How To Choose and Use WordPress Plugins

How To Choose and Use WordPress Plugins

WordPress Plugins

One of the biggest benefits of using WordPress to build and manage your website is plugins. These small pieces of code can greatly increase the functions and benefits of your WordPress site, but it’s not without some risk. 

John Overall of WP Plugins from A-Z joins me on the BeBizzy Break Podcast Episode #85 to discuss WordPress plugins and a few other subjects. 

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Some Basic Info on WordPress Plugins

Plugins are really just compiled code that can easily be installed and used on your website. Most are very small and only get loaded when they are used on a page. However, some, like Woocommerce and some contact form plugins are very large and often load on all pages whether they get used or not, so be careful on how many you install and run.

Currently there are nearly 55,000 plugins available in the WordPress repository in just about any function you can imagine.

The repository contains links and information to free plugins, with paid plugins available directly from the developer, CodeCanyon, and a variety of other places. 

How to Select a Plugin

Searching for a plugin can yield hundreds of potential suitors for the job. Some detective work and maybe even some “live” testing may be required to find the right plugin. 

John has set up some “sandbox” websites that only serve as test beds for plugins and themes. This is a great suggestion, or you can use a development area for the actual site if you have that available to you. 

It’s not recommended that you test a plugin on a live site unless absolutely necessary. It can cause the site to not display correctly, or be totally down. 

And also be advised there are three different types of plugins in regards to cost, free, premium, and freemium. Free is free. No cost, just download and use. Premium will cost you up front before you install. Large, often popular plugins like Gravity Forms are included in this model. The third is “freemium” where you will be given the plugin for free for a short time, then you have to pay to use it after the trial period. 

Potential Issues Installing Plugins on Your Site

Before we go too far, this is a great time for me to snap in my weekly plug for backups. Back up your site BEFORE you install any plugins or themes just in case.

Like anything you install on a website, plugin code can cause some undesired results on the website. Collisions with other code can affect CSS, some themes, the working of other plugins, and even the dreaded “white screen of death” on your WordPress site. 

Also, free can come with some security issues. While the WordPress repository does a great job of monitoring and screening plugins before they get into the wild, sometimes malware finds a way into a plugin. This also can occur on paid plugins, but it’s less of a chance. 

Really what is comes down to is a couple of things.

  • When was the plugin last updated.
  • What versions of PHP or WordPress has it been tested with.
  • Read the reviews to see if the plugin was well-received by other users.
  • John suggested typing the plugin name into Google followed by the word “sucks”.

Keep in mind, WordPress is a free CRM. Out of the box it is very secure, but as you add themes, private code, or plugins you can open it up to potentially being exploited.

When asked if there is a number of plugins that is too many, John responded with “No.” It comes down to if all of the plugins can run well with each other, causes the page to load slowly, and can harm the user experience.

Go-To Plugins That We Use on Every Site

I use several plugins on nearly every website I develop. John also has a list of about ten or so plugins that go on his sites.  

  • Wordfence : security plugin that has a free or premium service. Even the free version does a great job of locking down the site
  • UpdraftPlus : A GREAT backup system that allows you to back up to the WordPress install, a Dropbox folder, an FTP location, and several other options. 
  • Gravity Forms : Versatile form builder
  • A CDN plugin – I use a CDN to make the website load faster for the visitor.
  • MainWP : I manage dozens of websites, so MainWP is very useful to track updates to all of the plugins.
  • WPMU Smush Pro : great image optimization plugin

Some Final Thoughts on WordPress Plugins

  • Don’t be afraid to use them.
  • The will save tons of time.
  • Don’t be stuck on the free version.
  • Don’t get married to a plugin. Sometimes you have to move to a new, better plugin.
  • Don’t be afraid of the research to find and implement the right plugin.
  • Listen to shows like the BeBizzy Break Podcast and WP Plugins from A-Z to learn about good, and bad, plugins.

WP Plugins from A-Z and Other John Overall Projects

If you are managing a WordPress website for you or for clients I would encourage you to add John Overall’s WP Plugins from A-Z to your rotation. He reviews five or so plugins on every episode and gives some real-world ratings on whether that plugin will be useful. 

At JohnOverall.com he also serves his development, hosting and recovery clients.

Have any questions or suggestions on WordPress plugins? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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How and Why To Use WordPress Plugins

How and Why To Use WordPress Plugins

What Are WordPress Plugins?

Plugins are a powerful way to add functionality and uniqueness to your website. They range from Free, to free with premium (Freemium), or a paid model.

