Inspiry Themes https://inspirythemes.com Wed, 07 Jun 2017 14:45:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 https://d2aed6k9ikewfb.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/08094205/cropped-favicon-it-32x32.png Inspiry Themes https://inspirythemes.com 32 32 111324698 How to debug your WordPress website? https://inspirythemes.com/debug-your-wordpress-website/ https://inspirythemes.com/debug-your-wordpress-website/#respond Sun, 04 Dec 2016 03:00:48 +0000 https://inspirythemes.com/?p=938 Everyone make mistakes. I know that I do. We also look for the ways to correct our mistakes. In programming, this process is called debugging. According to Wikipedia, Debugging is the process of finding and removing errors which results in the smooth execution of a computer program. Debugging plays a very vital role in the […]

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Everyone make mistakes. I know that I do. We also look for the ways to correct our mistakes. In programming, this process is called debugging. According to Wikipedia,

Debugging is the process of finding and removing errors which results in the smooth execution of a computer program.

Debugging plays a very vital role in the process of software development. It provides ways to identify and resolve different errors that occur during and after the development of a software.

In this article, I am going to talk about debugging in WordPress. How can you debug your WordPress website and different plugins which are available for logging errors.

Debugging in WordPress

When I started development in WordPress, I did not know how to debug my code for errors. The debugging mode is turned off by default. As a newbie, there was no way for me to know that if I was doing something wrong or my code is generating any errors because there were no errors on my screen.

Eventually, when I did not get the required results from my code, I knew that something was wrong in my code. So I started my quest for the process of debugging in WordPress. To my surprise, I found out the there is a whole section of Debugging in WordPress on the official codex of WordPress.

WordPress provides some PHP constants which we developers can use during the development. I am going to explain the use of these constants one by one and how you can use them to debug your website in WordPress.

Using WP_DEBUG Constant

WP_DEBUG is a PHP constant provided by WordPress for the purpose of debugging. This variable lives inside wp-config.php present in the root directory of your WordPress installation. It is set to FALSE by default because WordPress do not want you and your viewers to see ugly errors lying around on your website. You can change the value of this constant to TRUE during development so that you can view the errors on your website.

Look for the following line of code inside wp-config.php:

define('WP_DEBUG', FALSE);

Now change the value of this constant to TRUE, just like shown in the following code.

define('WP_DEBUG', TRUE);

Hurray! or should I say oops 😉 You just enabled the debugging mode of WordPress. Now, you will be able to see each and every error that occurs on your website. You should use this method very carefully. Developers mostly use this mode during the phase of development. After this phase is over, they change the value of this constant back to FALSE.

There are various reasons due to which this method should never be used on a live website. One of the important reason is that using this way, PHP errors and notices can appear on the pages of your site. It can show locations of your files present on your site or other sensitive information which should not be displayed.

In short, a website should not show any errors on any page because it can be a threat to its security.

Disable display of PHP notices

Since no errors or warnings should be allowed to show on the pages of a website, you can disable their accidental display using the following code. Open the file wp-config.php and copy and paste the following code at the end of this file.

// Disable display of errors and warnings.
define( 'WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY', FALSE );
@ini_set( 'display_errors', 0 );

WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY is another PHP constant which WordPress uses to control the display of errors in the HTML of the pages of your website. The default value of this constant is TRUE. Setting this constant to false will hide all the notices. It is also important to note that if you want this constant to work, then the value of WP_DEBUG must be set to true.

Using WP_DEBUG_LOG Constant

It is another very useful constant which comes out of the box with WordPress. This constant allows you to log every error that occurs on your website to a file named debug.log present inside /wp-content/ directory. First of all, add the following line of code immediately after WP_DEBUG inside wp-config.php.

define( 'WP_DEBUG_LOG', TRUE );

After adding the code, go to /wp-content/ and create a file with the name “debug.log”. You can view this file anytime to see the errors which have occurred on your website. And debug them according to the message displayed in this log file.

Some WordPress Error Logging Plugins

There are many error logging plugins available in the Plugin Directory at wordpress.org. A few of them are listed below.

WP Log Viewer

WP Log Viewer enables you to view the current status of your debug log via your admin bar. It only takes one simple click to view, download and sort different types of errors and notices. Its auto refresh feature keeps the log file updated with the latest errors. There are many other features available for you to explore.

Log Viewer

Log Viewer allows you to view your log file from with admin dashboard. It refreshes the view of the log file every 15 seconds to allows the latest errors to be view right away. It also lets you perform operations like dumping and emptying your log file.

Debug Bar

Debug Bar provides a link in the admin bar to view the errors and notices occurring on your website if you have enabled the debugging mood of WordPress. It also provides details about your site’s memory usage and object cache.

Wrapping Up

In this post, I have shown you, how you can debug your website in WordPress, which PHP constants WordPress provides for debugging and how to log and view the errors and notices that your site produces from the dashboard of your site with the help of different plugins.

So which plugin do you use to view your error log? Do you know about any other error logging plugin which I should have mentioned in my post? Share your feedback in the comment box below or reach out to me via Twitter @AsharIrfan.

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WordPress Pre-Launch Checklist (Core Things To Do) https://inspirythemes.com/wordpress-pre-launch-checklist-core-things-to-do/ https://inspirythemes.com/wordpress-pre-launch-checklist-core-things-to-do/#respond Tue, 27 Sep 2016 13:10:02 +0000 https://inspirythemes.com/?p=760 WordPress has made building websites easier than ever. Everything has become so easy and accessible that it is almost tempting just to rush towards the launch. But, do not start a site, just because it looks ready. Whether you are a freelancer or a professional blogger, a website pre-launch checklist is pretty handy at giving […]

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WordPress has made building websites easier than ever. Everything has become so easy and accessible that it is almost tempting just to rush towards the launch. But, do not start a site, just because it looks ready. Whether you are a freelancer or a professional blogger, a website pre-launch checklist is pretty handy at giving you a system to sort through. This way, you can check things done off the list, and all parties involved will know what is going on.

Having a pre-launch checklist frees you from the mental burden of remembering small details, thus saving your energy for more important tasks. It’s also a useful system to put in place because checklists reduce stress. You can relax knowing that you won’t forget anything because the checklist has everything your sites needs before it goes live.

In this post, you will learn settings to configure, plugins to install and things to fix before launching a WordPress website.

Why Can’t You Solely Rely on the Default WP Settings?

There are several default settings which you will change and plugins you will install. You might be wondering why can’t you rely on the default WordPress settings? If this pre-launch checklist is so cool and useful, why doesn’t WordPress come packaged with it? Why no caching plugin comes pre-installed, or SEO plugin for that matter?

Here’s why:

Because these settings or plugins are not universally applicable or useful for all WordPress websites.

This checklist is especially useful for certain types of websites. However, the inclusion of a caching plugin is a must because most websites are static! WordPress can surely offer a pre-installed cache plugin like Comet Cache, but sites using BuddyPress, bbPress or serve dynamic content, for them content caching will do more harm than good.

Likewise, WordPress is not just a blogging platform; it can also be an eCommerce store, discussion board or even a social network. You may argue their pre-setup for most sites, but not all. That is why you cannot rely solely on the default WordPress setup, and you might not apply many of these items on this checklist to all websites.

What’s In It?

You might have seen people writing several pre-launch strategies, but it’s difficult to know which one is the best. There are a lot of things which you should take care of before bringing your site online. That’s why I think this is going to be the most precise WordPress pre-launch checklist so far. For better understanding, I will divide this post into three broad categories i.e.

  1. Security Measures
  2. Performance Parameters 
  3. Browser Ranking 

So let’s get started!

1. Security Ain’t Something to Ignore

Being a popular content management system, WordPress is the most obvious target for hackers. You can be lucky enough to let your WordPress sites run without any threats for years, but it is always better to be prepared than to be sorry. So, the first step is to have a strong and a secure foundation which can only be ensured if you get started by taking the following security measures.

Kick Start with a Robust Security Plugin

WordPress websites are not perfectly secure; that’s a fact. In 2013, more than 170,000 WordPress sites were reportedly hacked. Having said that, most websites get hacked because of the outdated version of the CMS, and not because of the unpatched vulnerabilities. WordPress is getting better with each update. More security loopholes are being fixed before they can be exploited. That makes for lesser sites being hacked.

WP Security Plugins

iThemes security

To strengthen site security, there are many security plugins like iThemes Security, Wordfence, Acunetix WP Security and Sucuri Security. They fix common security threats, create backups and strengthen the overall safety. Without basic security tweaks, your WordPress website can be an easy prey for hackers.

You can also read about the tips for choosing the best WordPress security plugin here.

Combat Comment Spam

Comment Spam is the most common security concerns which a site owner faces. Spammers tirelessly target WordPress sites to put spammy comments. To combat this issue, use Akismet. Akismet is an awesome comment spam filtering service. It is the most popular solution against comment spam.

Working

Akismet wp plugin

 

Akismet works by comparing comments against its algorithm, which has an abundant experience to resolve this problem. Its algorithms learn through their mistakes and previously marked comment spam.

