Category Archives: WordPress Basics

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/

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!

Adding Protected PDFs and Documents to WordPress – Or Should I?

Adding Protected PDFs and Documents to WordPress – Or Should I?

There might be a time when you want to add a PDF document or a regular Microsoft Word document to your WordPress site. You may not want this information available for download and want to allow Read-Only access from your site. Although PDF documents can be password protected and you can also restrict editing and printing of the PDF, there are times when neither of these options may be quite what you need.

Restricting or Password Protection

If you don’t mind viewers downloading your PDFs as long as they don’t print or change them, follow the steps in Thor Benson’s post. He also suggests a way to prevent visitors from seeing your PDF unless they have a password, but that would be very frustrating for most readers.

Content Protection

The only way to prevent the average visitor from downloading or copying your content, is to make a new post or page and either typing your content there or pasting it in from your original document. Then you will need to install a copy protection plugin such as the WP Content Copy Protection plugin. This will prevent visitors from right-clicking to copy text or images. I did say average visitor, because hacker-types have other means of accessing your content. However, using a copy protection plugin is the most reasonable method for preventing most unauthorized copying.

If you decide that you don’t mind if someone downloads your PDF after all, or that you will just password protect it, follow these steps to create a PDF and upload it.

How to Add a PDF:

1.  Prepare your document in Microsoft Word as follows:

  • Give it a Title that will be helpful to readers.
  • Make sure that it is as you want it to appear on the internet.
  • Do a last minute Spell Check.
  • Click File and then Save As.
  • Under the title box, there is a box that probably says, Save As typeWord Document.
  • Click the arrow in that box and select PDF (*.pdf). (It will save in the same location as your original Word document.)

2.  Open the WordPress post or page where you want it to appear and click your cursor in exactly that place.

3.  Click the Add Media button just above the Tool Bar.  This opens the Media Uploader and the Media Library.

4.  Click Upload Files to get them from your computer. (Nothing will happen if it was already selected when it was opened.)

5.  Click Select Files to browse your computer and select the PDF file.

6.  Click on the PDF file on your computer, then click Open.

7.  Type the title of your document in the Title box (on the right).

8.  Retype the title in the Alt Text box (on the right) and add the word link. For example, if my title was 2014 Catalogue, I would type 2014 Catalogue Link. This primarily provides information for visually impaired visitors; however, it also provides a helping hand for your Search Engine Optimization.  (If you are curious about Alt Text, check out this description by David Ball.)

7.  Next, in the Media Uploader, click the Insert into Post button.

8.  The file appears as a text link on your page or post.  When your readers click on this link, the document will open up in a new browser page with a download bar overlay near the bottom.*

*If you have password protected the PDF, a prompt will appear asking for the password instead of opening the document.

Adding Downloadable PDFs and Documents to WordPress

Adding PDF documents or Microsoft Word documents to your WordPress site can enhance your customer service.  Maybe you want to add a catalogue, or a downloadable form for people to fill in, or information your readers can download. Follow these steps to get started!

How to Add a Downloadable PDF and/or Document:

1.  Prepare your document:

  • Give it a title that will be helpful to readers.
  • Make sure that it is as you want it to appear on the internet.
  • Do a last minute Spell Check.

2.  Open the WordPress post or page where you want it to appear and click your cursor in exactly that place.

3.  Click the Add Media button just above the Tool Bar.  This opens the Media Uploader and the Media Library.

4.  Click Upload Files to get them from your computer. (Nothing will happen if it was already selected when it was opened.)

5.  Click Select Files to browse your computer and select the file.

6.  Click on the file on your computer, then click Open.

7.  Type the title of your document in the Title box (on the right).

8.  Retype the title in the Alt Text box (on the right) and add the word link. For example, if my title was 2014 Catalogue, I would type 2014 Catalogue Link. This primarily provides information for visually impaired visitors; however, it also provides a helping hand for your Search Engine Optimization.  If you are curious about Alt Text, check out this description by David Ball.

7.  Next, in the Media Uploader, click the Insert into Post button.

8.  The file appears as a text link on your page or post.  When your readers click on this link, the document will open up in a new browser page with a download bar overlay near the bottom.

adding images to WordPress

Adding Images to WordPress Posts

Images include photographs and other kinds of images.  Aside from the obvious appeal of images, they can also increase a website’s and a post’s searchability on search engines such as Google when tagged properly.  People are more likely to read a post with images.  The more people reading your posts, the more “reach” you have.

