Did WordPress’s Automatic Update Break Your Site?

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Have you ever opened your email and saw a message like this?

If you haven’t seen this email, then most likely you have something like define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', false ); in your wp-config.php file which will disable WordPress’s automatic updates.   If you have seen this email then at least you can be confident that your WordPress Core is up to date but can you be confident that your website is still working properly?

Time To Check On My Website

Once you see that email message the first thing you do (or should do) is open up your website to check on it to make sure everything is working and looking normal.  After clicking through a bunch of pages in detail you find everything seems good.  Great news, you dodged another bullet!  What if everything isn’t working and looking normal?  Error messages at the top of the page, broken layouts, plugins stop functioning correctly and the white screen of death can happen if your theme, plugins and core are not all up to date.  Even if they are you can still have issues depending on your theme and your plugins and how quickly the developers have updated them to be compatible with the new WordPress core.

My WordPress Website Is Broken.  What Should I do?

If you website is broken the first thing you should do is see if your host, developer or YOU have properly setup automatic backup’s of your website’s files and database. What’s that you say?  You do not have any backup’s configured?  That’s a major NO NO.  Now your site could be broken for few days before you figure out what is wrong or find someone else fix the problems.

How Could I Have Avoided This?

The best way to avoid downtime, and issues like these is to have a WordPress Maintenance Plan in place.  These plans will keep your WordPress core, plugin’s and themes up to date.  Automated daily backup’s, security monitoring, security scans and database optimization also come with any of these plans which will keep your website healthy and running smoothly.

 

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Why Website Maintenance Should Be On Your Mind

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Why Website Maintenance Should Be On Your Mind

The problem for many WordPress websites is that they have been neglected, and out of date.  The WordPress CMS core, plugins, and themes are in need of basic updates/upgrades while security monitoring and daily backup’s should be taking place.  Without these updates/upgrades your WordPress website could be susceptible to malicious attacks/hacks, and slower performance times.

Just like any software, websites require maintenance to keeping the site working properly. Avoiding website maintenance is like not having regular oil changes on your vehicle. You wouldn’t drive your car very long if you didn’t look after its maintenance, would you? Well, the same process is true for your website. Your website should always be live, ready for customers and presenting your business at its finest.

Websites Are Not a “Set and Forget”

If you don’t have website maintenance carried out monthly, you may actually be throwing money out the window. When visitors go to a website and find things wrong with it, they often don’t stick around. Many website owners never check their website to see how it’s functioning. Missed website issues or downtime can lose you potential customers.

The Benefits of Maintenance

Many people don’t realize the benefits of site maintenance:

The website performance, it’s load time, downtime and uptime, is all dependent on the WordPress software and plugin functioning as they should (and on the recent version).

The website growth, it’s fresh content, analytics monitoring and design changes, is all dependent on you having someone making sure all updates to the website are done in a smooth and error-free fashion.

Maintenance Workflow

At Graphic Lux we take great care to first backup the website, and check the website after our updates for any issues. Our software keeps a record of plugins we update so if there is ever an issue we see what plugin version was changed and revert back. Also included in our monthly maintenance report are the performance and security scans. If in the event we ever catch a plugin issue, it becomes a support ticket and we address it before you ever know there’s a problem.

Want to maintain your website yourself?

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Maintaining your site yourself could cost you more than you may think. If you just update from your WordPress admin, you wouldn’t have a record of what was done. If an update to a plugin created an issue a couple weeks later, it would be difficult to know what changed and how you should revert back without restoring a very old backup (and possibly losing content changes, sales orders, contact entries, you name it).

It Costs More to Fix Than to Maintain

Inexperience and neglect can damage the look and functionality of your website. When that happens, you have a choice to make. One, you try and fix it yourself, in which case you may do further damage. Or two, you can then pay the (sometimes hefty) price for someone experienced to fix it. Just like your car, it costs more to fix it than it does to maintain it properly. Regular oil changes help keep your car running properly, regular site maintenance helps keeps your web site running properly.

Call in a Professional

Why not deal with what you know best and let us deal with what we know best? Would you try to fight that court battle without a lawyer? Then why try to maintain your own website if you’re not a web professional? By securing an experienced web professional to update and maintain your site properly you are actually saving potential lost sales and visitors.

