Category Archives: Local Sponsors

Jon Henshaw of Raven Tools on WordPress, Slack

A brief Q & A with Jon Henshaw of Raven Tools, a Silver Sponsor of Nashville WordCamp 2015.

How would you describe the WordPress community at large? How about on a local level here in Nashville area?
When I think of the WordPress community, I think of it as being passionate and active. They have an amazing open source CMS that is continually improving and attracting more and more developers.

Locally, here in Nashville, most Web designers and developers appear to be using WordPress. In fact, there are very few people I know who don’t use it. I think it’s a win for companies, because it makes it easier to find talented people to design, build and maintain their sites. It’s also a win for coders, because it means there’s a lot of job opportunities in town.raven-wp

What is the biggest pain point the WordPress community faces? What challenges / trends do they face?
The biggest concern the WordPress community faces is security. As the platform continues to explode, it becomes an even bigger target for malicious coders. While Automattic (the creators of WordPress) and the open source community that helps maintain WordPress do a superb job of making it as secure as possible, vulnerabilities continue to be a concern.

Interestingly, many of the vulnerabilities don’t come from the base installation of WordPress. Instead, they come from third party plugins. One of the best ways to defend your site from these vulnerabilities – other than reducing the amount of plugins you use – is to have a hosting provider like WP Engine. They actively monitor and take action on plugins with vulnerabilities. They also keep multiple complete backups of your site, allowing easy restoration after an attack.

If you want monitoring and backups, but not the hosting, then I highly recommend using Automattic’s VaultPress.

Is there a tool or technology your company can’t live without?
Lately, the tool I can’t live without is Slack. It’s become an essential communication tool at Raven that’s replaced at least two to three other apps. It also supports third party integrations, including Raven.

For example, our software can now send notifications to anyone’s Slack account. Customers can automatically get updates when a new Site Auditor crawl is complete or be alerted when a scheduled marketing report has been delivered to their client.

Raven, based in Nashville, provides a suite of marketing and SEO tools. Follow @RavenTools and Jon Henshaw @RavenJon.

How to Build Trust on Your WordPress Ecommerce Site

From the Good Folks at Metacake
When you walk into a brick-and-mortar store, what ultimately convinces you to spend money? What tells you that the almond-sesame-green tea pomade is, in fact, the solution to all of your hair and skin problems?

Now, imagine what it would take to establish confidence, comfort, and trust if you couldn’t see the chic but approachable saleswoman with the perfect hair, or smell the amazing herbal fragrances of the product line, or hear their soothing mood music that invites you in to an expertly designed and immaculately clean studio.

This  what customers face when they visit a digital storefront – your WordPress ecommerce website. People shopping at your online store need to trust that the product they see is the product they’ll get. They need to trust that your company can securely process a payment and deliver the product without a hitch. And they need to trust that your company won’t disappear if something goes wrong.

That’s a lot of trust to earn, especially without face-to-face interaction. And it can only happen if certain trust elements shine through on your website.

Trust Element 1: Current & Well-Executed Design

If you walked into a store and saw peeling wallpaper and shelves held together with duct tape, would you feel comfortable buying the cologne?

The same concept applies to your ecommerce website. A great ecommerce experience will make people feel the same way they do when they walk into a great brick-and-mortar store.

If someone is going to let you take money from their credit card online in exchange for a product, your WordPress site has to look professional, and it has to be current. It shouldn’t look like something Tom Hanks would have looked up on AOL in the movie, “You’ve Got Mail,” and that copyright year at the bottom of the page can’t be three years old.

Most importantly, your design should make people feel that the products and services they are receiving are of the top-shelf quality you are offering.

Unprofessional, unappealing, poorly executed design is a credibility killer…and a trust killer. Don’t put your Veuve Cliquot in PBR packaging!

Trust Element 2: Smooth Experience

This may seem mind-numbingly basic, but a website has to work. No broken links. Simple navigation. Compatible with all major web browsers. Easy to view and use on any device. These steps are the equivalent of walking into that immaculate studio – it shows you take care of your storefront.

Design should reflect your brand attributes and personality but should not get in the way of the shopping experience. Get rid of the clutter and dust.

Products and product categories should be well organized. Search and filter functionality should be easy to use. Shoppers shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to find what they want and simply browsing for something new should be easy.