Most plugins are created by solo plugin developers, but a few are created by large theme and plugin houses. Because of this, expect a wide variety of support models

Some common front-end uses for plugins include calendars, contact forms, social media displays, content display like videos, image galleries and sound, sliders, and much more

But did you know there were quite a few administrative plugins for things like user management, security, SSL migration, analytics, database management, caching and a ton more.

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What are the benefits?

  • Plugins are easy to install – Search the WordPress plugin repository, or just click “Add New” in the plugins menu, install, activate and configure. The entire process can take as little as two minutes.
  • Big cost savings on custom development or programming – With just a few clicks something that can take days, or even weeks to develop can be added to a site.
  • Plugins are powerful – CDN plugins can add speed to a website. Contact forms can add lead generation to a site. Calendars can increase engagement and make it easy to distribute events. Social media plugins can bring in posts from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media platforms, and can make it easy to share on these networks. All of this functionality would take a much greater amount of time to develop by hand instead of using WordPress plugins.
  • WordPress security – WordPress by itself is fairly secure. If you use a good password, have it installed on a decent host with a good username/password there, and take a few other precautions your site will be protected. However, if you really want to lock down admin access, make secure & frequent backups, or really shore up your security, plugins are a great way to do so.
    • Good backups and great passwords are still the best thing you can do, in my opinion.

But what are the possible issues with WordPress plugins?

  • Malware – There are some plugins that have been developed by some programmers with less-than-positive intentions. Backdooors and even malware programmed right into the software do happen.
  • Must be maintained – As you add plugins to the website it’s important to know maintenance becomes more important. Keeping the plugins, the theme and the WordPress core is valuable to keeping the site secure and running as it should. However, sometimes and update to one plugins and conflict with others, so running backups is very important.
  • Can be exploited – If a plugin is “abandoned,” meaning no longer updated, or even if a plugin is poorly programmed it can open a hole to bad actors. Keep you plugins updated to make sure you are as protected as possible and if a plugin has been abandoned for a significant amount of time, try to find a similar solution, or even  try to find a developer to fix or edit the current plugin.
  • Unused or Deactivated Plugins are Still Vulnerable – Just because you’re not using a plugin, or even if you deactivated it, the code is still vulnerable and could be exploited. Once you stop using a plugin, deactivate it in your Plugin directory, then delete it from the server to avoid potential issues.

Tips on selecting good plugins

  • Research the best plugin options – Google has tons of articles on the “Best WordPress Plugins for …” often with the most current year attached. You don’t want a list from 2012, as things have changed quite a bit in the last six or seven years. See what everyone else is using and what the pros and cons are of using each plugin.
  • Review WordPress Plugin repository Information – Each plugin has a page in the repository.  They will have a 1-5 star rating, when it was last updates, how many times it’s been installed, what version of WordPress it’s been test on, reviews, how to install, and links to support. If any of this information causes concern proceed with caution or find a different solution.
  • Be Prepared to Retreat – Sometimes installing a new plugin causes unforeseen issues with your theme or other installed plugins on the website, so be prepared to deactivate the plugins, or in the event of a catastrophic issue, restore a backup. It’s recommended to install in test environments if possible, or on the live site when the site it’s being used at its peak.
  • Try several plugins – Since most plugins are free, it’s ok to try several until you find one that meets your needs. Just remember to deactivate and delete the ones you aren’t using to keep the site safe.

Plugins are a great way to make WordPress a powerful, secure environment. With just a little bit of care, and some selective processes in finding the best plugin you can make your WordPress as good as it can possibly be.

Have any questions or comments on WordPress plugins? Send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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5 Things You Need To Know About WP 5 – Gutenberg

5 Things You Need To Know About WP 5 – Gutenberg

WordPress 5.0, or Gutenberg, was finally released on December 6, 2018, just a few weeks before the Christmas holiday, and just in time to say it was released in 2018.

The Gutenberg release is a new page builder that is being designed to integrate with WordPress core. Gutenberg will add content blocks and page builder-like functionality to every up-to-date WordPress website. When in use, it will replace TinyMCE as the default content editor. With Gutenberg, content is added in blocks of various types from the WordPress backend.

You can download an the most recent version of WordPress here, or get access to previous versions here, just in case you need to retreat.. 

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5 Things You Need To Know About WordPress 5.0 – Gutenberg

 

  • Blocks : WP5 is based on blocks, or portions of content. Each paragraph of text is a separate block, as well as images, galleries, lists, quotes, audio videos and more.It even makes it easier to embed objects from YouTube, social media accounts, Google Maps, and just about anywhere else. But the biggest advantage to using the new editor is formatting and layout blocks. Now it’s easier to add columns, page breaks, spacers and other elements to the page that traditionally could only be done easily in certain themes live Divi or Elementor.

