Show Notes

Episode 111 AJ Morris Talking About Ithemes

 

00:00

Everybody, Rob Cairns here. I’m the founder, CEO and Chief Creative, amazing ideas of stunning Digital Marketing. Today I sit down with my good friend AJ Morris, and we talk about AI themes and where I themes is going, and the roadmap. And we also talk about the restrict content pro by. So sit back, relax and enjoy the podcast with Adriana.

 

00:35

Everybody, Rob, I’m here with my good friend, AJ Morris. He’s in charge of product development and marketing over a guy things. And he and I have known each other a long time. How are you today?

 

00:48

Good. Rob, how are you?

 

00:50

Not too bad. We were just saying before we went to record this for a long time, I think the first time we met in person was like 2011 in Toronto, and we’ve kind of stayed in touch off and on over the years. And it’s been a long time coming. So yeah. So yeah, I need to jump right in. What is your role at AI themes? And what are you doing for AI things right now?

 

01:12

Sure. So I am kind of a hybrid role. I’m a product innovation and marketing manager, which is a weird title. But really, what it boils down to is that I lead our product strategy and our marketing strategies. So all of our products backup buddy, I theme security, sync Pro, our new restrict content pro that we just acquired, I really lead kind of all the feature efforts that go into that. So where are we going? Where are we going to play in the marketplace, and really working with teams internally to identify and put out good releases for those. And then on the other side, the marketing side, I take a look at, you know, what strategies are we using? Where do we put those together and putting together different campaigns and plans and partnerships with with other potential WordPress developers to you know, put put together marketing strategies to to market and sell our products.

 

02:14

And that’s absolutely awesome. And you know, I think I think still has a big place in the market. They always have. I know, from a usability standpoint, the three products, I’m kind of in with his backup, buddy. Backup buddy spent a long time and I think today is probably more stable now than ever before. In terms of item security, that’s part of my security stack. I tend to lean towards it or wordfence depending on what I’m doing. So I’ll tell you that and then and then the buy of restrict content Pro, which I think caught some people in the WordPress community and some of the groups I’m in a little bit off guard. We were talking before we went to record it didn’t catch me off guard. How did that kind of play out to the play out over? A couple months? Six months? Can you share a little bit about what happened? Yeah,

 

03:08

yeah, I think I want to say it was on on the Sandhills dove post, Pippin, it kind of mentioned, it was something that we had been talking about internally reached out to Pippin and just said, Hey, you know, is this something that would be of interest to you, Matt Danner, my boss, the general manager at AI themes, he kind of did that and reached out and had number of conversations. And that led to, you know, US acquiring it, you know, kind of the beginning beginning of September. And, you know, we had been part of a number of conversations kind of leading up to that September announcement. So it was it was a it was a good thing, you know, they are seeing a lot of growth and some of their other products. They weren’t seen, they were actually seeing a lot of growth and restrict content pro as well. Just, you know, they always look for, you know, what their team is meshing well with, and we were looking for kind of a front end, front facing product, something that wasn’t so utility driven. And, you know, we just after having those conversations that really doesn’t mesh well. And, you know, we’re here today, about 2028 days into the official acquisition, and, you know, we’re we’re looking full steam ahead.

 

04:33

Yeah, it’s, I think it’s a really a good acquisition. I use it actually quite a bit on some sites I’ve done just to restrict pages where you don’t need that full membership. plugin, but I think you can use it in lieu of a membership plugin. I think it works really well. So yeah, good on you. Good on you guys. I know acquiring that one. Like really, I I wasn’t surprised. Because I think we’re at a point where anybody who knows I think knows the staples our backup, buddy, I think security, I think sink, right? Those are really the three big. You still have correct me if I’m wrong, the I think builder for websites if it’s still there. And I know you’ve been calling back some of your legacy plugins finally and saying, we really need to think about what we do with this, right? So,

 

05:30

yeah, absolutely. And you know, we have a training service, I think it’s training that we’ve run for close to 10, maybe even longer than 10 years at this point. And that, you know, we’ve had a lot of experience with memberships. I mean, when you think about even plugins, you know, you’re you’re purchasing a plugin that you will get updates to, that’s, that’s one aspect of purchasing a plugin, but the other is access to support and being able to have somebody there to help support you, when the when the product has a problem. And so, in many ways, you know, I themes has always been building memberships, whether it’s our team’s training product or our plugins, and offering support for those plugins. So, you know, for us, it was just a really good fit it made sense. And you know, some of the things that we’re looking at doing you know, here in the near term is relaunching I themes training with a, a better membership component, actually eating our own dog food and putting restrict content pro into play, there were, you know, we had used kind of a custom build membership component to to that WordPress site.

