WordPress – 1stWebDesigner https://1stwebdesigner.com Helping You Build a Better Web Sun, 18 Nov 2018 11:25:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Should You Use Gutenberg on Existing WordPress Websites? https://1stwebdesigner.com/should-you-use-gutenberg-on-existing-wordpress-websites/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/should-you-use-gutenberg-on-existing-wordpress-websites/#respond Sun, 11 Nov 2018 08:15:22 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=140875 With the impending release of WordPress 5.0, the new Gutenberg editor will make its way onto millions of websites. It’s a big change in how content is created, stored and managed. Not to mention the potential compatibility issues that could crop up with some themes and plugins.

As the new editor prepares for full release, we should note that the “Classic” Editor will remain available as a plugin. Activating it will enable site owners to use it in conjunction with Gutenberg or bypass it completely.

Because the Classic Editor affords us a second path, it’s worth considering whether or not to take it. Gutenberg represents a big shift in how WordPress operates. The question becomes, is it really worth utilizing the new editor on an existing site, or is it better to stick with the tried-and-true Classic version?

To answer that question, there are several factors to consider. So, before you take the plunge and switch to Gutenberg, here are a few items you’ll want to think about.

The Past and Future of Your Content

The content on your existing website, along with the way you manage it, has already been established. Odds are that your pages and blog posts follow a specific format that was created long before Gutenberg came onto the scene.

With that in mind, consider whether or not you want to change things to reflect the new capabilities Gutenberg brings. For instance, you might have interest in refactoring your existing content to utilize features like full-width images or multi-column layouts.

However, sites that are heavy in content may require a lot of work to bring up to speed. It might consist of going through every piece of content and laying it out in the new block-based format. Gutenberg can automatically convert legacy posts to blocks, though you’re ultimately the one who will need integrate any customizations.

The other option would be to perhaps refactor some existing content, while focusing more on using Gutenberg for new items. In this case, maybe a few key pages could be formatted with the new editor. Then, all future blog posts would also be block-based.

Gutenberg shouldn’t harm or break any existing content, so you can use it in conjunction with the Classic Editor to format just the content you choose.

WordPress new post menu.

Is Your Site Customized?

When you built your website, you may very well have set things up to take advantage of the Classic Editor. Or, perhaps you used custom fields or a page builder plugin to allow for more complex layouts, etc.

If your site already sports custom methods for creating content, switching to Gutenberg could lead to some issues. Turning off a page builder, for example, may break custom layouts that were created with it. That again means refactoring everything to use the new editor.

Some page builder plugins are pledging Gutenberg compatibility and custom fields will still work as they always have. Even so, it may make sense to just stick with your current setup.

If you do decide to go with Gutenberg, make sure to test everything in a staging environment beforehand. You won’t want to encounter any unpleasant surprises on a production site.

Code editor

Workflow and Client Education

Gutenberg is a fairly intuitive tool, but it still has a learning curve. Think of a busy news site that has multiple authors. They probably have an existing content creation and editorial process. Throwing a completely different type of editor into mix could hurt efficiency in the short term.

Likewise, even a small brochure-style website can run into some detours. If your client is typically the one who manages content, they may also struggle to adapt to a different workflow. Blog posts that previously took just a few minutes could take significantly longer to create.

This is where web designers need to step in and provide a crash course on using Gutenberg. It can help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and has a basic understanding of how things work. The other potential bright side (for you) is that educating clients can result in some extra revenue.

Still, the adaptation content creators will need to make isn’t going to be seamless – even with education. Thus, you’ll need to weigh the benefits of using Gutenberg against those of keeping things as-is.

Sign that reads "New Skills Training".

Time for a Redesign?

Because Gutenberg presents such a fundamental change to using WordPress, you may lean towards holding off on implementing it on your existing site. However, if your site is also due for a redesign, it might offer the perfect opportunity to knock both items off of your to-do list.

Since this new tool is the future of the platform, optimizing your redesign to utilize it makes plenty of sense. It provides you with the chance to refactor content and educate clients. Even better is that you can implement these changes on a staging environment. This allows you to experiment and identify any pain points.

When the new site launches, you can be confident that everything is working as it should. Clients will have an understanding of their new workflow and the website will be better prepared for the future.

Making the Right Decision

Deciding whether or not to enable Gutenberg on your existing website takes some serious thought. In the end, it’s about whether or not the switch is going to benefit your particular site. If you’re really keen on the flexibility the editor offers, then it may be worth your while to use it right from the get-go.

However, there are situations where rolling with the changes may not be ideal. If content creation on your site is highly-customized or a change to your workflow isn’t in your plans, using the Classic Editor for the time being could be your best bet.

The Classic Editor plugin should be supported for “years to come”, meaning that you don’t have to rush into anything when it comes to Gutenberg. Knowing this, you may consider a plan to start fresh and utilize Gutenberg on both new and newly redesigned websites.

Regardless, it all comes down to making the right choice for your specific situation. Thankfully, WordPress enables us to easily go in either direction.

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Add a Powerful LMS to WordPress with Masterstudy Theme https://1stwebdesigner.com/masterstudy-theme/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/masterstudy-theme/#respond Tue, 16 Oct 2018 06:16:18 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=140222 Online education is incredibly useful and convenient. What’s more, it’s not just for schools. Both public and private organizations use online education to train employees and help members stay in the know. It transcends industry and can be utilized in any number of ways.

The great news is that adding this capability to your WordPress website is as easy as installing Masterstudy. It’s the theme that will turn your site into an LMS (Learning Management System). You can build, customize and manage online courses with ease.

