Our Top 10 Used Plugins For WordPress – 2021 Edition

Every WordPress developer has a bunch of plugins they tend to install on pretty much every WordPress site they develop, and we are also that kind of people. These plugins give great solutions for caching, security and adding other improvements that build on WordPress core.

That’s the beauty of WordPress – there are loads of plugins to choose from and they are so quick and easy to implement. Some plugins are just a case of downloading and activating, others provide a shortcode which you can copy and paste within your pages and others is a simple as dragging and dropping a widget where ever you wish to display it.

With so many free and premium plugins available, how do you distinguish from the good and bad plugins out there?

Do note, overloading your web site with too many plugins can cause plugin conflict and reduce the speed of your web site, so if you can avoid a plugin and just code it in, that’s even better!

Below you will find our selection of essential plugins, all chosen based on their usefulness, quality and popularity.


1.) WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a great plugin and is really quick and easy to install. It turns your standard WordPress website into an eCommerce store and creates all the necessary pages for you (My Account, Checkout, Cart etc). It allows integration with secure payment methods such as Bank Transfer, PayPal, SagePay and many more. With a huge range of features that can be quickly changed in the Control Panel, this is definitely one of my favourites because of the speed you can set up a fantastic eCommerce website.


2.) Advanced Custom Fields

Advanced Custom Fields is an amazing plugin and without a shadow of a doubt, it’s installed on every project I build. I would definitely recommend getting a licence for the Pro version which you can find out more information about here. You can use the Advanced Custom Fields plugin to take full control of your WordPress edit screens & custom field data. It makes it super easy for clients to change text / images any many other things within your WordPress site without any risk of breaking the site.


3.) Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 is another plugin I use on pretty much every WordPress site I develop. You can manage multiple contact forms, customise the form and the mail contents and again, it’s really easy to use. The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and many more. All the form elements are generated for you so you don’t even have to know any PHP code. If your not already using this plugin for your forms, I suggest giving it a try now!


4.) Yoast SEO

SEO Yoast is a fantastic platform for SEO. I have used this plugin on 100% of the WordPress sites I have developed and it is the only plugin I use in terms of SEO. If set up correctly, it will improve your site’s SEO on all needed aspects. WordPress SEO forces you to choose a focus keyword when you’re writing your articles, and then makes sure you use that focus keyword everywhere, it also ranks the SEO of all your pages and posts from ‘Bad’, ‘OK’ to ‘Good’ so you know if your content is going to have any chance of ranking on search engines. The best feature about this plugin is that it even tells you how you can improve the performance of each and every page on your site. It may say things such as, you need to include

tags or include an outbound link on your page/post. You will learn a lot about SEO if you run this plugin on your websites. We actually use the SEO Yoast Premium version which allows up to 5 keywords on each page/post/CPT including many other great features which you can read about or purchase here.


5.) Hummingbird Page Speed Optimization

The next 3 set of plugins I’m going to be talking about are plugins offered by WPMU DEV which you can read about more here. There are free versions of these plugins but they also have premium versions which offer a lot more features which I would highly recommend. Hummingbird PRO is an awesome caching plugin. It zips through your site and finds new ways to boost page speed with fine-tuned controls over file compression, minification and full-page, browser and Gravatar caching. Load your pages quicker and score higher on Google PageSpeed Insights with Hummingbird site optimization.


6.) Smush Image Compression and Optimization

This plugin is one of my favourites; it will resize, optimise and compress all of your images with the incredibly powerful and 100% free WordPress image smusher. This uses Lossly compression which will significantly reduce the file sizes of all images on your web site which will definitely increase your sites speed. Again, the premium version of this plugin is 100% recommended as it will allow you to SUPER-Smush all your images along with a few other great features which will allow you to further optimise your site. Need a high Google Speed Test score? This plugin combined with Hummingbird will make the job a piece of cake 😉


7.) Defender Security, Monitoring, and Hack Protection

Security is definitely important when it comes to WordPress, the number of sites I’ve had to restore/repair and remove Malware from is crazy. So make sure you have fully configured a great security plugin to prevent your web site from these kinds of attacks. Defender is layered security for WordPress made easy. And by easy, I mean amazingly easy! No longer do you have to go through hideously complex settings and get a virtual PhD in security. Defender adds all the hardening and security tweaks you need, in just minutes!


8.) Akismet Anti-Spam

Sick and tired of spam comments and junk email from your WordPress site? Akismet has you covered! Akismet checks your comments and contact form submissions against their global database of spam to prevent your site from publishing malicious content. You can review the comment spam it catches on your blog’s “Comments” admin screen.


9.) MailChimp for WordPress

MailChimp for WordPress allows your visitors to subscribe to your newsletter very easily. This plugin helps you grow your MailChimp lists and write better newsletters through various methods. You can create good looking opt-in forms or integrate with any existing form on your sites, like your comment, contact or checkout form.


10.) Classic Editor

Finally, our last plugin which we have made a lot of use from since WordPress 5 is Classic Editor! Classic Editor is an official plugin maintained by the WordPress team that restores the previous (“classic”) WordPress editor and the “Edit Post” screen. It makes it possible to use plugins that extend that screen, add old-style meta boxes, or otherwise depend on the previous editor. By default, this plugin hides all functionality available in the new Block Editor (“Gutenberg”). Since a lot of people are finding it difficult to get their heads around Gutenberg, this is a great quick fix plugin which will restore the editor back to the way you’ve known and loved for a long time.

 

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development, website design and basically anything digital related. His main expertise is with WordPress, Magento, Shopify as well as many other frameworks. Whether you need responsive design, SEO, speed optimisation or anything else in the world of digital then get in touch. If you would like to work with Nathan, simply drop him an email at [email protected]

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How to Display Related Posts in WordPress

In this tutorial, we are going to show you two ways to display related posts on your WordPress website.

