Welcome to episode 1 of our new podcast, The Kadence Beat. This podcast will cover topics related to WordPress, blocks, and most importantly thoughts on creating effective websites. In this initial episode, meet Ben Ritner, the founder of Kadence, Hannah Ritner who drives customer success for Kadence when she’s not bringing new people into the world as a midwife, and Kadence marketing manager Kathy Zant. We review our goals for The Kadence Beat, what to expect with WordPress full-site editing, WooCommerce 6.3, how a German court found Google Fonts to present a GDPR issue. We also review the Lottie animation and Count up blocks, a new integration with the Restrict Content plugin, and our thoughts on the most important part of a website.
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Timestamps & Links
Here are some timestamps and links, and a full transcript is below.
- 0:00 Introduction, who we are, and why we’re introducing The Kadence Beat
- 8:19 WooCommerce 6.3 beta released
- 9:12 German court fines website for leaking user’s IP address via Google Fonts
- 11:14 Full-site editing and WordPress 5.9; WordPress Frost theme
- 14:55 The new Kadence Lottie Block; The Kadence Get Animated Sale
- 18:10 The new Kadence Count Up Block
- 19:02 Restrict Content by block with Kadence Blocks
- 20:49 Strategies for effective websites: most important part of a site?
Transcript for The Kadence Beat Episode 1
Kathy: Welcome to episode one of The Kadence Beat. This is the podcast about WordPress, blocks, and making effective websites. I am Kathy Zant, I am Product Marketing Manager at Kadence, and I’m here with Ben Ritner, the Founder of Kadence, and Hannah Ritner, who is our Customer Success Manager. Hannah, is that your title, I don’t even know though what title…
Hannah: That’s a good question. We’ll go with it. We’ve talked a lot about what my title is and it’s changed quite a bit over the years, but I liked the way that sounds so.
Kathy: It sounds good to me. You’re all about customers, and you’re all about the customer’s success. And so I hereby knight you as a customer success manager.
Hannah: Incredible, I receive it.
Kathy: Oh, excellent. Ben, last week we talked a little bit about why we wanted to do this, and you had such a great vision for that. Can I ask you some more about that.
Ben: Yeah. I think, in general, we want to create a place where people can get informed about what’s going on with Kadence. So what we’re doing and what we’re working on, what we’re excited about. But more than that, I think, you know, as Kadence as a brand and what we want to help people do and accomplish is create effective websites.
And so I think we want to make sure that in everything we do, we’re always talking about like, this will help you make not just a website that exists, but a website that’s effective and that will get you to where you want to be in terms of your goals, whether that’s new subscribers or more money and more sales.
And so I think in part, my hope for this is that there’s a dialogue of, like, we have a lot of history and talent here to just talk through like, how do we make websites more effective?
Kathy: That sounds great. Hannah, do you have a vision for this?
Hannah: Yeah, well, I’ll definitely second, all of that. And also this kind of feels like a fun outlet to get to, in a sense, dialogue with our customers, even though they’re not necessarily talking back, but it feels like we get to kind of invite conversation, and to show that we’re just real people, which has kind of been a huge part of our brand from the beginning is that we’re not just like bots out in the middle of who knows where. But we’re real people. And so this kind of helps our customers get to know us a bit too, and just have some fun.
Kathy: Have some fun. Well, there, you just unpacked what I’m here to do. I’m just here to have some fun and talk to you guys more. This is just an excuse for me, right? Since this is episode one, let’s give the audience a little background about who we are. I know there’s a lot. You guys have been very involved with the Kadence community and there’s a huge community of Kadence users on Facebook, and you guys have been involved obviously since the beginning.
But for people who are brand new to Kadence and maybe listening for the first time and just wanting to know who we are, why don’t we go around and just like, how did we get here?
Ben: I think, you know, Kadence came out of a need, for me, in building websites for people. So I started by just picking up small jobs, businesses, local businesses, wanting websites, and kind of hitting this pain point with where WordPress was at the time and where themes were at at the time, and which launched me to create my own.
And then, you know, a couple of years later, I ended up releasing that as Virtue, which ended up doing really well in terms of getting popular. I think at one point it, it had right around a hundred thousand active installs. So, that was in the early days, it was like, you know, if we can sell a couple of these a month, like maybe it’ll add a little bit of income when we were doing, you know just fresh.
And then like within three months, I was like, “I guess this is all I do now.” Because at that point there were so many people buying and there was, you know, a lot of like, “Oh goodness, we have to like support these people and help them build websites.” And so it was kind of an accidental success in a way, with then a lot of like scrambling and figuring out.