Want to learn more? Let’s take a look at what makes this LMS so powerful.

Masterstudy Offline Course Demo Homepage

A Turnkey Solution for Online Education

Masterstudy is a WordPress theme built as a result of extensive research in online education. Every aspect has been carefully thought out, meaning that you’ll find all the features you need to run a full-fledged educational program.

Super-Fast, Thanks to Vue.js

The integrated Masterstudy LMS plugin offers several front and back-end features that are powered by Vue.js. The result is a UI that loads at blazing-fast speeds. Your students will spend more time learning and less time waiting for content to load.

Flexible Courses

The free Masterstudy LMS plugin is the perfect companion for Masterstudy theme. It gives you the power to create courses that match your specific needs. Build Text, Video and Slideshow lesson types. Whatever type of content you’re looking to present, Masterstudy has you covered.

Masterstudy Video Lesson

Powerful Online Quizzes

Use the built-in quiz capabilities to help students reinforce what they’ve learned. Quizzes feature the ability to use an online timer, results reporting and optional retakes. Certificates can be awarded based on the criteria you set.

Built in eCommerce

Masterstudy includes built-in support for PayPal and Stripe payment gateways. This provides you with the flexibility to offer courses as one-time payments or recurring subscriptions. Plus, support for Paid Memberships Pro offers you another way to sell online. Looking to sell offline courses? This capability is supported with the use of WooCommerce.

Encourage Communication

Students and instructors can easily stay in touch. Use the real-time question and answer feature during lessons to ensure that everyone is on the same page. And, the private messaging system facilitates easy communication between users, anytime.

Masterstudy Course Page

A Top-Quality WordPress Theme

With Masterstudy, you get a WordPress theme that is built to the highest standard. It’s been optimized for speed and will look pixel-perfect across all screens and devices. StylemixThemes, an Envato Power Elite Author, has gone to great lengths to ensure quality and ease of use.

Fully Customizable

Masterstudy empowers you with plenty of options to customize your site. The theme settings panel, powered by Redux framework, lets you tweak colors, fonts and more. Plus, you can choose from several header layouts for just the right look. The best part? You don’t need to touch any code!

Top Plugins Included

In addition to Masterstudy LMS Pro, you’ll enjoy free access to Visual Composer and Revolution Slider. They’ll help your site both look and function beautifully.

1-Click Demo Import

Want to get started quickly? Use Masterstudy’s 1-click demo import to start building immediately. There are currently six gorgeous demo layouts, with more in development.

24/7 Support

Don’t wait to get your questions answered. Masterstudy features extensive documentation and video tutorials. Or, take advantage of live chat or ticket-based support that is available 24/7.

Masterstudy Course Instructor Profile

Use Masterstudy to Open Your Own Online Education Hub

When it comes to online education, Masterstudy is the complete package. Create compelling courses and sell them online. The entire process is seamless and easy to customize.

You’ll also gain peace of mind in knowing that help is always just a click away. And, with free lifetime updates, you will always have the most stable and secure code, along with amazing new features.

Get started with Masterstudy today and bring the full LMS experience to your WordPress website.

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Adding WordPress Plugins to Your Development Workflow https://1stwebdesigner.com/adding-wordpress-plugins-development-workflow/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/adding-wordpress-plugins-development-workflow/#respond Wed, 03 Oct 2018 11:26:10 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=140082 Web designers often have a collection of favorite tools to help get things done more efficiently. Whether it’s a graphics program, a code editor or a framework – we all have our mainstays.

WordPress is also present in many a designer’s toolbox. We often talk about how the CMS makes our jobs easier. But one area that we don’t often discuss is the repeated use of WordPress plugins as part of our development process.

When you think about it, plugins play a large role in building WordPress websites. Over time, we start to rely on specific ones quite a bit. For commercial plugins, we may even decide to jump in and purchase a “developer” license, which allows for use on multiple sites. They become our go-to solutions for common development and functionality tasks.

But before a plugin becomes a staple of your workflow, there are some important considerations. After all, making the wrong choice can lead to major headaches down the line. With that in mind, here are some tips regarding picking the right plugins for your toolbox.

Look for Reliability and Responsiveness

Imagine, if you will, a nightmarish scenario. You’re utilizing a plugin on 20 websites, only to find a major bug that renders each site unusable. It’s not a pretty picture. However, it’s something that could happen.

Before you adopt a plugin on a widespread basis, you’ll want to do some homework. It may claim to be stable and perform to perfection. But marketing hype and reality can be two very different things.

Therefore, it’s worth taking a little time to learn more about the plugin:

View the Changelog
Changelogs are good indicators of whether a plugin is well maintained. Constant updates aren’t necessary. But you do want to see that the plugin has at least two or three releases within the last year. You’ll also want to see that bugs are routinely being fixed.

Check Support Forums
If a plugin is hosted at the official WordPress Plugin Repository, then it has its very own support forum. For plugins hosted elsewhere, look for a forum on their official website. If that comes up empty, it may help to peruse developer support sites such as Stack Overflow.

Look for reported bugs and any official response from the author. The idea is that you want to see how responsive the support staff is in replying to user issues. If you see a number of serious support requests left untouched, that should raise a red flag.

Research the Support Policy
This goes hand-in-hand with the above. It’s important to know the types of issues a plugin author will support and any associated costs. Note that some free plugins may offer very limited support. So, if you find yourself in a tough situation, you may be on your own.

Besides knowing what an author will support, their typical timeline for providing support is also significant. You won’t want to wait around days or weeks for a reply.

