All transcripts start from the point in the show where we head off into the meat and potatoes. They are the complete verbatim of Marcus and John’s discussion of the weekly plugins we have reviewed.
WordPress Plugins A to Z Podcast and Transcript for See complete show notes for the New Year’s special here.
It’s the New Year’s Special.
New Year’s 2018 Special Episode
WordPress, it’s the most popular content management and website solution on the internet. And with over 60,000 plugins to choose from, how do you separate the junk from the gems? Join John Overall and Marcus Couch for this weekly unrehearsed conversation about the latest and greatest in WordPress plugins. This is WordPress Plugins A to Z.
John: Well good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, wherever you happen to be hiding out there on the globe today. Coming to you direct from the Brewery Overlook in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, I’m John Overall. And this is a Happy New Year special episode – another short, little episode. It might be like five, maybe 10 minutes long tops/maximum. It’s just to let you all know it’s been a great year, it’s fun. Today is January 1st, which is when this show is gonna go live. Of course, I recorded it a little early but hey, you know, something’s gotta get done and have yourselves a great New Year as we head into 2018 and all the things that is going to include – let’s get the words wrapped around my tongue here this afternoon.
At any rate, well, I just want to talk about a few things that are happening in the world of WordPress and some of the things we can expect from WordPress in the coming year. And I wanted to touch on something that is becoming more and more of a problem in WordPress. It’s happened that I know of six times this year, and that is plugins that are being bought by unscrupulous developers. They buy up a plugin, it’s got 10,000, 20,000 – up to 100,000 users, that are in the WordPress Repository, it’s a happy plugin. Some of these plugins I’ve used myself and then all of a sudden they use them and insert adware, spamware, and other malware into those plugins, and this is becoming more and more of a problem.
I can see this problem is probably not gonna go away in 2018 and it’s possibly even gonna get worse because what’s happening of course is the WordPress ecosystem is aging. A lot of the plugins out there were developed by college kids when they were learning how to code and they were really cool and they kept them up to date. But as soon as they get out of college, they get a job, they get something working for a company, their plugin of course never brought them more than (if they were lucky) beer money, because donations are far and few between for free plugins, as most plugin developers know.
This problem here – this problem of the plugin developers abandoning their plugins or moving on to something more useful (or something that’s more equitable – not the right word) – but something that brings them more income is happening. Plugin developers know that getting a good plugin out there and making off of it can be a chore. Plus, once you get one that’s being used a lot, there is support to keep it up and running and in continuous development, so you have to hit a plugin that’s very useful and that people are willing to pay for. And all the free ones out there, while they’re still great, it’s becoming more and more of a problem.
Twenty eighteen I predict is going to see the massive rise of the premium plugin as more and more people realize that free plugins are great, but you need a plugin that’s going to be maintained by a developer who’s not gonna sell it off at the first hint of cash for him to cash-out on it and then end up in the hands of a developer who’s going to add in malware code. And this is a problem – those articles about those plugins can be found on the JohnOverall.com Facebook page or the wppluginsatoz.com Facebook page. And if you haven’t heard about them, you might want to go check that information out and be aware.
One of the big things you might consider doing is putting WordFence on your WordPress website. I know that a lot of people don’t like it; I actually like it a lot and my favorite feature in WordPress nowadays is that it goes in and it tells you any plugins that have been abandoned in WordPress or appear abandoned due to the fact that they haven’t been updated for two or more years, and then they also tell you when a plugin is pulled from the WordPress Repository.
Now, all of these plugins that had become compromised were pulled from the WordPress Repository, but you wouldn’t know that unless somebody told you because all that happens is no more updates are allowed through the WordPress and it just sits there. It’s not like WordPress puts a notice in your dashboard that says, “This plugin has been pulled from the Repository.” The other thing is when a plugin is pulled from the Repository, you don’t get a reason why. You don’t know if it was pulled for malware, you don’t know if it was pulled because the developers had a spat with WordPress.org, and these are the problems that occur, so you have to monitor and maintain those plugins and keep an eye on that sort of thing.
