Tables That You Can Sort and Search

Tables, or grids, are a good way to present data on websites. I really like jQuery DataTables for handling tables of information. In the demo below you can sort by column or search the entire grid.


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Responsive Newspaper-Style Columns are Easy with CSS

Newspaper or magazine-style columns are a good way to break up large blocks of text, especially if images are included.  With CSS, responsive columns are really easy to achieve. The following demo shows two blocks of columns, one with a title that spans all of the columns, and one with an image.  Here is the CSS I used (this was done pretty on the fly and some of the code could be condensed a little better in a production environment). If you want to play with the original and see how it reacts to browser widths just click here.


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Use Tooltips to Add Context

Tooltips are boxes that pop up when a user hovers (or clicks) on a link.  They can be used to add context to an external link – for example to advise that the link leads off-site or will play a video or sound. They are also useful as a substitute for footnotes in longer articles.  Use them to cite a source in a less obtrusive way, or add a comment to a word or phrase.  The following demo shows a lightweight tooltip plugin that is easy to use and reader-friendly.  I especially like them in article where a lot of acronyms or foreign words are found – it is easy to hover over the link to display the expanded meaning of the word.


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Updating Inspiration Posts Plus New Additions

Recently I’ve been going over beyond-paper.com, making sure links are working and tutorials are current.  After several server moves, a switch to https and time, I found quite a few of my Inspiration posts were out of date. Inspiration posts are neat little ideas for websites, each with a working demo, so it is important to get them up to date.  A few were impossible because some information providers (Facebook and Twitter, I’m looking at you) have removed or substantially changed how data is shared.  I noted on the post if the demo is not working.  For the posts where the demos are working, I embedded the demos in iframes so that you can interact with the demo right on the page. In going through the demos, I have about 50 that I have never even posted about!  I’m going to go through them one-by-one and get  them all posted over the next 3 months. Have an inspiration you want me to take a look at?  Contact me at diane@beyond-paper.com.


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Review: Amazon Echo Dot (2nd Gen) and Alexa

Star Trek and science fiction prepared me as a child for computers with voice activation.  Who wouldn’t like to get information my asking a question?  How about manage a connected home with just a few phrases?  Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa and its hardware sidekick are inching closer to that reality. I installed Dot only five days ago, but have already experienced the highs of the coolness factor as well as the lows of limitations.  There is a lot to like about it, but it definitely is a work in progress. Installation The Echo Dot is hockey-puck sized and comes packaged with a usb cable and plugin for power and a cable to connect it to speakers.  I placed it on a side table next to where we sit in the living room.  After plugging it into power you will need to download the Alexa mobile app.  Setup via the app is a simple step-by-step process.  It took about half an hour total for me from the time I opened the box through integrating my Philips Hue lights, Google Calendar and Amazon Prime Account. The packaging includes a booklet with commands to try such as “Alexa, why is the sky blue?”, “Alexa, […]


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Subtle (or not so) Background Animation

Recently my computer updated and while the updates were running a message appeared on the screen with a blue background.  The background kind of pulsed from light to dark blue and looked really neat.  It got me thinking how to make something similar for a website. As an experiment, I have two demos.  The first is for the body tag and affects the entire background and fades smoothly between six different colors.  Here is the CSS that sets the colors: The effect is achieved by using @keyframes. In short, keyframes are a way to specify CSS styles which the browser will scroll through, doing each change in order with blending from one change to the other. I used percentages here to specify when the change will happen – so each color lasts 20% of the total animation running time. Now we have to tell the browser which element to apply this animation to. See the “rainbow” right after @-webkit-keyframes (and @keyframes)? That is the name for this animation. We will use it to assign it to the body tag: Here we tell the browser to use the “rainbow” animation, make the whole animation last 15 seconds and keep looping around. The image […]


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The Danger of Free WordPress Themes

I was recently asked to assist a new client in restoring their hacked website.  The client is a small alternative medicine practice with a self-hosted WordPress installation that seemed to suddenly have developed a mind of its own.  Banner ads appeared without warning, content was replaced by political rants, and sometimes the site wouldn’t even load. It was a nightmare for the client. A quick review of the files showed that the culprit was two-fold.  First, the WordPress install had not been updated in two years.  In WordPress time two years is forever and definitely left the site open to vulnerabilities.  Although only five plugins were used, none of them had been updated in two years either.  However, lack of updates wasn’t the culprit here; it was the theme. About a month prior to noticing the hacked site, the client had asked an employee who claimed to be WordPress savvy to update the site.  She had found a free theme somewhere (she couldn’t remember where), installed it, made a few content changes to the site and then didn’t check back until a patient advised that the site was hacked around a month later. There are a number of problems at […]


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Removing Image Links in WordPress

By default WordPress adds a link to images you upload and place in posts and pages.  The link just goes to a page that shows the image.  This behavior is undesirable for two reasons. First, it is unexpected behavior.  Users expect links to take them somewhere useful and most of the time a page with just the image on it may not be what they were expecting.  This confuses users and, if they aren’t computer-savvy, they may leave your site altogether if they can’t figure out how to get back to the page they were reading. Second, it may hurt your SEO ranking by adding unfruitful links to your page weight.  In some cases the search engine may return the image page instead of your post in a search result! While you can choose what to link to when you upload new images, what is the solution for the oodles of images you’ve already uploaded? WPBeginner has a quick, easy solution.  First, log into your WordPress admin and then click on Appearance->Editor.  There will be a list of files on the right side.  Look for functions.php and click on it.  It will load in the central edit box.  Copy and paste […]


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Don’t Trust Friends Who “Know About WordPress”

It has now happened for the fourth time.  I received an email from a client for whom I set up a WordPress site.  Instead of contracting with me to move their site, they went with their friend/teenager/employee/volunteer who “knew about WordPress”.  They moved the site to a new host, cancelled the old host, but the new site doesn’t work. Why?  Because WordPress works with a database and the person who “knew about WordPress” didn’t transfer the database, just the files. Three years of content lost. Except…. Huzzah for backups! I’d set up backups to be saved to the site AND emailed to the client.  The client had been deleting the backups in her email, but the latest backup was transferred to their new hosting along with the rest of the files.  I quoted rush pricing to get their site up and running again, which they declined.  Their  person who “knew about WordPress” could get it installed. I received another email.  The person who “knew about WordPress” couldn’t figure out “where the database is”. As I half expected, I ended up restoring the site per my rush quote.  If they’d come to me to begin with it would have cost 1/3 […]


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10 Essential WordPress Plugins

With almost 40,000 plugins available to WordPress users, WordPress’ core functionality can be expanded to meet the needs of nearly anyone.  Lots of sites list their “XX Must-Have WordPress Plugins” and I’m joining the parade.  Here are the plugins I find absolutely necessary for every WordPress installation. 1. W3 Total Cache W3 Total Cache speeds up your site “by increasing server performance, reducing the download times and providing transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration”. 2.  Yoast SEO Yoast SEO controls all aspects of managing the SEO for your site.  You can add meta descriptions, custom page titles and run checks that tell you how well you nailed your keyword content. 3. iThemes Security iThemes Security has saved several clients from brute-force attacks.  I use this to schedule backups, change the name of the admin folder and generally lock down client sites.   Login attempts can be limited, IP addresses or even countries excluded from accessing your site and it hooks into a blacklist database to automatically exclude notorious IP addresses. 4. Gravity Forms Gravity Forms isn’t free, but I use it on nearly all of my client sites. It is flexible, has conditional logic, is easy to set up and style, […]


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Morning Routine: Social Media, The Brain and Walkies

First things first Every morning I go through the same routine.  First the email check and delete. Select All email and then click off the email I want to keep.  These are usually all actionable items.  The rest gets deleted. Next come the local news, online.  Our local newspaper sucks, so this takes maybe three minutes to peruse before taking a look at Google News headlines just to make sure something momentous hasn’t happened overnight.  Next comes Facebook, about 3-5 minutes of seeing what my friends are up to.  At the most I’ve now spent 15 minutes of my morning and usually at this time Peanut comes in ready for her walk.  By “ready for her walk” I actually mean nothing will get done until I take her for her walk because she’ll try and climb in my lap until my full attention is centered on her. Social media time Back from my walk I fire up TweetDeck and check my notifications and various searches.  Buffer gets loaded in another window; I use it to schedule tweets and posts to LinkedIn and Facebook.  I have two screens, so in my main screen I start Feedly and browse the feeds from all of the blogs […]


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HostGator’s Support Approaching Comcast Levels

 I’ve been with HostGator for several years, migrating there from GoDaddy due to extremely slow hosting.  It was love at first site; my WordPress sites ran fast, support was fast and easy (phone, chat or email) and everything just worked. Then I started to have problems.  The first problem was my sites slowing down to a crawl.  HostGator helped me identify WordPress’ heartbeat API as the issue and things went well for awhile.  Then my account went down. My account has my business website as well as 7 other websites, set up as subdomains. Three of those sites are customer websites who just needed basic brochure-website style hosting.  It was a shared hosting account and worked just fine for years.  None of the sites (including my business site) get a huge amount of traffic.  My bandwidth usage is just a fraction of what I’m allowed. Two weeks ago, after running nine updates for WordPress for my business site not only my business site, but my entire account was “turned off” by HostGator due to excessive server usage.  All of my sites were down, including my customer accounts.  All without notice.  It took 20 minutes for me to receive notification by […]


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Help Me Find WordPress Plugins to Make Your Life Easier

Regular readers know that I write custom WordPress plugins.  Currently I have three plugins in the WordPress repository: BP Pretty Quote:  Creates nicely formatted quotation blocks BP Expire Category:  Removes a post from a category on a certain date BP Post to Google Map: Add lat/lng coordinates to WordPress posts so they can be displayed on a Google Map BP Post to Google Map also has a premium version which adds custom markers, geocoding and the ability to import GPX files or create coordinates for polylines for Google Maps. Solving Problems Each of these plugins were initially created to solve a problem for a client.  BP Pretty Quote was a collection of CSS formats I’d collected and which a client wanted to be able to insert into her blog easily.  BP Expire Category came about after a client wanted a “break news” category where posts would only be associated with the category for a specific period of time.  BP Post to Google Map was inspired by a sector of my clients that currently use custom-coded back end applications to manage Google Map markers for their tourism-based sites.  Their sites are +5 years old and I hope to switch them to […]


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How a WordPress Plugin Brought Down My Entire Hosting Account

After a five day break enjoying the blues at the Winthrop Rhythm and Blues Festival I was back in my office on Tuesday morning, ready for a blog post.  Logging into WordPress revealed 9 plugins that needed updating so, as I’ve done countless times before, I chose all of them and hit “update”. Everything went smoothly enough, except for one plugin that had some problems, Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin.  I disabled it and then re-enabled it and, to my surprise, got a “Could not connect to database” error message.  Logging into my hosting cPanel everything looked fine there, but soon I received an email from my hosting company, HostGator, that said my account was shut down because of excessive mySQL useage.  I have a shared hosting account, which is what most people use, and the database associated with my business website was exceeding 65% of the database processing power for my server. My account hosts 9 other websites, so this was a huge problem – everything was down, not just my own business site. I won’t relate the headaches I had dealing with HostGator other than to relate that although my problem was finally escalated after my account was down for […]


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Can You Maintain Your WordPress Site?

I logged into my WordPress-run website this morning after being gone for 5 days to find 9 updates, 4 of which were ‘critical’.  Critical updates are those which fix bugs or security issues and really need to be run immediately. This isn’t unusual, of course.  WordPress and their plugins are constantly updating, which is actually a good thing.  Active updates mean improved features  and if you apply those updates it means your site is better protected and has the latest functionality. There is the cost of your time however.  Like this morning.  As usual I updated all 9 plugins at once and immediately crashed my site.  I had to disable the plugins I’d updated manually (see below) and the re-activate them one at a time to figure out which one was causing the error.  Wouldn’t you know it, the error disappeared.  It took me about 20 minutes to resolve the error and get my site up and running again.  Then I did a manual backup to be on the safe side.  So 30 minutes out of a busy day. Of course, I knew exactly what steps to take when the updates failed – so what took me 30 minutes might take you […]


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Friday: My Learning Day

Fridays are low-production days for me.  My mind is on the weekend, sometimes I’m getting the trailer ready to go camping, and often my husband is working around the house, which is distracting.  Summer is generally slower for me as well, so I tell my clients I am unavailable on Fridays save for emergencies and use that day to clean my desk, work on my business, and especially expand my skills. If you are anything like me you probably get caught up in the daily workflow and just managing to get everything done can be a struggle.  Meanwhile the coding world is moving on like the ever-expanding universe, ceaselessly creating newly created applications, frameworks, libraries, and workflow systems.  Who has time to look at them, much less figure out if that new framework is better that what you are currently using? During the rest of the week I collect all references to things I find interesting in one place.  Since I use The Brain, I keep the links in my master brain, but you could use a bookmarks folder or even a text file.  Every Friday I go through the list, read the articles, check out what interests me and test-drive any […]


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WordPress BP Pretty Quote: New Pullquote Style

The BP Pretty Quote plugin, which is free in the WordPress repository, has a new style: Pullquote. Most of the current styles are appropriate for quoting famous people or for creating a post just containing that quote.  The Pullquote style is different.  Use it in long, text-heavy WordPress Posts or Pages to [bpiq style = “pullquote”]highlight important thoughts or concepts and break up the wall of text[/bpiq]. This style of quote is popular in magazines and newspapers and now you can add it to your own site. How to Use It Assuming you have BP Pretty Quote installed and updated, write your post/page content first.  Pick out the quote you want to highlight and put the shortcode around it like this: [[bpiq style = “pullquote” position=”right” width=”30%” color=”#FFF” textcolor=”#666″]The quoted text here in your paragraph[/bpiq]] You don’t need to include all of the options except for “style”.  The position, width, color and textcolor options I used above are all defaults, so just reference them if you want to change one. The quote will stay as it is in your paragraph, it will just be duplicated to appear as the pullquote.  You can see the result in the following screenshot:


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Make WordPress Page Listings Work for You

While I’m a WordPress advocate there are some issues with it that push my buttons.  Top and center are the Page list all pages. For small sites these views work fine, but if you have a site with lots of layers – pages that are nested with child and even grandchild sub-pages – it becomes very difficult to find the page you are looking for. One client has nearly 400 WordPress pages – many of which are child pages and many page names are similar.  Searching for an individual page is impossible; if you haven’t noticed, the search action on the listing page searches for the term in the page itself, not just in the title.  My client is a plastic surgeon, so if I’m searching for the page called “Skin” almost all of her other pages appear in the search because skin is a word featured on most pages! My solution was to create a plugin that would add a drop-down select box filter containing a list of only pages with children. Here are some screen shots: What is especially nice about this is that you can target children of children.  The drop down shows all the pages that have children, even if that page […]


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Font Awesome and WordPress as Part of Your Daily Flow

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Adding Font Awesome to Your WordPress Site

Adding Font Awesome to Your WordPress SiteFun with Font Awesome – Adding Icons to Your WordPress SiteMore Font Awesome and WordPress: StackingFont Awesome and WordPress, Rotating and Animating IconsFont Awesome and WordPress as Part of Your Daily FlowSo far everything I’ve shown you in this series in cool and fun, but really on a daily basis how are you going to use Font Awesome on your WordPress site? Lists Used as bullets in lists, Font Awesome icons can add visual cues: Donec vulputate tellus ut metus lacinia, ut semper ipsum feugiat. Nullam tincidunt lorem id dictum pellentesque. Donec lacinia arcu sed metus malesuada molestie. Duis id nisl id purus scelerisque lacinia. Vestibulum finibus quam et tortor lobortis, sit amet interdum magna porta. Duis id nisl id purus scelerisque lacinia. Duis id nisl id purus scelerisque lacinia. Duis id nisl id purus scelerisque lacinia. In the above example I suppressed the default <li> circles for this list only by adding a class of “nodot” to the <ul>: As you can see from the last line, wrapping is retained as normal for a list. I did have to incrementally fiddle with the position of the icon. At first it was too high […]