Out of every 100 comments, over 80 comments are illegitimate or pure spam.

You could manually moderate each comment. But comment moderation can be a time-consuming process. That is why you need Akismet; it is effective and time-saving.

Usage

By default, WordPress comes with Akismet, so all you need to do is Activate it. To use Akismet, you need its API key. Most of the time, it easily filters the spam from genuine comments. Other unlucky times, it can mark genuine comments as spam, but they are recoverable.

Schedule Database Backups

Scheduling regular backups of your site’s database and files is an absolute must. Why? Because backups work as an insurance policy. No matter how or what breaks on your site, or if the site gets maliciously infected; if you have backups, you have the second best thing (first being the security plugin).

How does It work?

A recent backup frees you from the worry of crashing down a WordPress site. Because you can always recover it. A backup is a copy of site installation and database. It contains all the posts, pages and site settings. How often should you create a backup? It depends on how often are the site contents updated. Likewise, you can schedule regular backups to a third-party storage site because that is safer than the local server.

WP Backup Plugins

backupbuddy wordpress plugin

 

Since scheduling regular backups can be a tedious task, so doing it with WordPress plugins is a feasible approach. There are many WordPress backups plugins like BackWPup, BackupBuddy, and UpdraftPlus which you can try.

To learn more about backups, you can read my article here: How WordPress Backup Plugins Help You Save the Day?

Change Table Prefix

Databases stores posts, pages, and all the content which a WordPress site displays. WordPress database contains many tables like wp_posts, wp_comments, etc., which store their respective content. Since all content is stored in the database, it is important to secure it from common security threats.

WP Tables Prefix

A database table prefix is a string of characters at the start of the tables. Out of the box, all WordPress database table are prefixed with wp_. Since this information is available in the public domain, hackers are also cognizant of it. This can be extremely dangerous because should an SQL injection attack takes place; hackers can execute SQL commands on your database server quite easily.

Solution

That is why you should never use wp_ as the table prefix for WordPress sites. Always use a weird, random and unpredictable prefix. To change it, you can use the Change DB Prefix plugin.

Limit Login Attempts

WordPress employs a login-based system to separate the backend from the frontend. The only security layer between complete control over a site and none is an unprotected login form. Brute force attacks are one of the leading causes of, website compromises.

Brute Force Attacks in WordPress

In a brute force attack, the username and password of WordPress site are guessed over and over again until the right credentials are found. For this task, automated bots are configured to attack websites. Since they are bots, they are very fast and attempt thousands of times in a matter of hours.

wp limit login attempts plugin

 

It is not exactly a vulnerability in the software. It is a simple hit and miss method of gaining access to a site. It applies to many other CMSs and all login-based systems. A large-scale brute force attack can also take a site down. One way to block brute force attacks is to limit failed login attempts for an IP address. You can use WP Login Limits or Login LockDown plugins. So, before the launch make sure to install one of these plugins.

2. Performance and Monitoring

To make sure that your website stands out and shine right from the very beginning it is important to monitor the site’s performance regularly. By default, WordPress does not offer a consolidated mechanism for site monitoring, but you can still improve your workflow with the following performance tips.

Get an Uptime Monitoring Service

Your web host may claim a 99.9% uptime, but it is not always true. On a shared hosting environment, the server is more likely to crash because some other website may go beyond the allocated bandwidth usage. Or your website may get a BIG surge in traffic after the launch. 

Tracking Site Downtime

To keep track of your website downtime, you should get a monitoring service. What does such a service do? It monitors your site 24/7 for any downtime. So whenever your site goes down, you will get alerts on your email and your phone. There are many companies which provide this service. Pingdom and Uptime Robot are a few notable names in this domain.

These services charge a nominal fee, but in the end, it is totally worth it. This way you can know when your site is down and hence, you can take measures to prevent it as soon as possible to minimize the damage.

Get a CDN

Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a globally distributed network of servers based throughout the world. The goal of a CDN is to reduce the traffic load on one server and to enhance the performance for users. Every website has its share of resources (CSS & JS files). When you open a website, each of these files is downloaded to your web browser one by one.

How CDN Works?

All the requested files are located on your server. During high spikes of traffic, the server can only handle particular files at a time. That is where the CDN comes to the rescue. The CDN makes copies of all CSS, JSS, and media files on each of their globally distributed servers and serves its contents geographically.

With a CDN, if a visitor from Japan visits your site, the server closest to that location will automatically serve the content. The closer the server, the lesser time it will take for visitors to download contents for a page. CDNs also help reduce hosting costs, because the content is located on many servers, your main server will face less load. Therefore, installing CDNs is a remarkable practice to improve server response time.

Install a Cache Plugin

When a WordPress site loads, many resources e.g. CSS and JS files are downloaded. With caching, you can tell browsers to store these resources for a period of time for future reference. So if a regular user visits a page once, all the cached resources will be downloaded. If he re-visits the website, he won’t have to download them again, because he already has those resources cached in his browser.

wp rocket wp plugin

 

This loads the website significantly faster for returning visitors. The page load time of a website has a big impact on user experience and SEO. So when you launch your WordPress site, do install a caching plugin. There are several WordPress caching plugins like WP Rocket, Comet Cache, WP Super Cache, etc. which you may use to cache your website.

To find out more about the importance of WordPress cache plugin and top ones for use then you may read here.

3. Browser Rankings

You poured blood and sweat into writing dozens of high-quality posts for weeks; now it is finally the time to show off your work! You are ready to launch the site. What do you do before the launch to ensure you get readers? How do you reach your target audience and show them what you have created? It is all SEO!

Steps should be taken right from the start to get ranked by all the browsers. WordPress offers a huge range of solutions through which you can get your site ranked. I am listing a few of them right here.

Install an SEO Plugin

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the backbone of most popular websites. SEO is the process of making small tweaks and optimizations to a website to improve its ranking in search engines.

For new sites, a comprehensive SEO plugin that has following features is a must:

  • Set titles, meta description
  • Preview search snippet
  • Generate XML sitemaps
  • Customize XML sitemaps
  • Include or exclude any page from search engines

 

yoast seo wordpress plugin

Yoast SEO is by far the ultimate SEO solution because it provides all the options listed above. Before you launch your website, get Yoast SEO and configure it properly. Not only does it gives you the means to optimize SEO, but it also gives makes insightful suggestions through its content analysis functionality.

For an in-depth review of some of the best SEO plugins read: Let’s Choose the Best SEO Plugin for Your WordPress Website.

Change Permalink Settings

Permalink is an abbreviation for permanent links. Permalink is what another blogger will use to link to your post, page or category. How this permalink is structured depends on how it has been configured. In an entirely new WordPress installation, permalink structure looks like this:

http://www.mydomain.com/?p=N, where N is the post ID.

While it comes configured this way, WordPress gives you the ability to change it for better usability and SEO. To change permalink structure, go to Settings > Permalinks. There are several options to choose from i.e.

  • Numeric
  • Post Name
  • Day and Name
  • Month and Name

Each of these has their permalink structure different than the other and reveals certain facts about the content being viewed.

Permalink Structure Best for Usability and SEO

Post Name (%postname%) is the most useful permalink structure because it purely focuses on the post title. It makes your URLs look like this:

http://www.www.mydomain.com/wordpress-security

It is easy to remember and is SEO-friendly. So, before you launch your website, make sure to set Post Name as your permalink structure.

Get an XML Sitemap and Submit It

Most people use search engines to find content. That is how most websites are discovered and get their share of eyeballs. To make sure your content reaches visitors, you have to make sure that search engines index it. Which brings me to the topic of XML sitemaps. XML sitemaps serve as a medium to communicate directly with search engines.

It is how you inform search engines about new content on your site. Search engines use XML sitemaps to navigate through websites. They are essential for SEO! Does your site have XML sitemaps? If not, install Yoast SEO plugin to get one. As soon as you have the sitemap, use Google Search Console to submit it to Google.

What Value These Steps Add to Your Website?

Each one of these steps takes your site one step closer to perfection. Some of these measures are good for user experience like installing a caching plugin; others strengthen the site security. There are also certain tricks that make your WordPress site SEO-friendly. I have said it before; I will say it again: Not all steps apply to all type of sites.

For example, it is useless to schedule backups for a site that do not change at all. Similarly activating the Akismet plugin does nothing if the comments are disabled site-wide. Rest assured, if you launch your site after using this Website Pre-launch Checklist, you should be ahead of most websites. Because you are already optimizing your site for SEO, have security plugins in place and have scheduled backups, which is something most people do not even bother with.

Conclusion

This Website Pre-launch Checklist is useful for both professional bloggers as well as freelancers. Use it to keep track of things and be relaxed because the list has everything a brand new WordPress site should have. The checklist ensures security, SEO, and user experience are taken care of. What is your workflow before launching a WordPress website? Share in the comments below.

Share your experience about it and drop in your feedback in the comment box below or reach out to me via Twitter @MaedahBatool.