If you’re interested in securing a maintenance contract for your web site, please view our WordPress Maintenance Plans to see which one fits your needs.

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WordPress 4.5 broke my website!

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Why did WordPress 4.5 break my website?

WordPress’s Core will automatically update your website to the latest WordPress version when the newest version has been tested and deemed safe for release, unless you have preventative measures already in place.  Wordpress 4.5 included many new updates and changes which can all be seen here: https://codex.wordpress.org/Version_4.5

One of the biggest problems we have noticed is not with WordPress’s update but with the WordPress theme that is being used.  Wordpress updated it’s jQuery library and in doing so many websites broke because of the coding changes and their conflicts with the javascript of the theme.

There are other problems we have seen that broke other users websites but for the most part it usually had something to do with the jQuery update.

How can I fix this?

There are a few solutions to fix this issue but you most likely should have a development team to help you.

The best solution would be to update the core to 4.5, then update all the plugins, and update the theme (always make a backup of the files and database before you do this).  Usually if you have all the latest plugin’s and the latest theme files implemented on your site any broken area’s should be corrected.

Another solution would be to replace the new jQuery library with the last version.  This is not the best idea because once another WordPress version is updated on your site it will overwrite the older library.  Use these files here and replace the current folder located here: wp-includes/js/jquery.

How can I prevent this in the future?

The best way to prevent WordPress 4.5 or any newer version from breaking your website in the future is to have one of our WordPress Maintenance & Care Plans.  We not only make sure your website is updated to the newest versions of WordPress, plugins and themes, but we also go in on a daily basis and actively watch your site(s) for security and malicious activity, create daily backup’s, clean up spam, database overhead, monitor website uptime, and more.

You can always set your wp-config file so your site does not automatically update.  You can find more information about how to implement that here: https://codex.wordpress.org/Configuring_Automatic_Background_Updates.  This way you can have time to test the new version and make sure it works with your website before pushing these updates LIVE.

5 Reasons Why You Must Have A Responsive Website

Responsive web design put simply is a website that responds to whatever device it is viewed on, that could be a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, phone or watch.

If you had a website designed before 2011-2012 your website is probably not responsive, and this could mean you are losing out on customers & sales.

Reason being is that over 50% of internet searches are now done on mobile phones and tablets (iPads) and if your website is not responsive it will not show well on those devices and your potential customers will leave your site and go and find one they can read properly.

The good news is that Graphic Lux designs all websites to be responsive, and we can help you convert your site today!

5 reasons why you must have a responsive website

Early in 2013, Google announced their AdWords migration to Enhanced Campaigns, which is resulting in advertisers being automatically “opted-in” to tablet advertising. What has this meant for our clients? The need for a website that works on a variety of devices and screen sizes.

While the Google AdWords Enhanced Campaigns transition is a great reason for our clients to begin to develop responsive websites, there are many other benefits to a responsive website as well. Here are the top five reasons for updating your website to leverage responsive website design.

Competitive Edge

Responsive design is still in its infancy, and not many people have taken advantage of this highly effective technology. If your company is considering updating its brand presence, explore the advantages of responsive design. Chances are, your competitors have not yet embraced it, but you definitely should!

Your prospective customers will get a much better experience on your site, and are more likely to convert – whether that conversion is filling out a form, or making a purchase. This opens the door for your company to reach more customers, more effectively.

Flexibility

Do you know the size of your mobile phone screen? What about the screen size of the mobile phone you had five years ago? Screen sizes are constantly changing—and we see this not only in phones, but in desktops and tablets as well.

As new devices and displays are developed, screen sizes are constantly changing. With a responsive website, you do not need to spend your valuable marketing and IT resources on updating your site for new devices. Instead, your website will be displayed based on the size of the screen – looking great on screens of any size.

Save Time (and Money).

When you build a responsive website, the site is the same across all devices. However, using CSS media queries, you are able to adjust elements for a given screen size. Though this sounds complicated in a technical sense, it provides a great time-and-money-saving benefit to marketers. Make a change once, and it is reflected across all devices.

Consistent Look & Feel

Fonts, color schemes, button styles and imagery. With a responsive website, you are able to provide your users with the benefit of one, consistent user experience. Whether a user is coming to your website to shop, or to research an enterprise software, the simpler you can make their experience, the better.

