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Fixing a Page Title Background Image that Won’t Update

I recently launched a website for a client. During pre-launch some quirky and irregular behaviour that I’d hoped was just a consequence of my development environment failed to resolved. The problem? I had set different background images on each page, but they weren’t updating. So the Weddings page showed up correctly but then I’d click through to the Events page and that would show the image from the Weddings page. I’d Shift+F5 to refresh and it would show the right image – sometimes. Then I’d click through to the next page and, well, you can guess the rest. Not a good look on a new client’s site!

If this is happening to, here’s how to first set a unique image on a page-by-page basis, then how to fix (or avoid) the issue.

Setting a Page Title Background in Ocean WP

For this you need to be using the Ocean WP template with the Ocean Extra extensions. This gives you the ability to apply many of the settings from the main template on a page-by-page basis.

First, open the page to edit. The scroll down to the very bottom of the page and you should see a panel that looks like this:

You are trying to add a background image to the page title area, so scroll down and then click on Title.

Here you can override any template defaults (set via the Customizer) and change the settings. What we’re doing is changing the Title Style, so scroll down then select Background Image from the list.

This opens up a new area with various options.

There’s a lot you can do here but for now let’s just add an image, so click on Add Image and either upload a new image or pick one from the media library.

With that done, Update (or Publish) the page to save the changes and your page title should now be displayed.

The top of my page now looks like this:

Chateau Terre Blanche page header with logo, menu, and background image.

Great!

Except, this can be when the trouble starts. Do this on more than one page and you might notice a problem when you switch between pages. If this is happening to you, here’s how to fix it.

First, open the Customizer. Then scroll down to General Styling.

Click the WP Head option, then Publish the changes. That’s it.

Now check your site again.

The issue with the background images should be resolved.


WordPress

SQL for Rewriting WordPress Database Links

When you move a WordPress site, whether that’s from a live to a local site, or perhaps when you change the site to SSL, you will need to change the URLs in the database.

There are plugins for this, but it’s easy enough to do in the database itself using a few simple SQL statements in phpMyAdmin.

The three SQL statements you need are:

UPDATE wp_options SET option_value = replace(option_value, 'http://www.example.com', 'http://www.new-example.com') WHERE option_name = 'home' OR option_name = 'siteurl';

UPDATE wp_posts SET guid = replace(guid, 'http://www.example.com', 'http://www.new-example.com');

UPDATE wp_posts SET post_content = replace(post_content, 'http://www.old-domain.com', 'http://www.new-domain.com');

Just change the URLs and then simulate the query to test it, then run it.

Done!

Tools & Tips

Move MySQL Database Files between XAMPP Installations

I recently had the (dis)pleasure of having to reinstall my laptop. Of course this happened when I had a deadline. Then, when I found I was unable to access the web development project files I needed due to an error with the XAMPP installation of Apache, I was facing a lost afternoon. The question was, how to migrate my PHP database from one installation of XAMPP to another while unable to open PHPMyAdmin and export them? Luckily, the answer was simple.

To do this:

Move MySQL Databases from one version of XAMPP to another

Download and install XAMPP.

https://www.apachefriends.org/download.html

Verify the Installation

Run Apache and MySQL and check that both are working, then Stop both processes.

Copy the database files from the old to the new installation

In the new version of XAMPP, delete the folder ..mysql/data (I usually just rename it by adding the prefix “z” so that I don’t have to go hunting for the files if I need to replace them.)Copy the entire data folder from the old XAMPP installation folder to the new one.

Start Apache and MySQL and check your files

Start both applications then check for your database names int he list of databases in PHPMyAdmin.Then check your websites at //localhost/yourwebsiteaddress

That’s it! It was one of those jobs that I thought would be a massive headache but turned out relatively simple and – more importantly – fast!

Now, back to work…

Productivity Tools, Tools & Tips, Websites

From Yoast to SEO Press

Since I first started working with WordPress I’ve been using the Yoast plugin for my SEO. It’s a great tool. I’ve been happy with it and have been happily recommending it to clients. But lately there’s been chatter in some groups where WordPress pros and others discuss their SEO tools of choice, and I’ve been hearing very good things about SEO Press. After reading many reviews to find out more, I’ve decided to give it a go.

As I type, I’m backing up my personal blog and will shortly be installing SEO Press. Once it’s installed I will then go through the configuration and setup procedure (if there is one) and then work on and publish my first post using it. According to the instructions I’ve read it’s simple to use and has some great features, such as tools to help with titles and metatags, the creation of XML and HTML sitemaps (the latter being somewhat overlooked these days but still very helpful), content analysis with unlimited keywords, and also making it easy to implement Schema – a form of metadata that is increasingly favoured by search engines, giving your content much greater visibility in searches.

