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How to customize WordPress themes using CSS

In this article we will discuss about about the possibility of making quick customizations to a WordPress site without altering the theme files. It’s a resourceful guide for those who want to take their theme beyond its normal options. Please note that this is a guide towards making minor changes, not major overhauls. It is ideal for those who wish to make small edits to the overall layout of the site. And how do we do that? Here comes the term CSS, which stands for Cascading Style Sheet. CSS is a set of simple structured, alterable codes that control the look, formatting and behavior of any modern website. If you don’t know about CSS, we recommend you take a look at some tutorials around the web to get going.

CSS’s role in WordPress

Before going into the details of customizing your theme, let’s look at the very basics. In a WordPress theme, there must be always a base CSS stylesheet called style.css. This file sits in the root directory of a theme, meaning most of the theme’s styling will be found in the following address:

http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-content/themes/yourtheme/style.css

The main concept of CSS customization is to navigate the stylesheet to find the CSS classes that are affecting the elements you wish to modify, and then override them to your liking. Keep in mind that some themes choose to create multiple CSS files and link them up together in style.css, so you might need to navigate a bit to find them. It may seem like a lot of work to go through an entire site’s stylesheet to make changes, a useful tool called Web Inspector can do the heavy lifting for us.

How to use Web Ispector

You can use Web Inspector in Firefox or Chrome to view the source code of your page in an organized way. The main purpose of this tool is to quickly find the element you wish to modify, and find out which CSS classes affect it. Once you are aware of those classes, you can then proceed to override them with your own custom values.

These tools work in a fairly similar way: to open them up, you only need to press F12. This will display the inspector in the lower part of the window. From there on, you can see the source code of your page in the HTML tab, displaying all HTML markup elements as a collapsible, indented list. A quick method of quickly navigating to the item of your choosing is to right click it on the page, then hit Inspect This Element. This will immediately focus the web inspector onto the desired item, bringing it into focus.

How to find CSS Classes

Once an item is selected, you can then take a look at the right sidebar of the inspector. This sidebar displays all the CSS classes affecting said element, as well as their active attributes. These CSS declarations will be listed in order of specificity, meaning the ones with the most strength will be shown first, the second strongest second, and so on. Specificity is a very important thing to keep in mind, as it defines whether a declaration will be able to override another based on their order AND how specific they are. For example, take the following two declarations:

Line 16: .header .subheader { background:blue; }

Line 26: .subheader { background:red; }

Even though the second declaration is further down, the first one will have prevalence as it has a higher specificity (it selects the subheader class as a descendant of the header class). This is perhaps the most unintuitive aspect of CSS, and it may leave some users confused as their declarations may not have the desired effect.

How to Apply Changes

Once you find the classes you’re looking for, it’s time to override them. If you’re using one of our themes, you can make use of the Custom CSS field included in the Theme Options, built with the express intent of customizing your theme. You can find it in the Theme’s Options page. These CSS changes are normally added at the very end, so most of the time they will have preference over the normal stylesheet.

To apply your changes, you simply need to copy the same class declaration as it appears on the web inspector. Directly copying it will prevent most issues with specificity, making it simpler for you to tweak the design. These changes will be saved on the database, meaning that they’re safe from being erased on updates and site changes. This allows you to preserve them no matter what you do with your site.

Please keep in mind that to avoid making changes to the layout, you should try to avoid changing structural properties like paddings or widths. A good rule of thumb when modifying the CSS of an element is to stick only to design-centric properties such as colors, backgrounds, or fonts. Some mixed properties such as borders are best implemented using their longhand declaration, like border-color. This will preserve the other properties such as border width or border style, while letting you change the appearance to your liking.

For further customization of your WordPress site, please contact us.

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How to Build a WordPress Blog

Are you considering starting a blog on WordPress or moving your existing blog to WordPress?

Did you know that over 23% of all websites globally run on WordPress?