Google, Google, Google (Did we mention Google?)

When Google makes a recommendation, you better take it seriously. When Google recommends something, we should probably listen. On the Google Developers website, “Google recommends webmasters follow the industry best practice of using responsive web design, namely serving the same HTML for all devices and using only CSS media queries to decide the rendering on each device.” Google actually recommends that developers leverage responsive design and development techniques when building their websites.

Why would Google make such a recommendation? Responsive websites provide a better, more consistent user experience – plus, many experts suggest that Google prefers responsive sites, as they are easier to crawl (overall, resulting in search engine optimization benefits).

If a new website is a part of your marketing initiatives, consider making the change to Responsive Website Design. This is a technology that is not expected to go anywhere, and will help ensure that your company’s website is up-to-date in regards to technology for the next few years.

WordPress Care Plans & Why You Need Them

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Why WordPress Care Plans and what the heck are they?

It’s no secret that in the Web Design industry, most companies are great at working on projects but generally stink at the on-going support of a site. It doesn’t matter how easy the update or request is, the industry is just generally bad at caring for clients in this way.

But why is this? Is the developer or designer entirely to blame? No. It’s also the client’s fault. Clients are generally bad at sending accurate information. They’ll send the contents for a new page over the course of 10 emails that have a sentence like “Oh and also…” When the designer finally posts the content is the client realizes they have typos or further edits. It’s not that these types of changes are hard to fix, they’re just generally annoying and interuptions in the course of a work day.

So then if designers are slow and clients are unclear and inaccurate, what’s the solution? Well I can tell you that billing hourly for a text change doesn’t make designers and clients best of friends. I can also tell you that a client sending 10 emails to explain themselves to the designer also doesn’t lead to friendships.

We found the perfect solution!

WordPress  Care Plans!

Here’s what our Wordpress Care Plans offer and why you need one.

Web Design & Development: You Need Both

You can be a jack of all trades, master of nothing. That being said, it is  impossible to find a single person capable of mastering web design and web development at the highest level, it just doesn’t exist. What does exist are strong teams with members specializing in each area, this is what you want to find.

Below is a review of each of these core areas and what the various team members of your to-be web development design & development company should be able to deliver.

Development:

Evaluating a web development company can be hard, especially when you have three or more choices in front of you. To make it even harder, you are essentially assuming the companies you are interviewing will write ‘good code’, (and you’re thinking… “what does that even mean?”).

Below is a simple check list of items you should expect a quality Buffalo, NY Web Design & Development Compnay, like Graphic Lux, to deliver:

1 – Cross Browser Compatibility: This simply means that the developer will write code in such a manner that it will properly display your website in all major web browsers. The current industry standard is to support all modern versions of Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explore version 9 and beyond.

2 – W3C Compliant CSS: W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) is the major organization that sets web development standards and CSS (cascading style sheets) is the method which all modern websites should use to style any website. In plain English, you want a web company that states they follow the W3C standards for CSS. This proves that your design will render correctly on all modern browsers and most mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.

3 – Table-less HTML: As web standards evolve to improve stability and security, so does your web development team. Unfortunately, some teams get stuck in the past and have refuse to adopt new industry standards. In the past, developers would use tables (basically a spreadsheet) to structure website pages. This has long been past as industry practice and should not be followed any longer. Any good web development company structures and styles website pages with CSS now. The moral of the story? Do not hire a web developer who codes your entire website with HTML tables.

4 – Responsive Design: Over the past few years smartphones and tablet devices have been widely adopted by consumers and this trend will continue. While we all love our mobile devices, it presents a particular challenge for developers due to varying screen resolutions. Having a responsive web design solves this problem by allowing your website to automatically adjust to different screen resolutions. Having a responsive design will become more and more important and market penetration for smartphones and tablets continue to grow. However, note that most web design companies do charge extra for responsive designs because of the extra time involved in creating extra designs and code for these various screen designs. To recap, make sure you have a team who will ensure your website is cross browser compatible, is W3C compliant, uses table-less HTML and who can offer you responsive web design if it is within your budget.

Design:

There are two major things that the team you choose must be able to master.

