The festival of WordPress
January 22, 2021

Catch-Up with Sessions via the Schedule

Extending WordPress for a Complete Business Solution

There’s a tool out there for everything. Some provide all-in-one services, some do one thing really well, and some are in between.

The WordPress community has come up with some tools you can install directly into WordPress to help with some business needs, but some tools are just too good to pass up.

But it’s still important to prevent duplicating work and making life easier whenever possible.

We’ll go over installing, connecting, and configuring tools with WordPress websites to help create:
– a great workflow.
– a complete experience for your clients.
– a good foundation for your business.

Time: 12:00am UTC
Region: Oceania
Stage: Global Stage

Hi, I’m Danielle Zarcaro and I run

Paperback Web Development. We are a custom

WordPress website maintenance and development

studio. Over the past decade, I’ve been able to

watch WordPress mature and evolve, and I’ve seen

just how powerful WordPress can be as a platform

I work with businesses on a regular basis to

develop their websites and their online systems

to make sure everything runs smoothly and

efficiently. So today I’m going to be walking you

through extending WordPress for a complete

business solution. Now, what does a complete

business solution actually mean? In order to run

your business, you use tools to make it easier to

do so. And presumably you use or are thinking about

using WordPress as your platform for your

websites. There are things that you do to manage

time tracking and invoicing and project

management, communication, internal

documentation, lead generation, et cetera. You

get the idea. There are ways to bring all of that

together to create a more complete solution for

yourself and/or your clients. A business solution

is, a complete business solution is a way to make

all of those parts work together, using one or very

few tools from some kind of central place to manage

the tedious and the duplicate work. It’s basically

a way to make your life easier. Even all-in-one tools

that say they do everything integrate with other

things. Even if it’s just integrating with your

email address. The number one reason to integrate

your services is that it’s easier to have everything

in one place. You import and export data into different

tools, you keep yourself from duplicating work, and

you generally help things to happy more reliably

and quickly, or instantaneously, or on a schedule, or

whenever you want. But it’s also helpful to see how

your website interacts with these elements. For

example, what forms can you put on your website to

help organize people who try to contact you? Or how

can you characterize people who try to schedule time

with you? Because you can automate and integrate

your tools, this also ends up giving you a good foundation

for yoru business. So you can continue to iterate

on this process a little at a time, instead of always

feeling like you’re trying to play catch-up. I’m going

to try to make this something that you have a takeaway

from no matter what your skill level is, or relationship

to WordPress. I see this more as a starting off point

to look into some tools that interest you, and just

start to think about how you can begin to integrate some of

these things for you and/or your clients. So let’s begin.

For those of you that are familiar with automation,

optimizing workflows, you’re probably already

familiar with automation tools like Zapier, IFTTT,

Integromat. There’s also services that you can use within

WordPress, like WP Fusion, AutomatorWP, and others

that take care of some of the things that the Zapier

type tools do for you. And then they also integrate

with some other plugins, which is an added bonus of doing

everything right within WordPress. But Zapier and others

will also integrate with some WordPress plugins directly

too. There’s Infusionsoft, Ontraport, ClickFunnels,

Kajabi, which are the all-in-one programs that can

be marketing tools and they can also include a website

or not. But they’re the all-in-one sort of programs.

You can also end up stretching some tools beyond

their purpose, like using an email marketing system

like Active Campaign as your CRM, customer relationship

manager, which is an okay thing to do, but you also

end up stretching these tools beyond what they’re mostly

made to do. There are also plugins within WordPress to

turn WordPress into some of these other things. So that’s

one way to create WordPress as a complete business solution.

You are just building everything right within WordPress.

You have a FluentCRM, you have WP Project Manager,

you have your Google Analytics Dashboard. And so

you can just stick everything right within WordPress.

And we’ll go over some pros and cons to doing these

different things as we go along. There’s the external

services with the possible plugins. So you have

MailChimp, HubSpot, Google, all have plugins that go

into WordPress as well. So even if you’re not turning

WordPress into a complete business solution, you

can do so by integrating that through plugins. And then

there’s platforms for seeing all of your websites

in one place like ManageWP, MainWP, and there’s others.

And then once you throw WooCommerce into the mix,

you have a ton of automation tools. Not only do you have

automation, like I know Active Campaign works really

well with WooCommerce, but you have AutomateWoo,

InfusionWoo, et cetera. So that’s nice, but what tools

should I use? I just threw a ton of tools at you. But the

bottom line is each tool is going to have pros and cons

for you to weigh for your specific business’s needs.

