Website management part 2: three steps to update your WordPress website

Website management part 2: three steps to update your WordPress website

By Kirsten Meintjes

Posted on 30th January 2019

Now that you are equipped with the basic terminology, part 2 will dive into the actual website updates. If your website was developed by Yellow Door, it will have been built on the WordPress content management system, so this tutorial will address WordPress websites specifically.

Before I delve in to part two, here is a quick recap of part one. Websites are made up of various little elements that need to all fit and “play nicely” together. A website is a dynamic entity that requires consistent attention and maintenance, otherwise it is at risk of becoming stale. Sometimes there are amendments necessary for which one needs to get professional assistance, but often you will actually be able to perform various tweaks on your own.

 

We choose WordPress to host the websites we build as it is a stable system used globally (it powers 26% of all websites) and it is scalable and adaptable to almost every need. Furthermore, navigating and managing the backend is intuitive, so we are able to equip our clients with the skills needed to do basic updates themselves, thus saving them time and money.

1. Write a blog post

Under posts on the left panel, click the “add new” button.

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You will then be presented with an editing screen with an array of posting features. The first thing to do is enter a title. Next, enter the actual content of your post in the open field below. If you want to format your text, use the toolbar options located just above the text field. These are similar to what you find in MS Word or any other popular text editor.

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When the bulk of your post is written, you will add some information in the right-hand panel area. Firstly, under categories, either select an existing category, or click the blue “add new category” button. “Tags” allows you to quickly add new tags or keywords; basically, any words that are related to the post topic.

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Finally, by clicking the blue publish button, your post will go live, so it is best to do this once everything else has been completed.

2. The header and footer

As mentioned in part one, updates to the header and footer are done in a separate area to the rest of the changes on your pages. This is efficient because once an update has been done, you will not need to replicate it anywhere else. In other words, the changes will roll out to the rest of the site automatically.

 

To update the website header, you are likely to want to do one of two things:

a) Change your logo: navigate to the theme options from your dashboard. You should find the name of your theme in the left-hand panel – this might be Jupiter/ XStore/ Avada. Hover over this name, and “theme options” will come up. Click this and navigate to the “logo” section and add a new image accordingly.

1. logo

b) Add/ remove a page from the navigation menu. To do this, from the dashboard hover over “appearance” and click on “menus.” Here, ensure you have the main navigation menu selected, and add or remove items from the left-hand panel.

2. menus

To update the footer, hover over “appearance” in the left panel and click on “widgets.” A page with various widget areas around the site will load. Depending on how many columns you have in your footer, you will have that number of footer widget areas displayed on the right (e.g. in this example 3 footer columns = 3 footer widget areas). Edit or remove existing elements from each footer column, or add a new element from the options on the left.

3. footer

3. Update general copy and images

Regardless of what page you’d like to edit any copy and/ or images on, the process is generally the same.

 

Click on “pages” in the left-hand panel and then select the page you would like to edit (here we have selected the “about” page). On the page that opens, there will be various containers – correlating to content on the page – with the existing set of content. Scan through the page until you find the content – be it images or copy – that you’d like to edit. Hover your cursor over it and click the editing pen. You can now edit or replace content with your new content.

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When all edits to the page are done, you can click the preview button to see how the changes will appear on the site, without committing to them. If you are not happy with something, go back and make the necessary edits. When done, click the blue update button which will make these changes go live.

 

Although this post only covered the basics, about 80% of updates you might want to do on your website are covered in the various steps above. For anything else, please refer to your handover tutorial, or alternatively give us a shout at hello@theyellowdoor.co.za !

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Website management part 1: learn the ins and outs of your new WordPress website

Website management part 1: learn the ins and outs of your new WordPress website

By Kirsten Meintjes

Posted on 12th December 2018

So – it has finally happened. You are the proud owner of a shiny new website (hopefully developed by Yellow Door!) After weeks of back and forth, exchanging copy, images, and everything else needed to achieve a pixel-perfect site, the site is now live for the world to see.

Although it might be perfect when launched, things change over time and you’re going to want to update your website accordingly (there is nothing worse than coming across a website for an awesome product when you realise it was last updated in 2012!). 

 

The price of your product might go up next season, and perhaps you’d like to add information about a new member of the team. Thus, it’s important to be equipped with the basic skills to understand the backend of your website in order to make the updates. 