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How WordPress Backup Plugins Help You Save the Day? https://inspirythemes.com/how-wordpress-backup-plugins-help/ https://inspirythemes.com/how-wordpress-backup-plugins-help/#respond Mon, 19 Sep 2016 14:15:16 +0000 https://inspirythemes.com/?p=725 Let’s assume for a moment that your site has been hacked and all your content has been deleted. What do you do now? What’s your backup strategy (if any)? How do you ensure that nothing is lost? These questions are really important to ask, considering the number WordPress of websites hacked in 2013 is 170,000. […]

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Let’s assume for a moment that your site has been hacked and all your content has been deleted. What do you do now? What’s your backup strategy (if any)? How do you ensure that nothing is lost?

These questions are really important to ask, considering the number WordPress of websites hacked in 2013 is 170,000. That’s only for websites that have been reported as hacked. What about websites you don’t know of? Of course, we have come a long way since then; many WordPress versions have been released, and security vulnerabilities have been fixed. But does that mean it is over? Does that mean WordPress is secure now? The answer is a resounding NO!

WordPress is not perfectly secure. In fact, no web application or network is perfectly secure, ever. A website can be hacked anytime. Sure, taking precautions is helpful, but that’s not where the story ends. The battle between nasty hackers and website owners is incessant. The only thing you, as website owners, can do is ‘harden’ the security and have a backup strategy.

That’s where backup plugins come in. Today, in this post, I will talk about taking backups, WordPress backups solutions and why you need one!

Picture This…

Have you ever installed an infamous third-party plugin known for breaking sites? Or added a little snippet to functions.php? Have you got your site messed up by a malicious plugin? Or your server got bit by nasty malware?

It feels really scary and downright unpleasant, right? What if you never had to worry about breaking your site? What if you had a magical little button, which could bring your site back up and running within minutes?

Turns out, you can have that button. This button is capable of restoring your site exactly like it was before a buggy plugin broke it. That’s what WordPress backup plugins do: they give you a reset button. Once you have activated a backup plugin, no matter how you break your site, you can always go back. That’s the power of backups.

Let Backups Save Your Day

Once you have activated a backup plugin, no matter how you break your site, you can always go back. That’s the power of backups.

A backup almost functions like life insurance, but for websites. Therefore, I like calling it website insurance.

When a backup is created, it contains everything the website possess at that very moment. However, it will not contain the posts and pages which are made after a backup is taken. This is why taking regular, and recent backups are important. Don’t worry; you don’t have to create backups every day yourself. You can just use a WordPress backup plugin to schedule backups.

That’s why scheduling backups is an essential part of WordPress security.

What Is a Backup?

What are the backups? How do they work? Beginners can easily get confused by this concept. It is a kind of reset button like I said earlier, but what they really are? Let me tell you.

Backup is a copy of your website. A backup works as a  precautionary measure in case your site gets deleted, stolen or somehow messed up. Backups can be extremely helpful if your site gets hacked and infected. It is also one of the best security tips which you can implement. A backup does not actually secure your website; but gives you a peace of mind that even if your site gets hacked, you have an exact copy of your lost data. You can use this copy (backup) to get your site back.

Ingredients of a WordPress Site

There are two main components of a WordPress website i.e.

  • Files: Media files, installation files, themes, and plugins is what constitute the files component.
  • Database: As for second component, the database component stores all posts, pages and websites settings.

Types of Backups

Now you know what a backup is. There are various types of WordPress backups:

Manual

In this type, you manually download files (plugins, themes, uploads directory) and database via PhpMyAdmin. If you publish posts every day or weekly, taking a manual backup can be tedious.

Automatic

In this type, you use a WordPress plugin or service to automatically take a backup of the website. The plugin can be configured to take backups on any basis i.e. daily, weekly, monthly and hourly.

Real-time

These backups are synchronized as you make any lives changes in your site content.

How Often Should You Take Backups?

What type of backup you need depends on the frequency with which your website updates. If you publish content with long gaps in between then, taking backups every day won’t make sense. However, if you publish content every day then you better schedule daily backups. That will ensure you have the most recent post included in your backup.

Some Popular WordPress Backups Plugins

There are many WordPress plugins for this purpose. Some are free, some cost money. Every one of them has their advantages. Let’s explore some of the most popular backup solutions.

BackupBuddy

backupbuddy wordpress plugin

BackupBuddy is a sister plugin of well-known security plugin, the iThemes Security. It is one of the most friendly backup solutions. With a price range between $80 and $150 per year, it is a premium solution. BackupBuddy allows you to create backups of the database as well as files. You can schedule the backups to be delivered to your server, Email, Rackspace, Amazon Web Services or BackuBuddy Stash, etc.

Deploying the site from a staging environment to the production environment, BackBuddy makes migrations easy. It is one of the best backup solutions available. Often it is the server itself that gets infected, so you don’t want store backups on the same server as the website. For this reason, BackupBuddy gives you the BackupBuddy Stash (1GB space free!) to store backups.

There are several other destinations to send backups i.e. Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, etc.

ManageWP Orion Backups

managewp orion backups

ManageWP is a renowned web application, which enables you to manage multiple websites from a single dashboard. It’s especially a useful application for freelancers managing multiple websites. From a single dashboard, with on-click access to all your sites, you can update themes, plugins, run security scans, take backups and do much more.

Recently, ManageWP released a major upgrade of their service called Orion. As with all everything – ManageWP, Orion is an amazing upgrade to the original service.

ManageWP Orion also offers incremental, cloud backups. With these in place, sit back and let ManageWP take regular backups. This is a great feature to have because the backups are stored on Amazon Web Services. That is the infrastructure that ManageWP is based on. Your backups will be safe and stable.

With Orion, you will be able to store backups on Amazon S3 Storage. However, backups can only be scheduled on a monthly basis. For more features, you can get their Premium Backups add-on as well.

WP Time Capsule

wp time capsule

WP Time Capsule is another backup solution for WordPress users. With it, you can create, schedule and send automated backups straight to Google Drive, Dropbox and AWS. The interesting thing about WP Time Capsule is that it only backs up and restores changed files and database tables. This is impressive as it tends to utilize less of the server’s bandwidth.

It stores backups on remote storage locations like Google Drive and uses the app’s native versioning system to detect changed files. Since the backups only contain changed files, they are a lot more reliable. Once the plugin is activated, connect it with a WPTimeCapsule.com account. When all is set, backups will be automatically created and stored.

Duplicator

duplicator wordpress plugin

Duplicator is another free backup plugin for WordPress users. Deploying a site from local to production environment can be a daunting task. Let Duplicator help; it simplifies the entire process of migrating and cloning sites. You can create, schedule complete backups (database & files) and store them on the server, Drive, Dropbox, and Amazon among others.

Be it a large site or database, multisite or a mere newborn site, Duplicator won’t disappoint you. Duplicator has all the customization options for each backup you create. You can have multiple backups sent to different storage locations. You can limit the number of backups retained too.

There are two versions of Duplicator. Its premium plugin unlocks many advanced features which you need to check.

VaultPress

vaultpress plugin

Automattic is the company founded by the WordPress’ Co-Founder Matt Mullenweg. VaultPress comes from Automattic, and it is one of the popular backup solutions. VaultPress works by making daily backups of your site at a fixed time of the day. Aside from that, as soon as it detects any file changes or new posts being created, it synchronizes the new changes with its backups.

It does not allow storing backups on third-party solutions like Drive and Dropbox. Rather, it stores them on its world-class infrastructure. It is the same infrastructure that powers millions of sites hosted on WordPress.com. If your site ever breaks or you want to restore it to an earlier point in time, VaultPress can do that.

Moreover, VaultPress scans the files for suspicious code and vulnerabilities daily; fixes them and sends you the details. That gives you the peace of mind from hacking attacks and unpatched vulnerabilities of WordPress plugins.

Wrapping It Up!

Creating backups of files and database manually is a tedious task. With WordPress backup solutions, it is very much like a set-it-and-forget-it situation. Creating and scheduling a WordPress backup takes hardly 10-15 minutes. It is time to get your website insurance!

Do you understand the concept of backups? Do you take regular backups? What is your favorite WordPress backup solution? Let me know in the comments.

Share your experience about it and drop in your feedback in the comment box below or reach out to me via Twitter @MaedahBatool.

 

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Let’s Choose the Best SEO Plugin for Your WordPress Website https://inspirythemes.com/best-wp-seo-plugin/ https://inspirythemes.com/best-wp-seo-plugin/#respond Tue, 06 Sep 2016 10:20:27 +0000 https://inspirythemes.com/?p=663 In this rapid-paced world, attention is the most valuable asset. The more attention your website has the more money and attention it can get. Why am I telling you all this? Because the SEO is all about attention and visibility. For some SEO is a hassle. For others, it is a gateway to get more […]

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In this rapid-paced world, attention is the most valuable asset. The more attention your website has the more money and attention it can get. Why am I telling you all this? Because the SEO is all about attention and visibility. For some SEO is a hassle. For others, it is a gateway to get more traffic. WordPress is a robust content management system. Being open source, it has a generous community. Its plugin architecture allows anyone to extend the CMS’s abilities.