 

  • The Classic Editor is still a click away, as well as the Edit as HTML editor in case you want to get into the code. While there are other benefits to using the updated editor and code, those who still wish to use the classic WordPress editor can do so simply by clicking the Classic Editor tab on the editor box. Access to the HTML editor is under the three dot menu, or typing Ctrl + Shift + Alt + M (clicking seems much easier!) on your keyboard. I still see benefits to using the HTML editor when embedding content or doing some special formatting work.Just some fair warning. If you’re going to use WordPress long-term and you don’t use themes that allow you to edit in their environment, you will have to learn how to use the new Gutenberg editor as the classic editor will most likely be phased out eventually.

 

  • Plugins and Themes may not be compatible with Gutenberg. Theme editors and plugin developers have been scrambling for months to prepare for WordPress 5.0.Here’s the problem… while the theme and plugins may work individually, there’s a fair chance that code that used to play well with others could not cause unusual conflicts or even critical failures when several plugins are enabled with your theme. It is highly recommended you 1) backup before updating in case you need to retreat, and 2) test in a staging environment to see if there’s anything that could go wrong and fix it there before making the site live. Use this time to maybe replace some “abandoned” plugins and find newer, better alternatives to your current plugins. Or maybe you don’t even need some older plugins as the results may have been incorporated into WordPress or your themes.

 

  • Faster? While I haven’t seen anything online confirming Gutenberg to be faster than WordPress 4.x, I can give you anecdotable evidence that several of the sites I’ve upgraded saw a noticeable increase in speed. Nothing documented, and these sites are fairly small,  but it’s tangible. I still haven’t updated the largest of my client’s sites, as I’m waiting for a few versions of 5.0.x to come in, as well as some incremental updates to the Divi theme before I jump in.

 

  • This IS an upgrade! Many of the recent WordPress updates were small, almost unnoticeable unless you lived in the environment all-day, everyday. But Gutenberg will change the way most people use WordPress for the better, even if the initial change is tough. WordPress 5.x is faster, will be more secure, have more options, be ready for PHP 7.3 and beyond, and enable theme and plugin developers many more options in the coming months and years.

Here’s the short version of what you just read or heard. Prepare for the WordPress 5.0 update by backing everything up and getting a base to return to in case there’s a big problem. This would be a good time to migrate everything to a staging or test environment if you have access to one. Update your themes and plugins to the most recent version to make sure they can work with WP5. Then run the Gutenberg updater in your WordPress dashboard. Cross your fingers and see what worked and what didn’t. Be prepared to spend a fair amount of time looking at the site and making some changes to some things. After testing, make another backup (don’t overwrite the old one!) and migrate back to the live environment, or run the same sequence of updates there. Pray, test and enjoy your updated version of WordPress. As promised in the podcast, here’s some basic information on the Gutenberg editor.

Run in some issues with your WordPress update? Give BeBizzy a call at 701-214-6271 or contact us through bebizzy.com or our social media channels and we’ll see if we can help you out! Have any questions or suggestions on going paperless? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Your Tech Is Good Enough – BeBizzy Break Podcast EP: 59

Your Tech Is Good Enough – BeBizzy Break Podcast EP: 59

Host : Marv DornerBeBizzy Consulting

On Episode 59 of the BeBizzy Break Podcast, we talk about the passing of another geriatric internet property, Compuserve, a renewal of the browser wars with Firefox Quantum, and why your technology is good enough.

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Tech News

  • Compuserve Forums
    • Joins Microsoft Paint and AIM as old tech services being shut down in 2017.
    • Compuserve was the first major online service provider before AOL took over
    • The Forums were the last service of the once-proud ISP to remain functional
    • The service will be terminated on December 15, 2017 and odds are if no one would have said anything, you never would have known.
  •  Firefox Quantum
    • New browser from Mozilla that promises to be faster, and use less memory.
    • Some extensions may not work, so beware

Your current tech is good enough

  • FOMO – Fear of Missing Out
  • There’s always a faster, shinier, and more “feature rich” device
  • And while there’s something to be gained with tech that works better and faster, your current technology might be already good enough, or could be made so with a few minor tweaks or upgrades.

