Enable and Disable Comments in WordPress

Enable and Disable Comments in WordPress

One of the topics that have come up for me frequently in the past few days has been the spam on comments in WordPress. People sometimes try to use other people’s blogs to create back links to their sites that are not related. There are ways around this like using a plugin such as Disqus and making people register to comment.

spammy comments

Sometimes we simply don’t have time to deal with the comments and sift through the genuine comments as opposed to the spam or we want to have some comments.

There are 4 options:

  1. Disable all comments on your WordPress site
  2. Automatically close comments after a certain number of days
  3. Disable comments on a page by page or post by post basis.
  4. Bulk Edit from the List of Pages or Posts

1. Disable All Comments on New Pages or Posts

 

Disable comments in WordPress

  • Log into the WordPress Dashboard
  • Under Settings, select Discussion
  • Uncheck “Allow People to post comments on new articles” in the Default Settings section
  • Save Changes

Disable Comments on New Posts

 

 

2. Automatically close comments after a certain number of days

 

 Close Comments After 10 Days

  • Log into the WordPress Dashboard
  • Under Settings, select Discussion
  • Check “Allow People to post comments on new articles”
  • Under “Other comment settings”, Check “Automatically close comments on articles older than”
  • Enter the number of days
  • Save Changes at the bottom of the screen

3.  Disable comments on a page by page or post by post basis.

There are 2 options:

A. Within the Page or Post

  • Navigate to the Page or Post where you want to disable the comments.
  • At the top right hand corner click on the “Screen Options” drop down button.

Screen Options in WordPress

  • Check the Discussion box

 

  • Scroll down underneath the text section of the page
  • Uncheck “Allow comments”

  • On the right hand sidebar of the page, remember to Update.

B. From the Page or Post List:

 

Disable Comments from list

 

  • From the WordPress Dashboard, navigate to the list of Pages or Posts.
  • Hover over the name of the page or post that you want to edit.
  • A menu will appear underneath. Choose Quick Edit.
  • Uncheck “Allow Comments”.
  • Update.

4. Bulk Edit from the List of Pages or Posts

From the WordPress Dashboard, Select Pages / All Pages

Check the Pages or Posts that you want to Edit.

At the top of the list change the drop down menu from Bulk Actions to Edit

Bulk Edit

  • Click “Apply”

Do Not Allow Comments

  • You can change several settings here. Change the comments to “Do not allow”.
  • Update

 

Choosing a WordPress Theme

Choosing a WordPress Theme

What is a WordPress Theme?

“A WordPress Theme is a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a weblog. These files are called template files. A Theme modifies the way the site is displayed, without modifying the underlying software.
A WordPress theme provides all of the front end styling of your WordPress site.”

The WordPress Codex

I like to think of it as the skin and makeup of a site.

Most WordPress themes provide:

  • the design or style of your site
  • font styling options
  • colors
  • widget locations such as sidebar and footer
  • page design layouts (sometimes referred to as templates)
  • blog posts and blog archives styles
  • additional features

What is the best way to choose a theme?

Ask experienced people.

I asked some of the staff from Automattic and their unofficial answer was

“Look for well-established and supported themes that are well known in the industry such as Genesis, Beaver Builder, Avada, Astra. Don’t go to the theme vendors.” ?

I looked on their website that lists many options.

The list of options is so vast that it is difficult to know what to choose.

Do’s

– Make a list of Essential features or functions that you need.

Theme features

This may include columns, layouts, sidebars, footers, and navigation bars.

– Consider purchasing a Premium Theme

There are many free themes available for people that are on a budget. Automattic (the makers of WordPress) offer several options. If you pay for the theme, then you can get support from the developers and there is more of a chance of it being properly updated. In some cases the developer will abandon the theme completely. Sometimes free themes contain malicious code when downloaded outside of the WordPress repository.

If I consider purchasing a premium theme vs hiring someone to build something for me, the cost is minuscule. Great Value!

