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Author: Andrew Lopez

small biz for wordpress rocks!

Small Business Embrace WordPress

More and more small business websites are jumping on the WordPress bandwagon. We’re hear to explain why.

WordPress is becoming a behemoth of a platform. Of all the content management systems. WordPress accounts for 68% of the market share. To break it down, two out of three websites are using WordPress software. For a platform that is criticized for being insecure. The statistic is telling a different story. We’ll explain why small business owners are choosing WordPress for their website.

So Why WordPress?

WordPress accounts for nearly 25% of all websites on the internet. Yes you read that statistic correctly. The platform started out mostly for blogging. Over the years, WordPress has built a powerful content management system. Oh and the system itself is open source. Meaning the system is free for anybody to use. Let’s discuss why WordPress has become the website platform choice for small business.

Besides the fact that WordPress is a free platform, why are small business owners using WordPress? One of the main reasons is the simplicity of the website’s back end. WordPress provides website owners the ability to control content on the website. The owner can edit text, add imagery, or publish a blog post in a matter of clicks. Empowering small business owners with the ability to control specific aspects of the website is an invaluable feature. The platform is scalable for any size business. WordPress sites range from mom and pop shops to corporate sites like the Walt Disney company. If a conglomerate the size of the Walt Disney company is using WordPress, we’d say it is more than acceptable for small businesses.

There are numerous features that can help a WordPress website grow. Features like plugins add enhancements to the existing website. Plugins range from contact forms, security, website backups, and so much more. We discussed WordPress plugins in another blog post. Highly recommend reading the blog post to obtain a better understanding of how WordPress plugins work.

WordPress is undeniably one of the top website platforms. We highly recommend the system for any size business. Small business can enhance the company’s digital footprint by being on WordPress.

Search Engine Friendliness

Search engine optimization (SEO) is important for any business. Being found on the first page of any search engine results page provides a competitive advantage. We won’t dive too deep into SEO, but the short version goes like this. The WordPress platform comes optimized for search engines right out of the box. All links, the platforms code, and website URLs are optimized for search engines. If you really want to take the website to the next level. You can find a plugin that can help enhance the website’s search optimization. One of the most famous plugins for optimizing a WordPress website is Yoast SEO. The plugin can be configured to optimize numerous aspects of the site. For starters, a web page can be targeted with a specified keyword. The keyword is then scored with a specific color. The color red indicates the page is not optimized, while green translates to being perfectly optimized. The plugin is robust with numerous features. Even with the plugin not being installed, WordPress itself is optimized for the initial stages.

A lot of the SEO technical aspects of the website are already taken care of. The source code on the back end is optimized. WordPress themes are programmed to be search friendly. Good plugins are programmed to integrate nicely with WordPress and search engines. The point we are communicating is WordPress itself is a search friendly platform. The platform allows a small business to enhance the current website.

The WordPress Community

The community that powers WordPress is absolutely amazing. Most, if not all, members of the community are always willing to help. The WordPress community comprise of individuals who are passionate about the WordPress product. If you’ve ever come across the WordPress support forum on WordPress.org. You’ll see there are lots of individuals who try to help one another. No matter how big or small the issue, the community is willing to sacrifice their free time. We’ve adopted customers in the past and have converted customers over to WordPress. Why is this relevant? All WordPress developers, managers, and content coordinators are able to pick up where another company has left off. There are no shortage of individuals, entities, and organizations who work within WordPress.

The community extends beyond the forums. WordPress camps or WordCamps are organized throughout the world for WordPress community members to meet. These WordCamps consist of meetups discussing the future of WordPress. Discussions can consist of new features being implemented. What the future of WordPress holds. Simply a meet and greet with other WordPress advocates. The events take place throughout the year. The community is that large. If a WordPress developer were to leave you. There’s a good chance someone local to the business will be able to assist. Small business owners do not need to worry about finding a replacement.

Conclusion

We discussed why WordPress is such an awesome platform small businesses. How a WordPress website comes equipped with SEO best practices. The WordPress community are a loyal bunch of individuals. If you are not convinced by the article of why WordPress isn’t right for you. Let’s chat in the comments section to discuss your concerns. We have a strong feeling we can turn you into a WordPress advocate like us!

WordPress Security Tips

WordPress Security Tips For Businesses

WordPress security should be a high priority for all WordPress sites. Even though it may be an afterthought.

