Why Everyone is Talking About Gutenberg

Gutenberg is the WordPress next-generation update. It’s a major upgrade in version 5.0 which could be released as soon as August 2018. The development team are positioning this latest generational update as a new content creation experience for WordPress.

The current WordPress ‘editor’ hasn’t changed in years, and this update promises to make content creation and formatting even easier with the introduction of ‘page builder’ functions into the core. This change means that you may be able to reduce reliance on custom themes and additional premium plugins to style your content.

In this post I want to summarize the highlights of this new release so that you can confidently plan for this update.

Gutenberg’s Blocks will help you build your site

One of the big things you’ll hear about in the context of Gutenberg are blocks.  Blocks are the de facto new mechanism for building content features.  Some premium themes already use blocks which you insert as shortcodes, embeds, widgets or post formats and other formatting elements. Blocks will deliver a new range of functionality but importantly a clear user experience and an easier way to format pages – eliminating the need for going into the source code to get the formatting right.

A headline block in Gutenberg

Transitioning to using Gutenberg’s blocks

When Gutenberg is released, you will have an option of using blocks to edit your content, posts and pages. When editing pages, content that’s in blocks can be easily moved around to change the order, add images and insert new elements. Content formed using a content editor can still be edited, in the same way.

Drag and drop images with Gutenberg

When you place an image block, you will be able to drag and drop images directly into the image block, just as you would with the WordPress visual content editor now.

Faster editing with Recent Blocks

With all the blocks being built into the Gutenberg editor, with more on the way, a new “Recent blocks” feature will put your most regularly used blocks up front so that they are quickly accessible.

Common blocks in Gutenberg

Pull quotes and improved alignment controls

You may have used blockquotes to provide relief in your copy – and this functionality has been around for years. Gutenberg introduces a new pull quote, which is different. Smashing magazine shares a great definition “Pull quotes are short excerpts from the presented text. They are used to pull a text passage out of the reader’s flow and give it a more dominant position in the post or the article.”  New alignments features ‘align wide’ and ‘full width’ will give you more control over your text layout.

Improve calls to action with buttons

You can now add a simple button, but the options are not as extensive as some premium plugins already available. If you need an easy, integrated way to add a call to action then this may work for you.

Gutenberg allows embedding content from social sites

The Gutenberg release makes it easier for you to integrate media content from third party websites like YouTube, Soundcloud, Hulu, Flickr, Kickstarter, Vimeo, Vine, Twitter and more.  You could always embed this content, but not from the visual editor.  Now you simply add a block, align it and it’s done.

Embed blocks in Gutenberg

And you don’t have to wait

If you want to explore the new Gutenberg functionality now, you don’t have to wait. You can install a Gutenberg plugin from the WordPress Plugin Repository. We wouldn’t recommend it for your live sites right now, as they’re still ironing out the bugs. Installing the Gutenberg plugin on your test websites can be a great way to familiarize yourself with the new blocks functionality ahead of release.

Gutenberg plugin in the WordPress Plugin Repository

So what’s the verdict?

Gutenberg offers a great way for non-coders to do more styling of their content. Ultimately this plugin gives users much more control over how content is created, compiled and displayed. The result for editors will be a faster editing process and for website visitors, hopefully a more visually compelling display.

Gutenberg is mobile friendly and while the features aren’t dissimilar to those people have seen in premium themes and plugins, it will now be free and embedded as part of the WordPress core which means less compatibility issues and improved usability.

We anticipate that there will be some compatibility challenges when Gutenberg is released, with some plugins and themes maybe not working quite as expected.  Much of the work here, however, will be for theme and plugin developers rather than content creators or end users.

How will Gutenberg affect other page builders like Elementor and Beaver Builder?

One big question is what does this mean for businesses who have invested in producing similar theme builder technologies, like Elementor and Beaver Builder?

Elementor appear to have an open-minded and inclusive approach and commented on their website: “We are looking into different methods to integrate and extend Gutenberg in Elementor… We believe that Elementor’s unique vision of design is just in its early stages, and there is a lot of room for innovation. We will find the best path to work alongside the new editor, and keep leading the field of WordPress design. ”

Beaver Builder are upbeat about the changes, making the following comments in a recent blog post: “We’re currently working on compatibility between Beaver Builder and Gutenberg. Our team is attempting to tease out the best user experience for switching between alternate editing modes in WordPress. And we have some really fun experimental ideas that we can’t quite talk about publicly yet. Rest assured, we’re all excited about the opportunity to embrace the future of WordPress and the future of the web!”

