What’s so important about a Privacy Policy?

What is a privacy policy, and why does my website need one?

A privacy policy is a legal document, required by privacy laws, that communicates how an organization or website collects, uses, discloses, and manages the data shared by a client or user. 

In the case of a website, this means any information that a user might be asked to provide for a Contact Form, Newsletter signup, or ECommerce purchase. Any information that can be linked to a user or their identity should be covered by your Privacy Policy. You should also have some form of policy language regarding any use of cookies or tracking, such as Google Analytics.

What does it protect me from?

In the online world, things are constantly changing, and digital privacy laws all over the world are no exception. If your business is located in the United States and received visitors from other countries you’re bound to adhere to the laws of that user's location. 

Currently, there are multiple privacy laws in the United States and across the world that require most websites that collect personal information to have a Privacy Policy:

These laws were created to protect the consumers of those states and countries, not the businesses. This means that these laws can apply to businesses outside of those states and countries and may apply to you if you do business there, collect the personal information of residents of those states or countries, or offer goods or services there.

Fines for violations of privacy laws start at $2,500 per violation (per website visitor).

How do you keep up with the changes?

If you have in-house counsel you should have your privacy policies checked for accuracy every few months. Monitoring the laws and changes will help you keep up with what’s necessary. 

Over a dozen states have proposed or already are implementing privacy laws to protect the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of its citizens. Each of these laws has unique requirements as well as unique penalties for not complying. Some states are proposing businesses be fined over $5,000 per infringement (per website visitor). Some states are proposing private right of action (meaning citizens of that state can sue businesses anywhere in the US). Read our state privacy law tracker for more information.

Is there an easier way to keep my Privacy Policies accurate and protect my business?

Yes. Valet has partnered with Termageddon, a Privacy Policy generator that will update your website’s policies automatically whenever the laws change. There are more and more privacy law requirements and the resulting penalties for not complying will affect not only your website but your entire organization. 

The International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP.org) has listed Termageddon as the longest-standing and trusted privacy technology vendor. And they offer the following website policies for organizations formed in the US, Canada, UK, and Ireland.

With Termageddon, even as laws change, you can have the peace of mind of knowing that your policies are changing with them. There are digital privacy laws that differ even from state to state, and country to country. Termageddon works with each and every change in those laws. As a website owner, there are so many things to do, and this is one less thing you’ll have to think about.

Websites are an essential asset for businesses and non-profits, and here at Valet, we care about your organization as a whole.

To get your own Termageddon account you can contact us and have us manage the setup and implementation, or you can self service by clicking here

The Best WordPress Maintenance Services, and What You Should Look For

WordPress is free, open-source software, which makes it one of the most powerful, flexible content management systems (CMS) on the web. But that also means it doesn’t come with official support. In other words, if you run into a problem with your WordPress site, you’re on your own to solve it – whether it’s related to the WordPress core, a theme or plugin you’re using, or something more serious like malicious code. 

As the most popular CMS, with a market share of over 40% of all websites, WordPress is the biggest target and the most frequently hacked CMS. Good WordPress maintenance service providers help keep your website secure from malware, data breaches, security breaches, and hacking attempts. With the possibility of a security problem taking your site offline for days, weeks, or even months and damaging your reputation with your customers, the benefits of proper WordPress maintenance for security alone far outweigh the costs.

Whatever your area of business, even the simplest site won’t just look after itself, and requires time and attention to keep running - and of course, the more complex your site gets, the more moving parts there are to go wrong. It’s entirely possible to find yourself spending hours of your valuable time per week on site management. 

WordPress receives three major updates every year, as well as additional minor updates throughout the year which can include security fixes, performance optimization, and countless plugin and theme updates. All these need to be handled swiftly and appropriately.

Featured image for this post on WordPress maintenance services

You could try and keep on top of everything yourself, with all the time commitments that go with that. Or, you could enlist a dedicated WordPress maintenance service provider to take care of your site for you. A good WordPress maintenance service will deal with all of your site’s maintenance-related tasks, including:

Your business website is increasingly critical for generating revenue and growing your bottom line. This is precisely why eCommerce stores immediately lose revenue if an important page (like the checkout page) on their site stops responding or if a feature (like the shopping cart or contact form) is broken. A good WordPress maintenance service can test and maintain your online website or store for you, ensuring it runs smoothly around the clock.

How are WordPress maintenance and support different? WordPress maintenance involves keeping your website up to date and taking care of optimization. Support, on the other hand, is all about solving issues you may encounter with your WordPress site. To make sure your site runs smoothly, you need both.

Your best option is to partner with a WordPress website maintenance service provider that offers support and ongoing development. Valet, for example, takes care of all of this for you plus more. The team helps you free up your time so you can get back to the higher value work you’re best at, while they take care of the nitty-gritty details behind the scenes. With Valet, you get a team of professionals when you need them without having to worry about the costs of having a dedicated in-house IT team.

All of your WordPress maintenance headaches go away when you partner with Valet as your WordPress maintenance and support resource.