WordPress security has always been a hot topic for discussion. A lot of customers we interact with are concerned about WordPress vulnerabilities. We’re here to tell you that WordPress, like all other platforms, is not invincible. However, if you keep plugins, themes, and WordPress core up to date, you’re already winning half the battle. We’ll discuss some important tips for hardening a WordPress website. In addition, we’ll provide WordPress security plugins to help along the way.

Host Your Website With A Great Web Host

We’ve dealt with plenty of different hosting vendors. We don’t like saying this out loud, but some are lousy, while others are really top notch. When we perform an audit or a customer is having issues with the website. We always like to review the host the customer is on. Almost half of all websites that are comprised are due to their web host. What do we mean? A staggering 41% of hacked websites are through a security vulnerability found on their hosting platform. The statistic is astonishing! There are numerous steps you can take in order to help harden your website. For starters, always check with a web host if the company supports the latest PHP version. Chances are the answer is yes. Perform some due diligence and ask questions. Verify with the hosting company if a WordPress Firewall is included. A Firewall provides a layer of security in front of your website. Highly recommend you shop around to see what host suits your needs and budget.

Stronger Login Credentials

Don’t make an website attackers life easy by having a simplified password. Use a password that is hard to guess. There have been plenty of times when a customer is using a password that is oversimplified. We won’t embarrass any of our customers because we love them too much. A good rule of thumb is having a password with 12 – 14 characters in length. Throw in some special characters such as exclamation points, question marks, and asterisks. Don’t get cute and use numbers for letters. Everyone has caught on to that game. Add some numbers to the mix as well. The more complex the password the better. Even a random password generator can be used. There are numerous sites that can randomly generate passwords for you to use. Use the password generator and store the passwords in a secure place.

Back in the old days of WordPress, the default username “admin” was used to create the administrator for the WordPress site. Fast forward to the present, the administrator has the ability to create any username. We still see WordPress websites using “admin” as the primary administrator account. Stop! The problem with using “admin” is hackers already know this fact. You’ve already provided the directions to the house. All these attackers need to figure out is the password for the website. Chances are the hacker will figure it out. The best way to keep the WordPress login secure is to change the username to something unique. The more unique, the better you are off.

Remember strong login credentials are a must have. A hard to guess password, coupled with a unique username make a hackers life more difficult. If you really want to remain secure, you should change passwords on a scheduled basis. Practice safe security with complex passwords and unique usernames.

Limit Login Attempts

We stay with the login theme with another helpful tip. There are scripts and plugins that can help limit login attempts. We’ll discuss the plugin in detail. An excellent reviewed plugin that provides limit login attempts is Login Security Solution. The plugin provides many different amenities. Everything from limiting login attempts into a WordPress site to blocking brute force attacks attempting to login.  In a brute force attack, automated software is used to generate a large number of consecutive guesses as to the value of the desired data. In our case, the attacker is attempting to guess the username and password to force themselves into the website’s back end. The Login Security Solution plugin has a setting that recognizes this type of attack. The software in the plugin shuts out the hacker without affecting real administrators. After multiple attempts of failure, the likelihood of the attacker moving on to an easier site increases. Another plugin that we’ll discuss in another blog post is WordFence. Quick overview, WordFence is a robust plugin that provides many WordPress security features. Including the limit login attempts. Install the Limit Login Attempts plugin. We know it will help in the long run.

Use Common Sense

When it comes to making sure the website is secured, use common sense. Don’t give out login credentials to strangers. Don’t ever add another administrator to your WordPress site. Do not give strangers FTP access. Be wary of people around you. Make sure no one is watching you enter your credentials into your website. If something doesn’t feel right, do not do it. Listen to your gut. Practice secure credential transfers with emailing the username and texting the password to the other party. This helps prevent your username and password being out on the internet. Using common sense can go a long way.

WordPress security is a concern website owners should be wary of. Having the website harden by a WordPress professional is something a businesses should consider. One WordPress security we didn’t discuss much was performing regular website backups. We actually have a blog post dedicated to WordPress backups. We highly recommend you read the post. Get caught up on the best practices for backing up. Find out what plugins we recommend for those backups. If you have any questions be sure to comment below and we’d be happy to answer!

WordPress 4.4.2 Release

Earlier this week WordPress 4.4.2 was released. A new security and maintenance patch for version 4.4.2. All WordPress 4.4.1 and earlier websites are strongly recommended to backup the entire website and push the 4.4.2 update immediately. Two security issues were found in WordPress 4.4.1 and earlier. We’d like to discuss the two vulnerabilities in more detail for educational purposes.