WordPress is an extremely popular and reliable platform for running a blog and it’s completely free! When you install WordPress you get a website, a blog and a full content management system to easily add/update content on your site. You also get an ecosystem of developers around the world who build additional extras in the form of plugins that enhance what WordPress can do.

These plugins extend the functionality of WordPress and mean you don’t need to get functionality custom built by your developer every time you need a new feature.

Here are some essential ideas on how to start a blog…

1. Register Your Domain Name

You have two choices for starting a WordPress blog. You can register your own domain name and install the blog there or you can put your website on wordpress.com.

I strongly advise you to register your own domain name and put the blog there. Putting your blog on WordPress.com is like renting a house instead of buying it: if you add value to a rented house, the owner gets the benefit.

With a blog, if you are creating great content, the value of your website will continuously go up as you drive more traffic to it.

Years ago, it was really beneficial if you had keywords in your domain name that were related to your products or services. For example, ‘Sportsequipment.com’ would do well with searches for ‘sports equipment’.

But, each year, the importance of keywords in a domain is going down. Instead, think of a name that you can build on as a brand. Something that is short, easy to remember, easy to spell and available as a .com domain.

If you want to get traffic from all around the world, it’s important to register a .com name instead of a country specific domain e.g. .ie (Ireland), .fr (France) etc. Country-specific domain names are great for getting traffic for that country but not good for traffic from the rest of the world.

2. Pick a Hosting Provider

A web host stores all the files related to your website/blog and makes the site available for anyone to browse. So, when you have your domain name, you need to figure out where to host the site.

Here are some considerations for hosting…

Virtual or dedicated machine: A virtual environment means that you share resources on a machine with other websites. This is fine if your traffic is relatively low and you are just starting out but, as your site develops, you may need to move to a dedicated machine where no other site can get access to your resources.

Bandwidth: Think about a pipe with water going through it; only a certain amount of water can get through the pipe. Ideally, you want a site that provides unlimited bandwidth. though this doesn’t actually mean unlimited because there is no such thing. What it means is that there are no restrictions imposed on your site and, if you have a really busy day, more bandwidth will be made available to you.

Cost: Cost is always a factor but the cheapest is not necessarily the best. Consider everything that the hosting provider includes as part of the package.

Support: This is absolutely key for a hosting environment. You need 24×7 support and you need a quick response to your queries.

Uptime: There is no hosting environment that is up 100% of the time so you need to find out what their uptime is for the previous month. You want 99.99% uptime or higher.

3. Install WordPress

To install WordPress, go to WordPress.org and download the latest version. You then upload the files to your server and begin the installation process.

Having said that, any good hosting provider nowadays provides a very simple installation process for WordPress. They will provide you with a one-click install that will have your installation up and running in a couple of minutes.

When you first install WordPress, a default theme is automatically provided. This means that you immediately have a website up and running and you can start blogging straight away. You can add content easily through the content management system but the site won’t look very professional.

4. Add Your Theme

Now that you have your basic WordPress installation up and running, it’s time to make it look good. A theme gives you the overall look/layout of your website.

You can get a developer to build you a custom theme or you can use a theme that a developer has already created.

If you’re buying an existing theme, you’ll need to spend some time customizing it and you’ll probably need some developer help but, overall, it’s a very cost-effective way of getting your website up.

5. Add Your Plugins and Essentials

Your WordPress theme will give you a certain amount of functionality but there’s still a bit more to do. For example:

a) Google Analytics – Add your Google Analytics code to all of your pages so you can start tracking visitors to your site.

b) Add any WordPress SEO Plugin – look for some nice addition like the creation of a sitemap (a file that Google reads to figure out what to index on your site).

c) Add an Editorial Calendar – Whether you are a one-person operation or a 50-person operation, you need a editorial calendar.

d) Add a social-sharing plugin – You want your content shared as much as possible.

e) Tighten up security – Your default themes will not be secure so you’ll need to get a developer to tighten up security. For example, you should not be able to access the admin area by going to website/wp-admin and you should also not be able to login with an ‘admin’ user name.

f) Change permalink structure – By default, your page names will be like this ?12343 but what you want is more user-friendly URLs. Go to Settings -> Permalinks -> Common Settings and select the ‘post name’ option.

g) Add other plugins – See this article, which outlines Expert bloggers’ favorite WordPress plugins.