Sometimes all-in-one tools do a lot of things fine.

I’m a pretty big advocate for myself for finding the right

tool for the thing I’m looking for. You can connect to

those tools in other ways or not connect them at all.

But there is something to be said for only having to

go to a few places to manage your stuff. So that’s the draw

of those all-in-one tools and you can still automate

some things like I said, within those tools or not.

The solution is going to be specific to your businesses.

My list of favorite tools and plugins is always changing.

And I probably change all of my tools way more than most

people, but the key is to find what works for you now.

And if you hate changing from one tool to another,

then you’re also going to want to take into consideration

how well it will grow with you. The number one thing

to remember is that the website is at the center of

all of this. We don’t want to mess with the performance

of the website in the name of convenience. There are

ways around this. You can have really good hosting.

You can have great caching. You can have super awesome

website and hosting support. But it’s also important

to think about how everything fits together. So what

would be the optimal way for you to go about connecting

things and integrating tools? Basically, how do you

make your website work without breaking stuff and

pissing off the people who come to your site?

That’s the idea here. So we’re going to go over the

process of automating things and integrating tools

regardless of what your solution is. So first you’re

going to want to write down all of your tools and processes.

The first step is always the most boring. Organize.

You’re going to write down every tool, write down

all of the categories and then note any tool that’s

missing. Do you manually send an invoice to your

clients every month? Is that something that can be

automated in some way? What are the tasks that you

find yourself doing over and over manually? And this

could be something that you do over time. None of

this stuff has to be implemented immediately or

all at once. So as you go about your day for a week or

two weeks, write down everything you’re doing and see

if you notice some patterns. And once you have all

of your tools and processes, you can do some program

research. So you research your existing programs and

then you look at possible tools for any missing categories,

you check and see what kind of tools they have available

for WordPress integration and with these other

automation systems. And we’ll go over that again

a little bit more once we get a little bit further into this,

but you’re basically going to do some research about

what’s available to integrate your tools, what’s

available for growth, are you currently using the right

tool for things, and you can write your findings for

each one in that spreadsheet, in another column.

Some of your services are actually going to offer

WordPress plugins. So you’re going to try out the plugins

offered by your tool. Disclaimer, make sure you’re

trying out these things on a separate staged version

of your site first to make sure it’s compatible and

that it actually works. And that it doesn’t slow everything

down and that it doesn’t break your site. So if you

don’t know what that is, feel free to reach out to me or

Google it or whatever. Don’t ever do big new things like

this on your live site. So my rule of thumb for this

trying out plugins is you’d go with the plugin for

your service if you also needed some other thing

besides just the connection. Otherwise using a Zapier

or Integromat usually takes the burden off of your

website for processing those things. When you install

the plugin, you’re going to want to test out page speed.

I found a lot of direct plugin integrations tend to

slow down a site because of all the extra stuff being

loaded to account for all possible scenarios. And then

you’re loading extra resources and pictures and scripts.

Even embedding something like a chatbot directly through

your services, embed codes end up loading a lot of things

that slow your site down. So if you’re planning to go

that route, you’ll have to do a little bit more work

make sure your cache is still effective but doesn’t

interfere with what needs to load. That’s one of the

benefits of using an external tool. It only triggers

when it’s needed and only loads what’s needed. So

after that, you’re going to map out some scenarios.

It’ll be a bit easier to do this once I show you some

examples, but what would it look like to have everything

go through Zapier? What would that cost? what tools

don’t integrate with Zapier? Do this for the automated

systems that you’re considering to help you pick

the best one and know what you’d need to integrate

separately. Do you need Zapier and Integromat?

Does it make sense to automate these things? The pricing

structure for all of the automation tools is different.

What integrations does your tool have built into it that

you maybe don’t need these automation tools? So you

want to make sure you pay attention to all of these things.

And then you just start building your system for

automations and integrations. And so now how do you

actually get these things connected? I do want to keep

this high level, especially since each tool is going to

integrate a little differently, have different settings,

different options, but there are some things, like I said,

that are pretty much the same no matter what you’re doing.

