A Look at WordPress Plugin Ecosystems

Among the many strengths of WordPress is the massive number of available plugins. There are tens of thousands, and those are just the free offerings. They handle all sorts of functionality, from security to image galleries to forms. Just about everything you could possibly want for your website is only a download away.

But it is the rare plugin that is so well-crafted and useful that it inspires a number of companion offerings to use along side of it. In many cases, they are among the most popular plugins out there. So popular and well-liked, in fact, that they have developed their very own ecosystems.

Today, we’ll take a look at the concept of WordPress plugin ecosystems. Along the way, we’ll show you some examples and discuss the advantages (and disadvantages) that come with adopting them into your website.

Prime Examples

Before we dig too deeply into the pros and cons, let’s see what a plugin ecosystem looks like. For our purposes, we’ll define it as such:

  • A “base” or “core” plugin that works on its own, but also has multiple add-on plugins available;
  • Add-ons may be created by the original author, or by outside developers within the WordPress community;
  • Can be free, commercial or any combination thereof;

In short, this means that the term “ecosystem” is rather flexible. It might be that a plugin’s author has created the base and all add-ons themselves. Or, other developers out there may have decided to build their own extensions. Either way, we have a group of related plugins that can scale up functionality based on need.

Here are a few prime examples we can use to better illustrate the concept:


Perhaps the most well-known plugin ecosystem, WooCommerce turns your website into an online store. The core plugin adds shopping cart functionality and related features that go along with it for things like shipping and accepting payments. However, it is capable of so much more.

Through the use of add-ons (WooCommerce refers to them as “extensions”), you can leverage the cart for all sorts of niche functionality. Among the more basic features are the ability to work with a wider variety of payment gateways and shipping providers. But you can also add some advanced capabilities such as selling membership subscriptions or event tickets.

Gravity Forms

Here’s a great example of a plugin whose ecosystem has taken a core concept and expanded it immensely. Gravity Forms is a form-building plugin, which already includes a lot of advanced functionality. Yet add-ons allow it to perform tasks well beyond what you’d expect from your standard contact form.

Through a community that both includes …

How to Be a Freelance Graphic Designer in 2019: A 10 Step Plan

Do you have dreams of ditching your day job and becoming a full-time freelance graphic designer? Start putting your plan in motion.

Most freelancers start with graphic design as a side hustle, but with determination, business planning, and a solid work ethic, you can build as much business as you want to create a sustainable career.

Here are 10 steps to help you get started.

Trust me, I’ve tested them all in my decade as a freelancer!

Step 1: Start Building a Portfolio

how to be a freelance graphic designer

A strong portfolio is a must if you plan to bring in clients on your own.

While it can be tempting to dump everything you’ve done recently into a portfolio, be selective. Only include projects and examples that are stellar examples of the kind of freelance work you want to do. (If you plan to focus on print, don’t pack your portfolio with digital projects.)

Use your portfolio as a showpiece to sell your work to potential clients. You’ll quickly find that the type of work you showcase often results in similar inquiries for future projects.

Step 2: Create a Brand

Consider whether you plan to do freelance work under your name or create a business name.

Start building a brand for yourself early.

Buy a domain, create an email address, and establish an online presence as a graphic designer. While you are doing this brand work, consider whether you plan to do freelance work under your name or create a business name. (You might want to do the footwork for both if you are on the fence.)

There are pros and cons to both options – using your name or creating another company name – making it a personal choice of how you want to do business as a freelance graphic designer.

Step 3: Establish Yourself as an Authority

Part of building your brand is to establish yourself as an authority in all things design, with a specific focus on the type of freelance work you want to bring in.

Write guest blog posts on design topics, use social media to highlight work of interest (yours and that of others), and make connections in the industry. Enter contests and engage in professional networks to expand your circle and show off your expertise to others.

Step 4: Network

how to be a freelance graphic designer

Put yourself out there. Even if you have a job and are just toying with the idea of going freelance, you need to grow your professional networks. (You will generate a ton of business from these strong connections.)

Think about who your target clients are and network with professionals who work with those clients now. That might include joining …

How to Create a Brand and Social Graphics With Placeit

One of the biggest challenges in today’s online and digital landscape is getting your presence or business online fast. You need a brand, logo, and social media profiles that shine to help get your efforts off the ground.

Design tools can help. Even for those with little design experience, a good tool can help you create a logo and brand as well as create elements to share on social media.

Best of all, you can get started in just a few minutes. That’s where Placeit comes in.

What is Placeit?


Placeit is a design tool that’s packed with easy to use templates for all kinds of design projects. What’s different about this tool is templates are “smart.”

That means you can make adjustments right on the screen and change from a basic template to something that looks customized. It’s a quick way to create anything from a logo or brand elements to a video to share on social media.

