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WordPress 5.0 just landed with a new post and page editor called Gutenberg. Because WordPress 5.0 is a major version release, you’ll want to have a proper update checklist in place so the update goes smoothly.

In this post, we cover how to update to WordPress 5.0 with a quick checklist. Most sites should update with little or no issues.

What’s New in WordPress 5.0: The Gutenberg Editor, Blocks & New Default Theme
  • New! Totally Redesigned Editor for Posts/Pages – WordPress 5.0 introduces the Gutenberg WordPress Editor, a major change to the post and page editor, so you’ll immediately notice an overhaul to your post/page editor screen. The new Gutenberg WordPress Editor replaces the classic WordPress editor, so this update is a very significant change in the way you edit posts and pages in WordPress.
  • New! Content Blocks – The Gutenberg Editor is built on the concept of blocks. With blocks, you’ll have more flexibility with how content is displayed. Dozens of blocks are included by default (Paragraph, Heading, Quote, Image, Gallery, Cover, Video, Audio, Columns, Code, List, Button, etc.). Learn more about all the new WordPress Gutenberg Blocks for your content here.
  • New! New Default Theme, Twenty Nineteen – WordPress 5.0 introduces a new default theme that shows off the power of the new editor. Twenty Nineteen features custom styles for the blocks available by default in 5.0. It makes extensive use of editor styles throughout the theme so what you can create in your content editor is what you see on the front of your site.
  • Additional enhancements and features for developers in WordPress 5.0
How to Update to WordPress 5.0

It’s a good idea to do a little prep work before updating to WordPress 5.0 (and any major version release). This checklist will help you walk through the update process before and after hitting the “Update” button.

  • 1. IMPORTANT: Make a complete backup of your entire WordPress website. Backup the database and all the files in your installation. Why? You’ll need to have a backup of your site prior to running the update in case you need to roll back to the previous version. Store your backup file safely off-site in a secure, remote destination (not on your server).
TIP: Use a WordPress backup plugin like BackupBuddy to make a complete backup of your website before upgrading to WordPress 5.0.

  • 2. If possible, test 5.0 in a WordPress staging environment to see if you want to use blocks throughout your site, just on new posts or to confirm if you’d rather continue to use the Classic Editor.
  • 3. Confirm that your current theme has support for the new Gutenberg WordPress Editor. Confirm with your theme developer that no conflicts exist between how your theme handles the new content blocks.
  • 4. If you are using plugins that insert shortcodes into the content area of posts or pages, confirm they will still work in WordPress 5.0.
  • 5. Use the “Update” button in your WordPress admin dashboard to complete the update to 5.0. From your WordPress admin dashboard, you can complete the update by clicking the “Update” button.
  • 6. Perform a thorough audit of your site post-update. Confirm that your site looks and behaves as it did prior to the update. Look through blog posts, pages, confirm functionality of interactive elements like contact forms, shortcodes, etc.
  • 7. Finally, alert other users that compose or edit posts and pages on your website about the changes in 5.0. (Tip: Send them the Ultimate Guide to WordPress 5.0 & The Gutenberg WordPress Editor ebook!)
More WordPress 5.0 Resources + Help

We’ve created several resources and tutorials to help you learn more about WordPress 5.0.

Ultimate Guide to WordPress 5.0 & The Gutenberg WordPress Editor Ebook – In this guide to WordPress 5.0 and the new WordPress Gutenberg Editor, we hope to answer all of your questions and hopefully settle your nerves about the update.

  • What is Gutenberg?
  • Why Overhaul the WordPress Editor?
  • What Happens to the Classic Editor?
  • Introducing Blocks
  • What Blocks Are Included?
  • Getting to Know the Gutenberg Editor Menu
  • Document Settings
  • Gutenberg Block Menu Options
  • More Gutenberg Options
Download the PDF

WordPress Gutenberg Blocks Explained Blog Post – an in-depth dive into WordPress Gutenberg blocks.