There’s a comparison of the tool’s features on the SEO Press website. It sounds impressive, at least for a free plugin. As with anything the proof will be in the pudding. After using it for a while I’ll come back with a review – on usability and also whether it makes any discernible difference to my site’s SEO! Of course, there’s no plugin in the world that can actually boost your site’s SEO. Only good writing and constant review and improvement can do that! But what a good SEO plugin can do is guide you a little and make some of the technical side of SEO, such as adding Schema tags and maintaining your XML sitemaps, easier to manage. Wish me luck!

Do you need help with your website SEO or WordPress tools and plugins? If so, contact me to arrange a free consultation – no obligation.

Tools & Tips

Using Git (via GitBash) for Version Control

Whether you’re working on content or code, version control is the best way to stay sane. Being able to edit your work knowing that any mistakes or problems can be rolled back is reassuring – and also an essential part of a professional content writer or coder’s workflow.

It can all sound super-nerdy, but using Git is surprisingly simple. I’ve been using GitBash, which really helped to demystify the process. There are only a handful of commands required. After a small amount of setup (setting your Environment Variables, for example) you’ll be ready to go.

Here’s a quick reference to all the git commands you need.

To create a new git repository:

  1. Navigate to the directory containing your files (for WP dev can navigate straight to the directory for your theme: don’t waste time and space adding the whole wp-content folder as most of the time you won’t touch it.)
  2. Type git init.
  3. Type git add -A to add all the files in that directory – or use the specific file or folder name, if you just want to add a subset of the directory contents.
  4. Type git commit – and you’re done.

If you make a mistake and need to remove any files (as I’ve just accidentally done):

  • Type git rm -r [file-name.txt], where file-name.txt is the file or folder to remove.

After making updates:

  • Type git commit -m “[commit message]” to commit your changes.

That’s it!

For a full list of commands, there’s this handy list on github.

Are you using git to track your project’s changes? If not, why not!?

Productivity Tools, Tutorials, Videos

Really Easy Invoicing Template Instructions

If you’re still committed to using Excel or a similar spreadsheet app for your invoicing, you can make thing simpler by using a template.

A good template will give you a standard look and feel while also limiting the actions you can take.y

The Really Easy Invoicing Template does exactly this.

You can download the free version from here. The free version works in exactly the same way as the paid for (PRO) version – coming soon – except it has fewer invoice pages (30) and no advanced reports.

Whichever version you’re using, this video explains how to first set it up with your company details and then to create your first invoice.

Productivity Tools, Tools & Tips

Three Free Software Tools for Small Businesses

If you’re running a small business, when it comes to admin it’s easy to stick with what you know. I see many clients trying to manage invoicing and time tracking with Excel or an equivalent spreadsheet, or posting to each social media channel separately. And managing projects can always be tricky, especially when you have multiple clients. But software has moved on. Now there are many Cloud-based applications that can really transform your efficiency. In this post I’ll introduce what I think are the best three free software tools. I hope by using one or all of them you’ll find will help you be more organised and efficient with your business admin.

1. Harvest – for time tracking and invoicing

If you’re charging for time or services, this is a great app that, with some canny configuration, you can use for free but still track time for multiple clients.

The interface is clean and intuitive. You track your time, you invoice for that time, you track the progress of your invoices (sent, unpaid, paid) etc. and you can also generate some great reports based on date ranges.

The Harvest Time Tracking Software Invoice Page

If you want to go further, you can also start using it to track expenses.

A nice feature of this app is that it’s very easy to customise the standard field labels in your invoices, making it perfect for those of us running businesses outside of the US or UK. Just go into Invoices then Settings and select Translations, make your changes, and then click Save Translations when you’re done.

Translate your Invoice Field Names with Harvest

Since the French fiscal year starts on January 1st, it’s not too late to set up something new like this. You can easily migrate your invoices, in order to keep the report up-to-date.

As I mentioned earlier, it is perfectly possible to use the free version of this app to manage multiple client projects and will be showing you how via my Facebook page with a Live in coming weeks. Contact me if you need any help!

2. Trello – for tracking projects and making lists

Trello is one of those super-simple apps that has so many great features, you’ll wonder how you managed your projects without it.

It works around a system of “boards” – think, if you had a physical white board in your office on which to collect and prioritise related tasks. For example, you could create a board for each of your clients, or a board for admin tasks.

A Blank Trello Board
A Simple To Do List Board in Trello

Within each board you then create cards within the board. A card is a category into which you add tasks. You give each task a title then you can add as much or as little detail as you like. There are fields for a description, comments, a due date, and more.

When you create a new board you get a new pallet for creating colour-coded labels unique to that board. Here’s how my Admin board looks with a few label categories defined.

Once you have a simple board like this, this is where it gets interesting.

