Notification About Cookies for Privacy Laws

Notification About Cookies for Privacy Laws

webdesign

Two big laws have been passed covering privacy online and more are sure to come in the future. While most Web site owners are happy to comply with the laws, they struggle with how to do it easily. Let’s see if we can at least cover the basics with minimal effort.

The two existing laws are General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which took effect on May 25, 2018 and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) which takes effect on January 1, 2020. We are not lawyers and do not take this post as legal advice. We are simply providing one possible tool for complying with these new laws.

One part of GDPR is notifying site users that you are using cookies. A tool to assist with compliance of that part of the law is Cookie Notice for GDPR. While it does not explicitly mention CCPA, our feeling is that it will also cover the upcoming law in future updates.

Cookie Notice for GDPR

To start, add the Cookie Notice for GDPR plugin to your site. It is free! Once you have it installed, go to the Settings and configure how you want it to work on your site. This includes the message it displays, color schemes, type of button and whether or not it links to your privacy policy. In total, it should take less than five minutes to have it up and running.

No, this does not magically bring your site into compliance. But it does handle one step of the process very quickly and at a price we all like—FREE!

Resolving Divi Theme Builder Conflicts With Related Posts & Social Sharing

Resolving Divi Theme Builder Conflicts With Related Posts & Social Sharing

webdesign

We are big fans of the Divi Theme from Elegant Themes and use it almost exclusively on our projects. As they released the much anticipated v4.x of Divi, we made plans to evaluate and then slowly and safely update the sites we designed with Divi.

Most of the issues were minor and there were easy workarounds. But we ran into a big problem when we took advantage of one of the new features. Their Theme Builder feature enables the ability to do amazing things with the header, footer and other parts of a site. It was tested on a couple of sites with no issues and then we created a new header for our Graphics Unleashed site and had some big problems.

Almost every type of content in WordPress is a post since the platform was originally built for blogging. Things built with Theme Builder are a custom post type. Unfortunately this caused issues with a couple of tools we were using on the site as they were set to display below posts.

The first conflict was with Easy Social Share Buttons for WordPress. It has a variety of functions, but we used one of them to display social sharing buttons below each blog post. Unfortunately they were now displaying below the header instead. The only immediate solution was to turn off the social sharing buttons.

As Elegant Themes, makers of Divi, also make the Monarch plug-in. Monarch also has social sharing buttons and we felt that Elegant Themes would have made sure their products worked well together. Unfortunately the same problem existed when Monarch was activted. So the best solution for now was to go without social sharing buttons. Yes, we could have probably found a workaround, but it was time to move on.

We also had a problem with related posts. On this site we were using the related posts functionality provided by the Jetpack plugin. Just like the social sharing buttons, the related posts were displaying under the header. After exploring alternatives, we discovered the Contextual Related Posts plugin was a solution though we needed to tweak the settings.

First, we turned them on in the General tab of the settings. This did not solve the problem as related posts were still displaying below the header.

Contextual Related Posts Automatically Add

To solve the problem, we went to the List Tuning tab and checked Limit to same post type as shown below.

Limit to same post type

Now the Related Posts were only displaying below the blog posts as desired. While we were unable to solve both issues, solving one was better than nothing.

Of course these issues were reported to the support team at Elegant Themes. They acknowledged it was a bug and that it would be addressed in an update in the near future.

Pains and Gains of SiteGround’s SG Optimizer Plugin

Pains and Gains of SiteGround’s SG Optimizer Plugin

maintenance

Before I talk about the actual pains and gains, I want to first list the description of the plugin provided in the WordPress repository.

“This plugin is designed to link WordPress with the SiteGround Performance services. It WILL NOT WORK on another hosting provider.”

So if you are hosting a site on SiteGround, you should be using the plugin. Sites hosted elsewhere can not use it at all. I’ve used the plugin on a number of sites hosting for myself and for clients on SiteGround and have some very positive and very negative results. I’ll discuss those below as well as some basics on configuring the plugin.

