WordPress 4.9, Everything you need to know!

Good Morning,

14th November and WordPress 4.9 has been released, with it a tonne of new features and updates. So let me sum up whats new, what you need to worry about and how to upgrade.

Improvements To Customizer Version Control And Usability

There are two big changes to the WordPress Customizer, as well as one smaller usability tweak.

Save, Schedule, And Share Customizer Changes

In current versions, the only way to save the changes that you make in the WordPress Customizer is to publish them to the live version of your site. That’s fine if you want the changes to go live right away, but it’s not very user-friendly if you’re actively working on some tweaks that you don’t want to share with your visitors just quite yet.

WordPress 4.9 changes things with some awesome new functionality.

First, when you want to save Customizer changes, you can now choose from three different options:

  • Publish – publishes changes right away just like how the Customizer currently functions.
  • Save Draft – saves the current changes as a draft. They won’t go live, but they will stay there until the next time you open the Customizer.
  • Schedule – schedule your changes to go live at a specific time and date.

In that screenshot above, you can also see the second new addition – the Share Preview Link.

This new feature generates a link that you can share with others to preview the changes that you’ve made in the Customizer. The cool thing is that those people don’t need to be Admins at your site. Nor do they even need to have an account!

You can safely share a preview of the changes that you’ve made with absolutely anyone.

These two changes are a massive improvement and make the WordPress Customizer much more viable as a serious website customization tool.

Install WordPress.org Themes Directly From The WordPress Customizer

Another new addition to the WordPress Customizer is the ability to install WordPress.org themes directly from the Customizer.

Now, if you click the Change button next to your active theme in the Customizer:

You’ll get a new option for WordPress.org themes. If you choose that radio select box, you’ll be able to search through WordPress.org themes and install them right from the Customizer:

This one isn’t technically adding new functionality in the grand scheme of things. But it does streamline the process of going from activating a theme to customizing a theme.

Create Menus With A More User-Friendly Interface

Finally, WordPress 4.9 brings a rework of how you create menus from the WordPress Customizer. You’re not really getting any new features – but the team has rearranged the process to be more streamlined and user-friendly.

In case you don’t remember, here’s how the current process starts off:

And here’s what the beginning of the new process looks like in WordPress 4.9:

It’s not a major change, but it’s definitely a bit more user-friendly and eliminates some unnecessary button clicks.

New Gallery Widget + Add Media Button In Text Widget

Beyond the WordPress Customizer, the widget area also got some continued love since the addition of media widgets and visual editing in WordPress 4.8.

Brand New Gallery Widget

Say goodbye to Jetpack, because everyone will have a gallery widget in WordPress 4.9!

Given that WordPress 4.8 introduced an image widget, it only makes sense that WordPress 4.9 enhances that with a new dedicated gallery widget.

It functions pretty much as you’d expect – you drag it over and use the Add Images button to select images from your WordPress media library:

Just as with the core WordPress Gallery functionality, you can choose ordering, sizing, and columns:

And then you’ll have your gallery on the frontend of your site:

Add Media Button + Shortcodes In Text Widget

Another continuation of the changes from WordPress 4.8 is the addition of the Add Media button to the text widget. This only made sense given how WordPress 4.8 added visual editing:

One neat thing is that you can actually use the text widget to create a gallery now thanks to the Add Media button. So the gallery widget is really just a more user-friendly version of this functionality:

Additionally, shortcodes will now render in text widgets by default – no more need to add a filter.

CodeMirror For Syntax Highlighting and Error Checking

The third big visible change in WordPress 4.9 is the introduction of the CodeMirror editor.

If you’re not familiar, CodeMirror is a text editor focused on editing code. It offers a number of features to make the editing experience better, notably:

  • Syntax highlighting
  • Live error checking
  • Autocomplete

Starting in WordPress 4.9, CodeMirror will be the editor for:

  • Custom CSS in the WordPress Customizer
  • Editing theme or plugin code from the dashboard editor
  • The custom HTML widget

But before I show you the new editing experience, here’s another minor addition that I stumbled on…

If you try to directly edit your theme’s template files, WordPress now gives you a warning message:

And once you confirm that, you can enjoy the new CodeMirror editing experience:

Additionally, WordPress 4.9 introduces a new API so that developers can easily integrate the CodeMirror editing experience into their own projects.

And if you’re not a fan of the syntax highlighting, you can always turn it off by going to your user profile:

Other Smaller Features Coming In WordPress 4.9

As you’d expect, WordPress 4.9 also brings a number of smaller tweaks and improvements. Some notable changes are:

You can view a list of most of the tweaks here.

What Are You Most Excited For?

And that wraps up our list of what to expect in WordPress 4.9! Beyond the bevy of smaller tweaks, WordPress 4.9 will improve:

  • The WordPress Customizer
  • WordPress widgets
  • The WordPress code editing experience

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!

We’re all tempted to go for one company to solve all our needs, one voice to filter everything out and offer the service you want. Is it really the best idea, let us explore why we think multiple agents and contacts is best for your online presence.

We’re going to break this down into the technical/marketing and sales sides of your digital world, starting with our speciality, the technical side;

Domain Name

Your website address, URL or common name Domain is your online identity, many of us have built our business name around the domain name we could purchase, be that fizzyblonde.uk, archers.law, or musicisthekey.door the variations you can choose from are fantastic, so after spending hours searching for the domain name, buy it yourself!

You will then own this, it won’t be accidentally purchased by another company, and you have all the rights to move it anywhere you like and it’s yours. Now we can sell you domain names, but we always advise our customer to purchase them elsewhere to keep things more secure and give them freedom.