  • Add a Power-Up (one per board, with the free version of Trello) to add functionality, like linking to your Harvest account, meaning you can track time for specific tasks and assign them to clients. This is a really slick way of integrating your project tasks with time tracking and invoicing.
  • Copy and link tasks across boards. So, for example, you could have a client-specific board with a task, “Update Website”, that you duplicate and link under your Tasks board.
  • Enable collaboration, by sharing boards with others or creating teams.

You can also use Trello to keep track of lists. For inspiration there are hundreds of sample boards in the Trello Gallery. Here you’ll find layouts to help you to manage a job search, build a software application, manage your social media content, even plan a wedding or move house — you name it!

It’s a powerful tool with too many features to cover in this summary post. If you have questions about using it or the best setup for your business or project, get in touch and I can help.

To help you get started I’ve made my Admin Tasks Template board public. You can access it here. and you’ll find instructions for copying it to your own account on Trello’s help page.

3. Buffer – for social media scheduling

We’re all on social media theses days and, whether you love it or hate it, it’s an essential part of the marketing strategy for any business. But it can be a real time suck. Make your life easier by scheduling your social media posts. Then you can set aside time to create your social media in advance, then let the posts roll out over the week or month (or however long you plan ahead). I like this over and above other schedulers like HootSuite because it’s simple and is all about scheduling, so it stops me from getting distracted, reading and replying to other people’s posts, responses, and messages.

A Free Version for Publishing to Three Channels

With the free version of Buffer you can link to up to three channels, including Facebook Pages and Groups, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. If you have multiple businesses to promote the workaround is to setup a Buffer account for each business. Or you can upgrade to a paid account.

Handy Browser Plugins

There are also a handy browser plugins, enabling you to quickly create posts with a single click right from the web page you’re reading.

Working your social media this way will really save you a tonne of time!

4. Google Keep – for storing info from the web

Last but not least, Google Keep is worth a mention. You can use it to collect information about anything and everything you find online, from potential suppliers, customers, competitors, tools, holidays – whatever! It’s easy to use, then, now and again, go into you account to transfer the mot useful stuff to a Trello list.

Google Keep comes with browser extensions and mobile phone apps, so it’s easy to add links to it from any device.

News & Updates

2019 Tech Support Drop-In

Here are the list of dates/times for tech support drop-in sessions this year (2019).

If you are interested in coming along, you can either drop in (since that’s the idea) or confirm in advance either via email or by signing up via the linked Facebook event.

28 January, 2019

10h-12h, Café de la paix, 11230 Chalabre
See event details on Facebook

4 April, 2019

10h30-12h00 at the MJC Puivert, 1 Place de la Poste, 11230 Puivert
See event details on Facebook

unsplash-logoBrooke Lark
A set of colourful badges with the "W" from the WordPress logo - and banner text saying: Working with WordPress: Site Migration Tips"
Tools & Tips, Tutorials

Access WordPress Installation without a Domain

Let’s say you’re moving a WordPress site from one host to another. Before changing the DNS settings on the domain you want to migrated the site’s contents and test it rather than make all the changes to a live site. The way to do this is to make a few simple edits to a text file. Here’s how.

Instructions for editing your Host file, to direct your browser to WordPress on the server.

Find your server’s IP address.

Login to your CPanel account. The IP address you need is shown under the heading Shared IP Address in the General Information. Make a note of this.

Navigate to the hosts file and open it with a text editor.

The file, called hosts, is stored in C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc. You may need to click through a popup asking for Administrator access. Just click Continuewhen prompted.NOTE: If you are trying to open the file from within an application, such as Notepad++, and are not in Adminstrator mode, you won’t see the file. To rectify this, navigate to the file via Explorer then double-click to open it in your text editor.

Update the file.

You will see some intro text describing the purpose of the file and then, at the bottom, some text that includes an IP address and a label, like this: 127.0.0.1 localhostThis is an instruction that says, “when I type localhost into my browser, redirect the request to 127.0.0.1.”We will use this to redirect requests to the domain to your copy of WordPress on the server. Add a new row of text under any other redirects, in the format shown below: X.X.X.X yourdomain.comwhere, X.X.X.X is the IP address you just retrieved from your CPanel account. yourdomain.com the domain you will be transferring to (where WordPress is installed.)

Save the file.

When you’ve finished editing, save the modified hosts file.

And that’s it. Now, when you type the domain into your browser you will access the server-installed WordPress installation. Now you can get this all set up, transferring all the data from your old site to the new server, making sure everything works, before changing the DNS settings on your domain to point to the new host.

But what about when you want to see online version of the site? Well, simply open the hosts file and comment out the edits by adding the # symbol in front of the code, so:

X.X.X.X yourdomain.com
becomes
# X.X.X.X yourdomain.com

Now you can test your site on the new server before changing the DNS settings on the domain. No downtime!

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