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Improvements to Page Builder, Media Management and SEO

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Let’s start with a quick disclaimer: we’ve marked several changes below as complete despite the fact that on some non-standard systems they have not been rolled out. This is due to the fact that there may exist conflicts or requirements that either make the adoption of new improvements slower or not possible. For all standard Greenleaf ONE instances, the items below are complete and available.

With each upgrade to Greenleaf ONE, we are more and more excited about its potential to empower nonprofit organizations around the world. Simply put, it is much more than CRM software for nonprofits; it is a rapidly evolving set of tools that make managing your online presence and your nonprofit operations a breeze. And we’re aiming to make it the absolute best tool on the market!

Our focus in July has been on some of the underlying systems as well as several upgrades specific to the page builder and its ability to connect to remote sources. The improvements to the page builder are significant. We encourage you to review the developer’s own release notes to get a comprehensive view of what is now possible. We’re starting to roll out videos specific to this upgrade that we believe target the key features that will be of interest to most organizations.

One of the big changes we’re slowly pushing out as well is the adoption of PHP 8. This is both for security and for performance reasons, the latter of which is quite significant and should be noticeable on instances that are running this version of PHP. This upgrade is still in progress for several sites as we’re thoroughly testing it on each site to ensure there are no issues. We hope to have this upgrade completed by the end of August.

There’s lots to cover, so let’s dive in and review where we’re at!

New Video Tutorials

We’ve added a few new tutorials to the video library focused on the design side of things in Greenleaf ONE. To view these, please log into the Greenleaf Client Portal and browse the video library.

  • Using shape dividers in your design
  • Understanding the parent source in the page builder
  • Using the Media Manager

Completed

Again, the changes below are live on standard instances of Greenleaf ONE as well as on some instances of non-standard sites we manage. For the latter, we are testing each upgrade to ensure that they are compatible with your specific set up and requirements.

Upgraded

Improved media manager

For organizations with lots of media or with high media management needs, the WordPress media manager is, how shall we say, a bit of a mess. Fortunately, there are several plugins that allow for greater management and control over media files within WordPress.

We’re rolling out one such media manager that allows you to organize and manage your media files in a much more logical manner. What’s more, this media manager doesn’t just mask the underlying structure in WordPress, it allows you to completely change the structure via its “physical folders” feature. A word of caution though, enabling this feature on sites that already have a lot of images runs the risk breaking image paths. For new sites, this feature makes more sense and not only enables you to organize you media files into a more logical structure, it allows you to present a cleaner, more optimized URL for search engines.

Again, we’ll be putting together a video on using the media manager shortly.

Upgraded

Going PRO with SEO

Greenleaf ONE ships with a newer SEO plugin called WP Meta SEO. It’s a bit more lightweight than many older, more known plugins such as Yoast, Rank Math, etc. In our experience, WP Meta SEO gets the job done in an all-around easier manner without some of the performance issues that we’ve seen with the older, legacy plugins.

For organizations with complex content, multiple custom post types, etc., the pro version is likely to be a big benefit when it comes to managing your organic rankings. Likewise, it supports direct integration into Google Search Console and Google Analytics 4, so accessing your site performance data is fast and easy.

Optimization is a complex topic and it’s only getting more so with the adoption of AI-based tools. This plugin is no silver bullet as search optimization requires much more than just tweaking content. That said, it is one more tool in your toolbox and, if used properly, can help you optimize the content and pages on your website such that they are properly indexed and positioned to be found in organic searches.

Upgraded

Upgrade to WordPress 6.2

A fairly major upgrade to WordPress is out and we’re currently rolling updates to select installations. While WordPress has historically been very focused on backward compatibility, we tend to adopt new major releases slowly and only after thorough testing.

Again, in this instance, we’ve been conservative in upgrading to WordPress 6.2 but now feel like it’s stable enough. Most of the improvements are performance related or focused on its own block editor, Gutenberg, which we don’t actively support. Don’t expect to notice anything too dramatic on the WordPress side of things.

Upgraded

Page Builder Upgrade: Version 4.0

The latest version of the page builder ships with several very nice performance enhancements, the big one being that you can now set a “parent” source for dynamic content at the section and row level. This means that, for example, if you establish a parent source for your dynamic content within a section, ALL rows and ALL elements within that section will be able to automatically inherit the source. This is really significant from a performance standpoint as 1) it reduce your design legwork and 2) it reduces the number of queries the site has to run.