  1. Being able to craft a web design with visual aesthetics and creativity.
  2. Ensuring the design is user centric for you, the client.

First and foremost, you should be proud of your new website and how brilliant it looks. It is your online store front and furthermore, it is essential representation of you and your company. Your website serves as the catalysts to all practical purposes within your business. It is your virtual replacement in the online world. Since you can’t physically talk to a person while on your website, your design (and content) is the one who will be doing all the talking. Additionally, having a stellar web design helps build user confidence and desire. It is like the difference between walking into a second hand computer store to buy a new home computer versus stepping into a sexy, exhilarating Apple retail store. The ‘experience’ of your website, in large, is created by design.

So, we arrive at the conclusion that a smart web design is worth it’s weight in gold (or a sizable check). Hire a web design company that has an excellent past portfolio which is similar in taste to what you expect for your company or organization. Second, design is more than a pretty face, it is about usability. By usability, I mean a website this is highly functional and easy to navigate, where a user can quickly find the answer to his or her questions. Keep in mind every user that enters a google search and thus stumbles upon your website, is searching for the answer to a problem. While they might take an extra second to window shop if your website design looks fancy, it will not hold them there long. More to the point, it is highly valuable to have a sexy looking site (a pretty face so to speak), but that value drops nearly to zero, instantly most times in the eye of a user if he/she can not find the information (solve the problem) being sought after.

For this very reason, I would argue that if you had to choose between the two, err on the side of having a website that is slightly more functional than it is sexy. Furthermore, your company should put a reasonable amount of time and resources into the generation, organization and upkeep of your company’s content.

Conclusions:

The market, as it has always been, if full of above average, average and below average vendors. Hopefully, by implementing some of the topics we have discussed thus far, you can find and select the above average vendor to become your company’s long-term web design & development company of choice.

4 Things To Know Before You Choose A Web Design Team

If you are in the market to hire a web design/web development team for your upcoming project, you should know a few things so that you end up finding a team that best fits your needs. In today’s digital world, it’s a practically a requirement to have a website or mobile app, which is why you’ll need the best web design team possible. But some web companies aren’t always up to the task even though they might say they are. You don’t want to hire the wrong team for your project, so it’s important that you take the following tips into consideration before making a final decision on a web design/web development team:

Clear Goals

In order to get back work that fits the scope of the project you have in mind, you have to relay clear goals to them. If you don’t provide them a clear description of what you want or envision, you’ll end up getting something totally different than what you expected. To help a web design team deliver what you want, you have to let them know what that is. And before you hire a web design team, ask if they can provide you with results that you want. If they seem hesitant, they probably won’t be able to deliver what you have in mind.

Listens To You

You’ll want to look for someone that will actually listen to you and your ideas. A web design team should take a consultative approach and should meet with you to learn exactly what your goals and requirements are, as well as the budget that you have in mind. You’re the one that is providing them work and they should take the time out to meet and work with you. Graphic Lux is one such team that will listen to your needs.

Experience Is Key

Do take into account how much experience the web design team you are looking to hire has. They should have a proven track record and provide you with examples of previous work they’ve either designed or developed for the web.

And if you can, ask for any testimonials from other people who hired them to really get a feel for the type of work they do. Also ask for any awards, accolades or achievements they’ve received to help you figure out if they’re cut out for the job.

Vast Knowledge

A great website should provide a multimedia experience that will wow users and to do that, they’ll need to really use lots of flash, video, audio or other advanced tools. So make sure to ask about the type of knowledge they have and if they know how to use cutting-edge technologies that will help your site stand out from others.

A stellar web design/web development like the Graphic Lux team in Buffalo, NY can really take an ordinary website and make it an extraordinary site that will wow users and help ensure online success so it’s important to really make sure that the company in Western New York is a good fit.

Tips on How to Use the Power of YouTube to Build Traffic

If you’ve been on the internet for any length of time or even if you’re a complete newbie you should know the importance of traffic to your business. You may also know that it’s not the wisest thing to “buy” traffic, because once the money runs out, so will the traffic. So how do you get traffic that is so integral to your business? Traffic that’s continuous and best of all free? YouTube can help you with this.

