What Is Browser Cache and Why Do You ‘Clear It’?!

A laptop open with a web browser

A laptop open with a web browser

“Clear your cache” is a phrase we hear a lot when trying to fix an issue with our internet browser. When you search for a solution to most browsing errors you’ll notice the number one recommendation is always to ‘clear your cache’ first.

But what is cache exactly? Why do we have to clear it? What is its purpose of doing so, and why is this ‘cache’ there to begin with? The answer to these mysteries in more awaits you in this article.

What Is Browser Cache?

Cache is pronounced CASH (and if used properly with website optimization services, it can mean cash for your web page). However, cache has nothing to do with money. Cache is, put simply, your browser’s memory of your browser history.

If I sing “A-B-C-D….” and ask you to finish, you know from memory of singing the alphabet song that the next letters are E, F, and G. You already have that ingrained into your head; into your own personal memory cache. These memories are what defines cache data. Cached images and files are remembered so that the next time your internet connects with a website it’s already been too, it loads quicker.

How Does Cache Work?

When you visit a website for the first time, your browsing cache will be sure to take note and remember the site’s data. When you visit that same web page again, your computer remembers what was on that site. Remembering what was already there makes loading faster and allows you to get the information quickly. Instead of having to learn the website’s pictures over and over again, your browser remembers right away what was there before; recalling it from memory like your ABCs.

When your computer’s memory is too slow to keep up with a constantly updating internet your computer uses cache instead. Storing these temporary internet files helps shorten the time it takes to access the data.

Google Chrome browsers, Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox use browsing cache to save your browsing history. Web browsers can reach cached file data much quicker than they can from the data on the website itself.

What Does Clearing Cache Do?

Sometimes in collecting too much cache we can run into problems with how it loads the information from a website. If someone has updated their website and what type of web caching it’s putting out, they may be trying to improve the performance of the site. However, in doing so they may be giving the wrong signals to the information you cache already has stored.

When this happens, it’s good to clear your cache; wiping the slate clean so fresh information can be added in the future. Moving furniture around your home will rewire your brain to remember where everything is. Sometimes you might think to sit in a chair that is no longer there!

It’s not always an update that causes a browser issue. Sometimes there is too much cache data being processed and the cache gets confused. This is why clearing all your cache can really help fix an issue. Everything starts over new!

Browser Cache vs. Web Cache: Getting Good Web Optimization

Website data and how it loads can make or break a browsing experience. With clever website optimization services, Quadshot Digital can make sure your website has the latest version of everything it needs to create great web caching. Contact us today and we can make your site delightful for your target market.

Cyber Security: How to Tell If Your Website Is Secure

In a world where online interactions play a more central role in business than ever before, it’s absolutely vital that your website becomes one of the best weapons in your arsenal. To truly unlock the full potential of the site, however, it’s imperative that you keep it secured.

Without the right protection, your company could be exposed to a range of attacks while clients and employees alike will have concerns regarding trust. Here’s how you can tell if your online facilities boast the cybersecurity they deserve, as well as some tips to make your site more secure.

How to Audit Website Security and Protect Your Site

Encrypt the dataaudit website security

Data encryption is one of the most important features of a safe and secured business site. SSL certification is easily recognized because your domain address will change from ‘HTTP’ to ‘HTTPS’, which means visitors will instantly know whether your site boasts the right cybersecurity.

To gain SSL certification, you need to choose the right web hosting package. Next, you’ll need to download the SSL encryption software (which isn’t expensive) before installing it to your site from the backend of CMS system. If you’re having trouble, our experts are here to support you.

The encryption is ultimately there to ensure that any information entered by the user travels from site to server in a protected fashion. If your site has the magic ‘s’ in the domain, this is a great place to start.

Use a website seal

Protecting data that is being transferred during online interactions is a vital first step as it will keep hackers at bay. However, Malware and viruses are the other major concerns that must be addressed right away. Otherwise, it could spell disaster for the business as well as the clients.

A Site Seal is a security tool that actively monitors your site for Malware that may have been uploaded by hackers. You can think of it as like having an antivirus software running for your website. Aside from the direct benefits, seeing the badge will comfort visitors and deter hackers.

A website Security Seal is even cheaper than the SSL certification. So, you can protect the site in both ways for under $100. Given that this small investment can prevent an array of cyber threats and attacks, you’d be a fool to skip this any longer. After all, 60% of attacks happen to SMEs with under 1,000 employees.

