Archive for Inside WordPress

Should You Use Video Backgrounds on Your Website?

One of the more recent trends in website design is the use of video backgrounds on the home page. The concept being, large moving images will draw the viewer’s eye to a call-to-action. But are video backgrounds a good idea?

Many people think that trendy video backgrounds help a website standout in a crowd. The large moving images draw the viewer in to create an engaging experience. And the longer someone stays on your site, the better it looks for SEO, right? But in reality they are distracting the viewer from the main message and the reason they came to your site in the first place.

When someone visits your website you only have 5 seconds to capture their attention. You don’t want that time spent watching a video that was meant as a design element. You want the visitor to read your message and take action. If they can’t determine what your company is about and what they are supposed to do next within that 5 seconds, you will most likely lose them.

Why You Should Eliminate Video Backgrounds

Even though they may look cool and be part of a design trend right now, here are a few reasons why you should eliminate them from your website.

  • Video backgrounds increase loading time for a page
  • They distract from the primary message/call-to-action
  • Autoplay videos are being blocked by web browsers
  • Videos use more data on mobile devices

Design trends come and go, and in the world of web design those trends move at lightening speed. In reality a website needs to be redesigned yearly to keep up with changing trends and technologies, but this is not possible for most small businesses. Sometimes jumping on these trends can be more harmful to your business in the long run than the benefits gained in the short term.

If you’re not a cutting edge company that needs to keep up with the latest trends, then our recommendation is to consider a more evergreen approach to design. Good clean design will allow businesses to extend their website lifecycle two or three years before a redesign is needed.

Google Shuts Down Autoplay Videos! How will this Impact Your Website?

Autoplay videos on your website will be turned off in Google Chrome 64.

Google has been working hard to make web browsing better and safer for users. One way they can accomplish this is by controlling the user’s experience when using their Chrome browser.

In a previous article we talked about Google’s initiative to make web browsing safer by marking all websites not using an SSL Certificate as “Not secure”. While this will act as a warning, alerting users that maybe you shouldn’t really be visiting this website, it could also be detrimental to websites that haven’t yet added that layer of security. (If you haven’t already read that article, I encourage you to do so.)

One of the most common complaints people have when browsing, is the autoplay videos. While we all love to watch cat videos and listen to music online, the unexpected autoplay videos and audio files are an unwelcome experience. It uses data and consumes more power on mobile devices, and makes unwanted noise while browsing at work ūüėČ

I personally hate when I go to a website and a video starts playing somewhere on the page, and I have to scroll to fine it and turn it off.

What do most people do… they just close the browser window and most likely never come back!

This is a bad browsing experience, and personally I don’t think autoplay videos should be included, but I understand why people use this technique for marketing.

To combat this poor browsing experience, the Google Chrome browser version 64, will allow autoplay of media files when they won’t automatically play sound (i.e. you’ve set your YouTube embed code to autoplay but turned sound off), or the user has indicated an interest in the media file, and then will mark that as a preference.

These changes will also unify desktop and mobile web behavior, making web media development more predictable across platforms and browsers.

Chrome 63 will add a new user option to completely disable audio for individual websites. This site muting option will persist between browsing sessions, and will allow users to customize when and where audio will play.

These changes will give the user more control over the browsing experience, which from a user standpoint is a great thing. This will also force website owners to implement autoplay where it benefits the user experience, not necessarily your marketing needs.

Why should you care?

Back in the days of Flash powered websites, business owners absolutely loved autoplay audio to capture attention. Often these websites had no way to mute the audio, so visitors would just have to mute their computer volume, or close the browser window.

I think most business owners caught on pretty quickly and decided that maybe the autoplay of audio wasn’t a good idea as they saw their website visits, time on site, and phone calls drop off.

But believe it or not, I still come across websites that have autoplay audio in the background.