YouTube offers many opportunities for promotion and getting traffic to your site as it has the power to increase your rankings considerably. Just take a look at any Google page and you’ll notice that most times the videos are usually ranked at the top of the page. Here’s why. One, YouTube is owned by Google and they work together. Two, YouTube is the second largest search engine next only to Google. That should be enough motivation to make you want go and create your own YouTube channel and upload videos to it.

But don’t go rushing off to create just yet. Let’s make sure you’re doing this the right way first so you don’t waste your time. Take note of these tips:

Make your profile interesting

YouTube is just like any other social site. So you want to create an interesting profile for networking purposes. People will want to know more about you if they like your videos. This can help build trust among your audience, thus giving you greater traffic. Try to make your profile interesting enough to get across to everyone. Professionally it shouldn’t be too boring or too stuffy. But informally it shouldn’t be too hyped either.

Promote your videos

You won’t get much traffic without viewers. You can’t just post your videos and expect that viewers will automatically find them no matter how good you think they are. You have to promote them. You can put them on your blog or on any of your other social sites.

Use your keyword in the title of your videos

People find your videos when they do searches via the search engines and on Youtube so you should make it as easy as possible for them to find you. I mean you do want to get traffic right? Okay, you should include your major keyword or keyword phrase in the title and in the description. Don’t just put it there though, it should feel natural and make sense. And don’t forget to put them in the tags either.

Know when to post your videos

BBM is the one of the best messaging application for the computer. BBM for PC is becoming a competition for the Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Wechat and Hike application.

On the internet timing is everything, you need to know when to do what. So with YouTube it’s no different, it has its peak and off-peak times for traffic. Thursday mornings or early afternoons US time is considered the best day and time to post a video of general interest. Wednesdays is said to be another good day. You need to pay attention to the loading times of your videos as well. Start early for those with internet connectivity issues and for large videos if you want them uploaded in the prime time slots.

There’s approximately an hour of video being uploaded to YouTube every second. This makes it a valuable resource to drive traffic to your site and promote it. However despite the obvious competition, if you consistently produce quality videos with time you’ll reap the benefits of your effort which is to build traffic.

By Tom Denton

10 Web Design Definitions You Need to Know

When looking for a new site or even a new redesign, you as a client may feel alienated by all the “techie” terms that are being used today.  Below are 10 web design definitions you will need to know.

404 Page

A 404 page is the page you come to when you have an old, or bad link within a site.  Each site should have it’s own custom 404 page that allows the user to find an easy way to navigation or search the site for the content they need.

301 Permanent Redirect

A 301 permanent redirect page is often used when a website is updated and the content is no longer at the same URL.  Let’s say you had a website up online for years.  Each of your pages should have been indexed by a major search engine.  When you update your site and the URL structure changes those indexed pages are no longer correct and when a user clicks on those old indexed pages it should at least come to a 404 page (see above), but ideally a 301 redirect to the new URL for the same content.

Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are crucial on a website if you have multiple layers of pages and sub-pages.  These are the little menu items usually above the content that help navigate to previous pages/sections of a site.

CMS

CMS stands for content management system.  Most websites developed today will have a CMS integrated allowing the client/owner of the site, to update content, images, etc…  The major CMS’s today are W0rdpress, Joomla, and Drupal.

CSS

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets.  Basically CSS is used by web developers to stylize a site.  For example if you have a navigation link on your site that is white and you want it to be a grey color the web developer would use css to update this.

Code example – Before

.menu li a {
color: #fff
}

Code example – After

.menu li a {
color: #ccc
}

Responsive Design

Responsive web design (RWD) is an approach to web design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones).

Retina Ready

In the most basic of terms, it means a high definition display. Also, Apple products are not excusive to this type of display. Retina Display is simply Apple’s term for is but other phones,

tablets and monitors too have higher quality displays. But, because these displays are being widely implemented and used, it is more than ever important to create websites and apps that support these displays.

SEO

SEO stands for Search engine optimization. SEO is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search, academic search, news search and industry-specific vertical search engines.

SMM

Social media marketing is the process of gaining website traffic or attention through social media sites.

WYSIWYG

WYSIWYG stands for What You See Is What You Get.  WYSIWYG is the editor that you use to update content in you CMS (Content Management System).


Knowing the terms above will help you understand all the “geek” speak that may be going on when reviewing your website needs with your web design & development company.