The two attacks were a Server Side Request Forgery (SSRF) for certain local URIs and an open redirection attack.

A SSRF is a vulnerability that appears when an attacker has the ability to create requests from the vulnerable server. In layman’s terms, an attacker can use SSRF to access the internal system that is not accessible from the outside world. This allows potential attackers to gain access to sensitive information stored on the website.You can see why WordPress wanted all of its websites to update immediately.

The second vulnerability, an open redirection attack, would allow an attacker to redirect the website to another source. For example, if a website is attacked with an open redirect, the website would take the user to another website. A good example is someone who redirects users who are going to destination A, but decides to take the users to destination B. Destination B can be numerous end points. From a program that installs malicious software to the computer being hijacked and requesting one’s credit card. The end game is not ideal for the non-savvy technical individual.

In addition to the WordPress 4.4.2 release plugging two major security holes, the update resolved 17 bugs from version 4.4 and 4.4.1. Feel free to browse the 17 WordPress bug fixes on the official website.

Highly recommended all WordPress website’s stay up to date with the latest releases. We discussed in another blog the importance of having all WordPress components updated. A good read about why it’s important to keep WordPress updated and how you can prevent malicious attacks to a WordPress website.

5 Types Of WordPress Websites You Can Create

The WordPress website platform recently reached the 25% milestone! The 25% represents the amount of websites on the Internet that are using the platform to power a website. Think about that for a moment. One out of every four websites are WordPress based. Impressive! WordPress is one of the top platforms trusted by many types of industries. We thought it would be a good idea to present the types of website’s WordPress powers. Let’s discuss how individuals, businesses, and non-profit websites are using WordPress.

Blog or Personal WordPress Website

personal-beautiful-theme
Personal WordPress Theme

 

WordPress began as a blogging platform that many early adopters used. The platform was clean in design, simple to use, and open source. Fast forward to today, lots of individuals use WordPress to blog about themselves and categories that interest them. Everything under the sun can be blogged about. Topics like politics, music, family, travel, health, you name it and there’s someone, somewhere blogging about one of these subjects. The personal / blog website is the lowest common denominator of all WordPress websites built today.

Business WordPress Website

wordpress-business-theme
X Theme Business WordPress Theme

Business based website’s have rapidly adopted WordPress as a platform to run the company website. Professionals ranging from lawyers, doctors, and real estate agents are using WordPress to augment the work the business has accomplished to present to their core audience. WordPress was built with small to medium businesses in mind. For example, WordPress comes with a standard content management system (CMS) that allows the business to manage all of the content on the website. We mentioned WordPress being open source (aka free) to the public. Any cost conscious business understands saving money. WordPress provides a business the ability to manage its own website with ease.

eCommerce WordPress Website

ecommerce-wordpress-theme
eCommerce WordPress Theme

You’re thinking, WordPress can be an eCommerce site? The quick answer is yes! Back in May of this year, the folks at Automattic purchased the popular WooCommerce system. In a nutshell, WooCommerce is a plugin that turns a WordPress website into a powerhouse eCommerce website. The plugin provides the ability to have a product page, establish pricing for specific products, control the shipping cost and so much more. The plugin itself is extremely robust. With WooCommerce a WordPress website will become an eCommerce website within in minutes.

Non-Profits and Religious WordPress Websites

charity-wordpress-theme
Non-Profit WordPress Theme

Foundations, charities, and non-profits are using the WordPress platform to raise awareness for the organization’s main cause. The platform fits perfectly for these types of websites. As we mentioned above, the WordPress platform for self hosted websites is a free platform. With these types of organizations who are not generating revenue on a consistent basis, having a WordPress based site keeps the cost low. Lastly, there are plenty of designers and developers who have themes specifically targeted to these organizations.

Portfolio WordPress Websites

portfolio-wordpress-theme
Portfolio WordPress Theme

Photographers, web and graphic designers, and artists this category is suitable for you. Nothing speaks louder than displaying previous projects and seeing what the designer has accomplished. The portfolio site is the perfect way to display finished products for potential customers. In addition, providing an explanation of what entailed to complete the project gives customers an inside look into how the project was completed and what steps were taken in order to accomplish the final product.

As you have read, WordPress has become a monster of a website platform. Not only does the platform account for 25% of all websites on the Internet, but a WordPress website can be used for any type of site. Feel free to share some of your websites in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!

