and MD layout options into a single, easy to use system.

 

After building many different variations of page builders for various client projects over the month, I feel I have some killer ideas that can be centralized into a page builder for MD, and one that suits our style: fast performing, beautiful content, and powerful functionality.

 

The idea of an MD page builder excites me to no end and one I will carefully build towards in each MD iteration. Again, look out for the Content + Alt Boxes Drop-ins for early tastes of what the future holds for this idea.

 

6) Child Themes + Templates

 

In addition to Drop-ins, other product ideas you guys have requested are predesigned child themes and page templates you can install to MD.

 

Instead of building everything from scratch, installing a predesigned Child Theme that already has custom colors and fonts can give you a massive head-start in customizing your site, even greater than the head-start you get from using barebones MD.

 

On the flip-side, we have ideas for pre-made Page Templates that simply require you only input your text to use them. These Templates will give you a head-start in creating landing pages to sell products, services, or whatever kind of page you have in mind.

 

These ideas are incredibly exciting and would greatly improve many of our workflows by using them. Once I start releasing things like MD design options and the Content + Alt boxes Drop-ins, we'll have a foundation for moving forward with these ideas.

 

Streamlining custom MD work: what I've been focusing on in the first half of February

 
That's a lot of great stuff isn't it? Let's circle back to the beginning of this post:
 
I love working one-on-one with people who want to use MD on their site, and that includes the custom work I do to help you get your sites exactly the way you want. I also further that by spending time here and answering your questions.
 
That do-it-yourself spirit will always drive MD to get better and easier for all of us to use. However, I don't want to spread myself so thin that I can't take time to develop the things I wrote about above, so I've been devising a system to streamline the process for everyone interested in working with me to use.
 
The idea is called Sites Delight and I brought on someone who I think has potential to push me to work harder and better the things I suck at: namely, marketing and consistently creating content.
 
Through Sites Delight you can order the most commonly requested services I get offered like custom MD landing pages, custom web sections, design tweaks, and many other services. It's all put together in a fun to use order form, and has systems in place that make getting information from you easy so you don't have to track me down.
 
I keep a private inventory full of custom code work I do on MD and that will be a huge reason why I believe we can deliver quick turnarounds on the services ordered through Sites Delight.
 
On top of that, working with you through Sites Delight will allow me to refine the custom code I do have to eventually be turned into the features and products I talked about above. All while providing you with a service that gets you the site you want now and in a custom fashion, I think this new service will streamline how things get done with MD.
 
I'll have a more formal announcement about Sites Delight soon...
 

What do you think? What do you want to see the most?

 

This post got pretty long but I hope it excites you for the future of Marketers Delight, because it is very bright. In this day and age publishing content that you actually own has never been more important, and I want MD to be the WordPress solution that eliminates needs for third party services that host content for you.

 

What do you think of what we have in store for Marketers Delight and most importantly: what do YOU want to see next? I have very firm ideas of my own, all of which are influenced by your guys' feedback and why MD is already so great.

 

Leave a reply to this post if you have anything you'd like to share, and I very much look forward to the next phase of Marketers Delight.


Download Md4.5 Beta

19 August 2016 - 07:54 PM

MD4.5 Beta 2 is now available for download! Click here to get access + see new features.

 

Hey guys, I've been working on MD4.5 all summer and I'm happy to have made enough progress on it to do something I've never done in the history of MD: release a beta version for testing!

 

The reason I'm choosing to do a private beta is because MD4.5 is a HUGE change to the way MD as you know it works and will require following some simple steps to update.

 

The biggest thing about MD4.5, and why this update in particular requires some extra steps, is that the current lineup of MD plugins have been merged into a single theme.

 

Meaning that in order to install versions of MD4.5 and up, all you have to do is install the MD theme and activate it. The benefits, as I mentioned in this thread, are to make installing and managing MD a lot simpler.