Gutenberg Help Resources Hub – WordPress 5.0 tutorial videos, blog posts and more all located here.

The post How to Update to WordPress 5.0: A Checklist appeared first on iThemes.

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It’s important to get useful feedback from your clients because it’s part of the back and forth that leads to a successful project. You can’t just slap down a design at the very end and expect to be done.

There’s a give and take that needs to happen, and the result is better projects and happier clients.

We’re going to talk about how to get that useful feedback from your clients. It should be part of a larger freelance process that helps you get things done. You can watch our free webinar “How to Get Useful Feedback From Your Clients” with Erin Flynn for the in-depth details, but we’ll summarize it here.

Why Get Feedback If you don’t get feedback from a client, you risk doing all this work and then at the end the client hates it. That’s not a good path for successful projects that will bring clients back.

You need to involve clients in the project. Not so much that it staggers under the weight of outside opinion, but enough that clients feel heard. You’re the expert on good design, but your client is the expert on their business. So you ultimately have to please the client. Receiving and implementing useful feedback is a powerful way to include your clients in the process.

Getting Useful Feedback Is Hard

But actually getting useful feedback is hard. Too often client feedback isn’t very useful.

They’ll say things like “It’s not blue enough,” or “My mom doesn’t like it,” or “It needs more pop.”

Huh? What does that mean? That’s just not helpful.

Part of the problem is that clients don’t have the words to say what isn’t working. Another part of the problem is that you didn’t set your design up for success by explaining why you did what you did. Finally, you’re not helping them give the right kind of feedback.

So how do you get useful feedback? Let’s get into it.

How to Get Useful Feedback

Getting useful feedback from clients comes down to three things:

  • 1. Give only one option.
  • 2. Walk clients through why that option is the best.
  • 3. Offer guidance for giving feedback.

If you can do those three things, you’ll get much more useful feedback.

1. Give Only One Option

A lot of freelancers present multiple comps to their clients and let them pick the ultimate direction. Invariably clients pick the worst one. Why do all that extra work just to end up with a lesser option?

Send clients a single option and don’t give them a choice.

Here’s what happens when you stick with only one option:

  • You can’t end up with the client choosing the worst option.
  • Giving clients multiple options makes it seem like you’re not sure what’s the best. You’re the expert, so give your client the best solution.
  • You position yourself as an expert because you’re confident.
  • The client trusts you.
  • You don’t have to waste time creating multiple comps that you’re really not invested in anyway.
2. Explain the Best Option

How often do you send clients a mockup via a quick email with no guidance: “Here’s the mockup, let me know what you think.”

What a way to devalue your work. You’re leaving clients all alone to sort out what they think, discover the benefits, and see why it’s a good solution. That’s a lot to ask.

Especially when you could just explain it to them.

A good way to get useful feedback from clients is to actually explain the decisions you made. Take your clients on a walk through of the design and explain why this is the best solution. Creating a quick video to send to your clients can be the best way to accomplish this:

  • No confusion: Video is better than email because you can actually show the elements you’re talking about and there’s no confusion.
  • No skimming: With email there’s always the danger that a client will skim your email and not get what you’re saying. With a video they’re much more likely to watch the full thing and pay attention.
  • No awkward: Because it’s a recorded video and not a live video chat or phone call, nobody has to worry about awkward reactions during a live reveal.

You can use screencasting software such as Loom, and make sure you keep it short (3 minutes is ideal).

If you’re not afraid of an awkward live interaction, you could do a live walk through over a video chat. This can be a good way to get immediate and unfiltered feedback. You can also answer questions right away. It might be good for clients who need a lot of hand-holding, but one big downside is it doesn’t give clients a chance to sleep on it.

Ultimately you need to use whichever method works for you, but however you do it, be sure to set your work up for success by explaining your strategy and reasoning.

Don’t leave your clients guessing.

