For those bloggers who publish directly to WordPress, life has been good. Especially after the Gettysburg editor, users got a live site, rich text editor which just worked. The user experience is very much like the much loved Medium editor and for quite some time this was the default mode in which I used to publish. Not that I write frequently these days! In fact, this post is after an hiatus of more than a year! One pet peeve I have with the existing WordPress editor is that in the aim of making writing easy, a lot of the advanced options have been hidden. Somehow it ticks me off and I haven’t been able to write as much as I wanted to.
Perhaps it was writers block, or a busy schedule, or just being plain lazy. I have no excuses for this and in future will try and be much more regular. However, this post is not about my lack of writing, its about this cool feature that I recently found about in the MS Office suite. Microsoft Word has always been a major editor for most individuals (be it a student or a professional). Would it not be super cool if we can somehow directly publish to our blog from MS Word? Let’s find out how!
Step 1: Create a new document
Open your MS Word (as long as its higher than version 2007), and search for a new document type – blog post. You will find this in templates and more if you haven’t earlier done this. Once you find the template, you will notice that there is a Create button.
When you set this up, Office will prompt you to setup your blog. Click on Register Now. This is where its going to get a bit technical, but don’t panic.
Step 2: Register your blog
In this list, choose WordPress. Now, you need to know the URL of your self-hosted or WordPress.com website as well the username and password that you use.
Add these details and make sure to click the Remember Password, else every time you try to publish to your WordPress site, you will be asked to key in the password.
Step 3: Write a draft
You are now done! Start writing your blog post, and once you are done, hit publish!
The post would then be submitted to your WordPress site with your credentials. That’s all there is to it.
Those of you who are running some sort of a content management system (CMS) for your websites would be familiar with the problem of improving the site loading speed through different methods. From the age old caching methods of using op cache module, to using an application specific caching method such as WP-Supercache for your WordPress installations, the sheer variety of solutions out there is a lot.
For a non-tech webmaster (these days, this term seems like a conundrum!), it becomes difficult to choose. At the end of the day, what one ends up going for is how fast the website is loading and more importantly how is the web performance of the site.
Let’s take a look at what are some of the common factors that any webmaster would like at for their caching solution.
Server site rendering time
This is effectively how fast is your server giving the response on the browser. Let’s say that you are running a blog on a small instance or a shared hosting solution. This would usually have limited resources associated with it, be it computing or memory. For instance, currently, these pages are being served off a 512 MB droplet.
Needless to say as your traffic increases, these limited resources are then not enough to address the entire traffic and thus, the response time for all your visitors starts to increase. A simple solution for these problems could be to bump up the hardware and increase the computing and memory being made available for the server. The computing speed is obvious, but why the memory you might ask? Well, since most web servers are softwares running on servers (for e.g Apache or Nginx are the servers most commonly used for WordPress), these software processes have to run on the server. The more the traffic, the more the number of processes.
If you are running WordPress and are facing a load of traffic, and if you are running your database on the same server, then you might sometimes be seeing images like the one below –
Seems familiar? A common reason for this is when there are too many apache2 processes and not enough memory to handle all of them. The server promptly terminates the other processes, including the MySQL daemon.
Caching to the rescue
This is where server side caching comes to the rescue. Take this blog post for instance. How many times in the week am I going to edit this? Not many right?
In which case, instead of the PHP script executing every time, why can I not serve the static (HTML pre-rendered) version of this post?
WP-Supercache does a good job as a plugin to do this, however, in this case, for supercache to execute, the WordPress PHP scripts are still executing. How can we stop those?
Another option would be to run caching at Apache or Nginx’s level. This is a much better approach since instead of calling PHP scripts, the server will serve the last known cached static file. The problem with this approach is cache management and storage.
With a small server, you may not have a lot of storage, and if you have been maintaining a content heavy site, then caching all pages might be a storage intensive process. The expectation from your instance’s compute power also increases.
This is where you will find reverse proxy servers shining.
Reverse proxy servers
A reverse proxy server is a server that sits in front of the web servers and forwards client requests. One of the older versions for PHP based websites was Varnish. Nginx also offers this, and newer versions of Apache also do offer this functionality.
What the reverse proxy does is for each request, it caches the response from the down stream server and serves that response for each subsequent request. Think of it as a smart cache manager that sites seamlessly between your CMS and the user.
Traditionally, these were a bit difficult to setup, and therefore were the domain of only the tech oriented webmasters. However, of late, there have been a couple of smart SasS based reverse proxies, and that’s what I wanted to write about.