If you know a bit about bounce rate, you are probably already showing related posts on your website. Essentially, the bounce rate is a metric that measures the percentage of people who land on your website and do completely nothing on the page they entered. So they don’t click on a menu item, a ‘read more’ link or any other internal links on the page. This can have an effect on things such as your AdSense earnings. By following this tutorial and adding Related Posts to your WordPress; you are killing three birds with one stone. You are decreasing your bounce rate, increasing your AdSense income, and lastly, you are increasing your page views. As always, we will show you two methods in which you can add related posts to your WordPress website.

How to Display Related Posts in WordPress without a Plugin

As always, we start with our preferred method of adding this without a plugin. In our example, we are going to display two related posts which link to the post. We are adding the featured image, the category, the date, the title and a read more button.

The code can simply be pasted into your single.php file in a position in which you want to display your related posts.


// Related Posts
$tags = wp_get_post_tags($post->ID);
if ($tags) {
	echo '<h3>Related Posts</h3>';
	$first_tag = $tags[0]->term_id;

	$args=array(
		'tag__in' => array($first_tag),
		'post__not_in' => array($post->ID),
		'posts_per_page' => 2, // How many Posts to display
		'caller_get_posts' => 1 // A way to turn sticky posts off in a query.
	);
	$my_query = new WP_Query($args);
	if( $my_query->have_posts() ) {
		while ($my_query->have_posts()) : $my_query->the_post(); ?>										
			<a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>">
				<?php if(get_the_post_thumbnail_url()) { ?>
    				<img alt="Related - <?php the_title(); ?>" src="<?php echo get_the_post_thumbnail_url(); ?>" />
    			<?php } else { ?>
    				<div class="img-holder"></div>
    			<?php } ?>	
			</a>												
			<?php $category = get_the_category(); ?>
			<p><?php echo $category[0]->cat_name; ?> / <?php echo get_the_date(); ?></p>													
			<a href="<?php the_permalink() ?>" rel="bookmark"><h4><?php the_title(); ?></h4></a>
			<a class="btn" href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>">Read More</a>
	<?php
	endwhile;
	}
wp_reset_query();
}

How to Display Related Posts in WordPress with a Plugin

A plugin can be used instead to do a similar thing. We used Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) which gives a list of posts or pages related to the current blog post.

The key features of this plugin are:

  • You can use thumbnail or list view for your related content.
  • It will display related posts, pages, and custom post types.
  • It has a templating system which gives you advanced control of how your results are displayed.
  • It has an advanced and versatile algorithm. This is a fully customisable algorithm which considers post titles, content, tags, categories, and custom taxonomies. A very great feature to ensure your posts are accurately related to the post.
  • It includes an option to display related posts in RSS feeds with custom display options.
  • It includes REST API support which enables you to embed related posts in your web or JavaScript-driven app!
  • It includes shortcode support. So you can simply add the [yarpp] shortcode to place related posts anywhere you like.
  • It supports HTTPS and WordPress Multisite
  • And it's a plugin that is maintained with regular updates

Sounds good right? Download YARPP.

Conclusion

We now know of two methods on how we can add Related Posts to our WordPress website. We also now know the importance of how this can improve our bounce rate. So, which method did you prefer? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development, website design and basically anything digital related. His main expertise is with WordPress, Magento, Shopify as well as many other frameworks. Whether you need responsive design, SEO, speed optimisation or anything else in the world of digital then get in touch. If you would like to work with Nathan, simply drop him an email at [email protected]

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3 Best LMS Plugins

Online courses have been growing in popularity, particularly now that it’s practically impossible to organise offline classes due to the social distancing regulations.

According to forecasts, the global e-learning market is expected to reach $238 billion by 2024, which means that we’re talking about a very lucrative industry.

Regardless of what your field of expertise is, you can easily transform your WordPress website into an online learning platform or a virtual classroom and offer your courses to people globally.

What you need is a learning management system (LMS) plugin, and voila! You can run your own version of Udemy or Treehouse without having to write code or build an entirely new website and start making money.

Here are some of the best LMS plugins that you should consider using.

What to Look for in an LMS Plugin?

A learning management system comes with several different features that allow you to create an online class setting. With an LMS plugin, you’ll be able to create and share classes, manage them, handle the paperwork, enrol students, and use tests and quizzes to evaluate your students’ knowledge.

To make sure that your e-learning website is effective and successful, pick an LMS plugin that offers the following functionalities:

  • Course building. Having a decent course page builder as well as tools for uploading various kinds of content such as PDFs, videos, or links, is very important.
  • Course progress information. This is important so that your students can see how well they’re progressing and stay motivated.
  • Student enrollment and management. With this functionality, you’ll be able to see how many students are there in your courses and collect payments from them.
  • Content dripping. This is a useful option that will slowly reveal the course materials as your students are progressing.
  • Homework options. Make it easy for your students to submit their homework, and for you to grade it.
  • Gamification. Offer your students incentives in the form of badges and certificates when they complete a task successfully or after the course is finished. Gamification plays an important role in making your students feel good about themselves and their accomplishments.

1. LearnDash

LearnDash is a popular online learning plugin – many universities and Fortune 500 companies use it thanks to its speed, powerful features, and professional-looking course design.

If you choose it, you’ll have more than just a basic set of features, meaning that you’ll have everything you need for selling courses, dripping content, gamification, and rewarding students, as well as action-based triggers.

It’s optimised for mobile, which means that learners will be able to attend your courses while on the go.

This plugin comes with a simple drag-and-drop functionality with which you can create multi-tiered courses together with lessons, quizzes, topics, and categories.

You can deliver all lessons at once, or you can use its drip-feed feature to schedule it for the entire duration of your course. Besides that, with this feature, you can also ensure that every learner spends the same amount of time on each lesson.