In this article, we’ll explain what you should look for in a WordPress maintenance service. We’ll also run the rule over some of the best WordPress maintenance service providers out there to help you decide which one you should go with and why.

What to look for in a WordPress maintenance service provider

Once you decide to offload WordPress maintenance to a professional service provider, the next step is to develop a clear understanding of what to look for.

Generally speaking, WordPress maintenance involves taking care of the different tasks required to monitor your website, and improving its performance and security. More specifically, this might mean making sure:

WordPress websites require ongoing maintenance. Some tasks (like making sure everything is up to date) need to be looked at daily while other tasks (such as database optimization or fixing broken links) happen weekly or monthly. For this reason, it’s a good idea to sign up with a WordPress maintenance service provider that offers everyday help.

If you’ve been running your WordPress.org site for some time, you might already have an idea of the different sorts of issues you run into. Ask yourself: “What problems have I encountered (or am currently encountering) with my WordPress website? What has given me the most trouble?”.

This is a good starting point to determine what sort of a WordPress maintenance service provider you’ll need to enlist for your business. Jot down everything that comes to mind to get the best picture of the areas you need the most help with. 

Some website owners might need a more all-round service that also offers ongoing support and development, with the WordPress maintenance service provider taking care of any website downtime you face, theme and plugin compatibility conflicts, troubleshooting problems, and your custom code needs.

Best WordPress maintenance service providers

WordPress maintenance service providers come in all shapes, sizes, and pricing brackets. It’s a good idea to evaluate the different options available to you so you can make an informed decision.

A quick Google search turns up tons of service providers. We’ve handpicked some of the best options for you. Here are five of the best WordPress maintenance service providers to choose from:

1. Valet

Screenshot of the Valet website homepage

Valet is a WordPress maintenance service that offers professional website management, support, consultation, and development. The service is aimed at businesses that:

What sets Valet apart from other WordPress maintenance services is that it offers WordPress maintenance as a core service in addition to full-service support and development. The Valet team works as your business’ long-term partner on development, as this customer review put it:.

“The Valet Team allows me to scale up if necessary and give me the peace of mind that they can handle anything that comes in or occurs, and that they have my back.”

Valet Services

Screenshot of the Valet Core WordPress maintenance services

Let’s take a closer look at the different services on offer with Valet:

Core WordPress Maintenance

Valet provides essential WordPress maintenance services that cover all the basics, such as making sure the WordPress core and any themes and plugins you’re using are always up to date. They’ll also deal with secure offsite backups, daily malware scanning, uptime monitoring, vulnerability database security scans, and visual regression testing. Valet has access to your WordPress directly, meaning you never have to explain the problem - they’ll spot it and fix it.

This frees businesses up from having to constantly keep an eye on small site maintenance tasks or sign up for several third-party services that offer individual solutions for things like automated site backups or uptime monitoring. Signing up for a complete WordPress maintenance plan centralises all these tasks and gets you better value. 

eCommerce Maintenance

Unlike most WordPress maintenance services, Valet also offers eCommerce maintenance, which includes ensuring important pages (like the checkout page) load and work successfully, contact forms work properly, and that your custom workflows are functional. 

Having someone on your team who’s in charge of constantly monitoring essential eCommerce pages is an easy way to ensure you’re not missing out on sales due to a broken checkout process. eCommerce store owners can choose to use Valet’s baseline testing plan or ask for a customized automated test that’s unique to their workflow. Valet works with all major eCommerce platforms, including WooCommerce.

Professional Support and Development

Valet works as an extension of your team, making it easy for businesses to add WordPress professionals to their teams without having to worry about directly hiring them and paying salaries. Valet provides their own project managers, full-stack developers, and other resources.

This is especially beneficial for businesses that have small teams and need a team member with professional experience to provide consultation, answer support emails, do research, or handle development tasks for you. The biggest benefit of working with Valet is that you no longer have to worry about managing a project you don’t understand or being told, “We can’t do this.” or “We don’t offer this as part of our maintenance service.”.

Screenshot of the Valet website audit services

Audits and Assessments

Valet provides standardized and custom audits and assessments that give you a broad overview of your technical debt along with a plan for improvement. You can also request website health assessments (two different plans) and speed assessments (three different plans).

Assessments include a complete report with observations and recommendations provided by a full-stack developer. It includes things like database review, theme code review, checking to see if you’re on the latest version of PHP, and much more. Once you get the report, you can review it and decide to either hire Valet to fix any issues with your WordPress website or take the report elsewhere.

Accessibility

As an online business owner, you need to ensure your website is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act Title II and Title III. In fact, website accessibility has been a legal requirement for all website owners since 2010. It means you need to take steps to ensure your website is accessible to people with physical disabilities, situational disabilities, and socio-economic restrictions on bandwidth and speed.

Screenshot of the Valet website accessibility services

Valet is an online ADA partner that provides scanning and remediation for accessibility issues. It offers an ADA toolbar, accessibility scan, and remediation, and MaxAccess – an AI that eliminates accessibility issues.

Who is this WordPress maintenance service for?

Valet offers WordPress maintenance as a core service. However, the team also follows up with you on issues because they provide full support and development services. This sets them apart from other WordPress maintenance services in the market.