Cloud-based reverse proxies
A cloud based reverse proxy is a reverse proxy server that’s not on your network/server infrastructure, but rather hosted as a separate service that you choose to buy.
I had initially tried Cloudflare, but wasn’t really impressed with the results. There were a couple of Indian service providers as well, but the outcome wasn’t that great.
Then, one of my colleagues pointed me to Nitropack. Getting started with Nitropack was a breeze and I could easily set this up. There was also a plugin to be installed in my WordPress setup and that’s about it. Nitropack even had a CloudFlare integration (since I manage my DNS on CloudFlare), where it made the relevent DNS entries and I was able to use this without too much of a hassle.
I am currently on the free plan, but the immediate impact on my server response times, and my web performance has been substantial.
If you are a website owner and if you have been harangued with web performance issues, do give this solution a try. It makes a sufficient impact on your response times.
If you have been playing with WordPress themes or providing WordPress based web builds as part of your business, then you would have installed a nulled theme in your life.
What’s a Nulled theme?
A nulled theme is a premium theme that’s released by someone in the wild. There are multiple such sites.
Wait, isn’t that piracy?
I consider it so. But this is where two different ideals are conflicting. That’s space for another post.
So what happens when you do install a nulled theme … chances are it might contain a malware.
An infected site
This is a nightmare to handle. The worry is not at the technical front, the worry is the grief the publishing team feels … as someone who regularly writes – I would feel bad if my blog were to get compromised.
Here’s a methodical way to sort yourself out.
Immensely passionate about technology, Owen has built his career on his innate ability to understand and dissect organisational challenges and apply timely and effective solutions, typically focusing on emerging techniques and systems. Owen has been using WordPress since version 2 and runs a number of sites for himself and his clients. He is a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) and tries to learn everything about the WordPress security scene. His talk is on ‘Keeping WordPress secure, how sites get infected and how to clean them when they do.’ He decided to talk about malware in WordPress, because it’s a problem that effects a lot of people. he explained malware is just code, code in the same type of code that WordPress is, if you understand what it does and how it does it then there are steps you can take to avoid it.
Let me state upfront that I love Google Analytics. I use it at work in 13 Llama Interactive to measure the effectiveness of the campaigns that my team runs.
That being said, I will try and not be too biased about comparing Jetpack Stats to Google Analytics. As a marketer, the way I look at an analytics package is from an ability to extract a fair amount of data.
However, Jetpack Stats is on top of WordPress and available to all WordPress based sites which are connected to the WordPress.com site. This makes Jetpack Stats primary user base as bloggers.
Let’s see what Jetpack Stats has to offer.
The wp-admin Dashboard Integration
Jetpack Stats puts a nice pretty looking graph on the wp-admin Dashboard. This is how it looks like for my site –
Now, this is fairly similar to the Audience Overview you get when you check out Google Analytics.
Straight off the bat, I prefer Jetpack Stats overview as opposed to the one given by Google Analytics. Jetpack Stats also provides me with how my posts have performed this day, this report would be available in GA witin the Behavior section, the Site Content report.
The Top Searches that you see in the screenshot would have been helpful had it been accurate. Unfortunately, Google accounts for the majority of organic traffic on my site, and most of that traffic is encrypted. Thus, these keywords that you see (really, I rank for ‘big ass girl dunes’) are not a complete set!
Jetpack Stats does not talk to Google Webmaster Tools, which now is the only source of this keyword data.
Jetpack Stats Posting Activity
One awesome feature about Jetpack Stats is the posting activity screen –
This data is shown with a correlation of average traffic per day as well as traffic per month. You could always get this data in Google Analytics (here is a useful post I had written some time back – Google Analytics for Content Marketers).
It’s just this kind of insights that makes me keep Jetpack around for my measurement requirements.
Jetpack Stats vs Google Analytics
Jetpack Stats is a very lightweight tool and it would be useful for a simple blog. However the minute we enter the realm of finding user engagement and performance marketing, Jetpack simply does not have those features yet.
This is where Google Analytics shines through with its Event tracking.
Having said that, Jetpack Stats is an apt solution for a user who is more focused on the publishing process.
Have been staying away from posting these days. This is not going to be a post on what should have been or what could have been. The past couple of months have been the hardest to tackle, on the professional front. Continue reading “After the Dust settles”→
As a blogger who has been writing for the past 5 years or so, I was always confused about the Read More tag. This is a tag that you will find in your WordPress editor besides the Toolbar Toggle button.
Why would one want to insert their content with this tag? Wouldn’t it fill up your blog content with such intermediate tags and break the reader’s flow? Let’s go find out how to correctly use the Read More tag.