WordPress News: Using MainWP to Manage Multiple WordPress Sites

If you are a WordPress website developer, then one of the tasks that must be accomplished is managing the websites of your clients. This usually entails logging-in to all of them, one at a time, if you need to publish posts, edit pages, or even do a periodic back-up. If you have ever encountered this problem, a self-hosted, open-source utility named MainWP can help.

MainWP is a back-end manager that blends seamlessly with WordPress allowing management of multiple sites from one back-end.

Setting-up MainWP

  1. Set-up a fresh install of WordPress on your preferred host (recommended).
  2. Keep the install fresh from outside plugins.
  3. Install MainWP Dashboard plugin.
  4. Install MainWP Child plugin on every site that you want to manage through MainWP.
  5. Add the URL, site name, user admin name, and any groups you want to assign it to.

The following video explains the process:

Beyond the Basics

MainWP is full featured allowing for the use of WordPress themes and plugins through the “Trusted” options. By default, none of your themes or plugins will be automatically updated unless you select the trusted option. If you do, then whenever it has an update available, it will automatically install. Another useful tool available from MainWP is the ability to do back-ups of all of you managed sites in one step. These back-ups can be scheduled on a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule and allow the choice of doing a full back-up or a database only back-up.

For more information on using MainWP

Interview: Tina Granzo, City Beautiful Design

A photograph of Tina Granzo sitting on red brick stairs outside.Tina Granzo founded City Beautiful Design (CBD), a website design and web application development firm located in Detroit, Michigan, and moved to Portland in 2006.

Tina attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for 2 years, and then transferred to the University of Michigan where she earned a BFA in 1995.

Tina built her first database in 1992. She has been making websites and databases talk to each other since 1997. Continue reading Interview: Tina Granzo, City Beautiful Design

WordPress News: Custom Post Types for No Ordinary Website

By default, WordPress Themes provide a variety of post types. They always include Post, Page, Attachment, Revision and Nav Menus. Depending on a website design objectives, themes may also include the more specialized Portfolio, Testimonials and Products post types. In Adelina Tuca’s post on September 15, 2015 on Tesla Themes, she reminds us to consider the flexibility available in using Custom Post Types.

Custom post types are awesome. Because they let you add amazing things on your website, things that, in most cases, make the difference between an ordinary website and a well crafted one.

Being a skilled web developer is not necessarily required. While Adelina confirms the coding to create a Custom Post Type can be very challenging, WordPress Plugins are available to simplify the process.

When considering unique design objectives,  get out of the box and  use Custom Post Types to build extraordinary websites.

For more information:

WordPress Engine Disallowed Plugins & Alternatives

With over 36,000 plugins in the WordPress plugin repository, we only forbid a relative handful. There are pretty good odds that if you want to use a plugin on our infrastructure, you should feel free to use it! It’s your blog after all.
WP Engine Support Garage – Disallowed Plugins

Those listed as “forbidden” are as follows:

Caching Plugins

Caching Plugins aren’t needed since WordPress already has a built-in caching system to increase speed called EverCache.

These caching Plugins below clash with WordPress’ own caching system and will be removed automatically:

  • WP Super Cache
  • WP File Cache
  • WP Rocket
  • W3 Total Cache
  • WordFence

Batcache and other similar Plugins aren’t banned, but they also will not work with WordPress.

Backup Plugins

Backup Plugins simply aren’t needed, as WordPress performs automated backups on an efficient nightly basis, and is available to each user as a download (if they wish).  Backup Plugins are very much discouraged because they duplicate WordPress’ already functioning backup methods, they have been known to store large files insecurely, and run backups at very inconvenient times, causing significant delays on the server.

These Backup Plugins are not allowed on WordPress sites:

  • WP DB Backup
  • WP DB Manager
  • BackupWordPress
  • VisionPress

Though, if you must, WordPress permits VaultPress as the best backup Plugin option. However, VaultPress is not free. You may also use InfiniteWP and Dropbox in congruence with each other to effectively serve the same purpose for free.

