Archive for the ‘Blogs’ Category

Easiest way to add a Facebook Pixel to a WordPress Website

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

A client recently asked me to add a Facebook pixel to a single page on their website. The website currently consists of 35 pages and 498 posts.

Having customized WordPress websites for over a decade, I have the skills to edit the functions.php file and make the code appear on that page, and that page only, and, I was tempted to do just that. Then I thought, “What about the next time?” This is new behavior for my client. Tracking visitor behavior is a good thing. If I edit the functions.php file, the next time the client wants to track user interaction with a different web page, they would have to contact me and have me update it again, and so on, and so on.

So, I searched and found the Facebook Conversion Pixel plugin. I watched the (excellent) video by Kellen Mace (@KellenMace).  The plugin was installed and configured in one minute, then I edited the page on which the pixel tracking code needed to be added, added the code, saved the page, checked to see if the code displayed, and Voila! Watching the video took longer than setting it up – and – now the client can be independent, if they want, and add Facebook tracking code to other pages without my interference.
Facebook Conversion Pixel plugin video

Notes on the Facebook Conversion Pixel plugin

  • Get your pixel code first. Store it in your favorite editor.
  • The plugin allows you to select which post types you want to allow tracking code to be added. For example, Posts, Pages, and Custom Post type(s).
  • In the Settings Area, it automatically displays a list of post types based on your (the current) WordPress installation.
  • Once you check the post types and save, the Facebook Conversion Pixel form displays on those post types for every post/page/custom post type. This allows you to add (different) tracking code to multiple posts and pages. In this example, the Facebook Conversion Pixel form entries display on 35 pages, but is only filled in on one page.

 

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WordPress Performance Testing

Monday, December 14th, 2015

Recently, I was engaged to work with a sometime client to help determine what might be eating up all the memory at her website and bringing the whole server (including another of her websites) down for 6 hours at a time. She had been working with her hosting company for a week on it and they had not discovered what it might be.  Suspecting that the memory consumption might be due to a plugin with unoptimized reads on the database, they asked me to take a look.

Recent Background

The website ranks in the top 93K in the US, receives 7K visits per day,  is built on Genesis framework, has 78 pages and about 600 posts, and recently switched over to CloudFlare CDN implementation. Several people work on the website, of varying degrees of familiarity with hosting servers and WordPress.

WordPress Plugin Inventory

I took inventory and learned there were 29 plugins. Most I recognized. Three that were inactive, I deleted right away. There was one plugin that monitors the Cron jobs, so, I thought that would be a good candidate, and another that monitors for bot activity and I thought that would be a good candidate as well.

WordPress Diagnostic Tools

I searched around the web and found P3 the Plugin Performance Profiler plugin and Query Monitor. With P3, I did manual and automatic testing. P3 reveals the results of testing (traversing from page to page for a sample session) in a pie chart.

P3 revealed that the Ninja Forms plugin was making (on average) 67 interactions with the database on each page/post. There is only one page with a short, standard form the website, so that was curious behavior to observe. The other resource consumer was the bot monitor (BotDetect Captcha), followed by WPTouch, the mobile-friendly plugin. One of my initial suspects, the Cron job monitor barely showed up as using any resources.

Query Monitor displays multiple views of the interactions with the WordPress database on each individual page and post as you are on that page/post. One of those views, Query by Component, consistently concurred with the P3 plugin about which plugins were consuming all the resources.

It turned out that the problem was related to the hosting situation and DDS attacks – but – I was glad to learn about and use these two plugins. The resource hogs were revealed, and because of that, I was still able to help this client. We learned that 65% of a pages’ load time was consumed by the plugins, and that Ninja Forms, WPtouch (mobile-friendly plugin), and BotDetect Captcha were the three biggest resource consumers.

Today we removed Ninja Forms and, replaced it with a simple lite form plugin that has a little over 100K active installs. It actually displays a more pleasant form and was so much more simple to set up. It’s use on resources thus far is negligible. The client and I have a verbal agreement to do continuous improvement based on the results of using these two plugins in the upcoming months.

Even though I am a novice with the Plugin Performance Profiler and Query Monitor plugins, I highly recommend them as helpful WordPress plugins.

 

 

 

 

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2015 Toys for Tots at BNI

Thursday, December 10th, 2015
bni-2015-toys-for-tots

Click to view larger version

Fun day at BNI Marlborough this morning. It was Toys for Tots day. Each member was to bring in a toy to donate to the toy drive – and – in their 60-second commercial, tell how the toy represents the work they do.

We had a lot of fun with the creative connections between the toys and our work, and, some took a lot of ribbing from hecklers in the crowd- all in good humor!

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WordPress Hits 25% Market Share

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

While tweeting the other morning, I noticed a tweet from Matt Mullenweg, creator of WordPress, highlighting that WordPress now owns 25% of the website market share.

Matt Mullenweg on WordPress approaching 25%

Nov. 8, Matt Mullenweg’s tweet about WordPress approaching 25% market share

One can assume that the title, ‘Seventy-Five to Go’ is a tongue-in-cheek poke at Matt’s intention to have 100% of websites built on WordPress. (We all know that I am doing my part.) Matt referenced the published survey results reported on the W3Techs website.

