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Hostinger has relocated to a cutting-edge office space within the dynamic Cyber City development. “Space Expedition,” the opening ceremony of the 63 million EUR office complex, was held on Friday, June 2nd.
Around 2,000 members of the tech community attended the grand event. It also attracted starship crews, space ravers, and other cosmic creatures. Four legendary Lithuanian music artists headlined the celestial stage. Their performances and the spectacle of tens of dancers made the party a hard one to forget.
Cyber City’s developers set their sights on transforming the Naujamiestis eldership in Vilnius into the Lithuanian equivalent of Silicon Valley. Maintaining a relationship with the neighborhood’s industrial past is important – the complex was built in the historic spot of the legendary Sparta textile factory.
Cyber City comprises three sprawling 35,000 sq m office buildings, housing nearly 3,000 employees. It brings together Hostinger and other Tesonet companies like Nord Security, Surfshark, Oxylabs, CyberCare, and Atlas VPN. This consolidation marks a significant step forward in bringing the companies together and fostering a vibrant tech community.
Beyond office space, Cyber City comes with a range of amenities for its citizens’ work-life balance: co-working spaces, shops, cafes, a bar, a gym, and a courtyard with an amphitheater open to the public, all in the name of creativity, relaxation, and networking.
Hostinger’s move to Cyber City represents an exciting new chapter. The workspace, accommodating around 100 people, was designed to foster collaboration, elevate productivity, and enhance the overall Hostinger employee experience.
One of our Core Principles is Freedom and Responsibility, so Hostinger employees continue to work remotely or maintain a hybrid work model. At the same time, offices remain the best venue for brainstorming, meetings, and joint activities.
WordPress marked a huge milestone in May – its 20th anniversary! WordPress communities around the world were arranging Meetups events for the celebration.
But that didn’t make everyone in the WordPress ecosystem sit back and relax. In fact, we had two maintenance and security releases plus the WordPress 6.3 planning roundup. In addition, many popular plugins received important updates to fix vulnerability issues.
WordPress 20th Anniversary
WordPress communities all around the world were celebrating 20 years of WordPress. From in-person parties to interactive workshops, every community had its own way of commemorating the milestone.
Hostinger gave tribute to this milestone too. We did a Podcast with Tammie Lister, a prolific core contributor, to talk about Gutenberg’s evolution and how experimentation and feedback power WordPress development.
Watch the full podcast on our YouTube channel or read the summary blog post.
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Another tribute we gave is the special edition Customer Spotlight blog post. We interviewed four of our clients and discovered how they use WordPress to achieve online success:
Interestingly, the month WordPress celebrates its anniversary turned out to be one of the busiest months for the core project. We had two new releases in just a span of four days.
WordPress 6.2.1 and 6.2.2
WordPress 6.2.1 and 6.2.2 were released on May 16, 2023, and May 20, 2023, respectively. So, what happened?
WordPress 6.2.1 fixed 20 core and 10 editor bugs. But most importantly, it addressed five security issues, including Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) and Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities, KSES sanitization bypass, and path traversal vulnerability.
However, there was still one security issue left due to the shortcode parsing in user-generated data in block themes. This means attackers could use user-generated content, like blog post comments, to execute shortcodes, resulting in exploitation risks.
The problem was that WordPress 6.2.1 fixed the issue simply by removing shortcode support from block templates. Unfortunately, this quick fix broke hundreds of websites that rely on block themes and shortcodes.
This is why WordPress 6.2.2 was released a few days later, with the sole purpose of resolving the shortcode vulnerability. In addition to restoring the shortcode support, this release also prevents the shortcode parsing that led to the vulnerability in the first place.
All of those WordPress core maintenance updates and release planning didn’t interrupt the Gutenberg release cycle, with two new versions launched this month. If you’re a block theme user, we recommend installing this plugin to have extensive features for the block editor.
Here are some of the highlighted features from the two Gutenberg versions released this month – 15.7 and 15.8:
Pages Menu on the Navigation Sidebar
Suppose you’re customizing your site with the site editor and need to edit a page. Instead of returning to the dashboard and opening the Pages panel, you can do it immediately from the site editor, thanks to the Pages menu on the left sidebar. It will display the 10 most recently updated pages to choose from.
Global Styles Revision UI.
Tracking revisions is one of the trickiest things to do in WordPress, but that’s improved with the revision UI for global styles. You can now revert to the past styles using the revision UI.
The revision tool is accessible through the ellipsis icon on the global styles panel. It will show you how many revisions are available, the time stamps, and the users who made the changes. To revert, select any of the versions and click Apply.
New Controls on the Block Settings Panel
Two blocks got new tools on their respective block settings panel to streamline the editing experience.
First, the site logo block now has the tool to add, replace, or reset the image. Although this functionality is the same as the block placeholder and the tool on the block toolbar, it still helps people who prefer to work on the block via the settings panel.
Second, the duotone control is now available on the block settings panel, specifically in the styles tab. Similar to the site logo block’s case, the functionality of this feature is the same as the duotone control on the toolbar. That said, having it on the block settings panel eliminates the need to go back and forth between those two areas to make the customization.