 

Before MD4.5, in order to install the full suite, you'd have to:

  1. Install the MD theme
  2. Install the MD pluginx
  3. Install MD Popups plugin
  4. Install Video Lead plugin
  5. Install MD Main Menu plugin
  6. Install MD Footnotes plugin

...and that doesn't account for the license keys you have to enter for each product to get updates. And then when you finally get the license keys up, the work it takes to make sure each plugin is updated and looking at the clutter it adds to your interface makes managing MD a chore. The more time it takes for you to manage MD, the more time it takes away from you actually USING MD and getting into child theming, writing posts, adding other plugins, etc.

 

When I first began the MD4 project I envisioned a booming business model that convinced you to extend the base product by buying more products. I can still see this being a huge success (and will slightly alter how I use it), as it is with many other WordPress businesses, but the amount of overhead and it creates just isn't something I feel is the best direction here.

 

I mean, have you been paying attention to the MD changelogs over the past few months? If it seems like I've been updating the license system a lot it's because there's been a need to. It's been a fun endeavor, but is not really something I'd like to simplify.

 

Really, it's just that there are far more important features we'd all like to see out of MD.

 

MD, despite being split into addons, is a focused product built for the blogger who cares about design and conversions. I stand by each addon I release as something I've always wanted in a WordPress theme and can find value on nearly any site I build. Depending on how much you've used MD, you probably agree.

 

From here on out (if the beta goes well), we'll only have to install ONE theme to get MD setup on a site.

 

From here on out, we'll only have to manage 1 license key per site to get updates sent to ONE theme.

 

From here on out, we'll be using a better product to create better websites.

 

 

What else is new in MD4.5?

 

As exciting as this change is, I decided not to make it the only highlight of MD4.5. As it just so happens, the technical work involved in merging plugins into a theme (the right way at least) isn't as easy as just dropping them into the theme and loading them from there.

 

I wanted to use this opportunity to really clean some things in MD up and improve the product all around. Here's the changelog of what's new in MD4.5 as of writing this thread:

 

 

NEW FEATURES

  • MD plugin + addons merged into a single theme
  • Get updates through the use of 1 license key (the MD theme license)
  • New Version History + License Key dashboard widgets (login to view screenshot)
    Attached File  screencapture-marketersdelight-net-wp-admin-themes-php-1471655018142.png   1009.48KB   0 downloads
  • Popup Hotspots allow you to easily place 2-step popups to the Main Menu and Post Byline (login to view screenshot)
    Attached File  Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 9.09.12 PM.png   58.46KB   0 downloads
  • Set the default Featured Image position on all posts/categories from Appearance > Customizer > Layout. If you use the same Featured Image position for every post, this option will save you from manually setting it on all posts!
  • You can also choose whether to show blog posts as full content or to use post excerpts with a read more link from Appearance > Customizer > Layout
  • Merged all MD CSS files into the main style.css file, removing extra HTTP requests from page load.
  • New Settings panel (formerly Site Tools)
  • Features Manager (disable any major features of MD) (login to view screenshot)
    Attached File  Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 9.05.38 PM.png   77.45KB   0 downloads
  • Fixed missing font files in admin post editor
  • Removed HTML5 Shiv script from <head>
  • MDAPI reorganization + improvements
  • New image size: 'md-thumbnail'
  • 'Enable sidebar on posts/archives' Customizer settings now also adds sidebarto search archives pages when enabled
  • Main menu + search bar now enabled sitewide by default (can still disable on individual pages)
  • Category meta boxes options organized for a smarter hierarchy

 

NEW HOOKS/FILTERS

 

MD4.5 adds 14 new hooks/filters that make performing common actions easier while reducing the need to edit template files. The list as follows, and more description/use cases will be provided upon request and as I write more tutorials.