To make it even more awesome, the latest upgrade also allows these rows and sections to repeat automatically based on the number of items within the source. This means that you can create a complex layout within a section and it will automatically replicate based on the amount of content in the source. Really, this is huge. This allows you to create virtually unlimited layouts and have them automatically build based on your content.

In addition, the update improves upon the already awesome sublayout element, adds new content sources and improves accessibility by present ARIA labels throughout. These updates can all seem very technical, however there is a fantastic introductory blog post that we encourage you to review here.

Finally, the upgrade to Yootheme Pro 4.0 coincides with an update to the Essentials Plugin, to version 2.0. This upgrade is mostly performance related, improving upon the ability to quickly access custom sources and data as well as in refining many of the settings associated with various elements, such as graphs, social icons, etc.

We’ll definitely be putting together a video on this, so stay tuned. We’re actively testing the upgrade across various development sites now.

Upgraded

CiviCRM version 5.61.4

We’re actively upgrading all sites to version 5.61.4. Ordinarily we stay closer to the latest stable version, however due to some bugs introduced in various extensions, as well as our ongoing adoption of PHP8, we’re taking a more conservative approach in performing upgrades. Version 5.61.4 ships with several improvements in SearchKit and FormBuilder, the the big improvement (mapping to saved searches in SearchKit) will not come until the next upgrade of CiviCRM. We estimate this to be within 90 days.

Added

Support for native SVG transitions on the page builder

Designers, you’re gonna love this. We’re adding a new extension that adds on-the-fly generation of SVG images between sections in the builder. You’ve got control over responsiveness, colors, layers, shadows, and a lot more. This is a fast, lightweight and native way to dramatically improve your site’s design consistent with your organization’s brand.

In Progress

As always, there’s a lot in progress. Several items below represent significant new features whereas others refine existing systems to improve overall performance and useability.

In Progress

Upgrading to PHP 8

We’ve taken a conservative approach to upgrading sites to PHP 8 or higher. Many sites are currently running PHP 7.4 which, while stable and performant, is no longer receiving security upgrades. Because PHP 8 introduces breaking changes, we are testing each upgrade individually to ensure there are no issues whatsoever. This is a rather lengthy process, however we believe it’s the best approach.

If you see any alerts related to your version of PHP, you may disregard them. We are actively working through the upgrades, which by and large should be transparent to your users.

In Progress

Adopt advanced search plugin

Searching for content in WordPress is, well, really basic. As sites become more complex by adopting plugins such as WooCommerce or by implementing custom post types, the default system search becomes less than ideal.

To address this, we’re actively reviewing various advanced search plugins that are high performing, flexible and compatible with the Greenleaf ONE roadmap.

In Progress

Recurring Contribution Improvements

We will now be providing the Recurring Contributions extension as part of our standard ONE implementation. This extension provides enhanced functionality for recurring contributions, most notably providing standard tokens that make communicating with donors about their contribution subscription possible. There are also options for making the recurring option required on contribution pages, and some others functionality as well. For a full description of the extension’s capabilities, please go here.

We’ll be adding this extension to existing systems over the next month. It is not available in the standard CiviCRM extension interface, so if you are interested in having it loaded on your system sooner, please let us know by sending an email to support@greenleafadvancement.com.

In Progress

Advanced Content Filters

Currently in the page builder, users can filter dynamic content only at a fairly basic level. While this works for most, we want to extend the filtering of content to include custom fields. This means that users can display dynamic content in such a way that it could be easily filtered based on custom structured data. This functionality currently supports default WordPress posts and will be rolling out in June. We’re actively developing support for custom post types as well and will upgrade once this functionality is tested. Advanced Content Filters is a first step to extending the filter support for remote sources as well, such as to data stored in CiviCRM.

In Progress

Rework the WordPress admin menus

Let’s face it, the WordPress admin menus leave more than a little to be desired. They are a bit unorganized and can easily get cluttered as new post types and plugins are added. To address this, we’re adopting a new system to clean up the WordPress admin menus and make them more intuitive for users. Naturally, the menu items will respond to the user permissioning and will hide or be exposed based on each user’s role thereby keeping the user interface cleaner and more tailored to each user.