And you don’t need access to expensive tools to do it. All manipulations happen right on the screen using simple drag-and-drop actions.

The Placeit library includes more than 26,000 smart templates with starter designs for everything from mockups to logos to videos. Plus, more templates are getting added all the time.

See for yourself — just search for what you are looking for.

Create a Brand

If you need to create a brand mark or logo, Placeit is a great place to start.

Here’s how it works:

  • Start with a search using your brand name and Placeit will make template suggestions
  • Pick a template based on your business (we used the fast food logo maker template)
  • Adjust color to match your style or brand
  • Pick out new icon elements
  • Change words or fonts
  • Save and export

Every element is customizable, making this a quick option when it comes to developing a logo quickly. You can mix and match elements, colors, and fonts to match your style.

It doesn’t cost anything to try it out. If you need to establish a brand presence, the Placeit Logo Maker is a good starting point.

Establish Social Media Presence


Once you have a brand concept started, design tools can help you promote your brand and establish a presence online. Creating images for social media is a big part of this.

Placeit can help with that, too. The tool has thousands of options for ad and social media templates to choose from. Use them to create static images or create engaging Instagram Stories to draw more users into your channel.

Just like with logo elements, every aspect of a social media template it customizable and it …

Have You Checked Your Hard Drive Lately?

Do you actually check your hard drive? For all you know, your hard drive is about to crash and you just don’t know it. The signs are all showing but you’re probably not aware of them. Even worst, you’re ignoring them.

Your computer’s hard disk drive (HDD) works diligently at storing and protecting your data, including files, operating system, and software. Although rarely visible, unless it is an external drive, this workhorse is consistently performing its duties. That is until your computer starts crashing.

Maybe you have seen your PC blue-screen and reboot, or your system takes an unusual amount of time to open a folder. Possibly the hard drive is producing strange noises you have never heard before, or you have noticed files seem to be disappearing.

If any of these events have occurred with your computer, whether it be Windows or a MAC, these signs are indicative of a failing HDD. When your hard drive dies, which it will eventually, without a proper backup, your data can perish as well. To prevent this demise from happening, here are six free sites that will help detect issues with your hard drive.

(Via: https://www.komando.com/cool-sites/564562/6-free-sites-to-check-your-hard-drive)

Yes, there are six free sites that can help you check your hard drive. Take note that these six sites can just detect issues with your hard drive. They will not, in any way, prolong the life of your hard drive. Nonetheless, it wouldn’t hurt to try them out.

The PassMark DiskCheckup boasts of its Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology feature.

Although Windows OS has tools such as Error Checking built-in, there are alternatives that may provide greater insight to your problems. For example, this HDD test that works for most hard drives using Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP and Windows Server 2008/2003. It’s easy to use with two types of self-tests: short (5 minutes) and long (up to 45 minutes), and can be configured to email you when specific events occur.

In addition, DiskCheckup can help predict HDD failure by tracking Self-Monitoring Analysis, and Reporting Technology (SMART) attributes such as spin-up time, the number of start/stops, hours your system is powered on and the hard drive temperature. Unfortunately, DiskCheckup cannot scan SCSI or RAID devices and is not free for commercial use.

(Via: https://www.komando.com/cool-sites/564562/6-free-sites-to-check-your-hard-drive)

HD Tune can monitor the performance of both the hard disk and SSD. It also works well with memory cards.

HD Tune works with several types of storage devices including internal, external hard drives, solid state drives, and memory cards. The program is easy to use and offers useful tests such as a benchmark read test, run & error scan.


5 Quick Google Slides Tips & Tricks

If you aren’t using it already, Google Slides might quickly become one of your favorite tools. For anyone with a Google account, the presentation software is included to use completely free of charge.

It’s packed with tools to help you make great presentations with ease, and it supports downloadable templates to help you get started fast.

Make the most of this presentation tool with these tips and tricks that make Google Slides that much more functional!

1. How to Wrap Text in Google Slides

google slides how to
google slides how to

As a designer, you probably love text wrap. Put a halo on an image and all the text just bumps right off it. Unfortunately, Google Slides doesn’t quite work this way.

To wrap text in Google Slides, take care with text and image frames.

Use the handles on text and image boxes to adjust the height and width of these boxes. That’s how you essentially wrap text using this tool. It is not as precise as design software, but it can do the trick for most slide designs.

One more trick? Send the image to the back using Arrange Order Send to back. Then use returns to stack text in a certain format within the text frame.

2. How to Add Bullet Points in Google Slides

google slides how to

Bulleted lists seem to be a staple in presentations.

Short lists can actually reinforce an idea without forcing the audience to read too many things during the talk.

Add bullet points in Google Slides text boxes by navigating to Format Bullets & numbering Bulleted list Pick the style you like from the visual options. Make sure you first clicked on the box to which you want to add bullets (it will bullets to each paragraph) or highlight only the text elements you want to convert into a list.