So this is an example business tool stack. I found that

a lot of businesses tend to just have these systems and

programs add up and you don’t really notice it until you

sit here and really list them all out. So the object that

we’re dealing with here today is how can all of these

fit together easily without having to touch each one

every time you need to do something. You may decide to

replace some of these things with plugins that directly

install into WordPress. Sometimes they’re not as robust

as — so maybe HubSpot is more robust than the CRM plugin

that’s available for WordPress. Sometimes it’s beneficial

to have them separate. Sometimes it’s nice to have it

in the same place as your website. Sometimes it’s

important to keep it separate, or at least a separate

database with a seprarate WordPress installation.

Automation may remove the need for some tools like

Buffer depending on how you use it. So my goal here

is instead of walking you through all of these tools,

it’s to give you a starting point so that you can start

to realize the nuances of your chosen tools and apply

them to your larger framework. The first time you do this

is going to be a little bit more overwhelming. But maybe

you can draw a map between all these things, do a little

bubble map or a grid or whatever it is. However you

feel like you can organize or just pick a starting point.

Maybe you just want to connect a few of them. And that’s

what we’re going to do here today. So it is walkthrough time.

There are some key phrases that I’m going to be using.

Integrations is what’s used when talking about one

or program to another. So what integrations are

available, what apps are available to connect to each other.

You have triggers. Your program waits for something to

happen. And then once that happens, that’s your trigger.

The action is what is triggered. So what this program

will do once something happens. And then a scenario

or a zap or whatever they call it is a group of these

integrations, triggers, and actions that are connected

into a chain of events. Just so you have a starting

point about what maybe those might mean. So what we’re

going to do is go directly into showing a little bit of

Zapier. You can basically, when you’re doing your

research, type something in here, and then so today we’re

going to connect Calendly and Slack. So I’m going to

search for Calendly and say, Oh cool. They do integrate

with Calendly. And then what you can do is select a

second app. So what do you want to connect with Calendly?

And this gives you all of the available things that

you can connect to it. This gives you some examples.

This gives you details. And here’s the triggers that

I was talking about. So these are the things that you

can do with Calendly when somebody creates something

in Calendly or when somebody cancels someting. So

those are the two things that you’re going to be able to

do with Calendly. So we’re going to connect it with Slack

here. So now we have the specifics for our two apps.

So these are the pre-made ones that you might be able

to use. And this lets you play around with it before

you actually use it. So this is going to walk you through

how to set up this specific integration. but if we click

this button, I’ve already signed up, I already have

an account. So it’s going to fill out some of this stuff

for us. If we start over, it’s going to look very similar.

So this is the one that we had just created as a draft.

We can also go into our account and create, and then it’ll

give us this sort of search. So you don’t have to start

from that search area. It just makes it a little bit easier

to conceptualize what’s going on. So when an event

is created, I already have my Calendly app connected

to here. So I’m going to be able to just choose that.

You can test it. So it’s going to make sure that you’re

grabbing data. So you’re just going to say continue,

yes, it’s grabbing an invite. And then what we’re going to

connect after that is with Slack. And then what we

want to do is let’s say, send a channel a message. So

if you have a sales team and they have their own channel,

maybe you want to also notify the sales team. What’s

going to happen is since I don’t have Slack connected,

I then need to sign into Slack, and that’s happening in a

different sort of menu that you can’t currently see

on here, but it’s basically just a pop-up and I’m just

going to hit allow, and that’s going to allow Zapier

to read things from my account. And then I’m going to

choose an account. This is my Paperback Web Development

account in Slack, and then I’m going to save and continue.

So now I’m going to just set up the action. And right now

I just have a few, so maybe I need maintenance to be

notified of any meetings that happen. And we’re going

to say New meeting. Who is available?

And then we’re going to give them the event type name.

So this way maybe you have multiple event types and

somebody needs to make sure that they’re available

for a certain event type. So that’s what, this is what

I was talking about when I didn’t want to go through

every single one, because each app that you use is

going to have all of these nuances and different options

and things. And so if you have somebody upload information

in Calendly, maybe you then make that file available

in Slack. Is there a thread that you add it to? There’s a

ton of things that you can do with these integrations.

And so you’re going to send a channel message to Slack

and you can test and continue. So it looks like it was

successful, and then I’m going to turn it on and it’s ready

to go. I’m going to name this Calendly to Slack.

There are filters that you can do when it comes to these

automations. If I wanted to go in here and I wanted to filter.