Other features include great monetisation tools, detailed reporting, support for different media types, and an option for running LearnDash on a network.

When it comes to pricing, you should know that there’s no free trial, although you can cancel your subscription after 30 days. You can have LearnDash for $159 a year for a single license together with support and all features.

2. LearnPress

This plugin is free, but to make the most of it, you’ll have to invest in some paid add-ons that will expand its functionalities.

Since there’s no set-up wizard, you’ll have to install and set it up on your own.

You can easily create a course together with lessons, quizzes, and questions. It’s worth mentioning that you can use the lessons and quizzes from one course into another, as well as that you can export your content and use it on another LearnPass-powered WordPress website.

LearnPress is a great option if you’re offering a course taught by multiple instructors. This can be useful for companies building courses for onboarding and training their employees, as these usually require different trainers for different fields.

When we’re talking about business training, the success of the entire effort depends on using business intelligence and data to scale training operations and aligning training metrics to key organisational objectives.

This plugin also supports the content drip option, assignments, quizzes, grading, and other standard learning features. It also integrates with WooCommerce and WordPress membership plugins.

You can use a WordPress theme, but to avoid compatibility issues and provide a better user experience, it’s best to purchase a dedicated LearnPress theme. Also, you’ll have to invest in a payment gateway integration, because by default, this plugin comes with PayPal as the only option.

3. Lifter LMS

Lifter LMS is a plugin that’s pretty easy to install, even on the existing WordPress websites.

Although its pricing starts at $299 annually, it does offer a full bundle for that amount. If you’d like to test it before committing to pay the full price, there’s a $1 30-day trial. However, it’s important to mention that the core plugin is free so that you can also choose to purchase individual add-ons at $99 each. In other words, you can choose to build a very simple e-learning course for free and invest only in a payment gateway plugin.

What you’ll get is support for multi-tier courses with training modules, lessons, topics, categories, and more. All this allows you to create both shorter courses as well as the entire degree programs. With the help of this plugin, you can make appealing courses with lots of multimedia content such as videos, audio recordings, text, and images. Besides that, there’s also a graphics pack with different backgrounds that you can use to make your courses more attractive.

The content-dripping feature allows you to control the delivery of your courses, while the import-export tool means that you can move your content between sites.

Another interesting feature is the so-called Social Learning, which allows your learners to create advanced profiles and learn together by leveraging a timeline similar to that of Facebook.

Regardless of which one of these three LMS plugins you choose, you can’t go wrong. It only depends on what kind of features fit the bill for your online courses, as well as the size of your budget.

Posted by: Michael – Qeedle

Michael has been working in marketing for almost a decade and has worked with a huge range of clients, which has made him knowledgeable on many different subjects. He has recently rediscovered a passion for writing and hopes to make it a daily habit. You can read more of Michael’s work at Qeedle.

 

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How to Downgrade WordPress to a Previous Version

If you are looking to revert your WordPress version to a previous version, within this article we will explain how easy this is to do. Why would you want to do this? Well, maybe you performed an upgrade to the latest version then discovered that either your plugin or theme is not compatible with the latest version of WordPress. It could even be that a required plugin is essential to your website which hasn’t had an update to make it compatible with the latest version. It could even be that you were forced to use the Gutenberg update and you want to revert back to the Classic Editor. If the last issue is the problem, then there is no need to downgrade your WordPress version because you can simply install the Classic Editor plugin and that will fix your issue.

Whatever your reason for doing this may be, there are two ways to perform the downgrade, but first things first, let’s take a backup of your current site!

The two methods for downgrading are:

  • 1. Use a Plugin
  • 2. Downgrade Manually

But as we’ve mentioned, let’s do the backup first. For instructions to do this, have a look at this post; The Best 2 Tools For WordPress Website Migrations.

Now you’ve made your backup, let’s begin…

Downgrade WordPress using a Plugin

Using a downgrade plugin is a very simple yet reliable way of downgrading your WordPress version. It is definitely a lot quicker than having to replace the files via FTP manually. The most common used plugin for the job is the WP Downgrade.

Once you have installed and activated the plugin, you can go to SettingsWP Downgrade, then you can enter the WordPress version in which you wish to downgrade to as shown below:

In our example, we chose to downgrade to WordPress 5.4.1. You can select any version you want, for a list of versions you can downgrade to, check the WordPress releases here. Once you have entered your WordPress version, just click the Save Changes button.

Now you can go to DashboardUpdates, what you will notice now is that it will say ‘You can update to WordPress 5.4.1 automatically’, it basically tricks WordPress into thinking this version is the latest version. Simply click the Update Now button and you will be reverted to your desired WordPress version in no time! Pretty cool huh?

2. Downgrade Manually

Should the Plugin not work for whatever reason or you simply just prefer to do the job by yourself, then downgrading manually isn’t exactly that difficult. If you know how to use FTP, then this will be no problem at all.

So, once you’ve backed up your site, the first step is to download the WordPress release you wish to downgrade to. Again, you can download any WordPress release version by clicking on the following link.

Next step, we simply want to upload just the wp-admin and wp-includes folder, don’t touch ANY other folders, ESPECIALLY wp-content.

So, let’s go ahead and upload and overwrite all the files for the two folders we have uploaded.

When you’re done, log into your WordPress site, update the database should it prompt a warning, and you’re done! Check it all over and make sure it’s all working as expected.

Additional Notes on Rolling Back WordPress

I wouldn’t recommend staying on an older version of WordPress forever as this could potentially lead to security issues. Sure, if it’s a quick fix to get the site working again, or if the site was updated by mistake, then go ahead! But you should look to fix the issues and upgrade to the latest version as soon as possible ideally. If the latest plugins or themes are not compatible, that’s where we can step in and help if needed. On a lot of occasions, plugin and theme developers will update these to ensure compatibility with the latest versions. However, this is not the case all the time, unfortunately. Either way, we need to find a plugin or theme alternative or even hire a professional developer to take care of the updates in the meantime.