The bigger concern seems to be from people developing with these page builder tools and ensuring that the tools have the right level of support from the Gutenberg update.  The concerns are around Gutenberg potentially breaking customer sites, one developer stated it well on the Beaver Builder post:

“I can’t imagine clients being very happy if their web designer goes to them to say. Mmmhhh you know that site you paid me $$$ to build last year? Well WordPress has changed and now we need to rebuild it…”

I’m sure developers will continue to watch this space closely to ensure they are getting the right level of support from developers and the WordPress core team.

Should I adopt Gutenberg?

The question of when to adopt Gutenberg changes is really up to your change appetite. For customers who are more conservative in their approach, we’d recommend moving to Gutenberg in a later release once the inevitable go-live teething issues with Gutenberg platform are resolved.

We are sure many people are keen to explore and implement the new functions of the editing platform for themselves. If you are one of these early-adopters we strongly recommend that you add the Gutenberg release to your test environment first. This will give you time and space to check for compatibility with your current theme and suite of plugins, before starting to use it in your live environment.

Where can I learn more?

You can read more about Gutenberg on the WordPress website. As always, our technical team are available to speak to you about the WordPress Gutenberg changes and help you plan your transition to this new platform. In the first instance you may want to reach out to us via phone or email.

 

Images courtesy of WordPress.org

Why WordPress owners should be taking GDPR seriously

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new regulation from the EU that impacts the way every WordPress site collects and manages user data. Because these new laws are wide-reaching, even non-EU sites and businesses are swept up in these changes. If you are in business and deal with EU citizens whether they are currently residing in an EU country or not, then you need to make your WordPress website GDPR compliant. Non-compliant businesses risk fines of up to 20 million euros or up to 4% of your business revenues.

GDPR enforcement comes into effect on 25 May 2018. This document explores the legislation, the steps you should take, and what may happen if you neglect this.  Please be aware that making your business GDPR compliant is more than just your website. Here’s the disclaimer. We are not legal experts, and you should consult legal counsel on how to best structure your business and website to be compliant.

So what is GDPR?

General Data Protection Regulation is a data protection law in the EU, giving EU citizens better control over their data by changing the way organizations across the world manage privacy and user data. The new laws are stronger than those currently in place like the EU cookie law and include measures like users needing to confirm that their data can be collected and easily understood privacy statements that show what data will be stored, how it will be used and offer the ability for website visitors to withdraw their consent to use personal data.

GDPR applies to non-EU businesses too!

GDPR is not just for EU businesses. It applies to the data of any EU citizen regardless of where the citizen is residing or where their data is captured. Every interaction with an EU citizen requires compliance (so just because your business does not operate in the EU, does not give you a free pass!) Any interaction with an EU citizen on your website, where you collect personal data (like collecting information on a contact form) then GDPR applies to you and will be enforceable from 25 May 2018.

 

What constitutes personal data?

Article 4(1) defines “personal data” as follows (all emphasis added unless otherwise stated):
‘personal data’ means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’); an identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person;
This definition is broad and fairly all-encompassing. It includes a) any information relating to an identified individual (i.e. which makes such info personal to that individual), or b) any information relating to someone who could be identified based on a variety of identifiers.

Here are some tangible examples of personal data. You should be aware that personal data is not limited to these.

Personal Data

Linked personal data examples (directly linked to a person)Linkable personal types (combine to identify a person)Sensitive (special personal data types)
Full nameFirst name onlyBiometric data
Date of birthLast name onlyRacial data
Residential AddressA portion of the address (country, street, postcode etc.)Health data
Telephone numberAge Category not specific (20-30 years or 40-60 years)Ethnic origin
Email AddressPlace of workPolitical opinions
Passport numberPosition at workReligious or philosophical belief
Identification numberIP addressTrade union details
Drivers License numberDevice IDGenetic data
Social security numberSexual preference
Banking/card numbers

Source: Techgenix

 

What ways is WordPress collecting data applicable to GDPR legislation?

WordPress could collect that are user data in the following ways:

  • During user registration
  • When a user leaves a comment
  • As users send you a message via a comment form
  • When a customer pays for a product or service via your website using a plugin like WooCommerce
  • When a member subscribes to your website to get updates or access to premium information
  • When a customer takes a course on your website
  • Site measurements like Google Analytics and Traffic logs
  • Tools that track and log things like security breaches including things like an IP address of a particular user.
  • When a customer provides information to you via your website for you to provide a particular service

A security audit on your website data will tell you how data is being processed and stored on your servers.

What things should you do to make your GDPR compliance easier?