In this post, I will share with you, what is SEO and how you can choose the best SEO WP plugin for your website.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing a website, so it gets ranked well in search engines. Search engines’ job is to show the high-quality web pages from “www” (world wide web) to its users. It is the art of analyzing pages and making tweaks that help search engines rank it better. It’s a broad field; there are two aspects to SEO i.e.

  1. Off-Page SEO
  2. On-Page SEO

Off Page SEO

Off-Page SEO constitutes entirely of links. Links are seen as votes by search engines. The more links point to a page, the better it must be. That is why Google ranks pages higher containing more links.

On Page SEO

While in On-Page SEO, you optimize the factors on the page. In this type, you make sure that your targeted keyword appears in the title, page URL, first paragraph, image’s alt tag, etc. WordPress plugins offer the functionality of On-Page SEO.  Let’s discuss the necessary features of an SEO plugin.

Is SEO Important?

SEO is an integral component of a website because it brings you eyeballs. You might have written the most detailed post on the paleo diet, but what’s the use if no one reads it? You might also have the best SEO, but what’s the use if your site has nothing to offer? That’s to say, SEO and content are dependent on one another for their effectiveness.

If you haven’t allocated any budget for SEO, then you are indeed missing out something. Plain and straightforward. Every site must be optimized for search engines; even Google recommends it!

WordPress SEO Plugins

WordPress community has tens of thousands of plugins for almost everything. There are performance enhancing plugins, image resizing plugins, and plugins to add voting polls. What I mean here is that there are multiple plugins for the same task.

Essential Characteristics!

For SEO, there are plugins like Yoast SEO, All in One SEO Pack (AIOSP), Google XML Sitemaps, etc. Though, it’s a tough choice to make among so many options.

So, which plugin you should choose? To determine the best SEO plugin, you must ensure that it deliver the following features:

  • It lets you verify Google Webmasters Tools.
  • Adds a meta description and a page title.
  • Helps to target a keyword.
  • Display search snippets.
  • Lets you add a canonical tag.
  • Generate and customize XML sitemaps.
  • Optimize pages for social media.
  • Modify robots.txt (which is basically instructions for search bots).

These are the necessary features of an effective SEO plugin. If a plugin possesses these features, then go with it. If a plugin has more to offer in addition to these, then it is even better.

Yoast SEO

yoast seo wordpress plugin

Yoast SEO is an ultimate out of the box SEO plugin. It has all the options you need. Aside from its features, like any good plugin, it is always under development. Every now and then, a bug is debugged, new features are introduced, and improvements are made consistently.

  • SEO Settings: You can set meta description, page title, see search snippets, generate and customize XML sitemaps. 
  • Optimization: It does the job of optimizing posts quite quickly. My favorite part is its content analysis functionality, which analyzes SEO and readability of your page. It checks whether Focus Keyword is added to image alt tag, whether the first paragraph of the post contains Focus Keyword, etc.
  • Readability Tests: Then there is Readability Analysis, which checks for text readability. It tests your copy against Flesch Reading test.

All In One SEO Pack

all in one seo pack

All In One SEO Pack (AIOSP) is one of the oldest WordPress plugins. Evident from its name, it claims to cover all SEO aspects. Boasting almost 30 million downloads, it stands to be a competent rival of Yoast SEO. It provides a lot of features.

  • Key Features: Bundled with abilities to add a meta description, generate XML sitemaps, WooCommerce integration, and Google Analytics support, it is a robust plugin.
  • UX Not So Strong: However, it is not so strong from w.r.t to the user experience. Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin, a new menu appears to top left side of your dashboard. As you click it, you are overwhelmed with roughly 40+ options!

As you can guess, this can easily scare off beginners. Other than that, the plugin rocks and caters all the beginner needs.

Google XML Sitemaps

google xml sitemaps plugin

XML Sitemaps help Google, Bing, Yahoo give a better navigation structure of your site. Your site should have an XML sitemap because it helps ranking better and provides the entire list of indexable pages to Google. One of the first things I do when starting a new site is to generate and submit a sitemap. Google XML Sitemaps plugin does exactly what it says. It is entirely focused on providing XML sitemaps functionality.

It also allows you to customize sitemaps. Which post types are included in the sitemap? Which are excluded? Which category is included? At what frequency are various pages crawled? Your sitemaps, your control. BTW You should not use this one if you end up deciding in favor of Yoast SEO. Since Yoast takes care of Sitemaps generation itself.

I Recommend Yoast SEO!

With 1 million active installs, Yoast steals the show! It is the ultimate WordPress SEO plugin. In most areas, All In One SEO Pack and Yoast SEO possess overlapping features. However SEO & Readability analysis functionality gives it the edge over its rival. That is not to say AIOSP is not a great plugin. It is, in fact, a very active plugin.

I have been using Yoast SEO for quite long. It has many features over AIOSP like importing/exporting, your info, social features, and breadcrumb navigation. The best feature of Yoast is its content analysis, which gives useful suggestions to beginners.

I hope this post helps beginners out there, who have just stepped in WordPress industry.

Let’s Call It a Day

By now, you know that Yoast SEO is an incredible solution for site ranking so, it must be setup properly if you want the best results for your WordPress SEO. Let’s find out how you can use this plugin effectively.

After activating the plugin, it’s better to divide it into three different zones.

  • First, make sure that you are using the most recent version of the plugin.
  • Next, you can get started by configuring the settings, then jump on to create a list of keywords.
  • Finally, write optimized content using Yoast green light indicator.

The list of words that you will maintain helps in choosing focused and targetted keywords. This means that you will ultimately end up writing fully optimized content.

So what do you think? Which is your favorite SEO plugin for WordPress? Did I miss any name which you like to add here? Share your experience about it and drop in your feedback in the comment box below or reach out to me via Twitter @MaedahBatool.

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How WordPress Contact Form Plugins Can Help You Win Better User Engagement? https://inspirythemes.com/wordpress-contact-form-plugins-help-you-win-better-user-engagement/ https://inspirythemes.com/wordpress-contact-form-plugins-help-you-win-better-user-engagement/#respond Mon, 22 Aug 2016 06:52:14 +0000 https://inspirythemes.com/?p=591 Even if your site is well-structured and elegantly designed, sometimes you go a little beyond to allow people to contact you. One simple solution is adding contact forms through WordPress plugins. Contact Forms provide swift communication between your site visitors. Whenever you need to reach out to your audience or vice versa, these forms are […]

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Even if your site is well-structured and elegantly designed, sometimes you go a little beyond to allow people to contact you. One simple solution is adding contact forms through WordPress plugins. Contact Forms provide swift communication between your site visitors. Whenever you need to reach out to your audience or vice versa, these forms are very handy and quick. They provide a clean and easy to use interface which enhances user engagement.

The internet is overwhelmed with several ways of adding contact forms in websites. For the sake of simplicity, I’m considering you are doing it either manually or with a third party plugin. But, just wondering which plugin do you use for adding contact forms? The prime focus of this article is to guide you through the best available solution for this very purpose. Read on to find out more about using Contact Form plugins the right way.

Adding Contact Forms in Websites

Site visitors need a platform where they can submit their feedback, ask questions and seek any guidance. That’s why Contact Forms are necessary to add. An engaging contact form gives your website a professional touch and helps you managing your online communication. It is also better for website owners as it stops your email address from being spammed.

Today, most WordPress themes include built-in contact forms which can be easily included through widgets. However, I will always prefer to create your own with a WordPress plugin. While choosing a contact form plugin you must look for the following features:

  • Easy to use: The plugin should offer an easy setup which can be configured in a few clicks.
  • Multiple customizations: Create forms with user-friendly interfaces that complement your site, with customization options.
  • Contact management: An in-depth management of submitted information.
  • Spam protection: Must offer features to handle spam comments.

Ingredients of a Contact Form

A contact form should be kept as simple as possible with a minimal design. It must not be crowded with so many form fields. Instead, include only the primary input fields like name, email ID, and a text area. The call to action buttons should be placed in the central position. If these points are followed then, there are fewer chances of a visitor leaving your form unfilled.

WordPress Contact Form Plugins

When it comes to choosing a contact form plugin, several free and premium options are available. They may differ in features from simple feedback forms to complex multi-page forms. But, all serve a similar purpose. So today, I am going to share the top 3 contact form plugins for WordPress driven websites.

Contact Form 7

contact form 7 plugin

If you’re looking for an all-in-one contact form solution, then one option reigns supreme i.e. Contact Form 7. It is one of the oldest and most popular WordPress plugins which has passed 40 million downloads earlier this month. Its developers have taken the plugin to a next level by creating several add-ons. Currently, the Contact Form 7’s feature-set is way beyond its core contact form capabilities.

  • Custom Form Features and Fields: Contact Form 7 is famous for its flexibility with custom features for its fields and content editing. You can create intuitive forms in no time and insert them in your websites. It supports Ajax-powered submitting, Akismet, and CAPTCHA spam filtering, and it is multilingual.
  • Multiple Add-Ons: Several third-party plugins which exist as add-ons are also available for Contact Form 7.
  • Easy to Manage: Managing forms are relatively easy as its is based on HTML tags. An option for adding custom elements in between your form fields is also there. Form insertion is very simple. Just paste the shortcode and include it within a post or page.