An alarm clock sitting on a desk

Potential Costs and Benefits

Part of what makes a WordPress plugin worthwhile is the ability to make you money and speed up development. If it can do those two things, you have found a potential winner. To help make that determination, consider the following:

Initial and Ongoing Costs
Commercial plugins tend to follow a few different licensing models. Some provide lifetime access for one price. Others will provide updates and support for one year at a time, requiring you to renew the license for a fee. Many official WooCommerce extensions, for example, renew yearly for the same price you paid upfront.

Licensing Terms
You’ll want to pay particular attention to the terms of a plugin’s license. For example, developer licenses can grant you the ability to use the software on an unlimited number of client sites. But there are some who place a cap on usage, limiting you to an arbitrary number instead. From there, you can see how this all fits in with your intended usage. You should also let clients know of any licensing terms on premium plugins – just in case you’re no longer in the picture someday.

Sometimes, we can be tempted by a plugin that does something really cool. If it’s free, there are no worries. But if there’s a cost involved, you will want to consider just how useful it will be to your clientele. For example, a plugin that fills a very narrow niche may not be worth the purchase of a developer license if you don’t see yourself using it again and again.

Chances are, you won’t always use a plugin the same exact way on every project. There may be times when you’ll want to change how something looks or functions. Plugins that have a solid selection of settings can help, but it’s even better if there are WordPress Hooks you can tap into. This will allow you add custom touches that more closely align with the goals of your site.

WordPress theme code

A Giant Leap Towards Efficiency

Among the benefits of having a go-to plugin is that, over time, you’ll get to know all of its strengths and weaknesses. So, when a client needs that certain functionality, you’ll know just how to handle it. That, in turn, should speed up development.

As with any software, there can and will be the occasional issue. Here’s hoping that your initial research led you to an author who is responsive to support requests and releasing bug fixes.

Adding WordPress plugins to your workflow does take a leap of faith. But, when you find the right ones, you’ll provide your clients with both greater efficiency and functionality.

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10 Fantastic WordPress Themes for Building a Portfolio in 2018 https://1stwebdesigner.com/wordpress-themes-creative-portfolios/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/wordpress-themes-creative-portfolios/#respond Thu, 27 Sep 2018 08:00:25 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=133524 Showcasing your design or work with WordPress is easy enough. But to do it well, you need to present your projects in a clear and attractive manner. While some designers go for all-out glitz, the best portfolios are often a bit more subtle.

Still, the ideal portfolio really is a matter of personal preference. It’s a good idea to think about what you want people to learn from your projects. Is an image enough, or do you want an in-depth profile of each project? Maybe you’d prefer a hybrid approach, with specific projects being highlighted with extras while others are just a simple listing. It’s all up to you.

There is a number of exciting WordPress themes out there to help you create your perfect portfolio – no matter which style you opt for. Here are 10 of our favorites for displaying your projects in style. While the main focus will be on their portfolio capabilities, we’ll also mention some other goodies where appropriate.

All the WordPress Themes You Could Ask For

2M+ items from the worlds largest marketplace for WordPress Themes, Web Templates & Design Assets. All of it can be found here at Envato Market.


Büro features 15 different home page designs with a variety of portfolio layouts to choose from. Standouts include the boxed goodness of the Portfolio Gallery and the tall, thin look of the Carousel.

You’ll also want to check out their Wide, Masonry and Animated Showcase options. The theme also sports lots of customization possibilities, along with copies of Visual Composer and Revolution Slider. This is a great choice for designers looking for a unique portfolio offering.


Visual Arts

Visual Arts is an image-driven theme that you can use as a vehicle for displaying your work. Choose from several portfolio listing and single item layouts. Listing styles range from long-scrolling pages with full-width images to neat and clean cards.

Single items can consist of image galleries, long text, carousels or a combination approach. There are a number of outstanding hover effects to add that extra bit of flair. Also take advantage of 15 customizable header styles included with the theme.

Visual Arts


Futrus makes great use of color, along with a filterable portfolio to ensure that your projects stand out. There are four home page layouts to choose from, including a mesmerizing full screen layered portfolio with custom background images.

The result is a site that enhances your work all the more. The theme is based on Bootstrap and includes a page builder.



Eagle is a great fit for those who want their portfolio reflect minimal styling.

What you get is an animated, filterable masonry portfolio that includes more information upon hovering. From there, it’s on to a project description page featuring a large image and the opportunity to add text. It’s very basic and allows your outstanding work to do all of the talking. Overall, it’s an understated and professional look.



Minikini offers a minimal look, but with a more robust set of options. There are five home page layouts to choose from, along with lots of different portfolio looks. You can choose from Card Box, Card Full Wide, Masonry Box and Masonry Full Wide styles.

But you can also customize the amount of columns per row to get things just as you want them. Also included are header/footer variants and compatibility with the free LayersWP page builder.



Maestro gives you five beautiful portfolio layout styles including Brick Wall, Half Squares, White Canvas, Vertical Slides and Classic Grid. Brick Wall is unique in that it alternates image widths in a two column layout.

The result is a gallery that looks just like its name. You’ll also find lots of customization options, beautiful page transitions and a copy of Visual Composer.



Jora brings a retro artistic flair to your portfolio site. It adds off-kilter frame borders and hover animation to portfolio listing images to create an attention-grabbing effect.

Individual portfolio posts feature bold use of shadows and borders to make photography stand out. This is one of the more unique approaches to a portfolio site you’ll find. Jora is easy to customize, with multiple color schemes available to match your taste.