It Killed Stripe

The worst pain I had was on an e-commerce site. Visitors trying to make a credit card payment via Stripe would get an error message. After a lot of back and forth with support personnel, the only way to get Stripe working again was to disable SG Optimizer completely. Strangely, I have at least five other sites on SiteGround using the same e-commerce setup and they’ve not had the Stripe issue. While there may be a way to get SG Optimizer working with Stripe on the problem site, it isn’t worth the potential loss of sales for the client.

Working Through the Settings

There are four tabs to configure and I’ll go through each of them separately with the settings you should choose. Feel free to experiment with the settings to get the best performance for your site.

SG Optimizer Supercacher Settings

First up are the Supercacher Settings. In short, there are three switches on this page and you want to turn all three of them on. You may have trouble enabling all three if you haven’t enabled things in the SuperCacher app of your site’s cPanel. Note that the app has tabs for Static Cache, Dynamic Cache and Memcached and you need to configure a site on all three to use all of the SG Optimizer settings.

Using these caching settings will speed up your site and decrease the load on the server. As long as they don’t conflict as I described with the Stripe processing, you definitely want to use this caching.

SG Optimizer Environment Optimization

Next is the Environment Optimization tab. In the screen shot, the Enable HTTPS is turned off. This is something that may or may not be useful to you. As the site shown has it enabled in other ways, it wasn’t necessary to turn it on here. SiteGround provides a way to set the version of PHP used on a site deep within cPanel. An easier way is to choose to set it manually here. In that case, you can select an exact version. Or you can select Managed PHP and SiteGround will update it automatically to what they consider is the newest stable version.

The final two switches fro GZIP Compression and Browser Caching should both be activated. GZIP Compression will make all files leaving your site compressed and thus smaller. Smaller files gives faster performance. Browser caching will tell a visitor’s browser to hang on to content longer so it doesn’t have to be downloaded again.

SG Optimizer Frontend Optimization

Front End Optimization provides seven separate switches each with a clear description of what it does. I typically turn on all but the last switch. I like having emojis on a site so I’ll put up with the slight decrease in speed. If emojis aren’t important on your site, go ahead and turn it on for some extra speed.

SG Optimizer Image Optimization

The last tab, Image Optimization, has a number of settings dedicated to the graphics on your site. You’ll note that I have the first switch disabled and all of the rest enabled. I’ll explain why soon. Below the top switch is a button that will optimize all bitmap graphics on your site. Depending on the number of files, this could take a very long time so you may want to do this before leaving the office at night.

Next we have the lazy load options and I keep them all enabled. When these are enabled, images are only loaded when they are visible in the browser window. There is certainly a good reason to wait to download them if they can’t even been seen.

Now let’s talk about why I have New Images Optimization turned off. When this plugin first appeared, I noticed I often had trouble loading PNG files on my sites. It was around the same time WordPress 5.0 shipped so I wasn’t really sure what caused it. There was a pretty simple workaround so I didn’t let it bother me.

Recently a much bigger problem reared its ugly head. Many of my projects use the Divi Theme. A very useful feature is the ability to import pre-built layouts as a page starting point and nothing I did would allow a layout to import successfully. After a very long back and forth with SiteGround support, the problem was having New Images Optimization enabled. Once it was turned off, the layout imported perfectly the first time.

It was quite difficult to get to this solution as the SiteGround support reps wanted to find every excuse possible even though I made it clear from the very beginning that the issue only happened on SiteGround sites. PNG files were blamed. Themes were blamed. Other plugins were blamed. Thankfully I was persistent enough to push them to find the real culprit. With any luck, this plugin can be fixed so that this setting can be enabled without causing any problems. Until then, I’ll keep it off.

Eight Tutorials For Improving Your SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Eight Tutorials For Improving Your SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

seo

Today we have the last part of the series started four weeks ago. First we covered Six Essential Guides to Mastering SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Next we went over Six Tools for Improving Your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Now we have eight tutorials helping you improve the SEO on your own site or that of a client.

Photo by unsplash-logoFancycrave

Six Tools for Improving Your SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Six Tools for Improving Your SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

seo

Two weeks ago, we started this series by looking at Six Essential Guides to Mastering SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Today we’re going to focus on some tools you can use to improve and measure the SEO on your site.

Photo by unsplash-logoEdho Pratama