WPForms

wpforms plugin

When you want to build beginner friendly forms that are both easy to setup and rich with features, then WP Forms is a fantastic choice to make. Syed Balkhi from WP Beginner is one of the plugin developers. Its free version is named as WPForms Lite and has 10,000+ active installs.

  • Intuitive Interface: The plugin offers a super clean user interface with drag and drop features. This makes form building process rather quick.
  • Pre-Made Templates: It also includes pre-made form templates through which you can create beautifully styled forms.
  • Pro Version: The premium version of WPForms offers advanced functionality like building multi-page forms, email subscription forms, payment forms, etc. Also, it supports payments via PayPal and has a powerful management dashboard. It means you do not need to go anywhere to view all form entries. WPForms provide features for spam protection as well.

Caldera Forms

caldera forms plugin

Caldera Forms is a free WordPress plugin which creates forms with a layout of your choice. Caldera is quite a recent form plugin, but it still has 20,000+ active installs.

  • Drag and Drop Features: Its responsive drag and drop interface let you take full control of the form data without writing a single line of code.
  • Form Fields and Layouts: The plugin allows you to create forms with multiple columns, additional pages, and user responses with conditional logic.
  • Extended Functionality: Features for anti-spam, AJAX, notification emails, and database entry tracking are all enabled by default.
  • Form Templates: Caldera Forms includes different form templates which help you build responsive and creative looking forms quickly. You can also add new fields or modify the existing layout. While filling out the field details, there is an exclusive option for naming Custom Class in each field type. This helps you in several ways. E.g. you can easily differentiate a particular field with other forms, you can easily apply custom styling properties later, etc.
  • Pro Version: For more sophisticated features and services, you can subscribe to their premium bundle as well.

Wrapping It Up!

Apart from these plugins, there are other options as well. The contact form module of JetPack allows you to add a simple contact form to your website. Formidable Forms with more than 300,000 active installs create beautiful forms with in-place editing. Fast Secure Contact Form, Contact Form, and PirateForms are all great contact form plugins. You can choose any of these based on your requirement. However, I have summarized the three best ones which you should definitely consider.

So what do you think? Which is your favorite contact form plugin for WordPress? Did I miss any name which you like to add here? Share your experience about it and drop in your feedback in the comment box below or reach out to me via Twitter @MaedahBatool.

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Importance of Analytics and Top WordPress Analytics Plugins for Use https://inspirythemes.com/importance-of-analytics-and-top-wordpress-analytics-plugins-for-use/ https://inspirythemes.com/importance-of-analytics-and-top-wordpress-analytics-plugins-for-use/#respond Mon, 15 Aug 2016 04:01:41 +0000 https://inspirythemes.com/?p=532 Blog posts, comments, and ratings say a lot about a website, but so can statistics. If you are running a WordPress blog, then installing an analytics plugin can tell you how many visitors you’re getting but that’s just the tip of what we call business statistics. Until 2005, no particular analytics solution existed for WordPress […]

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Blog posts, comments, and ratings say a lot about a website, but so can statistics. If you are running a WordPress blog, then installing an analytics plugin can tell you how many visitors you’re getting but that’s just the tip of what we call business statistics. Until 2005, no particular analytics solution existed for WordPress websites. But, soon there was Google Analytics which became one of my favorite tools for this purpose.

Since its launch, website statistics emerged as a powerful niche for the everyone to tap on. That’s why we find several other alternatives to Google Analytics. In this article, I will share the best analytics solutions for WordPress users, and I will also highlight their importance. But first, let’s find out what are site stats?

WordPress Site Stats

Anyone managing a WordPress website has encountered questions like:

  • How many site visitors do I get?
  • Which posts and pages are mostly viewed? and
  • From which part of the globe are my visitors coming? 

A Stats page in WordPress can answer all these questions through detailed graphs, charts, and lists about how your visitors are interacting with your website.

Why Are Analytics Important for Your Website?

The two most important components of website statistics are views and unique visitors. So, analytics provide an efficient way of understanding your site visitors better. Based on web traffic, you can produce content which engages people for long and can convert your leads into potential readers.

Likewise, you can spend a hefty amount of money to run promotional campaigns and hire internet marketers for strategizing your web content. But without having any statistics about how well your marketing efforts are performing, you cannot optimize them. With an analytics solution in place, you can invest wisely and in the right direction. So, tracking users metrics deliver more of what users want.

Having said that, let’s discuss the best analytics plugins for WordPress users. To get started, I’m going to list the most popular names in the beginning and then jump to the rest.

Jetpack by WordPress.com

jetpack wordpress plugin

Jetpack is a free plugin by Automattic that integrates WordPress.com site stats to any self-hosted WordPress website. It is a complete package with lots of features likes providing stats for visitors, security services, speeding up images, and bringing more traffic.

But the scope of this article is to stick around its analytics features. By just installing the plugin you get access to its statistical analysis of your website. There exists an option to display stats like top searches, popular posts, etc. and it keeps a detailed record of information. You can even restrict the access of stats to specific users. For advanced features subscribe to its premium packages which start at $99 per year.

Google Analytics by MonsterInsights

monsterinsights wordpress plugin

Google Analytics plugin by Yoast has been around for ages. However, quite recently, Syed Balkhi (the guy behind WPBeginner) acquired it and rebranded it as MonsterInsights. It is an easy option to connect Google Analytics with WordPress websites by just adding your Google Analytics tracking code. It provides information about the location of visitors, pages which are visited the most, and a lot more.

The plugin also supports the features of outbound link & download tracking. It has a full debug mode, including Firebug lite and ga_debug.js for debugging Google Analytics issues. With more than 1 million active installs MonsterInsights continues to make website analytics easy for WordPress users. There also exists its Pro version at $89 per year, which offers a few add-ons to the base plugin.

WP Statistics

wp statistics plugin

WP Statistics is a lightweight plugin with a huge user base of 300,000 active installs. It is fully coupled with all features which an analytic plugin requires. A unique aspect about WP Statistics is that most of the information is viewed through graphs which enhance the visual effect. It employs a Maxmind GeoLite2 technology to display detailed geographical data. The plugin also ensures security as visitors’ IPs can be thoroughly hashed.

To guide users, WP Statistics offers an admin manual which can be accessed from the plugin’s dashboard and downloaded in the ODT or HTML format. All the tracking results can be exported to XML or CSV files, and you can save it for future use. It also supports an automated renewal of database and several other features.

Google Analytics Dashboard By Analytify

analytify wordpress plugin

Analytify plugin is another free analytics solution for measuring web stats. In a few clicks, you can incorporate Google Analytics inside your WordPress admin panel. An interesting feature of this plugin is its compatibility for WooCommerce. For custom stats, multiple shortcodes are available. The plugin also supports SEO optimization and allows you to view traffic data for individual blog posts and pages.

Analytify offers its premium version as well starting at $29. You can get advanced options like campaign statistics, shortcodes in widgets, statistical data under a single post, pages & custom post types. It is also customizable with CSS which means you can add your styling to give a more appealing look.

Conclusion

It is not that simple to choose the best plugin when there exist several related choices. Same is the case with WordPress analytics plugins. I’ve listed only a few notable names which I think you should prefer. However, there are other worth using options as well e.g. Simple Feed Stats and WP Power Stats.

As far as using an analytics plugin is concerned, then remember that these address the major concerns of attracting new site visitors or customers, and keep them hooked. They provide a solution to draw more traffic. So, next time you start a new WordPress blog don’t forget to install an analytics plugin.

Which plugin do you use to monitor website traffic? Share your experience about it and drop in your feedback in the comment box below or reach out to me at Twitter @MaedahBatool.

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How Email Opt-in Form Plugins Could Help You Win Subscribers? https://inspirythemes.com/email-opt-form-plugins-help-win-subscribers/ https://inspirythemes.com/email-opt-form-plugins-help-win-subscribers/#respond Thu, 04 Aug 2016 16:44:42 +0000 https://inspirythemes.com/?p=499 If you are generating content and no one is reading it, then you’re certainly writing in a vacuum. A well-built newsletter can bridge this gap, but again you’ll need a list of people to whom it is sent. Reaching out to people through an email is one of the earliest marketing trends that thrive today. […]

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If you are generating content and no one is reading it, then you’re certainly writing in a vacuum. A well-built newsletter can bridge this gap, but again you’ll need a list of people to whom it is sent. Reaching out to people through an email is one of the earliest marketing trends that thrive today. However, it is still difficult to build an email list of targeted and engaged subscribers.

So the question arises, why is the email list important and how you build it?

The answer to both these questions is an email opt-in form which pops up a message on your web page with your newsletter sign up form. In this article, you are going to learn about the importance of adding these forms for earning subscribers and the method of building them.

