Author Archives: Keith Taylor

Deploy WordPress The Shrewd Way

Deploying WordPress is a cinch if you’ve prepared properly.

If you do not have a deployment plan, please read my WordPress Preparation pages. Most of the steps apply to any platform, so still prepare a deployment plan even if you’re not using WordPress.

Deploy WordPress: Installation Checklist

Now it is simply a question of following the steps:

  1. Add domain to server
  2. Check DNS settings are correct with domain registrar
  3. Switch on CDN and cache service, Google Analytics, and Webmaster Tools in CloudFlare
  4. Install WordPress
  5. Change WordPress settings per Shrewdies configuration guide
  6. Add WordPress plugins per Shrewdies functionality guide
  7. Select and clone WordPress Theme per Shrewdies format guide
  8. Create Google Custom Search Engine, and apply to website
  9. Configure FeedBurner service
  10. Configure taxonomy per deployment guide
  11. Create Admin pages per Shrewdies configuration guide.
  12. Configure widgets and menus per Shrewdies format guide.

Deploy WordPress: Next Steps

I am currently reorganizing this website to bring all the above guides into one easy-to-find section. I’m also working on a new guide for deploying a live and a development server, with quick ways to switch between the two – ideal if you need to revivify your site without disrupting the live version. Please subscribe to our free update service to make sure you are notified as I publish these guides.

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Your privacy is safe – I will never share your email address with anyone else, and I only use it to keep you updated about Shrewdies

Much of the information you need is already here, so please search for it using the boxes near the top and bottom of every page. If you cannot find what you need, please ask in the website support forum. You can also use that forum to share your opinions and experiences of deploying your own website.

Preparing For WordPress – Do Not Rush It

I’ve lost count of the number of website owners who have come to me for help after rushing into making a website without proper preparation.

I also have to admit making mistakes as a webmaster myself. After a quick chat, requirements seem simple, and I have deployed WP sites in the past without a plan. It is so easy to install and get started with WordPress, but rushed deployment can be a disaster waiting to happen.

The Webmaster Role In WordPress Preparation

Actually, the webmaster role in preparing for WordPress is the same as any other platform. You must insist that the owner has a deployment plan, even if the owner is yourself.

A deployment plan describes the scope of the website project, and a schedule of tasks required to complete it. Though it describes the specific tasks you need to take to install and configure WordPress, it goes beyond that. By making the boundaries and expectations clear, your deployment plan stops you wasting time on tasks that are not relevant. What is the point of configuring spam filters and discussion settings if the owners have no intention of inviting the community to deface their creation with comments?

There are hundreds of decisions to be made when you deploy a website, and thousands more when you operate and improve it. If the purpose of the website is clear, you can make these decisions easily.

Now, it is mainly a management task to complete the deployment plan, and so I cover most of the detail on Shrewdies Web Business Management website. However, the plan will be better if you are involved in the preparation of it. I will link to relevant pages on that website that every webmaster should be aware of.

Read more about preparing for WordPress

Help Yourself to a Website the Shrewdies Way

Do you want a shrewd way to create your own website? Let’s do it better, let’s see how to build your own website the Shrewdies Way.

Build Your Own Website: Preparation

Everyone assumes that building your own website starts with registering a domain name at or other domain registrar. It does not.

If you have an existing business, then domain name selection to match your business name is important, but let’s take a step back.

You must advise on the strategies needed to plan information, ecommerce, and community aspects of your website. You must assess the server requirements to handle projected traffic. You need to ensure that deployment timescales are important.

See how to plan, deploy, and improve your own website

Your Website from Shrewdies: ShrewdSite

ShrewdSite is the working title of our relaunched, managed WordPress website service.

If you want to go it alone, or if you are tied into a current hosting plan that you cannot transfer, this article is not for you. The rest of this website is full of good advice and guidelines to help you deploy your own website. You can search for specific topics easily, using the search boxes near the top and bottom of each page.