If you need help upgrading your WordPress Theme / Plugins to the latest version, get in touch by dropping an email to [email protected].

Drop a comment below if you need any assistance with our guide! Happy coding folks!

 

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development, website design and basically anything digital related. His main expertise is with WordPress, Magento, Shopify as well as many other frameworks. Whether you need responsive design, SEO, speed optimisation or anything else in the world of digital then get in touch. If you would like to work with Nathan, simply drop him an email at [email protected]

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How to Import and Export or Duplicate Navigation Menus in WordPress

If you are wanting to export a navigation menu from one WordPress website to another, then you are in the right place. Maybe you are wanting to duplicate a menu to make it easier to re-create a similar type of menu? Well, we got this covered in this post as well.

Unfortunately, the default WordPress import/export feature only allows you to transfer the menu as part of the full site transfer, you can’t just do this on its own.

In this post, we’ll explain how you can easily import/export navigation menus in WordPress which will be a real time-saver!

Step 1. Export and Import Navigation Menus in WordPress

We found the best tool for the job is using the WPS Menu Exporter plugin. Once installed and activated you can now go to Tools » Export. You should now see an additional option to export just the Navigation Menu Items. This will include your menu and all the pages that are linked from your menu. If you have any posts in your menu, those will be includes along with any comments within them as well.

Select the Navigation Menu Items radio button and then click Download Export File button at the bottom.

This will create a download with just the menu to your computer which is stored as an XML file.

Step 2. Importing Your WordPress Menu to Your New Site

Now you can go to your new site and go to Tools » Import, select the file you exported in the previous step. If it’s not already installed, you will have to install the WordPress importer. When you visit the page, it will show an option to Install Now.

Once you’ve installed the WordPress importer, you should see a Run Importer link in place of the Install Now link.

After you click on this link, you’ll see the Import WordPress screen. Here, you’ll need to click the Choose file button so you can select the .xml file you downloaded earlier.

Once you’ve selected your file, go ahead and click the Upload file and import button.

You’ll then get a scrreen when you’ll be asked to Assign Authors. The default option is to import the original author. Although, it makes more sense to select an existing Administrator user as the author of the imported content on the new website. To do this, just select the user from the dropdown menu.

If you plan to re-use the content of the pages themselves, then you’ll also want to check the Download and import file attachments box. This means that images will be included in the import.

Once you’re happy with your settings, click the Submit button at the bottom of the page.

Upon completion, you’ll see a page where it says Import WordPress - All Done. Have Fun!.

You can now view your new menu you exported from your old website by going to Appearance » Menus

You can also click on the Pages tab in your WordPress dashboard to check out the new pages that have been imported along with the menu.

And that’s it, pretty simple process right?

Duplicating a Menu

So this part isn’t associated with the previous tutorial. This is simply if you are wanting to duplicate a menu on the same website. We’ve used this a bunch of times, especially when creating Header / Footer menus which are very similar, it’s just a big time saver really.

For this, we use the Duplicate Menu plugin.

After you have installed and activated the plugin you can now go to Appearance » Duplicate Menu.

On the next page, you will have an option to select a menu you wish to duplicate, and then provide the new menu name as shown below:

After clicking the Duplicate Menu button, your new menu will appear in Appearance » Menu with the new name you created. You can. now customise this to your exact needs. Very quick and simple right?

Well we hope you enjoyed this article, if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch or drop a comment below.

 

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development, website design and basically anything digital related. His main expertise is with WordPress, Magento, Shopify as well as many other frameworks. Whether you need responsive design, SEO, speed optimisation or anything else in the world of digital then get in touch. If you would like to work with Nathan, simply drop him an email at [email protected]

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WordPress 5.5 is here! Here’s what you need to know…

I don’t know if anybody else gets excited about WordPress releases, but we for sure do! So it’s finally here, the official release of WordPress 5.5 was released today. This update comes packed with a bunch of new features and improvements. This includes improvements to the block editor, gives you the capability of editing inline images, an improved content preview and a hell of a lot more! To give you an idea of what is in store for you, we’ve listed the five most important features in this update. We hope you enjoy it!

This version goes by the name “Eckstine” in honour of Billy Eckstine.

1. Improvements to the Block Editor

Back when WordPress 5.0 was brought out, it introduced a block-based editing system known by Gutenberg. Since the introduction of this block editor, each and every update has come with improvements to this and this new release is no exception at all. There are quite a few noticeable changes to the UI (User Interface), but this release comes with a block pattern and a new block directory.

Block patterns are quite handy when it comes to more routine elements of your pages or posts. These patterns, which you can find when you add a new block, are ready-made blocks with commonly used settings. Think of two buttons next to each other or a column layout on your page. Block patterns help you quickly set up the layout of a page. And although the number of patterns is limited right now, this number will probably keep growing over time.

The Block Directory

The block directory is a pretty cool feature that can definitely improve your writing experience. This contains WordPress plugins that can add new blocks to your editor and there are quite a new blocks available here!

When you click Add Block, you can use a search field to find the one you want and if there are no results in the block directory, the editor will show other results that might match your search request. This definitely opens up a lot of different possibilities and we’re sure Gutenberg is only going to get better and better as time goes along.

2. Edit Inline Images

The ability to edit inline images is a pretty cool new feature. We know WordPress already has several options to edit images, but what’s different here is that it makes it possible to do this yourself whilst on the page you’re editing. No more going back to the Media Library to just rotate, resize, crop, etc… now you can simply edit it where you are, time saver, right?