Opt-in Email Forms and Their Importance

The email opt-in form is an effective way of increasing signup rates to your email newsletter. Whenever a visitor lands on a website he views a message which gets displayed either immediately, or after a specified period. Email opt-in forms are quite profitable for generating business and are now an essential component of any website’s marketing strategy.

Benefits of Adding an Opt-in Form

Being a recent trend, it is necessary to find out what perks such forms bring for WordPress website owners.

  • Email opt-in forms play a significant role in building customer relationship and user engagement.
  • An email subscriber always remains aware of your web content and likeliness of him buying your product increases.
  • Unlike other ways, pop-ups ensure maximum attention and guarantees that the content gets read frequently.

Therefore, an opt-in form helps you increase traffic, convert new leads and offer better-engaged users. There are several ways of adding these forms on your website e.g. after post boxes, squeeze pages, slide-ins, and by integrating with major email marketing services. But WordPress plugins are the convenient way to the job.

Below, I’ve listed a few popular email opt-in plugins and services for WordPress that are both easy to use and highly flexible in functionality.

SumoMe

sumome plugin

SumoMe is a fantastic free WordPress plugin for creating pop-up forms. What is so special about it are its three different tools which encourage visitors to subscribe to your email list, share your web content and optimize the workflow.

The free tools are List Builder, Scroll Box, and Smart Bar. List Builder creates forms that are popped-up according to a particular scheduled time. Scroll Box adds an opt-in form at the bottom corner of your site and sneaks out when users scroll down. Lastly, Smart Bar displays the form but at the top of the page.

Each tool is coupled with intuitive features which make the form creating process easy. SumoMe allows form integration with third party solutions, supports asynchronous loading and is 100% mobile optimized. The plugin has more than 100,000+ active installs and is quite familiar with WP community. Don’t use too many of their add-ons it might slow down your site.

MailChimp for WordPress

mailchimp wp plugin

MailChimp for WordPress lets you display timely pop-ups to encourage visitors to subscribe to your site. Using a small shortcode, you can create handy opt-in forms and display them anywhere on your website. The plugin is quite flexible in functionality. That’s why it gets easily integrated with the MailChimp account via a MailChimp API key.

With this plugin, you can also add checkboxes to your form. With its powerful Field Builder, you can add new form fields or even stick with the existing ones. It also includes a Style Builder and a section for Reports, where the entire user activity is logged.

There is a premium version as well starting at $49. To get access to its PRO features, you can purchase it.

OptinMonster

optinmonster plugin

OptinMonster is a premium addition to the email opt-in form family which has gathered an incredible response from the users in very little time. Developed by the team of WPBeginner, this is a complete newsletter plugin allowing you to add pop-up messages, sidebar forms, floating bars, and several others.

OptinMonster supports email marketing integration and other features like form customization, A/B split testing and analytics. A user can view a detailed overview of his conversions through statistics and also enjoys an option to target individual pages. Without writing a single line of code, you can customize the text and design using a WYSIWYG editor. The plugin is packed with an exit intent technology which detects the exit time of a user and at that very instant forces a pop-up form to appear.

The pricing model is also very flexible with its standard package starting from $49 up to the unlimited plan which cost $199 per annum. Apparently, the standard package wouldn’t deliver sufficient features so based on your needs you can choose the desired package.

Bloom eMail Opt-In Plugin

bloom email optin plugin

Bloom eMail Opt-In Plugin is another advanced email opt-in plugin offering a broad range of sophisticated features. The plugin is a product of Elegant Themes. With its rich feature-set, website owners can enjoy increased email subscribers, targeted content, and easy to configure settings.

Unlike other related plugins, the Bloom eMail Opt-in plugin supports an automated insertion of the form inside your pages and posts. The same can also be done manually with shortcodes. Likewise, you can also restrict the access to content. Doing so will allow site visitors to access only a particular page they are while entering their email address.

Regarding design and user experience, the plugin has 100+ customizable templates so you can get a variety of opt-in forms for your websites. Lastly, it also supports more than 16 email marketing integrations which mean Bloom can retrieve data about all of your lists and subscriber counts. Pricing plan starts with $89 and then changes with the package.

ConvertPlug

convertplug plugin

Next, we have ConvertPlug, which is another big player in the email opt-in forms plugin market. In a few clicks, you can create trendy pop-ups and get started with converting website visitors into subscribers, social followers and potential customers.

Users buying the ConvertPlug can enjoy more than ten pop-up display positions and 12 behavioral triggers. Its 100+ pre-made templates create great-looking opt-in forms which can be placed in a sidebar or a widget. An infobar can also be added either at the top or bottom of the page.

With its full-screen feature, you can grab most of the user’s’ attention on a wide range. Video pop-ups and social sharing are also included in it. Special efforts are made to ensure better user engagement which is done by user inactivity feature. ConvertPlug is available at CodeCanyon in just $21. The best thing about ConvertPlug is that it integrates with MyMail plugin and that way you can send newsletter and grab subscribers right inside your WordPress Admin panel.

Conclusion

All the plugins listed so far might be better to one or the other. But they offer one functionality in common i.e. email marketing integration with opt-in forms. When it comes to choosing the best plugin of the lot, then you’ll go with the free ones (SumoMe and MailChimp) for sure. But the premium solutions must not be ignored.

Bloom should be preferred when you’re looking for more customization options and design variations. But OptinMonster is really powerful and a bit costly as well. Guess, good quality services come with a price tag. It’s a SaaS that means, you pay for it on a monthly/yearly basis. It is immensely popular, and if you use it to the full potential, it offers it is very cost effective & result oriented.

Have you made your pick? Which email opt-in plugin do you use? Share your experience about it and drop in your feedback in the comment box below or reach out to me via Twitter (@MaedahBatool) account.

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Importance of WordPress Cache Plugin and Top Ones for Use https://inspirythemes.com/importance-of-wordpress-cache-plugin-and-top-ones-for-use/ https://inspirythemes.com/importance-of-wordpress-cache-plugin-and-top-ones-for-use/#respond Tue, 26 Jul 2016 07:13:58 +0000 https://inspirythemes.com/?p=468 If you’re struggling with your website’s performance and find yourself waiting for a page to load for more than 5 seconds, then a good solution would be to install a cache plugin. A cache plugin can cache your dynamic WordPress site which in turns makes it as fast as static sites. With this point in mind, […]

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If you’re struggling with your website’s performance and find yourself waiting for a page to load for more than 5 seconds, then a good solution would be to install a cache plugin. A cache plugin can cache your dynamic WordPress site which in turns makes it as fast as static sites.

With this point in mind, I’m going to evaluate the performance of a WordPress website by using some of the popular cache plugins. I will also highlight their features after which you can identify your pick that suits your requirements.

But before I start comparing these plugins, let’s take a quick look at what a cache plugin is and how it speeds up your WordPress website.

WordPress Performance and Caching

When it comes to defining the performance parameters of a WordPress website, excessive page load time harms the most. It decreases web traffic, affects Google ranking and brings bad site reviews. However, with a free or a cost-effective caching plugin you can speed up your site.

Users commonly claim that their website’s performance once used to be satisfactory which it is not the same anymore. What you need to understand is,

When new posts, pages, themes, and plugins are added to a WordPress site it tends to slow down and more often than not with growth you outgrow your hosting account (in case you are on a shared server). This together with high traffic rate and a poor web host further deteriorates the performance.

The overall result is increased page load time and a lot of hassle.

How Is Caching Helpful?

Technically speaking, a computer cache temporarily stores data. But when we say a cached WordPress website, then it refers to the user’s local hard drive where all the site contents (i.e. posts, pages, images, etc.) are being stored or database being cached in the RAM of your server and hence your site serves static content instead of dynamic queries.

This also means that the browser does not have to retrieve the frequently accessed files from the server each time a user requires. Instead, they are fetched locally, and the result is faster page load times.

WordPress Cache Plugins

WordPress cache plugins aim to perform the same function of enhancing your site’s page speed. When users visit your website they apparently look at an individual web page but at the back-end, a simple WP page runs several processes and dynamic code routines which take time for your page to load.

A caching plugin generates these dynamic pages for you and creates static HTML files which are stored in the cache of both the server and users’ browsers. These static files are fast by their very nature since all the browser has to do display the HTML/CSS/JS instead of running and waiting on server side languages.

So next time, when the same request is pulled all the previous re-loading of PHP scripts are removed, and the site loads faster than usual. This impacts the overall performance and brings many far-reaching effects for a particular website like Google ranks a fast website higher for the same keywords.

Choosing a Cache Plugin

Enough with the coding-mumbo-jumbo. You learned that a cache plugin is one of the easiest options to improve the slow loading time of your website. But you can enjoy the desired results only if you’re able to identify the criteria for choosing one such plugin that suits your needs. I think there could be a three-point agenda in this respect.

  1. A credible developer & plugins history.
  2. Optimum performance and key features.
  3. For premium options: Quick support and response time.

WordPress Cache Plugins

The points listed above are in no way the ultimate criteria to judge which is the best cache plugin. Apparently, the metrics may vary from person to person and as per their unique requirements. I am going to suggest you a few of both commercial and free plugins that can help you speed up your site.