But a little bit about me: I’m in Missoula, Montana, and I think that has always been an aspect to like just our brand identity that like we’re, you know, in the mountains, in the U.S. and we love the outdoors.
So Hannah, who has been with me almost from the beginning, she came in about six months in, and this is my sister. We did do some training, and she came in, and she’s very much been able to carry that identity and through our Instagram and Facebook, show all the places that she goes. I go sometimes. All the places that she goes and sees. And so, yeah, I think that’s, that’s a little bit about me. I’ve four kids now. So that’s crazy. A lot has changed in… we’re at nine years since Kadence started. So yeah.
Kathy: Wow. And Hannah you’re not full in on Kadence. You’ve been here since pretty much the beginning, but you have an alter ego or an alter…
Hannah: I do.
Kathy: You do something else. Can we, can I ask you about?
Hannah: Sometimes, I feel like I live two different lives, because my two worlds are pretty different. So while I’ve been with Kadence for eight years almost, I also am a midwife. So I feel like I do that midwife by night because most babies come at night and then tech support by day. But, um, yeah, I’ve been doing that about six years. And I work in a small home birth practice in Boise, Idaho. So, yeah, very different, but super fun.
Ben: Have you ever been answering support questions while you’re sitting, waiting for a baby to come?
Hannah: No, no, I haven’t.
Ben: …kind of multitask?
Hannah: No, I don’t feel like that would make me a very good midwife or good at support. They don’t merge well.
Ben: For a long time, when it was just Hannah and I doing Kadence, I would get a text and be like, “Hey, it was up all night at a birth. Like I’m going to crash for awhile, so I won’t be on.” So that’s like, it’s, it’s like customers don’t know, like, all of the, the like, “Oh, okay. So this is going on today cause a baby came.”
Hannah: That’s actually where I missed our Monday meeting this week because I was up all night.
Kathy: Wow, that is just amazing and has to be just, I mean, having kids, it’s such an amazing experience to be a part of that.
Hannah: Totally. It’s so rewarding, but it is fun to keep the two worlds separate. Anyway, like none of my clients have any idea that I actually have been working in like a web development world for years and years, but it’s fun to tell them like way down the road. They’re like what? They’re pretty different, but that’s fun. I love being able to do both.
Kathy: That’s great. I think it’s so cool that the Kadence team has really grown since you guys started things. So many interesting people who are contributing to the work that makes Kadence possible. And I think I’m the newest person on the team? I’ve been around WordPress for a very long time. A lot of people in the WordPress community know me from security stuff. I got, had an amazing experience where I started talking to the folks at Stellar and they basically said, “Choose of our offerings, where do you want to work?” And I played with a number of different things.
I said, well, I can obviously contribute some thoughts to security, but Kadence was the one thing where I was like, “Oh. Oh, this is cool.” Because I had been playing with Gutenberg for a long time and I was like, okay. Yeah, I get it. Blocks. Okay. But the amount of creative control that Kadence gives over blocks is magical to me. It just changed my entire relationship with Gutenberg. So. I chose you guys. I chose to be on this team, and I am happy to be here.
Ben: And yeah, we’re, we’re blessed by it.
Hannah: We’re so grateful. Kathy’s the best.
Kathy: Oh, I feel like I just got knighted. Thank you. I’m having so much fun with you guys, it’s a good time.
But let’s get into it. Let’s talk about what’s happening in WordPress right now. Uh, Ben, you noticed that WooCommerce has a beta version coming out or came out?
Ben: Yeah, just, I think yesterday. They’re working on it. It’s mostly just bringing their blocks plugin and their admin plugin back together into core. If people have noticed they’re doing a lot more releases than they have, like over the last year and a half, they’re doing a lot more release cycles than they usually do. And that’s partly because they’ve kind of changed how they develop WooCommerce in that they have these like separate plugins that they’re developing and then they bring those plugins back into the core WooCommerce. So yeah, not a whole lot to see in 6.3, but it will bring in their updates to the blocks, is always helpful.
Kathy: Definitely helpful. Yeah. I’ve been looking at how WooCommerce has been handling that and wishing that the two worlds could come together a little more with all of the innovative things that blocks can do and where WooCommerce has been. So that’s good news.
