Monday, October 16, 2017 by Kevin Wood
How Do You Know if a WordPress Plugin or Theme Will Work?When you’re on the search for new plugins or themes you’re going to have a lot to dig through. After all, there are thousands upon thousounds of themes and plugins for you to choose from. The last thing you want to do is rush your plugin or theme selection and end up choosing one that will compromise your online efforts. Choosing low-quality themes or plugins can lead to slower sites, sites that break easily, and can even leave you open to security risks. Below we offer a few tips that will help you ensure you’re choosing a high-quality theme or plugin before you decide to buy it or install it on your site.
1. Only Download From Reliable SourcesOne of the first steps to choosing a high-quality theme or plugin is to only download or purchase from reliable sources. Chances are, when you’re spending money on a theme or plugin it’s already going to be of higher quality. But, you’ll still want to thoroughly research the plugin or theme beforehand. Below we offer a few more things you’ll want to look out for when selecting a new plugin or theme. Follow these guidelines whether you’re purchasing from a marketplace or using the WordPress theme directory or plugin directory. If you’re looking for a solid source of premium WordPress themes, then ThemeForest, Elegant Themes, and StudioPress are all great resources to check out.
2. Check User Reviews and FeedbackUser reviews and customer feedback don’t lie. If the plugin or theme you’re thinking about has a very low star rating, then it’s probably for good reason. However, it’s also important to keep the total number of reviews in mind. If it only has a small number of reviews, then it will be hard to glean a factual option based on the feedback provided. By reading reviews you’ll be able to learn things like how secure it is, how often any technical issues occur, and anything else that you might worry about when installing a new plugin or theme.
3. Check the Latest Update DateThis is a very important bit of information. You’d hate to install a plugin that never receives developer updates. This will lead to potential security risks and could even lead to plugin and theme conflicts down the road. Ideally, you’d like to see updates that have occurred no longer than a few months ago. This means the developer or development team is actively maintaining the theme or plugin and working to improve it.
4. Number of Active InstallsIt’s not pure fact, but chances are, the more people who have installed and are using the theme or plugin, the better it’s going to be. It wouldn’t make sense for a large number of site owners to use a plugin or theme that doesn’t work.
5. Look at Their SupportNot every plugin or theme has a dedicated support team. It’s not completely necessary and depends upon the complexity of the plugin or theme. But, most high-quality themes and plugins do have some form of support. It can be helpful to check this out beforehand, so you’ll know you’ll be taken care of if any technical issues arise. Beyond support, you should also look for plugin and theme documentation that will help with setup and plugin or theme customization. 6. WordPress Compatibility Before you end up choosing a WordPress plugin or theme you’ll want to double check that it’s compatible with the latest version of WordPress. The WordPress core is updated on a regular basis, without your plugins and themes being updated you could run into a conflict that could break your site. Hopefully, the tips above will help you make a better decision when it comes to choosing a new theme or plugin. Remember that plugin and theme selection is very important. The more time you can spend researching, the more likely you are to end up with something that will benefit your site. Are there any selection parameters you use to filter the good from bad plugins and themes? Please share in the comments below.
What Do I Do About My Website Loading Slowly?If one thing is true about your website, it’s that loading speed matters. When your site loads slowly you’ll not only provide a poor user experience, but you’ll also rank lower in the search engines. Luckily for you, improving your site speed doesn’t have to take a lot of additional work. Plus, the benefits you’ll receive from improving your site’s loading speed are well worth the time spent. Below we look at five different ways you can improve the speed of your website.
1. Enable CachingWhenever you visit a website, certain elements are stored in a cache, so the next time you visit the site it can easily access those parts and load much faster. With caching, instead of your browser having to download every single resource, it only has to download a few of them. By turning on caching you can considerably improve your site’s loading for return visitors. If you’re using a CMS like WordPress you can install a plugin like W3 Total Cache or W3 Super Cache, either of which will let you enable sitewide caching, or caching of certain site elements. If you aren’t using a CMS, then there are additional steps you’ll need to take in order to leverage browser caching.
