WP Power Stats improved by us

We found the calendar Week and Month statistics difficult to interpret. So we changed that to Last 10 days and Last 30 days. And added Last 100 days. Note that for all of these you can compare each period by dividing visitors by days. Thus having a single number to compare (visitors per day). (In the example below it shows a fairly consistent 1.5 visitors per day for all periods.)

We also extended the graph out to 15 days to give more days and to allow you to adjust for weekly patterns.

Hope you find these changes useful and an improvement.

Brett G

(These changes are possible due to the open and sharing nature of WordPress add-ons. WP Power Stats add-on was adjusted.)
web-stats-summary

web-stats-graph

Can a WordPress website be compared to a car automobile? Yes

If your WordPress website was a car how would it behave and what would it cost? How different would the experience of buying and adding options be? Well quite a lot! The differences are big and have large implications.

For starters, you would buy your WordPress car for Free. Yes the standard version you get for free. And its not sloppy for it has been designed, built and tested by a community of programming enthusiasts and experts who volunteer their time. This standard model car will be white but has all the essentials and a bit more. It will get you to your destination quickly, comfortably and safely (that is, create and adjust post and pages of your site).

Standard Car
Standard Car (drawn by Bove)

The standard version does not come with extras you may have seen elsewhere but you are offered these with plugins and add-ons. These add the extra features, or functionality, to your site. For example if you want a car stereo search for those and install the one you like the sound of. The basic version will be free while the hi-fi ones sell for about $50. The suppliers provide a good description and reasonable support for these free add-ons. More support and features for the paid premium versions.

And why are these add-ons offered for free? Because they can. The free version is like a trial version which allows you to test drive their add-on. Once you have learnt and experienced its features you may well decide to upgrade and buy the premium version. This is where the commercial builder recoups its investment. The free version lets their product to become known to many WordPress users. That is the marketing advantage.

Car with extras
Car with plush extras

The material resources used to supply any of these ‘parts’ are very low. No metal, coal or petrol is required. Providing a download supply channel via the internet is cheap. So the free version does not cost much to supply. It does take time, sometime lots, for programmers to design and code the add-on. Hence the materials consumed to make the add-on is negligible. Unlike your real automobile car which has much metal and plastic to make, and petrol to transport.

Here are some automobile parts and their WordPress plugin equivalents.

Trims and coloured exterior = Themes
A car alarm = a security plugin
Turbo charge = a cache plugin
Odometer and log book = visitor statistics
Melodic horn = image slider?
Your son’s car = backups

Can you think of some equivalents?

Maintenance is quite different too. Unlike the costly repairs and maintenance of your car, your WordPress site gets updated for free. If the site is badly damaged (hacked or very old) you will probably need to pay someone to rectify.

I hope you enjoyed this article and learnt how different WordPress is to an automobile.

Now go drive your website safely!

Copyright 27 May 2016, Brett Glossop. All rights reserved. Contact brett@zolid.com.au

How to Stop My WordPress Site from being Hacked

lock on a white background. Isolated 3D imageHow do you prevent or lessen the chances of your WP site being hacked? A little effort now can go a long way to preventing a hacker. The biggest solutions are to a) have difficult passwords, b) limit the number of login attempts and c) plug any known security holes in the code.

Before getting into the nitty gritty let us refresh as to why it is so important. Well your site is open to the whole world 24 hours a day and every day of the year. That means any nefarious person, anywhere, can try to hack into your site. Computers and the internet are fast so they can try to hack your site many times in a minute – if allowed to. This is why “Julie1” is not a good choice of password because it can be guessed or on a list.
The nefarious community share their knowledge. So we, on the ‘good side’, must be vigilant, have a rudimentary knowledge and do our part by hardening our own site using standard practices.

Let’s not panic either. With a normal amount of prevention, explained here, your normal site will become well protected. Many are on our side including the WordPress community of developers and users. With a few pieces of prevention your site will no longer be an easy target. Transform your site from a soft sponge to a hard walnut. Read on to find out how.

SF-608636_running-crowd_250H

Passwords cannot be easy to guess or run of the mill any more – or you risk being hacked by the most basic of routes – the standard dashboard login. Also needed: change the default admin user – Delete the ‘admin’ username once you have your own admin login user. Having a user name that everyone knows means that the hacker is half way to getting in. Use both the user name and password to prevent illegitimate logins.

Limit the number of login attempts. WordPress by default allows an unlimited number of login attempts. By installing a well regarded and hence safe plugin you can limit the number of tries a person can make. After say five tries the person should seek some help or refer to their login notes, shouldn’t they? So why not limit the number of tries and lock them out temporarily? This is what the “WP Limit Login Attempts” and “WP Cerber” plugins do.

They also do a few other things like slowing down the login process and optional human tests. Check out the references to read more. We like WP Cerber slightly more due to its nice interfaces and list of logon attempts. But Limit Login Attempts was more intuitive and simpler – when we last used it. You be the judge, both work well. Both seem to be updated regularly, which is essential for a security plugin.

Those security holes can be plugged by regular updates of WordPress and plugins. You can keep them updated easily via your WP dashboard. You can even set updates to be automatic during the installation of WP. Also, disable or delete any plugins that are not being used or not updated in the last year.

Another aspect that helps is to have a good host. A good host will do their part in preventing your site being hacked. So don’t skimp on hosting.

These solutions are not 100% bullet proof so do take regular backups so you know you can recover your site if required.

See:
https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-limit-login-attempts/
https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-cerber/
https://codex.wordpress.org/Brute_Force_Attacks/  (WordPress.org community technical advice)

If you find them useful do help with a donation. No we are not taking a commission.

