LMS for WordPress Released (Sensei)

Well it’s finally here.  A new Learning Management System (LMS) plugin for WordPress made by Woothemes.com.  There is a demo there that you can play around with as the role of “student.”  It looks a bit jumbled right now, but before we pre-judge Sensei, we’ll be buying it and testing it out – We’ll report the results back here after some thorough testing.




Face value from we see now is that it’s cool – really cool.  I especially like how it is integrated with the shopping cart plugin WooCommerce so you can sell courses that you develop.  As with all V1 releases, it needs to be refined based on user feedback.  I would also assume that Woothemes.com will open up the floodgates to developers who can offer additional functionality to the LMS.

Definitely one to keep an eye on.  The next thing we need to look at is server load testing which we will also be reporting back here.

Lucid Way Launches New E-learning Website

We’ve launched a new brand, a new identity, and a new focus- e-learning.  That’s right, in fact it’s nothing new to us, we’ve been doing it for over 10 years and we’ve gone full time with Lucid Way over 3 years ago.  The difference now is that it’s all we do now.  Sure we’ll be developing websites and e-commerce functionality, but we’ll be doing it for e-learning applications.  Check out our promotional video below.

Our excitement revolves around responsive design.  In fact, just do something for me right now – resize your browser window really small and watch what happens to the Lucid Way website.  Now that’s responsive design.  In another post, I’ll be talking about how it’s done and why we did it but for now just know that it’s a game changer in more ways than one.

Responsive Design

Responsive Design

Our real focus, e-learning and mobile learning will benefit from responsive designs, and the market (including us) we predict, will respond with some really cool products for e-learning training.

We hope you love our new website. We are working on getting some more samples up on the site. We’ve done a lot of projects through the years and we have to be selective.

So, stay tuned for some tutorials and other e-learning goodies.  Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for the latest blog posts.


FIX: http://bannortim-qimulta.ru/industry/index.php

WordPress Malware?

There is an interesting MALWARE going around in the last couple of weeks. It appears to be a MySQL injection that can infiltrate .htaccess files not ony on a WordPress install but any other 3rd party software you may have on your server. On some servers this might be hard to detect so keep an eye out for slow loading pages and look at the status bar as you will see it will try to redirect you. http://bannortim-qimulta.ru/industry/index.php

It adds a lot of redirects in your .htaccess and looks like this.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^.*(google|ask|yahoo|baidu|youtube|wikipedia|qq|excite|

and then some.

You also have to check the end of your file as it adds blank lines and then starts up with more malware redirects.

ErrorDocument 400 http://qimulta-bannortim.ru/upday/index.php
ErrorDocument 401 http://qimulta-bannortim.ru/upday/index.php
ErrorDocument 403 http://qimulta-bannortim.ru/upday/index.php
ErrorDocument 404 http://qimulta-bannortim.ru/upday/index.php
ErrorDocument 500 http://qimulta-bannortim.ru/upday/index.php


If you remove this from your .htaccess it will often times reappear.


  • Remove your MySQL user that is connected to your database
  • Put your site offline, and start looking at your database in PHPMyAdmin for malicious code to remove.
  • Create a new MySQL user and rename your database.
  • Update your WordPress install and your plugins/themes.  Research your plugins/themes for known attacks.
  • Check your .htaccess file – remove hack redirects.
  • Check above your public_html directory (home directory) as it can put an .htaccess file there too.
  • Check with your host for a solution if you have a good one.  We use SimpleHelix and have had good luck and good support.
  • All else fails, export your posts and pages and reinstall WordPress with latest updates and latest theme and plugin updates.

It looks like the cause is an outdated WordPress install or WordPress Plugins/Themes so some of these sites might help you figure it out.


Magento for Online Stores

Magento for Online Stores

Deciding on the right shopping cart for your business

Previously, we reviewed WooCommerce, the WordPress shopping cart plugin.  Today we’ll talk about Magento – the fully open source shopping cart system.  Magento is based on a LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) server environment, so it follows your usual open source installation process.

We’ve used Magento for a couple of stores we’ve set up.  Now Magento is primarily a shopping cart software and not so much of a CMS (Content Management System) although it does have the capability, it’s just not as robust as say a Joomla, Drupal, or WordPress platform.  Magento’s real strength is in product cataloging and selling.  This – it excels.  There are extensions for just CMS capabilities – some better than others.

Let’s go through some Pros and Cons of Magento


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  • There are many pre-designed templates to choose from to get started quickly.  This is important for beginners because customizing Magento can be a real bear and I’ve known some stellar designers give up and go with something else because of it.  But if you know how to template in Magento – it’s powerful stuff and easy to upgrade.
  • Security – everything is locked down pretty tight right out of the box.  The Magento team really made this their focus when designing this system.
  • Very good import/exporting tools.  Where Woocommerce falls short on the import exporting front, Magento picks up the slack.  The ability to interface with POS/ERP systems is paramount for any serious e-commerce store.  Magento does this well.
  • Good reporting. You want to know where your business stands from month to month and year to year.  Magento has some really good tools for this.
  • Processing orders- On the client side of things, it’s pretty easy to select all the orders for the day and click print.  Then go fill the orders. So for a warehouse clerk (or you), it’s a breeze.
  • User Roles/Granular access.  Magento has the ability to show only what you want – to certain user roles.  So your warehouse person who just fills the orders might only see the Orders tab.  Everything else is hidden.
  • Extensions.  The Magento community has a ton of extensions in the Magento Connect portion of their site.  Many of them are paid and you have to be careful on what version of Magento you have installed and what the extensions says it is compatible with.
  • Mobile themes – yes – out of the box.  You will be ready for mobile with Magento although it’s always easier said than done 🙂
  • MagentoGo is a fairly new part of the Magento business model.  Basically, it’s a hosted/paid service you can buy and it comes with a pre-designed template library you can choose from, some CMS features, the hosted service taken care of, and support.  It’s made for people who just want to their shop up and going.  It’s good for people starting out, but you will be limited to some customization and other flexibility you get with hiring a developer. Here you can see what MagentoGo does:



Unfortunately, there are some cons to this system.