Fast Facts:

Image Size Affects:

  • page or post loading speed (smaller means faster)
  • storage space on your server/webhost (smaller means more)
  • the number of photos you can upload (smaller means more)

Resolution

Images are measured in 3 ways:  pixel height/width, size in KB (or MB), and resolution.  The maximum upload size for the WordPress Media Library, is 20 MB (20,480 KB).  Unless you are uploading a photo with great detail, a resolution of 72 ppi (pixels per inch) will produce a “lighter” image.  You should aim for something under 100 KB.  72 ppi is an adequate resolution because that is what browsers display.

So, smaller is better, right?

Well, almost always. There are times when better quality from a higher resolution images is important.  For example, one of my clients is a Silversmith and displays his silver engraving on his website.  It is possible to work around this by having a smaller image load first, then provide the option to click on a larger, higher resolution image so that the fine engraving detail can be showcased.

Uploading to the WordPress Media Library

To add images to your post, you first upload them to the Media Library.  Follow these steps from the WordPress.org Codex to add your images to posts.  If you want to see some examples of the Attachment page link options, click here.

Creating Your First WordPress Post

Creating Your First WordPress Post

Updated: January 15, 2017

There are many factors which determine the most effective topics, manner and format for posting in a blog, but for today we will just walk through the steps to create your first post.

If you are still not completely sure about the difference between pages and posts, read:  WordPress Pages and Posts – Defined for a quick definition.

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.

What’s in a Title?

Just a quick note here that titles throughout any web site contribute ultimately to your site’s searchability (which equals findability) with search engines such as Google.  So consider your title; make it catchy like a headline but keep it true to your topic.  Also think about the key words people might be typing into a search box to find a post on your topic. If you can’t think of a compelling title right now, write a straight forward title and update it later.

Content

In the next white text box (below), you can type the content of your post.  If you are wondering about the function of some of the toolbar features, read the post, WordPress Post Editor Tool Bar Demystified. Don’t forget to click the kitchen sink icon if you are missing some features!

Readability and More!

If you already have an understanding of this Tool Bar, you should read this excellent article, A Comprehensive Guide to Formatting Your WordPress Posts and Pages by Pamela Wilson,  for best effect and readability.

A “Word” About Microsoft Word

Some people prefer to type in Microsoft Word first, then copy and paste the text into their blog.  This enables them to work on their posts in a familiar program and to work off-line if they want.  Be warned however, that if you do this, the formatting from Word does not always transfer to WordPress and you will be adjusting it.  (If you have a lot of posts, you will be doing a lot of adjusting!) For example, simple text formatting such as bold, italic and underlined text transfers to WordPress, but text sizing and spacing does not.  If you have done a lot of formatting, this can be very frustrating because you will have to do it again once your text is in WordPress.  If you want to work off-line you could use Notepad or Text Editor just to get the text down, then paste it into your WordPress post and format it there.  Others use desktop blogging software such as Windows Live Writer,  which is an off-line blog publishing software compatible with WordPress.

Publishing, Visibility and Revisions

The image below shows some other options in the Publish area (near top on left) to consider as you prepare to publish your post.

Publishing Your First WordPress PostThis image is the one currently displayed as I type this post.  I have designated the Status as Draft by clicking EditIf you are part way through your post and you need to save it and come back to it later, you can save it as a draft by clicking the Save Draft button on the left near the top.

So far, I want this post to be available to the general public which is the default of Visibility: Public.  If I click Edit there is a check box which gives me the option to stick this post to the front page. This will place it at the top of the Blog page until a new post is published.

I can also make it Private which means that only I can see it; or I can Password Protect it  (which I might decide to do if I only want some of my WordPress students to view it). In that case, I would have to give my students the password so they could access it.

Revisions is a box that sits below your content editing box.  It displays revisions you have made. It will not show up at all until you have made a revision. A revision is a change saved after you have either published a post or saved a draft.  When I click the arrow on the far right, the box expands to show all of my revisions. I see:

If you click one of the dates, you will see two columns.  Each column has a different version of your post for easy comparison.  The one on the right is the one that you will choose if you click the Restore this Revision button.

How to make revisions on a WordPress post

If you drag the little arrow button to the left, it will scroll along to previous versions of your post. If you decide you don’t like this version, you can scroll again and choose another version.

Posting From Email

The built-in feature that enabled posting from an email account to your WordPress blog is discontinued. Now WordPress is suggesting using one of these plugins if you want to be able to post from your email:

WordPress App

A final option for busy people who are comfortable using their phone or tablet is the WordPress App (for Android or IOS).  Get it from the PlayStore or iTunes.

Share With the World!

Once you have finished your post, click the blue Publish button to make it live on your site. But don’t stop there – share it!  Read this article by Brody Dorland if you are ready to use other platforms to bring readers to your WordPress posts.