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Font Awesome and WordPress, Rotating and Animating Icons

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Adding Font Awesome to Your WordPress Site

Adding Font Awesome to Your WordPress SiteFun with Font Awesome – Adding Icons to Your WordPress SiteMore Font Awesome and WordPress: StackingFont Awesome and WordPress, Rotating and Animating IconsFont Awesome and WordPress as Part of Your Daily FlowIn previous posts we’ve seen how easy it is to add Font Awesome icons to your WordPress posts and pages.  But what if the icon you want to use points in the wrong direction?  Or perhap it would look better animated?  It is just as easy to change the orientation of an icon or animate it as it is to add the icon! Font Awesome has six classes that allow you to rotate or flip an icon however you wish: normal fa-rotate-90 fa-rotate-180 fa-rotate-270 fa-flip-horizontal icon-flip-vertical Just add the class to the icon you want to rotate: Watch for falling trees! Spinning or animating an icon is similar: fa-spin – icon will rotate constantly fa-pulse – icon rotates with 8 steps to make it look like it is pulsing The fa-spin class will work with any icon, but there are four it works with expecially well using the fa-spin class: fa-spinner fa-circle-o-notch fa-refresh fa-cog And again using the fa-pulse class: fa-spinner fa-circle-o-notch fa-refresh […]


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More Font Awesome and WordPress: Stacking

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Adding Font Awesome to Your WordPress Site

Adding Font Awesome to Your WordPress SiteFun with Font Awesome – Adding Icons to Your WordPress SiteMore Font Awesome and WordPress: StackingFont Awesome and WordPress, Rotating and Animating IconsFont Awesome and WordPress as Part of Your Daily FlowOne of the reasons Font Awesome is so popular is because it is so easy to create custom-looking icons.  In today’s post we are going to stack two icons to create a whole new one like this: fa-twitter on fa-square-o fa-flag on fa-circle fa-terminal on fa-square fa-ban on fa-camera   This is a little tricky because of the way WordPress tries to reformat HTML. Remember that we are working in the Text editor – it is probably a good idea to write up your post or page first and then go back and add your icons. In this tutorial we are going to add the “no cameras” icon to the following sentence: Because we are stacking two icons, we are going to put those icons inside a span so that the CSS processor knows they go together: “fa-stack” is the css that handles the stacking and fa-lg is css to use a larger version of the font. Now we are going to add the […]


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Fun with Font Awesome – Adding Icons to Your WordPress Site

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Adding Font Awesome to Your WordPress Site

Adding Font Awesome to Your WordPress SiteFun with Font Awesome – Adding Icons to Your WordPress SiteMore Font Awesome and WordPress: StackingFont Awesome and WordPress, Rotating and Animating IconsFont Awesome and WordPress as Part of Your Daily FlowFont Awesome is a collection of over 519 icons that you can scale, color, and add drop shadows.  It is immensely fun and an easy way to add icons to your WordPress website. How It Works You’ll need to install and activate the AGP Font Awesome plugin.  It is updated often and as of the writing of this post includes all 519 icons.  If you are a designer or know that you are working with a child theme you can also just add the following line to your header file right above the wp-head tag: You won’t get the shortcodes, but you can still add icons using CSS classes as I discuss below. You can check out the documentation – there are lots of shortcodes and an icon that gets added to the post editor, but I prefer to manually add icons by class. Adding Icons by Class First of all you need to choose the icon(s) you want to use.  This page displays […]


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Posting to WordPress With IFTTT

IFTTT, or If This Then That, is a powerful tool that creates a bridge between your WordPress site and a slew of web based applications.  You can use it to push posts from your site to different applications, but in this post we will concentrate on creating posts on your WordPress site. Sign Up for IFTTT and Activate Your WordPress Channel Signing up is easy; just go to IFTTT.com and click on the huge blue button. Once you are all signed in you need to set up your channels.  Channels are the web apps that you use and setting up a channel basically consists of giving IFTTT permission to talk to your account on that web app.  You will definitely want set up your WordPress channel. IFTTT will ask for your URL, login name and password and connect to your site.  Now you will need to add channels that you want to post from. Popular Channels to Use with WordPress You could use any channel with WordPress, but most users stick with social media sites. Obvious choices include: Instagram Flickr YouTube Facebook Twitter LinkedIn With these you can create WordPress Posts from images, status updates and tweets. Depending on the information you want […]


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Hitting the WordPress Menu Limit

The number of menu items allowed in a menu is limited by the amount of memory allocated to PHP by your hosting provider.  In real terms this limits menu items to around 70-90 items.  But what if you have more?  Here are some things to consider. Do You Need That Many WordPress Menu Items? First of all you really need to consider your menu strategy.  Why are you including so many items?  If there a more efficient way to organize the links and information on your site?  Look at how Amazon (which probably has more than 90 items in its “Shop by Department” menu) organizes the millions of items.  For example under “Books and Audible” instead of having all of the possible categories of books, there are just links to “Books, Kindle Books, Children’s Books, Textbooks, and Magazines”. On the Books page further navigation is provided by categories and search.  There are no extensive drop-down menus. Perhaps this kind of tree-related structure would work better for your users.  Instead of linking to every single subitem from a main navigation, link to major items and have menus on those pages which further drill down. For example a clothing site might have links to […]


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Payment Gateways:A Primer

One of the first things to consider before adding a store to your website is how payments will be handled.  You may already have a merchant account, especially if you have a bricks-and-mortar presence, and it would easier for you to use that account, right? Not necessarily. Merchant Accounts ≠ Payment Gateway A merchant account is a bank account that enables the account holder to accept credit cards for payment.  From what I understand, a merchant account “package” usually comes with some sort of manual credit card processer – that swipey thing. Wikipedia defines a payment gateway as “an e-commerce application service provider service that authorizes credit card payments for e-businesses”. Most merchant accounts, especially those through local banks, do not offer a payment gateway automatically.  Instead you will need to sign up for a payment gateway that will work with your merchant account.  This costs extra, both in monthly fees and in transaction fees. In other words, you are paying twice just to process credit cards: once for your in-person purchases via a merchant account and once for your online purchase using a payment gateway. Combining the Two There are companies that combine the two.  Authorize.net is one of the biggest payment […]


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Custom Map Markers, Geocoding for Google Map and WordPress

BP Post to Google Map Premium is finally here!  This plugin builds from the basic version so that you can add customization to your Google Maps!   How It Works Unlike most of the Google Map plugins in the WordPress repository, BP Post to Google Map (the free version) lets you add latitude and longitude to individual Posts.  If a Post has lat/lng, then it shows up on a Google Map which you can display on any WordPress Post or Page with a shortcode.  A default map marker in red with a dot is used on the map. The premium version lets you choose one of 91 different map markers or upload your own custom map marker. Have a local community site?  Use custom markers to distinguish between coffee shops and retail stores.  Write about travel?  Use a custom marker to denote an image or gallery post, another to denote full stories, another to show hotel or restaurant reviews. For your own custom markers you can design your own or go to a site like Map Icons Collection which has thousands of map icons for free, some of which you can customize with different colors or backgrounds. Geocoding is Built In In the free version […]


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Starting a New WordPress Business Within My Current Business

When I decided to start creating WordPress plugins, I started by creating 3 free plugins, BP Pretty Quotes, BP Post to Google Map and BP Expire Category.  Despite the learning curve involved in making a secure plugin, it was fairly easy. Creating a premium version of my Google Maps plugin has been like starting a whole new business. Writing the Code The plugin code has been the easy part.  Integrating the licensing system is more of a challenge.  I’m using Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) and their Licensing plugin.  Figuring out how it works and integrating it into my code was challenging, but after some refactoring I believe I have a reusable system. Setting Up the Sales I host my free plugins on the WordPress repository, so I needed an ecommerce store on my own site that would handle purchasing, the downloads and licensing.  While EDD is easy to use, setting up a store, integrating the licensing, figuring out what the process is, creating the customer confirmation emails, etc, has been challenging.  I had to let go of my self-imposed deadline to go live and be patient while I worked on getting my store up and running. Setting Up Support Oh yeah, a […]


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Getting BuddyPress and Elegant Themes’ Divi to Work Together

With the launch of a new premium plugin imminent I needed a solution that would handle licensing, purchasing, downloads and support.  Going with Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) was a no-brainer; everyone I checked with recommended them enthusiastically. For a support system EDD suggested using BuddyPress with bbPress for the forums.  Unfortunately my theme, Divi, isn’t compatible with BuddyPress.  Out of the box, the page was completely messed up with the main content area ignored, BuddyPress content appearing above the sidebar, and the sidebar divider line appearing to the left. Researching the issue was frustrating.  I’m a Elegant Themes premium member, but questions about Divi and BuddyPress on the forums were ignored.   I really didn’t wanted to change my theme just to accommodate BuddyPress so I tried Multiple Themes, a WordPress plugin that lets you assign themes by page.  It didn’t work well with Divi, unfortunately. Since EDD integrates with BuddyPress I couldn’t run it in a separate WordPress installation, so adding something like support.beyond-paper.com was out. I messed around with theme template pages, but still couldn’t solve the problem.  Finally I sat down and compared the source for the offending BuddyPress page against the source for my blog page.  I found that BuddyPress […]


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Why I Give Free WordPress Advice

My work set-up consists of two monitors, one of which has TweetDeck running with a tab that displays tweets containing the words “WordPress” and “Help” as well as a tab that display anytime someone uses my twitter handle (@dianeensey).  I keep an eye on it all day and if someone asks for help with WordPress or tweets me I can hop on and see what they need. This has worked out well, so well in fact that I now announce my “office hours” on twitter, encouraging people to contact me through my support chat on my website.  If you’re reading this on my blog you’ll see a block on the lower right.  If I’m online that opens a chat window and you can talk to me immediately. The questions range from just needed advice about plugins (“is there a plugin that does XX?”), template layout issues, and just general questions about WordPress.  If the question is a new one I try to remember to write up the answer in my FAQs. All this help/advice is free. Wait, what? Free? Don’t you do this for a living? Yes I do and yes the advice is free – with some limitations. Giving advice doesn’t take […]


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3 Secrets for New WordPress Plugin Developers

As a new WordPress plugin developer I’m learning things about WordPress that I never knew existed and raising my PHP coding skills to new levels.  There are three main points that stand out after submitting 3 plugins to the official repository. There is no such thing as sanitizing too much. If you are getting input from users (admin or front-end) or getting data from the database, filter and/or sanitize that data before you do anything with it!  This is the biggest reason for getting your plugin kicked back by the official WordPress plugin repository – believe me I know.  The WordPress Codex suggests: I tend to disagree and validate as soon as the data enters my code.  The key is to be consistent so that you know all data is safe and expected. Be prepared to have people point out bugs and errors. Embarrassing?  Yes.  But work through the embarrassment and acknowledge that you are being given a chance to make your code better.  Better yet, be profusely grateful to users who find enough value in your plugin to take the time to let you know it isn’t working right.  I had three people test my plugin BP Post to Google Map […]


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Why I No Longer Support Zen Cart

Ah Zen Cart.  For years it was the go-to open source solution for businesses that wanted a full-service store on their website.  It came with heavy baggage, however. Zen Cart’s High Learning Curve Zen Cart has a very high learning curve, especially for business owners who weren’t very computer-savvy.  There were general settings, many, many general settings and then modules all over the place.  Just to get a client up and running required at least 2 hours of hands-on training; and that covered only the most basic uses. Near Impossible to Upgrade There was no easy point-and-click upgrade with Zen Cart.  Since programmers were encouraged to overwrite files in order to create custom solutions upgrading was a slog of comparing each file for what had changed.  I inherited one client with an outdated, highly customized version of Zen Cart.  It was so outdated that in order to get it current we had to go through two upgrades and took a total of 50 hours.  Unfortunately this was just a year before WordPress became a viable alternative to Zen Cart and the client ended up switching her whole store to WordPress with WooCommerce after spending all that money to upgrade. Security Issues […]


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Coming Soon! New WordPress Plugin – BP Pretty Quotes

My newest plugin is still in development, but I’m pretty excited about it.  BP Pretty Quotes is a set of shortcodes that results in nicely formatted blocks for quotations or other text you want highlighted. [bpiq author=”Ambrose Bierce” sourcename=”The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary” source=”http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/865289″ position=”center” image=”http://beyond-paper.com/zippy/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/14403.jpg”]Quotation, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.[/bpiq] [bpiq style=”leather” author=”Ambrose Bierce” sourcename=”The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary” source=”http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/865289″ position=”right” image=”http://beyond-paper.com/zippy/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/14403.jpg”]Quotation, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.[/bpiq]Currently the plugin has 7 different quote block styles: Default (the block above) Leather (example to the right) Swoosh Balloon Vinyl Polaroid Playbill Each can be centered, as above, or floated to the left or right.  Depending on the style there are some additional formatting options that can be done, like color and width. I did not create the styles used in the plugin; the default style is from a bootsnipp snippet and the remaining six styles were adapted from this CoDrops article. As you can tell from the examples, some styles are more suited for different kinds of quotes than others.  The Vinyl style, for example, is best for quotes that naturally break into two parts.  The Polaroid style can accommodate a longer quote. If […]


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The Brain Enhances My Brain

As a tech enthusiast I try lots of new applications, most of which I stop using after a period of time.  The Brain is different and I can definitely see myself using it forever.  Yes, really.  Forever.  That is because it increases its value the more I use it. What is The Brain? The Brain is a mind map that operates like your real brain.  Not familiar with mind maps?  Check out this article. Where a mind map is essentially two dimensional, The Brain is multi-dimensional.  Each item or “thought” in The Brain can be the parent, child and sibling of another thought.  At the same time.  For example, I have a thought called “WordPress”.  I write code for a living and write custom templates and plugins for WordPress so I put the thought “WordPress” under a thought called “Coding”.  But WordPress is also a Web Applications, so I have it as a child of “Web Apps” as well. So, if I click on either “Coding” or “Web Apps” I will see “WordPress” among other entries.  But there is a lot of other information I associate with WordPress. There are code snipppets that I use over and over, clients for whom […]


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Log Into Google My Business Regularly or Lose Your Listing!

Google confirmed that businesses that do not log into their Google My Business account regularly (at least every six months) may have their listings unverified. Google My Business is the service that provides extended information on brick and mortar businesses when local searches are done. If you are using Yoast’s Local SEO plugin you’ll want to make sure you are logging into your Google My Business account regularly to keep your listing active!