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  • Installation can be a beast if your server does not meet certain requirements.  I remember my first time trying to install Magento, it took me hours and hours of troubleshooting only to find out my server didn’t meet certain criteria.  I actually had to switch server companies.
  • Extensions – there are many extensions out there.  Some good – some bad.  The problem is many of them have been known give server errors and you’ll be scrambling to clear out the internal cache, uninstall the extension, or worse – reinstall your backup.  Pay close attention to compatibility warnings and make sure you backup your site before installing extensions.
  • CMS Features.  For basic content editing, it’s OK.  It won’t give you rich content editing features like you will get from WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal, but it does the job.  If you are looking to do a lot of content updates, new pages,menus,  postings, and if your site is constantly in flux – I’d stay away from Magento – it’s primarily a shopping cart with some CMS capability – not the other way around.
  • Templating.  As mentioned before, templating in Magento can be very difficult for new users because of the amount of files you have to deal with.  Everything is staged in “blocks” and so while it offers huge flexibility – it also makes things a bit tougher to get changes done quickly.  You can find a designers guide here.
  • Upgrading.  This can also be difficult.  Magento has come a long way since version 1.3x but upgrading (especially if you have a lot of extensions) can really be a chore.  Bottom line – upgrading is a pain.
  • Complex file structure – You’ll need to know some XML if you are to work in this system.  It relies heavily on it which places dependent files all over the directory structure.  Yes this increases security and is good for rolling out mass changes, but it’s not for novices.


So all in all, Magento is a good shopping cart system – but is it good enough for your business?  I guess that is the question.  Some small businesses just need a store with products they sell.  But to do some SEO and SEM strategies, sometimes a CMS system can help search engines grab your content and index it.  Magento has some drawbacks but as it matures, I believe they are on track to really take shopping carts to the next level.

If you are in the Quad Cities or beyond and need some shopping cart development, make sure you check us out at www.lucidway.com where we do everything from e-learning to web design.

Woocommerce Shopping Cart Review

Today I’m going to start with a series of reviews on shopping cart software.  What’s first?  WooCommerce (a WordPress Plugin)- so let’s get to it… have a look at this video.

Looks pretty cool huh?  I think so too, in fact I may convert a few LWS clients to it.  After playing with it for a bit it rocks with a few exceptions.  Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons.


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  • Super simple interface for administers and the customer point of view.
  • Very easy to add products
  • Handles product variations and multiple SKU’s for those variations
  • Great WooThemes widgets such as Most Viewed Products, Best Sellers, etc. that can easily be added to any product or category page.
  • Nice lightbox features when the user clicks on the products
  • Built in features such as product image updating when different options are chosen.
  • Nice administrative reporting interface
  • Countless payment gateway extensions
  • Good tax and shipping options that can accommodate any online store
  • Awesome WooCommerce themes from WooThemes
  • Nice inventory and stock features
  • You’ll get all of the SEO goodness and ease of use from WordPress mixed in with a seamless online cart in WooCommerce – probably its greatest asset.  Wordpress has established itself as more than just a blogging software, it can be modified in many ways and it is used by web designers all around the world as their primary web development platform because of its ease of templating, flexibility, and simple CMS features on the client side.  What it was missing was a really good e-Commerce platform.  Enter WooCommerce.



Because of its infancy, WooCommerce is lacking some important features.

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  • #1 on my list is the ability to import and export products with variations (example T-shirt with S/M/L and Red/Black/Green options all having different SKU’s).  There is an extension from Visser Labs called Product Importer Deluxe that does simple products with no options, but unless you are selling only red t-shirts – it’s not that useful.  Again, it’s a new plugin and I’m sure they are working on an update.
  • POS integration – This goes hand in hand with the above.  The ability to interface with a POS system for brick n mortar stores is imperative.  So if you are drop shipping – it’s probably not a problem, but if you keep inventory, it’s going to be tough to keep those inventory levels in check.  I suspect there will be some support for this in the future, but right now it’s not there.
  • I see the above as serious oversight as most e-commerce systems have these abilities out of the box.


So all in all, it’s a great shopping cart that is missing a key component – importing/exporting of products and other data.  Working with Magento and Turnkey Web Tools shopping carts – this one is a breath of fresh air and keeper!

Next time we’ll talk about Magento and my experiences working with it.  If you are looking to get your store online and need some help, feel free to contact us for a free quote.


Web Design in the Quad Cities

Web Design in the Quad Cities

Although Lucid Way Solutions’ clients are growing, we also want to grow.  So today we launched our new site targeting small business owners in the area who may need a new website or e-commerce site.

It’s a changing world in the area of online shopping.  If you aren’t selling online yet, you should seriously think about expanding your store operations online.  We know it’s tough and it’s hard to know where to start, but we’ll be offering some tips and tricks along the way.