 

06:49

Yeah, and, and training has always been a big part of what I themes is done. The other thing, that’s a big part of what you guys do, because of I think security, is you have an amazing, twice a month newsletter that comes out, that wraps up all the security vulnerabilities. And that’s kind of one of them, because I’m in a care plan business has been one of my go to places over the years to keep track of what’s vulnerable, what’s not vulnerable. And we’re seeing a lot of interesting things in the security space right now, aren’t we?

 

07:25

Yeah, yeah. You know, with, with everybody working at home these days, and just a lot of people getting online, you know, you’re seeing a lot of people trying to take security a little bit more serious. They’re, they’re trying to make sure that their websites aren’t going to get hacked. And that, that, you know, they’re able to put in the right policies, the right, you know, kind of safeguards to just really protect and keep everything up and running and, you know, not run into those issues.

 

08:00

Yeah. And I also think what people need to remember is because everybody’s working at home, so are all the script kiddies working at home was nothing better to do than me, right. So yeah, I actually, one of the strategies I’ve used for years, having come out of very heavy technical background is anything I need security that I actually do I do on a VPN, and I believe it or not at home, I do in a virtual machine. And I don’t I don’t know if you saw my posts, but I’ve actually given up on Windows as of about a month ago, I’ve gotten all Linux based in my device. Okay. Yeah. Gotcha. from a security perspective. So

 

08:42

yeah, let’s,

 

08:42

let’s move on to backup buddy. Because we all love backup, buddy. And I find backup buddy is more stable today than it ever has been in a long time, just from a usability standpoint. Do you want to speak to backup buddy? A little bit?

 

09:02

Yeah. Yeah, you know, I have I have a team behind me, I want to say that I’m one person I’ve got. I’ve got several people that are working on the day to day product strategy, marketing strategies. And so I’m not I’m not ever one person here. And that’s great to have a team and part of that has really driven us to the person in charge of backup buddy, leading backup buddy, Kristen, right. She has spent a lot of time really taking a look at our customers, what what specific pain points they still have, and then working with our development team to try to, you know, get through those and solve those in a way that allows us to continue to have such a stable product now. With backup, buddy, you’re always going to have a lot of history right? It’s, it’s the oldest product that we sell was the really kind of the first product that’s out there. So it’s got a lot of, it’s got a lot of Cruyff still right as we start to rewrite things, and, you know, just over, let’s see 1212 years of being in business, you know, backup buddy is going to have a lot of historical code. And so a lot of that has to do with with the team behind it. And really just making sure that while we do have have some of that historical code that that code that maybe needs to be rewritten, we’re putting in better layers, each and every time that we do a release. And so you’re starting to see that kind of come through, right? Dropbox isn’t isn’t updating their API’s as much anymore. You know, we’ve we’ve moved backupbuddy stash from Amazon Web servers over to liquid web servers. And so you know, that’s, that’s allowed us to kind of control a little bit better of that backup stack. Other API’s have just have grown into maturity. And so when when you see products become mature, you see API’s become mature, I think you naturally get to see some of that stability increase. And so backup buddy, for us has seen that. I know you are a longtime backup buddy user. And so I think it I think it speaks well to this, you know, backup buddy, originally, you know, it would always have issues with backups in shared hosting environments, because the amount of hosts that are out there are just, you know, they’re a dime a dozen. And so we always saw issues in shared hosting. That was one of the reasons that we saw backup buddy stash come to fruition in stash live is that we were solving a problem that customers were having, which was in that shared hosting environment, you couldn’t create backups, stable backups, right? They were getting hung up, they were, you know, you had to hang your WordPress, yeah, you had to configure all sorts of stuff. And so we tried to solve that problem in the shared hosting space. And you know, as you look at hosting, the hosting industry, in general has changed dramatically in 10 years. I think that’s also helped kind of provide more stability to backup buddy. Yeah,