When you sign up for a Valet plan, you never risk getting stuck with an email that says: “Your website is broken and, unfortunately, we can’t help you resolve your issue. You’re on your own.”. The Valet team works as an extension of your own team, which means you can expect to have someone on board who’s familiar with your site’s infrastructure. You don’t have to worry about explaining what went wrong. Valet will take care of all of this for you in a friendly, personal manner, as this customer told us:

“I like working with the same 1 or 2 people. I feel connected and that someone knows the history of our website.”

Valet is equally great for:

2. WP Buffs

WP Buffs is a 24/7 WordPress maintenance service provider for website owners and white-label partners. The company provides a variety of basic maintenance services and packages different WordPress plugins in with their subscription to help improve website performance. These include the premium plugins iThemes Security Pro, WP Rocket, BlogVault, and WP Smush Pro. WP Buffs also offers Google Analytics integration.

WP Buffs Services

Here’s a list of the WordPress maintenance services WP Buffs offers:

Who is this WordPress maintenance service for

WP Buffs’ maintenance service and care plans are suited to small business owners that are looking for ways to free up their time so they can focus on core business activities. It’s also a viable option for anyone looking to white-label WordPress support services and maintenance.

It’s worth mentioning that the WP Buffs subscription plans include access to support via the members-only forum. Clients can make support requests via the forum and email, and the WP Buffs team will respond within 3-5 business days. This means you have to describe the problem you’re facing with your website. For website owners that aren’t particularly tech-savvy, it can be difficult to explain what exactly is wrong. This can be limiting when it comes to asking for WordPress maintenance and support. Valet, on the other hand, is a full-service partner that’s available around the clock to provide support to its clients.

3. GoWP

GoWP is a WordPress maintenance service provider that offers white label services for WordPress agencies. In addition to website maintenance, GoWP also provides content edits and page builds.

GoWP Services

GoWP’s maintenance service plan includes basic WordPress maintenance-related tasks such as making sure your clients’ website (and the plugins and themes they use) are updated, taking WordPress backups, and ensuring website security.

GoWP uses Visual Validator for plugin updates, which takes screenshots of your website after it’s been updated to see if anything has changed on the front-end. In case of any visual changes, the GoWP team is automatically notified. GoWP also offers manual updates as a premium offering.

GoWP’s maintenance service also comes with security monitoring, with daily malware scans, malware detection and cleanup, attack prevention, as well as WordPress hardening.

The maintenance service takes daily backups of your website and stores them offsite. It gives you access to 90 days of backup history, which means you have the option to restore your website to a previous version whenever you’d like. Plus, you get full visibility into maintenance activity through GoWP’s maintenance page which is accessible through the WordPress dashboard.

Who is this WordPress maintenance service for

GoWP is a viable option for WordPress agencies that are looking for white label maintenance services. This way, they can focus on growing their operations while the GoWP team takes care of the tedious, behind-the-scenes work.

The service also offers website edits and page builds which means they’ll take care of tasks like adding and editing WordPress blog posts, widgets, and installing plugins as well as building web pages using Elementor or Beaver Builder.

Unlike WordPress maintenance services like Valet, GoWP doesn’t offer advanced maintenance services such as helping you set up CDN, SSL or HTTPS. In addition, their plans aren’t designed for more advanced websites like eCommerce stores or membership sites.

4. Maintainn

Maintainn is a WordPress maintenance and support agency that provides basic maintenance services such as security monitoring, real-time offsite backups, WordPress core updates, theme updates, and plugin updates. It’s owned and operated by the folk behind WebDevStudios and has been around since 2012.

Maintainn Services

Maintainn offers a variety of WordPress maintenance services, including everything from weekly updates to 24/7 security monitoring. The company also offers more advanced services (like hacked website repair) at an additional cost on top of the maintenance plan.

Maintainn also provides advanced maintenance services on their high-end plans, including:

You can also sign up for the support program separately, which offers custom development and technical services.

When you sign up for a Maintainn maintenance service plan, you can also access live chat and email support. Live chat support is available on weekdays from 9 am to 8 pm. However, with both support options, you have to explain the issue you’re facing to the support representative. This can be overwhelming for WordPress users who aren’t sure what the problem is!

Who is this WordPress maintenance service for

Maintainn is targeted at established businesses that are looking for a way to offload routine WordPress maintenance tasks such as weekly updates and security monitoring.

However, it’s not a full-service partner, like Valet, that works as an extension of your own team. Maintainn’s maintenance service offering is best suited towards website owners who are technically inclined but would like to free up their time to focus on business growth.

5. WP Tech Support

WP Tech Support offers emergency WordPress help and ongoing support plans, which include tasks like WordPress fixes, updates, backups, and security monitoring. The company offers four different plans for ongoing WordPress maintenance and support and three different one-time services.

WP Tech Support Services

By signing up with WP Tech Support, you can expect to get weekly offsite backups, WordPress core updates, and WordPress theme and plugin updates. You’ll get a daily security scan that checks for malware. The WP Tech Support team will also improve your website’s overall security by installing a firewall and brute force attack blocker.