This will be rolling out in the coming weeks and should clean up things a bit.

In Progress

Improved user permission controls

We’re consolidating user permissions to one plugin and are implementing a more defined hierarchy of permissions. Many current users of Greenleaf ONE will experience no real impact whereas others may find that some restrictions have been placed on their role.

This is not at all to be heavy-handed, but rather out of an abundance of caution for security reasons as well as to continue to consolidate plugins and users’ ability to run “upgrades”. Greenleaf ONE is built not only to be a wholly integrated system for nonprofits, but it’s also intended to be stable and performant (naturally!). In order to achieve this, we have to ensure consistency in upgrades as well as control the addition and management of extensions.

The improvements in user permissions will also include new resources for users, be they administrative or public users, such as members, donors, etc. These are designed to improve the overall user experience and to put the right resources at each user’s fingertips.

Planned

Our list of planned items is looking a little thin these days as our focus has been on shipping several improvements. Very soon it will be back to the drawing board where we explore new features and improvements and plan for their adoption.

Planned

CiviCRM upgrade version 5.63.x

The latest stable version of CiviCRM (at least as of this writing) is version 5.63.x. It ships with lots of nice improvements, and we’re anxious to deploy it. That said, we’re working through several upgrades (such as adoption of PHP8) and enhancements, so we’re taking a conservative approach to this version. We plan to adopt it around the time that CiviCRM version 5.64 or 5.65 is released. Stay tuned!

Planned

MX Audit & Testing

We’re planning an audit of all client MX settings to ensure that email settings are correct and optimized for deliverability. This audit is the result of recent changes in the enforcement of DMARC and DKIM standards that have caused some inconsistency in email deliverability.

Planned

Re-evaluating our recaptcha implementation

Consistent with our ongoing review of currently supported plugins, we’re planning to undertake a review of our recaptcha implementation across Greenleaf ONE sites. This is also driven by the fact that more and more Greenleaf ONE clients are developing sophisticated portals that leverage website authentication. Use of recaptcha is vital to controlling spam registrations along with other types of spam related activities.

Currently, recaptcha implementation is accomplished in a variety of different ways including via multiple plugins and recaptcha versions. We want to review both and consolidate on to a standard such that it provides better performance for clients and is more easily maintainable by us.

Planned

Return of monthly webinars

Expect to see more live webinars coming online soon. These will be geared both to new users interested in getting an overview of specific functionalities as well as advanced users that want to take a deeper dive.

Historically focused on CiviCRM, this new webinar series is expanding to include all of Greenleaf ONE’s functionality and will provide an overview of various topics from using the page builder, custom post types, custom fields and much more.

Planned

Video: Using advanced custom fields

We have several videos already produced and more in the queue. Once we have the Greenleaf Client Portal up and running, we’ll flip the switch on our long promised video library. In the meantime, we’re planning more videos, one of which is on the use of custom fields in WordPress. This is a big topic with lots of complexities and lots of potential. But, we’ve received some requests on this topic so we’re planning to produce an overview of how to get started using custom fields in WordPress and in conjunction with the page builder.

Planned

Video: Using the builder widget

The Yootheme Pro page builder supports WordPress widgets and, in fact, ships with a “builder” widget that allows you create complex layouts within a widget and expose it on various pages or in a specified position. This video will walk you through how to do it and what things you should consider when using a widget.

Planned

Video: WooCommerce & Page Builder

We love the way the page builder allows you to easily map in content to all of the various elements. What makes it really shine is the abilty to pull in data from a variety of sources, not just the default WordPress pages, posts, etc.

The Page Builder natively supports WooCommerce and its products, making it super easy to build a fully functional site that is native to your site’s style. This will be the first of a series of videos to help you get up to speed on setting up and working with WooCommerce.


That’s a wrap!

We’re very excited to see that some of these improvements have finally shipped. With the addition of new tools such as the media manager and SEO plugins, along with major upgrades to the page builder and to CiviCRM, Greenleaf ONE is at the forefront of combining WordPress and CiviCRM in a way that is highly effective for nonprofit organizations.

It’s great to see Greenleaf ONE maturing and it’s incredibly rewarding to see clients diving in and using the system to its fullest potential.

As always, feedback (good or bad) is welcome at info@greenleaf.one.