Sharing Some TLC

5 Best Ways to Get Help with WordPress

I built my first WordPress website in 2011. At the time, I was not aware of the many avenues available for support and learning within the WordPress community and struggled to find answers and teach myself everything from css to html to plugins and ftp. Over the years I have discovered that there are many fast and useful ways to get help with and learn more about WordPress! Here are 5 steps I take when I need help: Google It! As an open source community, just about anything you want to know about WordPress can be found with a Google search. The first thing you should do when you have a WordPress question/issue is Google It! Posting an obvious or easily answered question in a forum or group could result in a snarky response from someone who will say “LMGTFY” … “Let Me Google That For You!” Theme/Plugin Issues Often, when something isn’t working right on your site, it is due to a plugin conflict or bug. When you contact any support system or forum, one of the first things they will ask you to do is deactivate all your plugins and see if the problem persists. If it the…

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Why I Love WordCamps

I attended my first WordCamp in Baltimore in 2014. I found out about WordCamp by accident. I had hired a developer in Florida to do some php work for a client of mine, and he mentioned in passing that he was presenting at WordCamp Tampa. I googled “WordCamp” and discovered the Baltimore WordCamp was coming up, so signed up – curious and skeptical about what the $40 conference fee could offer. What is a WordCamp? The definition on WordCamp Central says “WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress, the free and open source personal publishing software that powers over 75 million sites on the web.” The first WordCamp was held in 2006 in San Francisco by Matt Mullenweg. Now there are over 500 WordCamps around the world.   The first sessions were somewhat enlightening. I learned more about the Genesis framework, using Yoast for SEO, and some upcoming trends. As a self-taught WordPress user and developing “Developer” I loved the ease with which I could fill my mind with new concepts. At lunch, I approached the awkward room of strangers and chose a table with a lot of empty seats. I introduced myself to the two people…

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Help! The Facebook Image from My Website is Wrong!

If you have ever tried sharing a link from your website and Facebook, you may have encountered an issue where the image that Facebook is reading from your website is not the image you want to be featured. When you share a link on your Facebook timeline, you will usually have the range of various image thumbnails to choose from. In this case, you can choose the image your want to share, but what about when your link/website is being shared or liked by others and you cannot control what they choose, if anything? This often results in an unrelated or irrelevant image representing your website on Facebook. How does Facebook Select Images? Facebook has a set of open-graph meta tags which social services look for when someone shares your page. These properties contain information (tags) about the page, including the image you specify.If these tags are not present, it will look for their older method of specifying an image: <link rel=”image_src” href=”/myimage.jpg”/>. If neither are present, Facebook will look at the content of your page and choose images from your page that meet its share image criteria: Image must be at least 200px by 200px have a maximum aspect ratio…

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The Blogging Challenge: Blogging For One Month

I met the sister team from @sumydesigns, Susan Sullivan and Amy Masson at WordCamp US. They impressed me with their commitment to blogging about website and WordPress design and development. As a result, I have set myself a goal of blogging every day (or almost every day!) for the month of March. The Design TLC Blogging Challenge begins today! If you are interested in expanding your website and WordPress skills, learning about great tools for website design and development and other general productivity tips, please sign up to follow my challenge. If I know you are reading, I am more likely to meet this Challenge and blog every day!   I am trying out CoSchedule as a tool to help me plan my month of blog posts, and also to help me select compelling headlines and content. Combined with Google Docs, the process looks like it will go smoothly!  

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hacker Photo from Pixabay

ACK! HACK!