However, malware removal is only available with the higher-end ongoing support plans. So, if you want a professional to rid your site of a virus or trojan, you’ll need to pay extra.

WP Tech Support offers clients on their Pro and Business plans 60 to 90 minutes of development time per month. For example, you can ask them to tweak CSS or HTML code. You can use this for small changes, customization, and improvements to your WordPress website. The team also offers performance tune-up and search engine optimization (SEO) for clients on the Business plan.

Who is this WordPress maintenance service for

WP Tech Support is aimed at webmasters who aren’t particularly technically inclined and need someone to take care of basic WordPress maintenance tasks while providing ongoing support.

However, it’s important to bear in mind that ongoing support is available through support tickets, which means that you have to reach out to the support department and explain the issue you’re facing. In other words, you don’t get a dedicated project manager who’ll check your site for issues or run audits and assessments to make sure everything is working properly. This can be a major limitation for website owners who aren’t sure what’s causing the problem they’ve encountered.

Valet, on the other hand, is a full-service WordPress maintenance service provider that’ll take care of everything for you. You don’t have to worry about explaining what’s wrong with your website. Valet’s WordPress professionals will help you with troubleshooting, management, support, and development.

Offload WordPress maintenance today

If you’re serious about running a WordPress website, generating leads, and growing your online business, it makes sense to invest in a full-service WordPress maintenance service provider.

Instead of going with a WordPress maintenance service that only handles basic maintenance tasks, it’s a better idea to go with a full-service provider, like Valet, that’s capable of handling everything for you – from troubleshooting to maintenance and support to development.

To recap:

Valet does it all, and can help you with:

Ready to offload WordPress maintenance to professionals? Get in touch with Valet today!

Complete Guide to Getting WordPress Help

If you’ve decided to use WordPress to power your website, you’ll likely need some help staying on top of everything. Picture the scene:

You need WordPress help, but WordPress help isn’t easy to come by. Why not?

WordPress has achieved such a prominent place in the internet ecosystem because it’s free, open-source software, which means that you can simply install the software to your hosting server and use it to power your website. But this also means that there is no official support for WordPress.org sites. As you can probably imagine, this is a significant limitation of the WordPress platform.

If you’re using WordPress to power your small business website or run an eCommerce store, you’ll understand how frustrating it can be to run into a problem with your site and not be able to find timely WordPress help.

The good news is that you can outsource WordPress help to professionals who will integrate website support and development into your workflow and take care of site maintenance for you.

In this article, we’ll explain how you can get WordPress help for your website, what to look for when evaluating options for getting the best WordPress help, and how to choose the right solution for your specific needs.

But before we begin, let’s quickly take a look at what you can do to troubleshoot WordPress help issues on your own and why that isn’t always a viable option.

Featured image for this article on getting WordPress help

Troubleshooting WordPress help issues on your own

If you’re technically proficient, you might be inclined to take the DIY approach. While it’s certainly possible to try and troubleshoot problems by yourself, it might not always be the best option for you or your business. If you’re unsure about what you’re doing, troubleshooting can take a lot of time, as you’ll have to scour the internet for solutions, work out which is the best advice, and then action it yourself. And that’s assuming you do it right - there’s every chance that you could end up  doing more harm to your WordPress website than good.

Let’s say you work in your company’s marketing department. Your job is to create advertising campaigns, monitor market trends, and develop targeting strategies based on various metrics. If you take on the responsibility of supporting the business’s website, WordPress admin and troubleshooting WordPress issues as well, you’ll likely be sidetracked from what you’re actually supposed to be doing. 

Keeping both your job and your WordPress website running is mission-critical for doing business in 2020 – especially considering the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the decline in brick-and-mortar business presence.

Limitations clients feel with getting WordPress help

As a WordPress site manager, you might feel your options are pretty limited when it comes to resolving WordPress problems. As we mentioned earlier, WordPress.org is free, open-source software, which means there isn’t dedicated support available from the developers. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any support available for when you need WordPress help.

We’re Valet, a full-service agency that’ll take care of everything for you, and we wrote this article! Our service enables you to integrate professional website support and development into your day-to-day workflow. As a result, you’re able to outsource maintenance and site upkeep off to WordPress help and support experts so you can focus on growing your business. 

Five options for getting WordPress help

Here, we’ll lay out the different options available to you for getting WordPress help for your website or online store.

1. Valet

Valet provides professional WordPress website management, consultation, and development services. It’s the go-to solution for business owners that need WordPress help regularly (or from time to time) to manage the technical side of running a website.

Screenshot of the Valet website

In addition to WordPress maintenance and support, Valet also offers website health and speed audits and assessments, the option to add WordPress experts to your team remotely, and scanning and remediation for website accessibility issues.

Valet is a full-service company that takes care of everything for you, leaving you to work on what you’re best at - your own work and business! Depending on the type of WordPress help you’re seeking, you can sign up for different Valet services.

