Using AR & VR content on a WordPress website

Virtual reality (VR) continues to rise in popularity as the previously prohibitive expensive hardware needed to run it becomes more affordable. Companies are investing heavily in its expansion and increased appeal by creating dedicated media, games and building rich marketing experiences that utilize the technology. With each passing year as computer processing and internet speeds become faster, VR comes closer to fulfilling its awesome potential, with the next leap in the technology promising to be the most significant.

Augmented reality (AR) is even farther down that path. AR has been a viable platform and has been in use for quite some time to often huge success with smartphone apps such as the massively popular Pokemon game. AR can also be used to preview physical products in real-world environments, provide informative overlays for directions, or even participate in the use of shared digital environments.

At the other end of the spectrum is something that’s been mainstream for years: WordPress. A website platform with incredible versatility through its robust feature set and wide-ranging flexibility. WordPress can be used to construct the most basic beginners blog, all the way up to a super professional high-end business website. WordPress users of all types love choosing from the countless available plugins and themes to customize their sites and experiment with new tools and methods.

But what happens if you want to bring these two things together? Enhancing the fantastic WordPress experience with some AR or VR content sounds like a good idea in theory, but it raises a vital question: Such as, does AR/VR currently fit and work on a WordPress site? Let’s take a look:

What VR and AR content actually involves

Before considering how well AR/VR works in WordPress, it’s worth thinking about what they actually encompass. Given that VR is still essentially in the development phase with relatively low levels of ownership and a surfeit of confusing options (even those who do own a VR headset, only uses it occasionally), you might wonder why it’s worth the time to invest in this new sector – as such we need to find a satisfactory answer.

First let’s look at the VR/AR divide. A clear distinction is commonly made between VR and AR, with VR aims to replace the world around you while AR adds to it. But it isn’t quite this simple. What if you have a VR environment that draws from real world elements? Is this VR and AR? In truth, the future of VR lies in AR headsets, so AR content is essentially VR content.

This is a lengthy way of establishing that it’s easier to place a variety of content types under the broad “VR” umbrella, including 360-degree video, AR stickers, and instructional overlays.

What AR and VR can bring to WordPress

Some CMS developers have been vocal about investing in 3D content for VR and AR. In the eCommerce world, Shopify is a prime example of this, even announcing native 3D model storage for its store hosting system in early 2018 ( coupled with a rich lineup of existing video editor integrations). In addition to this, there has been plenty of progress elsewhere.

You might assume that progress is limited to hosted platforms, but what if existing plugin development could make WordPress (extended through WooCommerce) a more captivating prospect? As it happens, we can say exactly that – because it’s true.

The VR Shop is a new site, that while still in the early stages of development, allows the creation of a completely virtual store to be explored using a VR headset. While it’s compatible with various platforms, it already works with the WooCommerce plugin due to the massive popularity of WordPress.

Given that so much of the web runs on WordPress and how unlikely this is to change in the near future, it makes total sense that any company that aims to get ahead with VR website functionality would ensure it worked smoothly with WordPress.

If you want to use other VR related features such as 360-degree videos in your WordPress site, this can already be achieved by using suitable VR plugins (the same can also be said for AR previews). Since it would be foolish for VR content creators not to specifically cater to such a popular platform with such a large market share, it’s clear that the future for VR content on WordPress is exceedingly bright.

There’s even a full WordPress theme entirely dedicated to AR for eCommerce: it’s called Ozisti, and it uses an attached plugin developed for WordPress to enable the use of AR previews. If you want to give it a try, the AR service starts with a 14-day free trial for you to explore. Alternatively you can stick to the 360-degree video route and use a suitable plugin to position it on your homepage and set it to auto-play for maximum effect.

Conclusion on the future of VR and AR on websites

As previously stated, one of the biggest uses of VR online outside of traditional media and gaming will be creating virtual stores to bridge the gap between brick-and-mortar retail and eCommerce. The current WordPress VR Shop is merely a hint at what’s to come. One day people will be able to use powerful AR and VR interfaces to visually browse virtual stores and place items into their home to both preview and order them.

There’s also the matter of accessibility however as many VR systems are prohibitively expensive and require high end PCs to use all the features as intended.

Should you add VR and AR content/features to your WordPress site? Absolutely – With the system’s continued growth in popularity, you can rely on VR and AR companies to bring the medium into the new decade. Keep an eye on available plugins and to follow updates regarding AR and VR. The next decade should be interesting!