Google Chrome owns more than half of the browser market share, so if you’re one of those businesses with autoplay audio on your website, it’s time to get rid of it, it’s going to stop working anyway! Instead, incorporate a more modern method of displaying your message giving the viewer the option to turn audio on, not having to turn it off.

If you have an autoplay video embedded on your website that plays as soon as the page loads, make sure it’s embedded with the sound turned off.

If your intent of the autoplay is to grab people’s attention with the audio, it’s time to rethink that strategy. You’re much better off using eye-catching visuals over sound.

You can read more about the Google Chrome autoplay roadmap here.

 

Chrome Will Begin Showing NOT SECURE Warnings to Your Website Visitors

Webmasters and site owners around the world started receiving emails from Google Search Console stating that their visitors will begin seeing NOT SECURE warnings when viewing their sites.

Back in September 2016 Google released a statement saying, beginning in January 2017 Chrome (version 56) will mark pages that collect passwords or credit card information using the HTTP protocol will be marked as Not secure. This indication will be made very prominent by placing it in front of the website url in the browser address bar. This move was part of a bigger plan to mark all HTTP sites as non-secure.

In April 2017 Google was making headlines again, confirming their plan and giving Webmasters and site owners 6 months to migrate to the HTTPS protocol. Starting in October 2017 with the rollout of Chrome (version 62) all web pages not using the HTTPS protocol will be marked as Not secure. Here is the notification email…

 

Check out our What is SSL and Why Do I Need it? article for more information.

Why should you care?

The once dominant Internet Explorer web browser has been on a steady decline for years. Its incompatibility with modern website technology, crashes caused by buggy coding, and security vulnerabilities have all paved the way for the new leader, Google Chrome.

At the time of this article being published, W3Counter.com shows Chrome now owns 56.8% of the web browser market share, with Safari coming in second at only 14.9%. That means the majority of your website visitors could be using the Chrome browser and if your website is NOT using the HTTPS protocol, they will get a warning message in the browser address bar, right next to your url.

Let’s face it, if you went to a website and got a warning message saying Not secure, would you stay on the site? Probably not! Most people don’t understand the changing internet technology, and as soon as they see the Not secure message they will leave thinking they are going to get a computer virus.

The release of Chrome 62 is only one step in Google’s plan to make the internet a safer place. Google is the number one search engine in the world, with YouTube being number two (which is owned by Google). Every time you (or one of your prospects) types a term in the search bar, Google will show the results that they feel best match the query. The search results are Google’s “recommendations” to you, and they only want to show you results that they feel are quality and safe.

The HTTPS protocol gives websites a level of trust with Google and the other search engines because of the verification process that is involved in getting the SSL certificate. So just by having https:// in front of your website address, you are increasing the likelihood that Google will rank you higher. But the opposite is true for sites still using http://, you most likely will see a drop in your search engine rankings.

So what should you do?

If you haven’t already secured your website with an SSL certificate, you need to do so today! Don’t wait until your rankings are affected, or worse yet, your prospects drop off because they feel your website is a risk.

Contact your web host to find out what SSL options they offer, and what the yearly cost will be. If your web host doesn’t offer SSL certificates, you should migrate your website to another host who understands the impact this change will have on your business.

Shameless Plug ūüėČ

This article was written to inform the community of the upcoming HTTPS change. We feel strongly about taking action now to secure your website to avoid future problems and possible loss of business. If you have a WordPress powered website and your current host is unable to help you with your SSL needs, please contact us immediately. We’re happy to discuss your current website configuration and come up with a solution to fit your Managed WordPress Hosting and Support needs.

Help Save the Internet, Protect Net Neutrality!

July 12, 2017 – Some of the biggest names online¬†are coming together to help protect our internet. Amazon, Kickstarter, Twitter, Etsy, Netflix, and many more are joining the July 12th protest against the¬†FCC’s attack on Net Neutrality.

Among this notable list of supporters is Automatic, the keepers of the WordPress CMS. They are encouraging the millions of WordPress website owners to support the cause by virtually signing the petition. They have even gone as far as creating a plugin that you can install on your website to encourage your visitors to get involved.