Smartphones

There’s really no big leaps forward in phone features

  • Sure there’s cosmetic upgrades like smaller bezels, larger and brighter screens, somewhat better battery
  • Most smartphone issues can be solved by doing a few easy things
    • Replacing the battery, if possible, or carry an external battery or recharging device.
    • Clear up memory by deleting apps, using streaming audio and video services, and uploading photos to free cloud services like Google Photos, them deleting the local files.
    • Run Updates – Make sure you’re running the most recent operating system and app updates. Having everything updated makes it easier to troubleshoot and work together.
    • Factory Reset – Things still running slow? Sometimes it’s just best to flush the system and start over with a new operating system install. Keep in mind you will lost all of your data on the phone, so back up and connect to cloud services.

Computers

Talk about no huge leaps forward, computers have remained pretty constant for many years

  • Improvements like the Microsoft Surface, Chromebooks and even iPad Pros are blurring the lines between computers and mobile, but even they “promise” to be able to do what you can already do with a computer, just smaller and lighter.
  • Both “major” operating systems, Windows and iOS have promised no major upgrades anymore, just incremental updates.
  • Hard Drives have become so large it’s hard for a vast majority of users to come close to filling it up.
  • You can increase the life of your computer by doing some very easy, cost effective things like :
    • Add RAM – Memory is cheap, and of all the things to replace requires the least amount of technical know-how and time. RAM is easily accessible in desktops by removing the case, and most laptops have a cover to remove to get at the RAM and maybe the HDD. Major products like Crucial have scanners and selectors to make sure you’re getting the right memory to upgrade your device.
    • HDD – Have an old or small hard drive? There’s a real good chance that your HDD is a spinning disc, and believe it or not, it’s WHEN it will fail, not IF. Check out Seagate or Western Digital to find a suitable replacement. You can also migrate less often or large files to an external drive for a small price and they easily connect to your current computer via USB.
    • To the Cloud! – Get your photos and other important files uploaded to a cloud service like Dropbox to ensure ease of access & transfer, and also security in the event of a hardware failure or catastrophic office event.

Websites

I know, it seems weird that a web development company would tell you that your website is good enough. There ARE times when it’s best to update the website like when you need :

  • Responsive Design – Have a site that is old and doesn’t work on a smartphone or smaller screen? Might be time to update to a responsive website.
  • CMS like WordPress – Maybe it’s time to take over the management of your own website. WordPress allows you to post your own pages, a blog, and more.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Maybe you’re site is all set up an running as you need, but you’re just not getting found on the internet. By optimizing your SEO and your Local Business Listing you increase the chances of being found by potential customers.
  • Social Media Marketing & Training  – Like SEO, your website might not be the problem, maybe it’s just getting the word out. Social Media offers an easy way to engage your fans and followers and market to new clients.

Other Items

We are constantly hit with marketing messages on stuff you “NEED” to ensure you have the most current technology or your life will be horrible. Vehicle enhancements like rear hatches that open with your foot, lane change chimes, and others are safety features, but really just being a better driver will fix that. 4K and 3D TV’s are wonderful, but there is little programming that takes advantage of the technology. VR goggles are fun toys, but again, there’s very little cool, productive programming for them. And voice controlled devices like Google Home or Alexa are neat, and have a utility to them, but often you have a device in your hands or pocket that can do the same thing.

I LOVE technology, and our economy relies on constant updating of computers, furniture, cars, homes and just about everything else. But sometimes saving that money for something else is your best bet.

Have any questions or suggestions on using current technology instead of buying new gear? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Overcoming WordPress Objections – BeBizzy Break Podcast : Episode 58

Overcoming WordPress Objections – BeBizzy Break Podcast : Episode 58

In this episode we talk about how overcoming WordPress objections, the iPhone X, Skype and an update on my Pixel 2 XL phone.

BBP : Episode 58 – Overcoming WordPress Objections

Happy Birthday to us! Today is BeBizzy Consulting’s 9th anniversary. Happy to be around and serving our clients in website design, hosting, marketing and search engine optimization for many years and looking foward to the future!

Have you already overcame WordPress objections in your organization? Contact BeBizzy Consulting today and let’s get you on the web!