We can help you manage your own self-managed website, or advise you what you should instruct your technical support to do. We can even provide detailed installation and management plans for your website. The core of our business is to help website owners manage their own resources to run their websites how they want to. Shrewdies managed websites are for busy web business owners, who need to devote time to running their business. If you want to manage your own website, please follow our guidelines on this website. If you need help interpreting our guidelines for your specific circumstances, please ask in the website support forum.

See how to get Your Website from Shrewdies

Business Hosting Needs Your Credibility

I have explained some basic business hosting issues recently, as part of relaunching this WordPress Web Hosting website. However, I have not yet covered the most important basic principle – credibility.

Credible Business Hosting

If you are a new webmaster, or contemplating hosting your own web business, you are likely to be completely confused by an avalanche of opinion and argument about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I have written about the futility of concentrating too much on SEO, so here is my best tip about it:

Ignore any website or book that does not explain the importance of credible authorship

Keyword research will always be important, but only when considered in a credible environment. You have to create that credibility by verifying who you are. Then create great content that links you as an author with the topics that people search for using keywords. That is my only mention of keywords for today – let’s get back to credibility, and how you can achieve it.

Continue reading Business Hosting Needs Your Credibility and learn how you achieve it

New Email Policy For Shrewdies

My new email policy describes the best way to contact me via email and other Internet based messaging services. It also assures you of your email privacy. I value my own email privacy, and I would never do anything to hurt yours.

I never share your email address with anyone else. Furthermore, I do not generate sales newsletters, so when you contact me, I only use your contact details to communicate about the subject you have asked about, and I do not promote other parts of my web business to you.

Continue reading about email policies and see how to get yours

Find Fast WordPress Hosting

Fast WordPress hosting means more than a fast server. Visitors need to find information fast, and that means a better search service than the default WordPress search.

WordPress Search Hosting

Rather than tweaking WordPress standard search with plugins,  I prefer to replace it completely with a faster search engine
Google are the fastest, most comprehensive search service, and integration into your responsive theme is very easy.

There are several ways to do this, but unless you are using a theme that you have written yourself, you should make changes via a child theme.

Continue reading Find Fast WordPress Hosting Information

The Legacy Of Simple:Press

There are many tips on Shrewdies for making the most of Simple:Press. I’ve saved the best until last – leave it.

If you use it, switch to Question2Answer. If you are contemplating using it, contemplate Question2Answer. It is better, faster, and much easier to integrate with WordPress, despite being a standalone system.

I got a compliment from one of the Simple:Press founders – Wow! what a busy forum!

Not this site of course, but I have success elsewhere on the net, and I needed forum support. Simple:Press was broken, and upsetting some of my thousands of daily visitors. I tried to get support, but now you have to pay for it. Don’t get me wrong – people who give good support deserve to get paid. But if a piece of software is broken, you should not have to pay to get it fixed.

Continue to read how to deal with the legacy of Simple:Press forum software for WordPress

Best WordPress WYSIWYG Editor

When I explained how NicEdit has become my personal best WordPress WYSIWYG editor, I mentioned some issues.

Whilst the best solution would be to delve into the NicEdit code, and change the parts that present problems, I have found workarounds that mean I can get by without this for now.

In fact, I am not certain if this is truly a NicEdit issue, or the way WordPress builds it’s comments forms. I’ll leave the strict coding debate until I’ve fully investigated why it works in FireFox but not in MicroSoft Internet Explorer (MSIE).

In my first investigation I explained how wrapping elements in HTML Paragraph tags will break NicEdit under MSIE. The symptom is a small disabled NicEdit toolbar that renders it useless. I explained in that article about modifying the comments.php to remove the paragraph tags (or change them to DIV tags) re-enabled NicEdit. However, WordPress 3 has changed the way the comments form is built.

The good news is that there is no need to hack the WordPress core that serves the form. All that is needed is a simple change to the way the comments form is called in your theme.

