Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- The 2 new social media places to follow Heartwood Art Creations
- Where I’ll be blogging about turning a hobby site into a business
- A status update on the WP 5 / Gutenberg Workshops
- Whether it’s okay or not to remove the Easy Updates Manager plugin or not
- My impressions of Gutenberg after playing with it for a few days
- Genesis updates 6 top themes for native Gutenberg compliance with fresh Gute themes on the way
- News about the PHP updates we have to do before year’s end
- What’s in the new speed benchmarks for PHP 7.3
- Matt’s State of the Word address is now on WP TV
- What’s in the upcoming release of WP 5.0.2 later this week
- What versions will auto update and the difference in minor vs major releases
- A new all in one analytics plugin from Google that I’m beta testing
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Heartwood Art is now on Facebook and Instagram
I’m delighted to report that I have my new woodworking site on more social media platforms!!
If you want you can now Like the Heartwood Art Creations page on Facebook. That’s where I’m sharing most of my shop building progress right now.
HWA is also on Instagram now as well. I have it connected to the Facebook page, but I’m still figuring out how best to use that platform as far as what I want to post where.
I polled my Site Audit Plus clients in our private FB group about whether or not they watched Stories or preferred the feed.
Overwhelmingly they are feed readers. And most agree that it is the younger generation driving Stories.
What do you think about that?
Hobby to Biz Site Journey
I’m still getting things set up for Heartwood Art site so I can start posting there. I’ve decided to do an old-fashioned blog for now and not focus on finished works.
I’ll be blogging the journey of turning my garage into a woodshop for now. And those will be followed by the artwork I’m making as it progresses. I’ll do a compilation post at the end of each project with the full story. But I really want to share it as it happens. I think that telling our stories is powerful and the best way for me to grow a loyal tribe.
BlogAid is where I’ll be posting about turning a hobby site into a money-making site, and all the things I learn along the way with that, like more on affiliate marketing and such.
So, you’ll easily be able to follow my progress on both fronts.
WP 5 / Gutenberg Workshop Update
Last week I offered a flash sale for a workshop to safely update our sites to WP 5.0 and try out Gutenberg.
Several hundred folks signed up, and as far as I can tell from the clicks in the emails with the post links, about half took the workshops as they came out.
I’m delighted to say that no one has reported any major issues with the WP 5.0 update.
But, there have been some issues with the cloning process and I’ve updated the tutorials where needed. The folks reporting issues have contacted UpdraftClone support, as have I, and we will stay on top of this and I’ll update the tutorial as needed.
Keep in mind that the UpdraftClone service has only been out for a few months, so, we’re sort of helping with working the kinks out. Their support is super responsive, and with me bringing them a few hundred purchases at a time, I’m sure they want to keep my recommendation too! So, I know the devs are working on it.
As far as live sites, I’ve updated all of my sites to WP 5.0 except the membership sites. I’ll do those after these current courses for that workshop and the DIY SEO course are finished running. I expect that to be toward the end of the month.
Remove the Easy Updates Manager Plugin
Since all of my sites that have been updated to WP 5.0 made it through without a hitch, I’m going to take a chance and deactivate the Easy Updates Manager plugin.
This will return me to the normal auto update cycle for minor releases of WP and plugins.
I can’t say if this is a good idea for anyone else yet. And you’ll hear about why in the WordPress Tips section.
My Impressions of Gutenberg
Unlike folks in the Workshop, I didn’t try Gutenberg on a clone of my real sites.
I already had another test site setup to try the Gutenberg plugin and Classic Editor and such prior to the WP 5.0 update. So, that’s the one I’ve been using to take the free Gutenberg classes from Morten Hendricksen over on LinkedIn Learning.
Here are my thoughts on Gutenberg
It’s a LOT of fun and can do so many cool things.
But, it’s immediately apparent that you need a theme that natively supports Gutenberg fully to be able to make use of all those cool features.
On that test site, I have been running a standard Genesis child theme. But, I’m going to switch over to one of the 6 themes they recently updated to fully support Gutenberg. More on that in the Theme Tips section.
And, I’m definitely wanting to use Gutenberg when I revamp my woodworking site.
That’s going to be a double-edged sword.
I’ll be using a cutting edge theme and a text editor that will be updating every 2 weeks.
While it will force me to stay current with where WordPress is going, it may also make me have to devote extra time to blogging, as there will likely be changes every time I log in.
There may also be breaks with WP or plugins, or even the theme.
But, that’s going to keep me on top of what’s happening too, and they will all be things that I can report on BlogAid.
So, I think going through the journey this way, on a site that is not currently making me money, is the perfect solution for both my businesses right now.
That’s all the news from around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
Yay!!! This post from StudioPress is confirmation of the rumor I reported in last week’s Tips Tuesday.
I’m thrilled to see the folks at Genesis make 6 of the top StudioPress themes more Gutenberg compliant.
The themes are:
- Authority Pro
- Essence Pro
- Magazine Pro
- Infinity Pro
- Monochrome Pro
- Breakthrough Pro
It’s important to note that all StudioPress themes are Gutenberg ready, meaning nothing will break.
But, they don’t offer native support of Block styling. A designer can add that to most themes.
