Posts Tagged ‘cms’

Essential Tips for Maintaining and Speeding Up WordPress

WordPress is one of the most popular and widely-used blogging platforms and CMSs (content management system). The reason is it’s easy to install and use, so you can focus on creating content rather than building and maintaining your website. Everything from small personal blogs to big digital magazines like Smashing use WordPress to run their sites. Chances are you’re using WordPress for your own site or are planning on using it. Well, although WordPress is fine out of the box, it’s not optimized – and worse, it can crash when you start getting more traffic. Lucky for you, this article brings you essential tips for maintaining and speeding up WordPress.

Using these simple and free tweaks and plugin installations, you can:

Maintain your WordPress site to be in tip-top error-free shape using automated methods so you don’t need to waste your precious time

Speed up your WordPress site so it not only loads faster but holds up to traffic spikes

Monitor your WordPress site so you’re aware when a problem pops up and how to quickly fix it

All of which will ultimately free up your time to focus more on creating content and great work, not wasting time fixing your site when it goes down. So without further ado, here are the essential tips for maintaining and speeding up WordPress…

1. Regularly backup your database

In case your WordPress-powered blog breaks or you need to reinstall WordPress. You’ll have all of your latest pages, posts and comments in a handy file. Automate this by using the WP-DBManager plugin. You can set it to regularly backup your database and save a file on your hosting or by emailing an attachment.

2. Optimize your database

Again, you can use the WP-DBManager plugin to automate this.

3. Regularly backup your WordPress files

This means your images and plugins. Automate this by using the WordPress Backup plugin. You can set it to regularly backup your WordPress files and email an attachment.

4. Reduce spam comments

Have Akismet plugin running and filtering out the spam comments. This will save you time by helping speed up comment moderation/reading/replying.

5. Make sure you don’t have unnecessary 404′s

This is when people try to access your pages and posts and get a 404 error message page instead. Use the 404 Notifier plugin to identify the 404 errors and fix them with redirection by using the Redirection plugin.

6. Switch to pretty permalinks

That is if you haven’t already. Go to Settings > Permalinks panel and choose a pretty permalink style (like “example.com/date/post-name/“). Like the URL style that Speckyboy here has, rather than the “/?p=X” permalink style that WordPress for some reason still insists on defaulting to. This not only helps with SEO (search engine optimization, since the keywords people would use to find your post will be right there in the URL) but with human readability. It becomes obvious what you’re going to read as well as making it easier to share.

7. Automate basic SEO (search engine optimization)

Install the All in One SEO Pack plugin. Add your title, keywords, and description in the plugin options screen. This will make it easier for people who are searching for what you have to find you.

1. Use caching

Install the WP Super Cache plugin and enable the Gzip option. This will load only the appropriate cached content to visitors rather than loading every single script and element of your WordPress site. Your bandwidth is greatly reduced and you avoid your site going down during traffic spikes (and if you’re making a kick-butt site with kick-butt content, you should expect them more often than not).

2. Reduce the CSS files to as few as possible

Combine multiple custom CSS files into one big one. The less individual CSS files the theme needs to read the faster it’ll load. Simply copy/paste the code from individual CSS files into the main style.css or a custom.css file in your theme.

3. Reduce the Javascript files to as few as possible

Combine multiple .js files into one big one. The less individual .js files the theme needs to read the faster it’ll load. You can copy/paste the code from individual Javascript files (/js/jquery.js, /js/jquery.slider.js, /js/jquery.tooltip.js) into a new single Javascript file (/js/jquery.js,jquery.slider.js,jquery.tooltip.js).

3. Put as much Javascript code as possible in the footer

In the footer.php file of your theme, or in the footer section in your theme’s customization panel if applicable. This is so that the Javscript calls load last. This way, your visitors will be able to quickly read the content while the Javascript loads in the background.

4. Use as few plugins as possible

The less plugins need to load the more stable your WordPress site can be (and slightly faster in certain cases if a plugin isn’t properly coded). Do that by seeing if you can copy/paste code or hand-code the functionality into your theme, or using a theme that has the functionality built-in, or having it designed or customized for you. This doesn’t mean don’t use any plugins, especially since this article is suggesting plugins for WordPress optimization – just stick to only the essential ones rather than random sidebar widgets and whatnot.

5. Speed up image loading

Use the Amazon S3 storage service to upload and host your files. The images will load faster and your visitors won’t have to wait as long for them to load – especially important for web and visual designers with lots of images and portfolios to showcase. You can use the Amazon S3 for WordPress plugin to streamline image uploading and inserting into your pages and posts.

1. See your basic hosting server info and WordPress PHP memory usage

Install the WP System Health plugin. This can let you see if there are memory issues so you can identify and fix the problem rather than blindly trying things when your WordPress site is slow.

2. See more detailed hosting server info

Install the Hosting Monitor plugin. This will let you know if slowness or any other performance issues are something to do with WordPress or your hosting, and you can fix it or contact your hosting accordingly.

3. Have any WordPress errors logged and notifications emailed

Install the Error Reporting plugin. Since you’ll be notified right when an error occurs, you can fix it right away.

By using these tweaks and installing these plugins, you’ll not only take your WordPress site’s performance and stability from merely okay to great, but you’ll automate a lot of it so that you don’t have to spend time maintaining your site. Not to mention you won’t have to waste time fixing and trying to get your WordPress site back up when it crashes from a traffic spike or whatnot.

All of which boils down to why you should even care about any of this in the first place: you free up time to focus on creating content and great work.

Over to you: what are some other essential tips for maintaining and speeding up WordPress that weren’t featured here? Feel free to share your useful additions in the comments section below.

