Important WordPress Security Update 4.9.7

There is an important WordPress security update 4.9.7. This is a security and maintenance release and we strongly encourage you to update. The previous versions of WordPress are affected by a security issue with the potential to allow unwanted users access to remove files.

In addition to resolving the security issue, seventeen other bugs were fixed in WordPress 4.9.7:

  • Taxonomy: Improve cache handling for term queries.
  • Posts, Post Types: Clear post password cookie when logging out.
  • Widgets: Allow basic HTML tags in sidebar descriptions on Widgets admin screen.
  • Community Events Dashboard: Always show the nearest WordCamp if one is coming up, even if there are multiple Meetups happening first.
  • Privacy: Make sure default privacy policy content does not cause a fatal error when flushing rewrite rules outside of the admin context.

Update to WordPress

We support this recent security update and encourage all WordPress users to do the same. Whether you are a designer, developer, editor or contributor all will benefit with an update to WordPress. You can read about the security vulnerability over at WordPress.

Not sure how to update WordPress? We are here to help answer your questions.

Update To WordPress Version 4.9 “Tipton”

We always recommend keeping WordPress updated for enhancements and security. WordPress Version 4.9 “Tipton” is the latest release, named after the jazz pianist Billy Tipton. This new version contains updates to improve WordPress usability.

Key features from the enhancements enhancements include:

  • Customizer improvements
  • Widget updates
  • Core improvements

WordPress Version 4.9 "Tipton"

WordPress Customizer Improvements

The new Customizer updates bring a much needed functionality allowing you to now preview, collaborate and schedule custom site updates. Have a widget that you need to go live tomorrow morning but don’t have time to deal with it at that time? Now you can schedule the widget prior to it being published. Making custom changes to the layout or design using the customizer used to mean making them to the live website. Now you can save your changes and send them to your team to review before publishing.

WordPress Customizer
WordPress Customizer allows scheduling and collaboration.

WordPress Widget Updates

WordPress Gallery Widget

WordPress Gallery Widget
The WordPress Gallery Widget

A lot of our clients ask, “How do I add a gallery?”. Often we recommend starting with WordPress’ simple gallery through the Media button. This gallery is now available as a Widget. This is great if you want to add a simple slideshow to your sidebar or feature images in your footer.

WordPress Media Button

WordPress Text Widget with Media Button
WordPress Text Widget with Media Button

Widget improvements from WordPress Version 4.8 Evans gave enhancements to the Text Widget allowing for simple, but desired visual content changes as well as HTML. Now WordPress has added the Media Button. The same Media Button found on the Post and Page edit screens can now be used within the Text Widget. This will allow you to add images, audio and other media files into any Widget area.

Update WordPress

WordPress has added several other improvements behind the scenes including: reliable theme switching, intuitive menu descriptions, coding improvements and more. Whether you are a designer, developer, editor or contributor all will benefit from these recent improvements. You can read about the complete updates over at WordPress.

Not sure how to Update WordPress? We are here to help answer your questions.

What Is A WordPress Theme And How Do I Choose One?

The WordPress theme is the heart of design for your website. The versatility of WordPress is that it allows you to choose any theme you want. Site builders like Google’s GoCentral or WIX provide a limited number of templates that allow for little to no customization or functionality. With a WordPress theme you have options to customize the look and feel of your website as well as control the functionality and scale of your website.

“Fundamentally, the WordPress Theme system is a way to “skin” your weblog. Yet, it is more than just a “skin.” Skinning your site implies that only the design is changed. WordPress Themes can provide much more control over the look and presentation of the material on your website.”

WordPress.org

How to choose a WordPress Theme

WordPress is proud of its themes, however you will find that there are a lot and it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. If you do a simple internet search for “WordPress Themes” you will find there are hundreds of themes both free and premium. So, with all these options, how do you choose? And which is better, a free theme or premium theme?

Where to start

The best place to start is WordPress.org’s theme search. This will allow you to search and filter themes as well as provide ideas on design and layout. Browse through the ‘Feature Filter’ options which include features, layout and subject matter. Each theme will allow you to see a working demo. Be aware of themes that do not show a lot in the demo. This could be a red flag that the theme does not have much to offer. Another nice feature of this search is most of these themes are free to install and use without you submitting any personal or financial information.

A good theme will provide a free and premium version. The free version should allow you to use the theme and present your content in a clean layout. The premium upgrade will open up additional functions that enhance the design and provide support (access to support questions and future updates). The average cost for a premium theme is $40 with themes costing less than $20 and others more than $60.