Top 5 WordPress Backup Plugins

5 Best WordPress Plugins for Backup and Restore

WordPress Backup Introduction

Let’s face it, WordPress is one of the most famous content management systems (CMS) on the planet. Dare we say one of the most powerful. However, the power house CMS doesn’t have a standard way to backup the system and the website. Shocking we know. The real question is, why do you need to backup the system and the website? Simple, there are numerous viruses, hackers, and other vulnerabilities that threaten the website. The ability to restore a website from a backed up copy provides peace of mind. Knowing a backup on the website is performed on a regular basis allows the business owner a good nights rest. The good news is there are numerous plugins that can help with backing up the website and the option to restore the site should the website experience any issues.

1. UpdraftPlus Backup and Restoration

UpdraftPlus is one of the most popular backup and restorations plugins used on the WordPress.org repository. The plugin has 500,000+ active installations, meaning more than 500,000+ WordPress sites have the plugin installed. The plugin comes in two different versions, free and premium. The free version allows webmasters to backup the website and WordPress itself while storing the site on a remote storage. A remote server can consist of Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, to name few options. You can place the backup on a schedule to automate the process and have the ability to restore a website in case an issue were to arise. The plugin boasts the ability to quickly restore a website from the plugin and for added security layer can encrypt the data if need be. There are numerous other features that come equipped with the free version and the premium version comes with even more. Give UpdraftPlus Backup and Restoration a chance by downloading the plugin on the WordPress plugin repository.

2. VaultPress

VaultPress is an awesome plugin. The component is a premium plugin that comes with a one push solution, literally. VaultPress performs all of the work for you. Think of it as a set and forget. VaultPress performs numerous background backups, while the website chugs along. VaultPress is an example of a paid plugin that delivers when the time arises. The plugin begins at $5 / month for the most basic plan. A lot of small business websites can get away with the cheaper plan for a cost savings benefit. In addition to performing backups of the website, VaultPress offer security scans. The security scans ensure no malicious software is on the website during backups and notifies the webmaster if there are any issues. VaultPress is a premium at an affordable price point.

3. BackupBuddy

BackupBuddy is another premium plugin. The plugin is highly respected in the WordPress community and many webmasters have either used the plugin for themselves or have implemented the plugin for customers. The features BackupBuddy provides are inline with most of the other high end solutions, but what separates this plugin is the ability migrate a WordPress website. The plugin provides the ability for webmasters to make a copy of the website, deploy the copy on what developers call a sandbox, which is a copy of the customer’s website, onto another host. Same can be said for non-developers. Customers can clone a website and move the website to another host with a click of a button. BackupBuddy is a strong, premium backup plugin that we highly recommend for all WordPress websites.

4. BackWPUp

BackWPUp is a free backup solution numerous WordPress sites implement. The plugin’s free and premium version has been downloaded more than 2,000,000 times as of this writing. The free solution comes equipped with standard features including, database backup, Backup with various storage options (Dropbox, Amazon, Google Drive etc.), and checks and repairs the website’s Database. The free solution is adequate for smaller websites, while the premium can be purchased for more features. The premium version of the plugin comes equipped with all of the free features and premium support for the plugin. The premium version starts at $75 per year. The price is fairly competitive considering the other plugins on the list.

5. WordPress Backup to Dropbox

The name in the plugin says it all, WordPress is backed up to Dropbox. The simplistic plugin is a breeze to install and connect to a Dropbox account. All of the data the plugin backups is stored on Dropbox. Depending on the size of the Dropbox account, you will have to manage the backups that are uploaded. For example, backups take up a lot of space rather quickly. If the Dropbox account is using the free version, which only comes with 2GB, space will become limited quickly. The plugin is suitable for smaller websites and works nicely with a service most customers are comfortable with.

 

Keep WordPress Update :)

Why It’s Important To Keep WordPress Updated

In the early days of WordPress, the platform was considered insecure and unstable. Most companies did not want to place their business site on the platform. The stigma has slowly dwindled away with big corporations adopting the platform for a high end website. WordPress.org has a showcase of enterprise size companies who have designed sites on WordPress. The platform is powering sites such as the New York Times and the kings of rock n roll The Rolling Stones. There have been some scares this past year most notably the highly publicized XSS vulnerability that affected dozens of plugins, including Gravity Forms and Jetpack – and people started to worry again. The way to manage a WordPress site is to make sure all of the plugins, themes, and core files are up to date to the most stable version.