Lazy-loading images

Another thing worth mentioning here is that images will be lazy-loaded from default from now on! This means that the images on your page will not be loaded until they come into view which increases the page-load of your site. We usually relied on WP-Rocket to do this, but if the standard lazy-loading works as good then we’ll stick with the WordPress lazy-loading.

3. Improved content previews

Within the block editor, it gives you a pretty good idea of what the page will look like. Nonetheless, the content preview is an awesome feature to safely preview your page before you publish/update your changes. With this release, it comes with an additional device preview which makes it possible to view your content on desktop, tablet and mobile screen sizes. With this, you can ensure your content is responsive, accessible and readable for your visitors. This is something you want to always ensure everything looks right on all devices since a lot of traffic these days comes from mobile devices.

4. Automated Updates for Plugins

Another pretty cool feature is that it now enables you to allow automatic updates for different plugins and themes through the CMS. If this is something you want to do (if you are sure it won’t break things in future) then you have to enable it yourself. You can do this by going to the Admin Dashboard > Plugins and clicking Enable auto-updates

If you want to enable automatic updates for your theme then simply go to Appearance > Themes and click on Enable auto-updates link that you can find under your themes names.

If you are in doubt in whether you should be enabling anything then please keep the following in mind. It is a very good practise to test keep all plugins and your theme up to date. But this should ideally be done on your localhost or a development/staging website. I mean for sure there are going to be plugins that we would enable automatic updates and that will be to our security plugin, caching, Contact Form 7 and SEO Yoast. These type of plugins you can usually update and you won’t notice any difference in terms of visual appearance. We do however always recommend testing when possible and keeping an eye on the changelogs to make sure you understand what exactly you are updating. The last thing you want to do is update a plugin that required PHP 7.4 and you are only using PHP 7.2, with deprecated functions, you may find the odd error on your site which is not exactly great for your visitors.

5. Default XML Sitemaps

With WordPress 5.5, it now generates its own XML sitemaps. This is a file which gives search engines directions of all the content on your website. This helps them discover and index all of your pages and posts which is very important for SEO. With launching any new website, the first thing we do is create the domain on Google Search Console to help it get indexed quicker. Typically, we would use Yoast SEO for this. You might be thinking; are there any conflicts with sites having more than one Site Map? Well, the answer is yes; you should only have one. With the release of Yoast SEO 14.7 though, they automatically disable the default Site Map. However, do note that Yoast’s Site Map is a lot more advanced, and personally; we’re going to stick to using theirs.

The default Sitemap feature will support all post types, taxonomies (categories, tags and custom taxonomies), and author archives. However, it will still be only providing the basic required functionality of XML sitemap protocol.

If you are already using a WordPress SEO plugin that comes with its own XML Sitemaps, then don’t worry, you don’t need to do anything. In fact, the two biggest SEO plugins All in One SEO Pack and Yoast SEO have decided to continue providing their own sitemaps because they offer advanced customisation features to help you get higher rankings and they don’t actually conflict with one another. They have done it in a way that it will only show one XML Site Map even with either of these plugins installed.

Conclusion

Welcome to WordPress 5.5 all!

Within this post, we discussed what we felt were the main highlights of WordPress 5.5. There is in fact a lot more to this update but we hope we gave you more of an insight to the improvements within the block editor, inline image editing, the improvements to the content previews, the ability to automatically update plugins/themes, and the new XML Site Maps that WordPress now offers.

If you have any questions regarding this update or if there is anything you’re excited about, let us know in the comments below.

To download the latest version; click here.

 

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development, website design and basically anything digital related. His main expertise is with WordPress, Magento, Shopify as well as many other frameworks. Whether you need responsive design, SEO, speed optimisation or anything else in the world of digital then get in touch. If you would like to work with Nathan, simply drop him an email at [email protected]

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Diving Further Into WordPress Website Accessibility

So you know a bit about WordPress accessibility, but still, you want to learn. Great!

The WordPress community is dedicated to Core Accessibility.

Accessibility Coding Standards Promise: Any new or revised code released in WordPress will conform with WCAG 2.0 guidelines at Level AA.

The accessibility of a WordPress website depends on 3 factors:

  • Theme
  • Plugins
  • Content

 

Designers, creators, and site owners also influence if the end product is accessible.

Developers play a significant part in the accessibility mix. The issues can not be found until someone reports they can’t see or do anything on the website.

What Can WordPress Developers Do To Make The Sites They Build More Accessible?

The right method is improving accessibility from the start. Rectifying accessibility problems with a site is often more time-consuming and difficult to do (though it might happen often).

So, this is what you should do:

  • 1. Choose An Accessibility Ready Theme
  • 2. Use Plugins to produce Accessible Content
  • 3. Teach Customers to Add Accessible Content

 

Tota11y, a Khan Academy developed usability visualisation toolkit, is an awesome developer tool. Simply attach their JS file to your site to allow the accessibility feature, which appears in the shape of a tiny glasses icon tab.

1. Choosing an Accessible Theme for WordPress

The first step on a fully accessible website is to select an accessible theme. Many theme developers take the time to implement the instructions in the WordPress theme accessibility guide, so it is best to ask the author whether a particular topic is accessible or not.

WordPress also includes free themes. Find the submenu under the “Function Filter” heading and click on the cog icon.

There are many options you can choose to filter your search. In the Features section, click the feature above that is reliable readiness.

You can then select any number of filters. On the left, you will see a Filter button that shows the number of filters applied. Click Apply filters. Then, select a topic.

It is important to note that the fact that a theme is labelled Accessibility Ready does not mean that it is “fully” accessible. However, if a theme developer marks their theme as accessible, they probably made some effort into making it accessible. If you encounter any issues, let them know so they can update it for other users.

2. WordPress Free Plugin Solutions For Accessibility

You may be creating your own WordPress theme, or you using any theme you want. One of the amazing things in WordPress is the availability of tens of thousands of add-ons. Whenever you need something, there is usually an add-on that can fit into your website.