Things to look out for when choosing a WordPress theme

You want your theme to be responsive. Meaning, the theme should be viewable on both desktop computers as well as portable devices (laptops, tablets and phones). If the theme feature does not clearly identify that it is responsive, avoid using this theme. All websites need to be fully functional and display a clean usable layout on any device. Avoid themes that state there is a “mobile” version. This often means the theme is dropped or switched to a minimal and limited website on small devices such as phones and tablets. A good theme will work on all devices without limiting content, functionality or design.

As previously stated, keep an eye out for themes that do not show a lot of features in the demo. In addition to presentation, read the theme description and be sure it provides everything that you are looking for. That said, look for theme documentation as well. A good theme will supply a user guide to help you style and customize it to your benefit. Look for key features that are specific to your needs. For example, if you are starting an online store look for themes that already have a shopping cart feature built in. It’s still possible to add a cart plugin later but a nice feature out of the box. A theme that gives you full control of layout, fonts, color and branding will also be a nice feature up front because you will be able to brand it to your needs.

If you decide to purchase a premium theme, be sure it comes with support. It’s not worth paying for a theme if its not fully supported by future updates. You will also want the freedom to contact the developer or company if you have questions and need help with your theme. Also, a premium theme may only offer updates and not unlock additional features that enhance the website. Review the theme and be sure that the cost reflects what the company is providing. It is silly to pay for a theme with no updates or one that gives you little to no support or added features.

Need help finding a WordPress theme

Locating the best WordPress theme can be overwhelming. If you find this is the case or you have questions specific to your existing theme let us know. We can walk you through finding a theme, installing it and customizing it to your brand and needs. Let us know if you have any questions.

 

 

 

The Best WordPress Plugins For Every Website

WordPress performance and customization is found through the theme and plugins. Each of these compliments the other while both having their own unique benefit to the website. While the theme focuses more on site design, plugins give you control on how information functions on the site. It doesn’t matter if you use a commercial or custom built theme, your site will utilize the versatility of plugins. Although each website will have plugins that are unique to that site, there are four that must be installed on every single WordPress website. The WordPress Plugins that we install from the start are: WP Rocket, Yoast SEO, Gravity Forms and JetPack.

Wordpress Plugins

WP Rocket

The first thing that we always make sure to cover when hosting a WordPress website is the website’s speed. Caching a website helps with page load times,  performance and overall function of your website. Some hosting platforms provide caching but often do not cache WordPress related content in a sufficient way. If you search for caching plugins you will find there are several. Early on, we found ourselves struggling to find the right plugin that will cache WordPress properly and provide a positive experience to both the visitor as well as site admins.

WP Rocket

WP Rocket is an affordable plugin that works from install. Probably their biggest deliverable is that you can install the plugin and it immediately starts working at increasing a site’s performance and speeding up load times. You don’t have to configure any settings to start benefiting from this plugin. However, if you want to take full control of the plugin, they do offer an easy to understand set of settings that will build on its default functionality. Some of these added benefits include:

  • Automatically caching from install
  • Disable caching for admin roles (great for editing)
  • Lazy load images and other media
  • Streamline scripts and CSS files as well as inline code

The beauty about this caching plugin is that WP Rocket takes full adavantage of making sure the plugin core is doing most of the work and the settings are for you to fine tune the job. Other plugins will not properly cache a site unless you first configure them and it often becomes a productivity crunch because you are fighting with the plugin to get it to properly work.

Yoast SEO

If you have a website then you need to know about Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Although some people let a marketing team worry about this, everyone who is actively involved with a website’s content should know and understand SEO. Yoast SEO was designed to help review your site and bring its SEO performance up as well as maintain that level when writing content.

Yoast SEO

Upon installation, the plugin will walk you through the initial setup and it takes less than five minutes. Once installed, you will have control on how search engines index your website and the content that they scan on individual posts. In addition to having control of how the site is properly indexed, Yoast SEO has a review process in place that will identify areas of improvement.

Gravity Forms

One thing that WordPress does not come with but I feel would benefit from the core software is a simple contact form. Now, I understand why they don’t feature this and its obvious that most websites need more than just a simple contact form and navigating email functionality is often a beast. This is why the third plugin we install is Gravity Forms.

Gravity Forms

With Gravity Forms you have the ability to build any number of contact forms through the easy to use “drag ‘n drop” interface. The plugin is extremely versatile and provides several form fields. Along with the plugin is a huge support network that provides add-ons allowing you to take forms from a simple contact form to purchase forms as well as user registration forms for the website.

