Wordpress in 2015WordPress in 2015 has had it’s up’s and downs.   I know!  There still one more month,  but much has happened this year with WordPress.

Just last week a report came out that said that 25% of all websites on the internet are now powered by WordPress making WordPress the most used website platform on the market.

But with that has come some problems, with most any popular software,  it has become the target of hacking.

Last year, around February,  one of the site we manage became compromised.  The weakness, as in most cases, was one of the plugins.  A Trojan horse was introduced within the site that slowly started  creating malicious code one file at a time.  It wasn’t until May that the site started to have issues.  At first,  we didn’t know what was the problem,  so we used an older back-up that seemed to fix the problem.  The problem was,  the Trojan horse had just infected the site with that back-up,  so the cycle repeated.

In August the site went down this time.  I was able to get it restarted with an older back-up, but we started to look deeper when we spotted the malicious coding.  We installed a plugin called “Wordfence”.

Wordfence is an incredible plugin.  When we first installed it,  it located all the files with maleicious code and we were able to prompt it to update that page with a clean file that was not infected from the most recent WordPress,  or if it was a plugin or theme file,  we could use an older back up that had not been infected.   With a little work, we were able to fix all the files without loosing any data!!

Wordfence will also inform you when someone  logs into your admin area or makes several failed login attempts.  You can also then block those ip addresses so they no longer have access to your website.  With the paid version, you can also block you site by country.

At the beginning of 2015,  we were pretty lax about what kind of security we placed on our websites, but now we use 3 primary plugins to target unwanted visitors to our sites.

  • Wordfence – Which we have talked at length about.
  • Bulletproof,  which does a great job of locking down your htaccess files and much more.
  • Lastly, either Anti-Spam by CleanTalk which a paid plugin and very effective to eliminating spam or any variety of free spam protection plugins

Fix Mobile Usability  - Google Webmaster ToolsGoogle Webmaster Tools is starting to send notices to website owners  –  “Fix Mobile Usability Issue Found”.  This notice is letting you know that your website has some or all of your pages out of compliance for mobile usage.  These notice’s are coming at the heels of an announced algorithm change that will happen on April 21st.  Zinib from Google say’s that 50% of all searches are done on mobile devices.  They also said that these new updates will effect websites more that both Panda and Penguin.  The bottom line is, you site will not rank on the new algorithms when searched on mobile devices and you will see a drop in traffic to your website!

If you have received this letter and you are serious about maintaining a productive website, you should consider talking to your web developer or finding a new one that is capable of designing a mobile friendly website.  Even if your web site has been built in the last 2 years and your web designer was still using old school methods,  your website may not be in compliance.  You can check this by going to you Google webmaster tools – Search Traffic – Mobile Usability and they will give a list of pages that are not mobile friendly.  Your web developer can also help you with this as well.

With HTML 5 and CSS3, the consortium introduced a complete new set of parameters targeting mobile usage.  We can now set different design views for different screen sizes.  Designer must now be more diligent on whether they choose size parameters in pixels or percents.


Trusting ReviewsI’ve always questioned what I read when it came to trusting review.  There is always someone with a chip on their shoulder about a product. On the other hand,  there are those who place false review on the behalf of the product, but I’ve never questioned those from 3rd party reviews. Continue reading

What are 5 things I can do make your website better.

5 Ways to Make Your Website BetterWith the introduction of HTML 5 and CSS3 in October of 2014 and the focus of content by the search engines such as Google and Bing,  it has never been more important than it is in today’s internet environment to have your website error free and for each page to meet search engine criteria.

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Table Tags HTMLI’m amazed how many websites are still styled with table tags. Table tags are easy to recognize, just take a peek under the hood at the HTML coding for the site. You will see an abundant usage of <tr> and <td> tags throughout the website. From the front side, the design of the site may look outdated and the body is  narrower, around 600 pixels, whereas 1000 pixels on most sites you see today.