Union makes great use of screen real estate, with left-side navigation and plenty of room for images. Several portfolio grid styles are available, along with a full-width slider. Customizable hover effects can bring a splash of color to listings.

Also included are a whopping 12 individual portfolio post styles to choose from. There is quite a bit of flexibility here that will serve designers well. The package includes copies of Visual Composer and Revolution Slider.



Diux harnesses the power of black and white imagery to add a high end look to your portfolio.

Your images can be automatically displayed in black and white, with a color version appearing upon hover. Special effects and animation add a classy touch and make the site appear lightning-quick. This Bootstrap-based theme also features video backgrounds and isotope filtering.



Eris is a portfolio theme that works best when used for a variety of project types.

It also offers some unique layout possibilities. You can use a standard grid portfolio or opt for a “Shuffle” layout that presents images in a more random fashion. Individual portfolio posts can feature one of three layout options. Other features include a “hidden” sidebar and two home page designs.


It’s Your Showcase

Proudly displaying your best work in an online portfolio is a great way to tell your story in more a visual way. While the themes above provide you with lots of choices, the most important aspect of a portfolio is that it reflects who you are and the quality of your work.

The good news is that, with so many great styles and layouts to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect fit.

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Software Inevitably Changes – WordPress is No Exception https://1stwebdesigner.com/software-inevitably-changes-wordpress-is-no-exception/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/software-inevitably-changes-wordpress-is-no-exception/#respond Tue, 25 Sep 2018 20:26:45 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=139621 For those of us who work on the web, the tools we use are incredibly important. We tend to get attached to them. Some of us even go out of our way to promote a particularly good one.

Over the past 15 years, WordPress has been a tool that perhaps benefitted from this loyalty like no other. A small community of diehard supporters has turned into a massive one. There’s a marketplace for themes and plugins. There are numerous users who volunteer their time in capacities official and unofficial. Today, the WordPress community is a force to be reckoned with.

As WordPress has grown into the CMS of choice for so many, so has the criticism of its continued evolution. And with the new Gutenberg editor, things have reached a fever pitch.

This raises a few important questions. How much weight should critics carry? And, what should we reasonably expect from WordPress in terms of new features? Let’s dive in and see if we can find some answers.

The Sky is Falling…Or Not

The coming rollout of Gutenberg in WordPress 5.0 has garnered a lot of opinions. Since the first steps towards its creation, there has been a mixture of excitement and dread within the community.

Then, as Gutenberg was released as a beta plugin, the stuff really started hitting the fan. While we won’t go over every criticism, suffice it to say that some users expressed concerns of sites breaking due to theme or plugin incompatibilities and a buggy UI. Then there were those who had philosophical objections to parts of, or even the very existence of the project.

There are indeed a number of legitimate concerns. But there has also been an element of what I’ll respectfully describe as fear of the unknown. It too has a place in the conversation. But so often it seems to shout over everything else without adding anything productive.

However, that fear of the unknown should fade over time. As users become more accustomed to a change, it stands to reason that they won’t have nearly as much anxiety.

Personally, this has been my own experience with Gutenberg. The more I use it and the more bug fixes that get released, the more comfortable I am. Not to say that there still aren’t plenty of areas for improvement. But at least I’m starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Still, it seems like there is a lot of emotion out there. We’re seeing a number of 1-star reviews and some developers have even begun to develop their own forks of WordPress. Fair or not, people are attached to the old way of doing things.

Scrabble letters spelling "FEAR"

Change is Natural

What tends to get lost amongst all the hype is that, if software hangs around long enough, it’s going to change over time. WordPress just happens to be at a point where its wide usage is calling more attention to these changes.

Operating systems, for example, are famous for annoying a subset of users with UI and feature changes (I’m looking at you, Microsoft). Not everyone likes to change the way they work, even if the end result really is an improved product. There is something to be said for comfort and predictability. When that’s disrupted, users cringe.

WordPress is reported to power over 30% of the web. So, it makes sense that a major change such as Gutenberg would cause some unrest. That number covers a whole lot of preferences, use cases and opinions.

The trick for any software developer is that they have to balance the greater need of maintaining a viable product with keeping existing users happy. There are no easy answers, and WordPress certainly isn’t immune from having to make these difficult decisions.

Person balanced on railroad tracks

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

That leads us to Gutenberg. There was, whether we agree with it or not, a determination that the Classic Editor was becoming outdated. Eventually, it was decided that a new editor was the best way to address the issue.

Knowing that you can’t please everyone, the preferred course of action is to create the best product you can. Take care to ensure that it works on as many existing websites as possible. Take constructive criticism seriously and make compromises where you can.

WordPress has even taken this a step further. Instead of forcing Gutenberg on everyone, they have also provided an alternative path. The Classic Editor plugin keeps the familiar content editing experience and will be supported for the foreseeable future.

While that may not be the perfect solution to some, it is a way forward for those who don’t want to (or unable to) change.

Even with that compromise, there will be some users who refuse to come along for the ride. While that’s certainly not what WordPress wants, it is part of the price you pay for implementing major change. You might say that it’s a philosophy of knowing that you’ll lose some users now, with the hopes of making greater gains in the future.

Gutenberg WordPress editor

Gutenberg is Part of a Constant Evolution

I am very much a creature of habit when it comes to how I work. For me, change means that I have to take precious time out of my day to relearn how a tool works. It disrupts my routine. The whole experience is generally not something I would voluntarily seek out.

But I’ve also come to the point of realizing that change is inevitable. And it often pushes things in the right direction. If it didn’t, I’d still be writing HTML by hand and using tables for layout.