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WordPress Plugin: BP Post to Google Map

A few months ago I reviewed a theme called Explorable which featured a Google map on which you could place markers.  I didn’t like how the information for the map markers was collected; the designer had create a whole new post type separate from regular blog posts. I thought there might be a need for the ability to add latitude/longitude coordinates to regular posts in WordPress so that those posts could be displayed on a Google Map.  That was the inspiration for BP Post to Google Map. Users can choose which posts to show on a map.  Those that are shown have infowindow popups that can show featured images, title and the post excerpt.  The title and “read more” text link to the main post and the infowindow can be customized with the general settings tab (found under Settings->BP Post to Google Map).  The default map center and zoom level can also be set. Who Might Use This? A few minutes of brainstorming came up with: Photographers wanting to show images by location Writers to link their stories to locations Travel Bloggers Restaurant reviewers Vacation rental companies What’s Next? A premium version is in the works which will add the following […]


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5 Ways to Add Customer Value to Your WordPress Website

What kind of website do you have?  Is it basically a brochure for your company?  Merely a group of page describing who you are, what you do and how to contact you?  Step back and take a look at your site; does it have information worth coming back for? Promote return visits to your website by adding features and information tailored for your customers.  This means, of course, identifying your customer.  Put yourself in their shoes; what do they want to see or need to know?  Next, start adding features, one at a time.  I wouldn’t go overboard.  Add one feature, see if it makes a difference in your stats, then add another.  I’m listing only 5 features to add value to your WordPress website, but there are as many ways to keep your customers coming back as their are websites. Calendars Is your business event-based?  Then you need at least a calendar of upcoming events; most likely monthly calendars as well.  Calendars have other uses, though.  Accountants can list upcoming tax dates, a website covering government affairs could list important meeting dates.  My own business is service/consultative and I’ve been thinking about a calendar that shows upcoming online training, seminars […]


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Google Maps, Clip-Path, The Brain and More

There is a list of personal projects on my desk and I’m lucky enough to have time to address them.  Since most of them are works in progress I’ll just highlight them here. Google Maps Plug for WordPress This plugin, which lets users geocode WordPress posts to show on a map, is pretty much done.  I’m letting it sit for a day before I review the code and write up the readme.txt before submitting it to the WordPress repository.  This was a fun plugin to write and the next step is the premium version which will have lots of additional features. ClipPath and Blending Mode CSS clip-path is fascinating and I’ve found Clip Path tool that makes it easy to generate the coordinates.  I already talked about it here and you can see some of my demos here and here.  You can see a test of blending mode here. The Brain I discovered The Brain when I receive an invite to an online seminar and was instantly hooked.  Think of it as a supercharged mind mapping tool.  Instead of being 2 dimensional, The Brain adds a third dimension, making it easy to link information and show relationships.  It isn’t a replacement for […]


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How to Get Customer Reviews

Check out this infographic from Salesforce.com on how to get customer reviews. Click To Enlarge Via Salesforce


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The Dark Side of Kickstarter and Being a First Adopter

I’m enthusiastic about technology, especially home automation and personal tracking.  Since 2012 I’ve pre-ordered five items, whether through Kickstarter or from the website.  I’ve been disappointed in nearly all of the cases. Coin I backed Coin in 2012.  Coin touts itself as being able to replace all of your credit and debit cards.  I’ve yet to see the product and the last update was in August of 2014 when the company sent a confusing email about something called “Coin Beta”.  I see their site is still active, they are still taking orders, but I consider my investment in this product a lost cause.  Cost: $50. Ninja Blocks Home automation!  The ability to write your own code and put together your own system!  So much promise, so little follow through.  I did get my Ninja Block in 2011, but immediately afterwards the company changed focus to the Sphere.  While they didn’t at first discontinue support for the Ninja Block and they assured everyone it would be compatible with the Sphere, not much was done in the form of drivers, etc once focus was diverted to the Sphere.  Current status – see the Ninja Sphere, below.  Cost: $150 (est – can’t find my […]


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Tweetable Quotes in WordPress

I’m really loving the newish click to tweet quotes found on websites like SmartWebsiteMarketing.com.  As show below, these take the form of a quote that you can click on to automatically tweet on your own account. A tweetable quote (or clickable tweet) is immensely useful for two reasons: You have control over the text and hashtag and need not depend on the reader to get the real gist of your content. The quote appears in a block; it stands out to readers. Thus even if the reader doesn’t click to tweet, you are getting eyes on the main point(s) you want to make. Implementing Tweetable Quotes in WordPress As you’d expect there are plugins.  Click to Tweet is probably the most popular (the example above uses it).  The main problem I have with it is that the plugin appends the complete URL to your tweet – it doesn’t use an URL shortener like bit.ly.  Although Twitter will use their own shortener on it, the link could still take up to 23 characters.  I’m also not a fan of the “via” part.  As a proponent of short tweets, the long URL is unacceptable to me.  In fact, when I use Click to Tweet on other […]


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WordPress Plugin: BP Expire Category

I’m excited to announce my first WordPress plugin: BP Expire Category.  It adds a box to the edit post page which allows you to assign a category with an expiration date. Why Do I Need That? My concept was to create a simple way to assign posts to a category like “Breaking News” or “Upcoming Events” along with a date when the category would be removed from the post.  Those posts could be displayed on a separate category page,  widget box or even custom coded into a template and you would never need to go back and remove the category from the post when the event or news is old. Both the post and the category remain unchanged; only the link between them is removed.  The post will still show up as normal on your blog and the category stays attached to other posts. You can install the plugin directly from the WordPress plugin repository. If you find this plugin useful, please review it!  Thank you!


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Clip-Path Polygons Explained

After a long weekend off-grid, camping in the Cascades, I’m back in the office playing with CSS and clip-path polygons.  I started out following the article/tutorial by Drew Minns, along with the CodePen.  As I was wanting to just learn how clip-path polygons are constructed I made minor changes to the original, which you can see here. I also like the idea of using clip-paths applies to images as thumbnails or even navigation: (I used CSS blending mode markup for the hover effect on the first image).  The beauty of using clip-path is that the images can be easily changed out without needing manual editing.  They could even be dynamic. What is Clip-Path? In the example above the clip-path polygon makes the triangular indents about the navigation item when hovered over.  In the next image the clip-path polygon is applied to trim parts of an image to create a comic-style text bubble. How Do I Create a Clip-Path Polygon? The clip path is a series of coordinate pairs, each pair separated by commas.  It took me awhile to get my head around it, and this is how I envision it. Coordinates are grouped as X Y pairs where X is horizontal axis and […]


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Blending Modes for Easy to Edit Images

Combining images and text used to be the domain of the graphic designer.  Say you wanted an graphic where the image interacted with the text like this: You would need to send it to the designer to be created.  If you wanted to change the text, back to the designer. Now in Chrome 41+, FireFox 36+, Safari 8+, and Chrome for Android you can use mix-blend-mode to create these images on the fly.  You can see a live demo here of all of the images on this page that were combined solely with CSS.  Here is the HTML for the above image: and here is the CSS: How could this be used?  You could make a WordPress template where the post title floats over, and becomes part of the featured image. Or how about adding some javascript that changed the text, but not the image? If you are interested in something like this for your site, Diane@beyond-paper.com.


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Is “The Fold” An Anachronism?

The concept of “above the fold” on a web page – the part of the page that is displayed first – is no longer relevant according to Luke Wroblewski. Think about it – where is the fold these days?  With the wide variety of display options, from ultra-wide (or tall) desktop screens down to smart phones, the view changes and users expect to scroll down. Wroblewski cites studies that show most users start scrolling before the whole page loads; any call to action at the top of the page is going to be missed if that is true.  So where are people looking?  Right at or below the traditional fold or the bottom of the viewing area. I encourage you to read the entire article – Wroblewski points out that the call to action should be placed “where people become convinced to act”: The issue isn’t whether the call to action is visible.  The issue is whether your call to action is visible at the point where someone has become convinced to take action. Another good design point – design your pages so users know there is more content.  That means placing content across the folds to encourage vertical scrolling (never […]


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Meta Descriptions and Search Results

Dr. Peter J. Meyers has an interesting analysis of meta descriptions – the block of text which appears in Google results and, we are told, should be around 155 characters in length. He analyzed 92,600 search results and found that most meta descriptions were truncated around 145-165 characters. He found that in many cases Google makes minor changes to meta descriptions, for example adding a date or the number of similar results to the beginning of the description.  In one case Dr. Meyers found that Google had dropped the keyword when it appeared at the start of the description. More interesting are the outliers; some results display very long descriptions up to 380 characters.  Dr. Meyers found that Google pretty much created all new text using list data from the page. According to Dr. Meyers, the meta description for this page reads as follows: Were you aware of all the uses of apple cider vinegar? From cleansing to healing, to preventing diabetes, ACV is a pantry staple you need in your home. Confused?  You should be.  Google seems to be trying to provide more informative information in search results.  As Dr. Meyers says: Google is taking a lot more liberties with snippets these days, […]


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WordPress Maintenance Mode Plugins

WordPress maintenance mode is used temporarily when upgrading core files or plugins.  It can also be used when developing your site or making substantial changes that you don’t want your visitors to see.  The default page is pretty basic, just a blank page with the following message: Another problem is that there isn’t an easy way to put your site into maintenance mode.  Unlike CMS systems like Joomla, there isn’t a button to turn it on and off built into the WordPress core.  The solution is to use a plugin.  The WordPress plugin repository currently has 29 plugins for maintenance mode. Most of the plugins offer a basic and a pro version with the basic version allowing you customization of background, logo, title, message and often social media buttons and a newsletter signup box. Pro versions add sliders or video for the background, countdown timers and usually let you exclude certain pages from maintenance mode and allow users who are logged in as admins to view the real site. What Features Do I Need? I was going to do a short review of each of the plugins here, but they were all so similar, I decided instead to focus on what […]


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The #1 Way to Learn to Code

My first foray into computer programming was a blackjack game written in BASIC back in 1982 on a TRS-80 computer.  It was insanely complicated, but by the end of the semester it worked and I’d learned how to think in BASIC.  That experience taught me something important: [bctt tweet=”The best way to learn is by actually creating or fixing something you care about.”] When you care  about something, when you want to fix something, you are motivated to learn and what you learn sticks with you. I learned HTML back in the 90’s because I though having a website was cool.  Through books and questions on forums (probably BBS back then) I created my own site, revised it and re-created it.  When Blogger came out I eagerly began blogging, learning about templates by customizing my blog.  Blogger was pretty limited, so I tried a couple of different systems before getting my own domain and hosting and installing my first WordPress site. Learning PHP and MySQL followed naturally from experimenting with dynamic sites, followed by Javascript, JQuery, AJAX and now various frameworks such as Angular. It Takes Time For me, learning to code was a hobby that became a career.  I couldn’t guess […]


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Does Your Website Designer Control Your Hosting?

  Several times a year I start working with a new client who has fallen out with their current website designer and wants to end their relationship.  Let’s call that client Joe. About 3 years ago Joe needed a website for his business.  He knew little to nothing about the process and hired a small, local web designer to “handle everything”.  The web designer bought Joe’s domain name, set up hosting and built the site.  Joe was happy at first, but as the years passed the web designer wasn’t responsive when changes were needed.  In addition, the cost of hosting seemed really high compared to what Joe’s associates told him they were paying.  Talking to the web designer didn’t help and Joe decided to find someone else to manage his site. Unfortunately, the web designer never gave Joe any passwords or login info for his hosting or domain.  Emails to the web designer were no longer being answered at all and in phone calls the designer refused to provide the needed information.  Eventually we found that the designer had just set up Joe’s site within her own hosting account – his account (and the accounts of other clients) were all bundled together, so […]


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How URLs Affect SEO

There’s an excellent article over at Quicksprout.com by Neil Patel about URL structure.  While I encourage you to read the whole thing, here are some take-away points: Characters such as &, %, $, and @ in URLs make it more difficult for search engine to crawl. Use dashes not underscores in URLs.  With dashes Google sees separate words when looking for keywords.  With underscores Google runs the words together. Your total URL length should be between 32 and 50 characters (the whole URL) Having keyword in your URL is a “declining factor in rankings”.  It doesn’t hurt, but doesn’t necessarily help either. The number of subfolders in a URL is not a factor in search engine ranking.  However it may affect #3 above. Read the entire article.   featured image by Chris Dlugosz via Flickr. CC 2.0


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Tweak Your WordPress RSS Feeds

RSS (Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary) is “a format for delivering regularly changing web content” (WhatIsRSS.com).  Individuals use RSS feeds to read your articles in a reader like Feedly.  There are also some applications that use your feed to aggregate content (Paper.li)  or post to social sites like Facebook.   RSS Feeds in WordPress   If you use WordPress and a theme that meets standard you already have some feeds set up:   http://example.com/feed/ – this is your main feed http://example.com/comments/feed/ – a feed of just your comments http://example.com/post-name/feed/  – a feed for a single post.  Why?  You might monitor a post to see if it changes. http://example.com/category/categoryname/feed – a feed for a category. Use to monitor just the information you want from a site. http://example.com/tag/tagname/feed – a feed for a tag.   And you can also combine categories or tags:   http://www.example.com/category/cat1,cat2/feed  – feed for two categories http://www.example.com/tag/tag1,tag2/feed – feed for two tags   Or view a feed of tags in a certain category:   http://example.com/category/categoryname/feed/?tag=tagname   As an example: http://beyond-paper.com/category/wordpress/feed/?tag=seo  will provide a feed of my WordPress posts with a tag of SEO.   You can control a few things about your feed from Settings->Reading.     “Syndication feeds show […]


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What Do You Want To Do?

I’m taking Seth Godin‘s Freelancer Course on Udemy.  After ten years of freelancing work I feel I could use a refresher, a reorientation, a rejuvenation and this seems like a good start. There are exercises, of course, and Seth encourages us to put them “out there”, publish them, create conversations about our ideas.  This first exercise explore who I am as a freelancer. What do I want to do? Technology is my passion.  If we could afford a completely smart house (and the technology was all available), I’d be ecstatic.  Since neither the money nor the technology is quite here, I want to learn everything I can about internet technology and smart home technology and get others excited about it as well.  As I learn about new internet applications and technology, and increase my skills in current technology, I want to apply the knowledge to websites to make them fun, interactive and valuable to clients.  Education is a key feature; I want to educate everyone about the wierd, wonderful world that is the internet so they can use it, not fear it. Who do I want to change, and how do I want to change them? My joy is working with people who know little about […]


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A Day in the Life of a WordPress Developer

With more than 10 years of freelancing behind me, I’ve developed a work routine which, while the work itself differs, is pretty much the same from day to day and helps me as a WordPress developer not only get paid work done, but increase my skills and market myself. Getting Up to Speed I’m generally at my desk around 7 – 7:30 am and the first thing I do is check my email which GMail as part of a Google Apps account.  I try to get to inbox zero by doing the following: Highlight all of the emails as if to delete them all. Click off the highlight for emails I need to read. This immediately gets rid of the numerous emails that are basically junk.  Next, I work my way from the top down: If it is a digest, comic or something else short, I read it If it is a receipt I forward it to Evernote (Hint: Add hashtag+Receipt to the subject line will file the email in my Evernote Receipt folder.) and then delete it If it is a delivery notice, I put the delivery date on my calendar, along with the content of the email. (I just copy […]


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Thankful Thoughts for May

Warmer weather is here finally and we can have the front door open so I’m no longer the dog’s doorman. Seth Godin’s freelancer course, which is generating a lot of ideas. WordPress’ great documentation and the wonderful people who support developers Ignitwit.  Though buggy, it has provide many new followers. What are your thankful thoughts for May?