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UpdraftPlus support for Linode Object Storage

UpdraftPlus is always searching for new and reputable partners that we can recommend to our users. With websites and databases getting larger and larger, reliable cloud storage is one of the most important factors to consider when setting up your site. 

Linode is the largest independent open cloud provider in the world, with 10 global data centres worldwide that serve over 800,000 developers and businesses and offers valuable cloud services to new innovators, growing teams, startups and larger enterprises.

The company has taken the lead in open cloud provider services and has been at the forefront of innovation, making cloud services more simple, affordable and accessible. It also works well with UpdraftPlus as you can use Linode S3 compatible Object Storage for all your WordPress backups, big data and data archiving needs.

They offer a wide range of object storage and pricing plans for your needs, ranging from just 250GB, up to 10TB.

For in-depth details on how to use UpdraftPlus with Linode Object Storage, please read this guide.

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The massive UpdraftPlus Black Friday sale starts now

It’s that time of year again; when Black Friday shoppers start to check websites and seek out the best deals available. 

So this Black Friday shopping season, we highly recommend you avoid the packed shops and high-streets and take the significantly safer alternative of staying home and ordering your favourite items online.

With such high demand for these deals and following the massive success of our Black Friday event last year, UpdraftPlus have decided to extend our Black Friday offer so that it now starts on Monday 25th November and runs right through till the end of the month, making our massive Black Friday offers a week long event!

We have put together a whole host of amazing deals and for one week only, everyone can now get any or all of the following Black Friday offers:

20% off UpdraftPlus Premium subscription. Use the code: BFUDPlus20Site

20% off MetaSlider Pro: Use the code BFMetaSite20

20% off Easy Updates Manager: Use the code EUM20SiteBF

20% off WP-Optimize: Use the code: WPO20BlackFridaySite

20% off UpdraftCentral: Use the code: CentralSite20BF

20% off UpdraftClones: Use the code: BFClone20Site

All discount codes are valid until the end of November 2019.

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Should you use a free WordPress theme for your website?

Choosing the right theme for your site is a vitally important part of creating a great website. Visitors will judge your site immediately based on how it looks, functions and responds to different screen sizes and types. So what are your options for getting a great theme?

You could create your own custom theme of course. There are numerous plugins that can help you tweak your WordPress theme so you can add your own graphics and design elements. While this gives you the most creative freedom, it is also the most difficult option to go with.

Another option you could go with would be to purchase a WordPress theme from a reputable developer, which can be a great choice if you have a decent budget for your website and prefer to get your site up and running as quickly and efficiently as possible to a really high standard. Going with this option also gives you the benefit of having a built-in strong and reliable customer support system, which can prove quite useful for troubleshooting issues.

The final option when creating your WordPress site is to use a free WordPress theme. There are thousands of free themes available online, but should you really use one? To evaluate the possibility of using a free WordPress theme, we must first consider the pros and cons.

Are free themes really good enough?

Typically when we hear that something is “free” in a business sense, it typically suggest that the product is either not good enough justify a fee, or that you will receive a shell product that forces you to upgrade to the full, paid version. When a product is made that is something users would really desire, it stands to reason that the owners will monetize this product to capitalize on customer demand. 

Lots of great developers create WordPress themes as side projects and offer them to users for free. This is typically due to the creator to generate more interest in their broader portfolios. Users just need to be discerning and fully evaluate any free theme of interest before use

Free themes are less likely to be updated

A theme doesn’t necessarily need updates in the same way that a security plugin would as a theme is more about the look of a site and as such is less affected by changes to functionality. Despite this, there is a good chance that a theme could eventually run into problems due to a future WordPress update. This update could potentially change a core part of the navigation system, or cause an installed plugin to have a conflict with the updated theme.

Theme creators that charge for their work with paid themes are typically invested in the theme’s continued success and positive feedback. If an update to WordPress or a conflict with a plugin cause the theme to break, the developer will typically take action to fix it very quickly in order to maintain positive feedback and ratings. Since theme developers who give away themes for free do not collect any revenue, there is very little reason to continue to work on them. This allows the developer to simply ignore the free theme if they do not feel it was worth any further time and money to fix it. Due to these issues, using a free theme can carry some element of risk to it.