It should be easy to add something to the cart, and it should be obvious when something has been added to the cart. Little things like that tiny number above the cart is crucial.

And perhaps most importantly, a seamless cart and checkout process is integral to providing an exceptional online customer experience. The worst thing you can do is frustrate a customer who is trying to buy a product. That would be like the chic saleswoman taking care of your entire shopping experience, only to hand you off to the Soup Nazi.

Such details make a huge difference when in earning trust and making your online register ring.

Trust Element 3: Brand Proof

Use your WordPress site to replicate an in-store experience as much as possible, whether or not you own that sparkling studio space outside the digital world.

Tell your company’s story. Explain how you got started in this business. Let them know why you are so passionate about tea tree extracts, and how your blend is different from the rest of the market. Don’t assume the story is boring or customers know what you know – they will connect with your genuine passion and expertise.

Throughout your site, show proof that you stand behind your products. Offer solid warranties and guarantees, not flimsy, half-hearted promises loaded with loopholes and fine print. If needed, make sure things like SSL certificates are up to date and don’t throw warnings and errors.

By establishing brand proof, you’ll build a reputation as a solid company and earn trust.

Trust Element 4: Social Proof

While brand-proof focuses on what you say about yourself, social proof focuses on what others say about you. They validate your claims.

When customers confirm what you say, your claims become facts in the eyes of your audience Social proof must be transparent and authentic.

Make sure testimonials come from real customers. Photos and videos much more impact than anonymously written testimonials that sound overly scripted.

If you use customer reviews, you have to share the good and the bad. If someone sees nothing but five-star reviews, they’ll probably wonder what you’re hiding. Nobody is perfect, and every company has customers who love to complain about the smallest things. Tell the whole story.

This will make or break you. Don’t fake it, and address unhappy feedback head on.

Also, use social sharing functionality to enable customers to tell their friends and family what they like. This not only helps to build trust, but it can get positive word-of-mouth going and give sales a boost

Ready to turn your WordPress site into an ecommerce selling machine? With these tips and a great ecommerce integration partner like FoxyShop or WooCommerce, you’ll be well on your way!

Need help? Get in touch with us at

Metacake is a Silver Sponsor of Nashville Wordcamp. Follow the company, based in Greater Nashville @Metacake.

WP Ninjas is about building for the community

from James Laws of WP Ninjas

Let’s be clear. We sell WordPress plugins. That’s how we make our money, but it’s not our business.

Our business is about helping others be successful by providing the best tools, services, and resources available.

One tool we provide to accomplish this is Ninja Forms. It is fast becoming the WordPress communities form creation tool of choice for three main reasons.

It’s completely free. Not only is it free, it’s very powerful and flexible. Anyone can dive right in and start creating great forms for their WordPress website immediately.

It’s open source, in the truest sense, just like WordPress itself. Ninja Forms is on Github and anyone can contribute to make the plugin even better. To date we have had 46 different contributors to the plugin and that number is growing.

It’s super easy to extend. Ninja Forms is hands down the easiest form creation plugin to build on top of.  Just ask the developers of more than 31 add-ons they’ve built so far.

That’s our business.

WP Ninjas is a Gold Sponsor of Nashville Wordcamp. Follow the company, based in Cleveland, TN, @wpninjas.


A Media Company With A Deep Appreciation for Design and Technology

from Chris Lavergne at Thought Catalog

The Thought & Expression Co. is headquartered in New York City, however, we have employees all across the country. Founded in 2010, we pride ourselves on being a media company with a great appreciation for design and technology (particularly WordPress).

We are well-known for our property Thought Catalog, a WordPress-powered writing platform that receives over 30 million readers every month.

We’re in the process of revamping the entire Thought Catalog website, which is an exhilarating task given how much reach the site has and how every change will be seen instantaneously by millions of people.

We do more than just Thought Catalog, though.

  • We are a book publishing house that publishes books using a multisite plugin built on WordPress.
  • We recently launched another site — Shop Catalog, which is currently in beta and will launch in full on June 1, 2015.
  • We run an ad agency.

Check out our corporate website and our two WordPress sites, Thought Catalog and Shop Catalog.

Thought Catalog, part of The Thought & Expression Co., is a Gold Sponsor of WordCamp Nashville. Follow the company on Twitter @thoughtcatalog.