Following on from the previous two mini series, this is the first blog post in a new mini-series; Customizing Ultimatum Theme and WordPress. By now you have installed and set up WordPress and Ultimatum Theme and have a working front page. Congratulations. But, already you can see some issues you want to fix. Ultimatum Theme gives you a way to have template-wide custom css (child theme => Templates => CSS ~ for the particular template) and at the top you can see Template wide Custom CSS. Do NOT use this. It will write css into the head of every page and this is not good practice. It is much better to write a custom css file (or more than one) and call these properly using WordPress coding hooks and filters. The only page that WordPress seem to have forgotten in this regard is the login page, about which I will write a separate post. So, what are you going to need? FTP software and a syntax highlighting text editor. I am a Windows user, and I use Editra as my text editor, but there are other good free ones, such as Notepad++. My development tool is Firefox with the Firebug add-on (which itself has quite a few cool add-ons, go Google for them) and the Fireftp add-on. I will leave you to figure these out for installation and use, as there are tons of great guides on the Internet already. Why Firefox? Because it so closely follows the web standards and thus it is the first browser you design for, then you check the others. I also set up a drive to mirror any folders and files on my local machine. So, that having been said, here is Firefox with Fireftp looking at my Ultimatum Child Theme folder as Ultimatum made it:
This is the fifth blog post in this series on how to build a Self-Hosted WordPress site and focuses on WordPress SEO by YOAST, for beginners. This short post is not intended to cover any part of WordPress SEO in detail, just enough so that it is set up so you can use it. There are plenty of YouTube videos that go into far more detail. That said, here goes.
The first page is the SEO Dashboard. I did watch a bit of the tour, so when you do that option disappears. On the dashboard page, I have set ‘Allow tracking of this WordPress install’s anonymous data’ and ‘Disable the Advanced part of the WordPress SEO meta box’ to be checked (on). Save the changes. The second settings page is Titles & Metas, with five tabs. Only one change here, on the General Tab, the Sitewide Meta Setting for ‘Noindex subpages of archives’. Set this checked (on) and save. I make no changes to the Social settings – these you may wish to change as and when you set that up for your site. (more…)
In the second blog post in this series on how to build a Self-Hosted WordPress site, I explained how to fix some basic error messages that arose when you installed the initial list of plugins and also how to configure the most important of the plugins. Now it’s time to configure the rest of those plugins. These plugins need no further changes at this time:
In the first blog post in this series on how to build a Self-Hosted WordPress site, I explained how to get the basic plugins installed. Now it’s time to configure those plugins. First we will look at Quick Cache. This will work best with the appropriate supporting software on your server, which I will cover in a separate series of posts focusing on server configuration. At the top in orange you can see Quick Cache is off. A few paragraphs down, it tells how you can test if Quick Cache is working. Using Firefox, all you need do is open a Private Tab or Window and open your site in that, and view the source. If the code isn’t there, go back to plugins and select Drop-ins at the top. You will see you need to check if the WordPress wp-config.php has the line define(‘WP_CACHE’, true); in it. If it does not, you will need to make a manual edit of the file to add that line. See my separate guide on editing the wp-config.php file. Anyway, you simply switch Quick Cache on (the big yellow option) and save the settings at the bottom of the page. After I have checked that it IS working, I go back and select the ‘No, I don’t want the source code to contain any of these notes.’ I have tested Quick Cache against 6 other cache plugins, and this was a long way the fastest, with my home page loading in the Pingdom tests at about 0.35 seconds!! Before I did any fine tuning of my website, that was typically 12-15 seconds! (more…)
In the next few blog posts I am going explain how to build a Self-Hosted WordPress site. Yes, that’s right. No debate over which Content Management Software (CMS) to use. It’s WordPress. Sorry if that offends you, but I have been doing web design far too long to be bothered with anything else. For 99% of users, WordPress is fine and dandy. For the purposes of these blog posts, I am going to skim over some of the really basic stuff (I might come back and add a bit of detail). I know that you can develop a site on your local PC or Mac, but the first time you get stuck, anybody who tries to help you will want to see what you have, and that means you need a web server. Unless you want to do a simple blog, forget the WordPress.com hosting packages, and become a self-hosted site.
That means you should get a domain. I use GoDaddy. I can see no reason why you shouldn’t do the same. Priced in US Dollars and no sales tax, they are usually cheap and effective. You need a web server. There are hundreds of cheap ‘WordPress Specialist’ web hosts. Forget them. Forget all the special ‘free’ hosting deals. The bottom line is, less than US$40 per month is cheap – if you pay annually you can often get a discount on this, sometimes as much as 25% off. I have been through all manner of web hosts and deals over the years, so you might be wise to avoid all that heartache. My preference is for what is called a cloud web server. But, beware, my experience over the last year makes me wary of Cloud Servers that use OnApp for management of the server; my sites used to ave this and it often crashed, leaving me offline for a day or more each time. On a budget look for OpenVZ and for performance at a price use KVM, here is a comparison.
With a Cloud Server, this means that your site does not reside on one machine, but shares its resources across a lot of physical machines. This is a much faster and more reliable solution. Different hosts may use a different name for this type of package, but this is what you need. Unless you have a big web site in mind, you will want to start with a Virtual Private Server (VPS) with a Unix operating System (such as Centos), Apache, MySQL and PHP. To make managing it easy, you will want WHM, cPanel and EasyApache installed. Most importantly, you will want a Managed Service. That means, when it goes wrong, you get help. If you can persuade the host to do it for you, installing nginx as a reverse proxy server for Apache will speed things up, but make things a bit more difficult to manage.
… and other things.
Having paid for and installed UberMenu, I discovered it wouldn’t play nicely with the Bootswatch Flatly custom color theme that I had set in Ultimatum Theme. Back to the help pages to discover an UberMenu plugin called Flat Skin Pack (curiously, that page says it is $7, but when you go to pay it is only $6). I also installed the Conditionals extension. Given what I said in the last post about Envato, I figured that with a balance still on the account available to spend, I searched for other paid for WordPress plugins and came across a great one called Hide My WP, that now accompanies the other plugins I am using to help secure WordPress. These are Wordfence Premium (paid for), Updraft Plus Premium (paid for) and Rename wp-login.php (free).
Of course, I still have to style the sub menus of UberMenu, but first I now need to see about adding a login widget, hopefully to the menu, and maybe changing the ‘Home’ link on the menu to a small image (which means I have to make a small logo). To help with searching, I have added a plugin called Better Search. A busy weekend, but onwards and upwards.