The Do’s of a WordPress Site

WordPress powers about 30% of the world’s websites, meaning it’s hell-a-popular. As Spiderman’s uncle says though, “With great power comes great resposibility”. Like in the comics there are real-life villains around the world hellbent on taking advantage of your site if it’s WordPress based. Be it hacking, search engine downgrading, etc. if you have a WordPress website, it’s your responsibility to know what your WP site should be doing and not doing.

Do Security Plugins

Like previously mentioned, there are hackers all over the world with nothing better to do than mess with your site.  For nefarious purposes or just trolling, it doesn’t matter, they just want to wreak havoc onto your system. To stop these people on their tracks we encourage the use of security plugins.

Particularly on top of the list for us are the Wordfence and Sucuri plugins. These free plugins offer scanning of site files, checks on your site’s configuration, malicious IP address blocking, login protection and so much more. Oh and did I mention, they are absolutely FREE! Although some features can be accessed only with their “pro”/paid versions, the free versions are robust enough. Of course the paid versions are going to be better, with features such as real-time malware updates, but at the very least one has to have the basic security features.

There’s really no reason not to get a security plugin. On this day and age of increasingly more complicated hacking, where the internet is like the Wild Wild West, you can’t afford to be lax and forget to install this kind of plugin.

Do Backups

Sh*% happens. Sometimes servers fail, sometimes despite your best efforts, your site gets hacked. It’s important to have a Plan B in these cases. It’s important to have backups. And not just one backup, do multiple backups, the more the merrier.

There are plugins for this, two I would recommend are Updraft Plus and All-in-One WP Migration. These plugins have the options to backup to the cloud too, so you can use Google Drive, Dropbox and the likes for backing up your whole system. This is important as some services offer backups onto their own storage systems. It’s best to have the control over to you, which is the case if your plugin backs up to Google Drive or Dropbox.

It’s also important to have the knowledge on how to restore your system, both of these plugins offer easy procedures to do that. There’s no use in having a backup system if you don’t know how to use it in case something does happen.

Do Spam protection

When your site is out there for the whole wide world to see, one of the things to watch out is spam. The definition of spam is unsolicited bulk messages, messages sent to multiple recipients who did not ask for them. Automated bots, and the like spam your inbox to gain the ability to insert malware, do phishing attacks, etc. This happens a lot to the comments section and contact forms.

To fight this you can do various things. Captcha type plugins is one. There are Google Recaptcha based plugins and others that have their own graphic captcha systems. These plugins check if the user using a feature is human by graphical tests. An example of this is identifying text obfuscated by graphics, making it as hard as possible for a bot to pass. Google’s own recaptcha is even more complex.

There are the other kinds of anti-spam plugins such as Anti-Spam Bee, Anti-spam by Cleantalk etc. They defend sites against spam by other means, like IP-blacklist checking and other multiple validation checks on their end.

The common goal of spam protection plugins is to make it hard for machines or crummy spam-making people to pretend to be legitimate site visitors. Don’t forget to install these.

Do Search Engine Optimization

SEO plugins like Yoast and All-in-One SEO make it easier for search engines like Google, Bing and DuckDuck Go to find your site and increase its visibility. Ranking is an important aspect as people usually click search engine result links only on the first pages.

If you have a website, you would want it to be visited as much as possible, so ranking good in search engines is a must. These SEO plugins can improve your site’s visibility by providing you with metric measurements, and give you recommendations regarding your content on how to boost it up.

Do Caching and Optimization

Optimize your site by installing WordPress caching and optimization plugins. Caching lessens your website’s server operations and comes in handy when you’re getting an influx of visitors to your site. Server resources can be strained when you have a large amount of site visitors. Caching creates HTML, CSS and script files which normally the server renders through the backend longer, but since these are all pre-rendered they can be served instantly, thus reducing your server’s load.

Optimizations include minifying HTML, CSS, image and JavaScript files that make up your website. What this does is minimize your site’s file sizes. This results in quicker downloads (especially for mobile phone visitors), which can be beneficial to obtain higher rankings in search engines.

Do Updates

Your site needs maintenance. You can’t just leave it alone by itself while it fights hackers, tries its best to stay relevant, etc.

What we do in our web agency is to be consistent with maintaining versions of a site’s WordPress core, theme and plugins. It’s essential, but we take care not to disrupt the site by creating stage testing versions separately. It’s important to test the site’s whole functionality for every update you make. You want your website to be functioning right the whole time, so if an update breaks functionality you must not follow through with it.