3. Offer Guidance for Giving Feedback

Most people don’t know how to give useful feedback. Giving a helpful critique is actually difficult. So you need to help your clients give useful feedback by giving them some guidelines.

Tell your clients what you’re looking for and what you’re not. Lay it out simply for them as a list of guidelines:

  • Explain why you need their feedback (this should tie into your project process and empower them to be a part of the project). Make them feel heard.
  • Ask them to be as specific as possible.
  • Remind them to be honest. Let them know you can take honest feedback (even if you’re not so sure).
  • Tell them not to ask random people for feedback. You designed this with a specific audience in mind, and that’s probably not the client’s mom. Remind them who the audience is.
  • Ask your client to point out problems, but tell them not to try to fix those problems. That’s your job.
  • Suggest they look over the design and then sleep on it. Sometimes giving the brain time to process can lead to better feedback.

See how that’s a lot more detailed than “let me know what you think”? You’re giving the client some helpful parameters, and in the end that’s really going to help you.

Now you need to ask your client some specific questions about your design so you can get that useful feedback.

Don’t start from scratch: Erin Flynn has a free template you can use to make this easier.

You want to make sure you ask these questions in the right way so you can get the best feedback. So set it up like a workbook.

  • Make it easy: Use a fillable PDF, Google Doc, Word Doc or online form where you can leave space for answers. This encourages clients to respond in a written form and take it seriously. Pro tip: A tool where clients can save answers and come back later is super helpful—it encourages them to take their time.
  • Include those guidelines: Stick those guidelines in the front of your workbook—every time. Don’t assume a repeat client will remember them from last time.
  • Give a deadline: Don’t leave this open-ended. Let your clients know when you need it back.

If this all sounds pretty involved, good. This is nearly the opposite of a quick email. A quick email encourages a quick response. And that’s the last thing you want. The faster clients review mockups the more likely they are to miss something, and that will only hurt the project later.

By setting up an involved process, you’re going to get more thoughtful and thorough answers. By making this a serious step in your process, you’re signaling to your clients that they need to take it seriously too. This will make you look more professional and encourage clients to trust you that much more.

Get Useful Feedback

All of this will result in better feedback, which will improve the project, make the client happier, and get you more referrals and repeat clients.

Watch the full webinar with Erin Flynn for more, including a pre-written script for presenting a mockup.

The post How to Get Useful Feedback From Your Clients appeared first on iThemes.

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Did you just experience a 500 error on your WordPress website? Don’t panic. In this post, we’ll cover an example of how to fix a 500 error so you can quickly get your site back online.

What is a 500 Error?

A 500 Internal Server Error is an HTTP response status code. This means the server responded to an HTTP request by saying it encountered an error that it can’t recover from.

In plain English, a 500 error means your server has a problem. What causes a 500 error?

A 500 error is a generic server error. Quite a few things that can contribute to a server responding with the status. A 500 error is actually helpful because it narrows the problem down to your server.

The following are examples of what could be causing the 500 error and how to fix them:

1. Errors in the .htaccess File

A single extra character added to the .htaccess can cause the file to become corrupted. You can try to generate a new .htaccess to see if it helps. Delete the site’s current .htaccess and then save the WordPress Permalinks setting to generate a new .htaccess file.

2. Errors in the wp-config.php File

If there was a rule that was added incorrectly or written in the wrong code block, it could be too much for your server to handle. Your error logs will likely give you the exact line that is causing the server error. If you do not have error logging enabled, you will be required to do a little more legwork. Remove all of the non-WordPress code in the wp-config.php file. Now you can re-add it one code block at a time to narrow down what is causing the issue.

3. Inadequate File Permissions

If a PHP script that is needed to is located in a folder that isn’t allowed to run PHP, it can cause a 500 error. You can fix this by changing the file permissions or ownership to allow the file to execute PHP.