 

Let’s discuss best practices for site updates:

  • Why is it important to keep your site up-to-date
  • Best practices to keep the website updated to the most stable version
  • Which components need to be updated

 

Why It Is Crucial to Keep WordPress Updated

The obvious reason you should be updating the website is security. Each update patches bugs that have been newly discovered during the newest iteration of the platform. Hackers are always looking for vulnerabilities in a system and the goal of the update is to find these bugs before anybody else and squash them. A content management system (CMS) that powers more than 20% becomes a target for individuals to look for security holes. Whether these holes are found in themes, plugins, or core files, making sure the components are on the latest version provides a peace of mind. Customers we have interacted with in the past have had dozens of updates that need to be pushed out and when pushing out the updates the customer is assured the site is up to date and more secure. A good example to compare these updates with Windows update. You receive a little notification about updates that are required to be run in order to provide the highest possible security.

When we encounter a site, the first action item we perform is an audit on the back end of the site. If there are numerous updates that need to take place, the best plan is to clone the current site and perform these updates on a test server. We’ll discuss this in more detail in the next section. The point is make sure you have an updated site were all security holes are plugged and can prevent any damage to the website.

Updates aren’t just for security. More often than not an update will improve the performance of WordPress itself or of a plugin or theme. When WordPress releases an update performance to the site may improve. For example, there may be code within the platform that had been used in the past, but has been slowly useless and becomes obsolete. This allows the engine for the site to improve and run faster. Same goes for theme or plugin updates, performance can improve. Whether the author removed unnecessary code that slowed down the site or updated the code to run faster, the update will help increase the performance of the site. The faster the website, the more likely visitors will interact and engage with the content.

Lastly, updates can squash bugs that have lingered within a plugin, theme, or WordPress itself. These are potential bugs on the back end that gets cleaned up. Bug squashing is not a sexy task, but necessary to make sure the code is clean and the consumer does not experience any issues now and in the long run.

Best Practices To Keep WordPress Updated Completely

With the importance stressed in the previous section about keeping your site updated, we will provide some great steps in order to keep your site updated without any issues occurring. We will provide a high level overview of what we perform for our customers. To get the details of setting up a WordPress site and how to setup a stage website, you can read the article by Patrick Garman.

To begin, the best idea of working with a website is to have a copy of the website on a separate server, we call this a stage website. A stage website is an exact copy of the production website, but only accessible from the development team and the customer. The stage website acts as the development environment where code changes are made and components are updated to determine if anything breaks the site. The best aspect of having a staging environment is the ability to break anything and have no consequences. For example, if a plugin, theme, or core update is pending, you can test the update on the development site and make sure all components look good. On the other side, if an update is pending and pushed on the development site and components begin to break, chances are you know what happen and can resolve the issue almost immediately. The good news is the development server went down and not the main website. Having the development site helps prevent a fire alarm for all parties involved.

The staging site is a trick website developers have been using for quite some time. The practice provides developers and customers to test new feature changes on the stage site before the production (public facing) site see’s the changes. It ensures a smooth transition were all features are quality assured before seeing the light of day.

What Components Need To Be Updated?

As a WordPress website owner, you know how important it is to keep the website updated and ways to test updates when needed. Let’s discuss in more detail all of the components involved for updating. Starting with plugins. Plugins are defined by WordPress as a way to extend and add to the functionality that already exists in WordPress. There are numerous types of plugins, everything from converting a regular WordPress site into an eCommerce site to adding a simple contact form. By keeping WordPress plugins updated, you ensure all components are working on the latest version and prevent most security vulnerabilities. Updating a plugin can help with enhancing the website’s speed. The developers who manage these plugins are continuously modifying and stripping unnecessary code from the plugin, which in turn will help increase site load speed. Same argument can be said about theme and WordPress updates. By being on the latest version, you ensure the site’s security and enhance the site’s speed.

Whether the updates be the plugins, website’s theme, or WordPress core files, having the site updated to the most stable version provides peace of mind. Keep the website up to date and always ensure you are the safest you can be with having the site updated.

What Are WordPress Themes?

WordPress themes have been around since the first days of WordPress itself. Themes are what make a WordPress site look beautiful. The theme controls how your customers interact with the website. Themes are the design aspect, while plugins help provide additional features and functionality. In a previous blog we touched on what exactly WordPress plugins were and how you as a WordPress site owner can use plugins to add even more features. In this next blog post, we’ll discuss what themes are, how can you take advantage of preexisting themes, and what to look for when choosing a theme.