WordPress Market Share

Snapshot of chart at W3Techs.com

As this WP Tavern article  points out, WordPress likely has an even greater share since the websites surveyed by W3Techs are in Alexa’s top 10 million most popular websites. Websites not making the top 10 million most popular are not included, nor are the WordPress websites built on WordPress.COM that do not use their own domain name nor entice enough traffic to put them in Alexa’s top 10 million.

The survey also shows that WordPress is still the fastest growing CMS, “Every 74 seconds a site within the top 10 million starts using WordPress. Compare this with Shopify, the second-fastest growing CMS, which is gaining a new site every 22 minutes,” Gelbmann says. — Jeff Chandler, WP Tavern

So, WordPress is the fastest growing CMS…but we knew that. Still, I am feeling very gratified. Back in 2005, I started working with blogging software called ‘b2’.  WordPress was created from a fork of ‘b2’, and eventually replaced b2.

Initially, the development task was to add a blog to existing websites. Over time, the development task morphed into developing full websites using the WordPress software. In that scenario, clients had the opportunity to update content on the pages as well as the posts.  This is the practice I use today. Develop on WordPress unless there is a good reason not to. [And there are websites that don’t need WordPress.] Some clients maintain their own content and some send updates to me.

I am happy that I have positioned my clients for success. They are able to maintain their own websites (if they so choose). Their websites are on a tool that has

  • great visibility,
  • a plan for the future,
  • thousands who write code for it,
  • thousands of choices for add-on functionality (via plugins and widgets),
  • a loyal user base,

and, that can be hosted with almost any hosting company (Linux and IIS), and that is being included in curriculum in many academic environments.

Full Articles:

  1. A Quarter of the Top 10 Million Sites Ranked by Alexa Use WordPress, Jeff Chandler, WP Tavern
  2. Content Management Systems, W3Techs.com

 

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1 Hidden Reason Well-Maintained WordPress Websites Break

Monday, October 26th, 2015

I have a couple of business colleagues whose very-well maintained WordPress websites have been breaking over the last year. Not their whole websites, just miscellaneous pieces like sidebar call-out areas that start to overlap each other, incorrect fonts displaying, text displaying in areas where there never was text before, and images suddenly not displaying or moving out of bounds.

What do they have in common?

  • The websites are built on the WordPress platform.
  • WordPress is upgraded shortly after each new release is announced.
  • Only popular plugins of proven quality are included in their websites.
  • The plugins are updated after each new release is announced.
  • They conservatively re-size images before uploading them into posts and pages.
  • Their websites have been serving them well for 4 – 5 years.

They are doing everything right, so, why are their WordPress websites breaking?

The short answer because WordPress has changed with technology and the underlying definitions of their WordPress websites (their themes) have not.

What? WordPress gets out of Synch?

Yes — and — No. The WordPress core is still fabulous. It is the custom theme area that frequently does not get updated.

Websites Most at Risk
Websites developed on 100% custom-defined themes.
Websites Least at Risk
Websites developed on premium WordPress themes.

Exception: If a website is based on a “Premium” theme like Genesis, Canvas, or Thesis, chances are the website will not display poor communication between the core and the customized theme. This is because Premium Themes cost money, and the developers work hard to keep the theme in synch with the latest release of the WordPress core.

Visualizing the Problem

When WordPress is installed, it creates folders and files that run the WordPress ‘modules’. (Together, the modules are referred to as the ‘core’.)  It also creates folders and files that are reserved for each business to customize as they want.

So, for example, from the top level of a website hosting account, you’ll see 3 folders and lots of files.

WordPress installed folders and files

Fig. 1

The top folder, bottom folder and the files in this folder make up the WordPress ‘core’. The wp-content folder is the one that is reserved for businesses to customize as they like.

A peek inside the wp-content folder reveals more folders and a file.

wp-content folder in WordPress

Fig. 2

The most important folder in Fig. 2 (for today’s topic) is the themes folder. That is where all the files that have been customized or custom-written from scratch to make your website look like your website live.

An example of what the inside of a themes folder looks like is:

custom theme folder in WordPress

Fig. 3

So, this isn’t a lesson in WordPress folder contents. This is to give you a visual on what is happening. You see that there are a good number of files in your custom theme folder. When WordPress was initially installed, these files were 100% in sync with all the other files that were created at that time.

The Problem

These ‘theme’ files never get updated. In the meantime, all other folders and files surrounding these (see Fig. 1) are updated at least once per quarter.

Eventually, an imbalance occurs. It’s like the files that haven’t been updated speak an ol’ dialect that was abandoned years ago, while the files that are getting updated speak the contemporary language with street slang and all. When this occurs, your website looks like it is misbehaving and conditions similar to those mentioned in the first paragraph manifest.

The Solution

You need to reset the files so that they speak the same language. How do you do that? By rebuilding your website using themes that are made for the most recent version of WordPress.

Yep. A lot of work. You know from my recent post, “Why Website Redesigns Cost More than you Expect“, that rebuilding a website is nearly the same as building a new one from scratch, so, while you have to do that, freshen the design and add components that demonstrate you know what is going on in the Internet world. Remove components that make you look like you are hugging the trees. And, finally, add a line item in your yearly marketing plan to discuss the ‘aging’ of your customized WordPress theme with your WordPress developer, and make a plan.

Don’t let your aging, custom WordPress theme be the hidden minion that causes mayhem with your website and negatively impacts the perception of how you do business!

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