Tech News

  • The iPhone X, 10, whatever hits the streets on November 3rd, so buckle up!
    • 10th anniversary iPhone
    • Face ID unlocking feature
    • Near bezel-less design – OLED
    • No home button – swipe up/down to move through screens
    • New anemoji’s… yay…
    • 12MP rear camera. Image stabilization
    • Listening to a review from TechRadar the reviewer claimed he had “cinematic” sound from the dual speakers. I’m gonna call B.S. on that one. Tinny smartphone speakers will never sound cinematic.
  • Week 2 with my Google Pixel 2 XL
    • Not seeing any performance issues, screen burn-in, or anything else.
    • This phone is FAST, has a great signal, good (not cinematic) sound, and Android Oreo is stable and easy to use.
  • Another update on my office…
    • Been using Skype as my primary office phone for several weeks, and I couldn’t be happier. I have an external microphone and use my computer speakers as the “phone.”
    • I don’t think this will work in a typical office setting, but in an enclosed office or home office it works great.

Main Topic – Overcoming WordPress Objections

  • How this topic emerged was I was listening to podcasts, as I usually do while I work, and was listening to “Adam Ruins Everything,” a podcast that accompanies a TV show of the same name on TruTV. It’s hosted by Adam Conover and in the podcast they conduct more in depth interviews on a particular topic than the TV show allows.
    • In this episode, Adam spoke with Professor Stephan Lewandowsky about once a person gets entrenched in a belief and assembles with those who also believe the same thing, it can be impossible to move them off that belief even when presented with overwhelming evidence. This is called the “Backfire Effect”
  • One of the tech “Backfire Effects” is WordPress is simply an insecure blogging platform.
  • While at an advertising agency, I was brought in to argue “against” WordPress because we sold a custom-made CRM. It was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done, and is frankly one of the reasons I chose not to work for that company any longer.
  • Here are some of the usual arguments against WordPresss
    • Security – There’s a ton of holes and it’s a highly visible platform that many people have found ways in.
    • SPAM – WordPress is a blogging platform so spam-bots target the code to run mailing systems
    • Plugins – These are not vetted so you could be installing complete garbage code on the site with tons of security holes
    • Limitations – Every WordPress site looks the same.
    • Buggy Code – The code is managed by the community, so who knows if it’s well written or efficient.
    • Search Engines – SEO is impossible on the WordPress platform. Out of the box it doesn’t allow you to format the code and meta information in such a way that Google and other search engines and index the site properly.
    • Hosting – Most of the hosts that allow WordPress are old, Linux-Apache based systems that run slow and
    • You get what you pay for ( in the case of the ad agency… 10’s of thousands compared to thousands )
  • Let’s address these one at a time…
    • Security – I’ve addressed this on several podcasts and blog posts, but here it is… nothing is safe
    • SPAM – Keep your code updated and use good plugins
    • Plugins – Use quality, high-ranked plugins that have been updated and work with your version of WordPress.
    • Limitations – Probably the biggest challenges to overcoming WordPress objections are themes. There are tons of customizable themes to use to give your WordPress site a unique look.
    • Buggy Code – There are millions of users looking for and submitting bug fixes, so normally they are found and repaired before penetrating the real world if the code is properly updated.
    • Search Engines – Yoast and other SEO plugins are much more efficient in formatting and presenting content for the search engines. So overcoming this WordPress objections is reallly easy.
    • Hosting – There are now dedicated hosts for WordPress sites which allow one-click installs, install updates, speed enhancements, and more.
    • You CAN get what you pay for, but you can also be paying for that fancy office, over-hyped software and computers, desks, food, etc. Sometimes you’re just paying more because they’re charging more.

Don’t forget to send us any suggestions for apps to review or people to interview. And subscribe to the BeBizzy Break Podcast on iTunes and Stitcher Radio

And as always, leave the technical stuff to us!

BBP : Episode 55 – Have You Updated Today?

BBP : Episode 55 – Have You Updated Today?

In this episode we talk about managing your passwords and updating technology to stay secure.

BBP : Episode 55 – Have You Updated Today?

Tech News

Yahoo Email Hack – Now up to 3 Billion accounts, apparently every yahoo account. – announced by the new owner, Verizon

  • No credit card information in the breach, but
  • Suspect part is that the new intelligence was just recently obtained AFTER the deal closed to buy Yahoo.

Equifax update – there’s a good chance the company will have to pay penalties to affected consumers going north of $1B.

  • For the record, $1B comes to just over $7 per possible affected user.

Cortana is now rollout out into Skype. You should start seeing it appear in private and group chats to offer assistance for scheduling and other items.

  • Will also appear in the Android and iOS versions soon.
  • Still not sold on voice systems like Google, Amazon or Siri, but I hope to become more reliant on it when the new Pixel 2 phone arrives
  • Microsoft claims 141 million “monthly” users of Cortana. I use it only when I accidentally click the button on my desktop toolbar, so that probably counts at least once a month.
  • Siri – 41.4 monthly, 19% daily.
  • Google claims 20% of mobile searches are voice searches – couldn’t find a published #
  • Becoming more popular
  • Would love to discuss voice searches and voice control on a future episode, so if you’re an “expert” please contact me.