Theme Frameworks

Some themes like Genesis provide a very basic layout and in order to gain the effect that you want, you will need to purchase an additional Child Theme also known as a framework ( for example Genesis by Studiopress).

– Avoid Bloated Themes

A theme that is cluttered with features that you don’t use will slow down your website.

– Pick a Responsive Theme

In search engine optimization (SEO) we build for mobile first since many people will never view your site on a desktop. As we know, Google rolled out a mobile-first update that prioritizes sites that are mobile friendly. Check that your theme looks good on mobile devices. Google even offers a free mobile-friendly testing tool to check whether the theme  is mobile-friendly.

– Pick a Theme with Clear Legible Fonts

Some themes come with very small light fonts. Is that something that you can change or will people have to squint to read your site?

– Easy Customization

Is the theme user friendly? The customization options vary from theme to theme and by changing a few features, you should be able to create diverse layouts without any knowledge of coding.

– Pick a Theme that loads quickly

Website speed today is one of the most significant factors affecting conversion rate. Most people abandon a site that takes more than a few seconds to load.

Here’s what I look for:

  1. How long has the company/developer that built the theme been established?
  2. Does the theme have reviews? How many reviews?
  3. How many people have installed the theme?
  4. What does it look like on mobile?
  5. Does it work on all browsers?
  6. View the support forum. Are there responses for the tickets/questions?
  7. Do a preview of the theme if it is available. If not try to figure out which websites are using it.(The support forum might help.)
    • Check if the theme has a preloader – that is something in lieu of the hour glass that you  see on the screen while the rest of the page’s content is still loading. If the theme has one, the site will be slow.
    • Do a speed test on the theme demo and if possible on websites that use it. If the Home page is extremely long, it may not be the best page to pick.
    • If you have a copy of the theme, you can download a plugin that will help you test it – called Theme Check
  8. If you need the theme for a specific purpose like a realtor site, either pick a theme that specifically targets your needs or a basic theme that can be adapted to many purposes. (I like Beaver Builder and Divi.) If you have a multipurpose theme also known as a bloated theme, it will take time to load all the elements available on your website that are not being used. For example, if you are not doing ecommerce, do not load Woocommerce.

Translation & Multilingual Ready

NOTE! The basic WordPress installation is free of charge and comes in multiple languages. You can select the language you want to use for your installation.

All the WordPress default themes include all the languages and are free. These themes are Twentyseventeen, Twentysixteen, etc.

If you need a theme in a language that is not English, look for the language that you need. If you need a language that is read and written from right to left look for RTL in the theme documentation. Make sure that you look at an example of a site with the theme in an RTL language. You can check 

 .mo files for translation: That means the theme is translated and you have control over the terminology used – you can change it.

WPML: That means that you can do the translation.

Some themes don’t have the language in the description, however when you check the support forum, you may find that someone has used it successfully.

Page Builders

A page builder is a plugin or a built in feature of a theme that enables you to quickly and easily set up the page elements or modules without knowing how to code.

Except for Beaver Builder, most page builders leave short codes in the front end of your website if you delete the page builder plugin. There are ways to strip the short codes, and it may be easier to rebuild the pages from scratch depending on the size of the website.

If you own the license to the page builder, you can use the same page builder for multiple themes.

Some themes from companies like Theme Forest come with a group license for their page builder. Everything seems great until the page builder runs an update that is not rolled out by the makers of the theme. I had a site that I could not update for a month because of that. The option is to purchase the page builder plugin separately and install it yourself. It is helpful to budget for that option before you begin and not overly expensive.

Conclusion: Use a page builder!

Theme Customization

The theme should have user friendly customization features, particularly with regards to colors, fonts and page layouts.

Sometimes we are looking for customization that is not included, such as emphasizing the Donate navigation tab on a non-profit site.

If the level of customization needed is more than CSS markup, it is necessary to install a Child Theme.

We never make changes to the core WordPress or Theme files on a site. If it is necessary to change PHP coding language for example, we would only do that with a child theme. The reason is because if the files are updated, all the changes will be lost. The child theme is only ever updated by you or your WordPress developer.