 

What Exactly Are Themes?

Think of WordPress themes as a template for a website. A WordPress theme comes equipped with numerous features, such as responsive design for mobile devices, designed to look amazing on retina displays, and a whole lot of robust goodies. There are numerous places a WordPress site owner can obtain themes. For starters, WordPress.org has its very own repository of free and premium themes. You are allowed to browse thousands of themes to see which type of design best fits your goals. Most of the themes on the repository offer a demo site to take the theme for a test drive. WordPress puts these themes through rigorous testing prior to the theme seeing the light of day on the repository. The team over at Automattic want to ensure all themes pass a specific checklist, before allowing the author to publish the theme on the WordPress.org site. Once the theme has been approved by Automattic, the template is added to the repository. There are two different types of themes for WordPress websites, free and premium. Both differ in terms of features and support. For example, free themes are standard templates that have minimal features. However, if your site is small and has between 10 – 15 pages, a free theme may be enough for your site. The premium themes come with a robust set of features. Including customized shortcodes, page builders, and custom functionality. Here’s an example of a premium theme named Avada, found on another WordPress repository ThemeForest.net. The Avada theme comes equipped with many features that a website owner can take advantage of. Such as a custom page builder for novice WordPress users and the ability to build an eCommerce store. Before purchasing a premium theme, it is bes tto perform some due diligence and read about what people are saying about the theme. Focus on the reviews, the comments users leave behind, and if the themes features meet all of your site requirements.

The Pros & Cons Of Preexisting Themes

Any type of web development for a website involves design. Each business wants a unique site that makes them stand out from the competition. When the term unique is used as a requirement, the developer understands time and costs will be much higher to accomplish the task. With WordPress, this notion is much different. Of course you can have a custom design within WordPress that meets your specific goals. The question is are you ready to spend more money that comes with custom design? Custom designs can be pricey and time consuming. Talk to professional designers and they can tell you how expensive custom sites can become. The good news is with WordPress there are options. As mentioned earlier, WordPress.org has a dedicated repository of themes. Some are free to download, while others are premium and can be bought for a price. When choosing a theme lots of money is saved and the design phase can be cut out. Design is a heavy part of any web project and saving money for small businesses is an aspect all owners can appreciate. There is a good news, bad news situation when using preexisting themes. The positive is you save time and money on a design with a standardize layout already predetermined. In addition, for most individuals who are building there own website, having a an established design allows the person to plugin content were needed. There will be a learning curve with any theme, but once the user has experience with the theme completing specific tasks will become more efficient. The negative aspect about purchasing a plug and play theme is the robustness. For example, a lot of themes from ThemeForest.net have many features the website may or may not use. Sure it is nice to have a drag and drop builder on the back end, but is this a feature the website owner really needs? Themes that are developed from third parties are wonderful, you have to make sure the theme is right for you and being supported on a regular basis. Lastly, make sure the theme works with the many iterations of the WordPress core system. There’s more we can discuss about the pros and cons of established themes. The goal is to provide you a basic understanding of how these themes work and what to look for when choosing a theme.

 

What To Look For When Choosing A WordPress Theme

I began to dive into what attributes to look for in the previous paragraph. Making sure a theme is continuously supported, the author who developed the theme responds in a timely manner, and the theme works with the latest versions of WordPress are good starting points. The more research you can perform on what individuals are saying who have purchased the theme, the more informed decision you can make when deciding on what theme to choose. We’ll stay at a high level with this post, you may have come across the term WordPress frameworks. One definition of a WordPress framework is a stand-alone base/starter theme that is intended either to be forked into another Theme. This basically means, the framework is a separate entity that works within a specific theme. There are numerous blog posts that can be read for this specific topic and we will cover it down the road. Here’s a standard checklist of what you want to look for when deciding to purchasing a theme.

 

  • The theme works with the latest version of WordPress and beyond.
  • The author is responsive to questions about the theme and may even have his own support forum
  • The theme has excellent reviews from previous buyers
  • All of the minimal features are programmed onto the theme ready to go out of the box
  • The author is reputable and a decent size portfolio of other WordPress Themes
  • Take the theme for a test drive by viewing the demo site (always my favorite part!)
  • The developer has worked within WordPress for quite some time

 

There is no perfect way of choosing a theme, but making an intelligent decision by using basic deduction skills can prevent headaches down the road. Most pre-designed themes can be modified by a WordPress developer should the occasion rise. Good luck when choosing a theme and if you have any questions, let’s chat in the comments section below.