1. Perform a Data Audit

A data audit is a good place to start (to know the extent) and end (to know you’ve completed). It will identify all the different types of data you collect so it can be evaluated along with your systems and processes. For WordPress owners, it could identify data collected by disused plugins, and data that are being collected that you’re no longer using that can be removed. This is best done by someone who can examine the data, and data models within your WordPress installation.

2. Classify the data you discover

You need to know all the data sources so that personal data can be extracted, categorized and classified. All personal data must be audited so that it can be managed correctly.
You need eta know exactly where the data is stored at any time. This helps you manage risk to avoid breaches, but under GDPR legislation you need to be able to prove the location where the data is held.
You need to understand the reason you are processing and storing that data and understand how you’re going to use that data. You need this so you can obtain explicit consent to use this data in your privacy statement.
Finally, to be compliant, you need to understand the rules. You need correctly documented privacy policies for managing the data, and the data you hold must be anonymization, according to a data governance model you set out. This gives you the level of control you need to be able to manage your GDPR responsibilities properly.

3. Who is your ‘data controller’?

If you are in control of the data, determining how and why it is being processed then is highly likely that you will hold the role of ‘data controller’ under the GDPR legislation. This means you have a broad knowledge of your business and the data you process and store, as well as the systems used to process it. You have a broad understanding of your business, the data you process, and the systems that you use.

4. Do you need to appoint a ‘data protection officer’?

Some organizations will need to appoint a DPO. A knowledgeable DPO (with a technical and legal background) is beneficial to the organization as they will be able to offer guidance with respect to the regulation, legal obligations, and business application. You will need to decide whether you need this.

5. Protect your website’s personal data

Once you have a clear handle on your data you process and how it needs to be protected, you need to think about whether you are securing personal data properly – and then what changes are required to do this.

Your priority should be to protect the privacy of personal data. To do this, you could choose to do a Privacy Impact Assessment, with an emphasis on GDPR specific requirements including data portability, the right to be informed, forgotten and the right way to destroy data. You will need to consider every location of the data you stored, from that on your services as well as that in the cloud and stored in offsite backups.

Where practical you can use encryption, anonymisation and pseudonymization. What you choose will depend on user rights and how you are using that data. Keep data that you need, and remove any unnecessary data. The less data you hold, the less you have to protect.

6. Demonstrate accountability

You need to be able to show how you are transparent in all your data processing activities. You need to document how you are capturing your consent to use the data you are storing and processing.

It is also good practice to demonstrate those steps you have taken towards compliance. This demonstrates your accountability and shows that you have taken steps, even if your journey is not yet complete. Showing that effort has been made and that your compliance has commenced is useful, so keep your emails, records, and documents about your compliance journey.

7. Conduct another audit

Once you feel you have put all your compliance controls into play, then you should take another audit. You should keep documentation to show this has taken place because it is demonstrating that you’ve tested the robust processes you have set up.

Your audit should now provide what personal data you hold, how it is used, why it is used, where it is stored, who can access it, and where it can be found. Your audit should demonstrate your governance processes and that you can properly protect the data you collect at all times.

Of course, if you find any gaps or your systems change, you need to continue to test and remediate your processes.

Where to from here?

The first step should be to engage legal counsel on the impact of GDPR on your personal situation. Once you know the extent to which you are affected then speak to us about establishing the technical site requirements to manage your compliance obligations. Contact us for additional information on how we can help your WordPress installations become compliant.


Additional Resources:

GDPR Information Portal – https://www.gdpreu.org/
What Personal Information is and isn’t – http://techgenix.com/personal-information-under-gdpr/

How to Generate More Sales with a Responsive Website

Responsive Web Design is a commonplace term to describe websites that adapt their display based on different devices and platforms. These days a responsive website is an essential part of being on the web.

If you’re reading this article on our website at asporea.hk then you are using a responsive website. Responsive websites smartly adapt their display style based on the device your site is being viewed on. This means that the page you are viewing could be quite different on a desktop computer, compared to a user’s experience on a smartphone.

Responsive websites accommodate for things like image size, resolution and functionality, ensuring that the experience is fluid for the user.  What it means from a development perspective is that your site does not require a specific mobile version and a desktop version.

These days, more than fifty percent of web traffic comes from smart devices. by people on the move – that’s the reason that every website must be optimised to work on these mobile devices. This not only makes your website more accessible on these smaller mobile devices, it has become a necessity for Search Engine optimisation as well.

Google now reduces the search engine position for websites that do not have a mobile-friendly interface.  If you use Google Webmaster tools, you’ll find an option to review your site as Google and get a score based on how responsive your website is.  If you have a low score, you should not expect your Search Engine results to improve any time soon.  In fact, your search results may actually start to decline.