Choose from multiple style options to find what works best for your presentation. Subsequent paragraphs will also use bullet formatting.

3. How to Print Google Slides with Notes

google slides how to

Plenty of presenters like to add what they plan to say or notes into the notes view of each individual slide. Google Slides allows printing with both the slide image and these notes printed on each page.

Navigate to File Print settings and preview Change dropdown to 1 slide with notes.

Other printing options include the ability to print single slides or handout views with 1, 3, 4, 6, or 9 slides per page. Prints can be done in landscape or portrait view and can be printed to a physical print or to PDF for digital sharing.

4. How to Insert a GIF into Google Slides

google slides how to

Spice up your presentation with an animated GIF.…

The Guide to Flat Design – What It is and How to Use It for Your Website

Over the years, the popularity of flat web design has exploded – thanks to large organizations that are bringing changes into their design aesthetics and accepting the flat design. Flat design is a simple User Interface (UI) design that makes use of straightforward, two-dimensional elements and bright colors. Sometimes, it is contrasted to skeuomorphism style the makes the illusion of 3 dimensions by copying real-life properties. You might have noticed that the popular operating systems, i.e., Windows, iOs, and Android, have gradually been shifting their design language to more flat. So, what is a flat design and should you implement … Continue reading

Visit us at InstantShift.com


from InstantShift http://www.instantshift.com/2019/06/28/flat-design-in-website-guide/…

Easily Smooth and Soften Skin in Photoshop – Best High-End Techniques

Smooth Skin in Photoshop

In this tutorial, you will learn how to smooth skin in Photoshop!

We will work with two high-end skin softening techniques. Both methods are non-destructive, which means that you can edit your skin softening effect at any time!

But most importantly, these skin smoothing techniques will leave the skin texture intact. So that you can get beautiful smooth skin, without it looking fake or too soft.

The first skin softening technique will use a brand new feature of Photoshop CC. The Texture Slider in Camera Raw.

If you are in an older version of Photoshop, don’t worry, the second technique will work in Photoshop CS6.

We’ll start this portrait retouching tutorial by removing blemishes and other skin distractions using Photoshop’s Spot Healing Brush Tool.

Then, after the initial clean-up, you’ll learn step-by-step how to smooth and soften skin in Photoshop without blurring the skin texture, or other vital areas.

Also, check out the link below to download a Free Photoshop Action that will allow you to apply the Skin Smoothing effect in Photoshop with just one click!

Free Skin Softening Photoshop Action

You can download the Softening skin Photoshop Action here:

Download “239 – Skin Smoothing Action” PTC+Skin+Smoothing+Action.atn – Downloaded 0 times – 4 KB

The post Easily Smooth and Soften Skin in Photoshop – Best High-End Techniques appeared first on Photoshop Training Channel.

from Photoshop Training Channel https://photoshoptrainingchannel.com/skin-softening-in-photoshop/…

How to Create & Save a Preset in Lightroom

If you’re an Adobe Lightroom user, learning how to save a preset can make your workflow much smoother. Today we’re going to teach you how to create your own Lightroom presets in a few quick steps.

A Lightroom preset is a “package” of settings that can speed up the photo-editing process. Presets can be reused to create the same effects over and over again. Using them can take a lot of time out of the editing process for repetitive actions.

We have a full guide to Lightroom Presets if you want to learn more, or find presets that you can download and use right away.

Figure Out What Kind of Preset to Create

how to save a create in lightroom

What sliders do you use frequently in Lightroom? That’s the starting point for creating a preset. The best presets are for steps you commonly take to save time during the image editing process.

Presets can be created for different types of sliders, which adjust elements in a photo using a scale. There are sliders for color, ton, contrast, vibrancy, exposure, and elements such as white, black, and shadows.

You can edit all of these controls in detail view using the Profile, Light, Color, Effects, Detail, optics, and Geometry panels.

How to Create a Preset in Lightroom

how to save a create in lightroom

Once you know what editing controls would serve you best, you can create the Lightroom preset.

Open presets from the Edit icon, then Presets. (You might already use this to work with presets that you already have downloaded.)

Then, use then choose Create Preset to add a new preset. That option is located by clicking the three dots at the top right of the Presets Panel. A menu will open where you can choose what settings you want to save. The nice thing about presets is that if you don’t get it right the first time you can continue to tweak the preset and make adjustments later.

Pick a name for the custom preset. It will save in Lightroom in the User Presets area.

Organize Presets for Easy Access

The most important step in creating a Lightroom preset might be how you organize them. This step can determine if you actually use the tools you’ve created or not.

Use a preset name that tells you what it does. Names like Preset1, Preset2, etc. are not helpful later. A name like Grainy or Sunshine Blowout can tell you exactly what the tool does for later use.