What’s interesting about the Classic Editor is that, in an industry that changes so quickly, it has managed to stick around for a very long time. Sure, it’s undergone incremental improvements. But the basic experience has been the same. It’s always familiar and comfortable – even if it occasionally is a pain to work with.

Still, things move forward. Web design is a field that constantly challenges us to adapt to what’s new. For better or worse, Gutenberg is just one more change. We can expect that there will be more to come.

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10 Free Tools for Maintaining Your WordPress Website https://1stwebdesigner.com/free-tools-maintaining-wordpress-website/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/free-tools-maintaining-wordpress-website/#comments Mon, 20 Aug 2018 19:10:02 +0000 http://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=128619 Keeping up with updates to core, plugins and themes are crucial. But there are other items that should also be kept in mind. Your site’s database, security, file structure and overall performance all should be kept in tip-top shape as well.

Let’s have a look at ten free tools that run across the entire spectrum of keeping your WordPress website humming along.

Wordfence Security

Wordfence is a security suite for your WordPress website. The plugin includes a firewall, daily security scans, and malicious login protection. But there are some other handy features, such as alerting you when WordPress core, plugins and themes have available updates. With a large user base (over 1 million installs), this plugin is a great security resource.

Wordfence Security


A jack-of-all-trades for your site’s database, WP-DBManager will back up, restore, repair and optimize it all from within WordPress. Backups are stored on your server and can also be emailed directly to you at a regular schedule of your choosing.


UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin

With UpdraftPlus you can back up your entire WordPress site (file structure and database) manually or set your own schedule. The plugin works with 3rd party services like Google Drive, DropBox and Amazon S3 so that you can easily store backups in the cloud.

UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin

Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions

A healthy database is an important part of overall site performance. This plugin will automatically remove things that can gunk up your database like redundant post revisions, trashed posts, spam comments, pingbacks and trackbacks. You can schedule optimization at automatic intervals.

Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions

Theme Check

If you create your own themes, or are just curious about the one you’re using, Theme Check is a very handy utility. It checks to ensure that your theme is using the latest WordPress standards. The tests are the very same ones WordPress.org runs when reviewing submitted themes.

Theme Check

Google Pagespeed Insights for WordPress

Learn more about how your site is performing with Google Pagespeed Insights. You’ll get visual data right inside WordPress that will help you increase performance and better your search engine rankings.

Google Pagespeed Insights for WordPress

PHP/MySQL CPU Performance Statistics

This plugin will give you a sense of how your server is performing. Tests run various calculations to gauge PHP and MySQL server performance. Network tests can also be run to see how well your server is responding to requests.

PHP/MySQL CPU Performance Statistics

WP Updates Notifier

If you don’t login to your website every day, you could miss out on critical updates. WP Updates Notifier will send you hourly, daily or twice daily emails whenever WordPress core, plugins or themes have new versions. You can even choose the type of updates you want to be notified about.

WP Updates Notifier

Broken Link Checker

One of those indispensible plugins for large sites, Broken Link Checker checks your content for broken links and images. If any issues are found, you’ll receive a notification via the WordPress Dashboard or email.

Broken Link Checker

ManageWP Worker

If you’re managing multiple WordPress installs, ManageWP’s free dashboard service is incredibly handy. You’ll be able to keep your sites updated all from a single, unified interface. The free version of their service also offers monthly backups, on-demand security scans and performance reports.

ManageWP Worker

Taking Care of Business

Having a WordPress website (or that of any other CMS) is hardly a ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ type of deal. To keep it updated and running smoothly requires some attention and effort. The plugins profiled above will help you stay on top of things.

Follow their lead, and your site will be in such good health that others will come to you for advice!

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10 Beautifully Minimal WooCommerce Themes https://1stwebdesigner.com/minimal-woocommerce-themes/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/minimal-woocommerce-themes/#comments Mon, 13 Aug 2018 21:20:14 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=132148 WooCommerce has become incredibly popular over the years – and for good reason. The venerable plugin turns any WordPress website into an eCommerce powerhouse. It’s extensible and can be used to sell just about any type of physical or digital product.

Another facet to love about WooCommerce is the flexibility you have with regards to design. All you need is a compatible WordPress theme. With that, you can create a website that looks and functions every bit as good as some of the biggest names in online shopping.

Today, we’ll focus on WooCommerce compatible themes that feature a minimalist style. Their use of whitespace and clean layout will help to draw attention to your products. Plus, they pack features that will provide shoppers with plenty of useful functionality.

All the WordPress Themes You Could Ask For

2M+ items from the worlds largest marketplace for WordPress Themes, Web Templates & Design Assets. All of it can be found here at Envato Market.


Sober features 12+ home page designs – including a stunning minimal look that lets shoppers get right down to business.

You’ll also find a handy live-search feature, product quick views and mega menus for easier navigation. There are several options for header styles – including a ‘sticky’ header. Copies of Visual Composer and Revolution Slider are included.



Depot brings a high-end, minimal style to your online shop. There are a dozen home page layouts to choose from – making it easy to find your perfect match. Product listings can be filtered and the ‘Quick Look’ feature encourages customers to explore everything you have to offer.

You’ll find several layout possibilities for individual product pages, as well. The included Visual Composer and Revolution Slider sweeten the deal.



Unero utilizes AJAX to enhance the user experience with features like a robust product filtering engine. It’s lightning-fast and will help shoppers find exactly what they’re looking for.