Valet Services

Here’s a quick breakdown of the services Valet offers and how they can help you keep your business website running smoothly:

Screenshot of the Valet website accessibility page

Why Valet is the best choice

One of the main reasons why Valet is the best choice for businesses looking for WordPress help is that it provides full service, instead of just standard WordPress maintenance. In other words, it’s a one-stop-shop for managing your entire WordPress website or WooCommerce store.

When it comes to finding good WordPress help for your business, you need to think long term. Ask yourself:

What happens after you get support? Will you be able to do the work you need to do? What if it’s development-related?

You don’t want to end up in situations where you’re vetting service providers on freelance websites for specific tasks. You might end up hiring a freelancer one month to take care of WordPress maintenance and a few more people the next month to help with WordPress development. You’ll have to keep continually on top of who has done what, why, and when, and end up becoming an impromptu project manager for a project you don’t even understand!

Valet, on the other hand, takes care of all of this for you and brings years of professional experience to the table.

Whether you’re running an online or brick-and-mortar business, if you don’t have people with technical experience to keep WordPress secure and up-to-date, it makes sense to outsource site maintenance and upkeep to a single, cohesive team of professionals. It gives you peace of mind knowing that you won’t get bogged down by technical work.

Even if you’re technically proficient, it helps to have someone constantly monitoring your site’s uptime and stats and able to take care of things if your site goes down. Less hassle and more peace of mind for you. 

The best part is that Valet’s WordPress professionals work as an extension of your team, rather than the ad hoc nature of getting freelancers in to solve problems. By developing a long term relationship with your site, the Valet team understands your site’s infrastructure. It’s a relief when they can quickly resolve any issues you’re facing without requiring you to go into in-depth explanation, as some of our users told us:

“Valet gives us peace of mind and frees up a lot of time when fixes or development needs to be done, as Valet's team already has access to our framework and understands the infrastructure.”

“We see Valet as a partner to help us maintain and update our website. They are proactive to keep it updated and running smoothly and quick to react and solve any problems or custom solutions we may need.”

2. Free support from WordPress.org

WordPress.org is free and open-source, which means it’s supported by volunteers, not a dedicated support team. This means that you shouldn’t expect to access support via email, live chat, or phone.

Screenshot of the WordPress.org support search page

Keep in mind that WordPress.org is different from WordPress.com (by Automattic), which is a hosted platform that comes with dedicated support.

That said, WordPress does have a support page on its official website, which is basically a knowledge base with documentation, step-by-step tutorials, and FAQs covering the following broad topics:

In addition to this, the official WordPress support page also links to volunteer-led support forums. This allows WordPress users to see if other users have experienced similar issues and get WordPress help from the community.

Screenshot of a search on WordPress.org support

It’s also worth mentioning that you can get similar support for specific themes and plugins if you download and install them from the WordPress Theme Directory or the WordPress Plugin Directory. You can do this by heading over to the WordPress theme or plugin’s page and navigating to the View support forum link to access the forum.

Screenshot of support topics for the Yoast SEO plugin

For example, if you’re using the Yoast SEO plugin, you can visit Yoast’s support forum to learn about common issues WordPress users have had with it and the community’s recommendations on how to resolve them.

This sort of WordPress support is fine for basic WordPress issues and tasks that aren’t time-sensitive. For example, if you’re a website owner running a simple online magazine or personal blog, you can rely on the free support you get from WordPress.org. However, your forum post might not get a response for weeks or even months!  Businesses that need their site to be running smoothly at all times are best off looking elsewhere. 

3. Support from the premium theme or plugins you’re using

If you’re using a premium WordPress theme or plugin, you might be able to get some WordPress help from the developers - though this will often depend on the pricing tier you're on. However, the team will likely only be able to resolve very specific problems related to their product(s) rather than general WordPress errors.

For example, if you’re using a premium WordPress theme or page builder (like Elementor) and aren’t sure why your website is slow, there’s only so much the theme developers can do to help you to get it to speed up. For this, you’d need professionals to perform a speed assessment for your WordPress website and develop an action plan.

Screenshot of the contact us support page for Elementor Pro

The theme developers will, however, have the know-how to help you to customize the look and feel of your website’s front-end and figure out where to insert custom CSS code. You will need to write the code yourself, though.

Similarly, if you’re using premium plugins, the WordPress developers can help you figure out why their plugin isn’t working on your site as it should, or how to set up a widget in your site's header or sidebar. For example, they might recommend making sure you’re using the latest PHP version, but they can’t go into your hosting server and site to check it for you.

Depending on your needs, it might make more sense to work with a professional WordPress support and development agency, like Valet, that’s an extension of your own team. This way, you’ll get timely replies and be able to resolve issues faster, no matter the trouble. Plus, you can even ask them to write up some custom CSS for you!

4. Managed WordPress hosting providers

If you’ve been in the WordPress space for some time now, you might have heard of managed WordPress hosting providers. For those unfamiliar, managed WordPress hosts only take care of the hosting side of things.

For instance, they’ll help you install WordPress to your hosting server after you sign up for a managed WordPress hosting plan, make sure your server is configured properly, install an SSL certificate, and help you configure the MySQL database. Beyond this, managed WordPress hosting providers aren’t responsible for conducting speed audits or making sure your site is secure.