WordPress 6.3 Schedule
The next WordPress major release will be version 6.3, and the core team has finished the planning and schedule with the following dates:
First beta version: June 27, 2023
First release candidate: July 18, 2023
WordPress 6.3 release: August 8, 2023
Testing the beta or release candidate versions can give you a sneak peek of the new features and test how your website will work with the upcoming release. Or, if you’re interested in contributing, report all bugs you’ve discovered in the WordPress forum.
WordPress Security News
Plugin developers were busy in May, as plenty of vulnerabilities were discovered. We ran through the Patchstack database and highlighted some popular plugins exposed to security risks.
But don’t worry. The developers have fixed the issues with the updates. All you have to do is check whether you are running the latest version of the plugin and update it if necessary.
Easy Digital Downloads Privilege Escalation
CVSS Score: 9.8 (Critical Vulnerability)
In late April 2023, a privilege escalation vulnerability in the Easy Digital Downloads plugin was discovered that allows users – regardless of their roles – to run any function with the edd_ prefix.
Crucially, this prefix is used in the password reset function. Any malicious user can reset any user’s password, including the administrator, as long as they know the username and, thus, take over the website.
Given that Easy Digital Downloads is one of the most popular eCommerce plugins for selling digital goods, such vulnerabilities can cause a lot of damage.
Luckily, the patch to fix this issue – version 220.127.116.11.2, was released earlier this month. If you are still using the older version, we strongly advise updating it as soon as possible.
Essential Addons for Elementor Privilege Escalation
CVSS Score: 9.8 (Critical Vulnerability)
A similar privilege escalation vulnerability was also found in the Essential Addons for Elementor plugin. Due to the password reset function directly changing the user’s password instead of validating the reset key, it is possible to reset any user’s password, given the attacker knows the username.
Like the Easy Digital Downloads vulnerability, an attacker can reset an administrator’s password and take over the website. The worst part is that over 1 million websites have this plugin installed on, and the Patchstack database shows that attackers have exploited this vulnerability.
The vulnerability affects versions 5.4.0 to 5.7.1. The patch for this issue is released in version 5.7.2, so if you use this plugin, be sure to have this version or higher installed.
LearnDash SQL Injection Vulnerability
CVSS Score: 8.5 (High Severity)
The popular WordPress LMS plugin – LearnDash, was exposed to SQL injection vulnerability. This type of security issue allows malicious users to access the database and sensitive information, including customer data.
Thus, such vulnerability can be extremely harmful to businesses, especially since LearnDash is most likely used by online course websites.
This issue affected LearnDash version 4.5.3 or lower. If you use LearnDash on your site, update to version 18.104.22.168 or higher to eliminate the risk.
Advanced Custom Fields XSS Vulnerability
CVSS Score: 7.1 (High Severity)
Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) free and premium versions were exposed to cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability. If you’re unfamiliar, XSS allows attackers to inject malicious code or script. It can result in a wide array of consequences.
The Patchstack report shows that this vulnerability could lead to sensitive data theft and user privilege escalation. Although ACF is one of the most popular custom field plugins with over two million installations, Patchstack claims there are no exploits detected.
The vulnerability affected version 6.1.5 or lower, and free and premium users are recommended to update to version 6.1.6.
Jetpack API Vulnerability
The Jetpack plugin’s team uncovered an API vulnerability during one of the internal security audits. The issue allows authors on the site to tweak any WordPress installation files – a privilege usually only available to administrators.
The API itself is available on Jetpack version 2.0 to 12.1. As a result, the Jetpack team released a patch for each version to fix this vulnerability, with the latest version being version 12.1.1.
Jetpack will force update the plugins on most websites with the vulnerable version. That said, we recommend you check your website if you use Jetpack and update it immediately if necessary.
What’s Coming In June
As we’ve mentioned, the beta testing phase for the next WordPress major release will start in June, and it’s always exciting to see the new features coming to the WordPress core.
However, there’s one more event that will delight the WordPress community even more. WordCamp Europe 2023 will take place on June 8-10, 2023, in Athens, Greece! We proudly support this event as a Super Admin sponsor and are excited to see you there. If you haven’t got your ticket already, it’s still available on the official WordCamp Europe website.
It’s not enough for businesses to offer quality products or services. You need to go above and beyond and provide your target customers with memorable, engaging, emotionally resonant experiences. Indeed, so-called experiential selling is more vital than ever, especially in crowded or competitive niches.
But just what is experiential selling, and how can you reinvent your business plan to prioritize it? Read on to discover the answers to these questions and more.
Experiential selling explained
In a nutshell, experiential selling means creating an environment where customers can interact and engage with your products and services in enjoyable, informative, and memorable ways. In other words, it’s about selling your business’s wares by virtue of the experiences they’ll provide customers instead of other aspects.
Let’s say that you sell fitness apparel for workout enthusiasts. Instead of highlighting the raw practical value of the apparel — such as the materials, the durability, etc. — you could instead prioritize the experiences that your customers will have once they wear your fitness apparel.