So, if you already have a child theme you love, you can likely have it updated to support Blocks when you’re sure you’re ready to use Gutenberg.
Or, if you’re just starting out or doing a site revamp, you’ll want to consider one of these themes as your new base.
I’m sure they are hard at work bringing even more StudioPress themes up-to-date with native Gutenberg support, so you can hang out for a while if the base you want to use is not on the list yet. That will save you some money too.
And, at the bottom of that post they say they are working on brand new themes that were built with Gutenberg in mind from the get-go. Those are the ones I’ll be looking into for the revamp on my woodworking site as soon as they come out.
PHP Updates Before Dec 31
Now that most of us are through the WP 5.0 update, next up we’re going to ensure that we are all on the top, most stable PHP version.
The PHP developers only recently announced that version 7.3 is stable.
SiteGround made it available around the time of that announcement, and they just reminded everyone in a recent blog post that they have it available to use.
A2 Hosting, and lots of other hosts, are being a little more cautious about releasing it, and the highest version they have available is 7.2.
But, several folks have had plugin issues with 7.2.
Thanks to webmaster John Sawyer of The Small Business Website Guy I believe we now know how to fix those issues. It is a little technical, in that it deals with settings on your host, so I don’t know if I will be releasing it to the public or not.
I will be sending a Quick Check out to my Site Audit Plus clients soon, probably in the week between the holidays, so we can get everyone up to the highest level possible, and address any issues.
WordPress 5.0 and PHP
Also keep in mind that WP 5.0 was only tested on PHP 7.3, so we want to go as high as we can since we’ve updated.
But, I’m currently running PHP 7.0 on all the sites I just updated to WP 5.0 and none of them are having issues, so I think that pretty much proves it is backwards compatible right now.
Plugins, however, are another story. And they may not remain backwards compatible for too much longer.
That’s another reason why we want to update our PHP level soon.
The folks over at Serve Bolt released their benchmark results for testing speed differences between PHP 7.2 and 7.3. And 7.3 is definitely faster.
So, we can look for another speed boost when we upgrade our PHP versions too.
Last week you heard me talk about my impressions of Matt Mullenweg’s keynote address at WordCamp US this year.
You can now see it for yourself.
It’s a little painful to watch in places, but you will get to see his vision for the future of Gutenberg and the web in general too.
True to their promise, updates for WP 5 will be rolling out every 2 weeks.
This one will hopefully bring some speed increases with it, as Gutenberg tends to bulk up pages and make them slower for loading.
I haven’t tested that myself, but I’ve seen plenty enough benchmark studies to believe it.
Here’s what the WP devs say about the performance enhancements:
“The cumulated performance gains are around 330% faster for a post with 200 blocks,” Matias Ventura said in an update on the editor. “This might be even bigger for certain setups and plugin configurations — seeing the same test post be 540% faster with Yoast, for example.”
Keep in mind that these are being tested on PHP 7.3, so we might not see the same improvement on lower PHP versions.
And, if your site is not using Gutenberg, you likely won’t see speed improvements at all because you don’t have those drags to begin with.
Auto Updates – On or Off
These are minor releases, meaning point releases, going from 5.0.1 to 5.0.2.
That means they will auto update unless you have that turned off still.
A major release would be 5.0.x to 5.1.
That will not auto update.
As I mentioned previously, I’m deactivating the Easy Updates Manager plugin.
That means these bi-weekly minor updates, or point releases, will activate on my site as soon as they roll out.
I don’t know how risky this will be or not. So you’ll have to use your own judgment about it.
I was 100% fried trying to get those EUM plugin settings right so everyone could get that last minor release of security updates for 4.9.9. I have no intention of trying to take on that again going forward.
You’re welcome to set both major and minor core WP updates to Disable, if you like. But you’ll need to be hyper vigilant about any new updates that roll out.
If one of those minor releases is bug ridden, you’ll be glad you did.
For me, I can afford to ride out a patch being developed, which would likely be right behind the update, and again would auto update.
Maybe you can’t.
So like I said, use your best judgment as to what works best for you.
Google is asking for beta testers for a new plugin called Google Site Kit.
It brings info from Analytics, Search Console, AdSense, and more right into your WP dashboard.
I signed up to beta test it.
If accepted, I will have to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. So, I won’t be able to share details with you about the beta. I will only be able to share info after the plugin is publicly released.
I’m not endorsing that DIY site owners beta test this yet. It could carry bugs or slow down issues and such that you may or may not be able to adequately troubleshoot, or tolerate on your production site.
However, I am encouraging webmasters to sign up, as I think it may help your more SEO savvy clients.
I’m going to be looking specifically at the limited amount of data it may display compared to what you can see by going directly to Analytics and Search Console.
I’m also going to be looking for ways to customize what data it shows for 2 reasons.
One, I don’t give a flip about the inaccurate and unhelpful PageSpeed Insights data and don’t want bringing it in to slow down the admin side of my site, so I’ll be looking to turn that off.
And two, I want to compare the analytics to being able to customize my own dashboard directly in Google Analytics. That’s especially helpful for folks who rely heavily on specific sites for traffic, like Pinterest.
I’ll let you know how it goes, when I can, if I get accepted into the beta tester program.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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