So what is Net Neutrality?

Net Neutrality is the idea that all internet traffic is¬†treated equally. Whether you’re shopping on Amazon, streaming a movie from NetFlix, or reading a post on your favorite niche blog, your ISP (Internet Service Provider) would deliver that content at the same speed without blocking sites, slowing down, or charging extra fees for delivery.

Net Neutrality levels the playing field and allows online businesses small and large to reach customers, and protects free speech by prohibiting ISPs from slowing or blocking sites or messages they don’t agree with.

How can you help?

If you believe that the internet should be open and free, then join fight by sending a message of support to the FCC. On July 12, 2017 visit BattleForTheNet.com and install the WordPress Net Neutrality plugin.

WordPress Paying Bug Bounties on HackerOne

WordPress is an Open Source Content Management System¬†that allows users¬†to build websites and blogs. We’ve been using the WordPress platform to build websites for our clients since 2009 and feel it is the best free¬†CMS available today. And we’re not the only ones, WordPress now powers more than 28% of all sites on the web.

Because of the nature of “Open Source”, the WordPress core software is openly available to anyone in the world to use, including hackers! This unfortunately gives them the ability to spend countless hours trying to find bugs and flaws in the code to exploit for malicious purposes.

The Security Team at WordPress has been working hard to combat hackers, and to take it a step further, they have officially joined HackerOne.

The HackerOne platform was designed so security researchers can report vulnerabilities to the WordPress Security Team in a safe and responsible manner. They began working on this project privately just over a year ago and have finally made it public.

With the HackerOne announcement, WordPress has also introduced bug bounties. They reward reporters for disclosing issues to better help secure the WordPress platform. They have already awarded over $3,700 in bounties to seven different reporters.

So what does this mean for your WordPress powered website?

It takes a village¬†to keep a project like WordPress moving forward, and the¬†core¬†contributors can’t do it alone. With the addition of the HackerOne community¬†seeking those bug bounties, it will allow the WordPress Security Team to¬†work more efficiently¬†to patch the code and push security updates to your website.

 


 

At Current Media Group¬†we take security very seriously.¬†With our¬†Managed WordPress Hosting, we make sure that our client’s websites are backed up daily, and protected with multiple firewalls throughout our enterprise-grade infrastructure. Our real-time security threat detection, and security audits and code reviews help to keep client’s¬†sites¬†safe. Should¬†a website become compromised, we will immediately take action to find the exploit, remove the malicious code, and have the site back up and running in no time.

WordPress Ramps Up Marketing with TV Ads

During Matt Mullenweg’s State Of The Word address at WordCamp US 2016, he mentioned that they would be ramping up marketing efforts in 2017. Their first TV Ads are now being tested in¬†six markets. Each shares a touching story of a business owner in Detroit who is¬†using WordPress to power their business website. You can check out three of the Ads below.

 

 

 

 

WordPress 4.7.5 Security/Maintenance Release

WordPress issued a security/maintenance release, version 4.7.5, and is now available for update.

This update addresses six security issues;

  1. Insufficient redirect validation in the HTTP class.
  2. Improper handling of post meta data values in the XML-RPC API.
  3. Lack of capability checks for post meta data in the XML-RPC API.
  4. A Cross Site Request Forgery (CRSF)  vulnerability was discovered in the filesystem credentials dialog.
  5. A cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability was discovered when attempting to upload very large files.
  6. A cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability was discovered related to the Customizer.

In addition to addressing the security vulnerabilities, WordPress 4.7.5 contains 3 maintenance fixes.

WordPress is recommending that you update your website immediately, but before you do make sure you have a full backup copy of your website files and database. You can download this latest version from WordPress.org or update your existing install by going to your Dashboard > Updates, and clicking the link to update.

You can learn more about this security release here.