If your business is about generating sales or sales leads then a responsive website helps your visitors to get the information they need quickly.  It means that potential customers don’t need to zoom and scroll to see your website content, as it will automatically adjust to their screen size, no matter the device.  A Responsive website creates a more ‘frictionless’ pathway to the checkout or enquiry page meaning your customer doesn’t get interrupted by bad design, or miss an important call to action button just because they are on a smaller resolution screen.

If you have an existing website on WordPress, it can simply be updated to a new responsive theme.  Talk to our experienced team today about how we can help you generate more sales and leads with a Responsive WordPress website.

What I Learned From Being Hacked

Several years ago I was running a portal website on WordPress. I’d spent a number of years building a respected podcast network featuring about 40 podcasts, all built on WordPress. When I look back I was really pleased with what I was able to build out of WordPress and it’s plugins, but I had a big blind spot.

Wordfence one of the leaders in WordPress security software mentioned in a recent post the method that hackers use to identify a new WordPress installation and prepare it for hacking in the future. Another security provider says that more than 30,000 websites get hacked every day.

Mine was one of those sites that got hacked and they not only defaced my site, they were able to access every other site on the network. It was a devastating blow to my business and my reputation. My closest supporters were understanding but the reputation damage had already been done. People would send me emails asking “was the site really safe?” It was a question – at that point – that I could only guess an answer to. It was such a frustrating and stressful time.

This experience taught me a valuable lesson in security. Hacking often isn’t about you, it’s about the ego of the hacker. The thrill comes from being able to exploit vulnerabilities – it’s about being able to demonstrate how smart the hacker is to their friends, at your expense. Where do these security problems come from? They often come from sites that haven’t been ‘locked down’ or from code that hasn’t been updated.

Even software code written by the best programmers can have flaws which create security holes for hackers to exploit.  When you have a website built on a CMS like WordPress, you’ll see regular updates to core software and plugins. These updates don’t just deliver improved functionality, they plug vulnerabilities as well. That’s why keeping your site updated is so important.

Just like a bully, hackers go for an weak and easy target. They search for security holes that can be easily exploited. They often share information with each other about security vulnerabilities, and then write automated scripts to go out in search of people who haven’t patched the holes.

By taking simple precautions you can make your site a less attractive target for hackers.  With a strong security plugin and by keeping your site updated you can stand up to these online bullies.  It doesn’t mean that you’ll never be attacked or that hackers will not try to disrupt your site, but it will make it harder for them to achieve their goal.

Taking backups that are stored apart from your website will help you if your site is ever compromised. Being well prepared means your site won’t be disrupted for long, when a security event happens. Before you are attacked you should practice restoring your site from backup – so you know how to do it.

If you don’t feel you have the skills to secure your site, you can have peace of mind for just a few dollars each month. Asporea’s WordPress Protection Plan offers daily backups, core updates and plugin upgrades. We also offer a complementary health check to ensure that your site hasn’t been compromised. To find out more check out our WordPress Protection Plans.

Is it time to update your website?

When you’re so wrapped up in your business, it’s easy to lose sight of your website.  Over time your pages can get stale, your visitor numbers can drop and suddenly your website isn’t performing as well as it could. That’s where a website redesign can help – but how do you know if it’s time?

Here are 12 questions you can ask yourself to see whether you should be thinking about a website redesign now.

  1. Does your home page showcase the most recent and relevant information?
  2. Are there features on your website that no longer work or you no longer need?
  3. Are all your services, product descriptions and images still current?
  4. When you consider competitor sites, does yours look old?
  5. Has your website analytics experienced a drop in visitor numbers?
  6. Is the navigation intuitive to find the most important things on your site?
  7. Does your website appear correctly on mobile devices? Is it responsive?
  8. Do you know your website is missing content that would be helpful to your customers?
  9. Is there any old or outdated information that must be removed?
  10. Are your website terms of service out of date?
  11. Does your web store need to accept new methods of payment?
  12. Has it been more than a year since your last update?

If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to more than one of these questions then chances are your website needs a redesign.  Why not start a conversation with our design team about how we can modernize and refresh your website today.

Is Business Hosting Right For Me?

Small business owners will be excited about our Business Hosting at Asporea. Here’s how it’s different from other hosting platforms.  Asporea’s Business Hosting offers premium server performance and an easy to use cPanel. You don’t need advanced technical knowledge.

In short, all the power of having your own server with zero effort. You don’t have to hire a server technician to have a great website platform for your small business.

Small business owners are busy – you’re the leader, the bookkeeper, the office manager and the sales team all wrapped into one. You don’t need to be a server administrator too. With just a little tech knowledge you can be a server administrator without having to get complicated.