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WordPress Plugin Review: Feature a Page Widget

UPDATED:  The plugin author, Mark Root-Wiley reached to let me know of some changes to the plugin because of my initial review.  I’ve revised my review below. A few years ago I created a WordPress site for a client that wholesaled high-end cheeses and cured meats.  Part of the requirements was a box on the home page on which they could display a product of the the month with an image, description and link to view more. I ended up custom-coding this into the template, but we are luckier today – we have a WordPress plugin called Feature a Page Widget. Despite the title, you can choose a page or a post to feature.  The widget displays the featured image, excerpt and links to the content page/post. Installing the WordPress Plugin Not sure how to install a WordPress Plugin?  Check out my FAQ. Make sure when you type in the name of the plugin on the Add Plugins page that you use the correct name and check the name of the author.  There are a large number of plugins with very similar names and even I was confused at first.  This is what the plugin should appear as: Using the Widget […]


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Best WordPress Security Scheduling Tips You Will Read This Year

Yet another client’s WordPress site was hacked, this time by a disgruntled employee.  The site’s owner set up an admin account for the employee, but never deleted it after firing the employee.  Luckily the site had changed very little since the last back up ( 3 months ago) so I was able to restore it quickly, but it got me thinking about making time for WordPress security scheduling. The Problem with Not Having a WordPress Security Schedule Even though I stress site maintenance and go over what needs to be done, most clients do not sign up for a service contract once their site is up and running and they receive their training, opting to handle it themselves.  Invariably what happens is that day-to-day work becomes more important than running updates, backing up their site or checking that files haven’t been changed. For example, after the recent security issues with Yoast’s SEO plugin I notified all of my clients to update immediately or contact me to do it for them.  Despite that, two clients with websites critical to their business were not updated until I was asked to make some other changes to their site just this week.  These clients are […]


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The #1 Best Tip for WordPress Bloggers

Follow the #wordpress twitter stream for awhile and you’ll see lots of people tweeting about “How to Get 1,000 Followers for Your Blog” or “A-List Bloggers’ Guide to Writing Posts” or something similar.  I read the majority of the articles and they all boil down to one major thing: Post Interesting Content Often Yep, that’s it.  Sit down and write blog posts.  Have a post that appears every single day and make it about something that interests you.  If it interests you, it will interest someone else.  If you find your own post boring, you can bet everyone else will find it boring as well. Feeling dry?  Writer’s block?  Write about something off-topic.  Once in a great while will not kill your brand; in fact it will probably add personality to your blog. There are a few other factors that go into getting visitors, of course: SEO, Images, Social Engagment, etc.  but none of that will work if you don’t Post Interesting Content Often


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Testing Your WordPress Site Usability

Testing your WordPress site’s usability doesn’t need to be time-consuming or expensive.  You can easily do it yourself if you have the right mindset. The Right Mindset for Testing Your WordPress Site Usability Be open.  Be humble.  Observe, but don’t dominate your tester.  Accept what they say and observe what they do without argument.  Think of yourself as a fly on the wall of a user in their own home or office trying to use your site.  Be ready to have all of your assumptions challenged. Finding Your Testers Your testers should reflect your users.  If you have an ecommerce site that sells women’s jewelry, don’t choose elderly men as your testers.  You’ll want women (of course) in 2 or 3 age groups.  A website about tourist activities for children should have testers who are parents of young children. I discourage using relatives as testers because the resultant testing will get too personal.  Try to use actual customers or strangers.  Send a call out on Twitter or Facebook. How Many Testers Do You Need? Steve Krug, in his SxSW talk “Rocket Surgery Made Easy” claims you need no more than three.  Shane Pearlman, in Smashing Magazine’s article “Help Us Help WordPress” […]


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WordPress Plugin Review: Expire Tags

I first heard about the WordPress plugin Expire Tags on Twitter and the name intrigued me.  This plugin lets you assign a date to a post tag to expire that tag.  The post does not disappear, but the tag is no longer associated with the post.  In what scenario would you use this? Display Recent News Let’s say I want to have a page that just displays the most recent security issues for WordPress.  As an issue comes up I can give it a tag starting with “SI” and ending with the date “21042015”.  I also assign the post to the categories “WordPress” and “Security”.  This issue is an important one, so I want it to show up on the security issues page for a month.  I set the tag “SI21042015” to expire after 30 days.   The issue won’t show up on the security page after 30 days, but it will still appear in my blog (which shows all of my posts). How would I show which posts to display on the security page if I’m using a separate tag for each day’s posts?  The key is in the “SI”.  I write a simple query that only looks for […]


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Conweets – Find Conversations in Twitter

I had a conversation with a person on Twitter some time ago and yesterday I needed to reference it to remember something I’d promised to do.  Scrolling through my timeline was too much of a chore, but I discovered Conweets, the really simple way to search for conversations between two Twitter users. You just connect your Twitter account with Conweets, search using two usernames and the conversation thread appears, nicely formatted!  If you want to save the conversation you can screenshot it:   Conweets is free, but needs donations to keep the conversations going – be sweet and send them a donation if you find them useful!  


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What’s on Your WordPress Dashboard?

The WordPress dashboard.  So much space which gets so little use.  Wouldn’t you like to make your dashboard more functional?  Here are a few of my favorite things: Add Notes to your WordPress Dashboard I use WP Dashboard Notes to write reminders and my editorial schedule.  It is very basic with a basic text box or a checklist with checkable boxes.  Other than changing the color of the box there are no formatting options.  However to add/edit a note you just have to click on it – no leaving the Dashboard. Dashboard Sticky Notes has not been updated in awhile, but it does work with WordPress 4.1.1. It uses an edit page similar to your post/page editor, so you can add videos, images and formatting to your notes.  I actually like this better than WP Dashboard Notes, but I hate switching out of the Dashboard when I just need to jot a quick note.  Note that if you use shortcodes to format your posts, they will not work on the sticky note. Add RSS Blog Feeds to your WordPress Dashboard I suggest a security feed like Sucuri so you can make sure you are always up to date and safe.  In the past I’ve added […]


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Curate Content with List.ly

I’ve been using List.ly for several years, but this month I sat down and reviewed my current lists, made some new ones and added them to my WordPress website.  I’ve received some good comments about my lists, so I know they are being seen and used. What is List.ly List.ly is a way to aggregate information in a display where viewers of the list can vote on list items and even add items to the list.  While so far my lists generally consist of links to websites, you can also add text, video, audio, profiles and places.  I’ve found List.ly the easiest way to curate content and include it on my website. Curate Content?  What Does That Mean? Any time you sift through a mound of information, selecting a few that are best for a situation and present those to someone you are curating content.  Curating content is the natural way to write blog posts – identify a problem or question and then collect information that defines, answers or provides context for the issue.  Organize the information you collected in a way that makes sense with some explanatory comments from you about why you chose the information and there you have a […]


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The Problem with Pop-ups on Websites

An interesting link about curating content appeared in my Twitter timeline so I clicked on it to check it out.  The site was professional, the first paragraph of the article interesting, but I lost interest almost immediately.  Why?  An overlay pop-up appeared asking me to sign up for their email newsletter.  There was no time to really read the article and I had to click out of the pop-up before I could read the article. And I did that.  And read the second paragraph.  As I scrolled, another overlay pop-up appeared, asking if I wanted to learn more about something – I didn’t finish reading the pop-up or the article. I just closed the tab.  Why keep reading if I’m going to keep getting interrupted? Why Use Pop-ups? Pop-ups are a good way to get some important information in front of your reader’s eyes.  They can also be a good way to collect emails for your newsletter; according to this 2012 article the author saw a 14.47% conversion rate for popups. Pop-up Haters There is a significant number of people who detest popups on websites.  As Copyblogger says: I would say add “…or be sold something they don’t want”. Using Pop-ups Effectively Now I’m […]


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WordPress Theme Review: RedWaves by Themient

Brand-new theme design group Themient released its first WordPress theme yesterday, RedWaves, and I must say it is very nice. The default layout displays post excerpts with a featured image to the left.  The layout is appealing and I like the styling of the post meta information; the categories are in boxes and the author, date and comments feature icons. Note the page navigation – red and dark gray boxes which are eye-catching and a welcome replacement to WordPress’ standard navigation. Theme Customization and Options RedWaves’ theme options are simple to use, but a little simplistic.  You can upload your icon and a favicon and have the option to make the top navigation bar “sticky”.  A sticky nav bar will stay at the top of the page when the user scrolls down.  Although I like the default display with the smaller image to the left and the excerpt, you can change it to display a full-width image: Setting for the articles include a box to display related posts by category or tags, toggling the next/previous navigation, adding an author box and toggle post meta information on single post displays. Layouts RedWaves comes with right sidebar, left sidebar and full width (no sidebar) layouts […]


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Curating Content for Easy Blog Posts

Any time you sift through a mound of information, selecting a few that are best for a situation and present those to someone you are curating content.  Curating content is the natural way to write blog posts – identify a problem or question and then collect information that defines, answers or provides context for the issue.  Organize the information you collected in a way that makes sense with some explanatory comments from you about why you chose the information and there you have a blog post with curated content. Identify a Question or Problem Remember your English teachers telling your that you need a topic sentence?  Identifying a question, problem or topic is the same as writing a topic sentence.  I recently wrote an article about “Referrer Spam in Google Analytics“.  There was an actual problem because I was looking at my Google Analytics data and noticed a strange referrer that was sending me over 200 links a day.  My original question “what the heck is this site and are the links valid” turned into a blog post when I found out it was spam. Most of my articles start out this way.  This article started out on a different post […]


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Adding WordPress Alt Tags to Images

Images are important for social media.  Researchers found that tweets with an image bet an average 35% boost in retweets.  I saw one article claiming that blog posts with images had more interaction, but no studies were cited. I always add images to my articles because they help fix the article in people’s minds, engaging the visual as well as intellectual parts of their brains.  Properly formatted images also give you an SEO boost. Over at Yoast.com, Michiel Heijmans covers what is necessary to include images in an SEO optimized way.  It includes: Finding the right image Assigning a file name Scaling the image & reducing file size Writing captions Adding alt text and title text Adding OpenGraph tags (you can do this right in the WordPress SEO plugin) In this post we will focus on the alt tag. The WordPress Alt Tag Issue Okay, we all agree that those things are necessary – but we have hundreds of old posts which don’t have any of those items.  What do we do? First we need to understand how WordPress treats images in posts and in the media library.  When you upload an image to the media library, the copy in the media library […]


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WordPress’ Heartbeat Caused Me Heartburn

How I diagnosed slow loading pages and frequent error messages on my WordPress sites as a problem with the Heartbeat API.


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WordPress Plugin Review: Easy Featured Images

WordPress offers the option for themes to display a featured image for posts and pages.  According to WordPress: “a featured image represent the contents, mood, or theme of a post or page.”  Sometimes a featured image is displayed at the top of a post or page, sometimes as a large block to the left or right – it really depends on the theme. What happens if you change to a theme that uses featured images, but you haven’t assigned one to your posts or pages?  One alternative is to put a scrap of code in your functions file that checks if there is a featured image included, and if not grabs the first image included in your post and uses that as the featured image.  While easy, this isn’t a good idea because that image may not be the best representation of your post. Another alternative to manually open each post and page, assigned the featured image and then update the post/page.  If you have more than a handful of posts this is going to be a major headache. Easy Featured Images is WordPress plugin that lets you assign a featured image right from the page or post listing page.  It […]


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What is Google PageRank and How is it Calculated?

PageRank (yes it is spelled that way) is a link analysis system that ranks pages.  It was created by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and patented by Stanford University. A page with higher PageRank is considered to be a better match for a search term and is placed higher on the search results page.  PageRank is only one of an estimated 200 factors that Google’s search algorithm looks at when returning and ranking search results. How is PageRank Calculated? In a very basic sense, PageRank looks at links to the page that occur on other pages.  It doesn’t stop there, however.  PageRank also looks at the page that has the link and weighs that page for its authority for the link and the number of links on that page. Quality of Links This is complicated, so look at it this way: We are looking at the PageRank for Page A. Page A has content about Bees: buying bees, keeping bees, building beehives. Page B has a link to Page A on it.  Page B has content about Buick Regals.  Because Buick Regals have nothing to do with bees, it has no PageRank for “bees”, therefore it has less authority and won’t contribute […]


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WordPress Theme Review: Explorable

Explorable is a unique, Google Maps based WordPress theme that adds a custom post type – listings – which are displayed on a map with big pins.  Clicking on the big pin opens a box with the featured image for the listing and an excerpt of the content. The Home Page While the theme is optimized for a travel company or review site, I could definitely see this being used by photographers, travellers, authors or anyone whose content can be location-targeted.  A little tweaking would be necessary here and there for these kinds of authors, and I provide information about those below. The links can be filterable by types, location and rating.  As you can edit the types and location (think of them as categories) they could be used for different kinds of classifications with some small code changes  for example: So instead of filtering by listing type you could filter by Year and Exposition Type.  Or Subject Matter and Trip Name.  You get the idea. The Listing Page The interior listing page features a header with the map, with the featured image superimposed: I’m not completely fond of the content layout – the top box feels a little formal to me, but […]


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FBI Issues Release on WordPress Security Issues

Yet another reason why you need to keep WordPress and plugins updated – the FBI reports that ISIL, the terrorist group, is targeting WordPress installations with old plugins or no security features. WordPress Security – What Can I Do? Perform backups.  At least monthly – I prefer weekly.  Files and database. Use a backup service that shows changes to your code. Review every report sent to you.  I provide this service, including reviewing the reports, for $10/month or $15/bi-weekly. Log into your WordPress site at least weekly and run updates. Use secure passwords and usernames.  Not just WordPress, but FTP and hosting control panels as well. Change those passwords at least quarterly! Change the name of your admin folder (I use iThemes Security for this). iThemes Security will also lock out brute force attacks (multiple attempts to guess your username/password). These days, all website security, not just WordPress security relies on constant vigilance, keeping your site updated, checking for unauthorized file changes and secure passwords.  Please save yourself time, money and stress by logging into your WordPress installations now and running updates! WordPress Security Links


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The Best Way to Learn WordPress

Bob Dunn over at Bobwp.com released the finding of his survey “How do you learn WordPress”. Unsurprisingly, people are most comfortable learning via screenshots and online text.  I’ve found this true in my own work – I offer clients either a manual with step-by-step instructions, including screenshots from their own site, or a 2 hour online training session.  The overwhelming majority choose the manual – it is something they can hand employees and can refer to again and again. Below is Bob’s infographic of his findings.  What are your feelings on learning WordPress? Courtesy of: BobWP.com


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Photo Quote Box

Browsing through Bootsnipp I found this code by msurguy for making cards for team members or employees for a website. This layout would be perfect for a quote box where you have an image of a person: Imagine using something like this as a callout of points in a larger article, floating the quote box to the left or right, or even in the middle with the text flowing around it.   Interested in using this on your site?  Contact me for more information.


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Should You Build A WordPress Website in an Hour

Search for “build a wordpress website in an hour” and you’ll see hundreds of articles with tutorial and tips on building your own website.  The authors aren’t wrong – WordPress is easy to use out of the box and it is possible to have a website up and running in an hour.  My husband even did it for his blog site.  But will the website you end up with match the vision of what you want in your head? If you think you will build a website for your business in one hour, five hours or even two months without previous experience with WordPress, CSS, HTML and PHP you will be sadly disappointed. Why Build Your Own WordPress Website? Build your own WordPress website if you want to play around with WordPress and understand how it works.  My husband wanted to learn WordPress and decided to start with a personal blog.  This is working out great for him – he can experiment with themes and plugins all he wants because he isn’t worried about branding or presenting a consistent face to customers.  My own personal blog (sadly neglected right now) is the same way – it changes constantly and I play around […]


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Referrer Spam in Google Analytics

I review my Google Analytics data monthly and noticed a spike in referrals from social-buttons.com.  Please don’t go to that site – keep reading to find out why. By clicking on the link in Google Analytics I could see the referral path – meaning the page that the person clicked on to arrive on my page. Notice that this is just a slash (‘/’)?  According to veithen.github.io this is characteristic of referrer spam.  In very simple terms, the spammer sends a phony request to Google Analytics to report that someone viewed your page.  Your site is never accessed at all.  For those interested in an in-depth description of how this occurs, check out the article. The Purpose of Referrer Spam Why on earth would a spammer do such a thing?  Because they will get paid when you click on a link (or enter it into your browser) to figure out where that link came from.  Check this infographic out: How to Stop Referrer Spam Well, actually you can’t.  You can, however filter it out in Google Analytics “by creating a filter that uses a criteria based on the Referral field” (veithen.github.io) or by overriding the page URI that is used in the […]


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Will Google’s Algorithm Update Hurt Your SEO?