 

No doubt you’ll have come across all sorts of new terms; SEO, mobile-responsiveness, domains and hosting, analytics, spam, footer icons… the list continues (read more on our recent FAQs blog post). This two-part series should shed some light on the (surprisingly undaunting) technical side of your site, ultimately empowering you to prevent it from going stale in the long run. 

 

Part one will address some general website concepts that are critical to understand before dabbling with the back end; and part two will get down into the nitty gritty of how to perform various updates.

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1. The backend and dashboard

The “backend” is a part of your website that is only accessible by users that have admin access. If we build the site, we’ll provide you with a link, username and password to log in and access the dashboard. 

 

This is the starting point from which you will be able to make any and all changes to your website. Some of the sections accessible from the dashboard will contain code – don’t let this frighten you! Most of the changes you’ll be making will be either to pages, posts or sliders, all of which will be intuitive and accessible from the WordPress dashboard.

2. The media gallery

Whenever you would like to add any media – be it a photo, pdf or document – to any page on your website, the media gallery will house these elements. You can access and organise all of your media by clicking on the ‘Media’ button in the left-hand panel. You can also do basic edits on this media through the gallery, for example cropping an image, adjusting aspect ratios and dimensions.

 

Note that when you are busy editing a page itself, and you are adding or updating any media, a pop up representing the media gallery will open where you can make all changes/ additions, i.e. if you would like to add an image to your website, you can add it to the gallery directly from the page that you are editing, you do not need to navigate to the media gallery beforehand to do this.

3. The header and footer

Your website’s header and footer are controlled in areas separate to where you perform other updates. It is important to note that when accessing and updating either of these, the updates will show across all pages of your website. 

 

Web development is efficient like that – there is a fundamental principle in coding called Do Not Repeat that all developers refer to when looking at the efficiency of their code. Simply put: if something can potentially be done once and once only, then this the sure route to take. If you would like to know how to update your header and footer, wait for part two of this series, where I will be showing you the basics of updating your website.

4. “Something was working, but now it is not”

 Unfortunately in life, over time, things that were fine can break. This is the same across most fields – be it biology, economics, or in our case, websites. If an element of your website was fine at the time of going live, but a few months later it shows some sort of error, this is likely not a problem with the way that a website was developed, but rather general “wear and tear” that happens with any dynamic entity. 

 

The theory behind this is that a website is made up of many pieces. Some of these pieces we create in-house, however some pieces are created by other developers around the world, and we have skilfully assembled these pieces to create your website. 

 

(It is because of these outsourced pieces that creating your website with Yellow Door does not cost an arm or a leg – a 100% custom system can take many months to develop and generally costs upwards of R200 000, and really isn’t necessary for most businesses.

 

Usually the pieces play well together, but if there are any drastic changes, then it is possible that they cause conflicts. Usually one or two updates need to be done to keep all pieces compatible, but ideally you should have a developer check it out to ensure all bases are covered.

 

If you are one of our retainer clients, then you have probably never encountered any visible errors, as we would likely have detected this on our side and fixed it accordingly. If it has slipped through the cracks, you can contact us immediately and it’ll get investigated and sorted out.

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5. Plugins

Plugins are the magic of WordPress. They are what enables one to quickly add elements that other developers have spent ages working on, and allow for the connections between your website and other services that you might use (for example, Mailchimp for newsletters). 

 

Plugins often have a free version and a premium version. Whilst navigating your dashboard, occasionally there might be a notice at the top of your screen either asking if you would like to upgrade one of your plugins, or to leave a review for the developers of the plugin. These are nothing to worry about – you can dismiss them or leave a review, or chat to us about upgrading the plugin if you think it would benefit your business. 

6. Spam

Just the sound of the word is enough to make anyone shudder! Unfortunately these days, if you have as much as an internet connection, you have probably experienced spam in one form or another.

 

My 90-year-old grandfather called me one evening with concerns that an email from “SARS” requesting a payment was actually spam. He called his auditors, his internet service provider, and even tried Googling it, but when all else failed and he still was not convinced of the legitimacy, he gave his trusty granddaughter a shout. I asked him to forward the email to me, and within three minutes diagnosed it as spam. I noticed that the email address had “@sars.co.tn” –this indicated that the email was from Taiwan – a far cry from the South African Revenue Service that we know and love.   

