WordPress For Big Dogs Too

Big DogHere at New Tricks we have always created websites for Young Pups (people and companies just starting out) and  Working Dogs (established small businesses or new businesses who want and need to look like the experts that they are).

But more and more we are seeing  Big Dogs  (larger companies who have big needs for e-commerce, career management, employee directories, many service sectors or practice areas) making a decision to go with WordPress.

When we first started out in 2009, we had to explain to clients why using WordPress was the best solution for their website and convince them to use it.  Now, most companies, regardless of size, know they want to use WordPress, and come to us because of our extensive experience with WordPress.

Unfortunately,  going with WordPress doesn’t ensure you will have a great site, no matter what the size. It is easy to do a WordPress site but, then again that makes it easy to [Read more…]

Using a Blog to Honor Your Life and Tell Your Stories

mercer-wordmark-ffffff-594x120 I am going to be a  speaker for an event at Mercer University, for seniors (as in the older people, not the graduating 18 year-olds). The class series is called,  Honoring Your Life; Telling Your Stories.  My session is on blogging as a a way for someone to chronicle their life and share their stories.

Blogging is a great way to write, categorize and share your stories and memories for others to read. I recommend for those just starting out to get a free WordPress.com blog.  Set your blog to public and watch your traffic grow or set it to private and allow only certain people to view your posts.

Why a Blog?
[Read more…]

WordPress Goodness for Food Bloggers

I am here at the 2014 Food and Wine Conference in Orlando, Florida where Renee Dobbs and I gave a short talk on using WordPress for Food Bloggers. Before conference organizer Isabel Laessig  introduced us she polled the audience about how many people were using WordPress. Most of the 200 people in the room raised their hands. I remember the days when we had to really sell WordPress to our clients. Now, people come asking for it.

Here are the slides from our talk that goes over whats good about WordPress and we share some of our favorite plugins for Recipes, Social Media, Calls to Action, and Security.

How to Use Iframes on Your WordPress Website

IframeIf you don’t know how to use Iframes or don’t know what they are, you should definitely read on.

An Iframe is a ridiculously simple way to attach a form, a webpage, or piece of [Read more…]

Don’t Search for Free WordPress Themes

Bad CodeWe have all done it. Stayed up for hours searching for the perfect theme. And there are many sites where you can browse and browse. I am not saying not to use a free theme. There are currently 2,043 perfectly good free themes in the [Read more…]

Beginners Guide to using Caching and CDN to Speed Up Your Site

Speedy dog- Speed up your websiteWe all know it is good to have your site load fast for two big reasons: we don’t want people to leave our sites before they get there and Google incorporates page-load time into our site’s search rankings. I recently wrote a post about the effect that image size on your site loading times since learning to resize and optimize images is one of the first steps to improving site loading performance. Now we will go on to more technical methods, Caching and Content Delivery Networks that can improve speed of loading as much as 350%.


When you first visit a website, all of the content on that website (images, text, etc.) have to be loaded onto your computer from a web server in order to display that content. What caching does, is after you visit a website for the first time and all of the content is loaded from a web server, the static content is then saved on your hard drive in your cache, so when you visit the website for a 2nd or 3rd time your browser is able load the static content from your computer’s hard drive which is much faster than loading it again from a distant web server.

The whole concept of caching can be rather mysterious to us non-geeks. It is difficult to understand and even more so to explain. I found a pretty good metaphor by Zack Tollman from a talk on this subject at a WordCamp. Zach describes the process of caching by asking us to think about the process of gathering the ingredients (images, text, etc.) we need to prepare a meal (load a website).

If we aren’t using any caching, we would make a separate trip to the store for each ingredient we need for each meal we prepare, but that would be such a slow and tedious process we probably would not cook very often. The better alternative is to go to the store and buy all of the ingredients we will need for the week and store them in a place where we can easily grab them off the shelf or the refrigerator when needed.

The process of buying groceries and storing them in our kitchen is similar to caching objects in web development in that you are moving items necessary to have a webpage display from a place of difficult access (a web server) to a place where it can be accessed faster (the computer that is accessing the website’s hard drive).

W3TC Plugin

The W3TC  plugin works to cache your site’s static pages and database queries so they are easily and quickly uploaded to your site’s visitors. Caching reduces the load time of your site so your visitors don’t have to wait for each of these things to load from scratch.

