Monthly Archives: February 2016

Can an Old Dog Learn New Tricks?

Researchers are discovering that the ability to reason, learn and recall information ebbs and flows over our lifespan.   In the world of web development, technology changes daily.  It’s important to always be learning.  Often in this industry you don’t know what you should learn, nor what information will become useful.

There is no “proper” way to learn.  Everyone learns differently, so do what’s best for you.   Possible ways to keep learning are:

  • Books – there have been countless books written about WordPress. You can find a list of some of the best here: https://wordpress.org/about/books/
  • Blogs – there are hundreds if not thousands of blogs about WordPress. Here are 16 of the best WordPress blogs: http://themefuse.com/16-top-blogs-about-wordpress-for-your-inspiration/
  • Conferences/Seminars (Don’t set expectations, but typically you will always learn something of value at a conference or seminar). There are WordPress conferences around the world called WordCamps which are inexpensive and will provide you with amazing information whether you’re a novice or an expert.   Find a WordCamp near you here: https://central.wordcamp.org/
  • Meetup Groups – many cities have WordPress Meetup groups at Meetup
  • Training Sites – offer online video step by step training. An example is WPSessions.com or WPShout.com

>> Joshua Pettit is Lead Developer and Project Manager at Sunrise Marketing.  http://www.sunrise-marketing.com/

 

 

Finding the Perfect WordPress Theme

One of the biggest benefits to using WordPress for your site, is the number of Themes that are available.   Themes are what give your site “the look”.  Themes control the layout, the graphics, the colors, the fonts, the menu, the sidebar… basically every visual aspect of your site.  There are literally thousands of options out there.   Many themes often have additional customization or color options within.

The beauty of WordPress is if you want a different look to your site, you can simply upload and activate a new theme and the entire thing changes.  Poof… instantly your website just got a facelift.

But finding the perfect WordPress theme can be like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack.  Where do you begin?   There are thousands of free themes available from WordPress.org.  There are many amazing and well written themes available for free, but it is important to remember, that sometimes you get what you pay for.   When selecting a free theme, pay attention to the last date it was updated, how many times it’s been downloaded, and check out the reviews.  Those factors should give you an insight into how well the theme might work.

There are also Framework Themes (things like Genesis, Thesis and Headway).  These are themes build around a common engine.  While they may all look differently, typically the configuration options are the same.  So moving between them makes configuration much easier.

There are theme marketplaces, like Themeforest.net, where independent developers can post and sell their themes.  These can be great resources, but there’s no real requirement to post a theme there. So the same evaluation rules apply as with the free themes, check out the reviews and support tab, see how many copies have been sold to give you an idea of how well it works.

Finally there are premium theme providers who have yearly subscription models.  Places like ElegantThemes, WooThemes or iThemes.  These are companies that have an entire library of themes (and usually plugins too) and for one yearly price, you get access to every theme and plugin they offer.  These tend to be great quality themes, and are all supported by the company.  As they add new themes, you get immediate access to them.

>> Joshua Pettit is Lead Developer and Project Manager at Sunrise Marketing.  http://www.sunrise-marketing.com/

Celebrate the Milestones

Whether you are just starting out or have been in business for 18 years, the road to success for the business owner can feel long, winding and overwhelming. It will have it’s shares of ups, downs and flat tires. You will deal with the unexpected delays or a detour that took out more time than you anticipated.

Acknowledging the milestones will help with motivation during the long stretches of goals and they can be found everywhere. Perhaps you are celebrating a new employee, a new client or a promotion. Perhaps it is making your sales goal for the quarter or even staying dead even without dipping into the red for the first month.

Taking it mile by mile can make any goal or beginning to a long adventure seem doable. By looking at what it going right or mini-accomplishments along the way, your spirts will get an instant boost. Staying focused on where you are and how you are doing keeps you rooted in the present without being overwhelmed by how many miles you still have to go.

You will get to where you want to go — just take it mile by mile.

What milestone have your recently reached?

Resources:

Fast Company.com: Advice for Making a Fresh Start
http://www.fastcompany.com/3034436/hit-the-ground-running/the-10-best-pieces-of-advice-for-making-a-fresh-start

WordPress Security Basics

Wordpress Security Image1There are volumes that can be written about WordPress security.  In this brief blog post, I’ll attempt to cover a few of the basics.

WordPress itself, is a very secure software package – however nothing is 100% foolproof.  And the more popular it is, the more hackers try to figure out how to hack it – because uncovering a vulnerability in WordPress would allow them to hack a large number of sites.

The most important tip to keep your website safe, is to keep your WordPress site updated.   WordPress is developed regularly, and as vulnerabilities and security issues are discovered, they are quick to modify their code and release a new version.  Keeping your code up to date is the easiest way to keep your site safe.   WordPress updates are easy, just a simple click from the admin panel.    Likewise, keep your plugins updated.

Since nothing is 100% foolproof, the surest way to recover if your site is hacked, is to have a complete site backup.   Download this backup to your computer, or use an offsite backup service, so that your backup doesn’t also get hacked.  And keep multiple copies!  If you backup your site weekly on Saturday, and your site is hacked on Friday, you might not notice it until it’s already been backed up… then at that point, you might as well not have a backup at all.

Basic security principles apply to your WordPress site, just as in other areas of your web world.  Don’t use an overly simple password.  Make your passwords complex to include upper-case and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters.

By default, the main admin user on WordPress sites is “Admin”.  Every hacker in the universe knows that, so they don’t need to try to guess your username, they just need to try to guess your password.   So change this username to something unique.

When you install your site, the default MySQL database prefix is wp_.  Again, every hacker knows this, and if they are able to gain any kind of access to your account, they can run a script to inject data to your database.   If you use a custom database prefix when installing WordPress, some of these hacker tactics won’t work if the hacker is expecting your database table to be prefixed with wp_ and instead yours are prefixed with acme_.

Lastly, delete an uninstall any plugins or themes you are not using.  Every bit of code is a potential open door, so if it’s not being used, get rid of it to reduce the number of doors a hacker can use to mess up your site.

>> Joshua Pettit is Lead Developer and Project Manager at Sunrise Marketing.  http://www.sunrise-marketing.com/