WordPress Categories and Tags, Aug 18, 2015

What are WordPress “Categories” and “Tags“, how do they differ and how are they best used? Categories: In WordPress, posts should be organized into Pre-set Categories. Categories help sort similar posts together and keep a clear structure. Every post must belong to at least one category. By default, WordPress installs with a single category: “Uncategorized”. That is only there to fulfill the post category requirement before any custom categories are established. Categories are broad topics under which similar posts can be listed. They can be compared to “chapter headings” in a text book, or an Art Gallery – one room for oil paintings, another room for drawings, another room for photographs. Posts should be under one category, but sometimes can have multiple categories, although that needs to be carefully managed to avoid posts appearing in multiple places. Categories organize content in a rational way. Its important a site’s categories names are set up with careful though regarding the subject and content. A clear descriptive word should be used to name categories, and should relate to the site. In a site about “Art”, categories could include “Paintings”, “Drawings”, “Photos”, etc. The more accurate and descriptive the category name, the better for SEO. Search engines take note of the category names, and this will help them list the content appropriately. Depending on a theme, a post may display the category name it’s listed under at the top of the post. This gives the viewer additional clarification as to the post content. If they click that category name/link, it will open a “Archive” page (index listing) of all post under that specific category. So if a viewer is at a site dealing with art,...

July 21st, 2015: Lock Down WordPress!

Increasing the default security of WordPress has become essential. Several excellent security plugin’s are available but this one appears to offer a more robust system than others. *** BEFORE ACTIVATING ANY SECURITY PLUGIN, KNOW HOW TO DEACTIVATE IT IF ACCIDENTALLY LOCKED OUT!!*** WordPress plugin: “All in one WP Security and Firewall” by Tips & Tricks. A comprehensive, user-friendly, all in one WordPress security and firewall plugin for your site. WordPress itself is a very secure platform. However, it helps to add some extra security and firewall to your site by using a security plugin that enforces a lot of good security practices. This plugin is designed and written by experts and is easy to use and understand. It reduces security risk by checking for vulnerabilities, and by implementing and enforcing the latest recommended WordPress security practices and techniques. https://www.tipsandtricks-hq.com/wordpress-security-and-firewall-plugin Our security and firewall rules are categorized into “basic”, “intermediate” and “advanced”. This way you can apply the firewall rules progressively without breaking your site’s functionality. This plug in offers a multitude of settings that can change the way the site works, and helps secure and lock down the site. Settings go from basic to more advanced and allow fine-tuning to be compatible with the requirements and theme in use. Some settings can affect how a theme works, so each security setting has to be carefully checked and tested. The plugin works by writing to the .htaccess file and possibly wp-config.php. It’s important to be aware of what it does! Some important settings include: Changing the default login page Changing the WordPress table prefix in the database * Prevent “Brute...

DACS Web Site Design SIG, May 19, 2015

The DACS Web Design Workshop/SIG is coming up Tuesday night, May 19th, 7 – 9 pm at the DACS Resource Center, Ives Manor (lower level), 198 Main Street, Danbury. How does one “design” a website? Regarding the front-end graphical interface – what comes first, a unique design pulled from one’s imagination, or a search for a “canned” design created by someone else, and then customized to our own liking? Nowadays the 2nd option is faster, but finding the right theme and options is not always easy. Let’s look at some of the considerations, and how the customization process works. Although we’ll discuss WordPress installations, the concept can apply to other CMS, or HTML...

April 21, Analyzing a New Website Built on Drupal

Recent meetings have focused a lot on WordPress , but this time we’ll change direction and take a look at a new Drupal website  (CMS platform) built by Andy Woodruff. It’s quite successful from the get-go, but there are always things that can be tweaked. We’ll discuss the overall design, effectiveness, content and more. What desirable add-on’s could be implemented and how. Take a look (http://nocodfishtower.com/) and join us to contribute your...

Backup and Restore WordPress

There are several ways to backup a WordPress installation. Plugins can do the work, and run backups automatically according to a set schedule. Backups can be saved locally, or in a cloud server. Multiple versions of backups need to be stored, just in case a site gets corrupted and a backup is made before it’s noticed. Schedule of backups depend on how often a site is updated – by adding content or by updating software. Backup is only half the battle. But what is the process to restore or move a WordPress installation? Files are located in 2 separate locations. The core WordPress files, and the uploads folder, plugins, themes, etc, are in the root of the server. The actual data is stored in a database, so a restore needs to move both these areas of content. WordPress backups can be a “Database Only“, or a “Full Database” which also includes the database. Within a “Full” backup, specific files or folders can be excluded, making it possible to control the size of a backup. To move an entire Website to another location or server, a Full backup is required. This also includes the database content. Plugin options include: BackupBuddy: Fee-based, ($80 yr/2 licenses, $100 yr/10 licenses) very popular and easiest to use BackWPup: Free WordPress plugin, one of many available. Quite popular, n Preparations to move a website using BackupBuddy: When BackupBuddy is first installed and activated it requires a password to be entered. This password is required for any restore functions! A new hosting location needs to be established, and a new database set up on the server. The database...