6. Create Your Content

Now, you’re ready to create your content. The easiest way to create new content is to use the Posts menu at the right side dash board and click on ‘Add New’. Here, you can add the title of the post. write or cut paste content, format them and add pictures and other media. You can also select a pre-existing category of the post or create a new. After finishing the data entry. you can publish your post or save it as a draft for further improvement later.

Don’t forget to check out our training courses on WordPress which will help you with everything you need to build a successful blog.

Summary

WordPress is an extremely powerful and popular platform to build your blog on. All of our websites over the last 10 years have been on WordPress and I don’t see a reason to change this.

What is your opinion of a WordPress blog?

Why don’t you create a free blog on WordPress and get started?

How do you start a WordPress blog?

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Why Small Business Owners Should Switch to WordPress

Do these lines sound familiar to you?

“Why can’t I update my website!” or “I finally managed to get my webmaster to do that, but it’s going to cost me a fortune…”

If you meet small business owners every week, or friends that want to have a website but don’t spend evenings and weekends tinkering around on the web, you’ll hear frustrations like this a lot. And that’s from the ones who have figured out how to get a website up and running in the first place. There are many who are still trying to figure out where to start. Fortunately, WordPress is here to Rescue!

WordPress is one of the most popular blogging tools available. But what many people don’t know is that it is a powerful Content Management System (CMS) that can be used for more than just blogging. With WordPress you can build a blog, a website, or both. In this article, we’ll explore why WordPress is a good choice for small business websites. The first and most important reason is the need for a solid Web Content Management Systems

A content management system is a tool that helps you manage the creation and updates to web pages on your web site. WordPress is an amazingly powerful content management system that is FREE. And it has a lot of power under the hood for a small or medium business looking for an easy way to manage their web site. WordPress was designed as a platform for blogging, but you don’t have to use it as a blogging tool. With a few tweaks it can be used to run your website, with or without a “blog.” The fact that WordPress was designed as a blogging platform gives it some compelling advantages. It is optimized for easily publishing and changing content. And getting good search engine rankings requires fresh, unique content. You need a system that does not get in your way when you want to update your website with a new article or newsletter.

So why is WordPress a good choice?

Here are the top five reasons to Use WordPress for Your Small Business Website…

SEO – WordPress provides good search engine optimization (SEO) right out of the box. There are a few tweaks you need to make, but there are many seo benefits that WordPress provides for free.

Content – it is easy to update content on your website without knowing HTML. Do you hate the idea of having to learn to use a complex HTML editor tool? Do you have to “ask” your webmaster every time you want to make a small change to your website? Well no longer – once WordPress is set up for you, you can easily create new pages or edit existing pages using a simple rich text editor.

Extensions – There is a thriving ecosystem of developers creating themes and plug-ins – imagine free design themes, or the ability to extend your website with polls, contact forms, ratings or hundreds of other cool features without having to hire a web developer.

Support – If you do have problems, or want to add very custom features, it is easy to find support and developers who can help you. There are literally thousands of WordPress developers out there. And there are so many people writing about WordPress that help is only a Google search away!

One-click-installation – Quick installs are provided by many hosting providers.

Are you using WordPress for your Website, or stuck with something that isn’t working for you? we’d love to help you! Please contact here.

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WordPress Site Security Tips

Internet is like a secured Bank vault that has a direct access from the street. Anyone can try his luck to break in. Having your site hacked is not fun. Despite using 3rd party security plug-ins, there are still a handful of potential security risks, when running a website, that we have no control over. You, the website owner, need to pay attention to these potential security risks, in order to keep your website safe. With that in mind, here are 10 things you can do to improve your WordPress security.