4. Server/Script Timeouts

Timeouts are the most common cause of 500 errors. A timeout is typically due to the server running out of resources in the middle of a job. If you run into a timeout error, you may see advice to manually increase the PHP memory and max_execution time in the PHP.ini, wp-config.php or .htaccess files, but I would suggest asking your host make the increase for you. You can change manually change your PHP memory and max_execution time to whatever you want but if your host has set a hard cap, the changes you make will not do anything.

5.PHP Errors

A plugin on your site could cause a fatal PHP error if it runs into any issues when trying to execute code. You can disable the plugin causing the error to get the site back online while you troubleshoot the PHP error.

How to Fix a 500 Error

Now let’s unpack how to fix a 500 error if you’re seeing one on your WordPress website.

1. Check your website’s error logs.
Tip: If you have enabled error logging for your WordPress website, the logs can give you a clue to what caused your site to go down. Some hosts only enable error logging upon request. Go ask your host right now if logging is turned on for your site.

To check your site’s error logs, you will need to log into your server via SFTP using your favorite FTP client. I personally use FileZilla, but there are many options available. After logging into the server, you will need to find your logs directory and then open your error log in a text editor.

If you don’t know what your SFTP username and password are or where your logs are stored, you can ask your host, and they will be able to answer both of these questions for you.

2. Find the most recent error in your error logs.

Now that you have your error log open, scroll to the bottom of the page to find the most recent error, which will give you a clue on how to fix the 500 error.

Looking at the error below, we can see that I currently have a PHP Fatal error.

PHP Fatal error: require(): Failed opening required '/home/mmoore/public_html/sync/wp-content/plugins/ithemes-security-pro/core/core.php' (include_path='.:/usr/local/lib/php') in /home/mmoore/public_html/sync/wp-content/plugins/ithemes-security-pro/ithemes-security-pro.php on line 77, referer: https:/yoursite.com/sync/wp-admin/plugins.php

At first glance, the error can look pretty confusing and intimidating. But let’s break the error into bite-size pieces, so it is easier to digest.

PHP Fatal error: require(): Failed opening required

The first bite is letting you know what type of error you are dealing with, which in our example, we have a PHP error. We can also see that the cause of the error is something that is required failed to open.


The next bit is letting you know where the PHP error is occurring, it is also known as the directory path.

3. Apply a temporary fix to get the site back online.

We can see that the source of the error may be coming from a plugin installed on the site, iThemes Security Pro. So before we continue to investigate the error, we should try disabling the plugin to see if that can be a temporary band-aid to get the site back online.

To do this, you’ll need to navigate to the plugins directory on your website from your FTP client.

If you’re new to browsing the files on your website, each / is a new folder. When you log into your server using an FTP client, you will likely start in the home directory of your website.

From the home folder, you will need to open the folder where your website resides (in this example, <tt?mmoore). Then you will open the public_html and follow the directory path to the plugins directory.

Now that we are in the plugins directory, we can manually disable the plugin by renaming the plugin folder. To do this, you can add .bak to the end of the folder name to make the new file name (for example: ithemes-security-pro.bak).

The plugin is now disabled, so let’s see if that help to bring the site back online.

Now, go back to your browser and reload the page to see if we still see the 500 error.

Great, we no longer see the error and the site is online! But our job isn’t finished. We only applied a temporary fix, and we need to finish the job. Let’s go back to the error logs.

4. Fix the source of the error.

We already looked at the first couple bits of the error, but let’s finish breaking down the error so we can figure out why our site went down in the first place.

(include_path='.:/usr/local/lib/php') in /home/mmoore/public_html/sync/wp-content/plugins/ithemes-security-pro/ithemes-security-pro.php on line 77 referer: https:/yoursite.com/sync/wp-admin/plugins.php

The next portion of the error is showing the file that requires the core.php file from the section of the error, and where we can find the file. The refer: is showing that the script that triggered the error was triggered from the sites plugin’s page.