Table tags where first introduced in 1993 by Dave Raggett as a proposed mark-up for layout design consisting of rows and columns, much like an Excel spreadsheet, and with that HTML 3.0 was born.

The style is easy to learn and many novice designers still use this technique today. However, table tags still have its place in the modern websites, but not as a design factor. Anytime you need a spreadsheet to display a list or need to display anything in a form, tables are your answer but should be avoided as your base for designing your website.

CSS stylesheets were introduced at the same time as a means to style the tables. They could be internal – meaning that the coding is place in the page itself or externally – meaning the code had its own page such as style.css and could be shared by many different HTML pages that needed similar design features. External stylesheets created a faster a more efficient website.

In 1997 HTML 4.0 and CSS2 was launched and the W3C recommended that table should no longer be used as a primary source of design. Table design should be replaced with a block element design that can be ‘floated’ on the page using a <div> element which we still use today.

In 2013 HTML 5.0 and CSS3 was launched to meet the need of mobile usage and the need to simplify many commonly used CSS attributes as well as introduce some new attributes.

Throw Back Thursday – Fix My Photo

Fix My Photo built in 2007 Fix My Photo .com was a static style tutorial website that was built back in 2007 which stayed live until 2013.  The site actually generated a token amount of income even though the site was built mostly as a learning tool.

You can’t see this on the front page but the site uses an interactive Flash player where you can rollover some text and an example of that correction would be displayed. The site was broken into 3 sections depending on the difficulty  of the image repair: Basic, Intermediate and Advanced and each page had it’s own interactive flash player. Lastly is had a contact page (no contact form) just information. I generated all the navigation button by hand and was a fun site to build.

The site was still built using external Cascading Style sheets (CSS) and ‘Divs’ instead of tables.   We have never designed a website using table and I am surprised how many website, even today, are build using tables.

Alt-TagsAfter looking at several WordPress websites ‘alt tags’, I noticed that even though we had gone through the entire site and added alt tags when they were missing and placing keywords within our alt tags, I notice a common problem.  The alt tags were missing from most of the image sliders, even though we had added them in the ‘Media Library’.

With many of these plugin’s, they don’t take the time to add the alt tag into the coding for SEO purposes.

I thought I would cover how we fixed one site that was using Custom Fields with an ACF (Advanced Custom Fields) :Repeater Field that we had inherited from a different designer.  The repeater was on the front page and the original coding looked like this: Continue reading

Special Hearts - My first website before GTL web designBefore GTL Web Design, There was a family of 4 that was homeschooling their 2 children in the high desert in California, just north of San Diego County.  My wife was part of an online homeschooling community that shared ideas.  One platform that that many of them started using was a fairly new blog….WordPress.  One tech savvy mom was teaching everyone how create their own self-hosted WordPress blog/website and my wife followed suite.

One day I heard…..”Honey,  can you help me”,  that’s synonymous with a huge add to the ‘honey do’ list!  And so it was, In fact, eventually became GTL Web Design.

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Chocolate Drop Bed & Breakfast Website built by GTL Web DesignBack in 2010 we designed a new website for the Chocolate Drop Bed & Breakfast.  The customer chose ‘Chocolatedropinn.com’ as their URL.  The business was owned at the time by an out of state investor who had hired a local Alaskan to manage the business. He was a chef and had a background in the food industry that made him a good fit for a bed and breakfast.

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Winter surfing in Homer AlaskaSpring and Summer

This post has nothing to do with Web Design but it does have everything to do with doing business in Alaska.  In summer, when the day’s are long,  we find that they become shorter.  We have to much to do and to many demands.  We are overwhelmed.  With us, it clients wanting a new website, re-designs on their old.  Some website need fixing or updating but there is not a shortage of work. Don’t get me wrong,  I’m not complaining.  we love it!  We are not alone. Fisherman are out fishing,  and the town is bustling with tourist from all over the world. Businesses that are shut down 9 months out of year are eagerly vying for enough business to get them through the winter. Continue reading