Jetpack 1.7 Custom CSS = Awesome+++

Wow. This is awesome.

wordpress-jetpack-pluginAutomattic, creators of WordPress and their ultra cool Jetpack plugin, have added custom CSS to the already extensive array of features. The reason why this is such a big deal to me is because this make customizing your current theme really easy.

Back in the day if you wanted to change the hyperlink color of your site or make the font larger you would have edit the theme files. Then, when there was an update to the theme, you would need to decide whether you wanted the new features or keep your customizations.

With the 3.x releases Child themes were enabled so that you could make these customizations a little easier. The issue with child themes was that they were overkill for simple edits. The other issue with child themes is that they could get a little complicated if the parent theme wasn’t really setup for children.

Do I Hear Responsiveness?

responsive-web-designThe other cool thing about being to edit the CSS without building a child theme is making your currently theme “responsive”. Being responsive means that your website changes to accommodate your current screen size whether it is a computer, tablet, or smart phone. Responsive themes are all the rage right now so this is definitely something that can help.

I like the different features that Jetpack offers but the addition of custom CSS is the best feature so far.

Thanks Jetpack Devs!

How to Embed Articles & Ideabooks in Self-Hosted WordPress Posts & Pages

Whew! That is a long title. I felt that I needed to get all those words in there because this issue put me in a pickle this morning.

So how do you embed Articles and Ideabooks from in you self-hosted WordPress site? Unfortunately WordPress does not allow you to do this without a plugin (if you are on a blog they have added support). The plugin that I used on my site is EmbedIt Pro by SuperThemes.

The EmbedIt Pro plugin allows you to enter the embed text separately in a custom post type and then creates a short code to use in your post or page. The cool thing about using this plugin for this is that you can use the same embed code on multiple posts and/or pages or on your sidebar.

Here are a couple of examples of this plugin. The first is the article that sent me on my quest. It is about Stair Runners.

This is my “Back Yard Ideas” IdeaBook.

So there you have it. An easy way to embed embeds or any other JavaScript/CSS/HTML that you may want on 1 or many WordPress post or pages.

WordPress Content Blocks, CSS Gradients, and Free Icon Fonts

Here are a couple links to some cool things I found in regard to web design today.

WordPress Content Blocks

This is a simple WordPress plugin that allows you to create segments of text that can be used anywhere around your site. This can be done via a short code in a post or page or in your theme with a php snippet of code.

What would you use this for? Maybe for inserting Adsense code in various places, adding disclaimer info, or any other text/images/HTML that you may have in many places that may change from time to time.

You can read more about it on the WPMange blog here – Global Content Blocks

CSS Gradients

As browsers start to catch up with the latest CSS abilities it can still seem easier to use images as opposed to CSS for gradient backgrounds. As any web designer worth their salt knows you want to use the least amount of images as possible. With this article you can down and dirty with CSS gradients and come out on top. – Mastering CSS Gradients in Less than an Hour

Free Icon Fonts

With continuing with the theme of using the least amount of images possible, one of the latest trends is to now create custom fonts that are actually icons. The main reason for this is that fonts scale much better then images and with today’s range of screen sizes and formats this allows things to be simplified.

This article expounds on this topic and also offers up several free fonts that you can use right now in your designs. –Free Icon Fonts

OnLive Desktop iPad App Puts Windows 7 in Your Hands Via the Cloud

This one is filed – what will they think of next.

It is now possible to have a fully functional copies of Windows 7 and Office 2010 running on your iPad. Not only that, it’s free!

Streaming via the cloud is nothing new to OnLive as they have been streaming video games for a while. In fact it was about a month ago that they started streaming big ticket games to iOS and Android devices. I guess the next logical step to them was to offer the platform that these games ran on – Windows PC’s.

Side Note

Before I go any further you may be asking why this tried and true Apple fan is interested in running Windows on his iOS device. To some running Windows on an iPad would seem like a unforgivable since – which in most cases it would be. But, the web design/developer in me is jumping up and down inside because this could be the easiest way to check cross-browser compatibility. Internet Explorer is the only browser that you cannot get on the Mac so we are always tasked into finding access to IE in one form or another in order to get our pages to conform to IE inconsistencies.Unfortunately Windows still dominates the world and therefore we must learn to to play with the popular kid in school.

Moving on… Continue reading OnLive Desktop iPad App Puts Windows 7 in Your Hands Via the Cloud

WordPress iOS App Gets a Complete Work Over in Version 2.7

The iOS WordPress team just announced that the 2.7 version of their app has just hit the app store. I am actually typing and will publish this post from the app.

Already the app feels very solid. I have not had any crashes or login issues that have plagued several of the previous versions. It has been sad actually because WordPress as a platform has been very stable in the last few years. The iOS team has had a rough patch there for a while but I think that they are out of the woods with the 2.7 release.

From their post about the release they mention that their focus was primarily on performance and reliability with 117 bugs being squashed. I appreciate the effort that they have put in ;-).

Testing the App

Now I will run a couple of tests to see how this new release handles things.

Continue reading WordPress iOS App Gets a Complete Work Over in Version 2.7

New Project – Austin Turf Grass

I just started a new project today for a company called Austin Turf Grass. They provide sod that you put in your yard and this is all that they do. The are very focused on quality and have been in business since 1984.

I have setup a temporary page for them at their new domain name which is

I am expecting to have the website up and running by the end of March.