Server & MySQL Plugins

These types of Plugins have been known to overload WordPress servers or send an alarming amount of MySQL queries, while interfering with other built-in WordPress systems.

This banned list includes:

  • Broken Link Checker
  • MyReviewPlugin
  • LinkMan
  • Fuzzy SEO Booster
  • WP PostViews
  • Tweet Blender

To check your site for broken links, you can either visit Online Broken Link Checker, or download Link Checker onto your computer.

Screen shot from brokenlinkchecker.comWordPress suggests the Jetpack Plugin or Google Analytics as safe alternatives to track website traffic.

Plugins That Duplicates WordPress’ Functionality

WordPress already has built-in systems that behave exactly like these Plugins, so not only are these non needed, but they’re also banned to allow better server flow:

  • No Revisions
  • Force Strong Passwords
  • WordFence
  • Bad Behavior

Email Plugins

While sending emails in WordPress is encouraged, email Plugins aren’t a great solution because they don’t offer the best service that WordPress strives for. This email Plugin used for email blasts has been added to the “bad” list:

  • WP Mailing List

Third-party services, such as MailChimpConstant Contact, and AWeber are excellent alternatives. For further information on how to conduct an email blast in WordPress, be sure to check out WP Engine’s Q & A emailing article.

Other Disallowed Plugins

  • Hello Dolly!
  • WP phpMyAdmin
  • Sweet Captcha
  • EWWW Image Optimizer

For Further Information




WordPress News: WordPress 4.4 Beta 1

wordpress-4-4On October 22, 2015 Scott Taylor, who is leading the WordPress 4.4 development cycle, announced the release of WordPress 4.4 Beta 1. It offers a wide variety of improvements and enhancements, and developers are excited to test drive the new version.

In a recent article, Scott gave the following recommendation:

This software is still in development, so we don’t recommend you run it on a production site. Consider setting up a test site just to play with the new version.

He went on to list four reasons to be excited about WordPress 4.4 Beta 1:

  • REST API (phase 1) — The underlying infrastructure of the WordPress REST API plugin is included in WordPress 4.4. Plugin authors can take advantage of this by adding custom endpoints.
  • Term Metadata — Taxonomy term metadata is included in WordPress 4.4. Developers who are using a plugin to implement term metadata should read this post on how to prepare for the switch. Also, the underlying WP_Term class improves caching when working with terms.
  • Improved <title> outputwp_title() is deprecated; WordPress will handle the rendering of the document title automatically.
  • Comments — Comment queries are now split for performance. Also, the underlying WP_Comment class improves caching and introduces strong-typing. (#8071, #32619)

In an article on the WP Tavern website, Jeff Chandler details whats under the hood, which may explain all the excitement.

Three New Distinct User Facing Features

  • Twenty Sixteen – Twenty Sixteen is a new default theme with a simple layout and color scheme designed by Takashi Irie, who also designed the Twenty Fourteen and Twenty Fifteen default themes.
  • Responsive Images – WordPress will automatically deliver a more appropriate image to users depending on a variety of conditions like screen size, view port size, and screen resolution.
  • oEmbed Posts – In addition to YouTube, WordCamp.TV and other whitelisted providers, users will be able to easily embed content from almost any site that supports the oEmbed standard, including WordPress sites.

More Information

WordPress News: Image Optimization

A box with a grey outline, arrows pointing inward at all four corners, with grey text, ClarkWP: Image optimization

When you decrease the file size for images before you insert them, uploads and pages will load faster. – WordPress.com

It is important to optimize your images before using them on your WordPress site. The benefits of optimization would include better quality images, faster loading times, efficient data usage, and accessibility; while making the site’s images more attractive overall. For some users with smaller images, it will be significant enough to upload an image and choose from the WordPress default sizes allocated. Images that are set to display as a thumbnail, it doesn’t compress the image. That’s why it’s always better to optimize your images before uploading them.