The W3TC is a very powerful plugin with many configuration options. If you are a beginner you will need to take your time and get some thorough advice on how to set it up. A fellow who goes by the name of Zemalf has a very thorough, free 45 page step by step tutorial  which will show you what settings to choose on every screen. Be aware that if you set it up wrong you could risk getting your site suspended.

What is CDN

  [Read more…]

WordPress 3.6 is Out

Here is a peek at some of the new features of WordPress 3.6. Everyone says the installation is going very smoothly so I’d say it is safe to go ahead and upgrade now.

Some of the highlights include:

  •  A new default theme that was made for bloggers that is a colorful theme with a single column.
  • The revision feature has gone through an overhaul and now you can scroll through line by live to see who changed what and when.
  • Safety feature, autolock,  for more than one person trying to edit a post or page at the same time.
  • There is a built-in HTML5 media player for to play audio or embed videos without needing a plugin.
  • Changes to the menu editor to make it easier ( it was pretty dang easy before) to understand and use.

And so much more. Go ahead and upgrade. Remember to make a backup first:-)

8 Tips To Keep Your Site Hacker Safe

Keep Your Site Hacker SafeThis week there were several scares from hacking attacks on WordPress sites or plugins.

One of these was a well known and much used plugin, Social Media Widget which had some code put into it by someone who was working on it  (accidentally or on purpose, we don’t know.) The code injected links to a spammy PayDay site that you would not have seen, but Google could have black-listed you for.

This was re-mediated fairly quickly and sites could continue to use this plugin after updating it which removed the injected link code.

The second problem was a bigger issue, a brute force attack by bots [Read more…]

How To Change Your WordPress User Name From Admin

No admin for user nameIf you are using “admin” for your user name on your WordPress site, you are a sitting duck to hacking attempts from Bots.

These automated attacks run a program to target vulnerable WordPress sites. If they can get into the site through “admin” they only have to figure out your password. It is not unusual for people to be using “admin” for their user name and “password” or “1234”  as their password. This is not good, people!

The most common reasons people get hacked are [Read more…]

The Difference Between WordPress Pages and Posts

People seem to get really confused about the difference between Pages and Posts when starting out with WordPress. Sometimes they don’t use any Posts since they think they are only for blogging but that isn’t so. I did a presentation at WordCamp Atlanta 2013 on this very subject that highlights the difference between the two and discusses when you would use each type. Here are the slides from my presentation. The video will be coming soon.

Getting Started with WordPress

Thinking about making the move to WordPress for your website? Learn more about the content management system, the benefits of moving to WordPress, and how to get started in this slide-deck, which will cover the pros and cons of moving to WordPress, the basics of installation, theme selection and basic customization, and an overview of what works best on WordPress sites around the web. I created this slide-deck for a presentation I gave to the National Student Electronic Media Convention put on by College Broadcasters, Inc.

Move a WordPress Sites From One Place To Another

Red Headed Lady with Fear of migrating her WordPress site.Once when I was first starting out I wanted to move one of my WordPress sites from one host to another. I called the hosting companies tech support and was told to copy the files into the new directory. I did that and it did not work. I was so green then I didn’t understand that it is not so easy when you are using a database program and the database has to come over too and be synced with those files. At least I still had a fully functioning site on the other host and finally got someone to help me migrate the site in the proper way. I still hate the process even though now I have a secret weapon I am going to share with you today.

Using Backup Buddy for WordPress Backups and Migrations

I never do extensive repairs or customizations to a live site.  Instead, I make a mirror site on a sub-directory of one of my hosting accounts, using it as a test site. This way, I can make the changes, see that they work and get approval from the client before moving the mirror site back to overwrite the original.

In some cases, creating the mirror site could take longer than actually [Read more…]

Four Reasons Not To Use Go Daddy To Host Your WordPress Site

Red Crcle with slash for No SignI had a questions come in today about why I do not recommend Go Daddy for my WordPress clients. Here is my response to the great question.

First let me say,  it doesn’t matter where you register your domains, so Go Daddy is fine for that,  but I have found several problems with using Go Daddy for hosting WordPress sites and ask new clients to change to bluhost when we are building or updating a WordPress Go Daddy site. When I have not insisted, sooner or later we end up moving it for performance reasons.  Here is my reason for not wanting to use Go Daddy.