One of the services I’ll be offering in the coming year – actually, I am already offering it in the new year – is that I’ll go in there and help maintain and monitor that stuff and keep an eye on it and let you know when those plugins need to be replaced and at what cost it would take to replace them and have replacements available, either recommendations for other free ones which are still maintained or for premium plugins. So these are things you really, really want to be aware of.
And of course, in the coming year one of the things that’s going to happen with WordPress is the coming of Gutenberg. I myself am – well, I can’t say that I’m completely warming to the idea, but I’m slowly grasping the lingo with it and I’m slowly grasping how it’s going to change the WordPress environment. We’ll think of it like if you can go back to maybe Episode 90 or so of this show (which is quite a few years ago), and when WordPress first put the dropdown menus or the automatic flyout menus in the admin area, I bitched about that and I whined and I went into that kicking and screaming. Well, I might have to go into Gutenberg kicking and screaming a little bit, but I’m going to try and be ahead of the curve this time.
I realize it’s being forced down our throats whether we want it or not and the WordPress ecosystem is just gonna change around it. Those that don’t change around it will have to jump ship into some other area. Having been with WordPress now for 8+ years, I really don’t want to have to go into a new learning curve for a new system, so I’m going to basically learn that and apply it with the current ecosystem. So it’s something to be aware of, something to look at, and something to start examining. You know, granted they’re gonna bring it out but in another year and a half – a year to a year and a half – we’re gonna see Gutenberg themes and everything else start appearing as they solidify everything, as automatic solidifies everything around Gutenberg and Matt shoves it down our throat as he often does with many of these changes. And of course since it’s his toy, he gets to shove it down your throat your you can just go play with some other toys, one way or another.
At any rate, what else have we got coming into the new year? Well, this may as well be a bit of a prediction as to things I see coming into WordPress and affecting the internet. Next up is website speed, and this is a really big one – one that I’ve been dealing with a lot in the last couple of months. And by website speed, I’m talking about how fast a website runs and, well, that’s kind of redundant, I would think. At any rate, how fast you can get a website running. Now, you have several factors involved in your website speed, some of which you can control; some of them are completely beyond your control and there’s nothing you can do about them.
Now, the ones that are within your control, you should deal with, such as adding caching or fixing up your website, improving your images, compressing images, changing your theme up, recoding the site – whatever it takes. That’s the stuff within your control and you can do that, but that’s only gonna improve a site so much. I got to see that firsthand on several hosting providers this year. I do a lot of work for multiple clients across multiple hosting providers. I’m talking about Bluehost, Greengeeks, GoDaddy, Site5 – that’s enough of them for a moment. Every hosting provider – well, every major one – I eventually end up working on a site on those.
Now, one of the biggest things I ran into is I could do as much as I could to their website, but I could only get it so fast. We were still dealing with things such as time to first bite or with how fast the server they were on processed the requests and issues like that. And in that case there, that went beyond your control aside from bitching at the hosting provider you have and getting them to move you to a new server. One of the things I’ve seen – in fact, it just happened within the last couple of days for me – is a client used to be hosted with GoDaddy. Now they’re hosted with the best hosting provider in the world, which is JohnOverall.com – my opinion.
At any rate, they were hosted there on a GoDaddy server and they were still running PHP 5.4. You know, 5.4 shouldn’t even be used on a server anymore and they were also running – I can’t remember the version of MySQL, which is two or three versions out of date, and this was causing some issues with the way the site was loading and functioning. Also, just the server itself appeared to be overloaded to the fact that this was a small site, almost no traffic, and it was having loading issues, it was running up against resources. I’m looking through it and it’s like there’s nothing in here that should really be indicating this problem from the site. So all I could think is it’s the server. Once we moved them off of there, onto my server, lightning – everything – good. I don’t see any spike or load issues from their site at all. I don’t see excess of resource usage. All of those things are gone just from getting them off the GoDaddy server. So these are something you want to look at. You’re gonna want to look at your hosting provider as to what their end of your website speed is going to be, and this is something you’re gonna want to deal with in the coming year.
