We’re back – and better than ever!
Quite a lot has changed, we’ve quite literally rebuilt everything. Customers from before the relaunch will likely be a little overwhelmed by all the changes so this post is to go over some of the main changes and new features added and how it will affect you.
Why did I need to do this?
To be quite honest: I didn’t need to – The old platform was perfectly fine for it’s purpose and we could have continued using it for several years to come, as was initially intended. Unfortunately while scouting for clients I found myself having to reject a lot of applications because we didn’t quite fit their needs. The original platform held no support for SSL certificates meaning transactions could only be made through PayPal’s gateway, and a lot of people wanted an on-site checkout solution.
There were also a number of features we wanted to add that just wasn’t possible before. The platform had been in development for over 3 years so a lot of the core code was a little outdated. I felt to continue active development and be able to add in all the features people were asking for that a complete rebuild was in order.
So what’s new?
Logging into your site’s admin panel for the first time since the relaunch will likely be a little overwhelming and some changes will be quite obvious. The whole admin panel has been totally redesigned primarily to improve usability and to provide a better user experience. The admin bar has been stripped down to basics, and the admin menu is now a lot more user-friendly. New clients will see a quick-start shop wizard upon first creating their sites.
The post editing screens have also received a lot of work to drive focus on the most important elements. Now you’ll notice when writing long posts the text-editing toolbar will stick to the top of the screen to provide easier access to formatting options. We’ve further enhanced embedding features so now instead of having to click the “Add Media” button each time you wanted to add an image, you can now drag and drop image files directly into the text editor. Embedding various video players like YouTube has also been improved. Including links in posts is now even faster and easier too, by clicking the “Insert/Edit link” button in the formatting toolbar you can now add/edit your links inline instead of having to open a popup box each time. Finally, we’ve included support for post revisions. This means every time you save a post, the old version will be saved as a backup (or revision) and you’ll be able to flick through your most recent revisions to see what changes were made and restore past versions if you need to.
The Settings Menu has seen the “Store Settings” & “Website Settings” links switch places, and these areas now include many more options.
The Store Settings section has been cleaned up, and some sections with many options have been split into sub-sections for ease of use. Included in the default Payment Gateways now is an option for accepting Direct Bank Transfers (BACS). There’s also the option to force checkout to use SSL/HTTPS for those with an SSL certificate to ensure PCI compliance and customer trust. You now have the option to apply coupons sequentially for those who accept multiple coupons. We’ve added an API section for Keys/Apps & Webhooks for developers.
For the Website Settings section we’ve included settings for Email and choosing how email is sent from your websites to help with issues we were previously having with some clients and AOL/Yahoo. If you don’t come across any issues with emails you shouldn’t need to change anything here. There’s a new “Media” tab in the website settings, most of the options are the same just all together in one place. The domain settings page has been revamped, and now includes the option to buy a domain name if you need one. There’s now options to choose weather or not to force pages or sites to be mapped to your domain or stick to your site’s original “thatwebsiteguy.net/yoursite” address, as well as SSL/HTTPS options for if you have an SSL Certificate.
SSL Certificates can be purchased from your That Website Guy “My Account” area, as well as Email addresses. We’ve also built our support ticketing system into the “My Account” area so that clients unable to access their website or admin panel can submit a ticket for a faster response. The My Account area now also features an Affiliate section for clients who’d like to help us out in return for commissions.
Now for the more exciting changes.
The entire theming structure has been totally overhauled. No more theme options pages and wondering what options do by having to constantly save changes and flick back and forth between the options page and your live site. Now everything is done via our Customiser. The Customiser provides a live view of your website, with a panel on the left side of the screen with all the customisation options. As soon as you make any changes with the customisation options, you should see an instant live preview of how it will look. These changes won’t take effect until you click the save button at the top of the panel. At the bottom of the panel are also options to change the size of the preview so you can see how your changes reflect for mobile users. Adding widgets and menus can now also be done through the customiser.
The way you create pages has also been reimagined, and it’s now faster and easier than ever to create stunning pages. When you click to add a page, you’ll find a new button to open the Page Builder. This will take you to a front-end view of your site, and will allow you to drag and drop a selection of modules and widgets into rows and columns. You can customise column widths, as well as add borders, background colours/images/videos, animation effects, and a whole lot more. Modules include tabs, accordions, buttons, contact forms, subscribe forms, call to action, sliders, maps, menus, and more. To get you started we’ve put together a few pre-defined templates that you can use and change to suit your needs. Modules and templates can even be saved and applied across several pages.
What about the addons?
There’s been some major advances and changes with our Addons development, many addons have been built into the core, and some have been retired. There really is too much to go into here, so here’s a brief overview outlining the major changes:
With the introduction of SSL/HTTPS support, we now support the Stripe Payment Gateway, and clients on the Ultimate plan with an SSL certificate can take full advantage and allow their customers to checkout without ever having to leave their site.
Another major change sees our Custom CSS addon receive some love. There’s now 2 new buttons in the Custom CSS box to view a live version of your site while you’re tweaking the CSS, with a built in inspector tool to help you out.
There’s a new addon for Performance which features lots of options for enabling caching on your website, as well as minification and support for Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to aid with page speed.