WP Rocket

wp rocket wp plugin

In terms of performance, WP Rocket outclasses every other name in the list of WordPress cache plugins. It’s a premium plugin and comes highly recommended by many incredible WP community members. By far, it is the only featured premium plugin powering more than 100,000 sites globally. However, it isn’t a free plugin but once purchased brings a great deal of relief. The plugin is available at cost-effective rates starting from $39 up to $199.

  • Advanced Key Features: Unlike all the free alternates, WP Rocket is coupled with advanced functionalities. With features like lazy image loading, cache preloading, file minification and GZIP compression, WP Rocket offers fast, reliable and efficient WordPress websites.
  • Fantastic Caching Experience: It’s user-friendly interface, and minimal design provides an excellent caching experience.
  • Extensive Support: The team provides tremendous support which comes with quick response time to your queries. Their support structure is sufficiently streamlined as they offer a proper ticketing system and a FAQ section. So I can say that WP Rocket follows my three-point agenda of choosing a cache plugin.

Features I Like about WP Rocket:

  • CDN networks are fully supported
  • Flexible integration with managed hosts
  • Customized settings can be exported easily
  • eCommerce and multi-lingual compatibility
  • Supports Google fonts and their complete optimization

Speed Testing Results

WP Rocket has been tested with certain reputed speed testing tools like GTmetrix and Pingdom and each time gave sweeping results. With GTmetrix, the loading time was reduced by 0.98 seconds and 1.27 seconds with Pingdom. Such proven results are sufficient to declare the real worth of the plugin.

Comet Cache

comet cache wp plugin

With a plethora of customization options, Comet Cache suits the users who’re looking for free caching solutions. With more than 30,000 active installs, the plugin offers a simple one-click setup.

  • Real-Time Caching: The feature which I liked the most is the caching of every post, page, category, etc. in real-time.
  • Strong Built: The plugin has a powerful built-in admin panel from where all the options are configured quickly.
  • Key Features: Comet Cache sets an expiration time for you cached files. Similarly, it also functions on specific areas like 404 pages, RSS, RDF and Atom Feeds. The plugin is also compatible with WP-CLI and supports several other features like user-agent and HTTP referer exclusion patterns, client-side caching, Apache optimizations, etc.

Going with Comet Cache means peace for those who like to keep things simple and free. It not only speeds up your site but also cuts out the additional clutter. The plugin is well documented, and users find it easy to use.

For more advanced options, there also exist a paid version of the plugin which is available at an affordable rate of $39.

Speed Testing Results

With speed testing tools like GTmetrix, the plugin decreased load time by 0.92 seconds and with Pingdom, the results were even more impressive i.e. 1.26 seconds.

WP Super Cache

wp super cache wp plugin

WP Super Cache is another popular free WordPress cache plugin which delivers compelling results w.r.t speed and performance. This plugin has 1 million+ active installs and is managed by Automattic ( the company behind WordPress.com).

  • Support for Static Web Page: The plugin supports the option of mod_rewrite for all static pages which is quite unusual when compared to traditional HTML caching. Its exclusive legacy caching mode prevents you from viewing the cached files while you’re logged in.
  • Re-Order Plugins Loading: With WP Super Cache plugin, you can even decide the order in which the plugins are going to load. This way you can prioritize your web speed settings.
  • Up-to-Date Scheduler: There also exists a scheduler which regularly removes the cached pages hence providing an updated user experience. Just like WP Rocket, it also supports CDN networks and allows the export of customized settings.

Wrapping Up!

Installing a cache plugin may not be your priority when you set up a WordPress website but at some point of time, you do require it. So, it’s better to include it in the list of prerequisite plugins in the first place. I’ve compared the three popular plugins in this niche i.e. WP Rocket, Comet Cache, and WP Super Cache. But every website is different and may require a variety of caching options.

You can quickly test which of the cache plugins is best in knocking down speed via tools like GTmetrix, Pingdom, and Google PageSpeed Insights. But do remember that cache plugins do not work on local setups, so you require live sites to compile your test results.

So what are you waiting for?

Choose a few cache plugins and start running your speed tests. Share your experience about it and drop in your feedback in the comment box below or reach out to me via Twitter (@MaedahBatool) account.

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How to Find the Perfect WordPress Theme for Your Website? https://inspirythemes.com/choosing-wordpress-theme/ https://inspirythemes.com/choosing-wordpress-theme/#respond Mon, 04 Jul 2016 16:06:09 +0000 https://inspirythemes.com/?p=365 Choosing WordPress theme can be a tough decision to make because you have so many choices out there and it’s hard to differentiate between a good theme and a bad theme for beginners. So, what can you do about it? How do you choose the best WordPress theme for your website, blog, or for your […]

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Choosing WordPress theme can be a tough decision to make because you have so many choices out there and it’s hard to differentiate between a good theme and a bad theme for beginners.

So, what can you do about it? How do you choose the best WordPress theme for your website, blog, or for your client? No worries! Because that’s exactly where I come in. I have been in the WordPress industry for over six years. I have seen my fair share of good and bad themes. Which is why I am going talk you through all the key points which are important to note while choosing a WP theme. So, let’s get started.

Choosing a WordPress Theme

girl-fashion-pose-with-gray-watches-and-suede-jacket-picjumbo-com

When it comes to choosing a WordPress theme, a majority of you spend your time browsing for the best of the lot. Because the internet is overwhelmed with so many themes (both free and premium), that it is just near to impossible to unwind each one of them and find an optimal choice for your website.

I’m sure you must have come across several blog posts guiding through the characteristics which a theme must possess. But I will try to fill in the gaps here by stepping ahead a little beyond the traditional tips for choosing a WordPress theme. All the tips which you’ll read throughout this article are based on my personal views and past experiences.

Multi-Purpose Themes Are Not So Purposeful

The concept behind the development of multi-purpose themes is to serve one-to-many. Such themes aim to cater several niches from a single web template and contain a rich feature-set that is mostly not needed by all of their users. Which we developers like to call bloat.

In 99 out of 100 cases, I’d recommend you to avoid opting for a multi-purpose theme. The reason is that these are not only big and complicated but also messy. Such themes are likely to have more bugs and can result in many types of problems. You will experience, slow websites, which ultimately renders your efforts useless.

Likewise, multi-purpose themes may contain several code routines and files which are not needed in all the cases. E.g. setting up a portfolio website does not require features of eCommerce, pricing tables, etc. So, why have it when you don’t need it? I have yet to find a reason for using Multi-purpose themes. Seriously, there is none. If anything, you should take home after reading this article, it’s that you might not need a multipurpose theme.

What Kind of Theme Do You Need?

Before selecting a WP theme, it is necessary to answer this question; What kind of theme do you need?

By saying so, I refer to the web layout; the way a website is built and appears on the screen. Over the years, web design has been refined, and new design concepts have introduced which may or may not get acknowledged. Most of the times, you will find the following two types of templates:

  • One-Page Themes
  • Parallax Themes

ONE-PAGE THEMES

One-Page themes are a perfect blend of simplicity and preciseness. It provides exactly to the point information which a user requires. The theme has no additional pages (like about, services, contact) unlike a normal template and focuses on to delivering the core content on a single page.

One-Page themes bear a navigation bar, and when clicked, it directs you to a particular part of the main homepage. So if you need to showcase little information, then one-page templates work spot on.

PARALLAX THEMES

Parallax themes are named so because of the optical illusion it creates on the front-end. Being more technical, one can create this effect by handling several layers of images at variable speeds which give the impression of depth. The result is when  users scroll down a screen; they experience different layers of a website scrolling at a different speed.

So, if you want to go with a complex yet a creative approach, then parallax scrolling themes are a viable option. But beware of getting too complex. A subtle parallax effect is something you should go along with. Any theme that has one too many scroll-jacking features; you should definitely avoid that. Simplicity wins every single time. And simple themes are hard to be developed which means they are inherently better. Because a lot goes into making things simpler.

NICHE THEMES FOR THE WIN

After reading recommendations like these, sometimes beginners are overwhelmed by what they should and shouldn’t do. Most of them ask about a thumb rule to follow; when it comes to WordPress themes. Well, I have got you covered. Look for niche themes. Niche specific themes are the themes built to serve one and one purpose only.

I discussed the complexity and haphazardness which is attributed to the multi-purpose themes. A far better counter approach is niche specific themes. To put it in a nutshell, NICHE THEMES ARE AWESOME.

niche themes

Niche themes are specifically made for building a particular type of website. Most of the time niche themes are well researched and well equipped to deal with the niche they are built for. A multipurpose theme is focused on catering needs of everyone, which is why it often ignores what matters to a particular niche. Whereas a niche theme is always well researched.

E.g. A food recipe theme is a much better place to start a food blog than a multi-purpose blogging theme. A real estate theme should be preferred over listing or multi-purpose directory themes, in all kinds of scenarios.