 

12:26

I just recently did a site for an insurance Association. And there was over 250 documents on the site, which is kind of how it was like, all down, it’s and it was all because of firewalls in the insurance business, they put it all on a shared host in the media directory. And the backup buddy had no issues moving that site from a test domain to a live domain. So I mean, and I know going back five or six years ago, haven’t been through all the pearls with backup, buddy. If I tried to do that, with any product, I would have been yelling at myself in my sleep saying what am I doing here? So the product has definitely become better and more stable. So

 

13:14

yeah, um,

 

13:16

I think sick. Did I see that there was some changes released? I think sync recently.

 

13:22

Yeah. So. Yeah. So so most recently, I think within the last couple of months, date escapes me exactly. We we launched some integration with the Google lighthouse service. So Google lighthouse, for anybody unfamiliar with it is is like a it’s like PageSpeed on steroids, right? It does. PageSpeed. So you can test the performance of your site, you can test accessibility, SEO, you know, kind of credibility almost. And so so you can run those reports right within your sink, dashboard. Once your site is synced, we’re actually getting ready to do an update to that release, which allows you to include that in your client reports that sink provides so you can pass over the data that’s relevant to your client through that that client report.

 

14:21

That’s really cool. I mean, I think integrated in works really well. I think the the part that caught my eye was all the accessibility changes. Accessibility is a big issue in the us right now. With all the laws in place. There’s all kinds of lawsuits running around. I think it’s something that people need to be aware of. sooner than later. So

 

14:46

yeah, absolutely.

 

14:49

Um, in terms

 

14:51

of moving forward, now, I think this is owned by liquidweb. Right. Is there been any discussion about coming up with a man And each hosting from a liquid web perspective where we say, Okay, here’s your hosting. And by the way, here’s all your stuff tied to that hosting. Has there been any discussion of that?

 

15:12

So I think there’s, there’s kind of already that in some regards. So, you know, liquid web slash Nexus has, we’ve kind of moved. In the hosting side, we’ve we’ve moved manage WordPress and managed WooCommerce hosting products over to the Nexus brand. Nexus is really that kind of managed apps brand. So they’ve got a manage Magento over there, as well. And with with manage WordPress and WooCommerce, you get I theme security. With manage WordPress, you also get sync, so you get access to the sync dashboard, and you can connect all your sites, their backups, you know, backups is a tricky thing. When you start looking at what a host can do, versus what a plugin can do. And so, you know, when you when you’re a host and you own your own stack, you can really kind of control your backups. So they provide 30 days worth of backups included in that manage WordPress hosting site. On I themes, though, we actually have our own hosting that’s it’s not talked about as much. It’s it’s more geared towards, it’s like a step up from a shared server. So there’s still shared resources available. But when you purchase I themes hosting, you get back up, buddy, and security included with it. So that that kind of solves that need of hosting with, you know, some core i themes, products.

 

16:46

I’ve already I’ve always taken the approach with backups. If you have a good host, they’ll do them for you. But I don’t like having my eggs all in one basket. So we’ve seen companies have backup servers hack, two that come to mind was a two hosting. And in the UK, they were having their backup server was hacked a couple years ago. And another one was Melbourne, it which is Australia’s biggest web post, their backup server was hacked about five or six years ago. So we’ve seen this happen. And I always take the approach. And I choose it for years I’ve taken the approach that it’s nice to host doesn’t but you have to do them yourself. Because sure I don’t I don’t like the eggs in one basket.