What Are WordPress Plugins?

You have a WordPress website and have heard about plugins, but are not quite sure what a plugin is. What exactly are WordPress plugins? Definition from WordPress.org, WordPress plugins are ways to extend and add to the functionality that already exists in WordPress. Plugins range from adding a contact form to the website to implementing the functionality of converting a simple WordPress site into a powerhouse eCommerce store. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of WordPress plugins and how you can make sure you have the right plugins installed for your WordPress site.

WordPress Plugins – The Good

Plugins are wonderful components to add specific functionality to a WordPress site. For individuals who are not WordPress programmers, plugins are a way to add a component to the site without asking the developer to program. Think of it as an app being installed on an iPhone. Before installing any plugin, it is best to perform due diligence on the plugin and the author who developed the plugin. For example before downloading the plugin and installing the plugin onto the WordPress site, read the reviews that are left by actual users. You can see what customers who use the plugin are saying and if anybody is experiencing any issues with the plugin itself. We’ll provide an example for supportive purposes. You research and find the following plugin, Deprecation Checker. Here’s where you perform your due diligence. You’ll notice a couple of red flags with this plugin. First the plugin is outdated which is indicated by a banner at the top of the page. The banner reads, this plugin hasn’t been updated in over 2 years. It may no longer be maintained or supported and may have compatibility issues when used with more recent versions of WordPress. A superb way of informing users that this plugin is no longer being kept up and should refrain from using.

Second, you’ll notice the plugin is not compatible with WordPress 3.4 or higher. You never want to install a plugin that is not compatible with the most recent WordPress version. As of this writing the most current version of WordPress is 4.2.2. If a plugin is not up to date, the plugin can cause issues within your WordPress site. More on this subject in the next section. Overall this specific plugin is outdated and is not supported by the developer. The plugin should not be installed on a WordPress site and avoided at all cost. Let’s go over the con of plugins and why plugins separate WordPress from other platforms.

WordPress Plugins – The Bad

There are multiple ways of obtaining plugins. There are dedicated repositories for WordPress plugins that you can download for free such as WordPress.org/plugins or premium plugins from third party sites like ElegantThemes, Themeforest, and iThemes. Why are WordPress plugins bad? Let’s start with outdated plugins. Let’s say you download a free plugin and install it on your WordPress site. The plugin is used on a daily basis. Time goes on, the WordPress core gets updated as well as themes. Months pass by and the installed plugin has not been updated for quite some time. Even worse, the developer who made the plugin decides to no longer support the plugin, what is a small business to do in this instance? For starters, do not panic. The good news is most WordPress developers have the ability to comprehend the plugin code and take over the plugin to determine what can be salvaged. If a plugin is poorly coded then chances are you will have to deactivate, then uninstall the plugin, and hire a developer to program a new version of the plugin, which may be costly. The solution is to always download or purchase plugins from developers who plan to stick around for the long haul.

Plugins take up space on the web server the website is hosted on. Managing plugins is no small feat and having multiple plugins not in use can possibly slow down the website’s performance. One other aspect of having multiple plugins not in use can leave a security hole. If plugins are not updated when new releases come out and the plugin is not updated, this leaves a possible vulnerability that hackers can use to access the website. We discussed the importance of keeping plugins updated in another blog post.

Conclusion

WordPress plugins outweigh the good more than the bad. WordPress was able to separate themselves from other web platforms by including this unique feature. By allowing non-website individuals to install plugins without having to pay a developer a fee to program a new feature saves the business owner money. The goal is to make sure you perform due diligence when installing a plugin, making sure the plugin is constantly supported by the developer, and the plugin is keeping up with WordPress changes by staying compatible with the most recent instance of WordPress. Happy plugin hunting!

Is WordPress Right For You?

You may have heard of WordPress and all of the recent issues the platform has experienced over the last several weeks. We are here to tell you that WordPress is right for you and will explain why this platform is still one of the best platforms a website owner can use. Let’s begin with the obvious – WordPress is not a perfect platform, heck what platform is perfect. WordPress suffered some recent hacks from nefarious individuals looking to collect sensitive data. WordPress may have flaws with bugs being discovered, but the platform as a whole is one of the most used and secure systems used within the web design industry. Yes you read that correctly, security is an aspect the WordPress community takes seriously. Without further ado let’s discuss the real reasons WordPress is the right website platform for you and your business.

