Author Archives: Julie Principe

About Julie Principe

I work with small businesses to design a website that meets their clients' needs and increases business. Then I also help those who want to learn the basics of WordPress so that they can manage their own content.

Installing Premium Plugins - WordPress

Add a Premium Plugin to Your WordPress Site

Installing a PREMIUM WordPress Plugin

Let’s assume that you are familiar with the pros and cons of using a plugin, or that you have read the post: How Many WordPress Plugins Is Too Many?  Many plugins are free but you can also purchase premium plugins. Currently there are 49,065 free plugins listed in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory.

However, it is possible that you were not able to find a free one that meets your needs so you have decided on a premium plugin. There are a few ways to purchase and install premium plugins.  Some of them have “lite” or free versions that you can upgrade within the plugin and your WordPress site.  Others require you to download the plugin from their own website, then upload it to your WordPress site.  The first method is fairly straight forward.

In the second situation if you have purchased and downloaded a premium plugin, you can follow these instructions to install it.

During the purchase process, you are often given an API code or a License Key.  Sometimes it is called an “Activation Key” or something similar.  Copy that and paste it somewhere safe.  I usually have a page with all of my website information in one (secure) place.

  1. You should note this information to prevent grief later:
    • Plugin Account Username (sometimes your email):
    • Associated Email:
    • Plugin Account Password:
    • License Key:
    • Expiration Date – usually one year from purchase.  If you are going to keep premium plugins on your website, you will want to renew your subscription every year so that you receive updates for them.  Plugins that are not kept up to date are a huge security risk.
    • If you have more than one website, note which sites you have installed it on.
  2. Download the plugin to your computer. I usually put it in the same folder on my computer where I keep information, content, backups, etc. for my website.
  3. If the file is zipped, I usually open it to see what is inside. Sometimes the folder that you need to upload to WordPress is actually another folder inside the first zipped folder.  (This is the case with the Visual Composer plugin.) Most of the time this is not the case and the original downloaded (zipped) folder is the one you will upload.
  4. Go to your website Dashboard and hover over “Plugins”.  Scroll to the right once the sub menu box expands and click on “Add New”.  (See dashboard image.)
  5. You can also click on “Plugins” on the dashboard and then once the plugin dashboard opens, you can click on the “Add New” button at the top left.Add New WordPress Plugin button

 

  1. Now the button will change to “Upload”.  Click “Upload Plugin”.  Upload Plugins - WordPress
  2. Next you will see this screen: Choose file - Plugin - WordPressMake sure that you are choosing a file that is zipped and not the one that you unzipped. Once you have chosen it, the name of the plugin will appear instead of the text, “No file chosen.”
  3. Then click the “Install Now” button. If all goes well, the next screen you will see is this one.activate plugin - premium WordPress plugin installation
  4. Click “Activate Plugin”.
  5. Then you will be returned to the plugin page and a prompt may appear at the top of the page similar to this one: enter valid license key prompt 1 enter valid license key prompt 2Click the link and enter your license key (copy/paste from the place you saved it earlier).  You can also do this by clicking the settings link under the plugin on the plugins page. plugin settings - WordPressOccasionally I get “click-happy” and close alerts before I read them.  The “settings” link gives you another opportunity to enter the license key.
  6. Setting up your plugin – Many plugins get to work doing what they are supposed to do
    without any further action from you. However, some plugins offer extra features or options that you can choose. WordPress dashboard menu

Sometimes you can access these easily from your dashboard menu. For example, you can see in the image that Envira Gallery is now part of my dashboard menu.

If you click on that menu link, you will see a host of settings that you can control if you wish.  If you are not sure what to do with these settings, do a Google search for the plugin page to get more information or look up a tutorial about it on YouTube.

However, some plugins have settings that you access under the main dashboard menu links such as “tools” or “settings”.  A few have a “settings” link under the plugin list on the plugins page, as above.

  1. Once you have adjusted the settings on your plugin, you are done!
Installing WordPress Plugins

How To Add a (Free) Plugin to Your WordPress Site

Installing a WordPress Plugin

Let’s assume that you are familiar with the pros and cons of using a plugin, or that you have read the post: How Many WordPress Plugins Is Too Many?  Many plugins are free and some are premium plugins that must be purchased. As I write this post, there are 49,065 free plugins listed in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory.