 

17:34

Yeah, well, and then there’s, there’s also another thing to be said about, you know, when your host does do the backups, however, they’re backing it up, if you needed to spin up a staging site, or even a test site locally, it may be a little bit more complicated, because it works for their system. And so using something like backup buddy, you can grab that zip file you can use import buddy or the new restore feature and backup it to restore the site once you you’ve got it up and running. And so yeah, you know, that’s that’s something that we we always do I always have it set and I throw most of my backups over to Amazon s3 still. And then I you know, every, every couple of months, I’ll just dump them into the glacier, which is like their their deep freeze s3 storage and so I’ve got backups upon backups

 

18:26

there that year, you’ve always been as a no on backups as I have been. So I mean, I you know, the big joke with me is what storage Don’t Don’t I have for that exact reason. I can go back on client sites on care plans, and I can pull backups from eight months ago, I pretty well keep eight months to a year because we all know that. Sometimes if your site gets infected today, the infection could have been deployed three months ago, I’ve seen right after. Mm hmm. So, um, let’s jump over the security a little bit because back to it a little bit. Sorry, I’m kind of jumping around today.

 

19:07

No, no worries.

 

19:08

I theme security. What are some best practices for security for people?

 

19:15

Well, you know, I think the biggest one is not using admin as your login. You have you know, that’s that’s a kind of a give me these days. You know, with with, with I theme security pro specifically, there’s there’s a couple of features we really like, which is setting up some sort of multi factor authentication, whether it’s, you know, connecting something to your phone and having it work there. Or one of the features I like is actually just emailing, sending an email link. So we have a feature called passwordless login that allows you to put in your email address or your username, click a link and it sends you an email, you click on the link in the email and it’ll log you into your site. So that gives you kind of a multi factor. authentication approach because you do have to access your email to get that link. You know, things like, you know, just properly going through the users that have access to your site, making sure that they have the appropriate permissions. Don’t give somebody you know, admin role if they don’t really need the admin role. Similar with author or editor roles. If you do any custom roles, you know, that gets more advanced. And so you want to make sure you’re keeping track of that. You know, there’s, there’s a lot of fake fake things, like, you know, should I hide my WP login or WP admin? should I hide that, you know, those types of things? Yeah, they can kind of help but but the reality is, you know, an attacker that knows WordPress is going to know, multiple ways around those things. So you know, that’s, that’s what I look for, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of other features you can put in, you can put in reCAPTCHA, you know, v2 or v3. So you’ve got a lot of flexibility there. You know, we, we’ve really tried to become the security experts for WordPress users. So when you install WordPress, or when you install a theme security, there’s a little button that says, secure my site. And when you click on that, we kind of take all those best practices, activate them all, get them all set up for you, and then try to walk you through some of the things that we need user interaction on to help to help secure your site even more.

 

21:36

Yeah, and the two things. One, your complimentary product backup, buddy, keep your back, keep a regular backup. And the other thing which the security projects don’t do is keep your website up to date, like keep the plugins up to date, keep the themes up to date. Watch newsletters, like the I think newsletter to see what plugins have been impacted. There. There’s vulnerabilities every day, and we sent some real big ones lately, like big ones. And yeah, you know, we just need to the reality of it is WordPress is sitting right now at about 35% of the market to 40%, depending on who you talk to, right. And the problem. And the problem is, if we’re sitting at 40% of the market, frankly, I think what we need to do is realize that the bigger you become the more of a target you become. And that’s just the reality of it. I mean, everybody says it’s because it’s open source. I don’t necessarily agree with that. If you go read the Joomla security newsletter, or the Drupal ones, which I occasionally look at, they have the same problems, because they’re based on the same engine. Right. So

 

22:49

and yeah, you know, and that’s the way that Mac was to write, you know, 10 years ago, Mac’s weren’t as widely used as they are today. And I remember a time when I never had to worry about installing an antivirus software, product on my Mac. Now here I am in 2020. And I need to have, you know, something installed just to be on the lookout for it. So yeah,

 

23:14

yeah, that’s the way that’s the way it goes. And unfortunately, the other thing you know, with backups is, and I am going to remind people just because I come out of as you know, a bit of a corporate environment. Make sure you test your restore, like a lot of people will install something like backup buddy, they’ll run backups for six months, and then they’ll get stuck. And then they’ll say, wait a minute, here, my backups not working, take the time and test that to a sub domain or a test domain or do something to make sure your backups are actually functioning before you need them.

 

23:48

Absolutely.