Hosting

You can get hosting directly from a supplier, you can buy it from a reseller and you can buy it with you domain registrar. All are equally as good, but ask yourself what would happen in a nightmare scenario? If you purchase it from the web designer with your site and the designer doesn’t pay for their hosting, your site goes down and your on-line reputation is damaged. Maybe they go out of business, they are backing it up for you, or they offer you a great annual deal and forget to tell you that little changes are chargeable at their hourly rate.

If you take out the hosting yourself, you have control of the account, you’ve paid and if the developer goes under the hosting was separate and your site will live on. Any changes you want to make, can be done when you like and free of charge. You don’t have to wait until their office hours, and pay their fee, just contact the hosting company, ask them how and do it.

Website

Let’s not go into too much detail here, you can read our previous article about why we think you should do it yourself here

Platform

This is paramount, as choosing the wrong one at the start could be disastrous to your site and cost you loads later on. WordPress is by far the most popular at the moment as it’s versatile and easy to setup but if you’re focusing on a shop front have a look at Magneto or Prestashop. If you’re confused go on a few courses and learn about them or read up on-line.

SEO

Most website development company and hosting companies will offer some degree of SEO for your site, but did you know there are loads of tools out there you can use for free to get you started. Have a look at Hypestar SEO tool, or for a more technical one, try dareboost.com. These are great if you want to save a bit of money and some time, but more importantly you can run these and keep them as comparisons to see how the professionals have done.

On that note, I think SEO is paramount and well worth paying for! Get a copywriter to help you write content, find a photographer to take pictures, getting the right people together the best way, but don’t over reach! If you’re testing a website and aren’t ready for the ecommerce plugin, skip the photographer and hire them when ready.

Having a separate approach allows you to manage you cash flow better and really lets you get the site you deserve.

Sales

Online sales, the place to be… get a SSL certificate. Google is not picking on sites without it even if they aren’t ecommerce sites, SSL certificates help SEO and secure your sites. Free ones such as Let’s Encrypt work great for none commerce sites but paid ones come with security and insurance. You can buy them from source, but since they are addons to your site, just get them from your hosting company.

Finally… before deciding if we’re right with the DIY approach, it’s worth mentioning that although you are certainly going to have an easier time paying someone to do everything, you’re never going to be in control of your property, your assets will always be available to someone.

Would you do that with your Car or House?

Go with different companies and limit your liability is our advice!

Find out more about our hosting packages at https://solblu.uk/sharedhosting.html

Designing your Own Site or Paying someone to do it… which is better???

Websites are still seen as a dark art to some, with terms such as SEO, PPC, Analytics, copywriting, user experience, SSD, SATA, CPU, RAM and HD’s all over the place it’s a nightmare to know what you need and what you don’t need… no wonder you want a simple and easy life.

What if I were to tell you, you don’t need to understand it all and it’s not as complicated as you think! Let’s start by picking out those silly terms and making sense of them.

We’ll start with the techie talk first…

SSD, SATA, CPU, RAM and HD, what’s that all about. These are your resources for your website, SSD/SATA and HD are all the storage (the box your website is going into), CPU is the power your site has, so the larger the numbers of both these sections the better, however remember SSD is better than SATA (read our article here about SSD to find out why!)

programming

Now let’s talk about the analytics side of things, SEO/PPC, PPM, Copywriting, User Experience, each of these serves a larger master, SEO/PPC/PPM are for google and the search engines, SEO is all about writing your site to match what the search engines want, there are specifics that these sites love and you can find tools on-line to help you deliver these with no cost, have a look at Hypestar’s free SEO tool, then make the changes it suggests. For more comprehensive and technical SEO have a word with us and we’ll introduce you to our SEO tool (we’ll even help you implement some of the changes). PPC and PPM are the dark arts you hear about, these are paid adverts on Google, PPC is pay per click (so every time someone clicks on the advert you get charged), PPM is pay per impression (every time someone sees it you’re changed)… PPM is great for brand building but has little to no return on investment, however if someone clicks 100 times on the same advert you’re only charged for the times they see it on search, while PPC works the other way round, you’re changed every time someone clicks… does that all make sense?

Okay so the babble is all out of the way, and you understand the terms, let’s go back to building your own site and if its right for you?

Lets Start with paying someone to do it…

Firstly, you have to find a company you want to work with, within the North East of England if you google web designer you’ll find over 5 million results. Picking one can be tricky, you’ll meet loads of them, they’ll all tell you different prices for different things and eventually you’ll pick one for yourself.

Once you’ve done that they make the site, it might take a month, or two, or even 6 months. It all depends on what you want and how much you’ve paid. Once it’s built they upload it to staging server, then you test it, and correct it… still after months…. it’s not online and still being built, when the site is ready and you’ve got it on-line, a few months later you want to make a change. Did your web site builder agree a certain amount of changes a year for free, are there charges?

You decide you want to take the site elsewhere as the annual fees are in the £1000’s to keep it there, so now, they charge you for access or make it difficult for the next company…

Horror Stories I’ve seen from multiple customers.

Why not do it yourself?

Take up hosting from us at £50 a year and install WordPress with our 1 click installer. Head on a course with our partner company Hypestar and learn how to build it yourself. Feel free to pay a designer to do some logos and buy a template from the internet.

Work on the site in your own time, have the prototype online and then install and setup the ecommerce later after already running a SEO tool to check the content is right.

Designer – £50

Hosting – £50

Training – £120

Total cost less than £300 and only £50 a year to keep it going…

It’s a no brainier!!!!