Connected-uk.com - The No Fuss WordPress Agency

Under the hood : Our technology

WordPress Agency Applications we use

The office of the 1970s was built on paper, 1980s was word processing, spreadsheets, and other PC software, and the 1990s was websites. Today, the office is is built on cloud-based apps.

We strive to be a thoroughly modern WordPress agency, and as such we sell, deliver and support very modern web frameworks and encourage the use of contemporary tools and approaches. Unlike the cobbler’s children, we take pride in how we operate and very much eat what we sell.

Here we take the covers off the technology we use to provide our services. It’s one of the most frequent questions we are asked so I thought I’d share it for all to see. It should be noted that we’re always trying new technology and applications so it could be out of date, soon.

This page was updated in August 2015. Since the previous update (March 2015) we’ve widened our use of Cloud-based app which you can read about here.

Web Development Frameworks

We’re exclusively a WordPress Development Agency – we love WordPress – and we’ve been using WordPress commercially for over 7 years and found there is very little it cannot do. There is more to WordPress than striking up a standard installation, it’s a basic framework – we need to develop and deploy WordPress and here we have a little special sauce.

  • WordPress Development and staging. For most installations we use WPEngine to provide a fast, one-click deployment environment that is fully supported and hosted in the UK. Highly recommended, we’ve been using WPEngine since 2012 and found them pretty faultless and fast. As an alternative, we use the Amazon AWS platform with Bitnami image.
  • Live deployment. This depends on the complexity of the WordPress installation, we either deploy live on a WPEngine instance with a CDN or (one-click) start a custom installation on Amazon AWS servers. Multi-site is always installed on Amazon.
  • WordPress Plugins. We select from a carefully curated, and ever-changing, menu of plugins. These include Akismet for anti-spam, All-in-1 for SEO and SERPS, Formidable Pro forms, Disqus Commenting, MailChimp Social and Jetpack. We install others via a tightly managed curation process to ensure long-term function and compatibility.
  • WordPress REST API. The REST API has the potential to change WordPress forever, and makes the WordPress Platform a truly language and environment agnostic digital platform. REST API is due for incorporation into the core of WordPress by 2016.

Operational and project management

Connected operate a 100% location-independent business and this presents challenges for communications, collaboration and HR. It will not be a surprise to hear we use the cloud heavily – and here is what and how:

Basecamp : For client-facing project management, client asset management and communication – with a sprinkling of client collaboration. We’ve been using Basecamp since 2007 and are avid fans not only of their products but also of their ethos.

BufferApp : Used to manage business-grade social sharing, analytics and scheduling. Simple, fast and low cost.

Duedil : For managing credit risk.

Docusign : Digital signatures and document processing

Google Apps : Used for email, cloud storage (see below)

Grammarly : We publish a lot of articles and use Grammarly to check what we are writing is not jibberish. This under-rated service deserves more support.

Highrise : Our CRM application for sales and marketing. Nice and simple, holds details and history on every client action for the last 5 years.

LastPass : Secure password management and distribution, used in conjunction with Google Authenticator MFA.

Mailchimp : Mass email communication, integrated with Highrise and WordPress

Penelope : Distributed telecoms, voice call handling and messaging

Pingdom : We manage a lot of servers, no so many years ago we had a full-time infrastructure manager whose job was to keep all of these running. In a cloud-world most of that is now managed by suppliers but we do still need to keep an eye on performance. Pingdom does that and more for us, advising us of performance changes and even the health of applications that we use ourselves.

AWR Cloud : Search engine performance is key to many of our clients and whilst we follow a strict best practices approach we need to see the relative performance of our clients and also provide them with reporting.

QuickBooks : We need paying, we need to understand accounting stuff.

Skype : Ad-hoc internal calls and video-based communication

Slack : Slack is a platform for team communication: everything in one place, instantly searchable, available wherever we are. It’s very much the glue that holds the teams together. Replaced Podio and before that Yammer.

Toggl : Time recording and resource reporting, integrated with Basecamp, Email and Zendesk

Zendesk : We support 50 clients under our Peerless WordPress Support contract, all using WordPress platforms and deal with around 2,000 support tickets every year. Zendesk is our go-to place and probably the most visible service seen by our clients.

Hosting on the Cloud

100% of our applications are hosted on the cloud but we go one step further by using the cloud to store all out data that lives on the edge or outside of cloud applications.

Dropbox : We use the commercial package which gives us as much space as we need, full version management and the simplest management possible. Costs a tenner per person per month for peace of mind, every laptop and device in the company is mirrored to the cloud.
Amazon AWS : We extensively use Amazon to host client web site but we also host applications and server space, it gives lots of flexibility and simple scaling.
GitHub : Software needs a repository and GitHub is our chosen home. It provides version control, clean deployment and wide adoption.

This is not an off-the-shelf template to build your own WordPress agency, but it could easily be used to form the operating framework. If you’ve got any questions or want to know more than fire away.

This page : last updated October 2015. First published January 2014.