Today’s topic – You are Responsible for Updating Your Technology

  • In the last month, I’ve had to do the following:
    • Rescued three websites from obvious hacking
      • Two were hijacked by an out-of-date WordPress plugin and dozens of fake blog posts linking to a casino were placed on the sites.
      • One was using a password created several years ago and the FTP was compromised, with THOUSANDS (over 50k) web pages were created, uploaded and indexed by google.
        • The new index.php page and all the rest were the only ones showing up in Google searches because of the dominance.
    • About six months ago I got a call that a WordPress site built over five years ago had NEVER been updated, and now stopped working.
      • That required updating WP, finding out what, if any of the existing plugins would still work with the new WP, and we had to find alternate solutions for outdated, un-updatable, or costly upgrades to certain plugins.
    • Two months ago I worked on a computer that was full of malware. The client was still running Windows XP and didn’t want to update. Windows XP was abandoned by Microsoft in April 2014, meaning there was no further development on the operating system and it would be exposed as insecure.
    • In all cases, there was a massive cleanup, one new install of WP, and a complete forced re-indexing of the website by Google and other search engines.

ALL of these could have been avoided if the core functions would have been maintained. By following just a few steps, your computer, phones and other devices can stay up to date and minimize the danger of being compromised.

Remember, criminals will most always take the low-hanging fruit, like the computer not updated in over 5 years, the WordPress site with outdated plugins, or the FTP password that hasn’t changed in half a decade.

A word of warning… updates can sometimes fail, and even cause larger issues. BACK UP YOUR DATA before running updates, or just in general. However, the risk of something bad happening during an update is nothing compared to the possible issues that can happen by running an out-of-date system.

  • WordPress and Other Websites
  1. Back up everything on a regular basis – Always have a way to reset if something bad happens, even if you lose some data.
  2. Turn on automatic updates for plugins and incremental WordPress updates.
  3. Use a service to update multiple sites if needed.
  4. Turn on notifications for major WordPress or theme releases, and run them after you back up, update plugins and prepare for possible downtime.
  5. Also change your FTP and Cpanel passwords on a regular basis, or when someone leaves the organization.
  • Windows Computers
  1. Back up on a regular basis. Services like Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive and others offer cheap, or even free secure cloud services that will back up your data.
  2. Turn on automatic updates in the control panel. This will run in the background, and prompt to reboot when larger updates appear.
  3. If you can update your operating system to at least Windows 8.2 you will at least be receiving regular security updates. There was a time you could have updated to Windows 10 for free, but you most likely missed that if you’re still running an older version.
  4. Keep your software like browsers, office software and other major applications like Photoshop and others up to date by regularly checking, or selecting auto-updates if prompted.
  • Mobile Devices
  1. Back up on a regular basis (notice a theme here?). Most carriers have this available, but you can keep your music in the cloud, photos backed up to Google Photos for free, contacts saved to Gmail or Gsuite, again for free, and other data can use Dropbox, Carbonite and other services.
  2. Go into the Play Store or Updates on your mobile device and click Update All on a regular basis.
  3. Always accept operating system updates when prompted, your device is properly charged or connected to a power source, and you have the necessary allotted time to accomplish the update. Do a full reboot once in a while to clear the device and also to re-engage auto-updates when the phone reaches back out to the carrier or app store.

Updates are an easy way to keep your site and devices secure. Criminals are looking for the easy targets when you’re dealing with electronic crime, so stay on top of your systems and update regularly.

Don’t forget to send us any suggestions for apps to review or people to interview. And subscribe to the BeBizzy Break Podcast on iTunes and Stitcher Radio

And as always, leave the technical stuff to us!

Planning & Budgeting Your New Website – BBP EP 53

Planning & Budgeting Your New Website – BBP EP 53

In this episode we talk with Scott Wild from NISC about the budget and organizational steps in planning and developing a new website, the upcoming iPhone, and Twitter Night Mode

BBP : Episode 53 – Scott Wild Talks About Planning a New Website

Scott Wild, the Onboarding & Employee Engagment specialist at NISC and owner of the Wild Trivia Tour, joins the podcast to talk about planning and budgeting for a new website. Scott and I have done several podcasts and other projects together in the past, including working for the same advertising agency in the same role a few years apart, so there’s no one I trust more when it comes to planning and pulling out the steps for a new site.