First,  Go Daddy does not use the industry standard C-Panel interface so it is a pain in the neck to go in and work on the databases and so forth, if you need to. Whereas I am not really a back-end person, but I can go into the C-Panel in bluehost and change the memory allotment and add new databases, view and edit the files and such very easily.

Second, there are usually performance problems with intermittent periods of extreme slowness for their WordPress sites.  I have heard it has to do with their server set up being far from the databases and software so the calls to serve up the dynamic content takes longer. Then when you call and tell them you are having issues they will deny anything is wrong or suggest that you need a virtual private server. Most of my clients do not need anything other than economy hosting on bluehost and get great performance. Only Larger businesses and publishers with a great deal of traffic need to move up. When I move clients to bluehost all of their issues have resolved.

Third, I hate Go Daddy’s sexist advertising. Maybe they should spend more money on updating their equipment and less on Danica and the other Go Daddy Babes. [Read more…]

Avoid Hacks and Other Scary Problems With Basic WordPress Housekeeping

dog with mop in mouth

via Zazzle.com

I hope you had a relaxing Labor Day weekend with friends and family.  I was worried that my weekend might have a lot more emphasis on the labor part than the relaxing part. Recently, a plugin called Tim Thumb, built into a lot of WordPress themes to help with dynamic image resizing,  was found to have a security flaw causing WordPress sites that included it, to be hacked.

Last week, I spent several days tracking down my client’s sites that incorporated the TimThumb plugin and repairing the problem.  I had a scare Friday late afternoon when several of these sites were running extremely slow which had me worried that they had been hacked. After several hours Friday evening, I discovered that none of these sites had been hacked and it was another plugin, Twitter Tools, that was slowing these sites down to a crawl. When I deleted Twitter Tools, all was well. What I had worried was going to take me all weekend to fix was resolved just like that. Poof. And I lived happily ever after. And so you don’t have to worry,  here are some tips to help you keep your site safe and secure. [Read more…]

What You Should Know Before You Redesign Your WebSite

If you are thinking about redesigning your website here are some of the posts on my site that can help you understand the opportunity you have to choose the best technology today. Small businesses today need to choose a WordPress website that is easy for them to manage themselves and lets them use it as the hub of all of their Marketing and Social Media to grow their businesses. Here are some selected references from my site that can help bring you up to speed on what’s possible.

Why you should use WordPress

Build a Website for People to Know Like and Trust You.

New Tricks  Portfolio

One of my client’s Todd Semrau, of Urban Eats is a restaurant consultant ( he has a WordPress website that we did for him) I wrote a guest post on his site recently  on the things that people should consider in website design for restaurants.

If you need any other information, just let me know.

Your Site Visitors Should Be Able to Know Like and Trust Your Website

When someone comes to your website, you have about 3-5 seconds for them to “get” whether they want to stay or leave. I  believe that part of their assessment is whether or not they can ” know, like, and trust ” you through your website.  I have found that several factors go into building this first impression with your potential and your current clients. [Read more…]

Why you should use a WordPress Platform Website

Guest contributer, John Bennison, Principal at Bennison Associates and former VP of Product Development at Skywire Software (now Oracle) has quickly become one of New Tricks’ BFF.  John has contributed his extraordinary small business coaching and technical skills to the New Tricks growing world empire.   See the end of the post for John’s bio.

  • Are you a freelance photographer during the day but make the cutest little doggie purses at night? You need a single website that lets people find both of you – without displaying symptoms of a multiple personality disorder.
  • How about a small business owner who paid gobs of money for a website that’s been promising ‘Under Construction – Coming Soon’ since Y2K? You need a website you can define and maintain – without hiring a cadre of coders, or becoming one yourself.
  • Or, maybe your boutique bakery already has a website but needs a way to let your customers know that you’ve just taken the most sinful chocolate cake out of the oven and they’d better hurry over to your shop before it’s gone.  Good news, like good food, is best served fresh.
  • Perhaps you are job hunting? You need a website that shows off your bad self and your good work — to showcase your authority in your field.  Every project you do is a potential promotion if you post it on your site.

Small businesses adapt or die.  Change is the one constant.  Your website should set the pace, not lag behind.  A website stakes your claim.  It helps you build and furnish your business’ place in space (Cyberspace, that is.)  Getting your site onto the web is the modern equivalent of getting your product onto the shelves.  It’s not an optional part of the plan.