So, before an early jump towards a multi-purpose theme, I’d recommend you to find a niche-specific theme. Over time you’ll come to appreciate for how much focused, to the point and purposeful niche themes are. If I were you, I’d buy a niche theme in 99 times out of 100. This is exactly, opposite to what I said about the multi-purpose themes.

Say no to redundant functionality Plugins

It is a good idea to follow a modular approach and build a plugin for your theme. That’s why a lot of developers rely on putting some of the theme’s functionality into a few WordPress plugins.

But this can both be good or bad? How?

Well, what do you need three different kinds of slider plugins for? That’s a major no go for me. You should really question the themes which make use of redundant functionality plugins that are meant for one and the same purpose. Having a slider built in with three different slider plugins only means that the developer was not able to decide which one to go for.

And again, this is the multi-purpose approach which I would recommend you to avoid. Any theme with such plugins should be avoided. While having plugins is a good idea, having more than one plugin for the same functionality is not.

Working With Child Themes

Child themes offer an incredible solution if you want to make any changes in the default theme’s code. You can create a child theme out of any parent theme and use it to modify your website, without any fear of losing your updates when the parent theme author updates the parent theme. That is why today most commercial themes contain child themes as a part of their theme package. Always ask for a child theme, and consider it as an important factor while choosing a WP theme.

Things to Do Before the Theme Setup

Market analysis is one of the key parameters that can assist you  to choose a better WP theme. Go through all the theme reviews. You can also post questions for the support team or seek an opinion from the WP community. Similarly, one should also toy around with the theme demos. Because they give quite a bit of an idea about the theme you’re thinking to choose.

So, read the reviews, get in touch with the support if you have any questions. Read the bad reviews as well. 

WordPress Theme Portals

The WordPress community is agile and with every passing day several people get affiliated with this CMS. Developers are building themes and showcase them both on their personal websites and on commercial theme platforms.

Talking about the free themes, then the most reliable source is the official WordPress theme repository. ThemeForest leads the premium themes portals followed by several other names. At InspiryThemes we offer some of the best handcrafted WordPress niche themes which are well researched and built specifically for disciplines like Real Estate, Restaurants & Food Niche, Medical & Health niche, Political themes, eCommerce Store for bakeries, Blogging themes etc.

Let’s Conclude

Apparently, the process of choosing a WordPress theme is not quite simple which is why you should care. I’ve pointed out some of the key factors which can help you with your research. If you have any suggestions, do let me know.I’d love to hear your views about this in the comments box below or reach out to me at Twitter @MaedahBatool.

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Protecting Websites With WordPress Security Plugins https://inspirythemes.com/protecting-websites-with-wordpress-security-plugins/ https://inspirythemes.com/protecting-websites-with-wordpress-security-plugins/#comments Fri, 24 Jun 2016 10:10:52 +0000 https://inspirythemes.com/?p=345 With all the frenzy and obsession that comes with setting up a new website, it’s all too easy to let go off teeny meeny details. Because you’re  turbo-charged with the process that your prime focus is to get your store go live and address the problems later. But the website security gives no chance of retreat […]

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With all the frenzy and obsession that comes with setting up a new website, it’s all too easy to let go off teeny meeny details. Because you’re  turbo-charged with the process that your prime focus is to get your store go live and address the problems later. But the website security gives no chance of retreat if not taken seriously.

Security! Not To Be Ignored

If not full-proof, then at least website owners must take the core security measures which could ensure the safety of their data during worst case scenarios. It’s been more than a decade that WordPress is democratizing publishing and today you find more people building independent sites on this open source script than ever before in the history of world wide web. Call it rumors or unrooted speculations, that the critiques consider it an easy target to say WordPress is a not-so-secured CMS; which I find as totally illogical.

This means that 26% of the web is insecure? Yeah right! I’m not a blind follower of the fact that with open source scripts you’re never unlucky enough to be attacked. But it is rightly unjust to blame WordPress for your weaknesses and lackings towards ensuring robust website security.

Website Security Via Plugins

Over the years, default WordPress architecture has been refined and today, it stands on a much secure footing. One can expect that he might never encounter a hacker, but it’s better to keep yourself prepared for the security vulnerabilities.

WordPress’ integration with third-party features is a dream come true with over 40,000 free and several other paid plugins. Think of any extended functionality and the solution is rightly available just a few clicks away. Open the official plugin repository and browse for the keyword security. You’ll probably find more than a thousand results. But the task of choosing the best security plugin remains quite critical.

So now, the following questions arise. Why and how can you rely on some externally developed WordPress plugin to secure your website? What features should be attributed with a security plugin?

Threats Haunting WordPress

Security threats to WordPress don’t come as a big surprise because fame comes with enmity and being a popular CMS it is prone to some serious risks. I’m sure most of us are well familiar with the potential security problems that could ever happen to your WordPress website. Likewise, the solutions to these problems are also known to us. But the scope of this article revolves around fixing all such vulnerabilities by using plugins.

A well-reputed WordPress security plugin is nearly 90% efficient in detecting and fixing common security breaches.

Therefore, you should go for such an option which addresses concerns like:

  • Brute force attacks due to weak passwords and repetitive login attempts
  • System and Database Vulnerabilities
  • Core files protection e.g. wp-admin, wp-config
  • Server and FTP loopholes
  • Themes and plugins coding weaknesses
  • File permissibility
  • Outdated WordPress files and versions

The list of points can go on and on, but this will only delay the real scope of the article i.e. evaluating the best plugins available based on threats mentioned above.

The Hard Truth

Despite all the details, the hard truth is you’re never fully secured, and room always exists for some irregularities. A WordPress security plugin provides you a helping hand in ensuring hardcore protection. So, the criteria of your chosen security plugin must depend on the following set of questions:

Is the plugin free or paid? What is its current customer base? Will it make my site secure? What repute it enjoys in the WordPress community? Will it effect other site features? etc.

For beginners, the best parameter to judge the popularity of a security plugin is the number of downloads and active installs. This is a clear indicator to know the number of sites it correctly powers. Likewise, there are certain plugins which effect web page speed, database, etc. And a few names which are good with keeping backups and managing file permissions but not very handy with other features.

So, instead of listing a few popular plugins, let me share the best of the lot. Read on to learn what they are. What features do they offer and how well they fulfill your security needs.

iThemes Security

iThemes security

iThemes Security with more than 700,000 active installs; leads the race and is by far the most intuitive free security plugin of its kind. The plugin provides its users with 30 plus ways to secure their websites. Installing this plugin is just like switching to a host which handles all the security and backups automatically. Once configured the plugin works on its own and you’ll love its experience for sure.

Lately, I listed some potential areas which needed to be secured and iThemes Security provides almost every bit of the features which a website requires. Let’s find out what these features are?

  • Prevent Brute Force Attacks: To prevent brute force attacks the plugin’s lockdown feature for failed login attempts ban users, implements 2-factor authentication (2FA) at the login page, allows renaming of login URLs, etc.
  • Scanning and File Permissions: To manage file permissions, there exist a file comparison tool which checks any changes of file contents. The security of admin dashboard is maintained via a widget which lets you ban users and conduct system scans automatically.
  • Pro Version: The plugin almost includes all the essential features which one desires, but you can also get access to its premium features via subscribing to its annual Pro Version at $80.

Sucuri

sucuri security

If iThemes Security provides the best free solution, then Sucuri offers the best premium model of monitoring your websites and preventing them from being hacked or attacked by some malicious activity. Let’s know more about its features:

  • Covers Basic Security Features: It is a well-reputed platform offering firewalls, antivirus, and malware removal services to its customers. Its intelligent detection features keep an eye on everyone who accesses your website.
  • Efficient Response: Likewise, a quick response comes right away if your site gets attacked. This way you can take correct measures at the right time.
  • Intelligent Scanning and Alerts: Apart from the detection and fixing of malware, Sucuri also offers features like website scanner, real-time alerts, SSL certificate and block DDoS attacks.

Their paid plans are available at a much affordable rate starting from $16.66 per month.

Playing It Safe

Despite all the existing security threats and their solutions, it’s always wise to play safe and protect your website from all possible aspects. Maintaining a regular backup of a WordPress website ensures an early recovery in case of a hacker attack. Several solutions exist in the market, and I’ll help you find the best ones.

vaultpress plugin

BackupBuddy is a fantastic creation by iThemes, backing up more than half a million websites. Together with iThemes Security, the plugin provides a perfect security solution preventing users from hacks, malware, server crash down, etc.

VaultPress is another reasonable choice when it comes to keeping a backup. The plugin offers easy-to-restore automated backups, security scans and instant help from the experts.

The Duplicator plugin is an excellent free backup solution and allows users to migrate, copy or clone a site from one location to another. With a huge customer base of more than 700,000 users, Duplicator is an intuitive plugin which eases down the backup process.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that several relevant solutions do exist, and all are doing great in one way or the other.  The two plugins which I’ve mentioned are my personal favorites. I am currently using them to secure my websites. Believe me; it feels great to know that your website is in the safe hands.

So, what is your favorite security plugin? Is your choice the same as mine? I’d love to hear back from you. Comment below or reach out to me at Twitter @MaedahBatool.

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