My personal choice is WP Publishing, which comes with a variety of tools to help you find and fix the most common problems you find when using WordPress. It requires very little expertise and minimal setup.

WP Accessibility Helper (WHA) is another option in a range of options that include several useful features for skipping links, changing font size, scanning domains, contrast mode, and more. The features you want to include can meet more specific accessibility requirements.

Fonts: Create a font size widget for your sidebars. This makes it easy for readers on your site to resize text according to their needs.

Another easy-to-read option is the Zeno Font Resizer. The plugin allows webmasters to set the font size as well as the font size options. So when users return to your site, they’ll see the font size as they specified before.

Text-to-speech: For readers with visual impairment, text-to-speech features offer audio options for the blind. 190 WordPress add-ons offer a voice of human quality, support over 30 languages, and work with most topics.

G-speech text-to-speech solution is a free alternative for accessible audio. It works with any text on your site and adds an audio block to your site. You can then use these options to change the colour, speaker sound, and more.

Forms: You can easily access your contact forms through the Contact Form 7 plugin. This allows you to set default values for forms and formations, such as WCAG form fields, or readily available forms, such as add-ons.

3. Testing Your Website Accessibility

Once you’ve created your website, it’s a good idea to review your changes. There are many methods and software that you can use to make the experience enjoyable, but there are a few that make testing easier.

One that we mentioned earlier in this article is the Tota11y. Along with this, you can use WAVE Web Accessibility Diagnostic Chrome extension. This auxiliary device displays all errors, warnings, features, structural features, ARIA labels so that you can edit them accordingly.

Once you’ve created your website, it’s a good idea to review your changes. There are many methods and software that you can use to make the experience enjoyable, but there are a few that make testing easier.

Apart from Tota11y, the WAVE Web Accessibility Diagnostic Chrome Extension helps auxiliary device displays all errors, warnings, features, structural features and ARIA labels so that you can edit them accordingly.

Conclusion

Website accessibility is just as important, if not more essential than directing traffic to your website. You should make sure anyone who lands at your website will completely understand and navigate through all the information available there.

That’s why we recommend these accessibility features and the right plug-ins to make them work. If you want to make your website fully accessible, these tips should give you a head start.

If you want us to look at your website and suggest/implement ways in which we can improve your accessibility, feel free to drop us an email at [email protected] and we’d love to help you! Alternatively, you can get in touch with MangoMatter Media and they would be very happy to assist you.

 

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development, website design and basically anything digital related. His main expertise is with WordPress, Magento, Shopify as well as many other frameworks. Whether you need responsive design, SEO, speed optimisation or anything else in the world of digital then get in touch. If you would like to work with Nathan, simply drop him an email at [email protected]

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9 Reasons Why You MUST Avoid Nulled WordPress Themes & Plugins

What are Nulled WordPress Themes & Plugins?

Nulled WordPress themes and plugins are basically pirated copies a paid version which is available unethically on the world wide web.

Not only does it cause great WordPress companies that invested a lot of time creating great plugins/themes, but most importantly it compromised the security of websites that are using these nulled WordPress themes and Plugins.

Quite often, the reason your web site get’s hacked is because of using nulled themes and plugins. As web site owners, you may not even be aware that your site is using these nulled plugins/themes, which is why it’s always important to use good/trusted developers or reputable agencies.

Here are some of the top reasons why you MUST avoid using nulled WordPress plugins and themes on your website.

1. Security

In terms of website security, nulled plugins and themes are extremely dangerous to your website as they are known to carry malware.

This malicious code can spread across different files and even other websites on your server. These malicious codes may not be noticeable on the frontend as more often than not, they disguise itself which makes it harder for programmers to detect and clean up when your website is hacked.

If you’re not taking regular backups, you could even potentially lose all your websites data if your website is hacked. In addition to this, you risk your website being de-indexed from search engines for distributing malware.

2. Privacy

The types of malicious code in which nulled themes and plugins can vary quite significantly. This can include code that steals information from your WordPress site and makes it available to hackers on the dark web.

This information could include your username, email address, and passwords. If you run an e-commerce website or a membership website, you also risk having personal information of your customers being leaked. Now, this can become quite costly to your business if this was to happen. Quite often, people get nulled themes and plugins because they can’t afford the cost. The price isn’t in fact that much when you compare against the number of risks that can occur and how it could actually end up costing you a lot more in the end run.

These kind of hacks are hard to detect and may go unnoticed as your WordPress site keeps functioning normally.

3. It’s Bad for SEO

Pirated WordPress themes and plugins can destroy your WordPress SEO. Nulled WordPress themes and plugins can add spam links to your website or hijack your users and redirect them to bad websites.

These things may not be noticeable visually as they are working in the background, hidden inside your code. Trust us though, search engines will be very quick to penalise your website by dropping your search ranking or even de-indexing your website completely!

What’s even worse is that it could take months to recover your websites SEO rankings…

4. Legal Issues

Many WordPress themes and plugins are open source, but some of them are sold with mixed types of licenses. This means that some parts of the code are protected by copyright laws and if you are using a nulled WordPress theme or plugin, then you don’t have the legal permission to do so.

What this means is that Pirated WordPress themes can result in data theft, data loss, or distribution of illegal material. All of these can lead to legal proceedings where you may end up paying huge sums to lawyers.

5. No Access to Updates

Most WordPress themes and plugins regularly release updates to fix bugs, add new features, and close security issues. Nulled WordPress themes and plugins cannot receive those updates because they don’t have a valid license key.