And then we also noticed that a German court recently find a website for leaking a visitor’s IP address via, of all places, Google Fonts. So I think there are a lot of web developers and site owners who are aware of this at least running around with their hair on fire, wondering if this is affecting them. Now, I noticed that, according to BuiltWith there’s about 50 million websites that are using Google fonts on their site. And Kadence obviously has a solution for this, not only, ther are a couple of different ways. Can you talk about that?
Ben: Sure. I mean, I think the first and foremost, if you want to just Google Fonts, you can turn on the local, option it’s in the Kadence theme. If you’re going to Customizer, it’s going to be under general and performance and you can turn on kind of load all the Google fonts locally. That’ll also connect in with Kadence Blocks. So any fonts you load directly through Kadence Blocks is also going to kind of be installed on your server and then the user’s IP doesn’t to Google. I’m not sure exactly how important this is for US companies. I don’t want to even make any recommendations that way. So there’s a solution. If you want to take it.
I don’t, you know, I would say there’s still a lot of websites that are just directly pinging Google. And performance-wise, you know, Google servers are probably faster than yours. So that’d be the only downside is you’re gonna, you’re gonna probably, you know, it’s not going to be any hit that you notice but it will, you know, it will be a performance thing.
Kathy: Okay. And I noticed that in October of 2020 Chrome had moved to HTTP cache partitioning, which meant that Google fonts are re-downloaded for every single website. So it’s not like you’re even gaining anything from fonts automatically being on a user system. So it’s really looking like it’s makes more sense to, for anyone owning a site, to locally host their Google fonts. Just you know, planning for that. So just another thing to consider.
Now you wrote an interesting post recently about full site editing out in [WordPress] 5.9. And I loved your take on this. I love that you really analyzed what this meant for WordPress. Um, can I ask you to talk about that?
Ben: Yeah, I think I think full-site editing is going to be great. Just it’s not quite there yet. I think the way that core developed full-site editing is very much a jump right in and that’s what you have. And there’s no like hybrid, although Kadence offers a hybrid, there is no hybrid as part of core.
And so when you think about core’s version of full-site editing that is using Gutenberg to fully edit your site through their templating system, which is very clunky to use. And you know, what is crucial about this is, you know, one of the more important parts of your website is your header. So while you can build a header in Gutenberg, Generally you wouldn’t want to, yet.
And that’s just because the tools to make advanced headers or even let’s call them basic things that you would want in a header, aren’t there yet. And like, for example, if you want a sticky header, there’s just not really a setup for that yet. If you want the ability to have a transparent header on certain pages and not on others, like full site editing, you can create work arounds for this, but it doesn’t really work in the traditional way that you’re used to where you like design a header.
And so, it’s something that people can definitely like experiment with. But it will, if you were to jump in, it would be a total change of your website, all of your content, everything would be like, “okay, I’ve got to refigure this all out.”
And the tools just aren’t really there to make it worthwhile. There’s really not really a benefit jumping into full site editing yet. So it’s got a good future, and I think it will solve some problems. I’m, I’m not 100% convinced that it will be THE future, like Gutenberg is the future. I think there’s still going to be a realm where Gutenberg lives as a content editor and we still create headers and footers even in Gutenberg, just outside of the way that core is doing full site editing. Because there’s things involved with full site editing that makes some of the dynamic things that we’re used to working, not function the same way.
So, I think in general, it’s exciting. It’s exciting that it’s being worked on. If you install it, you’ll still see a nice big “site editor beta” right there. And that kind of just shows you, even though it’s part of core, even core is considering this like very new, not quite ready yet.
And so, I think most of the time I would go to people and be like, well, what’s the solution you want to solve? I think we probably have a better way of solving it through Kadence than through jumping into full site editing. But there is some, you know, I, I saw Brian Gardner released Frost, which is a full site editing theme, that’s fun to try. I mean, I’ll warn you. It’s not like ready in terms of accessibility and things like that. Like I played around with a little bit and it doesn’t pass some of the basic stuff, but in terms of just getting your feet wet with an experiment ,Frost is something that you could go try.
Kathy: Interesting. Okay, great. And if you want to dive into more about Ben’s thoughts on full site editing, we’ll have a link in the show notes so that you can go read that very well received… we got a lot of traffic on that. A lot of people read that already, but if you haven’t read it yet, go take a look at that.
Last week we released a new block in the free Kadence Blocks plugin: the Lottie Block. When I first heard about the Lottie block, I’m like, “okay, this is the… oh my…” I started diving into everything about Lottie technology. This is cutting edge. This is like bleeding edge animations on your website, developed what by Airbnb? What what made you want to take this on and and bring this to Kadence Blocks?
