WordPress Training Coming Soon

21 Feb

While running my hosting business HostingEh, I’ve had a lot of customers ask me about the possibility of training them on common WordPress problems and how to troubleshoot and fix them.

I figured that the best way to achieve this would be to write a few posts about common issues I see with customers WordPress sites, and then detail how I went about fixing the problem.

Some of the techniques I employ are ones that I’ve learned over the years as a web application developer, and others are from being a systems administrator so I will try and simplify them for people who have zero experience with running their own servers.

That being said, I am starting work on a couple of common problems and you’ll see more frequent updates here on the blog to show you how to go about diagnosing an issue, trying fixes, and eventually resolving the issue.

This series is going to take a few things into account:

  • You are in a shared hosting environment.
  • Your environment uses cPanel as the control panel.
  • Your host is running a version of PHP above 7.0

Even if the above assumptions do not apply to your situation, these posts may help, however I can’t guarantee they will.

That all being said, Stay Tuned!

It’s Been a Hot Minute

5 Aug

It’s been quite a long time since I’ve written a post on this here blog of mine and I felt like it could use some love.

I decided to try out this new Gutenburg editor and see what everyone is complaining about but to be honest, I quite like it.

It’s super minimalistic and only shows the bits of UI that you actually need while writing a post. I think this is by far the best way to write a blog post! It’s still very much what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) but a lot cleaner and more simple.

I can see how this would be a massive change for someone who has been using WordPress since the beginning but who is not a coder, but for me this looks pretty damn good.

I just noticed that this editor is automatically placing my paragraphs into paragraph blocks and offers me a way of editing that paragraph inline. For instance if I wanted to make some text bold, I could do exactly that by simply mousing over this paragraph, selecting the text I want bold, and clicking bold.

Let’s try a link; HostingEh is my web hosting business that I run as a side project at the moment, but with continued growth, I could likely make a full time living doing. Yep. Even entering a link is dead simple!

How about a photo?

Yep even a photo again is dead simple to add inline. The last thing I’d like to see is how my theme handles this. As far as I know, my theme does not have any kind of customization handling this new editor so we will see what the finished post looks like.

Either way, this is super cool and modern. I love it.

Dear WordPress Bloggers

18 Mar

Dear WordPress Bloggers:

As a PHP developer and someone with quite a few years experience with WordPress, I would like to offer you some advice on how to run a WordPress Blog that loads quickly and looks good.

Examine Plugins and Themes Closely

If your blog is lacking a feature or option that you’re unable to code yourself, please spend some time and research any plugin that you may want to install to provide that feature or option to you.

Take a careful look at the information provided by WordPress.org. It shows active installations, last update, and even reviews of the plugin. Make sure to have a look at all of this information and consider whether or not it would be a good idea to install it.

I’ve seen far too many blogs with plugins installed that have been abandoned for several years that end up getting compromised and the end result is a hacker wreaking havoc on their WordPress site.

My advice on plugins is to only ever use plugins you truly need.

Plugins for Things That Exist Elsewhere

You know what will really slow down your admin section? Installing a plugin that shows the full Google Analytics Dashboard in your admin backend. If you find it truly inconvenient to log into Google Analytics, then who am I to stop you? Plugins like this offer no value other than convenience and have to load in a ton of extra scripts so that all the features work.

Sending Mail Through WordPress

If you have a newsletter or something of the sort where you need to send mass mail to all of your readers please consider using a dedicated service for sending mail.

Some examples are SendGrid, Amazon SES, and MailGun.

Using these services not only offer a lot more insight into your mailing list, but also keep the load of your hosts server. All of the above service providers have excellent delivery rates and all offer their own brand of stats and reporting on open rates and the like..

“Theme Developers”

If ever someone tells you that they will build a theme for you on the cheap, maybe dig a little deeper and ask some questions as to how the theme would be developed. I’ve seen far too many sites where a “theme developer” has installed a third party theme (Not one they’ve created) and used a page builder plugin to tweak the theme to a customers request.

Generally these people install a ton of bloat to support the various components that the page builder requires to operate which means when you load up your site, there is almost always a ton of bloat included.

Poorly built / coded themes are yet another reason a lot of WordPress sites are slow as molasses and take upwards of 30 seconds to load.

Cache Cache Cache

One great way to keep your site quick and your web site load low, is to cache all the things. There are a couple excellent plugins for caching with very simple options to follow. Personally I use WP Super Cache as I feel it offers effective caching and pairs nicely with CloudFlare.