Themes that include frameworks cannot support child themes since the framework is the child theme. An option is to not install a framework or use a plugin that will support the changes needed.

I hope this article helped you select the perfect theme for your WordPress site. If you liked this article, then please subscribe.

 


Accidental Copyright Infringement: Protect Yourself from Using Illegal Pictures

Accidental Copyright Infringement: Protect Yourself from Using Illegal Pictures

We all know that pictures can be worth “a thousand words” when they give context to your blog posts and articles. At at no time could this be truer than in our very visual digital world. However, the pictures you use can also be worth a lot of money to the people who decide to sue you for copyright infringement because you used them without their permission.

The pictures you use can also be worth a lot of money to the people who decide to sue you for copyright infringement because you used them without their permission.
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How does Image Optimization Work on Websites?

How does Image Optimization Work on Websites?

The number of do it yourself websites has expanded like a mushroom cloud. Large companies and even smaller agencies offer plans where a user with no prior programming experience can set up a website using their software. Although some software includes images, it does not prepare the user for inserting appropriate images.

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

A striking photograph can enhance your brand and express emotions. Poor graphics and images can impair the quality of the site. It is preferable to include high quality stock photography to grainy and blurred photographs or personal pictures.
There are two categories of images: Images with story appeal and Images which demonstrate. An image with story appeal evokes curiosity and triggers the reader to read the post. It should be placed at the top of the post. Images that demonstrate create a visual explanation of text on the site or are used to simplify an explanation. Included in this category are charts, before and after pictures and product images.  These visual elements can be used to boost your SEO and attract more visitors to your site. Selecting an appropriate image relevant to the content is only part of the required effort. The other part is having a clear grasp of file formats, size, and optimization.

A few guidelines
1)  Images slow down the time that it takes a page to load. In order to justify the time, they should be superb, highly relevant and optimized for the space that they take up on the page.
2)  Captions are read more than copy – according to Kissmetrics .
3)  If there is a long article, a visual is a good way to break up the space
4) Many users scan headlines and images without reading text.

Using the correct file format:

The file formats mostly used on web are jpg, gif and png. If your file is in a different format, you will need to convert it. On Windows, I use Microsoft Office Picture Manager.

Best image online editors:

Image file formats for web

.jpg

A pixelated jpg

A pixelated jpg

.jpg is the format preferred by photographers. It uses an algorithm to compress the image whilst maintaining the balance and quality of the image. However, compressing it also degrades the quality and removes the details, so it may be advisable to save a copy of the original image. Excessive compression causes distortion viewed as small checkered patterns on the image known as “jpeg noise”. Different photos need different compression so attempt different compressions whilst viewing the result in order to achieve a usable photo with a small file size.

.gif

GIF is the older format adopted by the original designers of the World Wide Web for flat color graphics. It was created in the 1980’s and is pronounced ‘jif’ as in ‘jiffy’. GIFs are less

Icon using gif file format

.gifs have a smaller color range and are good for logos and icons

popular due to the fact that they can accommodate a smaller color range, but are still are popular for their ability to save multiple frames within a single file. This allows one to make an animation which is still gaining popularity. Limit the use of these files in a web site since reading the text can be interrupted by the movement on the screen.

via GIPHY

GIFs compress color well without losing data or distorting the image. In addition they allow us to set one color to be transparent which can be very helpful when placing graphics over a colorful or photographic background or for logos. Compressing a photo using a .gif means switching from many colors to a few colors and can lead to a grainy look known as “dithering”. Gifs are good for logos, diagrams and infographics.

.png

png file showing transparent background

.png files show opacity and allow transparent backgrounds. The grey squares indicate a transparent background.

