I launched my first website way back at the dawn of the millennium. It features public domain literature. From the start, it cried out for text-to-speech capability, but I could find no practical solution. I could have recorded my reading of each page in an audio file, but that would have been way too time consuming and storage-intensive (at the time, disk space was dear).
Cloudflare Apps are a lot like WordPress plugins. Each App adds specific functionality to my website. Like plugins, Apps are available in multiple categories such as SEO, Security, Social & Communication, etc. Another similarity – some Apps are free, some are not.
Shiver me timbers! Me favorite contact form plugin – Free and Simple Contact Form by Pirate Forms – be abandoning ship. Pirate Forms was acquired by WPForms, who are retiring my favorite contact form in favor of a migration path to their signature WPForms Lite. Either by remarkable coincidence or due to a wry sense of humor, the scallywags at WPForms made the announcement on International Talk Like a Pirate Day.
When a favorite plugin is lost at sea.
I take a number of security precautions to keep my sites free of malware. But what if malware gets past my defenses? I need to be able to detect it so that I can eradicate it. With WP malware scanners, as with everything else WP, I prefer free. I know of three types of free WP malware scanners: Host-based; Web-based; and Plugins.
Choosing images to use in my pages and posts can be a minefield. How do I steer clear of unintentional copyright infringement? I could pay for commercial images from a reputable supplier, but that would violate my guiding principal of not paying for web stuff when at all practical. My preference is to always use images that are verifiably public domain. When I can’t find or create an applicable public domain image I resort reluctantly to Creative Commons, though I cringe at the hypocritical requirements and restrictions.
An interest of mine, in addition to WP, is document accessibility. Over the years I’ve learned quite a bit about it, in particular relating to PDF files. My website on the topic is TaggedPDF.com. I know much less about web accessibility, just have never made it a focus of study since from an income perspective (another interest of mine) it seems to be well-covered by others. So, I got to wondering, how are my sites when it comes to WP accessibility?
The free WP Health Check plugin is a relatively new arrival, having been introduced a few months ago by “The WordPress.org community”. It has a remarkably polarized set of user reviews – divided almost exclusively between 5s (“Works great!”) and 1s (“Warning! Broke my site!”). The authors strongly urge to backup your site before installing and using this plugin – always a good idea.
This is my point of view on which popular, free WP plugins are essential for me. Choice of plugins is dependent on the needed functionality as well as personal preference. There is no list of essential plugins that is right for everyone. In general I try to limit my number of plugins, and use only those that I very much need.
That being said, most sites benefit – or would benefit – from some sort of …
The vast majority of hacked WordPress sites were compromised due to outdated plugins, themes, or WP core. I need to keep my site updated. But should I update manually, or automatically? If I choose automatic, updates will be more timely but there is always a small chance that an update will break something. If I update manually, I can make a full site backup first, and restore if anything breaks – but I am at more risk of a hack occurring in between my manual updates.
I chose my web host carefully. My sites are hosted on a LiteSpeed web server, so I am able to use the remarkable free LiteSpeed Cache (LSC) plugin. LSC provides much more than just lightning-fast server-side caching. In also includes a suite of optimization tools such as: Database optimization; Image optimization – which seems to be equal to or better than the paid/premium versions of competing plugins; Connection to Cloudflare so I can put CF in development mode or purge the CF cache; and Miscellaneous settings like ‘Remove query strings from static resources’.
Death to WP slider plugins? I find a lot of support for the sentiment among WP experts:
I am fond of the friendly “Howdy, Kenny” greeting at the top right of my WP dashboard. But for sites that allow users to register, I might want to provide a more professional, funnier, or otherwise richer user experience depending on the nature of the site.
As I said in another post, I believe the very popular Wordfence Security plugin to be an excellent security solution for most WP users. Even if Wordfence isn’t the right solution for you, I recommend subscribing to their excellent email list, for timely and informative updates on WP security issues.
My Wordfence quibble: I installed and it and tried it out for awhile, decided in spite of its ample merits it is not for me, deactivated it. I promptly received an email from the Wordfence mother ship, alerting me in somewhat inflammatory language that Wordfence had been deactivated from my site by – my secret admin user name! I keep my admin user name private, and use a public nickname – a minor but sensible security precaution, I think. Wordfence not only harvested my secret admin user name, it reported my admin name to the mother ship, presumably stored it, shared it with – who knows? – and sent it to me in a plain text email. I have no way to know what other private information, if any, Wordfence stole.