Whoever you are, chances are if that if you’re ready to blow some Benjamins, you’ll want to blow away the completion as well.

The answer my friend, is blowing in ….. well, WordPress

Websites that adapt and evolve – hosting dynamic content and plugging into social networks – weren’t easy with first generation website development tools.  But there’s been a quiet revolution in the Blogosphere and blogging tools have crossed over into mainstream websites -it changes everything.  More and more businesses are using WordPress for their web-sites. WordPress isn’t just blogging software any longer. NO it has grown from a blog  for letting others know about your fishing trip to Alaska, sharing recipes or ranting about politics anymore. Many companies, including the US Government, are using blog engines to drive all types of websites these days.  And for small businesses there are huge benefits.

Why use WordPress to power your second generation web site?

WordPress sites started out as blog sites. The word Blog came from the combination of web and log. Now WordPress has evolved to provide an easy and versatile framework on which to publish all kinds of content. Non-coders can easily do lots of cool things with a WordPress site like embed video or audio or photo galleries in your posts and incorporate a blog as a base for a podcast, add widgets and nifty plugins or interactive tools. And the open-source WordPress has grown to offer much more than basic blogging, such as  content management websites, multi- user sites, mailing lists, discussion groups, newsletter services and shopping carts.

Sites built on a WordPress platform can be furnished with static pages so that they are indistinguishable from a traditional website.  But they can also show off all the latest capabilities of a burgeoning technology.  Best of all, you maintain control – you can set the tone and tune it to match your style, your business, and your priorities.  Nobody even has to know it’s a blog on the inside.

WordPress sites are Budget Friendly

WordPress software is Open Source. That’s techie speak for cheap and easy.  WordPress, is actually free.  There’s very little set-up cost for you to get up and running.  Just a domain name (great, if you already have one), webhosting (think of it as the office space for your website) and a theme which can be customized and should be customized to reflect your unique brand.

Since WordPress is open source it also has a thriving community of developers constantly improving the software and creating plugins to expand the functionality. It’s sort of like having your own world wide web of developers all working for you – for free.

Building your website on an open source WordPress engine gives you a huge and growing set of built-in features and capabilities, with no licensing cost.

No coding required

The bane of first generation websites was that they required a technologist between you and your site.  You either had to hire one, or become one.   And if you kept your site half-way current, that meant an ongoing relationship with the bits, bytes, and bolts.   WordPress does for website design what iPods did to music collecting: get the technology out of the way.  The new tools let you run your site like you run your business.  You can delegate to your staff, outsource projects, or roll up your sleeves and do it yourself.

Social Networking

Social Networking is about creating conversations with your customers. “Word of mouth advertising” becomes whispering into the ear of the Internet.  Social Networking harnesses the energy of your customers, and feeds it back into your site —  keeping the content on your website fresh and updated. People will want to come back to check out what’s new.  And they’ll help you define, refine, and promote your image – for free!

Structured change, and living history

Websites built with WordPress allow you to have time-driven content and make it easy to manage that content – storing  posted items with categories, tags  and dates.  Customers can subscribe to your site, so they can be updated every time you cyber-speak to them. Sites with inherent blog capabilities are also easily integrated with other Social Networking tools like Facebook, Twitter and RSS Feeds.

Talk may be cheap but it is certainly effective.

Search Engines Love Websites built on database engines

Because it is built on a database, each item on a blog-enabled websites can have an individual “permalink” which is it own unique web address. This allows the web content to be accessed by a search engines, even years later.  This means whenever someone Googles ‘cute dog purses’ your site is more likely to appear at the top of the list.

Database platform websites like WordPress also allow for comments and user participation, which is becoming the standard for how individuals get involved in the companies they do business with.

Fired up, ready to go? Give New Tricks a call. We’ll show you ‘It’s Never Too Late!’ to learn new tricks.


About our guest Blogger:

John Bennison, is a Principal at Bennison Associates, an Atlanta-based Entrepreneurial Software Development company.  John co-founded Micro Dynamics Limited, a document imaging and content management solution which was flipped up the corporate later (taking John along as VP of Corporate Development) until being acquired by Skywire Software (now Oracle).

Prior to founding Micro Dynamics, John mastered the art of mentoring and listening  as  Assistant Director of Computer Operations, User Services, and administration of the academic Computer Center of Brown University. John holds a BA in Math from Amherst College.

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