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[EXPIRED] We Have 10 Premium Licenses of CouchCMS to giveaway – Comment for a chance to win

For this weeks reader giveaway we have Ten Couch CMS Commercial Licenses (usually $39 each) up for grabs. As per usual, all you will have to do for a chance of winning one of these marvelous CMS licenses is leave a comment below telling us what type of project you are currently working (no need to be too specific). All winners will be chosen completely at random. Best of luck!

All about CouchCMS

Screenshot Home Page
CouchCMS is a self-hosted simple CMS that has been created specifically with web designers in mind.
It allows designers to take any HTML/CSS templates and convert it into a fully content managed site, quite literally in minutes.
Unlike most CMSs out there, Couch works by being retrofitted within an existing design or static site and not vice-versa. This gives unparalleled creative freedom to designers who will no longer need to design their layouts around the limitations of whichever CMS they use.
No knowledge of PHP is required for using it, as everything in Couch is achieved using the familiar XHTML like tags.
There is no learning curve, no ‘a-ha moment’, no ‘light-bulb moment’. Everything that needs to be known for using Couch can be learnt in a very short time.

Although Couch claims to be a CMS built for designers, the truth is, it perhaps was built even more for their clients – the end users. It is eventually the end-users who have to deal with the CMS more than anybody else and if they find the interface over featured and complicated, everything else comes to a naught.

How to enter

This competition will run for the next 7 days, and all you have to do for a chance to win is leave a comment below leave a comment below telling us what type of project you are currently working (without being too specific). Winners will of course be selected at random and will be informed directly after the competition ends via email.
Good luck to everyone :)


Tips for Compromising between Designers and Developers

In the real world designers and developers are constantly battling it out over projects. Between two lighthearted developers are the crew who simply make website work while designers add flair and vibrant edges. The two perform very specific yet important jobs which harmoniously combine to create amazing web pages.

Often times, however, bickering can ensue leading to arguing and lost time. All client work from small-scale operations to large design firms is very important and must be treated as such. Below we’ll go over a few tips to help designers and developers reach a middle-ground.

Portrayal of Ideas

One of the biggest problems arises between a misunderstanding of goals and ideas. While designers are interested in sketching and displaying their interests visually, developers are often not so lucky.

It takes time to knock out bits of code and creating a program isn’t an easy task. Communication between the two teams will likely clear up many of these issues. Before even starting on a mockup comp have everybody sit down and go over their objectives for the project. In this way everything is put on the table so everybody is moving forward at the same pace.

Developers may also consider practicing some type of visual communication for programs. Flow charts and graphical diagrams are often the best way to represent what’s going on. It may be worthwhile to practice building programs out of conversation, too.

This isn’t exactly common practice but it does help to strengthen your knowledge as a programmer. Begin by talking out all of the steps needed to build the website you’re looking at, piece by piece. Even write these things down in a list if it helps. These individual pieces will come together in the end to create 1 final web application which can then be passed off to launch.

Carefully Plan Deadlines

Nobody enjoys deadlines but they are a must in business. Especially when working with high-class firms and clientele from all around the world design work must be placed on a schedule.

This is unfortunate for designers since rushed work is almost never good. Time management is a crucial skill to have mastered and apply into every day life. Once you know how much time is available it’s much easier to start right away and plan an easygoing work routine.

The alternative is crunching numbers and pushing your limits the last few nights of a project. This technique can work with developers, although not encouraged, because writing code is mostly logical and doesn’t require high reigns of creativity. Design work can only go for so long before quality begins to seriously degrade.

Group Morale!

Provide enthusiasm and cheer to all of your co-workers. Even though designers and developers may not see eye-to-eye all the time we can all come together and acknowledge the work we do is important.

If everybody is working together to keep others motivated there is no falling behind in the group. All tasks can be finished on time and well before due-date. In this way there’s extra room in the schedule for possible changes, updates, revisions, or anything else.

If it’s possible try building a work plan with your fellow group. Everybody is in on the work together so why not grind out the process together, too? Generally the designer(s) will create a mockup and pass this onto the developers.

From here the coding process begins and each web page is carefully crafted. If there’s any backend work or CMS implementation this would also be addressed post-template design. After the initial layout the designers’ work load shifts to smaller details. These can include page icons or banner graphics.

Ask Questions

Confusion is common amongst a large group, so there’s bound to be questions from some people. Don’t hold back anything you’re unsure of as it’ll ultimately slow down the process.

It’s important to feel comfortable in the working environment and speak openly when you feel the need. Clarifying a small detail up front will get you a direct answer and keep the project train moving. This is much more the case between developers who are working on similar features (frontend/backend Ajax effects).

Not only should fellow team mates be asking questions, but project leaders are imposed to run questions by the clients. If the team is indecisive about certain aspects to the project it would be simpler to contact the consumers directly to figure out what they want. If there is ever a lack of information don’t hold anything back – ask questions when necessary and keep your head moving forward!

Be Respectful of Workspace Time

This is often a no-brainer but doesn’t hurt to be repeated. Each designer and web developer is important to a project and needs to be given time to work. If everybody is hounding on each other and driving the team mad then nobody is productive.

Respect is the name of the game and will get design firms much further in business. Even on a small scale level it’s enormously important to have respect for your partners. Designers and developers each perform a completely separate yet key role in website development.

Make sure all teammates are communicating their ideas openly and honestly. At all times a project work floor should feel fast-paced but relaxed and open. All digital creators can get stressed at times, it’s important to recognize this and release it. Whether a designer or developer just stick to your path and remember everybody is working as a team to reach the same end goal.

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