The PNG file is relatively new and created specifically for web purposes. . Animated pngs (MNG, for Multiple-image Network Graphics or APNG, for Animated Portable Network Graphics) are superior in quality to gif animations due to their cleaner, brighter, vivid images with cleaner edges and transparency options. However, due to the fact that they are poorly supported, the files degrade to static PNG images on clients with no support. Aside from the animation feature pngs have replaced gifs in all other respects, since they support a large range of color depths, and different levels of transparency. Pngs are excellent for line art, text, and logos—images that contain large areas of homogenous color with sharp transitions between colors. They can also be used for photographs and are good for backgrounds; however the file size is larger than for a jpg file.

Which kind is best?
It depends…

jpg – good for photos. Cons – may cause loss of detail
gif – good for line art, logos, images with solid areas of the same color and animation. Poor for photographs.
png – good for both photographs and line art. Good for compressing photos without losing detail. Con is that the photo files are larger than jpg files.

What do you prefer?

Using the correct file size

File size refers to the amount of space that the file occupies on a storage device. The smaller the file size, the faster it will load on a website. It is important to determine who is viewing your web page and their location. Some users have slower internet connections, older devices or are using their phone. If the image takes too long to load, they may abandon the site. Google recommends a maximum load time of two seconds.
Photos taken using a mobile device may be very large. The question is whether we need to load such a large image? If the user needs to wait more than 2 seconds because of that image, he could abandon your site. As of July 2018, the time that it takes for a mobile site to load will be a ranking factor on Google Search Engine.

Resolution

One of the ways of reducing file size is by reducing resolution. If you enlarge a photo, you may notice that it is comprised of little squares. Each square is known as a dot and the resolution is measured in dpi (dots per inch). Most computer monitors will display a maximum of 72dpi so having a resolution higher than that will only serve to increase the file size. (If you have a resolution of 72 dpi and your image is 6 inches wide, then your image will be 72 x 6 = 432 pixels.)
Most desktop monitors are at least 1,280 pixels (px) wide. Some may have very large monitors – 1,920 px, 2,560px or even larger.

WordPress defines default image sizes as follows:

  • a Large version (default 600px)
  • a Medium version (default 300px)
  • a Thumbnail (default 150px)

I usually load the image files onto my site at the maximum size that they will display. (If I am designing for desktop, then a quarter of the screen will be 1280/4=320px wide). Loading a larger file means that it will be resized by the browser and the time it takes for the page to load will increase. If you make the image too small and it is being viewed on a larger screen, the quality will be blurred and pixelated. (The best bet is to look at your analytics report to see what size screens your visitors are using.)

There are tools for testing web speed and they will generally give a report on which images should be compressed in order to enhance page loading speed.

Best resources to optimize images:

TinyPNG For compressing jpg and png files online 
Imagify (online, free & paid options)
ImageOptim  ( Mac)
PNG Gauntlet  (Windows)
Trimage (Linux)
JPEGmini ($20, Mac & Windows)
• More here  from Mashable

The rule of thirds

The eyes of the subject should be 2/3 of the way up

Cropping

In many cases, the image available has a lot of irrelevant background and cropping it would help to focus on the important part. When cropping, remember to leave some space around the element in focus and don’t place it dead center. People or subjects are more appealing when placed off center.  I am forever grateful to Kylos Brannon for teaching me about the rule of thirds in a cellphone photography workshop. The rule of thirds in photography divides the image horizontally into 3 strips. The frame of the picture should be divided into 9 like a tic-tac-toe frame, and the objects should be aligned along the lines. They need not be aligned dead center. They can be off a little, but using this technique creates better images in photography and can also be used when formatting images for web pages.

Alt text and title text

Google Lunar New Year Alt Text

Screenshot of Google Lunar New Year Alt Text

Sometimes the link to an image is broken and the only clue that the reader has to the image is the alt text. The alt text is also used by visually impaired people to read your post. As mentioned in Wikipedia : “In situations where the image is not available to the reader, perhaps because they have turned off images in their web browser or are using a screen reader due to a visual impairment, the alternative text ensures that no information or functionality is lost.” Be sure that your alt text includes the relevant keyword and relates to your image. Google places a high value on the alt text to determine what the image is portraying, and also to determine the text content adjacent to the image.