2. Remove Resource-Hogging Plugins and Add-onsIf your site is currently running too many plugins you’re not only slowing down the speed of your site, but you’re making it more susceptible to security risks. You might require a handful of plugins for your site to function the way you like, but chances are there are some you can live without, especially if they’re resource hogs. The best way to do this is to get a baseline test of your loading speed via a tool like GTMetrix or Google Pagespeed Insights. Then, go down your plugin list and deactivate one plugin at a time. Then, run the speed test with the plugin deactivated. This might be time-consuming, but it will help you find the plugins that are harming your site’s loading speed the most. At that point, you can search for a less resource-heavy plugin or find another workaround.
3. Optimize and Reduce the Size of Your ImagesIf your site has tons of images that aren’t optimized, then this will negatively impact your site’s loading speed. By having oversized images you’ll be requiring the browser to load larger files. There are a few different ways you can optimize your images to load faster.
- Ensure that your images are unnecessarily large. For example, if the width of your blog page is 900px, then make sure that’s how wide your images are.
- If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, you can install a plugin like WPSmush that will automatically reduce the filesize of the images.
- Before you upload images, first run them through a tool called Tiny PNG to reduce the file size of your image, without sacrificing the quality.
5. Use a CDNThe loading speed of your site is affected by the proximity of the user to the server where your site’s files are stored. The farther away they are from this physical location, the slower your site will load. Using a CDN can solve this problem. A CDN distributes your site’s files across a network of global servers, that way your users can access your site via the server that’s closest to them. Some solid options for a CDN are CloudFlare and KeyCDN. In some cases, your existing web host might even have the option to utilize a CDN for your site. (HostGator does!) Hopefully, the tips above will help to speed up your website and improve your overall user experience. Any tips we didn’t mention above that you’ve used to help speed up your site? Share your own recommendations in the comments below.
Best WordPress Plugins for RecipesFood blogs are incredibly popular. People love to find new and interesting recipes they can try out. If you run a recipe-based website, then you’re probably looking for better and more effective ways you can show off your favorite recipes. To have an effective recipe-based website you need to showcase your recipes in a clear and engaging manner. The plugins we highlight below will allow you to do just that, and more. Below we profile our five favorite WordPress recipe plugins you can use to transform your food blog. premium version of the plugin available that lets you do things like create meal plans, add nutritional information, let visitors save their favorites, and a lot more.
2. Recipe BoxRecipe Box lets you create stylish recipes that will definitely please your visitors. This plugin offers you over 60 different customizable options, so you can create recipes that will fit the existing design of your site. You’ll be able to do things like create recipe descriptions, add images of your ingredients and finished dishes, update cooking and preparation instructions, and much more. Plus, all of your recipes are responsive, so they’ll look good on smartphones to desktop computers.
3. CookedCooked is a feature-packed premium plugin that allows you easily create attractive recipes. The drag and drop interface is very intuitive and lets you easily create unique recipe layouts. It also comes with a community feature, so your users can interact and leave feedback and reviews regarding your recipes. If you’ve been looking for a way to create unique recipe profiles, then this plugin is worth checking out. This plugin is best suited for websites that have hundreds of different recipes and are looking for a more effective way to categorize and highlight those recipes.
Sunday, October 1, 2017 by Kevin Wood
Best WordPress Plugins for Craft BloggersAs a craft blogger, you’ve already made a great decision by using WordPress to power your new and growing website. However, there are also hundreds of plugins you can use to more effectively grow your site and add new features without any additional effort. Your blog exists to share your passion with the world, and help people become better at their own DIY crafts. Below we highlight a few of the most useful WordPress plugins for craft bloggers that’ll help you increase your traffic, cultivate a community, and build a tribe of followers.
Categorizing Your Craft BlogYou probably have dozens of different categories for your craft blog and different kinds of projects you’re showcasing. Instead of making your readers dig through posts that aren’t relevant to them you can easily categorize your posts, so your users can select the kind of content they want to read.
Improve Social Sharing for your Craft BlogBuilding a social presence is a great way to improve traffic to your craft blog. The plugins below will make it easier for your readers to share your content, and more easily embed your existing social media accounts into your site.
Get More Traffic and Subscribers to your Craft BlogChances are you didn’t start a craft blog to write for an audience of zero. The plugins below will help you improve your search engine rankings, build an email list, and more.