Ben: Yeah, I think first and foremost, like this is a highly voted for block on our feature requests. And so I don’t want to discredit that, like that had a big part to play in whether it got picked up now or further down the road. I think it’s been on our radar for a while because it is cool technology.
It’s, you know, it’s a cool way to put just a little bit more flair into your website without having to like degrade the performance and things like that. Like, it loads quick. And it just adds that little bit of like, “oh, cool” to a website. And there’s a lot of free files out there. So it’s like pretty easy to like start dropping into your content.
People love to use GIFs in all their stuff. This is a much faster GIF. And so, yeah, I think that’s part of where it comes from.
I will mention, I think some of the cool thing about our Lottie block is that it’s, you know, Lottie requires a JSON file to. And that’s a security issue to your website to be able to upload JSON files. By default WordPress, doesn’t let you upload JSON files. And so a lot of plugins actually have to like enable this security thing to say, we’re going to let you upload JSON files. Cause that’s what a Lottie file is. And what we did is a little different instead of actually letting that JSON file live on your server, we take the JSON file and we grab all the content out of it. We check to make sure it looks like a Lottie block. And then we save that as a custom post type, which like just totally gets around that big security thing. And so yeah, credit to Timothy at iThemes security and Josh, who’s now working with Kadence, figuring that part out that was a cool approach.
Kathy: I took a JSON file. Um, I tried to hack it, just for a couple hours and then I’m like, I’m wasting my time. These guys figured this out. I actually like downloaded the source and… yeah. You can take a girl out of security, but you can’t take security out of the girl, actually did try, tried to try to sneak some stuff in there and it didn’t work so. Sorry.
Ben: Nice, that’s fun. You try to break it.
Kathy: Your, uh, marketing person is…. Yeah. I got distracted. I’m like, I don’t have time for this. I’m sure they figured it. And then, yeah, I couldn’t stop trying to hack it. That’s my confessional of the day.
Wait. Okay. So we have a sale going on until what next Tuesday or so basically celebrating this Lottie block, 25% percent off any of the of the annual bundles, which are really cool. You should take a look at that because we want you to get animated. And there’s a lot of other animation stuff in Kadence, especially in the pro versions of Kadence Blocks and the Kadence Theme. So take a look at that we’ll have a link in the show notes.
And Hannah there’s, there was another block that was released that, you know, I kind of joked, it was the redheaded stepchild because Lottie block was getting so much attention. What was this block?
Hannah: Yeah, I do feel kind of bad for it. Um, it’s the Count Up block, which I think it’s so fun. It’s a block that you can add into a page and promote, how many of, how many cups of coffee you sold or how many, five star reviews you have. And that just kind of gives it more significance instead of being like, well, we have a hundred, but when you see a counts up of zero to a hundred, it’s like, whoa, that actually feels like a lot.
So I think it’s a fun block kind of catches your eye and, and it’s sad. It did kind of get overlooked a bit because of the Lottie block. But it’s fun, and I hope that people use it and love it.
Kathy: Yeah, it’s very, very cool. And great use cases for that, too. Awesome.
And then we had another release in version 2.2.7, I believe, of Kadence Blocks, where you had such a cryptic changelog entry on this, Ben. But this is adding content restriction. Can you talk a little bit about what you added here?
Ben: Yeah, this is you know, props to being part of Stellar and getting to be in meetings with other brands. Restrict Content Pro, which is a way to restrict content like a membership solution for websites. I was just talking to their marketing lead and she was like, man, Kadence already has this functionality where you can kind of restrict for logged in users and users by role. Is it possible that we can add, like, if Restrict Content is installed, can we just add like membership roles to this?
And I was like, yeah, absolutely. So that’s what we did. So now you can restrict by membership role. So if you’re using Restrict Content, and by the way that now is a free plugin, there’s Restrict Content on the repository and it has a lot of what used to be in Restrict Content Pro, is now free. So you can do memberships, paid memberships, all that stuff with the free plugin. And so you can go and get that and build a membership site and use Kadence and Restrict Content to build it. And then of course there’s Restrict Content Pro for more features and there’s Kadence Pro for more features.
But using free plugins you can create a really dynamic membership site.
Kathy: That’s great. That’s awesome. And we will have a post, at the time of our recording, it’s not posted yet, but we will have that link in the show notes because of the time you hear this, it will have been released.
So that’s, what’s new at Kadence, but we wanted to also talk about effective website strategies. And we had a question, Ben, what was that question?