So you have decided it’s a good idea to use a plugin and you have found a free one that meets your needs on the WordPress.org Plugin Directory.

Follow these steps to install the plugin:Add New WordPress Plugin

  1. Go to your website Dashboard and hover over “Plugins”.  Scroll to the right once the sub menu box expands and click on “Add New”.  (See Dashboard image.)

You can also click on “Plugins” on the dashboard and then once the plugin page opens, you can click on the “Add New” button – top left.Add New WordPress Plugin button

 

  1. Now you have a few options to search for a plugin. You can search using some suggestions as indicated by these links:

plugin suggestion links WordPress

 

 

 

3.  Or if you have something in mind, you can search for it specifically using the Key Word Search box:Keyword Search Box WordPress Plugin

However, this search box is limited.  It is not nearly as forgiving or helpful as a Google Search.  If you make a typo or you try to type the exact name of a plugin and you get it wrong, you are very likely to come up with no search results.  If you know you want a plugin that performs a common function, such as “security” or “anti-spam”, you could type in that word and your chances will improve. If you are really having a difficult time and you know of a plugin that is not showing in the results, go to your browser and try a Google search.  Then once you have the exact name, go back to the WordPress Plugins page and type it into the Keyword Search Box.

  1. One of the first plugins I install on every site is the free security plugin, WordFence.
  1. If you have found the plugin you want to install, click the “Install Now” button as in the WordFence example image. WordPress Plugin Install button
  1. Next the “Install Now” button will be replaced by a blue “Activate” button. Click the “Activate” button to activate your plugin. WordPress Plugin Activate button
  1. You will be taken back to the plugins page where you will see your plugin listed. WordPress Plugins list
  2. Setting up your plugin – Many plugins get to work doing what they are supposed to do WordPress Dashboard Menuwithout any further action from you. However, some plugins offer extra features or options that you can choose.

Sometimes you can access these easily from your dashboard menu. For example, you can see in the dashboard image that WordFence is now part of your dashboard menu.

If you click on that menu link, you will see a host of settings for WordFence that you can control if you wish.  If you are not sure what to do with these settings, do a Google search for the plugin page to get more information or look up a tutorial about it on YouTube.

However, some plugins have settings that you access under the main dashboard menu links such as “tools” or “settings”.  A few have a “settings” link under the plugin list on the plugins page, as in this example:

Plugin settings WordPress

  1. Once you have adjusted the settings on your plugin, you are done!
Don't Get Caught Without a Backup

5 Keys to a Good Website Backup Plan

Don’t Get Caught Without a Backup!

5 Things to Consider

When Making Your WordPress Backup Plan

What

• Database – The database contains your pages, posts, comments, users, categories, tags and links.
• Files  – The files contain your themes, media files and plugins.

Who

• Your web hosting company
• A free WordPress plugin (such as UpDraftPlus).
• A premium WordPress plugin. I recommend VaultPress as it is easy, their support is excellent. It is made by Automattic – the same company that created WordPress, so there are no compatibility or update issues. They also store your backups as part of their service. Read more about VaultPress.
• A company or someone you hire to take care of your website (including backing it up), such as Ripple Web Design.
• Yourself

How

• Manual Backups
• Automated Backups
• Scheduled Backups

When/Frequency

• Daily, weekly, monthly, etc.
• How long are the backups kept? (Ask me why this is important.)
(Does each backup replace a previous backup so that you only have one copy?)
• Before a WordPress Core and/or Plugin updates
• After you have made significant changes to the site

Where

• on your computer
• on an external hard drive
• on the web host’s server
• on the server of the backup company (i.e. VaultPress server)
• in your email account
• online (or “cloud”) storage services (such as Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, etc.) free or paid.

Download the Backup Planning sheet.

Using Visual Composer

Adding Content to a Post Using Visual Composer

Updated: January 15, 2017

The instructions in this post are for those who have the plugin:  Visual Composer added to their WordPress site.  Visual Composer is a “drag and drop” page builder plugin.  It also allows the user to create formats and special features (such as clickable buttons) without coding.  Let’s assume that you know how to make a post using the “classic mode”.  (Visual Composer refers to the regular WordPress content editor as the “classic mode”.) If you are not sure how to create posts in the “classic mode”, you might want to have a look at this post: Creating Your First Post in WordPress.