Resources

Finding images on the internet is easy. Copying or downloading images without verifying the licensing can expose us to exorbitant legal fees in the form of copyright infringement penalties. (See Blogging.com’s guide to Copyrighting your blog content.)Paying for a royalty free service like Shutterstock is well worth the investment. Be mindful that the same business photos of people shaking hands that you are downloading from Shutterstock are being universally used in thousands of websites. Where possible get professional pictures of your business, or use your own images.

 According to Wikipedia:

A copyright troll is a person or company that enforces copyrights it owns for purposes of making money through litigation, in a manner considered unduly aggressive or opportunistic, generally without producing or…

For further information on copyright see What every website owner should know about copyright trolls.

Here are some of the best free stock picture sites:

If you are interested in other resources check Pinterest. Always check the licensing policy before you download. Some artists expect you to attribute their work on your site in exchange for the picture.

Conclusion

High quality images and photographs will set your website apart and make it unforgettable. In order to maximize this tool, remember to prepare your image by selecting the appropriate file format, size and image resolution.Crop and resize as necessary to focus the subjects. Find the balance between a good image and small file size so that the website looks great and loads quickly.

 

The Top 10 items to include in Every Website

The Top 10 items to include in Every Website

What are the most important aspects for building a website that you should include regardless of the platform that your site is build on? We build websites in order to promote our content whether it is personal or business related. What are the most important elements to promote site traffic?

1. Mobile Responsive Site

Since Google Search Engine created the mobile first index, websites that are not responsive can only be found on the desktop index.

2. Speed

A site that loads within 2 seconds is essential so that users stay on your page instead of moving onto the next search result on the page.  One of the elements that can speed up a site is caching. Caching allows you to serve compressed and cached files to your visitors. This reduces the load on your server and your website becomes faster. Another is Image Optimization.

3. Security

Having software on the site that protects it is insufficient if you don’t read the warnings.

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GDPR

GDPR

GDPR is probably a term that has come across your radar recently in the form of a slew of emails from companies that you contacted in the distant and more recent past. It stands for General Data Protection Regulation and is a European law demanding that organizations that collect data over the internet be transparent about how the data will be used.

Although many of you run businesses and own websites in the US and other locations outside of Europe, if someone from Europe visits your website and uses your services in any way, you are impacted by the GDPR law and are liable to pay hefty penalties if you neglect to address this issue on your website.

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How can I Gain Instant Website Visibility on a Budget?

How can I Gain Instant Website Visibility on a Budget?

I think my new site should be no. 1 on Google search engine.

How come I can’t find my site on page 10?

When a new prospect tells me “I need a website built for my business”, s/he often loses sight of the goals. They might have an idea in their minds of what their website will look like or have looked at other sites that they liked. Others merely know that they need to have “one of those”.  If you are an emerging entrepreneur, of course you have to have a website otherwise you would be left in the dark ages.

The most basic goal of the site is visibility. Do you want to sell your book, get more donations, sell your services or have more people read your blog?  In theory you can achieve this goal with an ugly website. I worked on a search engine optimization project recently. The client spent thousands of dollars on advertising and tens of thousands of visitors came to his site. The goal of his site was to go viral, and he did – at 50c per visitor. How much are you willing to spend to have your post go viral? What happens if you don’t have a large advertising budget? Many of my clients are emerging entrepreneurs and they are looking for a budget solution. Maybe they have a good basic website. Is there a way to increase web site traffic fast without spending thousands of dollars?

The answer is no and yes. If you have recently published your website then perhaps your friends and acquaintances will take a look out of courtesy. If nothing changes on your site, there is no reason to go back to it. Your site is like a grain of rice in a sack. There are many, many similar sites attempting to reach the same people that you are trying to reach.

How can you overcome this problem if you have a small budget? When someone is looking for a service or a business like yours, they will first go to a search engine and type in a search phrase. In order to be visible to your audience, you need to optimize you website for the search engines and attempt to match those search results. The more compatible your site is with Search Engine standards, the easier it will be for them to find you.