Let’s Start with the Basics

Websites are now the storefront of most businesses. It used to be billboards, newspapers and then television ads, but now many consumers find you online. So it’s important to have a user-friendly site that funnels potential clients through the buying experience. It’s not unlike how grocery and department stores are set up in that you walk through the store to get essentials, then back through everything again before being shown the “add-ons” at the checkout. You should find  out what your visitors want, get them there quickly, then take them through the desired path while still serving their needs.

  • Planning Meetings : planning up front will decrease development time (and therefore cost) and get you the site you want.
    • Who is the audience(s)?
    • For each audience, “where do they itch?” Or what do they want/need to find on your site?
    • What do you want them to do right now? What’s the call to action?
  • Development
    • What CRM? WordPress? Drupal? A specialized CRM that’s built for your industry? Custom build? What’s the best fit for your business or organization?
  • Hosting
    • There are many criteria for hosts including cost, operating systems, server specs, bandwidth speed and limitations, and many, many more.
    • Choosing a good host can be a determining factor when Google and other search engines rank your site.
  • Domains
    • Pick a domain that matches your business name for the primary domain, then you can select “vanity” domains for landing pages
      • For example, my DJ business is BeLoudEntertainment.com, but I also own BismarckWeddingDJ.com.
    • OWN YOUR DOMAIN! This can be important when you want to move the website, or just to make sure the domain is handled correctly for updating.
    • Your domain name is just like your business name. Keep it safe!
  • SSL’s

Some Advanced Planning Tips

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
    • Can be expensive
    • Can take a fair amount of time
    • Can be very punitive if “black hat” methods are employed, even to the effect of getting the domain shot WAY down the list
    • Is affected by proper titles, descriptions, keywords, page content, page layout, links (inbound, outbound and internal), page load speed, server response speed, and more.
  • Digital Marketing
    • Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are critical in sending good traffic back into your website. Use them correctly and often.
    • PPC – We didn’t really talk about this on the podcast, but a good Google AdWords or LinkedIn campaign can be a great way to generate leads
    • If you really want to make a splash, there are large volume marketing pieces like Spotify or other campaigns that can be fired up, but most have a minimum spend.
  • Security
    • Make sure the site is backed up and has some security apps or plugins monitoring the site. This is critical when, not if, something bad happens.

There were so many other items to discuss on this podcast, but in many cases it’s better to discuss in person or over the phone. If you have questions on developing a new website, or would like to discuss in more detail, please call 701-214-6271 or contact BeBizzy Consulting and let’s find out how we can drive more customers to your website.

Don’t forget to send us any suggestions for apps to review or people to interview. And subscribe to the BeBizzy Break Podcast on iTunes and Stitcher Radio

And as always, leave the technical stuff to us!

WEBSITE LAUNCH – North Dakota Recreation and Parks Association

WEBSITE LAUNCH – North Dakota Recreation and Parks Association

BeBizzy Consulting is proud to announce the launch of our latest website, NDRPA.com!

The North Dakota Recreation and Parks Association supports park and rec organizations in communities across North Dakota by providing education opportunities, resource material and recognition.

Visit the site at http://ndrpa.com.

Ready to redesign and launch a website for your business or organiztion?

Contact BeBizzy Consulting to talk about how a responsive WordPress site hosted and backed up in our server environment can help you get noticed by your customers. 

Change Your Passwords… Again : BeBizzy Break Podcast Episode 50

Change Your Passwords… Again : BeBizzy Break Podcast Episode 50

EPISODE 50!! AND, it’s our one year anniversary. So all around a big day for the BeBizzy Break Podcast!

In this episode we talk about what NIST has recommended for a new password strategy.

BBP : Episode 50 – Change Your Passwords… Again

First of all, congratulations to Dana and her team at the North Dakota Recreation and Parks Association on their new website. We launched http://NDRPA.com earlier this week. It’s a WordPress site with a calendar, subpage navigation and more. Check it out!

Also, I rescued two websites earlier this week from hacking. I’ll use this as my weekly reminder for all of your to back everything up. Websites, databases, financial information, personal photos… everything. Better to put a little bit of prevention and spend a little bit of money now than pay a bunch of money to possibly recover (or worse, possibly NOT recover) lost data.

Passwords

Back in 2003, Bill Burr (not the comedian) was a mid-level manager at NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology. They recommend standards on all sorts of things like official weight calibration, timing, and even technology guidelines like passwords. In 2003, Burr published NIST Special Publication 800-63 Appendix A, which spelled out the proper guidelines for creating and managing secure passwords on websites and networks. Those guidelines are still followed today.