 

23:51

Because that’s a that’s a big, that’s a big issue. like you wouldn’t believe so I wouldn’t be you know, worried about that too much. So, um, and the other part is security, frankly, a big part of security is your web host. And you guys are partnered with liquid web and good web hosts makes all the difference in your security stack as far as I’m concerned. Yeah.

 

24:16

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you know, your host is going to have a lot of server side security settings already in place. And it really depends, you know, right there. When you when you look at the hosting industry, there’s their shared hosting, which, which is common, whether you’re at siteground or dreamhost, GoDaddy, you know, they’re going to have a lot of security in place because they’re hosting so many accounts all the time. But when you go to something like a VPS, you may you may only have baseline security, because you’re managing some of that as well. So you really have to look at that host when you’re in the Manage WordPress space. I can’t, I can’t think of an instance that comes to mind in the last year or so that has been a security issue related to a manage WordPress host. And I think that’s just because when you when you start to say, Hey, I’m only going to run WordPress on it, you can put in proper security settings and configurations on those servers to run WordPress really well, but also keep it really secure. And so, you know, looking at a product like I theme security, you know, that that’s going to take care of the application side of things, you know, enforcing strong passwords, enforcing good password practices, right? resetting your password regularly, keeping WordPress up to date, you know, all the things that we’ve already mentioned. You know, that’s, that’s where you can kind of have that that one two punch with with a good host, and a good security plugin.

 

25:55

And while we’re talking about security, what is your take on WordPress, his latest changes is that like, you don’t auto update plugins,

 

26:04

you know, it definitely is, it’s, it’s a, it’s, it’s an interesting one. So having spent years as a developer, I will say I’ve really kind of gone with a, a process where you have a dot dot release. So you have two dots. So like one dot one dot one, or one dot one dot two, when you’re in those two dot releases are typically just bug fixes security issue fixes. It’s not like over sweeping, you know, sweeping changes in a plug in or in a theme. And so, in essence, I believe that those should always work, they shouldn’t, they shouldn’t, you should be able to update those because you want to be secure. And you want to have the bug fixes fixed. So in that regard, I think that the auto updates works great. But But the way that WordPress took it is that they’re going to auto update everything. And it doesn’t matter how you version, how you plan your versioning, it’s just going to see an update, and it’s going to update it. And that’s where I think things can can go off the rails. You know, you can have a plugin like I’ll pick on Beaver Builder, I know that they’re much better than this, but but you know, Beaver Builder affects the front end of your website. And so if you have an update to it, and WordPress sees it and just auto updates it, it could break your site, and you might not know about it for, you know, short short end several minutes, or long term several hours or even a couple of days. I never want breaking sites, right? As you know, running client sites, you never want to have a site be broken. And so you typically want to manage those updates yourself. You know, you and I have spoke a lot about this over the years. And so I think, you know, WordPress, I always turn those that feature off, thankfully, you know, they have that ability to keep it off. I’m grateful for that. I do think that, you know, WordPress, when I take a look at, you know, why would they do something? Why would they enable something like that? I think there’s there’s a two fold approach. You know, if I, if I switch gears and look at it from their angle, one they want to continue to, you know, speak against and compete against people like Squarespace and Weebly and Wix and any other website builder out there. And so when you start to compete against those, those people, you want to give the best experience possible. And part of that is is making sure that those plugins and your themes are auto updated, so that your, your end user doesn’t have to manually go in into something that that they may not understand and update. The other side of that is is that, you know, we’ve seen for many years, even WordPress core itself doesn’t get updated when it’s left in ordinary users hands. And so, you know, when when it’s left in ordinary users hands, we’re having to not be able to use some of the latest technologies or push push forward enough, because we have so many sites still running older things. And so I think, you know, WordPress core can say, well, we can control this to a degree. So let’s control it and push try to help push everybody forward. Is that the right move? I don’t know. You know, I’m thankful that it doesn’t affect me so much, because I can I can put in what I need to Yes. But you know, I can look at it from an end user and say, Hey, I’d be pretty upset if all of a sudden these auto plugins or auto updates happened and my sight was broke.