Be prepared for the worst

Protecting your website and business with the right cyber security should be the priority as prevention is always the best form of protection. Nevertheless, the fact that some of the biggest companies on the planet have still suffered virtual attacks should highlight the fact that you’ll never be 100% safe. That’s why you need a team like Quadshot Digital helping you secure your site and taking the proper steps for security from the beginning.

Build a Safer Website with Quadshot Digital

A safe website is a better website that will put you and your clients’ minds at ease. Visitors will demand other features such as accessible contact details. While this will help build trust, getting the security measures under control is top of the agenda. Contact the experts at Quadshot Digital to help with your website security today.

Why Use WordPress?

WordPress

What is WordPress you ask? WordPress is the most popular open source Content Management System (CMS) available today. Over 75 million websites are using it. This CMS is unique because it has thousands of plugins and WordPress templates that create a flexible and straightforward interface. Traits like these help reduce deployment time and development costs. There are plenty more reasons why we use WordPress here at Quadshot.

Why Use WordPress? WordPress

Here at Quadshot, we have many years of experience accumulating knowledge and resources. This makes it easy for us to deploy high-quality websites. Here are a few reasons why we use WordPress for each of our clients.

Popularity

If there were a CMS contest, WordPress would win every year. It holds the largest CMS market share and currently accounts for about 25% of all websites today. As a result, plenty of users have familiarized themselves with WordPress CMS software, requiring less training of staff when creating new sites.

Open source

Because WordPress is self-hosted, there are no costs associated with downloading, installing or upgrading. There are over 50,000 WP plugins available for users to pick and choose from. A few examples would be slideshows, SEO optimization, contact forms, Smart Links, and more.

Highly customizable

WordPress is widely used because it meets and exceeds the demands of its users. The flexibility of its framework grants designers and developers the opportunity to create and modify applications and layouts. Paired with user-generated extensions, websites aren’t limited to enterprise extensions.

Quadshot has experience with extending WP functionality, as well as including a wide range of plugins, to exceed our client’s needs and demands.

Designed for anyone

Often, web development is not easy. WordPress was developed for those who are not that tech-savvy. With that being said, most of the user-interface components are simple and easy to use.

The written, recorded manuals make it easy to learn the WP functions. Quadshot will handle all the complexities of customizing and setting up your website. All you need to do is update the content on your pages, widgets, and posts. This is one of the main reasons why we use WordPress.

Don’t Stress, Use WordPress

WordPress might be precisely what your website needs to improve your customer experience. For assistance on creating your WordPress website, Contact us at Quadshot today!

WordPress Security – Version 4.7.2 Fixes Vulnerabilities

WordPress Security Update

WordPress Security is very important.  Wordpress is great, but since it is the most popular web publishing system in the world, it is makes WordPress a hackers biggest target.

Luckily the people at Automattic keep on top of the issues and release Security and Bug updates.

WordPress 4.7.2 Security Release is an example. It closes some potential Security holes.

To prevent getting hacked, it is important to keep your software up to date.

Some best practices to prevent having a VERY bad day:

  1. Keep your WordPress and Plugins up to date
  2. Choose plugins that are currently being maintained, and compatible with your current WordPress (this is not always possible, but a good ideal)
  3. Always have a backup – offsite from the server you host your website
  4. Host with someone who knows security – server network, server software and WordPress

Some people do it themselves, others hire someone to do it. (obvious pitch: Quadshot has WordPress Hosting and Maintenance Programs.)

Here’s a writeup from ZDNet about the potential dangers:

WordPress patches dangerous XSS, SQL injection bugs | ZDNet

WordPress has patched three security flaws including a cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability and SQL injection problem which could lead to the creation of new vulnerabilities. Last week, the content management system’s (CMS) developers said in a security advisory that the new fixes resolve three important security issues, all of which impact WordPress versions 4.7.1 and earlier.

WooCommerce Subscriptions hits 2.1

One of the biggest changes to the popular WooCommerce Subscriptions plugins is the addition of some great features

  • Subscription Reports
  • Failed Recurring Payments Retry
  • Manual Payment Retry
  • New Cancellation Dates

and several other features including new customizable emails and others…

For the overview, check out this update on WooCommerce.com.

What’s New in Subscriptions 2.1 – WooCommerce Docs

WooCommerce Subscriptions version 2.1 has been in development for more than a year. This major new version introduced two big features as well as many smaller features and improvements. This guide covers everything that is new and improved in WooCommerce Subscriptions version 2.1.