Restore NicEdit As Your MSIE WordPress WYSIWYG Editor

If you are using a pre-WordPress 3 theme, your comments form is built directly in comments.php. Current themes replace many lines of code with a simple call to a new function – comment_form().

This is much tidier, but the default settings are very NicEdit unfriendly. Not only does it retain the MSIE-breaking paragraph tags, but default width settings do not get passed to MSIE at the toolbar rendering stage.

Additionally, the default form displays the allowed HTML tags. This is something very dear to my heart in a normal comments textarea. Visitors should be told which tags are allowed to save those frustrating times when you type a long and interesting comment, only to see it posted as garbled rubbish because the pre or code tags are not allowed. With NicEdit, such vital information is unnecessary, as the tags are all processed before the code is saved, and you can even configure which buttons are available.

So how do we get the comments form to display NicEdit properly?

The call to comment_form() is near the end of comments.php in the theme editor area. If you are not happy with editing themes, get in touch with the theme author and ask them to add comment form parameters in the theme options. Or if the theme is not supported, then let me know, and I’ll produce a NicEdit enabled version of it.

If you cannot find comment_form() then chances are that you have an older theme, in which case search for the textarea line, and adapt the following.

The comment_form() function allows most aspects of the comment form to be changed by passing an array of parameters. More details are in the WordPress codex, but all you need to do is paste the following between the brackets() of the comment_form function:

array('comment_field'=>'<div class="comment-form-comment"><label for="comment">' . _x( 'Comment', 'noun' ) . '</label><textarea id="comment" name="comment" style="width:350px" rows="8" aria-required="true"></textarea></div>','comment_notes_after'  => 'Thank you.')

This simply changes 2 settings, comment_field and comment_notes_after by slightly changing the default WordPress code. I’ve cheated a little by including an inline style statement – my site is about getting things done quickly, and then we can argue with the purists to find more elegantly coded solutions. The important thing is that the following 3 NicEdit defeating issues are overcome:

  1. p is replaced with div to prevent MSIE “Unknown runtime error Line: 8 Char: 721”
  2. cols=”45″ is replaced with a width setting. Alternatively, you could probably set this in the style sheet, but I have not tested this.
  3. The allowed tags are replaced with a simple ‘Thank you’ message. You could change this to something else, or just the quotes to remove it entirely.

Change Defaults To Make NicEdit Your Best WordPress WYSIWYG Editor

In my previous article I explained the quick way to enable NicEdit to be your editor for WordPress comments or Question2Answer questions, answers and comments. Posting the default code certainly works, but you are at risk of losing the editor if the NicEdit site is unavailable.

The first thing you should do is copy NicEdit to your own server, and amend the first NicEdit line in your header.php to:

<script src="path-to-your-nicedit/nicEdit.js" type="text/javascript"></script>

If you like to keep images in a separate folder from js files, you will also need to change the NicEdit defaults. You will probably need to do this anyway to change the default buttons and add extra features. So, amend the second NicEdit line to:

<script type="text/javascript">bkLib.onDomLoaded(function() {nicEditors.allTextAreas({iconsPath : 'path-to-your-nicedit/nicEditorIcons.gif'})});</script>

In this instance we are only changing the iconsPath, but any nicEdit parameters can be amended in a comma separated list.

If you’ve implemented these improvements and still have unresolved issues, please let me know below. As I mentioned earlier, I will soon publish complete step-by-step guides for NicEdit enabling Question2Answer and WordPress, combined and in isolation. I’d appreciate your help in making it as complete as possible by clarifying any issues you may still have.

WordPress Default WYSIWYG Editor

My search for the perfect WordPress Default WYSIWYG editor is far from over, but at least I have a stable solution that works.

I’ve switched between NicEdit and TinyMCE for a few months. I like the simplicity of NicEdit, and had it working nicely on WordPress sites.