If you want a hosting platform for your small business without the stress, then our Asporea Business Hosting solution is the answer.

How is Business Hosting Different?

A shared hosting server is like living in an apartment — it’s inexpensive, suitable and does most things you need. You are in a shared space, so just like apartment living you could have noise across the hall or return to find someone in your parking space!

A Business Server is like owning a condo. We give you dedicated space, a smaller exclusive group of neighbours and a team of people who keep the fuss to a minimum behind the scenes.

A Business Dedicated server is like having your own house – giving you the flexibility to customise and use that server exactly as you want.

Is Business Hosting for me?

Business Hosting was designed to service users who might have outgrown their traditional shared hosting accounts.

These are some of the reasons
•    Your site uses more than the allocated share of resources.
•    You anticipate increased website traffic in the future
•    You want your response times to be faster
•    You are running eCommerce, or applications that require more memory
•    Your WordPress site has a lot of custom plugins that need processing power

Business Hosting gives you more ‘headroom’ and more resources. It’s not a full dedicated server but sits somewhere in the middle.  It’s a cheaper option to give you more freedom while your business grows. Now you can have the power of a big server without having to manage it yourself.

Here’s what you get with your Business Hosting plan:
•    An easy-to-use cPanel experience
•    Over 300 pre-installed one-click install scripts giving you software on tap
•    Unmetered bandwidth which is great if you’re website numbers are growing.
•    Free email for professional communication including a convenient webmail interface for busy people on the go.
•    Customised Performance options built-in.
•    Free Let’sEncrypt SSL

If this sounds like what you need, check out our Business Hosting plans and get started today.

10 Reasons You’ll Love WordPress

If you’re considering building a WordPress site as a hobby, or for your business then it’s hard to go past the WordPress content management platform.  Using a system like WordPress means that you can focus on what you do (content) rather than having to employ expensive coders to build your site.   Yes, you may need someone to set it up for you, but afterwards, you can maintain the content yourself.  That’s a big advantage for any cost-sensitive business.  If that alone doesn’t convince you here are ten other reasons:

1. WordPress is free

Everyone loves free stuff.  The WordPress engine, as well as many of the plugins and themes, are free.  WordPress is completely free with full functionality which means you don’t have to pay for any hidden extras for this powerful content management tool. WordPress gives you the opportunity to manage your website yourself.

2. WordPress is user-friendly even for beginners

I say to people if you’ve ever used word processing software and the Internet then you can use WordPress.  The user interface is so intuitive that people who have never used a website can find their way around and do useful stuff. Creating a page or a blog post in WordPress is super simple, you type your words and press Post.

You’ve got loads of control.  You can type your content and modify it with colours, and different type styles like (bold, italics and underline). You can add headings, align text, and add pictures and hyperlinks too.

3. Add features easily with Plugins

WordPress has a lot of hand features built in.  That said, if you need WordPress to do more than it does ‘out of the box’, then you can search the WordPress repository for plugins that do the job for you. Many of these plugins are completely free and built by the WordPress developer community.

For example, if you need a contact form that emails you messages from visitors, there’s a plugin for that.  If you want to build a complete Learning Management System in WordPress, there’s a plugin for that too.
WordPress offers you plugins for just about anything you can imagine you want to do.

4. Great SEO options

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is easy with WordPress.  There are several popular plugins that will help you manage your content and ensure your website is SEO compliant. This is important to help you get great search engine placing that helps people find your website.

5. More themes than you can use

If you want a great looking site, then WordPress will help you do that.  WordPress has tens of thousands of themes for you to choose from. Some free, and some premium.  Developers can also easily build themes for your website to give you a unique look to match your brand.
WordPress Themes are skins that you add to WordPress to change the look of your website. With built-in access to the theme repository you can choose a different theme from inside WordPress – it’s very easy.

6. WordPress is built for blogging

You may think you don’t need a blog, but having the blogging functionality helps your website grow in a few ways – firstly even if you don’t ‘blog’, you may want to display ‘news’. The blogging function can be used for the same thing.

Blogging or the production of news on your site ensures that your content remains fresh and gives website visitors a reason to return to your site.  Visitors return to this site to read new posts we place here on a regular basis. You need to be doing the same thing.

Because you can do this from inside WordPress, you don’t need to pay a developer to add your post each time you want to make a content change.

7. WordPress is flexible and can be used for almost anything

WordPress is a content management system, but the plugins you can add will allow it to do almost anything – you can run a newspaper, build an online learning platform, sell goods or services or even run your a podcast network all using WordPress using plugins found for free in the WordPress repository.