Other must-haves include the ability to create color, image and label swatches for your products, live search, featured product videos and product quick view. Visual Composer is included, as is the theme’s PSD file.



iOne offers a variety of slick home page layouts and some outstanding navigational functionality. Vertical mega menus (via the included Clever Mega Menus plugin) are great for shops with lots of categories. The AJAX powered shopping cart means that customers don’t have to leave the current page when adding an item to their cart.

You’ll also get an advanced product filtering engine. Instagram integration allows fan photos to display on your site. Included with the theme is a copy of Visual Composer and a child theme.



WizeStore sports an incredibly clean and classy look, along with the ability to customize several aspects of the theme. For example, you can choose from multiple shop and product page layouts and there’s also a way to build your own custom header layouts.

Visual Composer allows for building complex page layouts without code and there are plenty of custom Shortcodes available, as well. Revolution Slider is also included.



Mnml is (as its name indicates) a cool, minimal WordPress theme. It’s got a dead-simple layout that is also quite effective at showcasing products. Inside, you’ll find three home page layouts, a handsome newsletter signup form and parallax scrolling effects. Product Lookbooks enable you to create beautiful, full-width photo galleries of your goods. Visual Composer is included, as are a selection of custom widgets.



Rubino offers a really sharp look and some unique functionality. One standout is their product builder, which lets you easily customize the layout of the product page. Title, images and positioning can all be tweaked to your heart’s content.

Elsewhere, the theme features 12 home page layouts, AJAX product filtering and image hotspots – which allow for interactive images via an included plugin. Also, be sure to check out the beautiful mega menus. Visual Composer, Slider Revolution and PSD files are also included.



Vinero is billed as a multi-use theme – a WooCommerce shop being one of them. The look is understated, yet makes a great impact. The use of large images ensures that products take center stage. You’ll find multiple page layouts, parallax scrolling, multiple header/footer styles and support for the WordPress Customizer.

Included are copies of Visual Composer (and Ultimate VC Addons), Revolution Slider and support for Advance Custom Fields Pro.



Franco is an ecommerce theme that includes 16+ home page layouts – each with a unique and compelling look. Also inside are attractive mega menus, multiple shop and product layouts, a product wishlist and AJAX filtering.

Store locator functionality is included for those with a brick-and-mortar presence. Multiple custom Shortcodes are built in to make quick work of adding common design elements. Visual Composer (plus Ultimate Addons), Slider Revolution and the ability to access PSD files are included with the theme.



Oasis features 9+ home page layouts that skew towards the fashion/home industries. Whichever look you choose, the theme is quite beautiful. Typography is well-done and color design accents help to bring attention to the right places.

Useful extras including product photo zoom, mega menus, advanced product filtering and custom swatches complete the high-end shopping experience. Visual Composer and Revolution Slider are included.


Sell with Style

It really is amazing what you can accomplish with WooCommerce and the right WordPress theme. An online shop with real world convenience and functionality is within the reach of everybody.

Not to mention the fantastic look and layout options like those we covered above. Add in simple management on the back end and it’s easy to see why more store owners are turning to WooCommerce.

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When to Forgo Stock WordPress Plugins and Build It Yourself https://1stwebdesigner.com/wordpress-build-it-yourself/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/wordpress-build-it-yourself/#respond Sun, 05 Aug 2018 20:45:32 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=138887 One of the biggest benefits of using WordPress is that you have access to tens of thousands of plugins – including a ton of free options. Plugins enable us to add complicated features such as eCommerce, forms or even a full-blown knowledgebase with just a few clicks.

But you may find yourself in situations where an existing plugin isn’t necessarily the best solution. In fact, if you have some basic web development skills (including HTML, CSS and some rudimentary knowledge of PHP and JavaScript), you may be able to build something yourself that is a better fit.

Today, we’ll take a look at some situations where it may be wise to forgo the use of a plugin to perform a specific task. But note that this isn’t meant to be a tutorial on how to build any specific feature. Rather, it’s more of an invitation to challenge the way we tend to think about WordPress development.

Situation #1: It’s Already Built into WordPress

During my earliest days in working with WordPress, I wanted to install a plugin for everything. But as I grew more comfortable with how the software worked and the process of customizing themes, I found that I had been using plugins for some of the most basic tasks – things I could take care of myself.

Take, for instance, adding a list of blog posts to a page. Beyond using a plugin, there are multiple ways to approach the task. If your WordPress theme uses Widgets, the included Recent Posts widget could do the job. Or, you may want to build a custom query right into the template, allowing you to fully manage the look and functionality.

WordPress has so many features already built in, but they often fly under the radar of even experienced developers. The argument can be made that that’s a big reason why certain plugins exist. They do things that many people don’t know about and add a layer of convenience to sweeten the deal.

But something that can be done rather easily within a theme or through building your own custom plugin puts you in control. You don’t have to worry about applying updates and aren’t left hanging if the author decides to, ahem, pull the plug on the project. Plus, you can build these types of features without the bloat that may come with a pre-built plugin.

Toy characters constructing a building.

Situation #2: You Have to Hack Your Way Around a Plugin

Have you ever found the “perfect” plugin for a specific need and then found yourself repeatedly saying “if only”’? As in, “If only it would do this, that and the other”. This is a common problem and in no way the fault of the plugin’s developer.

Everyone has a unique wish list when it comes to their website. No plugin could (or should) anticipate every possible use case and the billions of nuances that come along with them.

I find that a client will just about always ask me to make a plugin do at least one thing that isn’t on the feature list. Sometimes, as is the case with WooCommerce, there are enough hooks built in that things can be customized well enough. Woo may be the rare exception, though, as it’s not always such a straightforward process with other plugins.

