Today I found a better forms handler, reminded myself about the importance of backups, and found a potential method for making plug-in management much easier.
Contact Pages are important for any web site, but crucial for a credible web business site. My current method works fine on standard contact forms, but to build a business web site, you also need surveys, polls, and all manner of related feedback mechanisms.
I ran into some problems with the plug-in I described in my post about implementing my email policy. Try as I might, I could not configure a check-box group that looked right, or even readable. I had used an extremely good survey tool on another site, so I tried that. SurveyGizmo describes itself as More than “Just” a Survey Tool, and I can certainly endorse that.
SurveyGizmo offers a very powerful free survey tool, with plenty of features that allow polls, quizzes and landing pages amongst many other things. There are a whole host of extra options in the paid-for versions. For some reason, I could not get the survey form to display on my website, so I moved on. In hindsight, this could have been a mistake, as I think the problem might have been a temporary overload on this server. However, I had moved on by that time, but I will come back to SurveyGizmo later to see if the problem is repeatable.
I’m actually pleased to have had this problem, as I found another really good forms plugin. cforms II has loads of features, which I will explore and report on later. For now, I have used it for my First Time Visitor Survey. This type of page is crucial for any web business. I have recently developed a range of standard pages that should be a part of any business web site. Some are not really useful until the site gets busy, but it is best to get them built early on, to save time when you are busy with visitors, and the pages become essential. I describe my standard opening pages in my web business management website, and I include customizable versions of all these pages in my WordPress installation wizard.
Other Business Web Site Essentials
When you build a business web site, as well as visitor optimization, you need to construct a technical toolkit of plug-ins that add security and help efficiency.
Managing these plugins can become arduous, but I found a plug-in that helps you manage plug-ins – PlugInstaller.
Installation is very straightforward – a standard plug-in install, because the tool is obviously unavailable before it is installed. I’m hoping that future plug-in installs will be much easier. The first signs are hopeful – a simple click of the Check for updated plugins button and after a couple of minutes, PlugInstaller’s list shows 4 updates, 2 of which I knew about, but had forgotten. A slight problem, due to my server setup I think is an inability to run programs, so it means I have to activate plugins manually after updating – I can live with that for now.
One reason why I wanted to start using PlugInstaller now, is to install more plug-ins, especially a backup plug-in. Recent problems with the hosting provider of another of my sites, and one of my clients, have reminded me of the need for regular backups. WordPress Database Backup is recognized as being the best.
Hoping for a simple install, I realized that the activation warning I got from PlugInstaller is more serious than I thought. The plug-in is still excellent for checking for updates, but will not install them on my server. I will spend some time on server configuration later, but for now, I have a workround in the form of another plug-in manager – OneClick.
OneClick handles the transfer to your plug-in folder in a different way, and even has a Firefox extension to install direct from a website. Works well with PlugInstaller, so I will probably keep them both. OneClick adds a tab on the WordPress Dashboard, and all you need to do is put the url for that page in your Firefox extension (through Tools – Add-ons).
Installation of WordPress Database Backup was a cinch. Right-click on the file link, send it direct to the plug-ins folder, then activate it in PlugInstaller. All that remains is to goto Manage tab and select Database. With a daily backup automated to my admin email address, I am hoping that I have achieved set and forget security in less than a minute.
Whilst covering plug-ins, I must finally mention one that is indispensable whenever I build a business web site. aLinks is an easy way to establish a database of common links. It can also be used to help manage internal links, but I use it mainly to manage external ones. All I have to do, is type the name, e.g. aLinks, and it automatically converts that into an external link, with optional open in new window and graphic. It has a lot more, including statistics tracking which links are clicked. I am sure I will be mentioning this again – I use it everyday.