5 Ways to Protect your WordPress Website In two days I have had to repair two hacked websites. One was vulnerable to hacking with old plugins and a very out of date version of WordPress core. The other site was not out of date, but must have had a backdoor somewhere that a clever hacker or bot discovered… maybe even a long time ago, as some malware expands through a site over time. This clever hacker got in to the Dashboard, created usernames for himself and created a bunch of pages. It looks like it all started with a fake plugin file added to the plugin folder (xcalendar) and then some code in the wp-config file that required this plugin folder to be present. In both cases, I was able to remove all the malicious code, but it took several hours and in the second case, we ended up moving the site to a new server, as the hacker continued to get in despite changing all logins and ftp access information with the webhost. How to know if your site has been hacked The worst way to discover a site has been hacked is to have a user tell you. They…

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What Kind of Car Do You Drive – WordPress Hosting Conversation

I recently posted some information on the Facebook Advanced WordPress Group about blacklisted plugins on Go Daddy Managed WordPress Hosting plans, including several backup plugins.  My intention was to share this information with the community and advise you how to choose managed WordPress hosting plans in case you may be having issues with Managed WordPress hosting and backup plugins. Click here to read more about Managed WordPress hosting. The responses to my post were heated! People have strong feelings about Go Daddy, which is no surprise, since they have a lackluster history. Anytime GoDaddy is mentioned there are people who have had a bad experience and vehemently denounce the company. The conversation got even more heated on the topic of “cheap” hosting, Managed WordPress hosting and “cheap” clients. This got me thinking about hosting, development and a general attitude I have seen/heard before in the community: that good developers don’t use inexpensive hosting, and that we should all either convince our clients to move to better (more expensive) hosting, or we should not work with clients who insist on “cheap” hosting. I don’t agree with this. What kind of car do you drive? I would love to drive a Mercedes or…

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Hillary_Clinton_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait_crop-240x300 By United States Department of State (Official Photo at Department of State page) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Lesson from Hillary – Use Your Email Properly

Politics aside, using personal email for business is a bad  idea. Debating whether or not Hillary knew or didn’t know or realize this, if her advisors did or didn’t tell her to avoid this mistake, is not the purpose of this blog post, but it is has reminded me how email is misunderstood and misused. For security and privacy reasons, government and large businesses require their employees to use their work email account for work-related business (and usually prohibit the use of work email for personal communication). For small businesses, using a personal email account for work-related business may not carry the same risks, but it is still a good idea to use separate accounts for personal and business communication. Email in general can be overwhelming. I often find clients who don’t understand how email accounts work, or how to set up accounts on their phone and/or mail client on their computer. Setting up and managing one or multiple email mailboxes can be intimidating. Email 101 Warning: This may get a bit technical. If you would rather skip to the non-tech stuff, click here. Webmail vs. Email Client If you have a Gmail, Hotmail, or other some email account, chances are you’ve used webmail (so, to…

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Solving Problems

My mom just arrived for a visit. She is one of the best problem solvers I know. If something is broken, my mom can fix it! She is not only very talented at “tinkering” with things, she is also smart about asking for help and knowing where to find answers. On top of that, she is a very caring person who often helps those around her when they have a problem to be solved. Thankfully, I think I have inherited her tendency to be resourceful and I get a lot of satisfaction from solving a problem – mine or someone else’s. Back in the days of manual checkbook balancing, I recall searching for the elusive 11 cents that was preventing me from reconciling the account, and the great feeling that came from figuring it out! I think this is why I love creating websites so much: 1) there is immediate gratification from discovering the “key” to making something work the way I want it to and 2) creating a website solves a client’s problem of needing a professional platform to showcase their business. It is rewarding to find solutions, overcome an obstacle and move on. The dictionary defines “problem” as…

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Jumping In

The ball just dropped in Times Square. There’s no time like the present to jump in and begin a new challenge. How many times have you put something off because you are not “ready?” I recall mornings when I rose early to swim in the open water, training for a triathlon. I was never a strong swimmer. The water was cold and I kept imagining bumping into slimy fish or drowning out where no one would find me. I would stand at the edge of the dock for several minutes, tempting myself to turn around and go back inside. It took a lot of courage to finally jump in. So here I go – jumping into an experience, though I don’t feel quite ready. After reading this post yesterday, I confirmed that I need to have faith in my ability to “learn as I go.” The discomfort of starting something new is balanced by Oliver’s observation that “if you’re worried you don’t measure up, that could well be a sign that you do.” This space will be a place for reflections, lessons, and stories that revolve around life as I want to live it: with tender loving care. Perhaps having this goal will inspire…

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