Let your imagination run free, and you can do it with the help of WordPress, easily.

8. WordPress helps you to sell stuff

With great free plugins like WooCommerce, you can sell physical goods (things that get mailed to customers) or virtual goods (things delivered through the website, or via email) very easily. Add the plugin, create your products, setup a payment gateway like Paypal and you’re set to sell.  Online stores can be setup in just a few hours, and you can start making sales the same day.

9. Nearly everyone supports WordPress

WordPress is popular – many people use it, and many people build software plugins for it. This means that if there’s a snag, there are people who can help you out.

When you search Google, you’ll find a lot of forums, posts and support from web developers and designers because it’s one of the most commonly used web platforms in the world.

And even if you don’t want to do it yourself, there are people like us who can help you get the job done.

10. Nearly every host offers WordPress built-in

Most popular web hosts including Asporea Hosting offer WordPress as an easy one-click install which means that you can add WordPress with a few clicks – in five minutes you can be setting up your first WordPress website.  What are you waiting for?

What is Responsive Web Design?

As you’ve been exploring web design, you may have heard about responsive web design. You may be wondering what it is and whether you need it for your website. Let’s explore Responsive Web Design and why it’s one of the most important investments you’ll make in your site. Whether you’re starting from scratch, or ready for a remodel, you can’t overlook this critical design approach.

Simply, Responsive Web Design is about building sites to provide an ‘optimal’ viewing experience across all devices, whether mobile, tablet or desktop. Responsive websites resize and rearrange page elements depending on where that website is viewed. When it’s on a desktop, you’ll see a full-size website, on smaller mobile devices you’ll see a cut down version that displays the essential content and elements at a size that is easy to read on that device. They key element of responsive web design is that these change happen automatically and your website will optimise the site to give you the best viewing experience ‘on the fly’.

Responsive Web Design has gone from a fancy nice-to-have to a must-have. In fact, Google now examines responsive design when it determines search engine placement. These days, Google’s search algorithms weigh how easy the content is to access, as well as how good the content is. If you examine Google Analytics results for any of the popular websites we build and manage, we can see that the bulk of users are now viewing the site on a mobile device. The number of people using smartphones and tables to search and shop on the web, continues to grow.

Implementing responsive web design on your site is becoming a necessity rather than an option. To help customers make this transition we offer a free 30-minute assessment of your site, to determine how to make your site responsive. Feel free to take us up on this offer.

If you are interested in having a responsive website, we provide fully responsive web design on content management platforms that put you in control of your site once the design is complete. We’d love to chat with you about your web project. Email us anytime for an obligation free discussion.

What To Do After You Transfer Your Website

Before you make the leap from your old web hosting provider, you should do your homework. Make sure they do the things your old provider couldn’t, and make sure they give you enough bandwidth (web traffic) and disk space to support your growth.

When you find the right hosting provider – make the transfer and wait for your new site to be delivered by the new hosting company. It’s reasonably effortless process in nearly all cases. Remember these important tips to make your transition smooth.

ENSURE YOUR SITE IS BACKED UP

Backups are the first thing you should initiate on your cPanel. With Asporea backups are free, and it means that if something does happen to your site, it can easily be restored. Once you’ve started taking, downloads make certain you keep the occasional copy on your computer – just in case.

backup-smaller

WAIT BEFORE CANCELLING YOUR OLD WEB SERVER

When you migrate your site to a new web host, there is a period where both sites could be served simultaneously. In the first 48 hours most of your visitors will still go the same old site – that’s because not every site has picked up the news of your new web host. In some cases, this can last up to 30 days.When you’re ready you can tell your provider to cancel the service, just don’t do it too soon.

DNS Propagation is the time it takes for your new server details to travel the world and update on each name server. In some cases, you’ll notice changes in 20 minutes, but it can take longer in some cases. Even though you can see your new content, it’s best to wait 48 hours before you start adding new content. This will ensure that the new content appears on your new site (rather than your old one).

Dark Servers Room. Glassy-Metallic Server Racks. Wall of Servers. Dark Server Room 3D Generated Illustration. Hosting Related Theme.

 

DO A THOROUGH CHECK

Make sure your new site is working correctly. Do a complete check to ensure that all the images, links and plugins work as they should. If you’re a WordPress user, then check things like caching plugins which are notoriously bad at cleanly migrating. Doing these checks makes sure your site is 100% ready for new visitors.

 

CONTACT YOUR CUSTOMERS

If you have a newsletter or a social site, let your customers know. And that’s especially the case if you’re transferring your website to Asporea. Some customers may have been frustrated with the slowness or unavailability of your old site. Letting them know tells them you’re expecting a fresh start and it will encourage them to come back.