In the End………

As the end of the day, it’s your web site. I can only give you the tools and experience. It’s up to you what you do with it. The faster your site loads, the more people you can serve and the more ad revenue you can make.

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments and I will answer them as soon as I can!

A Blog from Scratch (Part 1)

26 Feb

For the longest time now I’ve been trying to convince Jenn (my wife) to start a blog and share some of the stuff she makes or wants to make with other people out here on the internet.

Finally she has come around to the idea of running a blog of her own and sharing some of the great stuff she does, so I thought I would write a series detailing what I’m going to do to get it all set up for her so she’s ready to just focus on her blog.

There are a few things required to get started with a self hosted blog. You can always set up a free one on WordPress.com or Blogger.com but for the sake of total control and simplicity going forward, we will be self hosting this blog.

What we’re going to need:

  • A domain name.
  • Cloudflare
  • A server
  • WordPress
  • A theme
  • Adsense (to start with)
  • Analytics (stat tracking)

The domain name has already been purchased and set up with Cloudflare.

Dedicated Server

I opted to get a dedicated server for a couple of reasons.

  1. I wanted to host my blog and my wifes blog on a single machine.
  2. Dedicated resources where we don’t have to worry about CPU / Memory abuse.
  3. Ability to use whatever database and caching we want.
  4. More reliable than a shared host. (No noisy neighbor problems.)

The dedicated server we went with is from Hudson Valley Host. Their pricing is fantastic and they have a diverse selection of locations.

Stat Tracking

Setting up a google adsense and analytics account is pretty straight forward. This information will come in super handy to see things like what your most popular content is and what your readership is like.

WordPress + Theme

I usually recommend people look at the free themes offered at WordPress.org/themes first to get an idea of what they want and whats available. You can also look around at places like ThemeForest for more advanced paid themes.

Once you’ve made all of your choices and set up all of your accounts, you’re ready to get your blog going!

Up next: Setting up a dedicated server to host a WordPress site.

WordPress “Designers”

17 Sep

wordpress-logo-simplified-rgbThere’s something I’ve really been getting sick of lately and that is WordPress “Designers” who say that something can’t be done when in fact it can be done and is quite simple.

Quite a few of these so called designers are simply people who take an existing wordpress theme, and use the Customizer to make it look the way their client wants. They do not actually go through the motions of designing a WordPress theme.

I had a client ask me about making the thumbnails on her archives page square and not distorting the images by resizing them to 180 x 180. This is fairly simple to do however their “designer” told them it was not possible. So for that “designer”, I’ve provided a code sample as to how I did it.

printf( '<div style="height:180px; width:180px;background:url('.$image.');background-size:cover;"></div>', get_permalink(), $image, the_title_attribute( 'echo=0' ) );

This creates a div using the post image as the background image and makes the div 180 x 180. Using the background-size cover means the image will be draped over the div and not constrained to it. The result is exactly what the client asked for and took about 10 minutes to perfect.

So if you’re a “designer” you may want to learn how HTML and CSS work so that you can actually help your customers and not just take their money.

White Page After Adding or Updating a Post? Check your plugins!

25 Jul

When you host a lot of WordPress sites, you never stop learning about WordPress and the common issues that WordPress authors run into.

WordPress does one thing really well. It allows people to get a blog up and running in a few minutes with absolutely no knowledge of HTML, CSS, PHP, or MYSQL which is both a good and bad thing. Good because blogs are all about writing. Bad because if you don’t know much about how the underlying system works, then you can run into issues.

One such issue I worked on yesterday. A customer was having an issue with saving and updating posts and being directed to a blank screen afterwards.

After following the standard “Deactivate all plugins and activate them one by one” I found the culprit. It was a plugin called “Social Networks Auto Poster (S.N.A.P)” that was having problems.

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 10.01.11 AM

Apparently this plugin requires a minimum of 40MB of ram to be allocated to PHP to even function properly. After updating the customers PHP.ini and allowing a bit more RAM, then issue disappeared.

In my clients case, we allow more RAM to be allocated to PHP as necessary however many hosts allow a maximum amount of RAM and do not allow for higher RAM usage than their maximum. So in this case it could be fixed however in the case of other hosts, they would simply tell you to get rid of this plugin.

I hope you enjoyed the first post in this series, and I look forward to writing more and more as I encounter different bugs in WordPress themes and plugins.