It’s important to bear in mind that managed hosts will only support WordPress installations running on their hosting servers. In other words, they don’t offer support for the WordPress software itself. This means that they can help you resolve plugin conflict issues if they’re related to your hosting environment but can’t help you figure out how to extend the plugin’s core functionality using PHP code for a specific, development-related task, set up a page builder (like Elementor), or resolve WordPress back-end issues.

In addition, they won’t be able to help resolve issues related to eCommerce websites powered by WooCommerce or membership sites that use a combination of plugins to run. This is a major downside of relying entirely on managed WordPress hosting providers if you’re running an online store.

Put simply, if you sign up for a managed WordPress host, you shouldn’t expect to receive in-depth support for WordPress core issues or theme and plugin problems. They can only provide support for WordPress issues related to hosting. 

It’s easy to understand why WordPress users are increasingly frustrated with the support experiences they receive from managed hosts. Most complaints fall under one of three broad categories:

And, many times, after all that the managed hosting provider won’t actually be able to help you resolve your issue. On the flip side, a WordPress management, support, and development company, like Valet, solves everything for you, whether it’s related to the hardware side of things or the software. 

5. WordPress maintenance and support services

There are some other options available to you when it comes to getting WordPress help. A quick Google search will turn out maintenance and support services for getting basic WordPress help. You can sign up for WordPress maintenance and support services provided by companies like GoWP or WP Buffs.

However, these services typically just cover basic WordPress support and maintenance related tasks. This typically includes making sure the WordPress core and themes and plugins are up-to-date and making sure your site is backed up. Some might even help you with search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, social media integrations, or making sure your plugins play nicely with Elementor page builder.

The first step to solving a problem with your WordPress site is to understand what exactly the issue is. If you don’t have a clear understanding of the problem, it’s difficult to get support or WordPress help. Valet’s professionals have real-world experience and can help you resolve issues with your WordPress site in a timely manner instead of implementing quick fixes.

If you run into a scenario where there’s follow-up work that needs to be done, many of these one-time support sites will leave you on your own. For example, if you have trouble getting your CDN to work smoothly with your WordPress site, then a WordPress maintenance and support service provider can help you configure your CDN plugin’s settings, but you’ll have to mess around with the actual CDN yourself.

Valet, on the other hand, solves all of these problems for you since it’s a full-service provider that’s always ready for you and your site. The team ensures that you have professional support available to you around the clock that you can reach out to via phone or email. This saves you from having to submit support tickets and waiting for a representative to get back to you.

Get WordPress help for your business

If you’re running an online business, brick-and-mortar business, WordPress side-project site, online store, or membership site, you might need some sort of WordPress help sooner or later.

Instead of spending time troubleshooting issues on your own or worrying about hiring in-house talent, it’s a great idea to enlist a WordPress support and development company with a proven track record of success. This way, you won’t feel limited when it comes to using the powerful and flexible WordPress CMS to power your site. You can use it to its full potential while outsourcing the technical side of things and focusing on growing your small business.

To recap, here are the WordPress help services Valet can help you with:

Valet is the perfect WordPress help solution provider for businesses that don’t have time to manage the technical aspects of running a website or don’t have the technical expertise in-house. Instead of hiring freelancers or outsourcing support and development tasks to multiple agencies, it’s much more cost-effective to go with a full-service WordPress help solution provider.

Ready to get WordPress help for your business? Get in touch with Valet today!

What the Most-Easily Guessed Passwords Reveal About Your Personality

A company called SplashData annually publishes a list of 100 of the most-easily guessed passwords people use. Easily guessed means easily stolen.

Let’s dissect some of these easily guessed passwords and explain what each one reveals about the personality of those who use them.

123456. An easily guessed password like this takes no thought to devise, no mental energy to memorize, and no physical effort to type out. Sounds like it appeals to the lazy—and you’d be right for thinking that. But in fact, it turns out that 123456 is beloved by fearless people. Indeed, you need to be incredibly gutsy to use 123456 as your secret code, considering that it’s 2018’s least-safe password.

password. Those who dislike loneliness and prefer lots of companionship choose this one. In 2018, enough of a crowd gathered around password to make it the Number 2 most-easily guessed login of all.

qwerty. The Number 9 most-easily guessed password for 2018. I skipped Numbers 3 through 8 because they were just 123456 with the addition of the next digit or digits in proper numerical order (in other words, 1234567, 12345678, and so on). Using qwerty as a password indicates a fondness for inventing words out of desperation when playing Scrabble. It also indicates a probability of getting hacked a lot.

Still More Easily Guessed Passwords

iloveyou. Coming in at Number 10, this easily guessed password brands the user as a hopeless romantic. Or, alternatively, as someone who maintains unhealthy (and unsafe) relationships with password-protected websites and apps.

admin. Twelve on this year’s list, admin as a password choice means the user yearns for power. Really, who wields more mighty authority than a system administrator? No one. So people type admin in order to feel powerful. Cybercrooks looking to penetrate your computer type admin because they believe in power-sharing.

welcome. This is the password preferred by people who are the friendly type. Hospitality is their thing. Hackers, of course, appreciate feeling right at home inside someone else's computer. welcome made it to the Number 13 spot on the list of most-easily guessed passwords.