 

Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS)

There are two kinds of search engine results: The first is paid advertising. You will see these results in the top of the search engine results. The second is known as organic optimization. That means that a person who understands search engine optimization has taken specific steps to make that website more accessible to search engine bots. With a small investment, we can provide the search engines with the data they are looking for and improve our visibility chances.

At this point people tell me that their “web designer took care of all of that”. If you want to live in a house, you do not have to be a builder. When your builder has completed your house, you understand a little about tiles, bathroom fixtures and kitchen cabinets. Do you expect your builder to do the landscaping as well as the build the house?  In the current budget market few web developers or designers can afford to include more than basic Search Engine Optimization in the price of the site. From a personal perspective, I add the website to search engines and create an account on Google Webmaster tools.  Any further effort on my part will raise the cost of the site, and price me out of my market. In looking at some of the basics of search engine optimization, I see that is true in most cases.

How to increase website visibility on Google and other search engines?

Looking at this topic very broadly, we can divide the criteria into 3 main factors:

  1. User accessibility. Is it easy to navigate your website?

Always remember that the site must be easy for humans to navigate. If I am looking for some specific information and I need to click three times to find it, the chances are that I will abandon the site because the next site in the search engine results page (serp) will give me that information immediately.

2. Ranking factors – these may be compared to grades assigned by search engines. For example site speed – the time that it takes for your web page to load.

3. Non – ranking factors – these help you to be found, but the search engines do not grade your site if you have them. For example, keywords. (more…)

Mobile First is Here

Mobile First is Here

Mobile first arrived in 2014

It is taking us time to internalize this fact.

According to Google Analytics data  gathered by Google Search Engine in 2017, 40% of online transactions are carried out on mobile devices.

Mobile World Congress 2018

Recently, at the Mobile World Congress  in Barcelona, 3 industry leaders, Clorox CMO Eric Reynolds, Horizon Media Executive VP and Managing Partner Sarah Baehr, and Lego VP and Head of U.S. Marketing Amy Pascal stated

  1. Stop thinking of mobile as a channel; marketing is mobile.
  2. Make your creative mobile-first.
  3. Answer a consumer need.

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3 TIPS TO BOOST YOUR VISIBILITY DURING YOUR PRESENTATION

3 TIPS TO BOOST YOUR VISIBILITY DURING YOUR PRESENTATION

Leveraging Social Media

The talk is riveting. The presenter is entertaining. I have learned so many interesting facts.  I cringe inwardly when I realize how the speaker has missed a golden opportunity…

It is an undisputed fact that presenting to an audience is one of the best ways to gain visibility for your business.  When I stand up to speak, then I notice some people are “working”, playing Candy Crush or texting their latest flame. The best advice I can offer to attempt to gain the audience’s attention is to  read Jeff Haden’s post.

Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.

– Napoleon Hill

I am the speaker’s worst nightmare. I constantly fiddle with my phone as I transition between taking notes and photographs, unless the presenter has taken advantage of the strategies mentioned below…

Now the audience’s attention is focused upon you.

How can you leverage this opportunity to share your content and connect on social media?

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Why is Website Security Essential?

Why is Website Security Essential?

Thursday this week was Computer Security Day. For me this past week has been Website Disaster Recovery Week. Last month I participated in WordCamp Baltimore, an event for the WordPress and blogging community. There I attended a talk on web security by Eve Land  support engineer for the Sucuri company. She said that every website should have a disaster recovery plan. The question is not what happens IF my website gets hacked, but what to do WHEN it gets hacked.

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Zen Rabbit – Networking Strategies for The Quiet People

Zen Rabbit – Networking Strategies for The Quiet People


Ignore mom’s advice. Talk to strangers!

     –Lori Saitz

 

Lori Saitz of Zen Rabbit  is an unusual person. When I interviewed her she told me that she  used the failure of her gratitude cookie business, Zen Rabbit Baking company, to jump start her current business of helping quiet people build networking connections.

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