Optimization is achievable by using photo editing software such as Photoshop. It’s imperative that you don’t take images from your camera and upload them immediately to the web, as images that come from your camera are set for print rather than web. – Visit abrightclearweb.com for more information

Software Recommendations

You can use a slew of programs to edit your photos such as Photoshop, Lightroom, and Paint Shop Pro. Unfortunately these are paid or subscription software programs, so below is a list of free software recommendations.


If you upload an image that is 1080 x 720px and set it to a thumbnail, it will still take just as long to load as if it was set to full size.

The following image was uploaded to WordPress in full size. (1080 x 720px) The file size is 924.9k which takes 168 seconds to load just this image at 56.6 kbps.
A picture of the maid of the mist, heading toward Niagara Falls.

This image was re-sized in Photoshop to the same size as allocated by the large image option in WordPress. It is 156.3 kb which takes 29 seconds to load at 56.6 kbps.
A smaller sized picture of the maid of the mist, heading toward Niagara Falls.

Image Formats

The following image formats are supported by WordPress functionality.

  • JPG – This image format works well when displaying an image with a lot of detail or a photograph.
  • GIF – Used when an image needs transparency and logos, line art, and illustrations with type. GIF however, only supports 8 and 16 bits of color.
  • PNG – Also is used when transparency in an image is needed but supports more color than a GIF file. PNG images are larger so attempt to use the GIF file format first to see if it works for your image.

More Information

Interview: Heather Andrews RMLS

Heather AndrewsHeather Andrew is with the Regional Multiple Listing Service about their use of WordPress. She is a Communication Specialist for Regional Multiple Listing Service (RMLS) in Portland, Or. Specializing in education media, she has worked on content development for museums, textbooks, television, and websites. Some of her past projects can be found at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky, Voyagers National Park in International Falls, MN, and Champoeg State Park in St. Paul, Oregon. She holds a master of publishing from Simon Fraser in Vancouver, BC.

Screenshot of RMLS Central website.

Why chose WordPress?

RMLS Central used a WordPress.com site to host a blog before I was hired but it had limitations. My immediate predecessor recommended migrating to a self-hosted WordPress site but wasn’t around long enough to see the project through to completion. After I was hired, I migrated content to the self-hosted site and have been working on content ever since. Continue reading Interview: Heather Andrews RMLS

WordPress News: CDN Enabler – WordPress CDN Plugin

CDN is short for Content Delivery Network which is a network of servers that deliver cached static content from websites to users based on the geographic location of the user. A CDN will not take the place of your web hosting account but simply improve website speeds.

Advantages of Using a CDN

When a website has a high volume of traffic then the site can overload the server, which leads to a slow loading site or even server crash. This is where a CDN comes in handy because it is a network of servers, but most importantly these servers are spread throughout the world.

When a CDN is being used, the static content is cached and stored on all of these servers. Static content includes images, stylesheets (css files), javascripts, Flash, etc. When a user visits the site (original server), the CDN technology redirects them to the closest server to their location.

If your website is receiving heavy traffic and you have not yet enabled an CDN here are some good reasons to get started today:

Choosing a CDN That’s Right For You

According to Brian Jackson, most people will configure their CDN with a caching Plugin such as WordPress Cache EnablerWP Rocket, WP Super Cache, or W3 Total Cache.

However, if you are running on a managed WordPress host such as Kinsta, WP Engine, or Pagely you might not want a full blown caching plugin just to enable your CDN. This is where the free lightweight CDN Enabler WordPress plugin from KeyCDN comes into play. Note: You don’t have to be using KeyCDN to take advantage of this plugin. It will work with any CDN provider.

Installing CDN Enabler – WordPress CDN Plugin

To install your CDN Plugin follow the simple five step process with screenshots. Once the Plugin is installed you will find the following features:

  • Ability to set up CDN URL. By default it will already have the “wp-content” and “wp-includes” folders setup.
  • By default it will have “.php” setup.
  • Relative paths are enabled by default.
  • Ability to enable HTTPS.

