If you haven’t heard, every month this year I’m writing about any big news in the Interwebz & WordPress worlds, new favorite tools, and maintenance tips & best practices to keep your WordPress happy and your website working as your reliable 24/7 salesperson so you don’t have to.
Got some fun stuff for May so let’s get crackin’!
Keep Your WordPress Site Happy: Essential Tips – May 2017
What’s up in da Interwebz?
Word around the Interwebz: womenwho.design. Women Who Design is a Twitter profile directory of inspiring women in the design industry, from authors and content strategists to illustrators and developers.
It’s brand new and you can nominate for the founder to add more women to it! It’s a wonderful place to find new talent to hire, new people to learn from and get to know, you name it.
What’s up in the WordPress world?
Upcoming WordPress Core Update: 4.8
Keep your website backed up and updated in preparation for the June 8 release of WordPress 4.8. Beta 1 comes out this month, but the real thing released to the public comes in June. This release will drop support for IE versions 8, 9, and 10 (even more reason to stop using the dinosaur known as IE and join the cool kids using Chrome and Firefox!).
Although remember (as always) that it takes plugin and theme developers a couple of weeks or so to release updates compatible with new releases of the WordPress software, so wait until late June to do your WordPress 4.8 update.
Meanwhile, follow best practices for website security (discussed ad nauseam throughout various posts on keeping your website safe from hackers) and if you aren’t on a solid hosting provider yet, get on one! I highly recommend Siteground – it’s become my favorite because it’s not only GREAT but also CHEAP (I was on Liquid Web before, paying out the wazoo for the same level of service before I wised up).
Shopify Plugin Being Discontinued
Were you using the WordPress plugin for Shopify? Unfortunately I come bearing some bad news: it’s being discontinued because it was too tricky to maintain. It will no longer be supported after June 30, 2017.
So if you’re using the Shopify plugin, right now is the best time to start planning to switch over to another way of selling. Consider Easy Digital Products (read this post on how to sell products on your website for more on that) or, if you have enough products you need to ship, an entire move to the Shopify platform.
You could also, if you wish to stay on WordPress but sell via Shopify, create a Buy Button for a product or collection and paste the embed code into your WordPress site. Here’s a Shopify article on the Buy Button feature.
New favorite WordPress tools
Watsonfinds is a new free plugin from IBM that I’m excited to try out (if you do, please lemme know how it went for you!). You may have heard of Watson from IBM – a cognitive computing system (artificial intelligence, yo!) being used by the medical and various other industries to advance technology beyond what we already know.
This plugin uses Watson’s artificial intelligence genius to interpret unstructured data and get accurate insights about your website content, and predict how it will be perceived by other humans a.k.a. your website visitors. The plugin checks your content against the Watsonfinds web service to do this. How cool is that?! And you can use for sales emails and social media posts too, why not?
The way it works is you paste your content into the page or post and then click on the plugin icon have Watsonfinds analyze your content. Watsonfinds shows the insights divided in 5 different emotions: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear, so you can optimize your content for the desired reaction. As you modify your content, be sure to click the Watsonfinds button to generate a new report for new feedback.
It reminds me of CoSchedule’s wonderful free headline analyzer, which I use nearly daily, but Watsonfinds seems more in-depth.
It’s promising and borderline creepy but, as with any artificial intelligence, it’s up to us to use it for good or evil. So use your powers wisely, superhero! Especially once they release a commercial version of Watsonfinds with more features.
Your Monthly WordPress Site Maintenance
Only got 5 minutes? That’s okay! Got 30? Even better! Either way, we can help keep WordPress site happy and humming along helping your biz grow 24/7.
Here’s what you need to do this month to keep your WordPress site happy and working for you without a hitch:
- If you’re not on managed hosting that handles your security (if you don’t know whether you are or not, you’re not) then make sure you’re using a security plugin like Wordfence or Sucuri, and once a month quickly run your site through a security filter like Sucuri’s: http://sitecheck.sucuri.net/
- Check for broken links automatically with the free Broken Link Checker plugin
- Make sure your backups are running smoothly so you have a Plan B if disaster strikes (I like Backup Buddy and UpdraftPlus). Restore one every month to ensure they’re working properly and you can rely on them if needed.
- Haven’t gotten a message through your contact form in the past few weeks? Test it!
- Haven’t gotten a new subscriber in a little while? Test your opt-in forms! And work on increasing your website traffic and optimizing your social media traffic while you’re at it if you want to convert visitors into more signups ;)
Ready to feel in control of your business website and be sure your leads are getting through to you? Check out the FREE 5-day “Superclean Your Website” Challenge to begin. (Beginners welcome!)
Psst… you may have noticed this post doesn’t have a branded featured image. After spending time, effort, and money into adding branded images to my blog, I’ve come to the conclusion that all it’s done is take away time, effort, and money from my business. Sure, it’s pretty, but I’m the practical type and as a one-woman shop, I’m choosing to put my energy elsewhere.
Yes, it’s made my Instagram feed a little more business-y and profesh-lookin’, but Instagram is better for engagement on that platform anyway (likes! comments!) than for transferring traffic to your website (in most cases, including mine). As far as Pinterest, for my business and after looking at my stats for a long time, I can safely put my Pinterest efforts to bed as well. After all, in my experience and from what I’ve researched and from what friends in the industry have found, Pinterest is much better at generating leads for product-based businesses like skincare and clothing brands than it is for service providers like coaches and web developers.
So I’m taking these things off my plate and putting that focus on writing and developing better content for you at this point and I’ll see how it goes. If you’ve done something similar to streamline your processes after careful examination, please tell me what it is in the comments!