Ever wonder how search engines decide which site to put first when returning search results?  Search engines like Google send out bots which visit the pages in a website.  The information they are looking for is part of an algorithm which follows a series of steps to rank websites. Can I See Google’s Algorithms? Algorithms are proprietary – each search engine has their own and they are kept secret.  Information about the algorithm is sometimes released in very general terms by the search engine company, but more often changes to the algorithm are only detected by what happens after it goes into effect. Google’s last big algorithm change – called Penguin – caused many websites to drop in search rankings, resulting a drastic drop in visits to their site.  Penguin penalized users who used “blatant search engine optimization tactics” (Fast Company) like keyword stuffing and duplicate content. What Do We Know About Google’s Algorithm Change? The latest algorithm change, code-named Pigeon, actually went into effect in July 2014, and added a mobile-friendly tag to results when users searched from mobile devices.   The new change (which will happen at the end of April) looks at the pages in your website to determine how mobile-friendly each page is.  The […]


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Do Social Media Buttons Really Work?

Every site I work on has social media buttons and until now I never have stopped to analyze their use. Share vs. Likes One reason not to put a “like” button on your posts is that users tend to click those instead of sharing the article to their timeline.  The number in the “like” box will increase, but the user isn’t sharing your content with their associates.  Most of the big sites I’ve looked at include a “share” button and have ditched the “like” button altogether. Some of the research I’ve read suggest people don’t use share buttons on articles.  I use the share button for Facebook, but not for Twitter.  I want my own flexibility for commenting and the way twitter buttons set up the tweet irritates me.  The share button for Facebook makes sharing easier – it is usually formatted correctly and ready for my comment. If you garner less than 1,000 “likes” per post, why would you want that advertised on your articles? How Users Act If I go to a web page from a social media link, I’m far more likely to re-share the original link then to add a new one. Facebook and Twitter Spy on Your […]


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Formatting Posts and Pages in WordPress

Adding formatting to your posts and pages is easy with the WordPress editor, though out of the box you may not realize all of the options you have. Activate the Kitchen Sink Take a look at the toolbar when you are in Visual Mode.  If you only see one line of icons, click on the toolbar toggle so that you can see all of your options. Note that on the above example I have some extra icons that you most likely don’t see.  These are plugins that I’ve installed that add some extra functionality. Once you have clicked on the toggle you should see something like this: Formatting WordPress Posts Using Styles The select box that currently says “Paragraph” has some styles in it that you should be using in your posts.  Most important are the headings, especially Heading 2 and Heading 3. Headings help organize your posts and give the reader’s eye something to focus on when they are skimming your site.  Heading are also given weight in SEO, which is why it is a good idea to include your keyword(s) in at least one of the headings. Why use Heading 2 and note Heading 1?  If your theme […]


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Thankful Thoughts for April

The first day of each month I post a list of (mostly) tech and business things I’m thankful for. Happy April 1st!  I hate April Fool’s Day because I’m extremely trusting and gullible and get taken in easily.  So no pranks here!  Just a list of things I was thankful for in the past month. Chrome’s “Reopen Closed Tab” feature – saves my butt daily TweetDeck – I keep it open on my second screen and can respond quickly to people needing WordPress help The “undo” button in GMail – both for sending emails or undeleting ones I just deleted (I get click happy, see #1) Skyrim – the best cure for anxiety attacks there is. Browser tabs – seriously what did we do without them?  Right now I have 15 open. Editorial Calendar plugin for WordPress – I’m actually 5 days ahead in blogging with 15 stories in progress! ThinkGeek.com, even though their Steam Powered gaming cabinet is an April Fools Joke. AngularJs – was able to create a complicated app with ease for a client. Feedly – I thought I’d never survive the loss of Google Reader.  I was wrong. My LG3 phone…at least until the LG4 comes […]


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The 5 Reasons I Love WordPress

If you follow me Twitter, Facebook or this blog you’ll know I’m a fan of WordPress.  Though I spend a lot of time messing around with other CMS and blogging applications, WordPress is my go-to for new client sites and all of my personal sites.  Until now, I’ve never really thought about why I like WordPress so much. WordPress is Free Well, first of all I don’t have a lot of money and WordPress is free.  This means I can download copies for testing and personal sites to my heart’s content.  I have at least 9 copies on my development servers (not including copies of client sites) and run around 7 sites on the internet with WordPress.  If I had to pay for WordPress I probably wouldn’t use it. WordPress Has a Huge Community A huge community of support means that lots of people work on WordPress to make it safe and lots of people are writing plugins and themes for it.  Huge community support also means lots of places to go to ask questions or troubleshoot issues. WordPress Makes it Easy to Try Things Out The ease of installation (just push a button!) makes it fun to try out new themes […]


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Format Facebook Share Boxes with WordPress SEO

A new client recently asked me to troubleshoot why the pages on his site showed up with blank boxes – just the page title, when shared on Facebook.  Usually when you share one of your pages on Facebook it looks like this: In the client’s case only the site title showed – no image or description.  What was happening? Open Graph Tells Social Media What to Display When someone shares a page on Facebook, Facebook will go to the page and look for certain data in the header to tell it what to use for the title, the description, and the image.  If it can’t find that data it may grab anything it can, or if it really can’t figure out your page, it won’t grab anything. For Facebook to know what you want to appear when you page is shared you need to include that data encoded in a special way.  This article describes it well.  If you have a static site you or your developer will need to add that code manually. Not sure what your page looks like on Facebook?  Use this tool – just put in your own URL. I did this with my home page and was […]


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The 15 Most Common WordPress Mistakes to Avoid

Ajeet Yadav‘s article “The 15 Most Common WordPress Mistakes to Avoid” is a good basic checklist for people hosting their own WordPress installations. The 15 Most Common WordPress Mistakes to Avoid Read more


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Effective Meetings with Your Website Programmer or Designer

Around 90% of my work as a web programmer occurs via email.  I just ran the numbers and I’ve talked on the phone to just 3% of my clients and in person to just one single client.  The rest of my work was done strictly through email. Of the small amount of phone meetings I have with clients, I would label maybe one or two as effective meetings.  Most should have been accomplished via email.   In fact, I always follow up phone calls with a confirming email so that I have a record of our conversations for future reference.  In extreme cases, I’ve actually sat through meetings, afterwards emailing a summary of actions the client said they wanted, only for the client to completely change everything once they saw it in writing, rendering the phone call a waste of time and money. The trick to having effective meetings is decide if the meeting is necessary after all.  Look at the following reasons you think you need to schedule a meeting: I Have a List of Changes to the Website/Application that I Need to Go Over With You. Send the list to the designer or programmer and ask them to let you know if […]


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WordPress Site Owners Neglect Regular Backups and Maintenance

Websites, whether run on WordPress or static sites, aren’t something you can just put online and then never think about again.  They need backups and updating, but is that being done?  In a study of 503 WordPress customers done by Codeguard and reported on the Small Business Computing site: Less than 1/2 of the site were backed up regularly 47% reported backing up “every few months” 54% ran updates from once a week to every few weeks 70% had a plugin fail after an update 44% had no website or IT person to assist with site problems 22% said backups were unimportant to them 63% reported deleting files that were not backed up Despite this, 24% said that their sites were vital to their business and they “would pay ‘almost anything’ to completely restore their sites”. Here is just a sample of problems I’ve dealt with for clients who didn’t have site backups: A Zen Cart ecommerce site was hacked and she lost all of her images (hundred), which weren’t backed up anywhere. A static website’s home page was replaced with terrorist propaganda. A client tried to move her WordPress site herself without moving the database – several years of […]


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The Importance Of XML Sitemaps In The Age Of Panda

XML sitemaps are basically a page written in a special code that tells search engines all of the pages on your site as well as when they have been updated.  They are vital to your SEO because they ensure your content is indexed faster by search engines and help them know who the original content author is.  As this article explains: It’s not uncommon for publishers to syndicate their content on other websites. Further, it’s also not uncommon for publishers to have their site’s content “curated” by other websites without a formal syndication agreement. Unfortunately, the definition of content curation is fuzzy at best. In a quick Google search for a recent Search Engine Land article, I found over 47 copies of the article on other sites. (Editor’s note: these are not authorized copies.) For every publisher site offering syndicated content or having content curated by others (with or without permission), the stakes could not be higher with Google. The Panda algorithm update focused in part on removing duplicate content from search engine results pages – meaning that if a site is not deemed the content originator, it’s at risk of being excluded from the results altogether. XML sitemaps are just one tool that […]


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How WordPress Post Images Can Hurt Your SEO

What happens when someone clicks on an image you have uploaded and inserted into a post or page on your WordPress site?  If you are like most people one of three things happens. The image may appear in a lightbox, with a gray background. The image may appear in its own page with a white background. The image may appear alone on a page with your header or footer. This is all controlled from the insert media dialogue box when you insert your image.   If any of these three things occur, the link connected with the image is not leading to true content.  This is a problem for your SEO. How Do WordPress Post Images Affect Your SEO? The problem is, the link for the image is leading to either the file location of the image itself or to an attachment page and because these are considered thin content by search engine they may be hurting your SEO!  As Neil Matthews points out: …Google can also index these pages and add hundreds of very low quality pages into the index for your site. If you add 1-2 images per post that is an additional 100-200% of pages that are classed as thin content by Google. On these pages […]


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Broken Links on Your Site? How to Find Out.

Broken links are the bane of every website, and is one of those boring things web developers check after putting the site live and before handing it off to the client.  Whether you blog or not, I recommend running a check for broken links at least yearly, preferably more often. If you use WordPress and try out different themes make sure you run a broken link check each time – sometimes the navigation will break when you change themes. WPossible has a great article on broken link checkers, how and why links break and the results the author experienced after fixing broken links.


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The Three Types of Pagination in WordPress Articles

If you write long articles or posts in WordPress you should consider how you want those posts to display.  There are three main types of pagination in WordPress for your individual articles: One long post One post that has multiple pages One post that loads your content incrementally (called infinite scrolling) What are the pros and cons of the different types of pagination in WordPress? One Long Post This is the default and what most people use.  Often you will have an excerpt on your main blog and the reader will click through to a single page with the entire article.  The advantage is that the user only needs to click once to read your entire article, but often articles can get unwieldy and keeping your place difficult.  On mobile sites I’ve noticed that while the content will load quickly, third party ad services load later and, as they load, may force the page back to the top, even when the reader has scrolled down reading the article.  This happens at the site of my local newspaper and I hate it! Page load time can also be a problem if your article contains a lot of images: photographs, charts, etc.  These […]


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Cross-Site Scripting Vulnerability Discovered In WordPress Photo Gallery Plugin

Another day, another security issue, this time in a popular WordPress photo gallery plugin.  As always, your best security practice is to update your plugins regularly and check your site at least weekly, if not daily.  Can’t do that?  Contact me for an inexpenive maintenance package. With over 12 million downloads, Photo Gallery is one of the most popular WordPress plugins; users should be sure to upgrade to the latest version. FortiGuard Labs disclosed a vulnerability today in the WordPress Photo Gallery plugin that could potentially be used to gather information from system administrators. With […] Click here to view original web page at blog.fortinet.com  


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Why and How Hackers Target Websites

I deal with hacked websites all the time and the first question clients ask is “why my site?”  The sites in question are always small businesses, often local, and their owners don’t understand how hacker even found their site. What Hackers are Looking for When They Hack a Website According to David Anderson, founder and lead developer at UpDraft Plus, hackers are looking for three things: Free Computing Power Ability to Churn out Spam To Serve Up Viruses The scripts that hackers install on a hacked site let them do some combination of those three things.  But how do they decide who to target? Who and Why Hackers Target a Website It depends upon the type of hacker, says Chris Pogue in an article at Nuix.com.  He says there are 4 general kinds of hackers: Geopolitical Hackers (nation states/hacktivists) chose your site because they don’t like what you represent or where you live. Retaliation Hackers  don’t like what you have to say Financial Hackers are looking to make money by taking your stuff or serving up spam Opportunity Hackers do it just because they can.  Your site or hosting was insecure so they exploited the opportunity. How Hackers Find a Website to […]


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The Ideal Length for Online Posting

The ideal length for blog articles surprised me – 1,600 words?  Seems a little long for every day posts.  From the article: What makes this length optimal? At this length, you can expect readers to spend the maximum amount of time reading your content. Total time on page is highest at the 1,600-word length than any other length. From the infographic (not included here) and the article it looks like they compared time on page and number of social media shares against length of post and discovered that 1,600 words resulted in the optimal number of words for shares.  Huh.  I’m going to have to look at that in my own data. Please include attribution to http://blog.bufferapp.com with this graphic.  


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5 Reasons Your Website Needs a Blog

The majority of the sites I work on do not have blogs, though I point out to the owners that they are missing the opportunity to maximize their site value.  Perhaps I’m not persuasive enough, so let’s discuss why blogs are an important part of every website. Connect With Customers With Your Blog Customer satisfaction is all about relationship building and relationships are built on communication.  Use your blog to write the stories behind your business, highlight products or introduce an employee.  I would find it fascinating to find out that your shop welder has worked for you for 30 years and follows a line of welders back to his grandfather.  One of my clients sells orchids – articles about different orchids and how they got their names would be fascinating. A Blog Can Improve Your Search Engine Standing Blog regularly and you are essentially adding content to your site, along with more keywords.  Search engines love sites that are updated regularly and you will love the results if you write content that contains keywords for which you want people to find you.  As an example, my business is about WordPress, application development, form handlers and consultation.  You’ll see lots […]


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Form Handlers – More than Just Emailers

You can create all the the forms you want in HTML, but unless you have a form handler the information in the form will just sit there.  The form handler works behind the scenes or what developers call the back end and take the information in the form, process it and do something with it.  It might send the form data to one email address, or many email addresses.  It might put the form data in a database or a Google Drive spreadsheet.  Let’s take a look at what form handlers are capable of. Form Handlers Validate the Data All form handlers should take the data from the form and always process it to remove potential malicious code, but server-side validation is important even if you have validation on the front-end.  A good form handler will make sure an email address is formatted correctly and will check for a list of spam words in the comment section.  An even better form handler will communicate with the email server and verify that the email address actually exists. Form Handlers Can Format the Data If you receive your form data by email it makes sense to have it formatted nicely.  A good form handler […]


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The 8 WordPress Plugins I Can’t Live Without

While every WordPress managed website is different, there are 8 plugins I always install right out of the box on new sites, and if I’m called in to work on an existing site I provide a quote to install them. iThemes Security If I could only install one plugin, iThemes Security would be it.  This WordPress plugin covers all aspects of security, including backups, brute force attacks, malware scanning and “hiding” your admin section.  I installed this for an existing WordPress user and found that they were being bombarded by brute force attacks (over 500 in 24 hours) – where bots try to figure out the admin login.  With just a click we “hid” the admin folder and provided lockout protection – any time someone tried to log in more than 3 times in a row with a bad username or password they would be locked out of the site for 3 days. WP SEO by Yoast There are a few SEO plugins out there, but I’m loyal to Yoast’s WordPress SEO.  It is comprehensive, easy to use and have lots of help information.  Pro Tip #1 – always save your post as a draft and then look at the stats […]


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Most WordPress Users Don’t Back Up

According to a recent survey by CodeGuard and quoted by SC Magazine, “More than three-quarters of organizations and bloggers operating WordPress websites are not using a backup plugin, thus leaving themselves open to data and customer loss should something go wrong”.  This is really bad news. I’ve dealt with thirteen hacked sites in my career, two of them so badly compromised we had to start completely over with new hosting and a new site.  Another ex-client moved her WordPress site to a new host without backing up and exporting her database, resulting in the loss of 5 years of articles.  Still another client had his hosting company go out of the business, leading him to lose everything.  None of these people had backups or a backup system before they came to me. How to Back Up Install a plugin – it is really that easy.  Backup Buddy and iThemes Security are both very good.  They are by the same company and iThemes Security will work with Backup Buddy to save your backups off-site.  Each has a scheduler, but Backup Buddy will back up your database and files, while the vanilla version of iThemes Security will just back up your database. […]


