13 posts categorized "WordPress"

10/04/2015

Managed WordPress Demystified

Managed WordPress is a vibrant category of web hosting that specializes in doing 1 thing only: ensuring your WordPress websites are reliable, secure and well-maintained. In this WordCamp 2015 Toronto presentation, Alex Sirota (@alexsirota), Director of NewPath Consulting (@newpathtech) describes the different types of hosting available for WordPress with a focus on the ever evolving managed WordPress hosting space.

 This is a non-vendor biased presentation but will help web developers, designers and their customers understand the value proposition that a Managed WordPress hosting company can offer. The presentation includes a demonstration of some of the very cool features in several Managed WordPress systems including GoDaddy’s Managed WordPress Solution (part of GoDaddy Pro), DreamPress from DreamHost, FlyWheel, Pantheon and WPEngine. Also presented is a new survey of more than 20 Managed WordPress hosts across the world.

 

 

 

02/04/2015

Security Insight: Is WordPress the new Windows XP?

WordPress is the world's most popular software solution to running a website. Over 25% of the websites on the Internet now use WordPress as a way to publish and manage their content. The simplest blog to the largest newspaper sites to huge online shops now use WordPress.

But popularity seems to breed contempt, and just like the venerable Windows XP in the the early 2000s, WordPress is now facing a serious challenge which has mostly gone unnoticed -- keeping WordPress sites secure and free of malware, viruses and other nasties.

Windows XP was designed just as the Internet was getting up to speed in 2001. A networked PC was a breeding ground for various attacks and viruses. And because more than 90% of PCs used some form of Windows, virus writers focused on Windows, and specifically Windows XP as a target. The story goes that if you want to get an infection, just install Windows XP and put it on the Internet -- your PC will get some sort of virus or malware in just a few hours of operation, providing you had no anti-virus installed. Windows XP is a relic.

So here we are in 2015, the cloud is all the rage and now many applications are actually websites in disguise. They operate much more smoothly, some run inside smartphone apps, and many use WordPress, the 21st century operating system for websites and many web applications. And sure enough, as WordPress gets popular, it is now also a large target of online attacks. These attacks happen pretty much right away when you put up a WordPress website. And although it may not necessarily infect your PC or smartphone, a successful attack on WordPress can do something much worse -- it can deface, mutilate or even bring your website down so it is inoperational. Your work, and maybe even livelihood can be curtailed if your WordPress-powered website goes down.

WordFence, a popular security plug-in to detect and block attacks records over 25,000 attacks per minute running just their plugin.  An interactive map on the WordFence websites shows an animated attack maps, taken directly from the 1980s movie, WarGames. Except these attacks, many of them which are blocked, can be very destructive.

An attack surface can be simply described as a potential weakness in the code or infrastructure of a piece of software. The best analogy is a structural weakness in a building or bridge -- if the weakness is taken advantage of, the whole structure can become vulnerable and even come crashing down. As recently as March 2014, an attack on over 160,000 WordPress-powered websites was used to crash a large website.

I believe it is time we started to look at WordPress much more carefully from a security perspective. Many companies are doing their best to prevent these attacks, but WordPress administrators and users should be aware of the multiple areas of vulnerabilities. Some of these have nothing to do with WordPress but rather the server or host that the software runs on.

Let's enumerate these "attack surfaces" and see if we can learn some precautions that can be taken.

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01/05/2015

Using Google Analytics To Create A TypePad Featured Posts Carousel

The Challenge

Post carousels (aka "sliders") are attractive and interactive website features that bring attention to new, popular or valuable content. TypePad recently announced an easy way to create post carousels, without one line of code. So how do you put a post carousel together and how do you decide what posts or pages get displayed in a post carousel?

Why post carousels?

When someone visits a website they usually are either looking for something specific or just browsing. Most visitors start on the home page of a website and this is where most designers place a carousel. The top 10 pages usually make up 90% or more of the traffic on a website, even websites that have thousands of pages. In order to attract visitors to the most popular content or to bring attention to the most recent or to timely posts or pages, a slider is a terrific way to call out certain content an attractive way.

Content is usually somewhat hidden behind navigation menus on the top, left, right or even bottom of  website. On a mobile device such a smartphone or a tablet a carousel also encourages visits to continue after the home page. A slider or carousel is an alternative way to navigate 3-5 pieces of content. It's not only visually attractive but also takes up a good chunk of prime real estate on a website. If you want people to visit pages other than the home page, carousels encourage visits to continue.

Statistics on carousel use are sparse but available (updated for 2018!). You must include compelling content on a carousel that entices visitors to click and get attention in the first place. We suggest keeping the number of post carousel features to a maximum of five, but ideally 3 or 4, as it appears that as the number of features increases, the click-through rates on everything but the first featured post decreases dramatically.

And the subject of the post can make a big difference -- breaking news, announcements or brand new content deserves a feature.  This is why it is critical to mine Google Analytics to identify which posts or pages should be featured. We go over how to do this below in the step-by-step solution.

How to make an effective post carousel?

There are lots of best practices when it comes to post carousels. Having a post carousel with 44 features is probably not a great idea -- they are meant as a way to feature just a few pieces of content. Switching out content and introducing new posts into the carousel is an effective way to manage the carousel.

I'm from Missouri. Show me an example!

The home page of www.resaspieces.org features a TypePad post carousel. It was implemented based on the most popular pages over the past year, collected from Google Analytics. When the organization announces their gala concert ticket and sponsorship sales, that page gets first billing on the post carousel.

And here's the step-by-step solution

Check out the solution below by clicking through the jump. We have screen shots describing designing a post carousel in TypePad with Google Analytics as guidance for which posts to use. The estimated time to completion is about 45-90 minutes once you have developed the content you wish to feature.

Are you interested in more ideas? Subscribe to the NewPath Consulting newsletter or get in touch via email.

Download Using Google Analytics To Create A TypePad Featured Posts Carousel (10 pages) in PDF Format

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