Changing themes

It is not unheard of for a premium WordPress site theme to cost up-to several hundred dollars. If you choose to make this kind of investment, you should ideally use your purchased theme for a long as possible -making the cost worthwhile. So what do you do if an update comes along and objectively makes your website and it’s theme worse? Or say for example, you want to update the company theme as your sense of style has developed and you want something more modern?

If you have a paid theme that is no longer performing to the standards you need, you can either try to make the most of your investment and stick with it (generally a bad idea), or you can bite the bullet and replace it and spend more money on a new theme. If you are using a free theme however, you do not have to justify moving away from your paid investment/spending more and have the freedom to change themes for any reason.

It’s harder (but not impossible) to stand out

Coming up with a design for your site that makes it stand out is an essential part of building a memorable website. The standard website formula is everywhere, which generally means you won’t want to deviate significantly, but will need to do something special to catch the users attention. If you are using a free theme, you will almost certainly be using a theme that has a style and format that is accessible to everyone and has been used by many sites.

However, given the sheer amount of free themes available, it is still possible with some through research and digging, to find a great-looking theme that hasn’t been overused by other sites. If you are working on a budget, it is still possible to get a slick and attention-grabbing theme that stands out, while while adhering completely to your brand’s design guidelines at zero cost.

Experiment with themes safely

When you apply a new theme to your site (be it free or paid), it can possibly cause issues with plugins that are installed and running on your site. We have all heard horror stories of someone updating a theme that completely destroys their site, with no ability to restore the site back to an earlier version. This is a great reason to install a plugin like UpdraftPlus.

By making regular backups of your WordPress site (something you should be doing regardless), you will not have to worry about theme changes causing any issues. Simply activate your new theme to test it. In the very unlikely event that it causes a problem that can’t be resolved simply by disabling it, you can just restore your site from a backup before the installation.

If you can afford to purchase a premium theme from a reputable developer, this should always be your first option as it will provide you with continued security, development and customer service. However if you are on a budget and feel that your website can be properly serviced by a standard free theme, then just ensure that you obtain it from a reputable vendor, has a good user rating and has no history of clashing with WordPress plugins.

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UpdraftPlus release latest 1.16.20 (free + paid) version – Includes ability to restore “more files” backups

Our goal this year has been to make restores great again – and as part of that goal, we have now added the ability to restore “more files” backups (files that are not part of your WordPress install, but that you may still wish to backup, such as directories on your web-server). Some time ago, UpdraftPlus added the feature to backup more files, however this has always been a manual restoration task. But now, thanks to the latest version of UpdraftPlus, these backups can now be automatically restored. 

With the imminent release of PHP 7.4, we have added support for PHP 7.4 to UpdraftClone, allowing you to now easily test your themes, plugins and other changes on a 7.4 clone before upgrading to your live server. 

With WordPress 5.3 also being released soon, we have updated our clone process, allowing the new 5.3 release to be tested using UpdraftClone. We have also made it easier to create clones of your sites by adding the ability to use existing remote backups for your clone; so now there is no need to create a new backup for a clone if you feel there is no need.

In addition to these new updates, we have also made various tweaks and fixes to keep UpdraftPlus running smooth and compatible with future WordPress and PHP releases.

  • FEATURE: Add support for PHP 7.4 in UpdraftClone
  • FEATURE: Added the ability to restore “more files” backups
  • FEATURE: Add OneDrive Germany compatibility
  • FIX: Failure to send existing translation version with update checks (on paid versions) resulted in redundant translation updates
  • FIX: Deal with a BackBlaze “first chunk too small” error correctly when doing chunked uploading
  • TWEAK: Block any updates from occurring during a restore
  • TWEAK: Force the predecessor Amazon S3 SDK to use virtual-hosted style bucket identification instead of path style
  • TWEAK: Refactor the remote storage logging code in Addon base v2
  • TWEAK: Removed the Keyy notice (Keyy now has a new owner)
  • TWEAK: Add WP 5.3 support in UpdraftClone
  • TWEAK: On paid versions, possibly adjust the daily update check time to favour overnight hours
  • TWEAK: Get UpdraftClone supported WordPress versions during authentication
  • TWEAK: Added the ability to use backups stored in remote storage for UpdraftClone
  • TWEAK: Small PHP 7.4 deprecation tweaks in the Google and legacy AWS SDKs

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