This leaves your WordPress site with an outdated version which will be less secure and possibly even ends up not working. WordPress itself regularly releases new versions and sometimes themes and plugins need to be updated to remain compatible with the latest changes. Since nulled theme or plugin can’t be updated, your website may start misbehaving or become inaccessible. In some cases, you won’t even know that there is an update available or even know if it’s compatible with the latest WordPress version.

Even the most experienced WordPress users need support and documentation to properly use some of the premium WordPress themes and plugins.

Developers of these products spend a lot of their time on providing support and creating documentation for their users. They even hire support specialists to answer questions and regularly add new tutorials.

If you are using a nulled WordPress theme or plugin, then you are on your own. You cannot ask the developers to help you out when you need help. You also don’t get access to documentation and tutorials because those are only available to users who purchase the plugins/themes.

7. Access to New Features

As we have already mentioned, WordPress themes and plugins are updated regularly and often these updates include new features. If you are using a nulled WordPress products, then you won’t be getting automatic updates, and you wouldn’t even know that there are new features available.

These new features can significantly improve your website and help you earn more money online. However, you will be totally unaware of any changes and will be stuck with an outdated version.

8. Unethical use Discourages Innovation

Some people may argue that some plugins and themes are just tiny bits of software, and quite simply, they will use nulled plugins and themes because they can’t afford the costs. However, this tiny piece of code is the result of someone’s skill, talent, and hard work. By using nulled software, you are taking away money from the creators.

Developers not only spend their own time writing code, but they also have to provide support, create documentation, make a website, hire support staff, and spend a lot of money to run their business. Using nulled software hurts their business and they end up losing money.

These unethical practices may discourage developers from creating new innovative products that can benefit millions of users!

9. The Abundance of Free Alternatives

There is no reason for anyone to use nulled WordPress themes and plugins. No matter which WordPress theme or plugin you choose, there is more than likely one or suitable free alternatives available for them.

For great WordPress themes, we tend to use ThemeForest, they offer a massively library of themes to choose from and more often than not, you will find a great theme which will require very little customisation to get a great website for your business up and running.

If you are looking for some great WordPress plugins you can use CodeCanyon, again, they have a massive stock of great premium plugins you can purchase if you can’t source a suitable free plugin from WordPress.org.

WordPress.org has thousands of free plugins and themes. Some of them are even better than the paid/premium products. Most importantly, you can use them legally with no burden on your conscience and without affecting WordPress community negatively.

Well, we hope you have found this article useful and can agree with the fact that nulled plugins and themes should not be used.

Do you have a website that has been affected by malware? Get in touch with us at [email protected] and we will put our full efforts to fix and recover your website!

 

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development, website design and basically anything digital related. His main expertise is with WordPress, Magento, Shopify as well as many other frameworks. Whether you need responsive design, SEO, speed optimisation or anything else in the world of digital then get in touch. If you would like to work with Nathan, simply drop him an email at [email protected]

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WordPress Version 5.2

On May 7, 2019, WordPress 5.2 “Jaco”, named for the jazz musician Jaco Pastorius, was released to the public.

As always, you can update your WordPress to the latest version or download the latest files from WordPress.org.

So what’s new with the latest version?

Site Health Check

Building on the Site Health features introduced in 5.1, this release adds two new pages to help debug common configuration issues. It also adds space where developers can include debugging information for site maintainers. Check your site status by going to Tools > Site Health, and learn how to debug issues.

WordPress 5.2 - Site Health

PHP Error Protection

This administrator-focused update will let you safely fix or manage fatal errors without requiring developer time. It features better handling of the so-called ‘white screen of death,’ and a way to enter recovery mode, which pauses error-causing plugins or themes.

WordPress 5.2 - Site Protection

Improvements for Everyone

Accessibility Updates

A number of changes work together to improve contextual awareness and keyboard navigation flow for those using screen readers and other assistive technologies.

New Dashboard Icons

Thirteen new icons include Instagram, a suite of icons for BuddyPress, and rotated Earth icons for global inclusion. Find them in the Dashboard and have some fun!

Plugin Compatibility Checks

WordPress will now automatically determine if your site’s version of PHP is compatible with installed plugins. If the plugin requires a higher version of PHP than your site currently uses, WordPress will not allow you to activate it, preventing potential compatibility errors.

Developer Happiness

As always, a large handful of developer-focused changes have also been made. The highlights of these include:

PHP Version Bump

The minimum supported PHP version is now 5.6.20. As of WordPress 5.2, themes and plugins can safely take advantage of namespaces, anonymous functions, and more!

Privacy Updates

A new theme page template, a conditional function, and two CSS classes make designing and customizing the Privacy Policy page easier.

New Body Tag Hook

5.2 introduces a wp_body_open hook, which lets themes support injecting code right at the beginning of the element.

Building JavaScript

With the addition of webpack and Babel configurations in the @wordpress/scripts package, developers won’t have to worry about setting up complex build tools to write modern JavaScript.

And plenty of more which you can read about here.

What we can do for you!

As always, it’s always best to keep your WordPress version and plugins up to date and use plugins from reliable authors that maintain their plugins. If you need assistance with upgrading your WordPress version, plugins, updating core code to be compatible with the latest versions of PHP (recommended) or anything else WordPress or digital related then get in touch by sending an email to [email protected]. We &hearths; WordPress and as specialists in the field; you can guarantee that you are in very capable hands.

Have a look at out portfolio – if it’s a web specialist you require; we’re here at your disposal ; )

 

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development, website design and basically anything digital related. His main expertise is with WordPress, Magento, Shopify as well as many other frameworks. Whether you need responsive design, SEO, speed optimisation or anything else in the world of digital then get in touch. If you would like to work with Nathan, simply drop him an email at [email protected]

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Silva Web Designs Top 9 Best Plugins for WordPress

Every WordPress developer has a bunch of plugins they tend to install on pretty much every WordPress site they develop, and we are one of these people. These plugins give great solutions for caching, security and adding other improvements that build on WordPress core.