 

29:49

Yeah, I I’ve taken the approach having over 100 clients on care on security care plans that I don’t do auto updates a I typically do weekly updates unless a core release or a major vulnerability comes up. So four core release comes out, like typically, the way I manage my clients is I do security updates, typically on a Monday. And then and then what I’ll do is say WordPress dropped effects on Wednesday. If it was stable, I’ll probably put it in Thursday. Okay, yeah, but I do them all manually. I don’t like leaving stuff to chance. And I don’t what I I don’t like plugin updates and pray personally, like I just I’ve seen, we’ve seen too much over the years where a plugin goes in and conflicts with something else. And what happens and it’s like, bang, and then. And then next thing, you know, we’re I’m firing off an FTP client to rename all my plugins to figure out which one is the problem one? Yeah, and two hours later.

 

30:53

Yeah, you know, so. So before I moved over to the ITM site, I was at liquid web and I helped build the first two kind of iterations of our managed WordPress offering. And one of the things that we we we really set the bar for manage WordPress hosts out there was creating what we call our visual comparison tool. And what that does, is really solve those problems for auto updates. So you can have auto updates turned on. And that’s great, we actually turn them off on on the Manage WordPress site. And we do a couple of things. Every night, we look at this as part of the backup process, we’ll do a backup. And then we take a look. And we say, Okay, what plugins need to be updated. And if there is we grab a list, and then we will, we will take a backup, move it off to what we we have like an internal server that runs or an internal platform runs, it spins up your site, and then it’ll go through, and it’ll run the first plug in update. When it runs that first plugin update, it’ll then check with the live site and with this new test site, and see if there’s any visual changes, what that does is it really tries to help solve the white screen of death issue that we would always see happen. And really just make sure you know, there’s no, there’s there’s no sweeping changes that are going to affect your sight visually. Because that that tends to be the issue is it’s a visual change. In a visual change could be a breaking change, right? It’s not just I went from green to red, it could be, you know, it, it repositioned that some custom CSS that you had written for us a slider. And now all of a sudden the sliders off and you see like, two images of the slider detects all of that. And so what what we do is this, this visual comparison tool will go through this list, and it’ll do one plug in one theme at a time. And if it if it can make a determination, which is like a, I want to say it’s like a 95 or 98%. of no changes. So so so 95 to 9595 to 90%, there’s no changes, it’ll go ahead and do the update. If there if it can’t detect at that level, then it’ll say Nope, I couldn’t do an update. And it’ll email you the next morning to say, Okay, I found these plugins, and I wasn’t able to update those because it didn’t hit our, our limit. And that way you then know to go in and do that I love this feature. It’s one of my favorite features. I think WP Engine might have just came out with it recently. I forget if it’s on WP engine or flywheel, but they I know they just came out with it. So others are starting to kind of pick up, you know, what we were what we were seeing as a big issue, you know, on the liquid website.

 

33:45

And this and this is a reason, you know, on the web site, that we’re seeing an increase. And I think it’s pretty well been happening across the board. And the cost of web hosts. I mean, people are not being what I call smart with their money. So they’re looking at these hosts and saying, you know, the costs are going up. But then you got to look at support costs, which coming from the support environment are horrendous. You got to look at all these value add features are building in, and you got to work out what you’re getting out of at the end of the day. And as I said to somebody in a discussion the other day, if you can afford proper hosting, like kind of way in business, I mean, really?

 

34:24

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean, you know, hosts are always trying to find new ways to help you, right? How can they innovate on hosting and whether it’s support or features or new value add capabilities? It’s, it’s what what do you need, you know, you need a host at the end of the day in order to have your website up, you need a host. And so they’re just looking at it and trying to say okay, what are what are some other ancillary things that we can offer aside from hosting to Some help provide those those tools for you.

 

35:03

And it’s funny because as we were saying, I offer carepoint packages, and I have a list of about eight or nine hosts, that I’ll deal with liquid web being one of those. And then I have a list of a whole pile of hosts that if you have your site on that host, you’re moving it, or I’m not doing this with you. And, you know, I won’t get into the ones just just to be nice, but we all know who they are so sure, of that discussion. Um, what’s, what’s on the horizon fried things and liquid web that you that you can share with us?