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Rotating Carousels on Websites Don’t Work

Rotating carousels, also known as sliders, are everywhere – just about every theme has one.  Every client wants one.  On one site I worked on the client wanted two sliders on nearly every page!  Just because something is popular, doesn’t make it efficient.  Check out this research on carousels: Users Don’t Click on Rotating Carousels Erik Runyon examined 5 Notre Dame sites with carousels on the home page.  The home pages received 3,755,297 visits total.  Only 1.07% of visitors clicked on the carousels, and of those clicks, an average of 89% clicked on the first item only. Users Don’t Look at Rotating Carousels In a usability study by the Nielson/Normal Group users were given a question to answer “Does Siemens have any special deals on washing machines?” A large advertisement for a cash back offer was the first item in a series of slides and the offer was in 98 point font.  The rotating carousel was at the top of the page and took up about 1/2 of the space above the fold – in other words it was right in front of the user’s eyes – and yet they couldn’t see it because the carousel auto-played.  From the article: Auto-forwarding causes many usability problems: Moving […]


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Choosing A WordPress Theme: 12 Things To Look For

A concise article at CMSCritic.com about what to look for in deciding on a theme.  You could apply these to having a custom-made theme as well and, in a lot of cases, I would suggest a custom theme.  The cost is a little more, but you get a theme perfect for you and one you won’t see anywhere else.    Interestingly, free WordPress themes don’t lag far behind their paid equivalents, however the latter do provide a number of additional features and functionalities, like free 24/7 support, regular updates, protection from malware of any kind, etc. When looking for a template with which to build your next web project, there are several things to consider in order to obtain a product that is really worth the money. I would be cautious using free themes – just yesterday I talked to a woman on Twitter having extreme malware and spam issues after installing a free theme. Click here to view original web page at www.cmscritic.com


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Color Palettes Made Easy with Lavish

I’m not a designer – I wish I were, but I lack the creative spark and artistic eye that designers have.  I especially envy designer’s ability to put colors together that look terrific.  Then I discovered Lavish. With Lavish you upload a photograph with color and a feeling that you’d like to have in your website.  Lavish then picks out a palette of colors from the photograph.  The colors look great together, but Lavish doesn’t stop there.  It also creates bootstrap-compatible CSS that you can add to your site!  You could probably also use with, with some tweaking, with a regular site.  Just copy the CSS into a file called lavish-style.css and save onto your hosting site.  If you are using WordPress, save in your theme file.  In your header file add the following code after any other CSS stylesheets: <link rel=“stylesheet” type=“text/css” href=“lavish-style.css”> Before copying the css you do have the option of editing the colors and reassigning them to parts of your site (links, titles, etc). Color Palette Examples The key to getting a good color palette using Lavish is to choose an image that really matches the feeling you want to evoke when someone visits you site. […]


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Domain Names and What You Can Do With Them

My Facebook friends are laughing over this little trick:  go to loser.com and see where it takes you.  If you’re not a Kanye fan you’ll find it funny, but how does that work?  Wikipedia didn’t set this up, so why does loser.com go to Wikipedia? It all lies with the domain name and its owner. A domain name is just an address for a spot on the internet.  When you buy a domain name it will likely be directed to a holding page created by the company from whom you bought the domain.  If I buy a domain at Domains Priced Right, the domain name will point to a default page at Domains Priced Right. Normally you would buy a hosting plan from a company like HostGator or GoDaddy and then point your domain to your hosting plan, where the files for your website are. But you don’t have to! There are other options for your domain besides pointing it at your own website.  You can do what the owner of loser.com did and use the domain as a joke.  You can point your domain to your WordPress.com, Blogger or Tumblr account.  At the time of this post my own name […]


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Find Potential Clients with Twitter and IFTTT

In the past two weeks I’ve picked up three new clients with Twitter by monitoring Twitter for the words “wordpress” and “help”.  This doesn’t mean I’m constantly watching Twitter.  Instead I set up a system using IFTTT and Twitter that notifies me automatically when a match occurs. IFTTT IFTTT is short for If This Then That and is an application that lets you put together a chain of actions which get triggered when a change to a web service like Facebook, GMail or Twitter occurs.  The chain of actions is called a recipe and, in plain English looks something like this: IF a tweet occurs with “wordpress” and “help” THEN send me an email with the tweet content and a link to the tweet. When the recipe is activated, IFTTT watches Twitter for tweets containing “wordpress” and “help” in the same message and then emails me with the tweet.  Some other recipes I use do the following: IF a new Instagram by me THEN create a photo post on my personal blog with the Instagram photo. IF a new Craigslist posting for a boat for sale in our area THEN send an email to my husband. Getting Started with IFTTT First you’ll need an account, so […]


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Frequently Asked Questions – a New Beyond Paper Feature

I am active on Twitter and often answer quick questions or offer assistance to people having problems. Since the same problems seem to crop up I’ve decided to add a frequently asked questions or FAQ section to my website. Currently I have a few questions/topics in the section…


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Concrete5 as an Alternative to WordPress

I’ve been testing Concrete5, a content management system (CMS) being touted as an alternative to WordPress.  I’m more impressed that I thought I would be, especially with the front-end editing. Installing Concrete5 Installation for testing was on my home WAMP server and was seamless.  All you really need to do is create a MySQL database, download the ZIP file from the Concrete5 website, unzip and upload the files onto your site.  Full documentation for installation is here. I didn’t experience any problems, though it was a little slow installing.  I strongly suggest you choose the installation with dummy content already in place.  You’ll just need to edit what is there to have a functioning site. The Selling Feature: Editing Pages There is no “back-end” to the site.  Once you log in you navigate you site as normal, but an editing header is added.  By clicking options on the header you can edit the page, edit your SEO information, add pages, and view your site structure.  All of this is done right on the page, so you can immediately see how your changes look. Both text and image editing was smooth and very intuitive.  The learning curve is very low and it feels like […]


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Wednesday Roundup

A mid-week roundup of topics that aren’t long enough for their own post, applications I’m testing, and information that I just find interesting. Gratisography Free for commercial and personal use, these professional images are superb.  Please remember to give proper attribution so the photographer keeps adding images! Concrete5 I’m checking out this alternative to WordPress because I’ve heard the post editor is much easier to use.  Expect a future article about my experience. Drupal Another WordPress alternative.  I used it awhile back but didn’t like it, but decided it was time to take another look.  Word is it isn’t as flexible as WordPress, but the Economist, Examiner, and the White House all use it. Silverstripe Labelled as more a content management platform than a blogging platform, I decided to test it because it looks interesting. Quantative Queries for CSS Fascinating discussion of using CSS to target quantities of objects.  The example they use is a menu.  It will have one kind of styling if there are 5 or less menu items, but a different kind of styling if there are more (smaller font, less padding, etc). Testimonial Basics I’m trying something different – a WordPress plugin that will help you […]


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3 Reasons You Need WordPress Editorial Calendar

Editorial Calendar, a plugin for WordPress, is a tool that gives you a graphical view of when your posts are scheduled throughout the month.  It was one of the first plugins I ever used with WordPress and now that I’m trying to blog on a daily basis I depend on it.  Here’s why: Scheduling Blog Posts The most obvious reason to use the  editorial calendar is to schedule posts.  Your unscheduled drafts are listed in the right hand column and you can just drag and drop them onto the day you want them to appear.  You can also drag and drop future posts within the calendar, so if you have a post scheduled for a Sunday, just move it to Monday. That last idea is important.  I following Twitter activity for WordPress and some coding terms and find that everything slows down to almost nothing on Fridays.  I try to avoid posting anything important on Fridays, so with the editorial calendar I can move posts around to put a round-up post or something less important on Friday.   Controlling the Blog Post Topic Mix I tend to get hung up on one topic and write several blogs in a row […]


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How Proper Email Validation Reduces Form Spam

Forms are the ultimate garbage collector.  Hackers, spammers and just plain mean people run little programs called bots which look for forms on the internet.  When they find one, the bot fills in the forms with all sorts of gibberish.  If you are lucky, the gibberish does nothing more than annoy you when you hit “delete” in your email inbox.  If you aren’t lucky, it may allow access to your site or put a virus on your computer. The First Line of Defense is Email Validation. Form validation is a method of looking at each piece of information submitted in a form and ensuring that the information makes sense for what you are asking.  In this article we cover email validation, however email validation isn’t just a part of your anti-spam arsenal; it is smart business practice.  If you don’t get a good address from a potential customer, how are you going to contact them back? Emails are always going to be in the format  something@something.som.  A basic validator will look at the email that is being submitted and make sure there is an “@” symbol and a period.  A better validator will check that only letters and numbers are used before the period and only […]


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Why Didn’t My WordPress Scheduled Post Appear?

You know the feeling – you scheduled a post to appear at 9:00 a.m. on Monday morning, but it never posted.  What happened? WordPress isn’t an application that runs silently in the background, automatically doing things even when no one is using it.  Instead it runs certain functions whenever someone visits the site.  One of those function is to check for any schedule posts.  Your WordPress scheduled post will actually go live after the first visitor to your site following the scheduled time you set. That is a little confusing, so here it is in diagram form: If your site doesn’t get a lot of visitors then WordPress may not check for scheduled posts at all – which means your scheduled post will never appear. How Can I Make Sure My WordPress Scheduled Posts Appear? What is needed is a program that will “ping” your site on a scheduled basis, thereby activating the WordPress scheduled post function.  The program that does this is called a cron job and there is a site which makes setting up your cron jobs easier: Easycron. Setup Log into Easycron and get a free account. Click on “Create New Cron Job”. For the URL enter http://yoursiteurl.com/wp-cron.php […]


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How Asking for Help Gives You a Better Website

You have a vision for your website – nothing too fancy, maybe you found a template you like and think you can use.  You look at WordPress, IM Creator, SilverStrip – so many applications in the wild jungle of the internet which you can use to build yourself a website!  They all claim to be user-friendly and easy to customize.  Building your own site should be simple, you can do it yourself without help, right? To some extent, that assumption is right, but applications and templates have learning curves.  Some assume you have knowledge of HTML and CSS.  Sometimes it isn’t the application or the template that is the problem, but your vision; you can’t figure out how to make a page look the way you want.  This is the point that frustration starts to build and I usually see the following tweet or Facebook post: I Hate WordPress!!! Ask for Help Before You Start Going the DIY path is fine, but why not have someone available for consultation when you have a question?  You can try depending on tapping into the knowledge of a friend, but why not have a professional you can contact?  I have many clients who use my skills to educate themselves […]


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WordPress Themes: Free vs. Premium? 9 Questions to Consider

There are thousands of free and premium WordPress themes available on the internet to the budget-conscious, but what differentiates them?  Free WordPress themes aren’t necessarily inferior to premium themes and there are some premium themes for which I wouldn’t waste good money.  Why is one theme free and another premium?  How do you decide which to choose? Use these 9 questions while looking at themes to help you decide. 1. Are Images Included With the Theme? When you view the theme demo it will be full of images which most likely aren’t included with a free theme.  Sometimes these images are what really catch your eye and make the theme.  Even if the theme includes the images, they may not be royalty-free, meaning that you really need to pay extra to use the images.  But paying for a premium theme doesn’t mean you get the images either.  I had a client pay $159 for a theme, only to find all the images had copyright watermarks on them. 2. Does the WordPress Theme Include PSD (Photoshop) Files? Themes are first created in Photoshop and then created in HTML for WordPress.  The PSD files will have images that you may need if you want to change […]


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eCommerce Terms & Conditions and Privacy Pages

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Adding eCommerce to Your Website

Adding eCommerce to Your WebsiteeCommerce – What is it? Do I Need It?eCommerce – Shipping and Payment OptionseCommerce Terms & Conditions and Privacy PagesThis is the third in a series of articles covering ecommerce.  You can find the previous articles here: eCommerce.  What is it?  Do I need it? and  eCommerce Shipping and Payment Options It is vital that you write down and follow through on your privacy policy and terms and conditions.  These are going to be the documents that customers rarely read, but will save you time, money and legal problems if you have them and follow them! Privacy Policy The Better Business Bureau has a sample privacy policy for online businesses as well as good articles on establishing your privacy policy and what best practices you should follow.  At the very minimum it should state: What personal information you are collecting on the site. Whether and how a customer can remove personal information. How the customer can view what information you have collected on them. How the information is stored, what security you are using. What redress the customer has if you don’t follow your policy privacy. How you will communicated updates to the privacy policy Privacy Alert! Don’t […]


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eCommerce – Shipping and Payment Options

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Adding eCommerce to Your Website

Adding eCommerce to Your WebsiteeCommerce – What is it? Do I Need It?eCommerce – Shipping and Payment OptionseCommerce Terms & Conditions and Privacy PagesIn the last post I discussed the basics of eCommerce, what it is, some terminology, and some options.  This post covers the questions you need to ask yourself, your website designer/manager, and the eCommerce option you chose. Payment Options Will my eCommerce site be part of a community? Some third-party eCommerce providers have a marketplace set up where customers can search across all merchants.  Etsy, EBay, and Yahoo Stores are examples of this.  On the other hand, it is harder for your store to stand out among the others and optimizing your store to return well in Google or Bing searches is more difficult. What Payment Options does this eCommerce Application Offer to my Customers? Consider the type of payments you can expect.  Will most of your customers being paying with credit or debit cards?  Will your customer need an invoice which s/he submits for payment (common in large companies)? Will you accept checks?  Do you need escrow services where the customer makes a payment, but the payment is held in escrow until the item is received by […]


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eCommerce – What is it? Do I Need It?

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Adding eCommerce to Your Website

Adding eCommerce to Your WebsiteeCommerce – What is it? Do I Need It?eCommerce – Shipping and Payment OptionseCommerce Terms & Conditions and Privacy PagesThe definition is simple:  ecommerce is a commercial transaction that takes place on the internet.  When you buy something at Amazon.com, you are participating in an ecommerce transaction as is moving money from your savings account to your checking account with your bank’s mobile app. Do I Need eCommerce? If you sell a product, the answer to this question is obvious – YES!  Selling your products online expands your customer base to the entire country, or even world! If you offer a service I suggest you look at your customers rather than the services you offer.  For example, I offer my services world-wide and all of my clients are comfortable buying online, so it makes sense to offer online payment options.  On the other hand, my husband’s residential rental business doesn’t offer a way for tenants to pay rent online because the majority of the tenants aren’t computer users or aren’t comfortable paying online. Ask yourself – “are my customers comfortable with buying or paying over the internet? ” eCommerce Terminology Store – the store contains all of your products or services plus the shopping cart, […]


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WP Plugin: Expire Tag

This brand-new WP plugin removes a tag from a post after a certain date.  How would you use it?  Let’s say you have a content area called “Breaking News”.  That area should show all posts tagged with “breaking”, but you only want the post to be labelled as breaking for one week.  Using this plugin you can set that tag to expire from the post.  The post is not deleted, but since it doesn’t have the “breaking” tag associated with it, it won’t appear under “Breaking News”. Raul Martinez, the plugin’s author, says that he wrote the plugin to fulfill a need in his own place of work.  It is available through the WordPress plugin interface (search for Expire Tag) or via download.