Let’s begin! Go to Dashboard Menu “Posts>Add New”.  Once you have done this, you will see a screen with “Add New” at the top.  In the white text box under these words, you can add the title of your post.

Adding Content with Visual Composer

In the next white text box (below), you can type the text of your post and add images as per Adding Images to Posts. If however, you want to make columns or buttons or something special, you can use Visual Composer to help you along. You should see three blue buttons near the top on the left.

If you don’t see these buttons, have a look at the Visual Composer settings.  You may only have pages selected as in this example (click the Role Manager tab):

You will need to click that little arrow to the right of “Pages only” to select custom and then click the “posts” checkbox.

Once you are back at your post, you need to decide which blue button works best for you.  If you click the little blocks icon, you will go to the Visual Composer website.  If you click FrontEnd Editor, you will go to the front of your website and you can edit from there.  I find it more comfortable to use the BackEnd Editor.  Click that and you should see something like this:

You need to add first rows (click + Add Element) and then columns (if you want columns).  Then inside the columns, you add a text block and images.  For more detailed tutorials, go to the Visual Composer tutorials page.

The first thing that usually requires some practice, is remembering to hover over the area that you want to edit to activate the pencil icon (the edit icon) in a text box. In the image below, you can see there are three pencil icons (two gray, one white).

However, it is the pencil in the green box that was activated by hovering.  That is the one that you need to click to edit the contents of the box.

The second thing is remembering to save the text box or image, and then UPDATE THE PAGE.  So, you really need to think about “saving twice” in this way.

I encourage you to go to the Visual Composer tutorials page.  This plugin is really handy when you want something special, but there is a small learning curve.

WordPress Security

WordPress Security

WordPress Security – Closing Those “Back Doors”

Some people consider the WordPress platform itself to be one big back door that provides access to hackers.  After all, it is Open Source with many people all over the world adding to it, improving it – and hacking it. The good news is that your WordPress website does not have to be added to the list of hacked sites, just because it’s a WordPress site.

While some hackers target WordPress, they do so for reasons that are important for all WordPress users to consider.

The very popularity of WordPress makes it attractive to hackers. Karol K, gathered the following information in his post, The Ultimate List of WordPress Statistics:

  • 50-60% is WordPress’ share of the global CMS market – making it the most popular CMS of them all. [8][2][15]
  • New York Observer, New York Post, TED, Thought Catalog, Williams, USA Today, CNN, Fortune.com, TIME.com, National Post, Spotify, TechCrunch, CBS Local, NBC all use WordPress. [32]
  • Around 15,886,000 websites on the entire web use WordPress. [15]

If it is so popular and hackers like it, then why are people – and major companies, still using it?  Well, it is a secure platform (as secure as anything can be on the internet) when it is setup with security in mind and when it is maintained.

Many people, small companies included, decide to build a WordPress website because it is”free”.  And so it is – if you know what you are doing or if you have someone who can help you. When “free” is the motivator, these websites are not often set up properly; the infamous “admin” username is an example (see below).  Once they are set up, the “backend” of the website is often not maintained and so out-of-date WordPress versions and plugins invite hackers.

Another consequence of trying to set up an almost free website is choosing a Web Host that has the cheapest hosting plan.  There are several things to consider when choosing a web host and although price is important, it should not be the determining factor.

So let’s talk about the many strategies used to slam that “back door” shut.

  1. Start with your Web Host
  2. Consider your Hosting Plan and your business needs
  3. Install WordPress manually (or if you have already installed it, update the security of your WordPress installation.  For example, use secure usernames and passwords – not easy to guess like:  “admin” or “administrator”.)
  4. Use Security Plugins
  5. Update Plugins and WordPress version vigilantly
  6. Maintain your site – including deleting themes and plugins that you no longer need
  7. Backup your site (files & database) regularly to restore it if it does get hacked.
  8. Keep an “ear to the ground” in the world of WordPress and WordPress Security

If these things are out of your level of expertise, maybe someone could help you apply these strategies to your website. If not, you may need to roll up your sleeves and learn about it yourself.  WordPress is an Open Source software and the international online community is very supportive.  There are very likely local meetups and organizations in your area dedicated to supporting WordPress users including those just starting.

