How To Update Your WordPress Site, Theme & Plugins Automatically

Posted by on Aug 10, 2015 in Blog, Guest Blog, Websites | 0 comments

WordPress is by far the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world. Free to install, easy to use and with a huge array of themes and plugins, it’s the first port of call for most businesses and individuals looking to set up a website. And in light of Google’s recent algorithm update, nicknamed ‘Mobilegeddon’, which prioritises mobile-friendly websites in the search engine rankings, WordPress’s dominance is likely to snowball even more quickly. I’m a big fan of WordPress myself and have been using it on all my websites, and those of my clients, for several years. Like any technology, however, it isn’t without its faults, and for me one of the mild annoyances of WordPress is the number of updates – not just to WordPress itself, but also to the third-party plug-ins and themes that are available. Of course, updates in general are a good thing – developers need to constantly improve their products’ functionality and reliability, and as the world’s most popular CMS, it is inevitable that WordPress websites are going to come under constant attack from hackers. If your website contains data relating to your company and customers, the prospect of a hacker or bot compromising your site is very scary, so it’s reassuring to receive regular security updates. But while WordPress’s minor core updates happen automatically as standard, it’s cumbersome having to update plugins every few days, especially if you run several sites that each run numerous plugins – and what happens if you’re on holiday when a certain important update notification hits your inbox? In this modern age where we like to automate processes as often as possible, wouldn’t it be great if WordPress could auto-update all the third-party themes and plugins too? I suspect that one day WordPress will provide such a function, but until then help is thankfully at hand in the form of third-party plugins, ironically enough.   Updating WordPress   As I mentioned earlier, some updates are already automated by WordPress. When version 3.7 was released in 2013, WordPress introduced automatic minor core updates. This means that maintenance and security updates should be installing on your site automatically.  However, for a multitude of reasons, such as a permissions issue on the server or a theme wp-config file overriding automatic update, this function may not be working for you; if you have any doubts, I recommend downloading the background update tester plugin which will run a diagnostics test and highlight any issues. Once you’ve checked that your minor core updates are happening automatically, you may want to automate major core updates as well. To do this, simply install a third-party plugin such as WP Updates Settings, activate it and check...

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Why WordPress?

Posted by on Jun 11, 2014 in Blog, Guest Blog, Websites | 1 comment

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when web design was a highly daunting task for anyone other than professional web designers fluent in the use of HTML.  While there is definitely still a need for such professionals, and while this article certainly does not wish to ignore or devalue their worth, there’s no denying that the landscape has changed dramatically over the past few years, with more and more DIY options popping up for business owners. And while there are numerous such companies out there that offer Content Management Systems (CMS) – Joomla and Drupal are the first two that spring to my mind – the one that most people favour is WordPress, and in this article I will provide the ten main reasons why I think WordPress is the way to go for your business. Please note that in this article I am generally referring to self-hosted WordPress sites (WordPress.org), as opposed to those that are hosted on WordPress’s server space (WordPress.com). A detailed explanation of the difference between the two can be found here, but in simple terms this article is aimed at business owners who need a website that is fully customisable, and WordPress-hosted sites are not.   Ten reasons why WordPress is the best web design solution:   1.  WordPress is a one-stop-shop solution for web design WordPress started life in 2003 as a CMS for bloggers. When I first used it myself back in 2006, it was just for the purpose of running a blog which I then attached to my HTML website. In recent years, however, it has grown in scope to the point where you can easily use it to build a fully fledged website. In fact, many major brands such as TechCrunch and eBay use WordPress for their site or blog. 2.  WordPress will save you money The cost of building a website in WordPress is minimal. WordPress don’t charge anything for you to install their software, and if you go down the simplest route of using a free WordPress theme, the only cost to you will be the domain name (as little as £5 every two years if you go for a co.uk name) and web hosting (as little as £15 per year). If you were to use a web designer to build a site from scratch in HTML, you’d be looking at least £250 to £400 for a basic one, and then you’d still have the domain name and hosting fees on top of that. Free WordPress themes will meet the needs of some business owners, but often it’s necessary to buy a premium theme. You may be worried about your site looking too generic, or you...

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The EU Cookie Law – an overview

Posted by on Aug 21, 2013 in Blog, Guest Blog, Websites | 2 comments

Whether you’re a hardened internet geek or a casual web user, you’re bound to have seen the cookie policy notices that pop up on websites these days. All the major sites have one, and if this is the first time you’ve visited the Nick Lewis Communications site, you probably saw a message at the bottom of the screen upon your arrival stating, “This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We’ll assume you’re ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish.” So what are these pop-ups there for and does your website need one? In this article I will provide answers to these questions and more. Let’s start with the basics… What is a cookie?   Not to be confused with the staple diet of this furry blue chap, the cookies I am talking about are small files of encrypted letters and numbers placed by a website onto a user’s computer when that user visits said website. The purposes of cookies include identifying your session, maintaining your preferences and storing your items in shopping carts. Cookies do not damage your computer, but they can be used to track your browser activity – and there is a remote but real danger that the personal information gathered by the cookies could fall into the hands of hackers.   Why have all these cookie policy notices started popping up? The EU Cookie Law was changed in May 2011 to ensure that webmasters gain consent from users before allowing their websites to store cookies on users’ computers. With corporate giants such as Google and Facebook using cookies on a huge scale to track user behaviour, sell us things and personalise our browsing experience, it was deemed necessary to establish a system of good practice that all webmasters adhere to, to protect web users’ rights of privacy.   Does my site need a cookie policy notice?   If your website targets customers based in the EU and you collect any form of cookies from visitors, then yes, you should include some sort of notice on your website. Depending on the form of cookies you use, the type of information you gather from visitors and what you do with that information, you may require explicit permission from your visitors to store their information, generally in the form of an opt-in button – and this is where the matter becomes murky. There are numerous types of cookie used on websites, some more intrusive than others, and it’s not easy to classify them. Here’s a quick breakdown of the forms of cookies and the required action you should consider taking (please note: this information is based on a guide produced by the International Chambers of Commerce...

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