Category: wordpress

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When WordPress Plugins Go Wrong: How to Deactivate

Sometimes a wordpress plugin has just had enough of you. It happens. And what you’re often left with is a just an error page and a broken site. It can be scary, but fortunately it’s easy enough to fix by deactivating the plugin without having to just spend hours googling the specific error codes.

Disable via SFTP

So here’s what to do:

  1. Login to your site via SFTP (you really shouldn’t be using FTP!)
  2. Navigate to /wp-content/yourpluginname
  3. Rename yourpluginname to yourpluginname-disabled

You’ll now be able to login to your wordpress installation, where you will be able to delete and reinstall the affected plugin. Phew!

Thanks to thehostingnews.com

I’m a small business consultant enabling small business owners to achieve sustainable growth, whilst working part-time at Tees Valley Arts. For more about me personally see peterneal.co.uk
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WordPress Plugins: Smushit

wp smushit

People seem to have real problems with working with images and this is where WP-Smushit comes into play. Even if you don’t know how to properly optimise your images, if they’re under 1MB (assuming you’re a cheapskate and not paying for the plugin) then this will handle it for you. Simples.

wp-smushit
This is the benefit I got, less than 5%, but 5% is 5%. Every little helps.
I’m a small business consultant enabling small business owners to achieve sustainable growth, whilst working part-time at Tees Valley Arts. For more about me personally see peterneal.co.uk
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WordPress Plugins: Lightbox

I’ve used the wp-jQuery-Lightbox plugin for many years now, it makes images look nice on wordpress and effectively creates galleries out of individual images embedded in a page.

wp-jquery-lightbox

I’ve become a little complacent in recent months though, given that Jetpack enables pretty, nice, lightbox galleries; it doesn’t however do this for individual images. So wp-jQuery-Lightbox is a must.

Once installed. The only option I check is: Shrink large images to fit smaller screens, which makes it more compatible with mobile devices.

Anyhow, you can find it here, courtesy of Ulf Benjaminsson. Flattr him here.

I’m a small business consultant enabling small business owners to achieve sustainable growth, whilst working part-time at Tees Valley Arts. For more about me personally see peterneal.co.uk
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WordPress Cleanup: Database Optimisation

So the database is the most dangerous place non-experienced/non-technical users can mess around in. And I’m certainly not comfortable rolling around in there. So you have to be cautious and if you’re going to hand this responsibility over to someone else then you need to be sure they can be relied upon. So I proceed with caution, as should you.

I spent a lot of time googling, reading guides on database optimisation, etc and I finally I came across the oddly named Optimise Database after Deleting Revisions plugin now this only has 60,000+ installs acording to wordpress, whereas the WP-Optimise plugin had 400,000+ installs, however it was updated less than a month ago as opposed to over 7 months ago for the more popular plugin and that worries me.

Optimize Database after deleting Revisions

I generally won’t install a plugin without an official release via wordpress but I also like to have a read of the developers page and the more detailed that is, the more comfortable I feel. Finding video reviews by other bloggers, such as below, is also reassuring:

So suitably reassured I went ahead and installed the plugin.

Selecting Settings

The plugin is reassuringly neat and well behaved installing two menu options:

  • Plugin settings in: Settings > Optimise Database
  • and Tools (run the plugin) in: Tools > Optimise Database

This is even more re-assuring. I really can’t stand wordpress plugins that clutter up your dashboard menu, after all they’re mostly plugins rather than entire feature sets.

I opted for a relatively simple setup:

  • Maximum number of – most recent – revisions to keep per post / page: 3
  • Delete trashed items: YES
  • Delete spammed items: YES
  • Delete unused tags: YES
  • Delete expired transients: YES
  • Delete pingbacks and trackbacks: NO
  • Keep a log: YES
  • Number of excluded tables: 0

I decided not to schedule optimisation. With something that can screw your entire installation I think you should opt for manual control, plus it means you can always – and you always should – backup your solution before you run any optimisation (in case you need to restore it). I also wouldn’t run it just after I’ve updated wordpress, particularly a full digit update, without checking for an update to the plugin.

So here are my Results

  • 587 post revisions from 75 posts; I selected to keep a minimum of 3 revisions per post.
  • No TRASHED ITEMS found to delete.
  • No SPAMMED ITEMS found to delete
  • No UNUSED TAGS found to delete
  • 7 expired transients deleted
  • 1 Postmeta Orphans deleted

Size of the Database

  • 7.229 MB BEFORE optimization
  • 5.372 MB AFTER optimization

So I saved 1.857 MB or 25 percent of the size of my database for a process that took 1.4988 seconds. And this was just on my site, on my work site I saved 7.007 MB more than 50 percent of the size of that database!

Thanks

Thanks of course to Rolf van Gelder of CAGE Web Design for writing the plugin in the 1st place. Without people like this the wordpress community wouldn’t thrive.

I’m a small business consultant enabling small business owners to achieve sustainable growth, whilst working part-time at Tees Valley Arts. For more about me personally see peterneal.co.uk
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Blog Page Posting Styles in WordPress

So as you’ve also probably noticed I’ve been spending a bit more time examining this blog and my own personal one, as well as trying to standardise the approach I recommend to customers and friends.

