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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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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Should You Use the Jetpack WordPress Plugin?

Jetpack WordPress Plugin

What Is Jetpack?

Jetpack is a plugin created by the team at WordPress.com. It is one super-plugin that contains a whole suite of features – mini-plugins, if you will. It was created to make available to self-hosted WordPress users some of the convenient features that WordPress.com users enjoy. Some of the features that Jetpack includes are:

  • a widget to display your latest Tweets
  • WordPress stats about traffic to your blog
  • Email subscription to blog posts and comments
  • Facebook Like box widget
  • mobile theme
  • “Carousel” to turn image galleries into slideshows
  • image widget – to easily add an image to your sidebar
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