So for instance, I only want to continue if the event type

name has, let’s say, onboarding. So if it has onboarding,

will this continue? So if we continue and test it out,

we can say, Oh it’s going to continue because our test data

had onboarding inside of it. And you can add multiple

ones and things like that. And so when we create the message

in Slack and we set up our action, we don’t really need this

event type name anymore because we’re filtering it

through it. We’re saying, Okay, if we had chosen maintenance

as our word and we have multiple Calendly meeting types,

so this way if somebody just schedules onboarding call,

it can go to your sales team. If somebody schedules maintenance

call, it can go to the maintenance team. So we don’t

necessarily need to put the event type. Maybe we want

to show the duration. Maybe we have multiple types that

have different durations. So we need to know who’s

available for 60 minutes, something like that. So like I said,

there’s a ton of things that you can do when it comes to these

automations. This is just sort of an example and a walkthrough

to familiarlize yourself with what this actually means.

And then once we’ve edited it in Zapier, we have to turn

it back on. So Integromat is going to work very similarly.

They have their app library here, and you can search

for the one that you’re looking for. And if you click

on it, it’s going to give you a very similar screen. They

give you a list of the integrations. They give you

a list of the triggers. They give you what else you can

integrate it with. So it’s very similar, just sort

of looks a little different. So if we go back and we go

back and we go to my account here. If we create a new one,

similar to what we were doing in Zapier, we look for

Calendly and we hit continue. So what we’re going to do

is we’re going to have Calendly do something for us.

And we want to watch when an event is created or rescheduled.

So I already have Calendly connected here. So I’ve already

created one. There’s a button here that would, you’d be able

to add it and then it would pop up and have you log in again.

We click ok because this is our starting point. So for

Integromat, it’s a lot more visual. You have your start

and end. With Zapier, I sort of had to choose everything

all at once. So it’s going to watch an event. And what

I’m going to do is when I click that plus button, we then

have this little thing that pops up here. So that is

much like these little pluses here. And can go over

that in a second. What I want to do is set up our other

module. So if we wanted to connect Slack,

it gives you this whole list of things. So when Calendly

sees an event, we’re now going to choose what we want

Slack to do. So we’re going to actually do the same thing

we did in Zapier, we’re going to create a message.

Again, I’ve already chosen my thing. So again, you can

add it if you need to, and then hit continue, and it’ll

just walk you through the same process. And so we’re

going to select our channel from our public channel

list, and it’s going to populate the same list as everything

else. So I’m going to choose my maintenance, and now

I’m going to choose what text I want it to say. So what

we’re going to do is say New Calendly scheduled.

Who’s available? And then we’re

going to say, why don’t we do the duration again?

And then if you click on that, it’s going to populate

the duration. And so this way we want to know who’s

going to be available for our event amount because we

have a half hour one and we have an hour one, and we want

to know who’s going to be available for that. Again,

you can click on advanced settings. It’s going to

give you all of the options. And then if you click ok,

so now that’s what happens. So what we want to do is we

want to filter it. So we’re going to set up a filter and

we’re going to call it maintenance team.

And we’re going to say the same things as before,

if the event type name contains.

So if the event type name has maintenance in it,

and then we’re going to click ok. So that’s our maintenance

team. And what’s kinda cool about Integromat is you

can drag stuff around. So that’s just a filter

from one thing to another. Now, what if we want more

than one filter? What we can do is if we right click

on this item here, we can add a router. And so that’s

going to route things to multiple places. So if we

get rid of this filter and add another filter,

we’re going to put Slack on the other end of it again,

we’re going to create a message,

but this time we’re going to send it to our random group.

Maybe this is our, you could do sales group, whatever else.

And it’s the same thing. Mabye you have the same message.

Who’s free? And then maybe you give it the duration,

you give it the start time so that they know what date

it’s on, et cetera. So then you click ok. Now you have

another one. Now you can set up this other filter, and

now you could call it sales team. So you get the idea.

And then maybe you want to add a last one.

You add Slack again and create a message. But this time

you’re just going to send it to everybody. This is

a fallback in case it doesn’t meet maintenance or sales,

you need somebody to take care of it. So again, you have

your event start time, end time, Someone! and click ok.

Now if we set the filter,

we’re going to have this be our fallback route.

So this is our last resort.

So we don’t want to set a condition because this is

going to be in case we can’t continue, it’s going to do this.

And that’s basically how you do it. You just save it

and then you can run it and it’ll send you the different

ways. And so the way that Integromat charges you is

based on the number of things that it has to go through.

So I think this counts as four,

it could count as two if goes to maintenance, things like that.

So it does it differently, but

could potentially save you. So the free account

gives you a certain amount and then you have to pay

after that. So the free account here could give you more

opportunity to at least start to do things. And then

as you go, it really depends, like I said, on that

planning and what you want to do with your integrations.

