Week in review: theme shops, hub and spoke, you can’t afford me, and much more


Welcome to the seventh “Week in Review” on Post Status, where I hope to offer up some of the things you may have missed in the last week or so. A whole bunch of good stuff to read from the last week, so let's get to it:

Theme shops sorted by their Alexa rank

Devin Price has updated his list of WordPress theme shops, sorted by Alexa rank, for 2014. This is a really interesting list that's sure to enlighten you to some theme shops that you've never heard of. I've referenced the 2013 version many times in the past. I'm glad Devin put time into doing this again.

Alexa isn't a perfect way to rank theme shops, obviously, but it does offer good insight to see what average Joes unfamiliar with the WordPress theme landscape probably stumble upon as they search for WordPress themes. As Devin notes, the order of the top shops haven't changed a whole lot in the past year, though pretty much all have gained ground, and WPMU Dev jumped all the way to number 1 from number 6.

Hub and spoke versus distributed teams

Jeff Chandler blogged about Crowd Favorite's hub and spoke office (edit: it's actually a constellation model; no “hub”) model (a central office + many smaller offices). Jake Goldman responded with his case for a fully distributed team (10up's model). Both offer quality insight into how some of the larger WordPress consultancies operate.

You can't afford the plugin you want

Chris Lema has written an excellent post about custom plugin development, and why you just can't get the exact thing you want off the shelf (unless you get real lucky).

That plugin that does everything you ever wanted? It doesn’t exist. And if it did, if someone built it, it would cost you thousands and thousands of dollars.

Because what you often describe isn’t a plugin. It’s a system.

And since you don’t want to connect several focused plugins, that each do the one thing they were made to do, you won’t really find the perfect plugin sitting there waiting for you.

SSL all the things

Google spoke from on high, declaring SSL to be a portion of their ranking algorithm. The SEOs and the SSL sellers rejoiced. Tim Nash has a nice primer on the nerdy details of SSL. Joost de Valk also has some practical tips for switching over to SSL. And Zack Tollman has a great performance post over at The Theme Foundry about SPDY and SSL.

Now, all that said, seriously don't freak out about SSL. It is great, that's true, but just because Google says it's part of their algorithm doesn't mean you have to have it no matter what. Still though, having SSL enabled is probably a good thing for most sites, if you can afford it. Just be smart about it, and not purely reactionary to Google's whims.

Some hosts start to support Clef, the password-less login app

SiteGround and three other hosts announced default support for Clef last week. New installs on those platforms will enable the password-less login app. Clef works as a form of two-factor authentication, since you have to have your phone on you and scan the login screen to access the site.

It's obviously past time to rely purely on passwords, so it's good to see folks supporting Clef and other two-factor methods out of the box.

WordPress-based portfolio templates, with Semplice

Semplice is a WordPress portfolio template product, that's still in development, but it's definitely outside of the normal WordPress themes you see. I got in touch with the folks behind Semplice and they expect to have something ready in a few weeks for beta testing. It seems you can already buy it though, so I don't know what that's about. Either way, this may be a product to keep an eye on.

The WordPress security “delimma”

Tony Perez, CEO of Sucuri, write about what he considers to be a delimma with WordPress security. I don't personally agree with some of Tony's conclusions here, but they are worth reading, as your mileage may vary. He takes some folks' words to task (including my own), but I think in the end there is a more a difference in opinion on how to delivery the security message versus actual differences in implementing security measures.

I believe the Drupal vs WordPress method for highlighting last week's security release was a reflection of how WordPress and Drupal communicate in general; WordPress said it as if speaking to regular site owners and Drupal spoke to developers. To me, making WordPress accessible to regular people is paramount — related to security issues or not.

I have a lot more I can say about this, but I have no desire to get in a pointless battle when I think we mostly agree on the goal, just not the message. But I do have one more note. Tony finishes his post with this:

You can’t own 22% of the market and not expect issues. Is it best to fight it and blindly convince yourself that they don’t exist, or is it better to embrace it?

I take exception to this. I don't know anyone in a significant position within the WordPress project that takes such a “blind” stance. You can't say WordPress core developers don't take security seriously, because they absolutely do.

Stellar and international payments

Stellar is a “a decentralized protocol for sending and receiving money in any pair of currencies” with some big backers, like Stripe. Brent and Kirby, at Prospress, nerded out over Stellar when it launched, and then wrote up a great post about what this could mean for big savings in international eCommerce.

Tablesaw: responsive tables, by Filament Group

Responsive tables are a pain. The Filament Group really attacked them with Tablesaw. This is a really nice solution that you may consider for implementation with certain types of themes and websites.

Comment likes on WordPress.com

WordPress.com has introduced comment likes. This could be great for some sites with heavy amounts of comments, especially if they add some sorting options to bring good comments to the top. It might be a while before this one hits Jetpack though; apparently there are some technical challenges there.

Get news of new WordPress.com themes

Also in WordPress.com land, it turns out they aren't really blogging about every theme release any more. So Luke McDonald put together a Twitter account to help keep you informed.

Why attend WordPress conferences (and updates on some of them)

Andy Leverenz puts some good reasons together on the Elegant Themes blog about why you should attend WordPress conferences, and he highlights some of those coming up.

Speaking of, if you want to go to PressNomics (the attendee list is awesome so far), you better act soon; that conference could sell out really soon.

The first and second batches of WordCamp San Francisco speakers have been announced.

WordCamp Europe's speaker list is also dripping out, and it's pretty amazing; that's going to be an incredible event in Sofia.

Finally, if you're in the south, WordCamp Birmingham (my local camp — #WPYall!) is this Saturday. It's going to be a great time, and I hope I get to meet some of you there. You can still register, so do that and come learn with us.

Have a great week, y'all. Make some news, and I'll write it. Be on the lookout too, I've got my own news to share in the next month or so. Which means it's probably a good time to subscribe to my newsletter.