As one can see, there are a lot of things to do in order for a WordPress website to be successful. At CRS Consulting we abide by these WordPress standards. We build gorgeous, secure sites and much more. Feel free to contact us for more information. 

Which Content Management System to Choose For Your Business

When it comes to your business you always want what’s best. You want your website to look great and unique. You always want to stand out from the crowd of competitors in your area so that you get more customers. These are all achievable with today’s plethora of options for web design and development. One of the options for you is to use a Content Management System.

What are Content Management Systems ?

Most businesses don’t have in-house programmers that can write HTML, CSS and other markup languages for writing code on their website. Furthermore, it’s a tedious process to write code even if a business owner or employee was technically knowledgeable. Without content management systems, users would need to upload static files, modify them in a code editor, upload image files in a separate file transfer protocol, etc.

Would you rather be caught up in trying to figure out how to apply different styles and the correct HTML tags on your homepage rather than manage your business? The answer is no, people don’t have time for the nitty gritty of their website if they have an option not to. Wouldn’t you rather have your site’s software do most of the background styling and coding for you?

The idea is for people to focus more on the important things they need to do for their business and to have a time-efficient way of doing what needs to be done, and that includes providing your website its content.

Content Management Systems (or CMS for short) help users create, manage, and modify website content without the need for specialized technical knowledge. These are mostly web-based software products that are designed to make it feel like you’re just writing on your favorite word processor like Microsoft Word when you’re creating content for your website.

Most of the time you have the familiar buttons for text formatting like bold, italic, justified, centered etc. and sometimes you have drag and drop user interfaces, like for uploading and placing images. The goal is always to make it easier to create and update your site’s content with as low a learning curve as possible.

Types of Content Management Systems

There are many kinds of content management systems. I tend to make two distinctions, self-hosted and non-self hosted.

A. Non Self Hosted Platforms :

Sites such as Squarespace and Wix fall under this category. These are site creators that are hosted in the provider’s server, meaning you don’t have full access to the server. You have limited functionality depending on the site’s capabilities.

Squarespace and Wix fall under a subcategory I would describe as Simple Site Creators. Nowadays these simple site creators may tend to be robust. They more or less have site builders that have drag and drop functionality and WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) features. Many of the sites generated by these platforms tend to look alike, with very limited styling options.

The other subcategory is the Complex Site Creator. Examples of these platforms are sites such as Nationbuilder. This one in particular is used by a variety of political groups, non-profits etc. with specialties in handling social media campaigns, setting goals and doing creative interaction with a userbase, to name a few. These kinds of platforms have certain goals and workflows in mind that are more suitable for certain niches.

What you don’t have in both Simple and Complex kind of platforms is the ability to break through from any of the limitations the site has. All the software here is pre-built with no backend access to the code itself. While you can request for new features, it is rare to be granted them instantly. What you do have is a relatively easy to use user interface because of this lack of extendable functionality. Depending on a user’s circumstances, these can be a good option for launching their site as things are kept simple and limited.

B. Self Hosted Platform :

We usually recommend this type of content management as self hosted platforms like WordPress or Drupal can be extended with a wider variety of plugins/modules that give users more flexibility. Users have a choice of Search Engine Optimization, Caching, Security and Image Manipulation plugins for instance. For each of them thousands of plugins are available to add as needed in their own marketplaces.

With regards to full functionality, the user and the developer have control. We at CRS Consulting offer both hosting and customization. This allows us to have total control into the platform and the ability to do changes as needed.

Since the software’s code is editable, if you want any additional features not provided by plugins we are able to add them in a relatively shorter amount of time than with Non-Self Hosted.

The Right Content Management System

To choose the right content management system for a business we analyze our client’s needs. Typically we do WordPress and Drupal sites, but if they need specialized features sometimes platforms like Nationbuilder are more feasible.

When using WordPress for example, we can create a wide variety of site types, from simple brochure sites to complex eCommerce sites. Approximately 30% of the web is made up of WordPress sites, so the plugins and features are numerous. There is a cohesive and formidable WordPress community with lots of support.

With larger enterprise level clients we usually use Drupal, which has a steeper learning curve but robust features. The Whitehouse site for example is a well known user of Drupal. National Women’s History Museum is another example of a large site that uses Drupal.

There are several factors in choosing the right content management system. It is not a cut and dry process. We offer our clients FREE CONSULTATION to be able to choose which platform suits them best. Our decades of experience in web development helps tremendously in this aspect. Contact us for more information.