Indeed, there are times when it seems like you might have to reverse engineer a plugin in order to make it fit your specific needs. The more drastic changes you make, the more opportunity there is for something to break down the road. In these cases, you might actually be better off building something yourself or hiring someone to do it for you.

Toy building blocks scattered on a floor.

Situation #3: You Don’t Want to Rely on Anyone Else

Here’s a situation that’s probably more about philosophy than functionality. When you’re building a website that has a very important core functionality (eCommerce, memberships, etc.), it can be difficult to cede control of that to a third party.

This is especially problematic when something breaks. You might have to deal with technical support that, in your view, takes way too long to respond and help to solve your problem. Meanwhile, your site’s either unusable or at least hindered in its ability to work properly.

The catch is that, to avoid using existing plugins, you’ll need either great development skills, a big budget or both at your disposal. Needless to say, this leaves a lot of people out of the equation. But if you do have the wherewithal to do things this way, it will keep you in the driver’s seat in terms of your website’s core functions.

Toy construction worker cleaning up.

When Plugins Are Optional

It’s often so tempting to quickly install a WordPress plugin and consider the job well-done. But it’s important to think about each and every addition we make to a website. When choosing a path to achieving a certain feature or function, we should ask ourselves the following:

  • Is this feature already a part of WordPress core?
  • Is there a plugin out there that will do everything I need (or, at least get me 90% of the way there)?
  • Am I comfortable relying on a third party to handle support?
  • How will a plugin affect site performance and stability?
  • Am I capable of building this myself?

Sometimes, the answer will point you in the direction of a plugin. But, the more you hone your development skills, the more likely it is that you’ll find at least some items that you can build yourself. That can be both highly satisfying and turn out to be the best thing for your project, as well.

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10 Free Knowledgebase Themes & Plugins For WordPress Users https://1stwebdesigner.com/free-wordpress-knowledgebase-themes-plugins/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/free-wordpress-knowledgebase-themes-plugins/#respond Fri, 03 Aug 2018 20:12:57 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=132821 WordPress is the perfect system for just about everything. You can use it for a small blog or a company website or yes, even a knowledgebase.

And with the vast array of free resources online you don’t need to build your own theme either. There’s something out there for everything, and this collection proves it!

All the WordPress Themes You Could Ask For

2M+ items from the worlds largest marketplace for WordPress Themes, Web Templates & Design Assets. All of it can be found here at Envato Market.

WP Knowledge Base

kb knowledgebase theme

The incredible WP Knowledge Base theme is one of the oldest and most widely supported themes. It was developed well over 5 years ago and works perfectly with the bbPress community plugin.

Only issue is that this theme hasn’t been officially updated in over two years and you’ll see this message on the main theme page.

The latest release supported WordPress 3.5 and we’re now up to 4.x(and counting!).

But what’s interesting about WordPress is how it supports backward compatibility for most features. This means that a theme developed ten years ago could still run pretty smoothly on a modern WordPress installation.

WP Knowledge Base is by far one of the more detailed themes out there. But it’s also somewhat dated so weigh the pros & cons before using this one.


myknowledgebase theme

Here’s a very simple theme without many excessive frills. MyKnowledgeBase is totally free and built for the latest version of WordPress.

It comes with a built-in FAQ module along with simple columns for data organization. This includes homepage widgets, sidebar widgets, and extra menus for getting into multi-tiered links for your site.

MyKnowledgeBase will take some customization to get it looking good, but it’s also one of the few themes with clear knowledgebase features.


wikiwp theme

Wiki-style sites can also make fantastic knowledge bases if you make adjustments to the interface.

One of the best Wiki themes is WikiWP which is also totally free and styled much like Wikipedia. You can choose which links appear in the side menu and how people should navigate the site through search or categories.

The theme is very SEO friendly but can be used as an internal knowledgebase if you want to hide it from search engines.

Really great layout and very relevant for knowledgebases. The biggest factor is if you want to run a wiki for your knowledgebase site.


mywiki theme

Here’s another alternative that’s meant to operate like a wiki but feels more like a knowledgebase center.

MyWiki has a solid 5-star rating across all reviews and thousands of installs. It’s extremely lightweight and features different homepage designs with sections for content categories.

I like this one a lot more than the Wikipedia-styled theme above because this one does work more like an organized knowledgebase.

It’s also easy to setup and perfect for non-technical WordPress users.

WP Knowledgebase

wp knowledgebase plugin

Getting into the plugins side of things we have WP Knowledgebase. This free plugin lets you add custom knowledgebase features into any theme.

Keep in mind this doesn’t have much styling, so you’ll need to position the categories/links accordingly. It helps if you start with a simple theme and build out from there.

Features include predictive search, drag & drop editing, a responsive content design, and a whole bunch more.

DW Knowledge Base

dw knowledgebase plugin

Another competing plugin is DW Knowledge Base created by the folks at DesignWall.

This plugin was built as a premium item but has a freemium version in the WP plugins directory. And the freemium version should be more than enough for a simple knowledgebase website.

It has a full backend panel for knowledgebase articles where you can add, edit, and refine how your content works. These also have their own categories so you can keep them separate from your main website.

Very Simple Knowledge Base

very simple knowledgebase

True to its name is the Very Simple Knowledge Base plugin released for free in the WP plugins directory.

If simplicity is what you’re after, then VSKB has the answer. It uses simple link columns that you can embed anywhere on your site from the sidebar to the footer or even on a single knowledgebase page.

These link lists are divided by category and include “archive” pages for all your knowledgebase articles.

But note the design here is very limited so it helps if you know your way around CSS.