The standards included a long password (8-12 characters), upper and lower case alphabet charcters, numbers, special characters and random. Sounds like every website you sign up for, doesn’t it?

But now, Mr. Burr has stated that in regards to this document and policy, “Much of what I did I now regret.” That’s an unfair statement by Bill. Back in 2003, we didn’t have much history of what computer network security was, and we definately didn’t have the case studies of how criminals and mischief-makers would do to gain access to computer networks. All of his recommendations sounded solid, and while possibly flawed, are still in use today.

What NIST and computer analysts are finding though is humans always find an easy way to get around something tough, and frankly secure. The requirements would allow a user to create a seemingly random password like “Pa5sW0rD”. You and I both know that says “PaSsWOrD”, but the computer sees it matches Burr’s recommendations.

So, when it comes time to update the password becasue of time requirements placed by the system adminstrators, or a data break. instead of creating a new, secure passwords, often we add something simple to it. “Pa5sW0rD” becomes “Pa5sW0rD1”, the “5” and “s” switch places, or something simple like that to remember but still meeting Burr’s recommendations.

Well the computer hackers have also figured out our shortcuts and have added some smarts into their password cracking to test out some of these easy switches. And it’s working.

In June 2017, NIST has published a new version of NIST Publication 800-63, which outlines a very different recommended password architecture. What started out as a project to simply review and slightly revise Burr’s policy recommendations became an eye-opening look into how users and criminals were using passwords. And results came back with a HUGE change in password policy.

Instead of a hard-to-remember, cryptic password, it was instead recommending four or five easy to remember words all pressed together. This is easy for the user to remember, change and use, and tough for the computer hackers to crack due to the length and randomness of the password.

A cartoon on XKCD.com drawn by Randall Munroe estimated that a password created using Burr’s methods, “Tr0ub4dor&3” would take only three days to crack using current methods. A password of four words all mixed together would take 550 years. That password was “correcthorsebatterystaple.” Which one do you think is easier to remember, and change? And if you DO need to change the password, which is now only recommended in the event of a data breach or similar event, you can swap out an entire word instead of just adding a “1” or “!” to the password.

It will be interesting to see how this is adapted and implemented across websites and networks. Most rules won’t allow passwords regardless of length, to not contain numbers, special charactes and upper/lower case, so there’s a lot of things that have to change for these guidelines to become common, but it makes sense.

Do you have thoughts on this or anything else technology related? Let me know on Twitter or at BeBizzy.com!

Don’t forget to send us any suggestions for apps to review or people to interview. And subscribe to the BeBizzy Break Podcast on iTunes and Stitcher Radio

And as always, leave the technical stuff to us!

BBP : EP0035 – Happy World Backup Day!

BBP : EP0035 – Happy World Backup Day!

Happy World Backup Day, everyone! Well, maybe a couple days early, but we like to celebrate data backups all the time around here.

EP 35 – Happy World Backup Day!

Before we get too far, I’d like to wish a Happy 23rd Birthday to my daughter! We’ll see you this weekend and celebrate the best way you know how, by going to a hocke game!

Now, on to other important matters.

  • March 31 is World Backup Day. Back. Your. Data. Up. That is all…
    • I lied, that is NOT all. Your data is your business! Throw on top of that all your photos, your music, personal financial documents and more, and there are few things in life that would make things as difficult as recovering from a data failure.
    • At the VERY least, back up your data to an external hard drive or to another computer.
    • Personal Cloud storage devices are relatively cheap and easy to add to a home or office network.
    • Data companies like Dropbox and Carbonite have built a business out of managing backups for you. Check them out!
  • A group calling themselves the Turkish Crime Family has claimed to have stolen passwords to 530 Million Apple iCloud passwords. Time to change your passwords, kids!
    • If your Apple password has been stolen the thief can get access to your data, and even reset your phone.
  • FedEx is offering $5 for you to turn on Flash in your browsers.
    • Why should you NOT do that? Flash was proven to be an insecure browser extension years ago, so none of the modern browsers have it turned on by default.
    • FedEx needs to find a way to join the rest of us in 2017 and build a website that does not use this ancient, security-holed software.

Have a good rest of your week, everyone!

Don’t forget to send us any suggestions for apps to review or people to interview. And subscribe to the BeBizzy Break Podcast on iTunes and Stitcher Radio

And as always, leave the technical stuff to us!

Let's get started!