Quadshot’s Favorite WordPress Plugins

wp logo Here’s some of our team’s favorite WordPress Plugins:

OpenTickets Community Edition – A plugin very close to our Quadshot hearts ever since we released it to world and the WordPress community in 2014. OpenTickets Community Edition is a free event management and online ticket sales platform, built on top of WooCommerce. Yes, that’s right we are the creators of this amazing easy to set-up, easy to use, easy to manage online ticket sales plugin. Downloaded OpenTickets and sell tickets and/or products to your very own event today. Chris Webb, Co-Founder and CTO said, “OpenTickets Community Edition is flexible, easy to use, and provides me hours of interaction with random people in the world.”

Advanced Custom Fields – At the very core this plugin provides developers with intuitive and easy to use fields. Advanced Custom Fields is the perfect solution for providing more flexible data to your website. The API allows you to quickly display field data in your theme and you can format the value depending on the field type, making development quicker and easier. Quadshot Developer Robert Gillmer said, “It makes it easy for me to look like a Rockstar. It’s the best way to make navigating the back-end as easy as possible for the clients.”

Buddypress – Social networking is one of the main components today in building your business. Buddypress can do this with your WordPress website with member/membership profiles, user groups, private messaging, activity streams, notifications and many more amazing social networking features. Senior Developer, Tom Smith considers this to be is favorite big WP plugin.

WooSlider – The ultimate responsive slideshow plugin created by WooThemes for WordPress is one of the most used plugins by our team on sites requiring a slideshow. Easy to use, this paid plugin will run you around $49 – $149 depending on the license you need. Create and add a responsive slide-show anywhere on your website using the WooSlider widgets or shortcodes. Quadshot’s Founder, Michael Cremean said “It lets the customer control content in unique ways and it is very easy to customize. We love when the customer can control their own content”

Features by WooThemes – This plugin allows you the ability to feature products, offers, sponsors and even companies by using a widget, short-code or template tag. A free plugin, Features can create unique display areas on your pages with the opportunity to link these areas back to any page you like. Display images and/or content, manage how data is shown and the use of categories allows for additional display options. This is actually my favorite WordPress plugin. I have used this plugin in most of the sites that I have worked on. It’s so easy to use and gives me great display effects.

Quick Tip: You can also find most of Quadshot’s favorite WordPress Plugins by going to your plugins tab > add New Plugin > to the left of the search bar you will sell the tabs Featured | Popular | Recommended | Favorites > click Favorites > type in Quadshot.  This will display some of the main plugins that we use when building sites for our customers.

Getting Requirements Right First Time

It is less expensive and certainly more efficient to get requirements right the first time.   It is a truism that trying to change a computer system AFTER it has been built can be much more expensive than having done it right the first time. This is even true of systems built using Content Management Systems like WordPress – although WP does make this much easier!

Oftentimes the reasons why systems are built that end up having to be changed is because we don’t ask the right questions, and listen to what the client THINKS they want – not what they really NEED. As techs we can also sometimes be caught up with all the bells and whistles that can be built into a system, rather than concentrating on what is actually needed and the business processes involved.

If you were a tractor-mower salesman trying to sell to a potential customer, you might be tempted to blind them with features – particularly if you were hustling a more expensive model.

You might ask questions like:

  • What power engine do you want?
  • How wide a blade do you need?
  • Do you want power start for the mower?

These are issues that need to be resolved, but your potential customer may not have a clue how to answer them.
How much BETTER would it be if you asked questions like this:

  • How BIG is your yard?
  • Is there any slope on your lawn?
  • Are there any trees in the way?

You can see that these are questions your customer can easily answer, and will guide you as to the best model for the job.
Similarly, questions about computer systems and websites should be couched in terms that show an understanding of the goal a potential client wants to achieve, rather than blinding them with science and techno-babble.

Asking the right questions instead of selling a bill of goods can ensure that you get the Requirements right the first time.

 

Writing a WordPress Plugin – Where to Begin

How do you starting writing a WordPress plugin?

Today, I started writing a post about the beginning steps of making a WooCommerce Extension, when suddenly it occurred to me that I should start from the beginning instead.

What are some skills you needed in writing a WordPress Plugins? What are some things you need to think about when starting? There is a lot to cover just in these basic questions.