Consider adding your initials to the beginning or end of every name if you use a lot of presets. This makes it easy to see presets you have created versus ones you may have downloaded from …

Are Hybrid Solutions Best For Data Protection?

A business without data is dead. It just can’t go on. How can a business run, more so, thrive if there’s loss of data.? All kinds of businesses rely a lot on data. No matter what kind of business it is, it relies a lot on data. That’s the reason why businesses should take care of their data.

Businesses are well aware of the fact that IT environments generate data that needs effective storage technology and data recovery technology like backup and disaster recovery. This applies to all kinds of businesses regardless of the size (SMBs, SMEs, Large Enterprises).

(Via: https://www.techiexpert.com/what-makes-hybrid-solutions-best-choice-for-business-it-infrastructures/)

Unfortunately, some businesses don’t put too much importance on data backups. Even worst, they don’t have a disaster recovery plan in place.

There’s no excuse for lack of data backups. Whether a business is big or small, it should have a reliable process to back up data. That way, they can always get back their data in case of an emergency.

A solid disaster recovery plan includes a reliable backup system. The problem is, some businesses don’t want to invest in it. They think it’s just too expensive.

So, why are SMBs, SMEs or startups reluctant about purchasing and setting up these technologies? It’s the price tag on them.
IT infrastructures tend to be very costly and besides these CapEx costs, there are OpEx costs to them as well. An IT infrastructure requires maintenance, power, cooling and teams that manage and maintain them.

(Via: https://www.techiexpert.com/what-makes-hybrid-solutions-best-choice-for-business-it-infrastructures/)

A disaster recovery plan does not have to include costly IT infrastructures. There is a more affordable option for small businesses.

Instead of pushing IT environments into the corner, businesses can opt to setup value products and support their IT environments. There are a number of technologies available that can make this happen …

(Via: https://www.techiexpert.com/what-makes-hybrid-solutions-best-choice-for-business-it-infrastructures/)

Small businesses can consider backing up to the cloud. There are cloud service providers that don’t even require their clients to set up any kind of IT infrastructure. Once the business is signed with the service, data from the computers are automatically backed up. Now, that’s pretty convenient but it doesn’t mean that it suits all kinds of businesses.

Cloud technology might sound convenient from the stand point of a small business owner. However, there are three things to consider when opting for the cloud.

o It’s good but not as efficient as on-premises infrastructure
o It gets complex when you integrate it for storage, backup and disaster recovery
o It’s susceptible to network connections, bandwidth limitations and file size limitations

(Via: https://www.techiexpert.com/what-makes-hybrid-solutions-best-choice-for-business-it-infrastructures/)

While cloud technology has its limitation, it coud still be very …

How to Embed a YouTube Video in Google Slides

You know that video can add extra spark to a website design, but it can also spice up a presentation. The challenge is that embedded videos can sometimes result in presentation mishaps if they don’t play properly.

It can be pretty embarrassing to run into one of these mishaps, but they are totally preventable.

Today, we’re going to walk through how to embed a YouTube video in Google Slides so you can nail your presentation, embedded video and all!

Know Your Presentation Location

Knowing where you will be giving your presentation is especially important when it comes to embedding video

It might seem like an odd first step but knowing where you will be giving your presentation is especially important when it comes to embedding video.

To play a video from an online source, such as YouTube, you’ll need to have an internet connection and enough bandwidth to handle the video during your presentation. Running Google Slides also requires a connect to the internet.

Knowing whether this capability is available can dictate if a using a video in your presentation is a good idea or not.

Note that if you plan to create a presentation in Google Slides and export it to your local computer in another file format, such as PowerPoint, the video is no longer playable and will appear as a still image in the downloaded presentation.

1. Open Your Presentation

how to embed a youtube video in google slides

Open your Google Slides presentation or create a new document to get started.

Prepare slides as you would for any other presentation. Insert a slide where you plan to play the video using the template or style that you’ve chosen for the rest of the presentation.

2. Insert the Video

To insert the video, navigate to the Insert menu, the select Video. A box for YouTube will automatically pop up.

Did you know YouTube is a Google company? That’s one reason the link is easy and the popular video channel is searchable right from Google Slides.

From the menu, you have three options for inserting a video:

  • Search YouTube
  • Enter YouTube URL
  • From your Google Drive

Search YouTube

how to embed a youtube video in google slides

If you know what kind of video you want but not the exact URL, you can search YouTube here.

Results will be most specific if you know the title of the video you are looking for.

Enter the title or keywords, click the magnifying glass to search, and you’ll get a list of results. Click the one you want and then the blue select button to add it to the slide.


how to embed a youtube video in google slides

The easiest and quickest way to get just the video you want for your …