Following the directory path, we can see we need to open the ithemes-security-pro.php file and look at line 77.

require( "$itsec_dir/core/core.php" );

Now the error is starting to make a little more sense. On line 77 of the ithemes-security-pro.php file, it is showing that the core.php file is required for the plugin to work. That is why we have the PHP Fatal error: require(): Failed opening required in our error logs.

Time to go back to our FTP client and follow the directory path to find the core.php file. There isn’t a core.php file in the home/mmoore/public_html/sync/wp-content/plugins/ithemes-security-pro directory. That would definitely cause the iThemes Security Pro plugin to fail.

Luckily, if you ever run into this it is a super easy and quick fix. Simply download a new version of iThemes Security Pro plugin and replace the corrupted version that is currently installed on our site.

Using our FTP client, we will need to navigate into the /wp-content/plugins/ directory.  From there, we can upload the folder containing the version of iThemes Security Pro we downloaded.

A cool thing about replacing iThemes Security Pro via FTP is that all of your settings will be saved. iThemes Security stores your settings in the database, so replacing the server files will not disrupt your configuration.

Now that we have replaced the corrupted version of the plugin we can safely reactivate iThemes Security Pro on the site.

That is it, and now you know how to fix 500 errors on your WordPress site.
  • 1. Check the error logs.
  • 2. Apply band-aid fix to get the site back online.
  • 3. Fix the source of the error.
Watch the Video: How to Fix a 500 Error

In this video tutorial, we show how to fix 500 errors in action.

How to Fix 500 Errors - YouTube

Check out more WordPress tutorials and tips from iThemes and subscribe to the new iThemes YouTube channel.

The post How to Fix a 500 Error On Your WordPress Website appeared first on iThemes.

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Among the speaker list for this year’s WordCamp Miami, you might have missed something unique about a couple of them—they’re kids:

  • 10-year-old Jayda Washington-Boothe
  • 11-year-old Miles Lifton

Of course, being a kid is far from disqualifying. And WordCamp Miami’s inclusion of kids in their speaker lineup serves as a good reminder about the importance of encouraging kids in technology, so we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to highlight it.

Jayda has been coding since kindergarten and is now a third-grade honor roll student. She’s a proud member of Black Girls Code and recently started using WordPress. She’s also got big dreams:

“Her future dream is to run track and field in the Olympics, become an engineer, and own and build her own mansion and homeless shelter.”

Miles has several years of programming experience, with a specialty in Python and knowledge in C/C++, HTML, PHP, CSS, JavaScript and more. Miles has served as a committee member for Be The Difference Foundation, Sofia’s Hope, and Polyblox Totems educational toys.

You can check out Miles’ WordPress chops with LanguageIsNotaBarrier.com, a site devoted to fostering world peace.

Kids at WordCamp

This year’s WordCamp Miami offered a special kids camp, including tracks for two different age groups and a kids panel. That’s right, a panel of kids to share insights for adults: “Because it’s vital for current WordPress users, developers, and product makers to know what the next generation is using.”

Focusing on kids at WordCamp is nothing new—one of the first instances was Phoenix back in 2011—but it’s exciting to see it continue.

You can also check out the recap video from WordCamp Miami 2017 to see their work with kids:

WordCamp Miami: Kids Camp 2017 - YouTube

Encouraging Kids in Tech

It’s always encouraging to see kids getting involved in technology. How often does the bio of a WordPress pro include something about coding their first site as a teen (or younger)?

Whether it’s coding or creating, the kids are doing something. It reminds us of our free ebook, Kids Creating Stuff Online: Inspiring the Innovators of the Future.

For more on getting kids involved in tech, check out the book So, You Want to Be a Coder? and organizations such as The Div, Code.org, honorCode, Black Girls Code, Kids & Code, and many others.

The post Celebrating Kids in WordPress appeared first on iThemes.

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