 

35:42

Yeah, well, you know, there’s a lot, a lot going on behind the scenes right now. Things depending on when this is aired, might have already come to light. So so that that could be fun. You know, we’re we, we put together a really good roadmap on the AI team side for really all of our products for, you know, the next six months to a year, and we’re starting to make progress on those. And so you can expect to see a lot of new releases coming out. Backup buddy is getting a lot going to get a pretty big release early next year, restrict content Pro, we we’ve got a lot of things that we want to work on. And so we’re working on some of those, right now, looking at things like better stripe integration. Let’s see there’s there’s even some things to make them the creation of membership levels easier. And so we’re trying to

 

36:50

get out of some of the dev only features and also look at the end user with restrict content, pro security talk and restrict content pro doing things like maybe square integration or stuff like that, if you guys looked at that,

 

37:04

always a possibility. I think right now we’re, you know, it’s straight, sorry, restrict content pros. But an interesting thing in that the the way that it had kind of, has always maintained, they were they were maintaining a set feature set across all of the payment gateways. And so that was limiting in some regards, right, you know, if if, to checkout, for example, only did these set of features, even though stripe Did you know 20, other 20 or 30. Other things, they only implemented the few features that say to checkout did and so some of the things that we’re starting to get into are looking at, okay, well, stripe offers, things like pay with Apple Pay or pay with Google pay, or Amazon pay or, you know, whatever, whatever other types of tools like that we’re looking at, and starting to say, Okay, let’s maybe maybe change the approach to the way that payment gateways work, and build with the features in mind that each each payment gateway has. So, you know, we could look at Square Square, I think is a little more difficult, because it’s, it’s really a POS system first and online. Second, so that one becomes a, you know, a different set of challenges that will have to work. But I think, you know, for us, we’re also looking at, you know, what, what other things do people sell as part of a membership, right, are there? Are there digital digital products, like ebooks, or, you know, some sort of a downloadable file? Is there courses, you know, someone selling a course as part of a membership site? And, you know, what does it look like to maybe sell one off items as part of it right now, you would need restrict content pro to, to manage the membership side and WooCommerce to manage the individual product side, but but maybe there’s a hybrid approach that we could take where restrict content pro could be all of that for you. So we’re exploring a lot of those options in that space, and really trying to look at creator, creators that sell stuff online, and what are those needs? and address those?

 

39:26

And that’s Oh, yeah, that’s a growing space. Sorry, AJ. So go ahead was security.

 

39:34

Yeah. So, security, you know, we’re looking at you know, we spent last year you know, you mentioned the, the approach to our newsletter that comes out twice a month about, you know, security vulnerabilities that we’ve been doing, I want to say almost two years now, and it’s already list a year, I think it’s fair to say, yeah, it’s been a really good hit. It’s, it’s, you know, our audience loves it. And what we did with that is we actually built that into I theme security Pro. So we’ve now got a new site scanner, that will scan your site every day for known vulnerabilities. And we’re always looking to improve that. So, you know, right now we’re kind of in our phase one, which was, you know, let’s let’s look at known vulnerabilities. Phase two starts to look at, well, is there JavaScript security issues that we need to, you know, make a site owner be aware of are there server settings that that the owner might need to be aware of, you know, and so we’re starting to look at other phases of that site scanner work, to really provide another way to help you stay secure, sinks, going to get some updates, sinks, getting a number of updates with the lighthouse, as I mentioned, we’ve got a couple of other ideas there. I didn’t mention backup buddy. And I guess I should kind of circle back to that one really quick and just say, the updates that were happening there are really looking at the new user, a new user that installs backup, buddy, what does that process look like to get connected with your remote destination? Where do you want to store your backups and walking you through setting that up, walking you through setting up a backup plan, you know, every websites kind of a little different. And so we’re gonna take an approach in, in setting up backups to be more, you know, set up per site. So if you’re, if you’re setting up a blog, for example, you know, we might ask some questions about how often do you blog and that might help us kind of determine, you know, what is your backup plan look like? Is it database backups? Is it full site backups, all of that kind of stuff. So we’ll be doing a lot of updating in in the backup buddy. Earlier this year, or early next year, as well. So a lot of updates a lot of things going on? You know, I I themes is pretty separate from liquid web and Nexus. So I don’t know. I don’t know what they’ve got going on over there. You know, from the feature side of things, what they’re they’re looking at, but I know they’ve got a lot of things in the works. And, you know, I think it’d be excited to see what what they have coming out to you.