Then all sorts of weirdness started happening when I tried the beta of Q2A on a development site. I’d taken what I thought were sensible precautions. The site in question was new and had no visitors. I prefer to experiment with this sort of site if possible, as running development sites under localhost on my PC is not always a good representation of the real world. I had an absolute nightmare with this, and suspected all the new stuff I was trying out (beta Q2A and beta WordPress 3.0!)

Turned out it was nothing to do with the beta software, and everything to do with lousy server configuration backed up by lousy tech support from Bl** Host.

In the process of trying to get back to something that worked, I tried different settings on this site. I didn’t realize that I’d left WYSIWYG turned off here until vince told me.

For now, I’ve left tinyMCE alone. It looked like a good solution, but there are a whole bunch of formatting issues, so I’ve decided to focus on NicEdit.

I use it to make WordPress commenting better, and for Q2A. Within those setups (either of Q2A, WP, or both) there are installation and configuration options, so I’ll try to cover all the permutations.

Preparing Q2A

Q2A strips out any html code from multi-line text, so we have to tweak it. If you are uncomfortable with tweaking code, raise the issue on the Q2A site, and ask for an Admin option to disable it.

We have to edit the qa_html() function in qa-base.php, which sits in the qa-include folder. Find (Ctrl-F) qa_html, and you should see lines similar to those below. They change $html, but we want it to stay as entered. I simply comment out the string manipulation, and set the return value to the string that was passed in:
if ($multiline) {
// $html=preg_replace('/rn?/', "n", $html);
// $html=preg_replace('/(?<=s) /', ' ', $html);
// $html=str_replace("t", '    ', $html);
// $html=nl2br($html);

If you do not do this, NicEdit will still work, but the HTML tags will get stripped before your questions, answers, or comments get saved.

This change will need to be reapplied whenever you upgrade or reinstall Q2A.

WYSIWYG Question2Answer

The simplest implementation is to copy the from NicEdit front page:

<script src="" type="text/javascript"></script>
<script type="text/javascript">bkLib.onDomLoaded(nicEditors.allTextAreas);</script>

Then paste it into the Question2Answer Admin area. All you do is go to the Layout settings, and paste the above code into the ‘Custom HTML in <HEAD> section of every page:’ and save the settings.

You should see that all your multi-line text boxes have a WYSIWYG display with edit buttons across the top. The buttons are disabled until you click into the textarea.

Now check that NicEdit works OK on your question, answer and comment boxes. The easiest way is to edit existing items.

This has worked successfully every time I have tried it, but there may be some formatting issues on some browsers. I will cover these in my next article.

WordPress Default WYSIWYG Editor

For most of my sites, I want both WYSIWYG for Question2Answer and for WordPress. I always wrap my Q2A theme inside the WordPress theme, so it makes sense to apply NicEdit to the WordPress header. In this setup, you do not have to also apply it to NicEdit, unless you want different editor configurations in each area.

So to make NicEdit the WordPress Default WYSIWYG Editor and also apply it to Question2Answer, simply post the NicEdit code into header.php within the HEAD tags. This also applies if you just use WordPress without Question2Answer.

Test your comments both at the article level, and (if you use threaded comments) the reply to comment level. NicEdit should work nicely, but there may be issues in some browsers. You really need to try as many browsers as possible, but certainly common ones that your visitors use. See your server logs or analytics program – Google Analytics is very good – to get a list of browsers that your visitors use.

In my next article, I will look at some of the issues that WordPress themes can cause, especially with MSIE. I’ll explain how to overcome these issues, and approaches to investigating problems. I will also explain how to avoid the pitfalls associated with simply pasting the NicEdit code from their site. You will see how to create the best WordPress WYSIWYG editor.

You might notice that I do not use the NicEdit/WordPress default WYSIWYG editor that I have described on this site. That is because I intend to move all the interactive features to a separate site, and add more discussion and feedback tools. When I’ve done that, I will produce a complete step-by-step guide for integrating NicEdit and Question2Answer under a WordPress theme.

Let me know if you want to see it in action before you commit to these changes, and I will show you sites where it works so that you can see the improved front end.