WordPress System

There are two different WordPress systems that are available to the general public. WordPress.com is the free platform that hosts blogs and websites for free. The free platform is managed by the good folks over at Automattic and is a closed ecosystem that offers limited customization. The other instance of WordPress is an open-source software which is located on WordPress.org available for download. You can download the latest version of the WordPress open-source software and install the files on a web host such as Bluehost, HostGator, and others. The open-source WordPress system is one of the most used software that powers millions of websites around the web. If the software is good enough for companies like Vouge, Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art, and the New York Post it’s a safe assumption that the platform is good enough for any business.

Manage WordPress Website

This section was actually covered in depth in another blog post, but the importance of proper WordPress management is so critical we thought we would reiterate the importance of WordPress management. Before we continue, we will be discussing the open source software version of WordPress going forward. WordPress itself is famous for its many aspects the system comes with. Everything from themes, plugins, and custom post types, the platform comes equipped with additional components to enhance the website. Once the open-source software is installed, you now have the access to the dashboard where you will be doing all of your content updates, design modifications, and adding plugins to enhance the functionality of the website. All these little nuances provide enhancements to the site and are aspects you must manage. Plugins, themes, and WordPress itself are constantly being updated which help keep the open-source software secure. Making sure all of these components are up-to-date and functioning properly is key to having a website secure and performing at an optimal level.

WordPress Dashboard
WordPress Dashboard

Why WordPress Is Right For You!

If we were unable to convince you of how secure and safe the platform is, lets discuss the security in more detail. The recent activity that caused a stir in the WordPress community was a vulnerability that left the WordPress instance open to attack. The discrepancy was found in the default twenty fifteen theme inside the genericons package. Once the vulnerability became public, the WordPress team got together and within a respectable amount of time delivered a patch to resolve the vulnerability. Here is a great example of how fast the community got together, put in place a solution, and was able to push out the update within a week. If this were to happen to a non WordPress site, chances are the website would have remained exposed without the webmaster or customer knowing. The community within WordPress are friendly and helpful individuals who assist when possible. You can visit the forum were lots of questions are answered about multiple issues. Security has and will get better over time.

Conclusion

There is no bullet proof firewall that will block intruders from accessing data on your website. However, there are ways to help slow down such attacks and having a proactive management approach is one of them. When working with customers, we ensure the WordPress instance is locked down with difficult passwords to guess, security protocols to prevent brute force entry, and other secure methods. Let’s chat in the comments section below about WordPress and perhaps you disagree with what has been proposed in the blog post. We’d love to hear from you!

Did Your Website Survive Google’s Mobile-Geddon?

Mobile-Geddon Has Arrived

Google announced back in February that all websites that are not mobile friendly by April 21st will be dinged on mobile organic search. The day has come and gone with the new search algorithm in play for all languages. With a little over four weeks now since the algorithm was implemented, we’d like to discuss why it is so important to have a mobile website and how the WordPress platform can help improve the website’s mobile experience.

The Importance Of Mobile Optimization

The official word came out from Google on May 5th that more searches are performed on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries. One of the 10 countries is the good ole USA. Let the fact of mobile searches having surpassed traditional desktops in USA sink in. We’ll wait. What does this mean for your website? Simple, the day of waiting on implementing a mobile website is gone. If you do not have a mobile optimized site you will see your website ranking dip in the search engine results page. Begin talking to the webmaster who manages the website and plan for incorporating a mobile version of the website this year. A good point of reference is the website’s analytics account. This will you and the webmaster to determine what pages are most visited and most important to conversions. We strongly recommend sitting down and planning out the mobile information architecture prior to any coding takes place. You may not get the mobile site of your dreams initially, but having a mobile site implemented will help secure a higher ranking.

WordPress Can Help With Mobile

WordPress is known for the many features that come of the box. The platform comes equipped with a content management system (CMS for short) which allows the webmaster to modify and manage content. Another amazing feature is the community involved with WordPress. There are numerous developers who specialize and sell preexisting themes specifically for WordPress related sites. These themes come equipped with mobile sites, mostly responsive based. Responsive web design responds to the size of the screen the website is displayed on. A WordPress feature that comes out of the box. The responsive site sites were built for smartphones and tablet devices, which in today’s world have many different sizes. There is no excuse for a WordPress site to not have a responsive website and be Google approved. Make it a goal for making your website a mobile friendly one this year. Don’t wait before its too late.