March 17, Restoring WordPress from a Backup

Disaster strikes and your WordPress website goes down. You try to fix it, but after a moment of panic your remember you have backups. (You do have backups…?) Although there’s a big emphasis on backing up, do you know how to actually restore a site from a backup? It’s a ‘process’ and during a crisis would be the worst time to learn. We’ll take a look at the options and perform a restoration from one or two backup systems. Will you be restoring to the same server/database? Or are you planning to move the entire WordPress site to a different host? We’ll open PHPmyadmin and import a database, and/or set up a new one. We’ll restore the ‘easy’ way, using BackupBuddy, and we’ll...

From Static to Responsive

If you have a static website, can it be “converted” to a responsive website? The answer depends on several variables, but in most cases the answer is probably “No”! Only a few years ago the layout of a website was designed to fit a larger screens and ‘wow’ us with static images and plenty of content. (Google likes lots of text – right?) Now requirements have done an about-face. Contemporary website designs are displaying content pared down to a few essentials. So a new design starts with the mobile display, and only after that is set, is the desktop / large screen display coded and styled. Possible ways of dealing with responsiveness for an existing static pixel-based web site: Create a whole new site, with re-written content and re-considered priorities Develop an alternate duplicate (simplified) website designed and displayed solely on smaller screens Develop an alternate greatly simplified version of the site to be seen on smart phones only Attempt to convert static HTML tables to flexible percentage-based divs. (HTML and CSS can-of-worms) Add mobile CSS definitions to be displayed depending on viewport size. (Through media queries) Ignore the whole thing (Google will punish you) Static web sites created with div’s or tables, set to a width around 960px wide may be “reasonably” functional on a tablet or iPad held horizontally, however, text links and buttons may be too small for a finger touch. If you use Google Analytics or other tracking systems, research how many of your viewers are using alternate media. That will give an indication what size you need to consider most. Viewport sizes ranges: 320...

DACS Workshop, February 17, 2015

Google favors responsive websites… And since ever-increasing people are viewing websites on their smart phones or tablets, it’s becoming more urgent to upgrade static sites to responsive sites. If you have an existing static site, what would be the best way to convert it? Let’s explore the options and their...

Exploring HTTPS Security for all Websites

The trend is towards having a secure connection to a website. Google is starting to take this into  consideration in their search results. If you don’t sell anything, how important and desirable is it, and how do we install it? If you have a simple form, such as a newsletter signup form, the data is sent insecure and the user’s email address “could” be intercepted(?) With HTTPS, information is secured via Transport Layer Security protocol (TLS), which provides three key layers of protection: Encryption – safe from eavesdroppers Data Integrity – data can’t be intercepted or changed Authentication – proof the site is the ‘real’ one, not a spoof Get s certificate from a reliable CA that offers support. 3 types of certificates: Single certificate  ” www.example.com“ Multi-domain certificate ( www.example.com, cdn.example.com, example.co.uk). Wildcard certificate for subdomains ( a.example.com, b.example.com). Once it’s set up, the site needs to be redirected from the http:// to https:// Use relative URL’s under the same domain name Does the web server support “Server Name Indication”.  While SNI is supported by all modern browsers, you’ll need a dedicated IP if you need to support older browsers. A dedicated IP address will need to be set up with the host, usually at an increased hosting cost. Google Help Google Ranking  “…we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it’s only a very lightweight signal — affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight...

Essential WordPress Plugins

WordPress plugins are additional “apps” that enhance the functionality of WordPress. WordPress works quite well “out of the box”, but chances are you’ll be installing several plugins before your new site is ready to go live. The best place to search for plugins is on https://wordpress.org/plugins/. These plugins have been tested and assumed to be safe. However, do take note of the plugin details such as  compatibility with current core files, popularity stars, comments, and how often it is updated. They are free, however, many of the plugin designers also offer upgraded versions for a fee. Check the plugin author’s websites to learn more before installing a plugin. Once installed and activated, most plugins have a variety of settings that need to be tweaked and personalized. Be sure to check them carefully, and check your site front-end pages to make sure there are no unexpected results. Security: A good security plugin allows for fine-tuning what visitors can do, and helps keep out hackers and spammers. Wordfence has extensive settings and also shows traffic information. There are many security plugins, so research them before installing one. Wordfence:  https://wordpress.org/plugins/wordfence/ http://makeaweblog.com/configuring-wordfence-security/ https://www.wpkb.com/wordfence-security-setting-the-options/ Securi: http://wordpress.org/plugins/sucuri-scanner/ IThemes Security: https://wordpress.org/plugins/better-wp-security/ http://ithemes.com/security/ Backing up: A backup plugin allows for automated scheduled backup’s, with user-control over what is backed up, just the database, everything, or only important content files. On a large site backups can become quite large and difficult to manage, so having control over what is backed up can be helpful. The location of the backup also needs to be determined. Best is offsite to a cloud server such as Dropbox or Amazon S3. Storing a backup in the root folder on the...