We’d be happy to talk to you about web hosting service transfers. Leave a comment below or contact our sales team for information on our super fast website hosting services.

 

What is a WordPress Child Theme?

WordPress comes in two flavours. WordPress as a service which you can use at WordPress.com and WordPress software which you can install and use on your web server. I love the version of WordPress you host yourself.  Why? Because it allows you to extend what your website can do, almost infinitely. Even themes – which define the way your site looks – can be restyled according to your taste.

Because you are hosting your WordPress site, you can edit your themes (something you can’t do on the WordPress service). But as you probably know already, theme authors are always improving their WordPress themes, which they release as updates. WordPress Theme updates can add or repair functions, or the changes could introduce security patches for flawed software code.

So when these updates arrive, you may find yourself in a pickle. You need the update, but updating your theme will undo your theme changes.

WordPress Child Themes are useful for this very reason. Child themes add extra ‘layers’ of functionality and style to your theme without modifying the original theme code at all.

A Child Theme has its own theme folder in your theme directory, and it references your original theme but adds your new functionality on top. Think of it a bit like icing on the cake. You could just have the cake, but the tasty sugar frosting makes it so much nicer to eat!

So if you want to modify a Theme file, you make a copy and place it in your Child Theme folder and then make your changes. When WordPress sees a child theme, it knows that files in a Child Theme take precedence over the original.

How to create a Child Theme for WordPress

To create a Child Theme, make a new folder in your Themes folder.  If your theme is called ‘Canvas’ then you might call this folder ‘Canvas-child’.

Next, you create two files – a stylesheet (called style.css) and a Theme Functions file (called functions.php). That’s all you need. Anything else you add to this folder is up to you. Add style changes to your style.css file, and any new functions to your Child Theme functions.php file.

Create a header in your Child Theme stylesheet file (called style.css), so that WordPress will recognise the Child theme. Typically it will look like this:

 

 

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The Theme Name is what appears in Appearance > Themes. The correct syntax is “Child theme for…” followed by the name of your original Theme.

The @import url defines the location of the style sheet of your original theme, which is how WordPress ‘connects’ your Child Theme to the primary theme. Once defined, WordPress can then overlay your changed elements over the top of the original theme.

If you don’t have @import url, WordPress would recognise your Child Theme as a brand new theme. If you only had style.css and functions.php then your theme wouldn’t operate correctly.

 

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Your functions file is even simpler.  Add additional functions beyond the line:

add_action( 'wp_head', 'favicon_link' );

Working with a Child Theme in WordPress

Now – you can modify any aspect of your original theme, by copying relevant files to your child theme, editing them, then uploading them to your server.  Remember that your child theme must have it’s own new theme folder.  The naming convention for the folder is [theme name]-child.

You can find out more about WordPress Child themes in the WordPress codex here: https://codex.wordpress.org/Child_Themes.

 

How to build a better WordPress site

James Williams from Asporea explains how you can build your own valuable website using WordPress that will continue to attract visitors 365 days a year.

You can have a great WordPress site

Some websites are brilliant at attracting visitors and keeping them coming back each day for new content.  For some people having a high-performing website is just a pipe-dream; they treat their WordPress site like a hobby, but it really doesn’t have to be that way.  A well-designed website, hosted on reliable servers with good SEO and strong pillar content are the four keys to your success.

Find a professional designer

Whether you’re building a WordPress site for business, for pleasure or for a hobby – you are building it for someone.  This person or people are called your audience.  Consider your audience when designing your site, because their opinion counts.  It matters what they think about your website, because the site is for them.  If it doesn’t provide tantalizing and engaging content, on a brilliant functional site  then they will not return.

Hosting Servers Room Alley 3D Render Illustration. Internet Technologies Concept.

Don’t compromise on quality web hosting

Imagine a first date, you’ve got your best threads on, you’re groomed to perfection and then you turn up in your dodgy old pick-up truck.  That’s what it’s like when you’re create site and content are hosting on the wrong platform.  Your hosting provider must be able to support WordPress and serve it to visitors quickly.  If it doesn’t then you should be talking to us.

A fast reliable WordPress hosting platform is essential for your long-term success.  Without it, your visitors won’t think much of you and Google won’t bother to index your site.  More and more emphasis is being placed on site speed as a measure of index success in Google.  So you can be doing everything else right on your website, but if it doesn’t perform quickly then Google won’t rank it.