Next Step Capital Partners

Next Step Capital Partners is a new investment company that operates similar to a VC but instead of taking an equity stake in the company they accept repayment as a percentage of revenue. It is a unique approach to funding and they needed a strong online presence to clearly identify what differentiates them. I worked with several members of the marketing team of Good Goliath in planning, project management, and the launch of their website.

The significance of this project was the size and the timeline in which it needed to be launched. The website and the initially marketing plan where executed with 30 days of out initially discover meeting. For a new business this was a huge undertaking in such a short period of time.

The launch of the business and website coincided with them being featured in Austin American Statesman and Austin Business Journal.

The Next Step Capital Partners website can be viewed at

Business Bank of Texas

Business Bank of Texas (BBoT) is bank focused on providing banking services for businesses in Central Texas. In 2010 BBoT wanted to expand its online presence in order to generate new business. I worked with the marketing firm Good Goliath as an Internet Strategist to formulate a website redesign along with a social media marketing strategy. Part of this strategy was building out a Business Resource Center where guest authors publish blog posts, articles, podcasts, and videos in regard to topics and subjects targeted toward business in Central Texas. The website launch was a great success and BBoT is establishing itself a trusted resource for local businesses.

In 2011 I continue to work with Good Goliath to build out a comprehensive marketing plan to utilize the website via social media, email, and webinars.

The Business Bank of Texas website can be visited at

Nailing Down Slow Performance in WordPress

I originally published this post this way back in may 2006. To date it is the most popular post on my site. Since then though a lot of tools have come out that make diagnosing a slow WordPress install a little easier. Here are sow updated tips that can help you get in the right direction.

Tip #1 – What Plugins are You Running?

My original post outlined how I had disabled all of my plugins and reverted my site back to the default WordPress theme to find out if the site would run fine at it’s basic level. From there I added plugins back one-by-one until I found which one slowed my site down. You can still troubleshoot it that way but there is an easier way.

Jason Jacobs linked to my original article from his article in which he had learned how to use Firebug, a Firefox/IE browser plugin, to find what plugin was slowing his site down. In Firebug their is an inspector that will tell you how long it is taking individual items to load. If there is is a plugin that is not optimized then it is probably going to stand out so you can see if their is an update or an alternative for it.

In my case when I originally wrote the article it was a Lightbox plugin that slowing my site down. I deactivated the plugin and found another one that load quicker. Issue solved.

Here are links to Jason Jacobs article and the Firebug plugin:

Tip #2 – Cache Baby, Cache

The biggest strength and weakness of WordPress in my opinion is the that it is a completely database driven CMS. This is good in that only the parts of the site that you are editing get updated when you hit save unlike MovableType which has to rewrite ever page of the site. The downfall to being database driven is that ever time you load a page or post in your browser then the database needs to be queried in order to render the page.

Enter caching.

What caching does is make a temporary snapshot of each page and post of your site and gives that to your visitors instead of querying the database. This results in your pages and posts being served up much quicker and also reduces the load on your server. When you update a page the caching plugin automatically rewrites its copy so that your visitors get the newer version.

I have started to roll out caching on my WordPress sites and for some of my clients and I have to say that I have been impressed. There is a noticeable difference in how quick pages are loaded. This makes me especially happy since recently Google has stated that they are now going to incorporate page load times into the algorithm they use to determine search engine results. That means you can actually rank lower in search engine results if you site loads slowly.

The other benefit to caching is that if you get a large rush of traffic all of a sudden from a site like digg, Facebook, or Twitter. Without caching most shared hosting cannot query the database quick enough to WordPress show the message “Unable to Establish Database Connection” instead of your page or post. This can be a nightmare if you were trying to make affiliate or Adsense revenue off the page.

I personally use the WP Super Cache and I have been very happy with it. Note: Setup can be a little involved. Be sure to read the instructions carefully so that it is installed properly on your site.

  • W3 Total Cache – Caching, JS and CSS optimization, and CDN (Content Delivery Network) support
  • CloudFlare – This is not a plugin but a caching service for your website. I am currently trying it and am impressed with the results so far. This service will also keep your site up if your hosting goes down.

Tip #3 – Who is Your Host?

You have scrubbed your plugins and they all load around the same amount of time. You have installed the caching plugin and you saw a little improvement. Unfortunately though your site is still loading slow.

What could it be?

Your hosting.

I have been working with WordPress for around 5 years now and I have run it on a lot of different hosting companies. The reason for using different companies was that I had done all on my end for my sites to run good but their servers just could not keep up. From downtime to slowness I have seen a few not so good hosting companies out there.

The reason for the slowness of certain web hosting companies comes down to volume. They just have too may people/web sites on a single server. WordPress especially puts a load on MySQL servers as most people do not use caching. The only way to remedy this is to switch hosting companies.

Personally I have used Hostgator (affiliate link) for the last 3 years and have been very happy with them. I run about 20 websites on their shared hosting and get about 10k visitis a month without an issue. I have also started to use on one site to test their WordPress only hosting. So far it is speedy and they are quick to make updates to WordPress so I don’t have to.

From my experience here is a list of host that have not been so great running WordPress:

  • Godaddy – great for domain names but hosting is not so great – They are also partnered up with CloudFlare
  • Network Solutions – not great for domain names or hosting IMO
  • Jodo Host – This is who I had before Hostgator. They are better now but still not as good as Hostgator

If you have tried the other too solutions above and still are having issue then I would check out a different hosting company.


You may notice that some of the comments below in regard to this article are old – very old. That is because I originally wrote this article in May of 2006. In that time I have got a lot a traffic to it but after 4 years the material was dated. I just refreshed the article in June 2012 so to info should be good for a while. Happy troubleshooting!