What else have we got for future of WordPress for 2018? Well, for 2018 additional items I can see with WordPress is what’s going to happen with the people who have grown their business in the last couple of years and they’re no longer able to properly maintain their own WordPress website. They’re so busy doing their own things to grow their business, selling their products, putting their products in. Granted, they get in there and manage to do their updates because of course, one click updates WordPress. But some of the updates are not completely one click; sometimes, you know, a premium plugin has to be FTP’d up or even if it does an auto update, sometimes it overwrites stuff that’s already been done, so they suddenly find themselves in a [sound cuts out: 11:42] and they don’t know what to do, so they have to reach out to someone like me for emergency support. But what they should have done was they should have already reached out to someone like me for WordPress site maintenance.
WordPress site maintenance is going to become a bigger and bigger issue in 2018 and beyond. Whereas someone’s got their business, they pay a monthly fee, someone goes in there and manages the site, keeps an eye on the plugins, keeps an eye on the updates, keeps an eye on the functionality, keeps an eye on the site for any hack attempts – all of those sorts of things – and helps keep the site running smooth. This is a service that I have been providing for years for clients and a service that I am intending to increase up in the coming year is to help people manage those areas of their website of their web business. That bit of insurance.
Now, they’re gonna have to also start looking at some of the things that have been recommended. Now, currently I am just getting into using CloudFlare because there was no need for it in the past. I’ve heard lots and lots from someone such as MayAnn and says CloudFlare is an absolute must. I’m not certain it’s an absolute must, but it’s getting closer to that because CloudFlare puts a layer of insulation between you and all the visitors and bots out there and prevents some attacks on your site. It prevents a lot of attacks on your site, depending on how well-known your site is where it’s currently located. I use WordFence for a lot of stuff. WordFence provides a firewall in its free version. It provides better firewalls in its paid version that works fantastically well for help keeping stuff off your site. CloudFlare again provides a firewall, so you’re gonna have to be looking at some sort of firewall protection in the coming year to protect your websites.
Even if you’re running a small business and you think, “Oh, no one would hack me,” well, they do. They go after small websites and they don’t want what information you have, because chances are you’ve got very little information. What they want is your resources. They want to be able to use your website to send spam. They want to be able to use your website to provide additional attacks. It’s used in numerous other ways. They want to use your website to send out search spam and other SEO black hat stuff to just – it destroys your site while helping other sites.
So these are the things you’ll want to look for in 2018, so 2018 is going to be a big year for WordPress and I think it’s going to be an amazing year for JohnOverall.com, as that is becoming my main focus. WP Plugins A to Z podcast will return in the new year on January 8th and we will have a new show that day. Marcus and I will be back doing the show and we will continue week after week every Monday doing a podcast covering WordPress plugins and bring to the table the plugins that we review. I’ve got a couple of prospective interviews lined up in the new year, so I’ll have developers on here again. Those things are going to continue with the WP Plugins show.
So again, I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, or whatever it is you celebrate out there, and that your New Year brings you everything you’re looking for and all the changes and success your business can bring. Happy New Year’s to everyone out there. That’s all we’ve got for you now. Take care, bye-bye.
[Female speaker] Reminders for the show:
All the show notes can be found at wppluginsatoz.com, and while you’re there, subscribe to the Thursday newsletter for more useful information directly to your email inbox. Wppluginsatoz.com is a show that offers honest and unbiased reviews of plugins by developers because you support the show. Help keep the show honest and unbiased by going to wppluginsatoz.com/donate and choose one of the weekly donation levels or make one that fits your budget. Help us make the show better for you by subscribing and reviewing to the show at Stitcher Radio, Google Play, and in the iTunes store. You can also watch the show live on YouTube, check out the screencasts and training videos, and remember to subscribe to us on YouTube, or follow the show on Twitter at @wppluginsatoz.
John can be reached through his website at www.JohnOverall.com, or send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Marcus can also be reached through his website at marcuscouch.com or Twitter at @marcuscouch. Thanks for watching and have a great day.
Thanks for listening to the show. This show is copyright by JohnOverall.com. So until next time, have yourselves a good morning, good afternoon, or a good evening, wherever you happen to be out there on the globe today.
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