Blog (Posts Page)

When a reader arrives on your website looking to find something you’ve read they’re going to end up (hopefully) on your Blog (Posts Page) and here’s where you need to make some decisions about how things are going to look. And through the customising panel in wordpress you’re offered lots of choice.

Excerpts

The first thing I’d recommend is not to publish your blog entries in full on your Blog (Posts Page), even if you’re chosen to use numbered pages rather than the infinite scroll feature from Jetpack (hopefully your theme supports it), instead publish an excerpt – then people will be able to scroll through more content and be able to more quickly to find what they’re looking for. WordPress will even generate the excerpts for you. To make this change open the customizer and follow the route:

Layout > Blog (Posts Page) > Content > Tick “Generate excerpts automatically”

Author Information

I also tend to hide author information on the Blog (Posts Page). I find that all this adds is visual clutter and for most people who are the only author on their website the reader is likely to know (or assume) it’s you, you don’t need to tell them!

Featured Images

So I don’t use featured images very much, but I do use images, and my theme seems to be bright enough (unless it’s a wordpress default?) to select the first image if a featured image is not selected. Personally I think featured images (and the management for images in general and particularly for social media could be better handled) are best full-size at the beginning of my excerpt, particularly as I don’t use photos that work well as thumbnails. But you can choose here:

Layout > Blog (Posts Page) > Content > Featured Images

Where you’re offered the following options:

  • Post header
  • Thumbnail
  • None

And whether or not you want to align them so a thumbnail could, for example, be on either the left or the right of your excerpt (not sure how it’d work in the centre…).

Conclusion

Whatever you decide when laying out this crucial page, what the customizer panel does it let you see live previews of the changes so you can fiddle and find a solution that looks right for you and then just press “Save” and it’s live. Fab.

I’m a small business consultant enabling small business owners to achieve sustainable growth, whilst working part-time at Tees Valley Arts. For more about me personally see peterneal.co.uk
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WordPress Cleanup: Themes

So I’ve recently got back an old website that I lost due to notifications going to an old email address (sucky domain registrars). Here we are two years later and I’ve managed to get the domain back with my main host and registrar now dreamhost.com (gotta love their simple but effective renewal of domains policy) but it was not without it’s problems.

Once I’d overcome the technical issues with my wordpress installation (thanks to dreamhost support) I decided to read up and undertake some basic wordpress maintenance. One of the suggestions was to minimise the themes you have installed, but are not using. Seems pretty straightforward, but wordpress has no in-built way to delete multiple themes. Step in the delete multiple themes plugin.

Mass Theme Delete Plugin

This simple plugin does what wordpress should do, allows an administrator to delete multiple themes. So I’m deleting all but the theme I’m using and the basic default wordpress themes like 2012 (as backups).

You can find out more about the plugin here and the authors Happy Plugins here.

Update

So a few mins later I’m down from 47 to 8 themes. Quite a clear out.

I’m a small business consultant enabling small business owners to achieve sustainable growth, whilst working part-time at Tees Valley Arts. For more about me personally see peterneal.co.uk

Finding Child Themes on Theme Foundary

So Theme Foundary are by far my favourite wordpress theme designers (and a fav of wordpress.org themselves) but they don’t seem to have read my links, links, links article (mind why would they?) but they could definitely learn a thing or two or rather learn to use 301 redirect.

Helpful tools I highlight include the fab redirection plugin and the broken link checker plugin to help you find links on your site that are broken and then easily allow you to setup 301s to point your readers in the right direction.

No customer or potential customer should have to search google and/or your site repeatedly. Hey but none of us are perfect, we can just commit to constantly improve!

If you’re having trouble finding child themes for a Theme Foundary theme then click here.

PS Thanks Theme Foundary for providing child themes!

I’m a small business consultant enabling small business owners to achieve sustainable growth, whilst working part-time at Tees Valley Arts. For more about me personally see peterneal.co.uk
Vimeo

Match embedded Vimeo video to your default site width

So in my day job we use Vimeo for all our film projects, primarily because it enables you to credit those people involved in making a project happen and also because you can replace earlier copies of a video, which is particularly useful when you have to get approval from multiple project partners before a film is signed off. However, the advantages and disadvantages of vimeo as a video platform aside, embedding the resulting video in our site and those of our partners is an essential feature and obviously we’re running wordpress so this is made easy for us.

What the link above doesn’t tell you is that you don’t need to specify both the width and the height of your video (always a pain to work out) you just need to specify the width and the height will be automatically be generated:

(vimeo https://vimeo.com/127168308 w=960)
replacing the curly parenthesis ( ) with square ones [ ]

In Action

See it action in one of our videos, Giants in the Walls, produced for the One Planet Middlesbrough project:

560 px wide – tiny!

760 px wide – a bit too small


960 px wide – just right!*

Jump to 3 minutes 58 seconds for my favourite part – thanks Andy Berriman, this makes me chuckle every time!

In the future hopefully this solution will also support the standard addition to a vimeo url of #t=3m58s allowing you to specify the start time, so you don’t have to rely on your readers to self select; although this is definitely a video worth watching in full!

* Find out the default size of your blog post by using the developer tool in chrome.

I’m a small business consultant enabling small business owners to achieve sustainable growth, whilst working part-time at Tees Valley Arts. For more about me personally see peterneal.co.uk