Making a simple plugin is actually easy. Truthfully, there are resources available to you on WordPress.org which detail everything you need to actually commit the act of writing a plugin. The gist of the article is that there are a few simple steps:

  • Choose a unique name. Usually this means having a unique identifier that shows your plugin was written by you, and a generic name appended to that which describes the function of the plugin. For example, I might call my plugin ‘loushou-hello-world’, “loushou” being my screen name on WordPress.org, and “hello-world” being a description of what the plugin does.
  • Create a directory in your /wp-content/plugins/ folder using that name. In my case I would use /wp-content/plugins/loushou-hello-world/.
  • Create a file in that directory using the name of your plugin. In my case: /wp-content/plugins/loushou-hello-world/loushou-hello-world.php
  • Add some header comments to that file that tell WordPress a little about your plugin:
    <?php
    /**
     * Plugin Name: Loushou - Hello World
     * Plugin URI: http://quadshot.com/hello-world-plugin/
     * Description: Adds a 'hello world' message to the admin.
     * Version: 0.1.0
     * Author: Loushou
     * Author URI: https://profiles.wordpress.org/loushou/
     * License: GPL2
     */
  • Add some functionality to your plugin so that it does what you say it does…

They make it pretty simple. With that in mind, you may be wondering ‘what skills do I need to make one of these things?’ The bottom line is that you at least need some skills with PHP to make a plugin. ‘Nice to have’ skills are HTML, Javascript and CSS. In very rare other situations you may need other programming language skills.

You need to have a strong ability to figure out and solve problems. You also need to be able to ‘forward-think’ because you don’t want to have to keep rewriting your plugin from scratch when you want to add something awesome to it. So basically, you need to be a programmer with a skillset centered around PHP development.

In addition, if you want to make the plugin available on WordPress.org, then you will also need at least a basic understanding of SVN and how to use it (or at least the ability to Google it).

The requirements seem pretty straight forward to this point, huh? Great. Well, now that we are past that, there are several things to think about when making a plugin. Everyone’s list is different, but this is my list of things you should know or seek out before you write a plugin:

  • What version of PHP and MySQL should I be compatible with, when I make a WordPress plugin? You can find this answer in the Requirements page on WordPress.org, but the short answer is PHP 5.2.4 (PHP 5.4 or higher is recommended) and MySQL 5.0 or higher.
  • What types of environments should I make my plugin compatible with? All kinds. You have no idea where your plugin will be installed, what software they are using on that system, and the OS could even be something you’ve never heard of. An experience PHP programmer knows how to make their code cross platform compatible, which is not necessarily as easy as it sounds.
  • What programming techniques should I use when making the plugin? Remember, WordPress uses PHP 5. That means that you have an Object Oriented language to work with. I cannot tell you how many times I see plugins that are written like they have been around since PHP 4. There is no reason to make a completely procedural plugin. Use your PHP 5 knowledge and make your plugin a class or object (or series thereof), not a list of functions that have your pseudonym in the function name. Using OOP can give you access to all kinds of time and resource saving techniques, and it can help organize your code. So if you want to make a good plugin, stop using PHP 4 style programming.
  • What are Actions and Filters in WordPress, and how do I use them? You can find out the basic information on the Plugins API page, but the gist is that they are key to building in your own functionality or modifying the existing functionality. It is also very important that you understand how to incorporate these into your plugin, because you never know how it may be used or what functionality someone may want to add to it.
  • How do I find out how something works in core WordPress? I would say this is by far the most important thing on the list. You have to not only have a need to go looking for the information, but you need to be bold enough to actually go looking, to find what you need, and to fiddle with it to figure out how to use it. DO NOT be afraid to hunt something down in core, because it will always give you awesome information you never knew before, that you can use now and in the future.
  • Where can I ask questions? If you cannot figure something out, do not be afraid to ask. The community is very knowledgeable. If you have a problem, or need an answer to something, either someone out there has already asked the question or someone out there knows the answer. That is not to say ‘start by asking’. Explore on your own first, checkout the Documentation since there is a probably a page that explains what your are looking for, and if you hit a road block, ask. Everyone needs a hand sometimes, and asking the community will almost always get you some help.

That’s it for now. Hopefully you have an understanding of what types of information you need to gather before starting to write a plugin, and maybe you have a few new resources to pull from. Next time, we will go through actually creating a basic plugin. That process should get you a solid footing on making your own. Past that, we will talk about OpenTickets Community Edition, and some of the obstacles we had to overcome when making that plugin.

WordCamp St. Louis

Had a great time at WordCamp St. Louis!

Great speakers. I always learn new approaches and find new tools at WordCamp…

This morning I spoke on E-Commerce with WooCommerce, and honored to sit on a panel for Q&A from all the Users this afternoon.

Turns out I also got to meet an OpenTickets in person who was attending this WordCamp!

This was my first time in St. Louis and a great city vibe here. (The BBQ was amazing…)

Thank you to everyone who puts this on. WordCamps are a great learning experience.

Jetting back home to Vegas for a commitment on Sunday a few friends richer and with new knowledge.

 

 

 

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