666666. This one marks the beastly serious fan of horror movies. The person who uses 666666 never screams out in terror until the moment his or her computer becomes possessed by devilish criminals. Rank: 14.

abc123. The Jackson 5 and its pre-teen frontman Michael Jackson cause people who choose abc123 as their password to swoon. It also causes hackers to swoon because it makes getting inside a computer easy as abc.

!@#$%^&. Users of this password hope hackers mistake it for symbolic cussing. Not a chance. That’s because !@#$%^& is just 12345678 with the shift key depressed while typing. Easily guessed password rank: 20.

Trends Become Apparent

Millions use the passwords discussed above (along with the others on the list of 100 most-easily guessed passwords) to protect themselves.

And the term protect gets used loosely here.

SplashData came up with this list by sifting through the wreckage of 5 million password-protected accounts hacked during 2018.

If you look at the full list, a few trends become apparent. Many easily guessed passwords consist of a short, simple alphanumeric combination.

Others are the name of a celebrity. (Donald seems to be a top choice just now.)

Still others are a word taken from the field of sports. (Football is a consistent favorite.)

Safety Tips

The point of this post is to encourage you to from now on use only strong passwords.

At Valet, we believe a tough-to-guess password is at least 12 characters long and made up of a variety of scrambled letters, numerals, and special symbols.

Valet also recommends you never use the same password as your login at more than one website (or to gain access to more than one app). Instead, create a different password for each website or account.

As well, Valet urges you to use a password generator. They’re available free from lots of sources and are tough to beat for assembling a random combination of letters, numbers, and special characters.

Finally, Valet advises you to never share your passwords with anyone, change your passwords often, and use a secure program to store and manage passwords.

If you’d like more information about password strength or just want to pick up more insights about website security, then please send an email to the very helpful and friendly folks at Valet.

Weekly WordPress Update- September 20, 2019

Here is your quick Weekly WordPress Update from Valerio. If you would like us to cover something specific, please let us know!

We're on a mission to help bring clarity to the mysteries of Website Health! Valet is hosting a free webinar next Wednesday, September 26 at 1 PM Eastern Time with Josh our Lead Developer! We'll talk about specific advice on where to look for speed issues and how to keep your website fast! We'll also share awesome tips from entry-level users to pros.

Register here!

CodeInWP released an article by Colin Newcomer with an analysis of the best WordPress Security Plugin, putting face to face Sucuri, WordFence, and Malcare. They all have its advantages, make sure to check the blog post to learn the ins-and-outs of these plugins.

Twenty-Twenty, the new default theme for WordPress that will be released on November 12th (the target date for WordPress 5.3 release), is designed with Gutenberg use in mind and supports numerous features like automatic feed links, HTML5 elements, content width, galleries and so much more. It's under development but you can already download it and test it.

That's it for this week. We'll see you next time!

How We Approach Website Speed

Planning this article was an interesting experience.  My goal was to publicize what Valet’s opinion and approach is to website speed.  At the same time, I needed to express that opinion in a way that’s different from your typical blog post about website speed.   I think the best way to do that is to speak from the day-in and day-out of our business model and the clients we talk to every day.

So, here’s what that looks like.  Our clients aren’t huge companies and they rely on their website for either income or a solid brand presence.  They’re all on WordPress, we didn’t build their site, and they typically have one or two people responsible for wrangling the entire list of marketing and web responsibilities.  In other words, we engage daily with the largest segment of businesses with an online presence. This has become the norm.

Before moving on to anything else, we want to mention that website speed is an incredibly broad, complex, and overwhelming topic.  Because there are so many variables, it’s very easy to get lost in a rabbit hole of research on any individual topic within the conversation of speed.  We’ll stay with the big picture and what we think your mindset should be. You won’t find any rabbit holes here.

WordPress, 3rd Party Themes & Plugins

Have you ever searched for how to debug speed issues using Chrome Developer Tools? The typical result is a video from the Chrome Dev Tools team with a simple, practical example.  Man, I wish my debugs were that simple! One simple, easily visible issue, please!

Anytime I’m debugging, the network panel feels like the stampede scene from Jumanji except the animals are jQuery libraries and lists and lists of images from your DSLR camera.  It feels that way because of how easy it is to create a visually compelling and revenue generating website on WordPress without coding it yourself. That’s a beautiful thing and is the biggest reason many of us decided to earn a living from it.  But building a WordPress website with off-the-shelf products, if you’re not experienced, will cost you in the form of speed and other issues. In all fairness, it’s a typical business growing pain, one that we see and remedy often.

To have reliable speed, you need to have full control.  

Very large companies typically have an in-house development team that can tweak every corner of their codebase and make it fly.  However, many companies don’t have that luxury. Here’s a typical scenario for most businesses out there:

  1. You know for sure that a certain feature on your site is your bottleneck.
  2. That feature is ran by a 3rd party plugin.
  3. It’s mission-critical to your websites purpose and/or business.