Spend some money on an SEO expert

It is true that you don’t need an expert to do SEO for you these days… but it helps.  An SEO expert has the skills and updated knowledge to expertly fine-tune your website for maximum hits.  Without good SEO, your site is more like a badly laid out supermarket.  Good SEO puts up signage in the aisles and starts to organise your content in a way that makes sense to readers and search engines… the result is a site that performs well in search engine rankings and delivers you more customers.  Recently we had a customer with an online store.  Over time their store which used to do well in Google, had been outranked by its competitors. A good dose of expert SEO and the sales started to return, double and triple what they had been in the past. All because customers could find them in search.

Web Design Online Technology Working Office Concept

Keep writing thought-provoking content

Writing good topical blog posts is good for your search engine rankings. The keywords and content will keep getting you listed. But there is a different type of content that you need to also plan and write.  Called Pillar content, this content is not time sensitive and it attracts the bulk of your visitors of specific key topics.

The reason why pillar content is so effective is that  good content is hard to come by.  People write articles all the time, but very few spend the time to really create that useful content that reads more like a ‘how to’ lesson than an opinion piece.

Keeping your website fast and fresh is key

The long term nature of pillar content means that it stays fresh forever, and offers real value to anyone who reads it.  Behind the scenes it will create back links to your blog which is useful for increasing the google ranking of your website.  Over time this will increase your ranking and drive more people to your website over time. Consider doing at least one pillar article every couple of months and over time you’ll find that you’ve generated some great topics that search engines will index and your readers will love you for.

“Help! My WordPress Site is Broken”

Nobody wants to hear those words, let alone speak them.

The often forgotten part about building a shiny new WordPress site is the ongoing costs. Hosting is a very straightforward cost, but what about ongoing maintenance and support. Who is going to help you when things go “belly up?”

Some people consider Maintenance and Support like an insurance policy. You only need it if you expect something bad to happen. But it’s more than that. Maintenance is about keeping your site updated. It’s a proactive eye on your website to ensure that every theme, every plugin and your WordPress core are at the current version.

Ongoing site maintenance, like the updates we’ve just mentioned are something you can definitely do yourself. If you have time, and you have the knowledge to be able to make adjustments to your theme and plugins you can definitely save money.

Will doing maintenance be a distraction from your core business?

I guess the question then becomes, how much time are going to spend fiddling with your site and settings rather than doing what you’re supposed to be doing?

I remember back to when I was doing my final college exams. Of course I was studying hard, but it was also really tempting to pick up the guitar sitting idle in the corner of my room. It was a welcome distraction from doing the study. While I had never been that good at the guitar, I learned more in my last few months of college than in the previous three years!

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I think the lesson here is that WordPress (something new and challenging) can be a distraction. It’s easy to follow the distraction instead of focusing your efforts on building great content, or marketing your product. If you are easily distracted, like me, then you really need to count the cost of website maintenance in terms of lost productivity. You can’t afford to tinker and play around the edges when sales are walking out the door. You need to spend your time more wisely.

The costs of getting something wrong can be extremely high

Your ongoing website charges are obviously your hosting, and we would recommend that this should be accompanied by a security and maintenance plan. At the minimum this will keep hackers at bay and ensure that your site is kept up to date. When comparing the cost of a maintenance plan vs. doing it yourself, it’s not just about the cost of how much a technician costs when something goes wrong. Consider the cost of lost business, or failed search engine rankings and the real possibility of Google putting an ugly “This site may be hacked” message against your search engine entry.

The cost of not taking up a maintenance plan can amount to thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars per event for small businesses, and the mopping up can sometimes take weeks or months.
Getting someone to do WordPress maintenance for you can be the better option

Small businesses starting out can start with an inexpensive hosting solution (some under $10 per month) and a maintenance plan that will give you monitoring, backups, updates and more starting from $24.95 per month. That would give you a website and the peace-of-mind that your investment is being protected so that you can spend your time on more important things.

It is worth mentioning one particular issue which arises, that may tip the scales in favour of buying a maintenance plan. Sometimes WordPress updates and themes don’t update well, resulting in a crashed site. While it doesn’t happen every time, we know from experience just how often it does happen. Without solid WordPress knowledge this can be a bit like playing a game of ‘Russian Roulette’ with your website, so be careful if you spin the barrel and decide to maintain the site yourself, and always remember to backup before you make a change.

WordPress Maintenance Plans are not expensive

Someone else can take care of WordPress for you, and this cost is pretty minimal compared to the risks we’ve already talked about. WordPress Update and Backup plans from Asporea Consulting start at $24.95/month and give you 24/7 monitoring, updates, and the ability to restore by backup on request. Great peace of mind for less than 85 cents a day!

Photo credit: David Goehring

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