Intelligent Updates

One of the beauties of WordPress as a website platform is its flexibility. There is an entire ecosystem of plugins and addons that make what was originally a simple blogging platform into a rich and exciting structure for ecommerce, marketing, and business.

WordPress snowflake
Each WordPress site is unique because of its set of plugins and add-ons.

But one of the issues that can arise is that this same ability to to adapt, change, and customize means that no two WordPress sites are exactly the same. And sometimes, that can lead to unhappy surprises.

Recently we’ve seen this happen with the Yoast SEO plugin, used on hundreds of thousands of WordPress sites. When Yoast released version 3.0, they made some fairly major changes and added features. Unfortunately, those new features caused problems for a number of users whose sites use drag-and-drop page builder plugins such as Visual Composer, or themes that include page builders. Some of the sites were completely broken, showing only text and shortcodes. Others showed “white screen of death” — a blank white screen with no website at all.
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The right way to market a membership site

Imagine for a moment that you went into a hardware store in search of a new hammer and some picture hangers. You’re looking to spruce up your walls and just need a couple of things, but you’re also thinking about picking up some paint chips — maybe repaint the bedroom — and who knows what else you might find out about while you’re in there?

So you go into the store, are greeted warmly by the person at the front desk. You find the picture hangers and grab a couple of different sizes, and then you go to the paint aisle for those chips.

no-entryThe aisle is blocked by bright yellow tape and a notice: “Members Only. Do Not Enter.”

Stunned, you ask a blue-coated associate, “What the heck is going on?”

He answers cheerfully, “Oh! We have a membership plan now. Some of our low-cost items are available to anyone, but if you want a higher-end product, you’ll have to join our membership program. It’s only $99 a year. Shall I sign you up?” He grabs a clipboard and pen, looking at you expectantly.
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What happens if your site gets hacked?

Yesterday I was discussing site updating and WordPress security with a potential client. She was genuinely curious as to why keeping her site up to date mattered.

“Why,” she asked, “would hackers even target my site? I’m just a small professional in the Midwest. I don’t have a huge audience. My site’s not important enough to hack. And besides, if they did hack into it, what could happen?”

Ooooh… good questions.

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They’re going phishin’ — and your money is the prize.

Fishing NetsHave you noticed an increase in the number of suspicious phone calls in the last year? Yes, me too. A few years ago, the only wrong numbers that came to my home phone were for the local cleaners or credit union, which have phone numbers very similar to mine. But in the past few years, it seems that about 75% of the calls to my home phone are either trying to sell me an alarm system, telling me my credit card payment is past due, or that I can be easily approved for Social Security Disability payments — even if I’m not disabled!

What’s going on?

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Need a second monitor? Try your iPad on for size!

Yesterday, while working on a project, I realized that I needed to have two files open at the same time and I really needed both of them to be full-screen.

I don’t have a second monitor.  I could have printed out one file for reference, but I really don’t like to waste paper.  What I do have, however, is a number of other devices for website testing.  A short search led me to Air Display, an app that turns an iPad or other iDevice into a second screen.

I purchased the app ($9.99 from the iTunes store) and installed it on my iPad.  Downloaded the Windows software for my laptop (the software is also, of course, available for Mac) and installed it.  Opened the app on the iPad, synced the two screens, pulled one file over to the iPad, and voila! a quick, easy-to-use, inexpensive dual-monitor setup.

A nice bonus?  It took me about 10 minutes to realize that I could run the mouse cursor over to the iPad and use the mouse there too.  Or if I wanted to go the other way, I could use the touch screen on the iPad to control the cursor on my laptop.  Too cool!

The one downside that I found was that Air Display keeps the iPad display on at all times, which does eat into battery life.  Just be aware of that and prepare to plug it in when necessary.

If you have occasionally need of two screens but don’t want to spring for a second monitor, Air Display is well worth checking out.  It made my work day go much faster — and no printouts to recycle!

Gung Hai Fat Choy! 3 Ways to Set Your Business on Fire This Year

Gung Hai Fat Choy!

February 10 marked the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Water Snake.  Although snakes have a bad reputation in most western cultures, in the Chinese system they are harbingers of good luck.  “A person who has a snake lviing under his house will never lack for food,” says the tradition.

2013 will be a good year for business, careers, and wealth-building.  As a snake sheds its skin and is reborn, this year will mark a turning point of rejuvenation and renewal.

Here’s to prosperity and good fortune for you and your business throughout the coming year!

3 Ways to Set your Business on Fire

One of the best ways to increase your business is by word of mouth.  But how do you get people talking about you in a way that creates new prospects, new customers, new business?

Shannon Willoby offers 4 Easy Ways to Get Your Customers Talking About You, focusing on ways to get your existing customers to refer you to their friends and contacts.

You can’t depend totally on existing customers, though, especially if your business is small or just getting started.  Geoffrey James builds on Willoby’s ideas with an article on Inc.com: How to Build a Network of Contacts.  Not just advice to “go out and network,” James suggests groups of people who will actively refer your business to others, as well as ways to reach out and ask for their help.

And one last – unexpected – source for help to grow your business:  How about your competitors?  Andreea Ayers of LaunchGrowJoy.com advises several methods in How to use competitors to grow your business.  The steps she outlines are smple, effective, and best of all, can be automated to bring you information on ways you may not be considering to serve your customers.

5 WordPress Security Threats You Probably Didn’t Know About

WordPress now powers about one in four websites on the Internet — more than 61 million at last count.   That means that WordPress-powered sites now present a big target for hackers.  Keeping your site secure starts with making certain that your WordPress core files, plugins, and themes are all up to date, and removing any plugins or themes that are not being used.

Tom Ewer adds good information in his article 5 WordPress Security Threats You Probably Don’t Know About.  If your site runs on WordPress, take a minute to check his list and look at your own dashboard for vulnerabilities.

Need help with time management? Take a quiz.

I don’t know about you. But I find that no matter how carefully I plan out my work day and week, there are still unplanned crises that erupt and things that don’t get finished by the target time and date.

I found this nifty quiz from Mind Tools that helps identify where the problem areas lie in time management skills.  It breaks down which skills need improvement and suggests tools and resources to help address those particular issues.

It’s completely free and doesn’t even ask for an email address in return. Give it a try! You may find some useful information.

How Good is Your Time Management? Discover time management tools that can help you.