Without the resources of a development team, you’re a bit stuck.  There are two options. You can either find a different plugin that’ll kind of give you what you want or incur the costs of editing and maintaining the plugin yourself and/or paying someone to do that.  Most will stick with what they have and make speed improvements elsewhere while giving feedback to the author of the plugin.

The Valet WordPress Healthcare Hierarchy. Speed is the second tier on the pyramid. The only thing more important is Security.

The Technical Foundation & Fundamentals

Any blog post written by a knowledgeable author will mention what we’ll point out in this section. Notice how all of these topics are aspects you can control in the context of a WordPress site.  They are incredibly important and foundational to your website’s speed.

Hosting

You need a fast host.  Ideally, a managed non-shared host that is opinionated about page caching (temporary storage of a pages HTML) and has that feature built-in.  A great example is Pantheon.  They actually take a cached version of your page and push out to their Global CDN so that any visitor gets a cached version of a page from a server that’s geographically closest to them, cutting the time it takes for the page to load regardless of the viewer’s location.  That’s wild to me. And it's the first time I’ve ever seen that.

Caching

Page Caching is a must for all pages that don’t change based on the user type (e.g. a logged in user vs logged out user).  If your host doesn’t have it built-in and you can’t migrate to another platform, consider hosting your DNS through CloudFlare.  They’ll give you page caching for free.  If you can’t do CloudFlare, then using page caching from a plugin will do.

There’s also the topic of Object Caching, but we won’t hit that here.

CDN Use

A CDN will place all your images, JavaScript files, CSS, fonts, and more on globally distributed servers so that your visitor's browsers can download those from a server that’s close to you.  If I live in Florida, there might be server in Atlanta where my browser will download those things instead of perhaps, California. Much faster.

Image Optimization

Images always need to be optimized.  Ideally, image editing and optimizing happen before you upload it to WordPress.  Otherwise, use an image optimization service.  We really like Imagify.io.  They have their own WordPress plugin that will automatically compress your images for you and even make your JPEG’s progressive.  These services are cheap and worth twice as much for what they contribute to your website speed, pay for them!

General

The User’s Perception of Speed

Person sitting with the definition of perception on their shirt. User perception of speed is important.

Once you know you have the technical foundation to deliver on speed, your next stop is the user's perception of speed. This is where all things speed are headed.

If you run a website speed test with Google Pagespeed, you’ll find metrics in your results such as “First Meaningful Paint” and “First Contentful Paint” that all try to answer the question of “How quickly will a user consume content on your site?”  This is an incredibly important question. It’s common to hear that a user will leave your site within a couple of seconds if you don’t give them anything meaningful, right? We have to be able to measure that.  Google lays out their entire opinion of how they observe User-centric Performance Metrics.

In our earliest Site Speed Assessments, I initially struggled with the best method for improving the user-centric metrics for our clients. I found that in order to improve these, you have to sacrifice important features, modify 3rd party plugins and risk future-updates, remove tracking scripts that support marketing purposes, and more.  Most of these things are either not doable or are costly to budgets and other business efforts.

Eventually, I concluded the best place to start is by picking the most important pages to evaluate their speed.  These could be landing pages, a shop category page, whatever converts business care of all of the fundamentals. My suggestion is to start a journey with a strategy of identifying your biggest bottlenecks and tackling them one at a time.

Everyone Forgets About Mobile

Including me, sometimes. Google will place any new site in the search engine results based on the mobile version of the site. This is called mobile-first indexing. This will place your site in search engine results based on the quality of the mobile version of your site.  Any new websites launched are subject to this immediately. All existing sites are being evaluated on an on-going basis as candidates to be switched to mobile-first indexing.  You don’t get to turn this off or opt out, they get to make the decision. You’ll know that your site has been switched if you get a notification in Google Search console.

All of the major speed diagnostic tools have the ability to give you results based on a mobile device. There’s actually not a ton of difference in your optimization strategy for mobile versus desktop. Unless you have visually captivating content.  Every millisecond and kilobyte is so much more important on mobile. Focusing on success in achieving the mobile-first search results you want will naturally yield success for your desktop results.

Pro Tip: Focus on mobile first.

Aiming For A Score From A Speed Tool

Tying a score to speed result makes sense.  It helps you answer the question “Am I better than I was yesterday?”  We’ve found that people will fight for a score regardless of whatever the underlying components of that score are.  Additionally, when Google announces that page speed will play a role in your search engine placement, you’ll likely fight harder for that score.  I won’t dive into this topic at length. I think this article points out clearly how chasing a score can be dangerous.  But there are a few points we’d like to concisely make:

Never Stop Watching

WordPress core, plugins, and themes are constantly updated.  Consequently, any one of those updates could potentially impact your website speed. And, it’s important to keep on top of those updates for security reasons! Monitoring your speed on a daily basis can help you identify what went wrong if things do indeed go wrong.  

Putting It All Together

If you'd like to ask Valet for help in getting a comprehensive look at your website speed we would love to hear from you. You can also check out our Website Speed Assessments to see what options are right for you.