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Managing Your Website for Non-Profits

Non profit organizations are in a unique situation when it comes to creating and maintaining a website.  Many are staffed by volunteers or have a very limited staff which handles all aspects of the business, including the website.  Other people are usually pulled into the process, creating confusion and adding time and expense to the project.  Consider the following: Who is Managing the Project? Who is Managing Your Non-Profit Site?. Photo courtesy of VirginMoney(CC Attribution) Nearly every non-profit I have worked with has one person who gets the blame when something is wrong with the site, but a multitude of people who want input into the look, feel and content of the site.  Instead of designating a team of decision makers, non-profits tend to have a series of conversations like this: Staff Person:  Here is the home page for our new site! Board Member 1:  I don’t like it.  Move this, add this, change this. —Changes are made— Board Member 2:  I think this should change, and do this and fix that. —Changes are made— Board Member 3:  My daughter is in college and doesn’t like the site at all.  She thinks we should…. —Changes are made— Board Member 1: […]


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Yoast’s Hidden Feature: the Bulk Editor

Yoast WordPress SEO plugin is a must-have which I include with every installations of WordPress I do.  It is free, full-featured and simple to use.  So simple, in fact, that I rarely spend much time on it – just setting it up and adding titles and descriptions to pages and posts. In the redesign of my own Beyond Paper site I discovered that I didn’t have Yoast installed!  After installing and configuring, I wasn’t looking forward to editing every post and page to get the title and descriptions added in.  I was delighted, therefore, to find that there is a bulk editing feature which simplifies the process! With Yoast installed and activated, log into the Admin dashboard and click on SEO -> Bulk Editor in the left-hand menu.  You’ll see two tabs, each with a listing of all of your posts and pages.  The first tab lets you edit the titles, the second the descriptions. I went through and added SEO-friendly titles – it took me about 15 minutes for 160 entries.  The descriptions will take a bit longer, so I’m breaking that project into chunks.  What I will do is open each page/post in a new tab to refresh […]


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How Easy is WordPress to Use?

Recently a graphic designer approached me about problem she was having with WordPress.  The designer, I’ll call her Lily, had no HTML or coding skills.  She’d tried many different templates, but was unhappy with them all.  “I thought WordPress was user-friendly and super easy to use!”, she wailed, ” I just can’t figure out how to make it look the way I want!” Looking at the templates she’d used and discarded, they all had some customization features built into them.  Generally these features allowed the user to change the colors of backgrounds and text and choose fonts and font-sizes.  Some of the templates also had options for adding and customizing widget areas. What Lily wanted, however, was the ability to change everything about the site.  She wanted to increase the size of the header, add borders to certain widget boxes and force text boxes to be certain sizes.  In other words, she wanted to be able to change the style and layout of the entire template via some kind of click-and-point interface.  Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t work like that. WordPress is a content management system – it does make it easy to manage your content; images, text and widget areas.  However WordPress depends on […]


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Weather Widget

Displaying the weather on your site is almost required if you are in the hospitality or recreation business.  Get your customers outside (or inside) with your current weather conditions straight from NOAA!  This widget is different from others because you can choose the data to show and format it however you like!  You can even use custom images for the different weather conditions! Updated: Demo is currently not working. I have it on my list of things to fix!


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Need Checkboxes? Use Toggles!

When using checkboxes for Yes/No, On/Off or other two-option items use a toggle instead.  It adds a nice look to the page and it somewhat easier to use that small checkboxes.  I like them because they are easier to scan and read – the positives stick out.


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Thermometers Aren’t Just for Temperatures

Use a thermometer to graphically display the amount of donations received or points accumulated!  This thermometer could be adapted for any use! Update: Yahoo has changed their weather API and this is currently not working. I have it on my list to fix!


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Sidebar Slider

This is a simple slider that comes onto the page from the left or right, sliding out like a box.  Very effective for newsletter or contact forms.


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Responsive ECommerce Grid

This awesome method of displaying ecommerce items comes from CoDrops, but I changed it up a bit.  The front and back of the item can be displayed as well as more information.  Try changing the size and color. The favorite button also works.  This would be an awesome way to display your goods! Additionally, resize your browser and see what happens!


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News Tickers – Not Just for News

A news ticker can be used for any kind of attention-grabbing headlines.  Just in a few moments these are uses I came up with (remember, headlines in the ticker are clickable!): Ecommerce site – Displaying new or sale item. Blog – Display newest posts Events – Display upcoming events Fundraising – Display current status and ways to donate Restaurant – Display today’s specials Recreation – Display current weather conditions Tickers can also display data from other sites – if there is an RSS feed, it can be included in a ticker easily.


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Geocoding Made Simple

Geocoding takes a regular street address and finds the latitude and longitude so that location can be displayed on a map.  I do a lot of maps, and geocoding is a big part of that.  Sometimes it is built into the application, other times I just need to find the coordinates of something.  This little script just takes an address and returns the coordinates.


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Stylish, User-Friendly Form Validation

This form script validates AND provides styling for forms. It isn’t the lightest-weight script, but it doesn’t seem to slow down your site and it contains just about anything you might need.  This is one where you need to click the image and view the demos to really see how it works.


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Form Submission Animation

This flipform animation adds visual interest to a pretty vanilla form and lets your visitor know that the form has been submitted.  I can think of other uses for this form though – have a multi-page form?  Have the form flip to reveal the next step in the form!


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Animation: Add Your Keywords to an Image

Imagine a large image with your focus keywords appearing and disappearing in random positions and sizes – that is what this neat little piece of code does. This would be ideal for a home page, but could be used in a sidebar as well. You can even change the background image AND the random text!  


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Simple Vertical Navigation Menu in CSS

This is about as simple as it gets – lightweight and fast, able to be  infinitely styled, this expanding vertical menu solves most  needs.


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Date Picker Demo

Date fields should always have a datepicker associated with them.  While a datepicker makes it easier to choose a date, it also formats the date to make it easier when processing the form.


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Checkbox Styles

The default checkbox style is a little bland – here are three easy styles to add pizzazz to your checkboxes!  


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Button Hover Effects

Althought there are only a few examples right now, I’m collecting hover effects for buttons in this demo. If you see effects you like, let me know so I can deconstruct them and add them to my list!


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Notification with Background Blur

Some nifty CSS and Javascript creates a notification box with the background slightly blurred.  You can see the effect in this image (or the demo) with an obnoxious background.  The effect is far more subtle on a more neutral background, of course.


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Background Slider

This slider accommodates images that are portrait rather than landscape.  It would be great in the sidebar of a site, or as a pull-quote style block  in a long article with links to similar articles or supporting information.


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Want to Use Multiple Themes in a Single Site? You Can Do That!

There is a new plugin at WordPress and it will allow you to assign themes to posts and pages.  Want one theme for your main site, a different one for your blog and a third one for your shop?  Using  jonradio Multiple Themes you can do that and still manage everything – your site, blog and shop, with one WordPress installation!  You could even use one theme, but tweak it for different content sections of your site! There are some problems with some paid themes, apparently, bu the plugin has great reviews.  Contact me if you’d like a walk-through of this cool plugin!


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Discontent with Facebook Spreading Among Advertisers

Advertisers and page owners are speaking out about Google: Facebook may be pulling off one of the most lucrative grifts of all time; first, they convinced brands they needed to purchase all their fans and likes — even though everyone knows you can’t buy love; then, Facebook continues to charge those same brands money to speak to the fans they just bought. ~ James Del, head of Gawker’s content studio Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/advertisers-talking-about-discontent-with-facebook-2014-3#ixzz2wGHF1QWl


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How Much Will My Website Cost? Depends, do you want a Ford Fiesta or a Aston Martin?

Fantastic post for design/programming professionals by Craig Buckler on Sitepoint with the question every professional dreads:  “How much will my site cost?” I dread this question. In my experience, the time it takes a client to ask is inversely proportional to the amount of hassle they cause. Many IT novices consider a website to be a product: they want X pages and expect to pay a fixed price of $Y. They do not appreciate that web design and development is a service which touches all aspects of their business. I endeavor to explain this using the car industry as a metaphor. Asking for the price of a website is like walking into a used-car dealership and asking “how much does a car cost?”. The dealer must ask a series of questions: do you have a model in mind? What do you need it for? How many people will use it? How much luggage space is required? Do you have a preferred color? Does it need to be economical? Do you want a sporty car? What’s your budget? And so on. A car could cost $500 for a ten-year old Ford or $1,000,000 for a McLaren P1, yet both provide the same basic […]


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IQTELL Update: Mobile App for Productivity on the go

After using IQTELL for the desktop for the two weeks and getting a new, much faster smartphone (the LG G2), I decided to start using the new IQTELL mobile app.  Their first app was less than spectacular and I didn’t use it at all after seeing it didn’t include email.  The new app has added email support and I’m really enjoying being able to access my email and Next Actions wherever I am.  My workflow has even changed a bit to integrate mobile usage. During the day I’m usually in front of my computer and I have the desktop app open in my browser all through the day.  The mobile app really works for me in the evenings and weekends when I’m away from my desk.  These are the times all of those “I need to…” thoughts come out and distract me from my social and relaxation time.  The mobile app makes it easy to capture these thoughts in IQTELL’s CollectBox.  The CollectBox is perfect for all of the on-the-go stuff that enters into my head.   In two clicks I can have the CollectBox open (one click if I’ve been in it recently as the app remembers where you were) and […]


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Carousels and Sliders – Are They Effective?

WPMUdev‘s article about UX blunders caught my eye because of the section about carousels.  You know, those sliders on the home page that feature different images and content for you to click through?  Two-thirds of my projects in the last three months have contained sliders of one type or another, so I was surprised to see that WPMUdev doesn’t think they work.  In fact they quote this site. That site quotes the following reports: WeedyGarden, by Jason Runyon – around 1% of users click anywhere on your home page.  Of the clicks on carousel, the majority are on the first item.  In other words, no one is paying attention to any of the other items.  With only 1% of your visitors clicking on your page at all, a miniscule number will click on your slider. Nielson Norman Group found that even when a user was told to look for something on a page (a sale) she didn’t see it in the slider.  Their conclusion is user’s “banner-blindness”  – we’ve become accustomed to companies selling us in banners, and the sliders/carousels are basically banners, so we don’t even see them. Wider Funnel suggests that sliders are less than useful because they don’t […]


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IQTELL: GTD Optimized for You

It began with a tweet: @IQTELL only 3 after today! — Diane Ensey (@dianeensey) January 30, 2014 I  So I checked out IQTELL and found out they were yet another GTD application.  I’ve tried out dozens, but always returned to my less-than-optimal process of using my Gmail inbox as a to-do list.  But IQTELL was  free, so I tried them out. After signing up I was presented with a kind of a checklist of short videos that got me started using IQTELL’s workspace.  These are well done and you do need them.  There is a bit of a learning curve to using the workspace, especially if you’ve been using another system.  I linked my email addresses, calendars and Evernote to IQTELL and dove in. Nearly all of my “to-dos” come through emails from clients.  I’ve even trained family members to email me with things I need to do.  Within the workspace it is simple to change these emails into actions because it comes with pre-loaded macros.  With a couple of keystrokes I review an email message, delete it, quickly answer it if I can do it in less than 5 minutes or assign it to one of several macros: Make it […]


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Interactive Gallery from Great Wall of Tees uses Impress.js

  Great Wall of Tees uses a plugin that allows them to turn their e-commerce website into an interactive web gallery.  I’d love to do something like this in a project!


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WordPress e-Commerce Template : Love this Layout

Obox Design has just released a fantastic new template for the WordPress e-Commerce plugin.  With a home-page slider, responsive mobile design and different layout options it could be used as-is, or I can customize it for you. The post WordPress e-Commerce Template : Love this Layout appeared first on Sophrosyne Life.


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Inspirational Add-ons for Your Websites and Applications

I’ve got a bunch of browser tabs open, but no time to prototype out some of these cool ideas, so this is a roundup of items I plan on making into plugins for WordPress or incorporating into future projects. Ladda  by Hakim El Hattab / @hakimel Hakim has created a UI concept that changes the Submit button in a form to reflect the loading indicator status.   view News Tickers News tickers are so 1990s, but done right they can encourage visitors to click deeper into your site.  Use them to highlight articles or draw attention to what is new.  Here are a few I really like. Code Canyon’s Modern News Ticker With 15 different themes and 4 layouts, this ticker is a traditional “CNN news” style ticker.     Totem Ticker A vertical ticker.  I’d like to make this one a WordPress plugin with the option of displaying the featured image with the title overlayed for each item.     VTicker Another vertical ticker, but this one runs off of a plain list (ul li).  I’d love to see how this would work with images and text as well. Icon Hover Effects by Codrop I’d like to use these in a non-traditional […]


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Adding Functionality to CoDrops’ Responsive Grid Design

Dammit Jim, I’m a coder not a designer.  ~Dr. Bones as a programmer I’m terrible with design.  My strength is taking other people’s design ideas and writing the code that makes the design work in the real world.  Today’s demo is from Codrops and they call it a “responsive grid design”.  I loved it right away and decided to code some back-end functionality. The first thing I did was create a JSON file featuring all of the shirts and the sizes and colors available to each (JSON file here).  In a live environment this would be pulled from a database.  This also makes it very easy to manipulate the items – for example arrange by price or filter by available sizes.  I used the standard jQuery .getJSON() call. If you hover over the size box a list of available sizes appears. I added code to show the selected size in the box once a size is chosen. While I loved the tool-tip type popup for the colors, users want to be able to select a different color.  Having the shirt image change to match that color is a bonus feature.  Click on the upper-right arrow to see the back of the […]


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Background Slider

CSS-Tricks had a nice little slider based on  Yahoo! Weather app for iOS where the background and text seem to slide separately.  It was set up for manual use – users need to click on buttons or use the slider to advance, so added some code to auto-scroll, fast scrolling to the beginning when the end is reached and starting all over again. This would be a great way to highlight new articles on your front page, using the featured image for the post as the background.  It would be easy to implement in WordPress. The post Background Slider appeared first on Sophrosyne Life.


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Custom Block Quote Plugin

I’ve created a WordPress plugin for the styled blockquote featured in this post.  To use: Upload the zip file by logging into your WP admin and clicking on Plugins->Add New Click on Upload After installation is complete click on “Activate” To use the plugin, put the following code wherever you want the blockquote to display: the_image_url.jpg is the complete URL of the image you’ve already uploaded to WP the title is the name of the book or publication. the_source.html is the URL of where the quote came from (can be left blank). The Author is (strangely enough) the author or originator of the quote. The Quotation Body is the actual quote And this is what you get: The Quotation Body The Author the title     Download Plugin:  bp_custom_block_quotes Thanks to CoDrops, from whom the original CSS came. jQuery(‘.nrelate_default’).removeClass(‘nrelate_default’); /* <![CDATA[ */ nRelate.domain = “www.sophrosynelife.com”; var entity_decoded_nr_mp_url = jQuery(”).html(“http://api.nrelate.com/mpw_wp/0.51.4/?tag=nrelate_popular&domain=www.sophrosynelife.com&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sophrosynelife.com%2F2013%2F02%2Fcustom-block-quote-plugin%2F&nr_div_number=2&maxageposts=5256000&increment=0”).text(); nRelate.getNrelatePosts(entity_decoded_nr_mp_url); /* ]]> */ The post Custom Block Quote Plugin appeared first on Sophrosyne Life.


