How To Work on Your WordPress Site Without Going Live

Work on your WordPress site without going live

So, you want to make some changes to your WordPress site without anyone else seeing?
Perhaps it’s a new site you’re getting ready to launch, or maybe you’re giving a facelift to an existing site. How can you work on your WordPress site without publishing the changes for the world to see?

You have a few options depending on your specific situation.

Use a “Coming Soon” style plugin

One approach is to put up a temporary splash page or landing page which displays a “coming soon” or “maintenance mode” style message. This can be done easily with a plugin; the one I’d recommend is Coming Soon by SeedProd. Any normal visitor who tries to access your site will see the custom message you create and nothing else. You, as the administrator, will be able to see the site as normal while logged in. The Coming Soon plugin gives you ample control over the splash page, where you can add text, images, a logo, background image etc.

Read More

How To Go Beyond WordPress Basics

From WordPress Beginner to Intermediate, Going Beyond the Basics

From WordPress Beginner → Intermediate

What’s  the difference between a WordPress beginner, and an intermediate WordPress user?

If you’ve mastered the dashboard, are great at working with themes and plugins, what’s next? How do you progress to the next step, without necessarily become a code-slinging developer?

Definitions are obviously arbitrary, but for me, an intermediate WordPress user is someone who has mastered the dashboard, can find their way around any theme pretty quickly, and who isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty behind the scenes. That might not be creating custom themes or plugins from scratch, but it likely involves customizing sites with copy/paste code snippets, tweaking CSS, migrating sites, using FTP, and generally understanding the ‘behind the scenes’ of a WordPress site. They are also familiar with WordPress best practices, such as safe ways to modify themes etc. This isn’t someone who is going to hack your site to pieces, but someone who understands the right way to do things, keeping a site future-proofed, update-able and easy for the owner to manage.

This is the kind of stuff that makes some folks shudder with horror, but in reality if you can grasp some of this stuff, it’ll give you so much more confidence. If you’re working with clients, I’d consider it not only a requirement, but your responsibility as a WordPress consultant.

So how do you get to the Intermediate stage, where to start?

If you are like a lot of users, you might be forced into it when something goes wrong on your site. Most of the cool stuff I’ve learned in WordPress, I’ve generally learned by things breaking ? It’s initiation by fire, but it forces you out of your comfort zone. And, let’s face it, there’s very little you can learn in life by staying exactly how and where you are.

Read More

Maintaining Your WordPress Site

WordPress Maintenance Checklist

Launching your WordPress site is just the beginning of its life on the web. You’ve conceived and birthed your baby… but now you’re in charge of feeding and protecting it.

Owning a website is a responsibility.

There’s a lot to consider, more than most people realize when they are just starting out. Neglecting your site means it could get hacked, suffer from broken links, or an unplanned update breaking your contact form. Any of which could result in lost search engine rankings, decreased traffic and/or lost leads.

Here are some of the main tasks you’ll have to do on a regular basis to keep your site in excellent health.

Read More

How To Set Up a Free Download with Email Capture in your WooCommerce Shop

Free Downloads in WooCommerce

I’ve had some clients in the past who wanted to set up a free download in their WooCommerce store, as an email list building strategy.

In reality it can be a little cumbersome to do a free download in exchange for an email address within a store context because it takes several more clicks on the part of the user, than it would for a typical opt-in form. The steps I provide here will significantly streamline the process. I wouldn’t recommend it as your only opt-in process, but if you really want/need to use your WooCommerce store for this, the method below will certainly ease the pain points.

Read More

2 Ways To Safely Customize Your WordPress Site Without A Child Theme

2 Ways to Customize WordPress

This year (2016) I gave a talk at WordCamp San Diego as part of the Beginners’ Bootcamp, entitled “Customizing Without Hacking”. It was an introduction to best practices for customizing WordPress without doing anything that will break your site or make it a nightmare to maintain.

Learning from the beginning how to customize the right way will make your future-self’s life much easier:

  • Your changes will be future-proofed to keep each layer of your site update-able: WordPress core, themes, plugins.
  • Using WordPress best practices means that if you are building the site for someone else to maintain, or if you will have someone else helping you in the future, they won’t have be Sherlock Holmes to figure out how the site works.
  • You’ll have confidence and peace of mind when experimenting with your site, knowing that you’re not going to break something beyond your own ability to repair.
Read More

The Most Flexible Featured Posts Widget You’ll Need

Flexible Posts Widget WordPress Plugin

Recently I had a client that needed to display a grid of images in a sidebar widget, each one of which would link to a different page. Previously they had hard coded all the images and links as HTML in a text widget but this was understandably a pain for the client to maintain and update.

I previously used Special Recent Posts as my go-to plugin for this type of thing (although I’m not sure it could handle Pages) but the free version is no longer being updated so I needed a new solution. Fortunately I found the Flexible Posts Widget plugin – the best featured posts widget I think you’ll ever need.

Read More