 

Bringing it back to your website, it will have been developed by us to ensure that spam is prevented at the time of going live. Like human viruses that can mutate and compel you to get an annual flu shot, spam evolves and every day there is a new, unpredictable way in which your website needs to be protected. Preventing spam is something that a developer will have to put in place and manage for you, so give us a call and we will investigate it and find a solution.

 

In part 1 of this series we have covered some of the theory that will equip you with a high-level understanding whilst managing and navigating the backend of your WordPress website. Look out for part 2 where we will go through steps on how to perform a variety of updates that you might want to make over time.

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7 top website development FAQs

7 top website development FAQs

By Kirsten Meintjes

Posted on 31st October 2018

So, you’re getting a website developed! While you’re probably very excited, the idea is also quite daunting for some and you might be a little unsure of the process. If this is the first website you’re going to have – unless you grew up in a very tech-savvy household – you are likely to have a couple of questions that come up along the way.

As the in-house developer/ project manager at Yellow Door, I am often asked the same sorts of questions by our clients. So we’ve put together a little FAQ to address all your potential website queries. If you have any that have not been covered here, please post a comment below so we can address it and add it to this post!

1. How long will it take to develop my website from beginning to end?

This answer might surprise you – but it all depends on you! We pride ourselves on having a one-month turnaround time, provided that we receive timeous information and feedback from the client.

 

In an ideal world, a client will come to us with all information ready, including some photos for the site, their corporate identity files (unless we are also doing these for you) and information about themselves and their business. This is how we best prevent bottlenecks.

2. Will my site come up on Google?

Short answer: Yes.

 

Long answer: Your website will be listed on Google. The strength of your website’s listing – i.e. which page in a Google search it will display on – is determined by a range of external and internal factors, collectively known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

 

External factors include whether your brand is established yet, whether you had a previous website, how many competitors you have, your overall digital presence, and if you have and Google Ads running. These are all determined by you and your digital marketing plan – read Janine’s post about why your business needs one of these.

 

Internal factors, including how keyword-rich your content is, whether there are appropriate headings and descriptions on the website, and how “mobile-friendly” the design is, are in our control, and if we are developing your website, we will ensure that everything necessary is done.

3. Can you put links on my website to my social media accounts?

Absolutely. Provided you give us the links to all of your relevant accounts – or let us know if you’d like us to set these up for you.

4. Can the website copy and/ or images be changed once I have signed off?

YES! I get this question time and again. Our clients often get confused about what copy and images to put on their site – and understandably so, as this is what provides the soul of a website. However, development is 90% about the technical structure of the site, the background things that you don’t really see.

 

When your website goes live and once you have signed off, we will send you a comprehensive customised handover tutorial that will take you through the steps of how to make basic changes, such as updating images and copy, and anything else that might be important for your website. If there is anything that you are struggling to do, we are always just a phone call away and are happy to assist.

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5. What if I want to have an online shop at a later stage?

Let us know if you have an online shop as a future plan, even if you’re not ready for one when we create your website. Then we can ensure that the website is developed in a way that can easily have a shop added in future.

 

If your plans are a little more concrete, we can even develop the shop in the website’s backend, but not launch this until you are ready at a later date. This way, your website can be live with any information you are ready to show the public, and the shop can be developed but inaccessible until you give the go-ahead.

6. Why do I have to pay a monthly fee to a hosting service provider?

In order to have your website live on the internet, you will have to pay a monthly fee. Regardless of whether you, an agency, or an in-house developer develops your website, over and above the development you will have to pay a certain hosting fee. This is essentially to rent space on a server that hosts files on the internet, and so as long as your website is live you will have to pay the monthly fee.

 

We recommend using Hetzner as their packages are reasonably priced and they provide fantastic support. We will help you set up the hosting at the beginning of the web development process but you will pay the monthly fee directly to the host and not to us.

7. Will I be able to get a new email address?

Yes! In addition to setting up an email address for each member of staff that needs one, we can also set up generic emails too and ensure that they are forwarded to the correct people. Popular generic email addresses include editor@mydomain.co.za, name@mydomain.co.za or hello@mydomain.co.za.

 

These are just a few of the many questions that clients often have when we start down the website creation process with them. Hopefully these answers have provided some insight into the not-so-big-and-scary technical world of website development. Regardless of how big your requirements might seem, we are up for the challenge. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us so we can work our magic! 

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