Have an enjoyable WordPress experience and be security wise.

Can your WordPress website go much faster?

Baby zebra running

Yes, you can usually halve the time to display a page for the typical site. This is possible with freely available WordPress cache plugins. Sounds good doesn’t it? But is there a catch? Is it too difficult for me? I will try to answer these questions for you. I will need to generalise since it can get complicated once one delves deeper. And this discussion is relevant only to the common hosting method for small businesses which is called shared hosting. If you don’t know, don’t worry it’s probably what you have.

“WordPress caching is the fastest way to improve performance.” – WordPress.org Codex

Read moreCan your WordPress website go much faster?

How to evaluate and install a WP Cache plugin.

traffic blurredWould you like help to select and set up a cache plugin for a WordPress site? You have installed a few plugins before and may be wondering if this is for you and if it is worth doing so. A cache plugin requires some extra knowledge about computers and web servers. If you already have that knowledge and experience you can probably install and setup a cache plugin successfully. The following will give you some guidance.

Firstly a little about page load times. The common view on the internet is anything more than 5 seconds and you may lose your viewer. I’ve seen pages take 10 seconds or more. Sometimes the page does not load at all which is really disconcerting because a timeout error message is shown.

I recently trialed and can recommend both WP Fastest Cache, WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache. Each of these have good ratings, good features and have been installed hundreds of thousands times or more. These three are approximately in order of simplicity and usability in my opinion. WP Fastest Cache is the simplest. WP Super Cache has more settings though I found it worked well with the recommended ones chosen. W3 Total Cache has the greatest number of options.

I found WP Fastest Cache fairly easy to setup on this very website you are reading . Average load times for the home page went from 2 to 5 seconds down to 1 to 3 seconds*. So it is a very worthwhile time investment for me. I tried WP Fastest Cache on another site and found that it did not work. No errors but it did not reduce load times. So I uninstalled that one and installed WP Super Cache. That did work! And WP Super Cache worked well with settings that were labeled as recommended by the author in the plugin. Average load times for the home page went from 4 to 8 seconds down to 2 to 5 seconds. So again well worth installing.

* The times given are for shared hosting plans (including VSP plans).

The cause of delays in simplistic terms is that there are many tasks and files involved in fetching and displaying a page. The techos who wrote these plugins know several legitimate and safe techniques to speed this process up. The plugins (known as cache plugins) can be regarded as safe if they have been around for some time and have a good rating and compatible with your WordPress version (The plugin description says this on WordPress.org’s plugin directory). A rating of 4 or more is sufficient.

Could I install and select settings for a WP cache plugin? If you understand the entire article fairly well AND you make a backup of database and plugins, and choose only the default or recommended settings, then you can attempt to do so at your own risk. If you have problems, or no reduction in load times, then deactivate and delete the plugin. If bigger problems you may need to revert to that backup. Are you confident? Or is your operating site too valuable to risk? If so engage someone experienced. Your existing webmaster may or may not be that person.

WP Fastest Cache Options
WP Fastest Cache options selected

Why is there any delay? Well, firstly the serving computer at your host needs to allocate memory and priority to do the task. Then the components need to be fetched from the hard drive, and sent to you. There are many components to a page. Would you believe 70 to 100 or more? Then there is time for all that data to be sent across the internet. Although each task can take only a short time the whole process can be seconds. The more tasks and the more bits of information the longer the time becomes.

For a database oriented application like WordPress each page delivered is assembled dynamically each and every time. That means wasted time if the content does not change quickly. So the first trick for the cache plugin is to create static versions of the pages. These are sent to the user rather than assembling dynamically. This trick saves a lot of time especially when returning to a page recently visited. Occasionally it will save a little bit of time when going to a new page because someone else’s visit has created a static cached version.

The next trick is to reduce the number of files to be gathered. This is done by amalgamating similar files. For example all the CSS or js files into one.

If you want a simpler post for your clients try our post “Do you want to make your WordPress website faster?“.

Like a second opinion? Try elegantthemes.com

Like to use an online time testing tool? Try either https://gtmetrix.com/ (the waterfall tab), or http://www.monitis.com/pageload/ (tests from 3 locations in world) or http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/

References

WordPress caching is the fastest way to improve performance.” – WordPress.org Codex

How to speed up your WordPress site” by 123-reg.co.uk in Nov 2015

 

Does caching work with HTTPS pages? I’m not sure so you might want to look for this feature specifically in W3 Total Cache or investigate more thoroughly yourself.

How to select a shopping cart for WordPress

Shopping basket fruit and vegIt is rather difficult to select a shopping cart method for products for your site. There are several different ways of performing the tasks of enabling purchases for small businesses. Enabling a purchase means that there will be buy buttons and the checkout steps. This article explains the major types and their features so you may select the appropriate one. Or this article could serve you to discuss options knowledgeably with your designer. Note that most of the links go to detailed information and hence optional.

Firstly, what are ‘checkout steps’?

Read moreHow to select a shopping cart for WordPress

Can you trust free WordPress plugins?

Power Plug

Can you trust a free plugin? Will it contain viruses or malware? Or will it contain old code that may have security holes? Even if it is clean will it do what is promised?
Developers provide a free plugin for several possible reasons. These include: so they can gain experience; become an authority; or to encourage familiarity and trust in a commercial version of the plugin (for sale with more features). All valid reasons.

The code or program steps inside the plugin is open to view which means any programmer can check if the plugin is legit and does not contain irrelevant or spurious code. A big plus for us users.

Read moreCan you trust free WordPress plugins?