This is a screenshot of the CDN Enabler Settings in WordPress


For More Information on CDNs

GPL: Share and Share Alike

The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or GPL) is the most widely used free software license, which guarantees end users (individuals, organizations, companies) the freedoms to run, study, share (copy), and modify the software.
Wikipedia – GNU General Public License

The usage of a GPL can actually be beneficial to both the developer and the client, as Josh Pollock outlines in his article published in Torque Magazine. Josh explains that as you develop a library, after creating numerous software solutions for various clients, it will become extremely beneficial for you to reuse some of that code. This is how the GPL can help the developer, and especially a WordPress developer who is making either a theme or Plugin that they hope multiple clients will use in the future. However, the client will also be concerned about liability, in the usage of the code you have written for them, as well as their ability to hire another developer, should they want to expand the software later. This is how GPL can benefit the client.

Sounds like Socialism

While it may sound like a “hippie-commune” mentality when you say that you want to open your work so that it may be taken and used by others, but as the statistics show, most developers prefer the GNU GPL license. Just look at the rankings for the license market share for the SAAS community:

Statistics of license market shar among the SAAS communnity

So why are developers okay with their work being open to be used by others? Well, the simplest way to say it is that coding is an impossible feat for any one person, regardless of the time invested. In a way, coding anything requires that you have a large amount of work already completed that gives you a framework to build around. And this required framework is enormous. If coders didn’t share their work, we wouldn’t have the majority of the code-dependent technologies that we enjoy today. It would be like a car-manufacturer having their cars built one at a time, with only one person working on each car. Making the paint from base-materials, smelting the metals, hand-tooling the custom parts. It would be an unsustainable system.

The Better Road

So in the end, the GPL not only provides peace-of-mind and freedom for the client, but it also protects the developer and ensures that they can focus on the client’s specific needs, instead of reinventing the wheel every time. And when a developer solves a problem for a client and licenses it under the GPL, they are in a sense, solving the problem for everyone in the future that requires that particular solution.

The web has an immense amount of work to accomplish in it’s future, and The GPL is just one facet that we as society need to utilize, if we are to get it all done in a timely manner. If you’d like some more information about the GPL and what is involved in its rules, head over the official GNU GPL page to read the actual license for yourself. Over there they will go into more detail about the limits and rulings of the license.

Additional Information

How to Test a Site for Web Accessibility

Web accessibility refers to the inclusive practice of removing barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to websites, by people with disabilities. When sites are correctly designed, developed and edited, all users have equal access to information and functionality.
Web Accessibility – Wikipedia

The best reason for building an accessible website is that it is “the absolute right thing to do!” Not only that, but it also comes stocked with other important advantages, among them legal protection, cost savings and marketing potential.

The United States has accessibility laws governing websites funded by the federal government, non-profits, and other public access business sites, while many other counties have established web accessibility laws for a much broader scope.

When you develop a website, consider website accessibility as part of the initial development. The cost of styling is nominal at the beginning of a project, but the the price of going through the entire site to identify and fix the past problems can be very costly. Continue reading How to Test a Site for Web Accessibility

Web Accessibility: Designing & Developing for Older Users

As of April 2012, 53% of American adults ages 65 and older use the internet or email. Though these adults are still less likely than all other age groups to use the internet, the latest data represent the first time that half of seniors are going online. After several years of very little growth among this group, these gains are significant.
Pew Research Center

Within that 53% of American adults of at least 65 years of age, 70% use the Internet on a daily basis.

Since these statistics were recorded in 2012, it is believed that the numbers have risen significantly. It is important for web designers and developers to factor this information into their designs to cater to this group of regular Internet users in these ways:

Text Size

Select a larger font and allow the text to be resized up to 200% by the user without creating an issue with the function of the website.