1. Move to a secure hosting

When choosing a web hosting provider, try to avoid the cheapest you can find around. Not all web hosting companies are created equal and, in fact, week hosting related security account for a huge percentage of WordPress sites being hacked. Do your own research, and make sure you use a well-reputed agency with a consistent track-record for solid security measures.

It’s always worth paying a bit extra for the peace of mind you get from knowing your site is in safe hands.

2. Response to update notices immediately

Every new release of WordPress contains patches and fixes that address real or potential vulnerabilities. If you don’t keep your website updated with the latest version of WordPress, you could be leaving yourself open to attacks.

Many hackers will intentionally target older versions of WordPress with known security issues, so keep an eye on your Dashboard notification area and don’t ignore those ‘Please update now’ messages.

The same applies to themes and plugins. Make sure you update to the latest versions as they are released. If you keep everything up-to-date your site is much less likely to get hacked.

3. Use strong passwords

Around 10% of hacked WordPress websites are down to weak passwords. If your WordPress administrator password is anything like ‘xyz123’, ‘12345678’, or ‘password’, you need to change it to something secure as soon as possible. Always include at least 1 uppercase letter and 1 symbol in your password and make sure the password is at least 8 character long.

If you tend to procrastinate, you can also use a password manager like Roboform to remember all your passwords for you. If you use this method, make sure your master password is long and strong.

4.“admin” is always a bad username

Few years ago, there was a round of brute-force attacks launched at WordPress websites across the web, consisting of repeated login attempts using the username ‘admin’, combined with a bunch of common passwords.

If you use “admin” as your username, and your password isn’t strong enough, then your site is very vulnerable to a malicious attack. It’s strongly recommended that you change your username to something less obvious.

To fix this, simply create a new administrator account for yourself using a different username, log in as that new user and delete the original “admin” account. If you have posts published by the “admin” account, you can assign all the existing posts to your new user account after deleting it.

5. Set minimum Login Attempts

In the case of a hacker or a bot attempting a brute-force attack to crack your password, it can be useful to limit the number of failed login attempts from a single IP address. Limit Login Attempts does just that, allowing you to specify how many retries will be allowed, and how long an IP will be locked out for after too many failed login attempts.

There are ways around this, as some attackers will use a large number of different IP addresses, but it’s still worth doing as an additional precaution.

6. Hide your username from the author archive URL

Another way an attacker can potentially gain access to your username is via the author archive pages on your site.

By default WordPress displays your username in the URL of your author archive page. e.g. if your username is John, your author archive page would be something like http://yoursite.com/author/John

This is less than ideal, for the same reasons explained above for the “admin” username, so it’s a good idea to hide this by changing the user_nicename entry in your database, as described here.

7. Disable file editing via the dashboard

In a default WordPress installation, you can navigate to Appearance > Editor and edit any of your theme files right in the dashboard. The trouble is, if a hacker managed to gain access to your admin panel, they could also edit your files that way, and execute whatever code they wanted to. Therefore, it’s a good idea to disable this method of file editing, by adding the following to your wp-config.php file:

define( ‘DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT’, true );

8. Maintain a regular backup

I can’t overemphasize the importance of making regular backups of your website. This is something that many people put off until it’s too late. Even with the best security measures at your disposal, you never know when something unexpected could happen that might leave your site open to an attack. If that happens you want to make sure all of your content is safely backed up, so that you can easily restore your site to its former glory.

The WordPress Codex tells you exactly how to backup your site, and if that seems like too much hard work, you can use a plugin such as WordPress Backup to Dropbox to schedule regular automatic backups.

9. Try to avoid using free themes

As a general rule, it’s better to avoid using free themes, if possible, especially if they aren’t built by a reputable developer. The main reason for this is that free themes can often contain things like base64 encoding, which may be used to sneakily insert spam links into your site, or other malicious code that can cause all sorts of problems. If you really need to use a free theme, you should only use those developed by trusted theme companies, or those available on the official WordPress.org theme repository.