  1. md_filter_content_width (adjust $content_width variable, as part of WordPress coding standards)
  2. md_filter_footer_columns (add more footer widgets)
  3. md_hook_footer (builds footer layout, adds new columns/copyright templates. see /build/build.php for example)
  4. md_filter_sidebar_classes (add custom classes to the sidebar)
  5. md_filter_content_classes (add custom classes to the <main> content)
  6. md_filter_headline_classes (add custom classes to the headline area of each post/page)
  7. md_filter_byline_classes (add custom classes to the byline area in each post)
  8. md_filter_byline_items (remove specific byline items)
  9. md_hook_byline_bottom (add new item to end of byline)
  10. md_hook_byline_after_date (add new item after byline date)
  11. md_filter_excerpt_length (change the excerpt length on blog teasers)
  12. md_filter_excerpt_more (change the ellipses at the end of excerpt text)
  13. md_filter_register_nav_menus (register new nav menus or deregister MD's menus)
  14. md_filter_read_more (change the excerpt read more text if Customizer setting enabled)
  15. md_main_menu_triggers
  16. md_main_menu_side_triggers

 

TEMPLATES CHANGED

 

To accommodate some of the new features and filters, various MD templates have been modified. If you overwrote any of the following templates in your own child theme, you'll need to compare the new templates to your modification and update any changes you see.

 

Don't worry, these template files are usually small and won't take someone with a little coding experience to make. Remember, these templates get updated with filters and hooks to decrease the chances of you needing to overwrite them and maintaining template files with each update!

 

New template files

  • /content/footer-columns.php
  • /content/footer-copy.php

Modified template files

  • html.php
  • comments.php
  • sidebar.php
  • footer.php
  • /content/content-box.php
  • /content/content-schema.php
  • /content/comment.php
  • /content/menu.php
  • /content/byline.php
  • /content/headline.php
  • /content/text.php
  • /content/archives-title.php

 

How to Install MD4.5 Beta on a New Site

 

If you're installing MD4.5 on a fresh site, all you have to do is download the marketers-delight-45.zip file from this thread and navigate to Appearance > Themes > Add New and follow the theme installation process. Once installed, activate MD4.5 and you'll be ready to begin using MD.

 

Even though this is considered 'beta', I currently run MD4.5 on MDNET and a new client site I've been working on without hiccups. It's probably unprofessional of me to do this, but I've found no better way to test this new update and have a happy client as a result. :)

 

Unless you know what you're doing with FTP and can debug any fatal site crashing errors, I recommend you use MD4.5 bet on a test site first.

 

 

How to Upgrade an Existing Site to MD4.5 Beta

 

This update process will apply to the 'release' version of MD as well. I'll shoot a video to document the process better, but the steps right now are as follows:

  1. If you have any of the following MD plugins activated, disable and delete them before updating the MD theme. These features will be restored as soon as you update to MD4.5 and no content will be lost if you update right away:
    - MD Plugin
    - MD Main Menu
    - MD Popups
    - MD Footnotes
    - MD Video Lead
  2. Go to Appearance > Themes and look for the update nag on the MD Theme. Follow the update process and reactivate MD if needed (if using a child theme, do not activate the parent MD theme)
  3. If using MD Popups, you'll need to resave the Popups data by going to Appearance > MD > Popups and clicking the 'save popups' button at the bottom of the page. This will restore and missing data from your popups

AS ALWAYS, back up your site before performing any updates, especially an update as big as MD4.5. Due to the template changes and CSS updates, it's likely some pieces of your layout will look slightly different. You may also need to adjust some CSS on the Main Menu if taken from this thread.

 

 

Run into issues updating? Experience any errors? Have feedback? Report them here!

 

The whole point of releasing MD4.5 beta to you is to get your feedback before releasing the official version! If you see anything that looks strange or find any ugly error messages after updating, PLEASE take a few minutes to report them to me here.

 

Not only is my goal to make managing MD seamless by packaging everything into 1 theme and 1 license key, I want to ensure a smooth installation experience as well! Error messages take away from that experience and can leave you feeling like you're using a mediocre product, so any errors you share here will be forever appreciated by myself and other MD users.

 

Download MD4.5 below:

 

(login to download MD4.5 Beta)

 

 

MD4.5 Beta 2 is now available for download! Click here to get access + see new features.

 

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Random fun fact: as of MD4.5 Beta 1, the entire MD package weighs only 832KB! Most competitors ship huge themes ranging from 2MB+ in weight. I'm so proud to ship such a lightweight product to you and hope it performs well on your site—especially now with fewer HTTP requests.