Ultimate FAQ

ultimate faq plugin

While this plugin wasn’t technically designed as a knowledgebase it still functions well as one.

The Ultimate FAQ plugin lets you create unlimited question/answer type posts with custom tags and categories. It also supports an Ajax-powered search feature where topics are auto suggested and link right to the page.

Check out the demo video to learn more about this awesome plugin.

Knowledgebase by WebberZone

knowledgebase webberzone

The greatest strength of this plugin is how it walks the line between complex yet detailed.

The Knowledgebase plugin by WebberZone is totally free and offers a genuinely valuable method of curating content. You can organize questions by categories, and these appear in lists on your page.

KB entries can have sub-entries and Q&A sections within the page too. Plus they appear in WordPress search so you can design an entire site just around this plugin. For the price of free, that’s not half bad!

Knowledge Center

knowledge center webapp

Here’s one of the more advanced plugins offering a bunch of features and a premium alternative too.

Knowledge Center supports pretty much every type of edu-content page you need. FAQs, Wiki pages, knowledgebase pages, and archive category listings for easy browsing.

This does have a costly enterprise version, but I think the free alternative is more than enough for most users.

It comes with a handful of widgets like recent articles, most viewed, and featured items. You can also add custom search parameters and use knowledgebase shortcodes to embed certain articles/category lists anywhere on your site.

Definitely one of the better plugins if you’re looking for tons of features and a detailed management system. Check out their video guide to learn more and see this bad boy in action.

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8 Plugins to Improve WordPress Search https://1stwebdesigner.com/improve-wordpress-search/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/improve-wordpress-search/#respond Mon, 23 Jul 2018 06:33:34 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=138597 There are so many things to love about WordPress – but its default search capability is not one of them. It’s very basic and doesn’t account for things like misspellings or context. That can really hamper the user-friendliness of a site that’s heavy in content.

Thankfully, the WordPress developer community has created some fantastic plugins to bring search functionality up to snuff. Most are fairly simple to set up and will start providing better results in mere seconds.

Here is a collection of WordPress plugins you can use to turn your search field into a truly powerful tool:

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Relevanssi is a great choice for those who are looking for fine-grain control over search. There is a plethora of settings to tweak. For example, you can add “weight” to post elements such as the title or tags used. It also accounts for a lot of the quirks involved with a typical WordPress site. Custom post types, custom fields, PDF documents and even the contents of Shortcodes can be indexed (note that some features may require the Premium edition). But even if you aren’t keen on changing a lot of settings, you can simply install the plugin, build your site’s index and instantly improve search.

Ajax Search Lite

Ajax Search Lite

These days, users are quite accustomed to using a “live” search that offers up suggested results as they type. It’s a feature that can really make finding a specific piece of content a more efficient process. Ajax Search Lite adds this capability to any WordPress site, along with the ability to filter a search by category or post type. Plus, you also have the option of letting the plugin replace your site’s existing search field or add it in via a Shortcode or widget. The Pro version adds even more features, like the ability to search a BuddyPress feed and media attachments.

Search Exclude

Search Exclude

There may be times when you want prevent specific content from being searchable within your WordPress website. Search Exclude makes this quite easy – just click the added checkbox in the post editor to hide that content from internal search. It’s important to note that this plugin will not affect any SEO settings for a page or post – just the ability for users to search for it within your site.

Advanced Woo Search

Advanced Woo Search

If you’re running an online store powered by WooCommerce, then search is critical to helping users find the products they’re most interested in. Installing Advanced Woo Search adds live search capability that also sports several powerful features. You can set specific product data like the category, title, content or excerpt to be searchable – or not. Product images and pricing appear in the results to make searching a more visual experience. A premium version allows for searching product attributes, custom fields and more.

WP Extended Search

WP Extended Search

As its name suggests, WP Extended Search takes the default WordPress search functionality and lets you tweak it to better suit your needs. Site administrators can enable the searching of specific taxonomies, meta keys from custom fields, post types and authors. A particularly nice feature is the ability to prevent the searching of content older than a specified date. This could be useful in ensuring that users are only seeing the most relevant results.

Highlight Search Terms

Highlight Search Terms

Highlight Search Terms exists to do one thing without any major fuss or hogging of resources (and the name sort of gives it away). Whenever a user performs a search, their terms are highlighted in the results. And, when a result is clicked on, the terms are highlighted in that page or post as well. Note that there are no settings to configure and you must define a CSS style for highlighting in your theme.

Better Search

Better Search

Built to be highly extensible, Better Search is similar to Relevanssi in that it offers up a ton of options. The main difference is that Better Search doesn’t require you to manually build an index of your site – it starts working as soon as you activate the plugin. Inside, you’ll find the ability to sort results by various methods, customize how the results look via a template, support for caching plugins and a profanity filter. You can also display a listing of popular searches to show what’s trending. There is a lot of power under the hood of this free plugin.

WP Custom Fields Search

WP Custom Fields Search

For WordPress sites that rely heavily on custom fields, WP Custom Fields Search can be quite valuable. It enables searching of any custom fields you have added to pages or posts, in addition to what standard WP search offers. But what’s really neat is that you can build a form interface to allow users to filter their search via custom field data. The UI includes a variety of form field types so that you can build a custom search form within minutes.

Get Top Results

While search may be a bit overlooked by WordPress core, it certainly gets the royal treatment via the plugins above. And, even though some of the options here offer a lot of potential for customization, you don’t need to dive that deep into the weeds to simply improve your search capabilities.

The main idea is that, if search is an important part of your WordPress website – don’t settle for the default. A little bit of effort will bring you much better results.

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