Fix-Your-Site Meetup notes from Monday May 22, 2018

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The long weekend pushed our regular 3rd Monday of each month Meetup to Tuesday the 22nd and we had 18 people show up at North York Civic Centre for the 5-7pm Fix your Site clinic.

Dan started off with a presentation on where to get free stock images for use on your site. The slide presentation shows the following sources:

  • Unsplash.com
  • Burst.shopify.com
  • Coverr.co for 5 to 15 second videos

There was a lively discussion around images, pricing and resizing which we came back to once we talked about the upcoming Gutenberg Editor change. This change is purported to be the biggest change since WordPress came out 15 years ago.

Then we started the fixes and referenced the Meetup comments page where we ask members to post their fix request ahead of time to gain priority on the meeting.  We started with Darren even though he wasn’t there because he had posted on our Meetup page a month ago that his site had been hacked. At that time it was giving a 404 error message and when we went back to it during the meeting, his site had been pulled entirely by his host. Darren only had a backup from 2014… This turned the conversation to back-ups and many chimed in with their understanding and experience with security issues in their own websites.

Alex reminded everyone that because WordPress is comprised of the languages of PHP, Java, HTML, CSS and the database MySQL, it has a large attack surface with a lot of holes so having automated regular backups, and knowing how to restore your site is paramount.

SSL certification does not make your site safe from hackers; It just encrypts traffic between the web browser and the server. When something goes wrong, you need to already have a plan in place.  

For site security the following examples were offered:

We talked about backup plugins – if you use them, have them save to an alternate source such as Dropbox.

The backup plugins mentioned were:

Drew told us about Versionpress.net which is a paid monthly plugin that offers version control and an undo button on every change. He’s going to look into more and give us an update. (Maybe a presentation Drew?)

We talked about everyone’s WP hosts and the difference between a shared server and managed WordPress services.

The consensus of the top managed WordPress hosts that our group had experience in were:

Moving to the next question on the meetup board, Robert wanted to know why he was getting so much spam email from his Contact 7 form on his site even after installing Honeypot, a plugin to protect against spam. The experts agreed that with the latest version of Google’s Recaptcha, the algorithm is now so smart that it the best way to prevent bots from attacking your site (however you’ll never be able to stop people from probing your forms to try to find vulnerabilities).  Honeypot can never be as effective as the Google algorithm because the bots are learning to outsmart the Honeypot tricks and Google focuses on identifying the IP address of anyone transmitting over the net through a variety of their Google sources.

To integrate Google Recaptcha you need to sign up and get an authentication key. Configuration for ReCaptcha is done with popular form plugins. You should use plugins that work with Google reCaptcha today.

There is an interesting addition to Contact Form 7 called Flamingo that allows you to save any submissions through or leads coming from your online forms on the website instead of being sent to your email. This allows team members to access the leads without exchanging emails. Alex added the link online to the Google ReCaptcha extension for Contact Form 7 after the meeting.  

Other good form plugins are: Ninja Forms, Formidable Forms and Gravity Forms.

We moved to help Babs of ancient love beckons who is on WordPress .com (which naturally led to a discussion of the differences between .com and .org – they really made it confusing when they named them so similarly!) Babs’ site’s theme was presenting her site title in capital letters and she wanted them in lowercase.  We inspected the code and found where the theme developers forced the title to be presented in capital letters. This is an example of unnecessary code because if Babs had wanted capital letters, she would have just made them capital in the 1st place. Any theme that makes unnecessary style decisions for you should be avoided.  Babs should also be concerned that her old site doesn’t have a redirect to the new one.    

Alex explained about CSS and followed up with the instructions for fixing the code in WordPress .com and the code to apply to fix the theme styling:

.site-branding {

text-transform: none;

}

Next Debbie had some questions about her site and when we looked at it we saw that her site was set up to be a blog. WordPress was initially known as a blogging platform so they have a distinction between the static ‘Pages’ of a website and the ongoing ‘Posts’ of your blog.

To make your main page a static page, you change the setting in the Customizer under Homepage settings. Mindy solved the same problem on her site.  

Margaret had a question about how to link images to PDFs and Dan showed her where to insert the unique URL to link to an image. The details for any WordPress feature can always be found in the WordPress codex.

We went back to image optimization for use on your site and whether it was better to reformat images before uploading them to the the Media Library or after.  WordPress saves different sizes of the image: thumbnail, small, medium, large and original and you can choose which size to use on the various places you put the image around your site.  

Alex cautioned to leave generous framing space around your pictures, especially when using a page builder, so that you can be sure they won’t get cut off when inserted into a grid area.

Another meetup participant (didn’t get their name)  wanted to know how to post fillable PDFs on her site.  Because the fillable PDFs are a product of Adobe Illustrator, you create them in that program and then attach them to your WP site like you would a regular PDF.

Donations were requested for NewPath signs and $40 was received towards our goal of providing adequate signage for our local WordPress meetups and events. Thank you everyone!

Don’t forget the Big WordPress Turns 15 Party this weekend at High Park near Grenadier Restaurant!  

Come visit with like-minded small business owners and WP enthusiasts at picnic space #19 11am – 2pm, located between the dog park and the zoo. Here’s a map for you!  Bring your family and friends and your own food and drinks.  We will have cake but they don’t have BBQs for rent at High Park. Please as per Park rules, no balloons or decorations.  

Next Month’s meetup is on June 18 2018. Let’s Fix Your Site!

We’ll be celebrating the tenacious teenager that WordPress has grown to in the last 15 years and toasting to the maturity we expect to see in Gutenberg.

1 thought on “Fix-Your-Site Meetup notes from Monday May 22, 2018

  1. Thank you for such an excellent recap of the meeting! The amount of effort and time you put into all the details is evident and very much appreciated. It is an honour to be a part of this group.
    Thank you!

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