Legible Text Style & Layout

Create a site that is easy to read by selecting a legible font, spacing your lines accordingly, and keeping your lines short.

Contrast & Color

While some color and contrast looks great to young eyes, older eyes can lose the ability to see text on a high-contrast page. At a minimum, your contrast ratio should be 4.5:1 with the involvement of images and text.

A screenshot of a very high contrast website.


With older adults, eyesight and/or hearing can rapidly decrease. By offering multimedia with subtitle options as well as visual and audible, your website visitor will be able to enjoy the presentation.


Some elderly people rely upon speech synthesis software when browsing websites. To make your website accessible, you’ll want to use more text instead of  images, especially on call-to-action buttons.


Completely Automated Public Turing tests are used to decipher a live human user, as opposed to a machine spammer by requiring the user to type in the displayed text. As you can see below, the text is very difficult to read, even for those who do not suffer from vision impairments.

It is suggested to offer an audible version of CAPTCHA as a second option, but the user may have difficulties enabling the audio on their computers or have a hard time hearing it if enabled. Removing CAPTCHA from your site altogether is a much better solution, as it doesn’t deter spammers.

Screen Shot of what CAPCHA looks like.






Due to visual impairments and difficulty with mouse usage, links need to be created over more than two words, as well as providing alternative text that indicates the destination of the link. Links must be underlined and have other visual indications.

Keyboard Use

Many people aren’t able to use a mouse and rely open only utilizing a keyboard. Always allow your site to be functional by the use of keyboard navigation without a mouse. Also, it is important to allow the tab function to move onto different cells within an online form.


It is imperative to provide the ability to pause, mute, or stop movement and sound within a website to avoid distractions from the web experience. People may not always want to watch a video on a website, but would just prefer to quietly read the article around it.

Screen Shot

Use of Forms & Instructions/Time Limits

Sometimes websites have time limits to complete a form for a transaction; if the time limit is reached, the website will time out and the user will have to start from the beginning. Older people may have a difficult time understanding how to fill out forms to complete the transaction. Does your form require a time limit? If so, it needs to be increased.

Out of Date Software

Not everyone is going to have up to date web browsers and new computers, so your site needs to be as compatible as possible with older software. A warning message indicating that the visitor must download a newer version of a web browser will most likely result in frustration and website abandonment.

Screen Shot of unsupported browser error message.

For Further Information



Web Accessibility: Seizure Prevention on the Web

When designing websites it is imperative to follow the necessary standards to design a site that is safe for those who suffer from photosensitive epilepsy or other seizures.

Photosensitive epilepsy is a form of epilepsy in which seizures are triggered by visual stimuli that form patterns in time or space, such as flashing lights, bold, regular patterns, or regular moving patterns.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines state that web pages should not contain anything that flashes more than three times in any one second period, or the flash is below the general flash and red flash thresholds. Continue reading Web Accessibility: Seizure Prevention on the Web

Article: How to Design with Dyslexia in Mind

Dyslexia is a learning disability that affects 3-7% of the population, and up to 20% may have some degree of the symptoms. It is not an intelligence problem, but considered a cognitive disorder that primarily affects learning, memory, perception, and problem solving. Specifically, it impairs a person’s ability to read. As web designers, we need to be aware of the design choices we make so we don’t make it harder for people with dyslexia to read a website.

Dyslexia Design Decisions

When making design choices we need to consider the needs of the following two groups:

Dyslexic people who use computer speech output technology: Like many visually-impaired users, many dyslexics now rely on computers to read the text to them. Thus pages should be designed to be compatible with most screen readers. All important information should be conveyed in text, as computers can not read or interpret graphic images.

Dyslexics who need clear graphics and distortion-free text: Other dyslexic individuals, who are reading your site on their own, will appreciate clear, simple, and consistent graphic navigational icons. They will be troubled by flashing text, variations in fonts, distracting sounds or animations, and textured or patterned backgrounds.

Continue reading Article: How to Design with Dyslexia in Mind

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