You might craft ads or marketing materials highlighting:
How good the fitness apparel looks
How well the apparel feels on the skin
How the fitness apparel wicks away sweat and excess moisture to provide better exercise experiences
By highlighting the experiences your customers can expect, they’ll be more inclined to give your products a try. More than that, your brand will feel different and unique compared to its competitors.
Why prioritize experiences for customers?
There are numerous benefits to highlighting experiences and practicing experiential selling, including:
Higher sales over time. Many companies that adopt experiential selling and prioritize experiences in their business plans grow faster than their rivals. That’s because customers who have positive experiences — both before and after sales — are more likely to make initial and repeat purchases over the long term.
Boosted customer loyalty via higher engagement. Getting the same core group of customers to come back again and again and make repeat purchases is vital for long-term profits and revenue stability. By highlighting experiences over items, your customers will feel more loyal to your brand and repeatedly return for more.
Effective word-of-mouth marketing. When a customer has a positive experience at your business, they have an emotional reaction. That emotional reaction will likely compel them to tell their friends, family members, and coworkers about your brand. In other words, highlighting experiences for your customers could help you market more cost-effectively than ever before.
Developing a plan for prioritizing customer experiences is important, especially in an area where consumer optimism, in general, has been plummeting in the face of inflation and soaring prices. In the United Kingdom, for instance, the retail sales index (which includes both in-store and online sales) has fallen by 9.5% over the last two years and is continuing its downward trend. In the United States, retail sales recently saw their biggest drop in over a year.
Customers are simply being forced to be more careful about their spending than in previous years because inflation has reduced the value of their disposable capital. But focusing on experiences where customers can engage with your product before buying is one of the best strategies for proving to them that your product is even worth spending their hard-earned money on in the first place.
So, how can you refocus your business plan to focus more on customer experiences? Let’s dive into this next.
How to refocus your business plan
Fortunately, you don’t have to completely tear your business plan out of the ground or redo your marketing materials. To refocus your business plan on experiences, you must practice three key strategies and approaches.
Gather customer data
First and foremost, you’ll want to gather extensive customer data on your target audience members. By gathering as much data as possible, you’ll better understand what your customers are looking for in terms of experiences and emotional satisfaction.
For example, if you determine that your customers don’t care so much about price as they do about social points or great experiences from products, you may learn things like:
You can improve the quality of your products and raise the prices of those products slightly while still keeping your customer base.
You should tweak your marketing campaign to highlight the positive experiences that buyers receive when they buy your products.
More than anything, gathering more customer data will help you better get into the minds of those core consumers whom you need to attract. You can gather customer data by purchasing it from third-party firms or by gathering it from customers who already shop at your store. No matter where you get it, be sure to analyze it thoroughly.
Double down on personalization
Personalization is an important element in modern marketing, and there’s a good reason for that: people care about it.
Personalization is the art (and science) of showing your target consumers that you think of them as more than “standard” customers. Instead, you show them that you care about them as people, highlighting their unique wants, needs, and problems.
There are lots of different ways in which you can double down on personalization, such as:
Referring to a customer by their first name, which you can get from previous purchases or email newsletters.
Providing customers with personalized product recommendations based on previous purchase history or stated requirements/wants.
Giving customers personalized discounts and perks. This is often best implemented through a loyalty program. It can do wonders to improve satisfaction and experience positivity among your most loyal, repeat customers.
By practicing these strategies, each customer who interacts with your brand will walk away thinking that they had a good experience with your business. They’ll feel seen, heard, and tailored, which will make them more likely to come back or make an initial purchase.
Sell experiences to target consumers
Most importantly, try to sell customer experiences through your marketing materials and ad copy. More than anything else, this will help you focus on experiential selling and maximize the value of the experience in your overall business plan.
For example, draw up some new advertisement materials that highlight the experiences or positive emotional reactions that customers feel when they buy your products. Once you have those ads ready, put them on your digital ad platforms, social media, Google, or elsewhere, and see how they perform.
Measure the ads’ performances and:
Implement the highest-performing ads elsewhere.
Take lessons from the advertisements so you can leverage those same ideas in future marketing materials.
By selling experiences to your customers, they’ll know right from the get-go that you offer something unique and novel compared to your competitors. You don’t just sell the same products that other businesses in your industry produce; you provide worthwhile experiences that are memorable and emotionally interesting. That’s an invaluable benefit in a competitive market environment.
It may be worthwhile to review your overall business plan and customer journey maps. Ask yourself whether an experience is the focus of each stage of a prospective customer’s journey. If it’s not, consider taking steps like:
Redesigning your website so it’s more navigable
Choosing a new domain name so it is memorable and interesting to customers (giving them a positive experience from the get-go)
Offering stellar customer service and revamping your customer service team to provide good support to customers who have already purchased products
Are you ready to give your business a boost?
Ultimately, by prioritizing experiential selling, your business will enjoy better customer loyalty, acquire new customers faster than ever, and build a stronger reputation than before. Implementing the above strategies into your business plan will do wonders to help you focus on experiences and reap the rewards.