Websites today consist of lots of moving parts: the database behind the website that holds all your cont, the content management system you use, such as WordPress, the ecommerce platform you are on such as WooCommerce, the programming software used to develop these tools such as PHP, server technology, SSL certificates, Google and other search engines, plugins, themes, and more. Each of these pieces of technology must work seamlessly with each other in order to make your site display properly, quickly, and securely.

What makes this more interesting and challenging is that each of these pieces to the puzzle are constantly being updated. If any one of them changes, the other pieces of software are likely to break. Sometimes the software is updated to add new features, sometimes to make it more secure from hackers, and sometimes just to allow it to work better with all the other software. For example, recently there was an update to PHP, the programming language behind WordPress and WooCommerce. This caused some websites to misbehave. Not all websites, just some with a very specific combination of plugins. Which meant we had to go in and manually downgrade to the previous version of PHP until the integration issues could be resolved.

This is common and it can be frustrating for both a business owner and your webmaster. It is the reason why most web companies charge a monthly fee in addition to just hosting your website. Plus, don’t forget about the fact that there are at least 5 major browsers to consider (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, and Brave), each with their own updates that affect websites, and each used on desktops, laptops, tablets, iphones and android phones. Now throw in a good measure of changing world influences including new laws, taxes, health and political mandates. And this doesn’t even count the changes that you as the business owner want to make due to changes in priorities or new offerings. Wow! No wonder that keeping a website updated can be a major challenge.

News about upcoming changes to WordPress

WordPress 5.5 is scheduled to be released TODAY. It is being touted as one of the most major changes to the platform in recent years. According to WordPress, “WordPress 5.5 will include a navigation menus block, automatic updates for plugins and themes, a block directory, XML sitemaps, lazy loading, and update Gutenberg to the latest release version as we continue to focus in 2020 on full site editing via Gutenberg.” In fact, over 23 changes to the Gutenberg editor are being implemented, including:

  • Inline image editing – Crop, rotate, and zoom photos inline right from image blocks.
  • Block patterns – Building elaborate pages can be a breeze with new block patterns. Several are included by default.
  • Device previews – See how your content will look to users on many different screen sizes.
  • End block overwhelm. The new block inserter panel displays streamlined categories and collections. As a bonus, it supports patterns and integrates with the new block directory right out of the box.
  • Discover, install, and insert third-party blocks from your editor using the new block directory.
  • A better, smoother editing experience with: 
    • Refined drag-and-drop
    • Block movers that you can see and grab
    • Parent block selection
    • Contextual focus highlights
    • Multi-select formatting lets you change a bunch of blocks at once 
    • Ability to copy and relocate blocks easily
    • And, better performance
  • An expanded design toolset for themes.
  • Now add backgrounds and gradients to more kinds of blocks, like groups, columns, media & text
  • And support for more types of measurements — not just pixels. Choose ems, rems, percentages, vh, vw, and more! Plus, adjust line heights while typing, turning writing and typesetting into the seamless act.

We’ve been using the Divi theme which includes many of these capabilities, and now WordPress will be including them in the core program, so it will be interesting to see how Divi responds and how the editor will play into this integration. But not only is the editor changing, other changes for WordPress 5.5 are being implemented, including:

  • List tables now come with extensive, alternate view modes.
  • Link-list widgets can now be converted to HTML5 navigation blocks.
  • Copying links in media screens and modal dialogs can now be done with a simple click of a button.
  • Disabled buttons now actually look disabled.
  • Meta boxes can now be moved with the keyboard.
  • A custom logo on the front page no longer links to the front page.
  • Assistive devices can now see status messages in the Image Editor.
  • The shake animation indicating a login failure now respects the user’s choices in the prefers-reduced-motion media query.
  • Redundant Error: prefixes have been removed from error notices.
  • Plugins and themes can now be updated by uploading a ZIP file.
  • More finely grained control of redirect_guess_404_permalink().
  • Several packaged external libraries have been updated, including PHPMailer, SimplePie, Twemoji, Masonry, and more.

As you can see, keeping up with changes to your website can seem daunting if you are not prepared.

Bing URL Submissions plugin

A new WordPress plugin from Bing will index content in search results immediately after being published. The whole process is done automatically once you install the plugin. While Bing may not have the market reach of Google, this is a significant way to get your content indexed and showing up in the search results.

Bing URL Submission Plugin for WordPress enables automated submission of URLs from WordPress sites to the Bing index. Once installed and configured with an API key obtained from Bing Webmaster portal, the plugin detects page creation/update in WordPress and automatically submits the URL behind the scenes ensuring that the site pages are always fresh in the Bing index.

How to Keep Up

Keeping up with all these changes means that you must be constantly learning about the latest changes and how it affects your website. This is not a one time thing – if you run a business today, it means you have a website, and your website must continue to evolve. Because of the changes in the business climate this year due to shutdowns and stay at home orders, your online presence is even more critical than ever before.

The good news is that I offer an online course called “Monetize Your Expertise” which will be available again on September 9th. In the course we cover all the latest changes to WordPress, WooCommerce, and internet marketing techniques. This is a comprehensive course that every business owner should seriously consider taking at least once a year.

You will learn about these changes and how to apply them to your website from the standpoint of a business owner, not a techie. You will learn about other opportunities to expand and grow your online business. Text “Profits” to (303) 529-8804 to get notified when the next session starts.