 

42:42

As a marketing managers are really tough these days, marketing without word camps and things like that.

 

42:50

You know? I would say yes, and no, I think there’s a community aspect that you get with word camps and going to as many, you know, that we’ve historically gone to over the years. But I think that there’s also been a number of a number of things that have kind of happened, right, there’s, there’s a lot of online events that have taken place. And from a from an ROI perspective, it’s it’s hard to determine that, you know, where you can almost get, you can get a little bit better of an ROI determination with a word camp than you can say, an online event, but I think an online event allows you for better analytical data. So there’s kind of a give and take there. But you know, from the community aspect, it’s it’s definitely a tough approach. Right? How do you how do you continue to be a part of a community that is now 100% online? And that’s that, I think, is a challenge that we’re all trying to take a look at.

 

43:56

Yeah, it’s really a hard one and I shift I honestly don’t think we’ll go 100% back to the way it was. I know I’ve gotten to the point with online summits I just have summit fatigue right now I’m on zoom being on zoom calls you have to be actually gain at the top of it all the time. It’s not like yeah, go to a word camp and then find 10 minutes to hide it just

 

44:21

doesn’t work that Oh, yes. Yeah, yeah, the mid afternoon, the mid afternoon, you know, coffee break or or go back to your room and just just chill out for an hour. Yeah, you definitely missed that in the summit and being unassuming. And you know, even even being a remote worker, you know, before COVID zoom is is like my most used app app all the time. That’s why I communicate with with my team and so the thought and the idea of sitting on a zoom or sitting at my computer, you know, all weekend for a word camp doesn’t appeal to me either. I’ve actually found myself having having more fun this year. By not traveling, I love to travel. But But being not not traveling as much and being at home, with with the family, and being able to enjoy those weekends, it’s, it’s been something I’ve enjoyed a little bit more than then going off to a word camp. So, you know, each each personally thinks different. And we’re not going to see word camps even next year in 2021. So I definitely think that that from a marketing angle, we’re going to have to look at, you know, what other things can we do, we’ve started experimenting with podcasts a little bit. We’ve got a couple podcasts we’re sponsoring. And, you know, looking at what other things we can look to sponsor and just kind of get your name out there in the community. So

 

45:50

it’s it’s funny when you mentioned podcasts, everybody would assume with the pandemic going on podcasts listing would be going down, because people aren’t commuting as much. Believe it or not, the numbers show exactly the opposite. Yeah, they’re they’re actually going up. So I, I know when I when I work, I can’t work in silence. So I almost always have a podcast on

 

46:14

Yeah, you know what, I

 

46:15

think people are doing a lot of walking right now to I mean, at the early ages of of the, of the stay at home orders, you know, moved moved into a new subdivision last year, and didn’t get to didn’t really get a chance to meet everybody. or meet as many people and one thing I noticed is that people weren’t outside. Like, why do you you have such a nice house, a nice yard and nice, hoa and all this and you’re not outside. And then all these stay at home orders hit and you see just gobs of people walking out all throughout the day. And I think he starts to see more people listening to podcasts. I know I listen to podcasts when I’m walking, when I’m on the lawn, snow blowing in the winter. You know, whatever it is, I’m usually listening to a podcast of some sort. So I I’m not surprised by seeing the numbers go up. Which I guess is a good thing. So

 

47:16

AJ, thanks for joining me today. If somebody wants to get a hold you ask you some questions as well.

 

47:22

Yeah, well, thanks, Rob. for having me. Best way to get ahold of me. Pretty much Twitter, Facebook LinkedIn, I’m AJ Morris. On all the socials. You can email me at a Morris at I themes calm or just even fill out the contact form and say, Hey, you want to talk to AJ and and I will get it forwarded over to me. So

 

47:44

yeah. Thanks, AJ, and have yourself an amazing day.

 

47:49

All right. Thanks, Rob.


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