Since Current Media Group¬†provides¬†Managed WordPress Hosting, our clients don’t have to worry about upgrading their websites to version 4.7.5, because we take care of that for them. We backup the website files and database, run the core update, and then confirm the website is loading properly before going live. If we detect a problem, we’ll automatically roll it back to the state it was prior to the update and inform our clients of the issue. Automatic WordPress core¬†updates is just one of the great features you get with our¬†Hosting and Support plans.

WordPress Version 4.8 Coming in June

We’ve seen a few updates to the WordPress core over the last several months, but version 4.8 will be the first major release in 2017. The focus of this update is to refine existing features and prepare for the new Gutenberg¬†editor. Additional features planned for this release include:

‚ÄĘ TinyMCE inline element / link boundaries
‚ÄĘ New media widgets
‚ÄĘ WYSIWYG in text widget

The new widget enhancements are exciting to us as designers. Currently the only way to add media such as photos and videos, to a sidebar widget is to either use a plugin or write some code that would be added to a standard Text Widget. In version 4.8 you’ll have those widgets built right in to the core to make adding media so much easier.

If you’re not a coder, just trying to add some formatted text to a sidebar can be a pain. How do you format a link? How do you make text Bold? Many people just create a Post or Page and use the Visual Editor to create their content and¬†then copy the code in to a standard Text Widget. In version 4.8 there will be a simple¬†visual editor built-in to the Text Widget where you can do some basic formatting. This will be so much more user friendly to the non-coder.

The release schedule for WordPress version 4.8 is:

  • May 12, 2017 – Beta 1
  • May 19, 2017 – Beta 2
  • May 25, 2017 – Release Candidate
  • June 1, 2017 – Final Release Candidate (if needed)
  • June 7, 2017 – Dry Run for Release of WordPress 4.8
  • June 8, 2017 – Target Date for Release of WordPress 4.8

Big Name Brands that Use WordPress to Power Their Business Websites

We love WordPress and have been developing websites for clients of all sizes since 2009. Many of our clients had never heard of WordPress and some thought is was just free blogging software and couldn’t possibly be used to build a custom website that would fit their needs.

When we told them about its¬†flexibility in design, ease of management, and the functionality that could be added through plugins, they began to understand. The fact that WordPress is the dominate CMS platform worldwide and that it powers over 26% of the internet also helped ūüėČ

The great team over at WPbeginner.com put together a list of over 40 big name brands that have put their trust in WordPress. Companies like TechCrunch, Sony, Star Wars, Disney, and more have all realized the benefits this CMS platform has to offer.

We encourage you to give their article, 40+ Most Notable Big Name Brands that are Using WordPress a read to see for yourself the awesome sites that can be created with WordPress.

WordPress Ending Support for Old Versions of IE

It’s official, Matt Mullenweg, founding developer of WordPress, posted¬†that WordPress will be ending support Internet Explorer versions 8, 9, and 10 starting with WordPresss 4.8.

Since Microsoft officially discontinued support for these browsers back in January 2016, Matt said “…to continue supporting them ourselves has gotten to the point where it‚Äôs holding back development”.

In general, Internet Explorer market share has dropped over the years in favor of more compatible and reliable browsers like FireFox and Chrome. Research shows that the older IE browsers combined is equal to less than 1% Р3% of total users. That number falls below the threshold where it makes sense for WordPress to continue to develop and test for.

So how will this effect your website visitors? In short, it won’t!

The majority of internet users have upgraded to newer computers and browsers that support the latest internet technologies. What website owners should be more concerned about is mobile compatibility.

With 80% of internet users owning smartphones, it’s critical that your website be mobile-friendly. Social media activity, email, and web browsing are happening from the comfort of the couch and not from the desktop.

We have the luxury of information at our fingertips. When a potential customer is searching for that product or service, you want them to find your site and have a great experience while there.

If your website is not mobile-friendly, you need to consider making it a business priority to update in 2017.