JetPack

A common introduction to WordPress is often through their public blog platform found at wordpress.com. This is how WordPress originally got started, allowing individuals to create a blogging website without having to host it on their own. This comes with several features that you lose, or have the impression that you lose, after jumping from the blogging website to a self-hosted WordPress website on your one domain and hosting platform.

Jetpack

JetPack is a plugin that bundles a lot of those features that are not automatically installed when activating a new WordPress website. Although most of these features are extras and do not necessarily cover the “required” aspect, I find that the tools will help streamline how you use your WordPress site and provides features that other website creation sites claim to offer.

Connect

What Is WordPress?

It's Not A Website Builder!

What is WordPress? It is a software used to create and maintain websites through unique themes, custom functionality and a wide network of tools and support. It is not a "Website Builder". A website builder like WIX or GoDaddy's GoCentral often have rigid designs, limited to no customization and lack the ability to grow with you or your business.

Website Builder

"WordPress is open source software you can use to create a beautiful website, blog, or app."

WordPress.org

WordPress an open source tool; meaning anyone can use it and contribute to the its development. Its future is in the hands of those who use it. WordPress comes in two forms, a blogging site or an external installation on a website host.

With several popular website creation tools, why WordPress?

WordPress is not the only software that will help you create websites. Tools like Squarespace, Drupal and Joomla can each be used to build a website. Unlike its competitors, WordPress is the one tool designed with everyone in mind - contributor, developer and visitor. WordPress was designed with you in mind, from the beginning. In its beginning, it provided people an outlet on the web to share stories, facts and opinions through blogging. People quickly found that they could do more then just setup a simple blogging page and could establish a decent website.

Today, WordPress still provides a simple blogging solution. What people may not realize is that behind that solution is a robust structure that will let you create a custom website unique to your store, organization and company.

How Can I Use WordPress?

WordPress can be used to create a website with pages, blog posts, calendar of events, shopping cart and much more. It can be a personal or professional blog surrounded around your subject matter. It can be a web-based app on your computer, phone or tablet. You can use WordPress to create, engage and communicate to the the world.

We love WordPress so much that we use it for any new website that we build.

Take a look at our client's websites for ideas on what you could do.

Insider Louisville
Louisville Cardinal
The Pressbox
International Center
Community Working Group

For additional inspiration, here are other websites that are all built within WordPress.

Angry Birds
Vogue
Herald Sun
Houston Zoo
This Is Finland

If you have questions on how we can update your current website or create a new WordPress website for you, let us now.

Why You Should Update WordPress To Version 4.8 “Evans”

You should always update WordPress. This is not just for the creative enhancement but the security as well.  WordPress has released version 4.8 “Evans”, named after jazz pianist Bill Evans. There are several dynamic updates that improve how you use WordPress and streamlines creativity.

Improvements include:

  • New widgets (images, audio, video and rich text)
  • Dashboard section for upcoming WordPress events and more
  • Link improvements

New WordPress Widgets

Ever wanted to insert a bio image, audio clip or video in the sidebar but had to either install JetPack or another plugin for what should be a simple feature? WordPress now comes prepackaged so that you can add any of these and the ability to add rich text content. There is no more need to change any settings or install plugins.

Image Widget

Update WordPress Image WidgetThe new image widget allows the simple addition of any image. The widget uses the media library. This means there is no need to look up a URL of an existing media image beforehand.

Audio Widget

Update WordPress Audio WidgetLike the image widget, the new audio widget allows you to insert an audio file that does not require any setup. The audio file will even play directly from the sidebar so visitors can stream the media without leaving the current page or your website.

Video Widget

Update WordPress Video WidgetThe new video widget continues to provide the ability to embed media into the sidebar just like the image and audio widgets do. Insert a file from your media library or stream a URL from YouTube or another video streaming site. And yes, the video does play in the sidebar just like the audio widget.

Text Widget

Update WordPress Text WidgetWordPress has replaced the previous text widget with an updated, rich text editor. With the rich text editor widget you are now able to add simple, but desired visual content changes as well as HTML.

Dashboard Update

The dashboard within WordPress will now let you add a section to stay up to date with the latest WordPress events in your area. WordPress has always been a community driven project and now they have incorporated this directly in the dashboard by providing you with information on Meetups and WordCamp related events.

Link Improvements

Updating links within a post is at times annoying when the editor includes more than just the desired words into the link. For some, this was never an issue, but for those who use WordPress on a daily basis will love this little enhancement which no longer slows down the creative flow.

Update WordPress

WordPress has added several other improvements behind the scenes. Whether you are a developer, editor or contributor all will benefit from these changes. You can read about the complete updates over at WordPress.

Not sure how to Update WordPress? We are here to help answer your questions.