The key thing to remember here is that once you have

a good way of doing things, you’ll want to document

your process so that you can create and tweak and edit

and add to all of these different things and all of your

connecting tools. So not everything has to be from

your WordPress site. Maybe you have your Calendly

added to your website as a pop-up or as an embed.

And I’ve found that Calendly is pretty minimal when

it comes to the loading times and things like that.

So that’s usually a pretty decent one. Acuity might

be the same way. So once you have everthing organized

and everything laid out, your website is your central

hub, because you’re sort of giving people an opportunity

to schedule with you, but it’s also internal because

maybe you’re using it for your sales team or whoever

to schedule time with you as well. And so these automations

could sort of account for all of that. If you really

wanted to, you could do this with WordPress.

So if we go back to the Zapier list, for instance, and

we type in WordPress here,

that’s going to give us all of the integrations that

you could do. So if you wanted to connect it to Facebook,

your page, it posts a thing to your page. Once you have

a new blog post, post it to your page. If you wanted to

go from WordPress to Airtable, you could do that.

You could also do things the other way around. If you

have an Airtable, and then you want to create WordPress

posts out of an Airtable record, you can do that as well.

But again, you want to look at Airtable because they

have a lot of integrations that directly work. And

in my experience, the less complexity you add to

something the better. So if you wanted to use Airtable

to connect with WordPress, see what Airtable has.

If we go over to Airtable’s integrations,

you can see that they already integrate with a lot

of stuff. So if you wanted to integrate it with Slack,

that already does that. That’s why that’s part of the

investiation process. The less complexity the better.

That’s just a minor cautionary tale. But it may be

beneficial to you to have a Zap because that’s where

all of the other stuff is. So there’s nothing wrong with

that. It’s just, you just want to make sure that things

are working correctly and everything’s updated.

So some advice and other things to consider when

looking at your tools in this way: it could influence

your decision in what tools you use in the future or

what tools to switch to, or it helps you think a little

bit bigger when it comes to running your business,

to see how everything can connect, and it may influence

your decision and what tools you use, or it may not.

Maybe a tool is just awesome enough to be able to use

on its own. And it doesn’t matter that it doesn’t integrate.

It can help you come up with ways to make your life

easier. And this is key. And using WordPress gives you

an endless number of opportunities to do that. Through

core, through plugins, through external tools and

services to custom code, you can start making your

life easier now, and you can use WordPress to do it.

You can also end up making your life more complicated.

So that’s something that you’re going to want to keep

in mind when you’re doing this. It’s ok to stop at the

organize stage. Sometimes adding a tool to the mix

just complicates things. It makes it harder to maintain,

it makes it less reliable, or breaks things. Maybe you

only want to add an automation for one thing. So make

sure that you have the bandwidth to be able to not only

set these up, but maintain them. You want to keep an

eye on everything. So if you need to rely on something

that is integral to your business and you need a Zap

to do it, or you need something else to do it, make sure

you’re keeping an eye on that. If it’s just sort of

posting to social media and you could periodically

check and be like, Oh it’s not posting. I wonder why.

I should take a look at that. And then you fix it and it’s

not a big deal. Then that’s great. And it’s a sort of

an added bonus. But you can end up making your life a lot

more complicated if you don’t keep an eye on everything.

Log into all the areas periodically, make sure things

are syncing. Make sure that Zapier, Integromat,

they all have records of how often things run. So if

something isn’t running what it should be, then

you’re going to need to investigate that. And then

you can use the time that you’re in there checking on

things to evolve your ecosystem. These services are

constantly adding new apps. They’re adding new triggers,

they’re adding new actions, and it’s kind of a lot of

fun to just go in ther eand see what else you can do with it.

So with that, feel free to reach out with any questions

or suggestions. If you have cool Zaps or other things

that you do, maybe it’s Google sheets, maybe it’s

whatever it is. You can find me at paperbackweb.dev.

We have a new podcast called Websites and Queer

Perspectives, and that’s on the website as well.

And we have a new Facebook group, WordPress Care for

Queer and Inclusive businesses and developers.

So if you are at all interested in taking care of your

website and finding out more about it, or joining

with others who are doing it, or you just want some

community, that’s a great place to go for that.

That’s all for me. And a huge thank you to the WordFest

team and Big Orange Heart for having me. And I look

forward to seeing you on the internet.

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