The same logic applies to plugins. Only use plugins that are listed on WordPress.org, or built by a well-established developer.

10. Install security plugins

In addition to implementing all of the measures above, there are many plugins you can use to improve your site’s security.

This may all sound pretty intimidating, especially if you’re a beginner. This article is not intended to scare anyone, it’s just important to discuss the topic of security regularly, as we want to make sure you stay one step ahead of the hackers! You don’t have to do everything on this list (although it certainly wouldn’t hurt). Even if you just remove the ‘admin’ username and start using stronger passwords, that will reduce the likelihood of being hacked.

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Use PayPal to Pay for Courses

PayPal is one of the largest online payment processors in the world. After rising to prominence through its partnership with Ebay, online merchants all across the Internet accept PayPal as one of their accepted methods of payments.

Those who have never used PayPal may wonder why so many people use it as their only way to pay for online purchases. After you review the following seven advantages to using PayPal to buy online, you will likely want to start using PayPal yourself.

1. Credit card security: When you sign up for a PayPal account, you type in the credit cards and bank accounts you wish to use for purchases one time on the PayPal secure system. Once that is accomplished, you never again have to disclose your credit card information online. By paying with PayPal, you keep your credit card information private, meaning that you can shop without worrying about a hacker downloading your account data from your online merchant.

2. Flexibility: Relieve yourself of the embarrassment and hassle of trying to purchase goods and services online only to have your credit card declined. Because you can set up multiple bank accounts, debit cards, and credit cards to fund your PayPal account, you can rest assured that your PayPal purchases always go through the first time. PayPal will then look for funds from your sources based on the order you define.

3. Send money: Whether you need to send money to a child at college or a friend in trouble across the globe, PayPal users can instantly transfer money to them with just a click of the mouse. Save time and money over costly Western Union style transfers while getting money to where you wish to send it faster than ever.

4. The iPhone App: The PayPal iPhone application makes it easy to shop online and transfer money wherever you are. All you have to do is visit the Apple iTunes store and search for the PayPal app and you will be ready to transfer, send money, pay bills, review your transaction history, and make purchases right from the palm of your hand. Because PayPal will ask you to confirm transactions with a PIN, you can rest assured that your finances are safe should your iPhone be lost or stolen. If you meet someone you need to pay while out on the town, just bump iPhones and make your transfer.

5. Online Auctions: How could anyone talk about PayPal without mentioning eBay? Because PayPal is integrated with the online auction powerhouse, you can place bids and make purchases safely. Buyer protection and a structured complaint resolution process means that eBay bidders have more protection than most credit card holders when it comes to one of the most popular online shopping sites.

6. Cost: One of the best reasons for using PayPal is its cost: free. That’s right. No annual membership fees, no processing fees, no service charges. Shoppers using PayPal get all the powerful advantages associated with the service and do not have to pay one dime.

7. Discounts: PayPal sponsors special discounts for customers that shop with PayPal at selected retailers. Users who visit www.paypal-shopping.com can find the latest special offers from companies like HP, Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart, Nike, and more. The bottom line is that PayPal can save you money on the things you need at the places where you shop. To take advantage of the savings all you have to do is copy the special promo code from the PayPal shopping Web page and paste it into your order at your merchant’s site when you pay with PayPal.

These seven advantages to using PayPal to buy online are enough to make you want to give PayPal a try. If you have never opened a PayPal account, go ahead and create one today. If you have only used PayPal at eBay, the time is now to see the whole world of opportunity that PayPal opens up for you.

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Five more courses coming soon

ECA Tech inc. proudly announces that there are five more auxiliary courses are in the pipeline that can expand your WordPress experience to a completely new level. The short courses cover various subjects that are not necessary but prove handy if a business person wishes to be the master of his/her own digital marketing domain. The topic ranges from basic image editing, HTML 5 animation to social media management. These courses provides you necessary knowledge and confidence to improve the existing site or add some interactivity to your WordPress site for coordinated digital social marketing.

Stay tuned for more news in the near future…