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Round Up of This and That

There’s been an item on my to-do list forever:  ”Clean Out To-Blog Folder”.  When I’m browsing the web or reading my RSS feeds I bookmark stuff I find interesting and want to come back to.  And then I never visit those links again. Today, finding myself with some unaccustomed free time I decided to clean out this catch-all.  There is a lot of puzzling stuff in there: Introducing The Open Source Course Management System for WordPress Lovers.  Maybe I had a client I thought this would work for? Lots of BuddyPress related links.  I must have been testing it out. Bearded Some responsive web design links (now that I look at them, I think they need to be in List.ly: Responsive Navigation Patterns A Responsive Design Approach for Navigation The top responsive web design problems and how to avoid them Scalable Navigation Patterns In Responsive Web Design But here is some gold: A link to a personal bookmark application I set up on my server.  I’d forgotten about it.  This would be excellent for sharing in-house links. A link to my business FTP area.  I set up a FTP area to share files?  Huh. Creating Google Calendar Events by submitting […]


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Adding Lat/Long Picker to Admin

This post is slightly out of order, but here is a screen shot of how I implemented the latitude/longitude in yesterday’s post into my standard admin interface: The user can manually enter the lat/long, click on the map – which moves the marker to the new point and fills in the lat/long fields, or enter a street address. When “find” is clicked, the map marker changes to the street address location and the lat/long fields are automatically filled in. jQuery(‘.nrelate_default’).removeClass(‘nrelate_default’); /* <![CDATA[ */ nRelate.domain = "www.sophrosynelife.com"; var entity_decoded_nr_mp_url = jQuery('‘).html(“http://api.nrelate.com/mpw_wp/0.51.4/?tag=nrelate_popular&domain=www.sophrosynelife.com&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sophrosynelife.com%2F2013%2F01%2Fadding-latlong-picker-to-admin%2F&nr_div_number=2&maxageposts=5256000&increment=0”).text(); nRelate.getNrelatePosts(entity_decoded_nr_mp_url); /* ]]> */ The post Adding Lat/Long Picker to Admin appeared first on Sophrosyne Life.


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Getting Map Coordinates

I do a lot of map applications where an admin can enter information about a location, business or event and have it appear on a map. In the past I’ve simply coded in a module where the admin enters the address of the location and the latitude/longitude are added to the database for that location. In some cases, however, there isn’t an address. For example, the White Pass Byway displays scenic view information along the highway. In my newest iteration of the admin interface I’ve added a module that allows user to set the latitude/longitude three ways: by street address, by manually entering the latitude and longitude or by clicking on the location on a map. All of Google Maps usual functions are available such as zooming in or out, move the map around, and using the satellite view. While not particularly difficult to implement, it is nice to have all these components in one module that can be added to an application easily. The post appeared first on Sophrosyne Life.


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Text Animations

When I saw Aurelio De Rosa’s tutorial on writing a jQuery plugin I bookmarked it. What caught my eye was the title “Flashing Text Effect”. No idea why, but as I read the article and worked through the tutorial I envisioned it being used in a header with a background image. And what if that background image changed as well? I made one change to his code. I want to be able to specify the size of the text: random, normal (unchanging and inheriting the font-size from you page) or a specific, unchanging font size. This required two additions to his code. First, adding a default value: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 var defaultValues = { strings: [], // array. A set of strings to show. //My addition here: fontSize: 'normal', //string. "normal" = no resizing. "random"= random resizing. Or enter size in px or ems (16px; 1.5em) //End my addition fadeIn: 300, // numeric. The time in milliseconds the element appears by fading to opaque. duration: 500, // numeric. The time of milliseconds the element stays visible. fadeOut: 300, // numeric. The time of milliseconds the element disappears by fading to transparent. […]


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Fun with JQuery Selectors

Lately I’ve been getting into some advanced selector options with JQuery. Selectors are what the action takes place upon. For example, $(‘h2′) will select all of the <H2> tags while $(‘p[class=”summary”]) will choose all of the <p class=”summary”> blocks. While these are easy, today I had a real challenge. I had markup similar to this: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 <h2 id="stats"> <span aria-hidden="true" data-icon=""></span> Stats </h2> <h2><span aria-hidden="true" data-icon=""></span> One </h2> <h2>Two</h2> <h2>Three</h2> <h2 id="four">Four</h2> <h2 id="five">Five</h2> <h2 id="six">Six</h2> Three things needed to happen: An icon needed to appear corresponding to a “data-icon” attribute, if present <H2> tags without an id and without a specified icon needed a question mark <H2> tags with an id, but without a specified icon needed an exclamation point I’m using a custom icon font family generated at IcoMoon and the following CSS for the actual icons: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 @font-face { font-family: 'icomoon'; src:url('fonts/icomoon.eot'); src:url('fonts/icomoon.eot?#iefix') format('embedded-opentype'), url('fonts/icomoon.svg#icomoon') format('svg'), url('fonts/icomoon.woff') format('woff'), url('fonts/icomoon.ttf') format('truetype'); font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; } [data-icon]:before { […]


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I Hate Phones

I worked for 10 years in a job where I was responsible for the phones for a business, first as the receptionist and then ultimately as the controller in charge of office staff.  As a result I hate phones.  I hate hearing them ring and I hate talking on them.  In fact my brain tends to go blank when I talk on a phone.  Probably post traumatic stress disorder.  Voice mail is terrible because it is impossible to leave a succinct message on the spur of the moment.  I use Google Voice for voicemail, so the interface is OK, but most messages boil down to “call me”. I make it very clear in my business that I prefer email to telephone conversations, which is why I was delighted to see John Scalzi express the same preference: Well, I finally did what I should have done about four years ago, which is to change my cell phone voice mail message to this: Hi, this is John Scalzi. I will never ever ever ever listen to the voice mail you’re about to leave, because voice mail is a pain in the ass. So if you actually want to reach me, you can either […]


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Redesigning an Admin Interface to a Database Part 1

Many of my clients need database applications for their website, and some time ago I built a module system that I could use as a base for more customized functionality.  The modules work together to create an admin area – a password protected part of the site where the administrator can add, edit and delete items from the database. For example, Washington Farmers Markets Association uses a database to gather member information which then displays on a Google Map on the public side of their website.   Other clients use custom database applications to: collect registration information for potential students collect job applicant information and track interviews create a custom catalog of employee uniforms for franchise-based organizations The Problem My code was around 5 years old and really needed updating from the group up and the interface – the look and feel of the admin site pages – was down-right ugly.  I needed to start all over. The Template I decided to use a template system from ThemeForest called Developr to give my new interface a fresh, modern look.  It includes styling and jquery code for everything I could ever want; forms, columns, modal and popup notifications – you name […]


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Give Your Pages an Obvious Name

by Tambako the Jaguar Time for a rant about websites that use cute or unusual page naming conventions.  You know the ones – instead of “Contact” or “Contact Us” they say “Start a Conversation”,  ”How Can We Help” or some other verbiage which makes me stop and think. This is a bad thing.  Unless I have a very good reason, I won’t stop and think.  Instead of trying to decipher what you mean I’ve already moved on to your competitor who has a clearly labelled Support page instead of your cutesy “Let’s Figure This Out”. These are the page I expect to easily find on a website: Contact Support About At the very minimum, if you have these pages, don’t conceal them with silly names.  Don’t make me work.  Make me a client.   jQuery(‘.nrelate_default’).removeClass(‘nrelate_default’); /* <![CDATA[ */ nRelate.domain = "www.sophrosynelife.com"; var entity_decoded_nr_mp_url = jQuery('‘).html(“http://api.nrelate.com/mpw_wp/0.51.4/?tag=nrelate_popular&domain=www.sophrosynelife.com&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sophrosynelife.com%2F2013%2F01%2Fgive-your-pages-an-obvious-name%2F&nr_div_number=2&maxageposts=5256000&increment=0”).text(); nRelate.getNrelatePosts(entity_decoded_nr_mp_url); /* ]]> */ The post Give Your Pages an Obvious Name appeared first on Sophrosyne Life.


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Sneak Peak: New Admin Interface

I have an admin interface that I use for my database projects which has sorely needed updating.  Here is a sneak peak at what editing and adding a new entry will look like:   I’m using the Developr template which gives the page its look and has styling for toggles and many kinds of buttons. The biggest feature I’ve added to the new interface so far is the ability to add multiple image to a listing!  Now you can have as many images as you want! Coming features include: Add new categories/subcategories from the edit screen. Add tags from the edit screen. Get latitude/longitude by clicking on a map. All of this data is used to create customized Google Maps on the client-side.  Some examples include: Washington Farmers Market Association White Pass Byway   jQuery(‘.nrelate_default’).removeClass(‘nrelate_default’); /* <![CDATA[ */ var entity_decoded_nr_mp_url = jQuery('‘).html(“http://api.nrelate.com/mpw_wp/0.51.4/?tag=nrelate_popular&domain=www.sophrosynelife.com&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sophrosynelife.com%2F2013%2F01%2Fsneak-peak-new-admin-interface%2F&nr_div_number=4&maxageposts=5256000&increment=0”).text(); nRelate.getNrelatePosts(entity_decoded_nr_mp_url); /* ]]> */ The post Sneak Peak: New Admin Interface appeared first on Sophrosyne Life.


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Speeding Up Your WordPress Site

My personal and business site score really well, but I’m thinking of testing these plugins on my sandbox installs where I’m running a bunch of different plugins. 2 Plugins to Put Your Site in the Fast Lane jQuery(‘.nrelate_default’).removeClass(‘nrelate_default’); /* <![CDATA[ */ nRelate.domain = "www.sophrosynelife.com"; var entity_decoded_nr_mp_url = jQuery('‘).html(“http://api.nrelate.com/mpw_wp/0.51.4/?tag=nrelate_popular&domain=www.sophrosynelife.com&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sophrosynelife.com%2F2012%2F12%2Fspeeding-up-your-wordpress-site%2F&nr_div_number=2&maxageposts=5256000&increment=0”).text(); nRelate.getNrelatePosts(entity_decoded_nr_mp_url); /* ]]> */ The post Speeding Up Your WordPress Site appeared first on Sophrosyne Life.


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Curved Text with ArcText.js

In an ideal website, text is completely separate from images.  This way you can edit the text without needing a new image.  In the real world this can be difficult.  The ArcText.js plugin takes care of one design issue: curving your text.   jQuery(‘.nrelate_default’).removeClass(‘nrelate_default’); /* <![CDATA[ */ nRelate.domain = "www.sophrosynelife.com"; var entity_decoded_nr_mp_url = jQuery('‘).html(“http://api.nrelate.com/mpw_wp/0.51.4/?tag=nrelate_popular&domain=www.sophrosynelife.com&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sophrosynelife.com%2F2012%2F12%2Fcurved-text-with-arctext-js%2F&nr_div_number=2&maxageposts=5256000&increment=0”).text(); nRelate.getNrelatePosts(entity_decoded_nr_mp_url); /* ]]> */ The post Curved Text with ArcText.js appeared first on Sophrosyne Life.


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Footers for Your Website

Some really great footer designs were posted over at WPMU.  I wish I had the creativity of a designer to dream up designs like this, but being a programmer has its advantages too.  My favorite:   I love how the images and the dynamic content fit together. jQuery(‘.nrelate_default’).removeClass(‘nrelate_default’); /* <![CDATA[ */ nRelate.domain = "www.sophrosynelife.com"; var entity_decoded_nr_mp_url = jQuery('‘).html(“http://api.nrelate.com/mpw_wp/0.51.4/?tag=nrelate_popular&domain=www.sophrosynelife.com&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sophrosynelife.com%2F2012%2F12%2Ffooters-for-your-website%2F&nr_div_number=2&maxageposts=5256000&increment=0”).text(); nRelate.getNrelatePosts(entity_decoded_nr_mp_url); /* ]]> */ The post Footers for Your Website appeared first on Sophrosyne Life.


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Make jQuery Menu Widget Horizontal

I was excited to see the menu widget added to jQuery, but it defaults to a vertical list.  After playing around with it and doing some research, I found this fix to make the menu horizontal: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 <ul id="nav"> <li><a href="#">Item #1</a> <ul> <li><a href="#">Sub#1</a></li> <li><a href="#">Sub#2</a></li> </ul> <li><a href="#">Item #2</a></li> <li><a href="#">Item #3</a></li> <li><a href="#">Item #4</a></li> <li><a href="#">Item #5</a></li> </ul> 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 .ui-menu .ui-menu-item { margin:10px; padding: 0; zoom: 1; float: left; clear: none; width: auto; } #nav li { width: auto; clear: none; } .ui-menu .ui-menu-item a{ padding: 2px .2em; } Thanks to coderevision.com for the above. However, submenus still hang out to the right of the menu item. Changing this is easy using jQuery UI positioning: 1 $('#nav').menu({ position: { my: "center bottom"} });       The post Make jQuery Menu Widget Horizontal appeared first on Sophrosyne Life.


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Console in IE Will Break Code

While creating a javascript app yesterday I discovered the IE dislikes the console tool.  My app was working perfectly in Firefox and Chrome, but would not work for anything in IE unless the Developer Tools were open.  After some research and a little trial-and-error I found that it was a console.log() command that was breaking the app. For reference, using a check to see if console was available broke the code as well.  Example: 1 if(console){console.log(error);}   The post Console in IE Will Break Code appeared first on Sophrosyne Life.


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Battling Comment Spam

Many of my clients are getting hit big time by comment spam on their blogs.  For whatever reason the problem has been worse than usual in the past two months.  There are some easy solutions, however. Spam Filter Akismet is the spam solution bundled with WordPress.  You have to pay around $5/mo for a business blog, but it is worth it.  I use Akismet on my blogs and only rarely have to deal with spam. Limit the Comment Period From the WordPress dashboard click on Settings->Discussion.  Where it says “Other Comment Settings” click on “Automatically close comments on articles older than 14 days” and set the number of days.  I suggest using the default 14 days.  This will keep spambots from trying to add comments for all of your old posts. Approve Comments Don’t allow comments to automatically appear on your blog!  While you are in the Discussion settings page, make sure one of these is checked: An administrator must always approve the comment Comment author must have a previously approved comment Watch Out for Stealth Spam Don’t just look at the comment.  I’m seeing a lot of comments that look like they are real, but when I look at the […]


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5 Steps to Consistent Blogging

You have your blog and it is all shiny new, customized to your specifications.  For the first month or two, blogging will be easy.  You will have lots of topics to write about and your posts will just fly from your fingers.  You may blog once a day or several times a week at least.  Then it gets tough.  You run out of easy topics.  Other parts of your life and business call to you.  Blogging becomes less important.  Your posts fall to once a week, then monthly and every post seems to start with “Sorry I haven’t update in awhile…” Every blogger runs into this, even veteran bloggers will have dry spells.  Here are 5 steps to keeping your blog updated and consistent. Decide on a Posting Schedule How many times a week do you want a new post to appear on your blog?  Look at your potential readership and decide how many posts a week (or month) will keep them engaged.  You aren’t deciding how many times a week you will sit down and write a blog post here, but just the number of posts that need to be created. Use an Editorial Calendar I use the WordPress Editorial […]


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Custom Login Form with Validation

I’m not a designer and lack that creative spark, so I get excited when I see new, unusual designs like this login form: This was created by Hugo Giraudel at Codrops and the use of icons and round button caught my eye.  In my example I’ve souped it up a bit with validation: As you click on each field to supply the missing information, the corresponding validation box disappears.  There is no additional HTML markup.  Here is the CSS: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 div.error{ font-size: 12px; color: red; font-weight: bold; position:absolute; left: 175px; top:0px; width: 250px; height: 40px; z-index: 999; padding: 10px; /* Styles */ box-shadow: 0 0 1px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.3), 0 3px 7px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.3), inset 0 1px rgba(255,255,255,1), inset 0 -3px 2px rgba(0,0,0,0.25); border-radius: 5px; background: white; /* Fallback */ background: -moz-linear-gradient(#eeefef, #ffffff 10%); background: -ms-linear-gradient(#eeefef, #ffffff 10%); background: -o-linear-gradient(#eeefef, #ffffff 10%); background: -webkit-gradient(linear, 0 0, 0 100%, from(#eeefef), color-stop(0.1, #ffffff)); background: -webkit-linear-gradient(#eeefef, #ffffff 10%); background: linear-gradient(#eeefef, #ffffff 10%); } .error p{margin-left: 40px;} .error span […]


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Transparent Notification Box

An informational notification box that is slightly transparent over the background. This uses the blur.js plugin and you can see the transparency is more pronounced with