If that just seems too daunting either on a technological level or time commitment, you may need to pay someone to maintain your site and keep it safe.  Although WordPress is free for some, it will not be free for all to maintain.  You might get lucky, and never be hacked.  However, you can decrease your chances of being hacked by using sound security strategies.

For more details on the strategies listed above, search the internet, join a WordPress group, or follow this topic thread in our  newsletter as we go through those strategies in more detail.

[2] http://w3techs.com/technologies/overview/content_management/all

[8] http://www.wpblogington.com/data/wordpress-2015.php

[15] http://trends.builtwith.com/cms

[32] https://vip.wordpress.com/clients/

Julie Principe & Katie Dittrich at the Google Educator's Summit

Google Educators Summit

Attended the Google Educator’s Summit in April

It was as amazing as I expected it would be!  Great people (old friends and new), excellent presenters, relevant content and lots of “Oh that’s how you do it” moments!  And of course the “You can do that?” moments.  Spread about with some silliness and there you have it…… I’ve been “GOOGLIZED”.

WordCamp Vancouver 2015

WordPress WordCamp 2015

Newbie or Developer …. Attend WordPress WordCamp!

If you are a WordPress Developer, as a WordCamp attendee (or presenter) you are participating in (and therefore contributing to) the WordPress community. If you are new to WordPress and still trying to figure it out, you will learn in layers. Web Design knowledge and skills don’t come systematically to most learning WordPress. Many people are experimenting with the platform while building their own sites. This kind of learning tends to be erratic, solitary, and at times both rewarding: “Ha! That’s how you do it!” and frustrating: “Seriously? A Fatal Error!”

I just got home from another fabulous Vancouver WordCamp. By attending this annual event as well as the monthly WordPress Meetups, I keep my finger on what’s new in the WordPress world of web design & development. I can also get answers to my burning questions as well as share my successes and my not-so-shiny moments.

Talking, sharing and networking with others feeds your progress along the WordPress Continuum.  Even if the topic seems way over your head today, another day you are very likely to pull that vague understanding from the back of your brain to help you decide on a theme, plugin or method.  Or maybe you will just be reassured that you are actually on the right path to solving a problem.

Word Camp is all of these things for me.  This year again, the presenters were great! I particularly enjoyed Mandi Wise’s Presentation on Content-First Content Management.  Find out about the WordCamp in your area, take a deep breath, and SIGN UP!

Recommended Social Media Marketing Resources

Recommended Social Media Marketing Resources

There are some books that I recommend to those launching their businesses on the web. Usually those learning WordPress find themselves “on overload” at some point or another. It’s a good idea to take a break when that happens because your productivity plummets. Try switching gears and looking at some related marketing ideas. You will soon be able to add marketing and social media to your arsenal and apply it to your website. For some, it may be a matter of transferring the fun of Facebook to business, for others, it may be learning how to post on Facebook or another platform (Google+ anyone?). Whatever your level of social media literacy, experiment and learn!

In the interest of full disclosure, the links below to Amazon are affiliate links, so I do get compensated. However, the price to you remains the same as if you had gone directly to Amazon. I am frequently asked, “But how do I get on the first page of Google?” Google Search  has reinvented itself several times and continues to do so.  The “recipe” for being on the first page has become more complicated. There is no getting around hard work to achieve this goal.

“But how do I get on the first page of Google?”

David Amerland explains how Google Search works in understandable terms. He uses realistic examples to illustrate how you can leverage the world of social media to build trust and connect with your potential customers and promote your brand in a meaningful way.

 

Mobile-Friendly Wordle Image

Google Favours Mobile

Are you going mobile or will you be left behind? 

Starting April 21, 2015, Google’s algorithm will change once again.  This time, it will lower the ranking of sites that are not mobile friendly.  This is a reflection of the shift of internet users to mobile devices.

According to Danyl Bosomworth at SmartInsights.com,

  • 80% of internet users own a smartphone
  • 91% of internet users own a PC
  • 47% of internet users own a tablet

The pattern of usage emerging indicates that PCs still dominate the workplace, mobile is used during commuting times and tablets are gaining ground in the evening.  52% of digital media is accessed via Mobile Apps.

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to use a site that has tiny text and missing graphics.  So, Google has a point.  Use Google’s tool to test your site.

Is your site mobile-friendly?