Ben: What’s the most important part of a website and how do you get that? Hannah, why don’t you throw out your thoughts?
Hannah: Yeah, we were kind of diving into this a bit. It’s definitely not black and white. But I can say for me personally, when I go to a website, I want to know right away, like what, what’s the reason for me being there? Like, what does your website do for me? How can it help me? And how do I, you know, how do I get to what I want?
And I didn’t want to be scrolling around, searching for that because then you’ve lost me. So I think making it very clear very quickly, whether it’s a banner or within your navigation, or like, um, you know, whatever. Right. Very clear. This is why you’re here.
Ben: Yeah, I am a sucker for Instagram ads. Mostly cause they’re targeted and I’m usually like, I’m sure I’m going to be interested in this. And it’s surprising how many times I’ll click on an ad that I’m like, I’m not really sure what this is for, but it sounds cool. Cause they’re saying like all these buzz words, like extra productivity and all this stuff and I get to the website and I’m like, I still don’t know what this thing is or does. Um, and so yeah, I think that hits on that, like, you know, If you, if people are getting to your website and they’re asking the question, like, I don’t know how this helps me or how I get whatever it is you’re saying like, it’s one thing to be like, “this really helps you be productive,” but then not explaining like how they can get that. And what that will do for them will leave your customers frustrated and leaving the site, which is what I do with a lot of Instagram ads.
Kathy: Definitely. Yeah. I mean, for me, it’s just, I’m searching for something I’m looking for something. I’m not like necessarily critiquing your homepage or your navigation. I’m looking for something very specific. I’m searching on a very specific keywords, and I want what I want. Fast. So much your website to be fast. If it takes too long to load, I’m one of those people who has gone, looking for somebody else who’s loading fast. I just want what I want. I don’t want your ads. I don’t want keyword-stuffed article that doesn’t get me the solution I’m looking for. I am also the person that’s watching a YouTube video at two times the speed until I can find out what I need to find out. Yeah.
So, I guess it’s like what it’s knowing your audience and giving them what they want.
Hannah: Yeah. Yeah. That’s big.
Ben: Yeah. I think like, it is a good thing to like put your website in front of people. Like you don’t know, or maybe, maybe a family member that doesn’t really know what you’re doing and be like, explain, give them a minute, give them 30 seconds and they’d be like, tell me about this website. What did you, what did you learn?
Do you know what it does and what it sells? I think like a big thing for me is like that header. Um, you know, you want to make sure that the navigation leads to the story you’re trying to tell and doesn’t confuse. So like the words you use in your navigation is important and. That explains a lot. Like if you sell a product and you don’t put product in your navigation, you need to, you need to hold like, whatever it is you’re going to use, make that language to where people don’t go, “I don’t know if this is a product or not.” And so I, I think it’s a good test for you to just go stare at your website and be like, “Am I being as clear as I think I’m being.” And am I being as clear with my, my header and how the navigation is? Am I making sure that like, what I want everyone to do is in front of them and not only am I explaining, ” This is what you get, but here’s how you get it.”
And so that call to action button, whether that’s right at the top of your head or right in the hero part, like I think that’s a really important aspect. And then I’ll say this cause I hate, hate, hate when I get on websites that don’t… all the SAAS websites that don’t give you a pricing page and make you like, they want you to watch a video to learn about their product.
If your product is too complicated, that I need to watch a five minute video to understand. You’ve missed it. You’ve totally missed it. And if you can’t show me like pricing, don’t give me the, like, “get a quote.” I don’t want to get a quote. I want to know how much it costs. Anyway, there’s a
Kathy: There you go. I think it’s an appropriate rant. SAAS businesses pay attention. Well, we made it through episode one. How you guys feel, good? You want to do this again?
Hannah: Oh, yeah.
Kathy: I think it was fun. I think it was a good time. We’d like to hear from you guys listening though. Did you get something from this? Do you want to hear more from The Kadence Beat? Do you want our take on things? If so, leave some comments, write to us privately. We just would love to hear from you. We should be on Apple Podcasts [soon], if you want to go give us five stars and tell us how wonderful we are. We’ll take that.
Hannah: Yeah. Yeah.
Ben: I’m not sure that I would give us five stars for this.
Hannah: If you hated it, though, just message us privately and tell us, okay. It’s fine.
Kathy: I think it was fun. And I enjoyed talking to you guys. So until next time, this is The Kadence Beat, and we will talk to you soon.