That’s the beauty of WordPress – there are loads of plugins to choose from and they are so quick and easy to implement. Some plugins are just a case of downloading and activating, others provide a shortcode which you can copy and paste within your pages and others is a simple as dragging and dropping a widget where ever you wish to display it.

With so many free and premium plugins available, how do you distinguish from the good and bad plugins out there?

Below you will find our selection of essential plugins, all chosen based on their usefulness, quality and popularity.


WooCommerce – excelling eCommerce

WooCommerce is a great plugin and is really quick and easy to install. It turns your standard WordPress website into an eCommerce store and creates all the necessary pages for you (My Account, Checkout, Cart etc). It allows integration with secure payment methods such as Bank Transfer, PayPal, SagePay and many more. With a huge range of features that can be quickly changed in the Control Panel, this is definitely one of my favourites because of the speed you can set up a fantastic eCommerce website.


Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 is another plugin I use on pretty much every WordPress site I develop. You can manage multiple contact forms, customise the form and the mail contents and again, it’s really easy to use. The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and many more. All the form elements are generated for you so you don’t even have to know any PHP code. If your not already using this plugin for your forms, I suggest giving it a try now!


WordPress SEO by Yoast

SEO by Yoast is a fantastic platform for SEO. I have used this plugin on 100% of the WordPress sites I have developed and it is the only plugin I use in terms of SEO. If set up correctly, it will improve your site’s SEO on all needed aspects. WordPress SEO forces you to choose a focus keyword when you’re writing your articles and then makes sure you use that focus keyword everywhere, it also ranks the SEO of all your pages and posts from ‘Bad’, ‘OK’ to ‘Good’ so you know if your content is going to have any chance of ranking on search engines. The best feature about this plugin is that it even tells you how you can improve the performance of each and every page on your site. It may say things such as, you need to include

tags or include an outbound link on your page/post. You will learn a lot about SEO if you run this plugin on your websites.


WP Statistics

WP Statistics is a comprehensive plugin for your WordPress visitor statistics. It allows you to track statistics for your WordPress site without depending on external services and uses arrogate data whenever possible to respect your user’s privacy. On-screen statistics are presented as graphs and can easily be viewed through the WordPress admin interface. It also comes with widgets you can simply drag and drop on to your site to display your site’s statistics (optional). Overall, it is a great plugin with a lot of statistical information, it can track the IP Addresses of visits you have had on your site and even shows a geographical Google Map to display where you site views are coming from. I would definitely recommend using this one.


Add Logo to Admin

Add Logo to Admin WordPress plugin is a plugin I have discovered quite recently. It basically allows you to customise your admin by adding your own logo to the header. It also replaces the WordPress logo on the login screen with the same custom logo and works across all web browsers. It also gives you the option to add the logo you choose to the top left of every admin control panel page. It is a great plugin to use which gives clients you develop websites for that you have great attention to detail as it’s giving them a nice personalisation. The best thing about this is that it only takes about 10-15 seconds to set up!


W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache is a very popular plugin for WordPress with over 4 million downloads to date so far. Caching is the best way to easily improve your user’s experience without having to make any changes to your site’s content. It will definitely increase the page speed and overall sites performance. It’s one of those plugins that once you know about it, you will install it on every WordPress site you develop.


BulletProof Security

BulletProof Security is quick to set up, reliable and easy to use, it will greatly increase the security of your website and it is definitely worth installing.

BulletProof Security Features include:-

  • .htaccess Website Security Protection (Firewalls)
  • Login Security & Monitoring
  • DB Backup
  • DB Backup Logging
  • DB Table Prefix Changer
  • Security Logging
  • HTTP Error Logging
  • FrontEnd/BackEnd Maintenance Mode
  • UI Theme Skin Changer

NextScripts: Social Networks Auto-Poster

This plugin automatically publishes posts from your blog to your Social Network accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Blogger, Tumblr, Flickr, LiveJournal, Flipboard, FriendFeed, DreamWidth, Delicious, Diigo, Instapaper, Stumbleupon, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Plurk, VKontakte(VK.com), YouTube, App.net, Scoop.It, etc. The whole process is completely automated.

If you know anything about SEO, you will know the Social Media Marketing is a huge element in the process. This plugin will save you so much time. All you have to do is write a new post and either entire post or it’s a nicely formatted announcement with backlink will be published to all your configured social networks. You can reach the most audience and tell all your friends, readers and followers about your new post. The plugin works with profiles, business pages, community pages, groups, etc. Messages are 100% customisable and adopted for each network requirements.


MailPoet Newsletters

This plugin allows you to create newsletters, post notifications and autoresponders. It gives you the option to send your posts, images, social icons in your newsletter. Change fonts and colours on the fly. Manage all your subscribers. Definately one of the best Newsletter / Mailing list plugin I have come across. I was always using MailChimp and Aweber before I discovered this plugin, and now there is no turning back.

This plugin does allow you to have 2000 subscribers and send unlimited emails to your subscribers without having to pay anything, unlike other Mailing List plugins I have found. Should you go over the 2000 subscribers, you can always opt-in for the Pro Edition of this plugin which allows 10,000+ subscribers and offers you a range of extra features, but it’s only worth considering this should you near the 2000 subscribers milestone.


There you have it, our Top 10 Best Plugins for WordPress, I have you have found this blog post to great use and have discovered some plugins you may have not even heard about before.

Let us know in the comments how many of the above plugins you are already using and any plugins you are using that you are surprised are not featured here.

 

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development, website design and basically anything digital related. His main expertise is with WordPress, Magento, Shopify as well as many other frameworks. Whether you need responsive design, SEO, speed optimisation or anything else in the world of digital then get in touch. If you would like to work with Nathan, simply drop him an email at [email protected]

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