Learn How to Make Your Site More Inclusive with the Accessibility Checker Plugin

Accessibility is something that I’m really into… in theory. I believe everyone should have full access to the internet no matter what challenges they face or if they are using different devices to navigate and access the web.

But in reality I have not put as much work into this as I need to. So when I received the pitch email about the Accessibility Checker plugin, I thought it was a good opportunity to figure out just how badly I’m sucking at this, and find a starting point to try to address some of the issues.

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How To Back Up Your WordPress Site To Dropbox

Backing up your WordPress site is a necessity, but it can be hard to find an affordable, easy-to-implement solution that covers all the bases. There are a lot of possibilities out there, but the following have served me well over the years. I usually only have to use them on shared hosting plans. Some of my sites are on managed WordPress hosts who take care of backups as part of the plan.

Here are my criteria for a backup solution:

  1. Ability to back up both database and files
  2. Ability to schedule these backups separately – I haven’t found too many situations where a full file backup is needed as frequently as the database backup
  3. Offers backup to an off-site 3rd party. You don’t want to keep backups on your server because if something goes wrong with the server, your backups could be lost. Backups sent via email are usually only realistic for the database, full site backups would be too large to email.

My preferred solution is to backup sites to my DropBox account. You can get 2GB of storage with a free account.

I typically use one of the following 2 plugins to back up my sites:

Both are free plugins that meet the criteria described above.

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Why Premium WordPress Web Hosting Is Worth It

WP Engine - Premium WordPress Web Hosting

In the past few years a new breed of web hosts has emerged that focus specifically on hosting WordPress web sites. Some of the key players are WP Engine, FlyWheel, Pressable, Kinsta and Page.ly. These web hosts tend to be a little more expensive that the typical shared web hosting plans you can get through companies like Bluehost, Hostgator, Siteground etc. Whereas a Bluehost plan will cost you around $6/month, premium WordPress hosting starts around $25/month. If you’re used to shared webhosting and nothing has ever gone wrong for you, the price of a premium host  seems a little steep, and indeed I was a little skeptical in the beginning too. I had never experienced firsthand any major problems with my current webhosts – no hacked sites or any outrageous downtime. So I really didn’t have much motivation to move to a premium host. But after I had the opportunity to try WP Engine’s service I quickly became a convert for many reasons, including the fact that my site ran significantly faster and the support was excellent. So these days, for my business clients, I always recommend a premium WordPress host and my host of choice is WP Engine.

Full disclosure – I am an affiliate of WP Engine and if you click the links in this post and  sign up with them, that will result in me receiving a little extra cupcake money. If you want top notch hosting but are philosophically opposed to me eating more cupcakes you can certainly sign up without using my link and get the same exact price and service.

The reason I am an affiliate is because I use WP Engine every day (this site runs on WP Engine), as do several of my clients, and I love it. I recommend it to all my clients running an actual business on WordPress. As with any decision you make for your business, do your research to pick the right solution for your situation.

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A Few of My Favorite WordPress Plugins

Recommended WordPress Plugins

I gave a small talk on plugins at WordCamp LA recently and was inspired to start compiling a list of my most commonly recommended ones. I’ve also started collecting them as Favorites at my WordPress.org profile but there’s no way to organize them there according to topic or purpose. The list is by no means exhaustive so if you have any requests for recommended plugins of a certain kind, leave a comment and I’ll see about incorporating them into a future edition.

Get the PDF Download

Here’s what’s on there as of now:

CONTACT FORMS

Formidable (free and premium)
http://wordpress.org/plugins/formidable/
Formidable has both a free and paid version. The free version is one of the better free form builders available. For me, the workflow and interface is easier to work with than other free plugins such as Ninja Forms or Contact Form 7.

Gravity Forms
https://webtrainingwheels.com/recommends/gravity-forms/ (aff. link)
Gravity Form is strictly a premium plugin – there is no free version. I have invested in the Developer license and use it on most sites because it’s so powerful. This is more than just a contact form plugin – it gives you advanced data collection and processing capabilities. There are add-ons to integrate with other services such as PayPal, MailChimp and many others. Developers will find it very customizable via the many hooks and filters provided.

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How To Customize Genesis Child Themes: Design Palette Pro

Design Palette Pro - Customize Genesis

The Inner Beauty of Genesis

In the past, I’ve had mixed feelings about StudioPress’ Genesis framework. It was frequently recommended to beginners and non-developers, but the problem was that they would install it, and even with a nicely designed child theme, they would then complain, “but, where’s all the options?”

People immediately wanted to change things and when they didn’t see a massive options panel, they felt shortchanged. “I have to do CSS to customize this thing??”

But, herein lies the beauty of the Genesis framework. It’s not supposed to be Avada, Divi, X or any of the other “be everything to everyone” type of themes. When you purchase a Genesis child theme, you’re paying for the expertly-designed look and feel you see on the demo. They are not intended to be completely customizable by the user through an options panel. Of course, if you have the chops, you can certainly do anything you want with Genesis and its child themes, you just have to use their hooks system and know some CSS and PHP.

Some of you may be asking, “Well, where’s the beauty in that?”

Since working with WP Rocket (a premium caching plugin) I became painfully aware of just how badly some themes drag down a website’s load time.  While researching a blog post to showcase some of our customers’ fastest pages,  I found that most of the fastest sites I looked at ran on Genesis.

Because it doesn’t try to be everything to everyone, it’s really fast out of the box. And that’s the beauty.

“Yea, yea…..but…..customize! Fonts! Colors!” you may be grumbling at your screen.

Enter….Design Palette Pro

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Troubleshoot Your WordPress Plugins with Plugin Detective

Troubleshoot WordPress plugins with Plugin Detective

Many issues that arise on your WordPress site will be plugin-related. Whether it’s a conflict between plugins, between a plugin and your theme, a buggy update, or whatever else may happen,  the standard troubleshooting procedure is to deactivate all your plugins, then turn them back on one at a time until the issue reappears. This process lets you isolate exactly which plugin is at the source of the conflict. However, if you have more than a handful of plugins on your site, which almost everyone does, this can be a time-consuming and frustrating process.

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