6 Ways to Improve Your Online Security

Cyber Security

As our businesses and personal lives are increasingly conducted online, it is more important than ever to keep our digital activities as safe and secure as possible. Here I will share some tips for safeguarding not only your website but your personal digital presence in general.

1) Keep your apps and software up to date, including WordPress

One of the main reasons why software developers provide regular updates is for security patches. So if you are running old software versions you are potentially exposing your computer to security vulnerabilities that have long since been fixed. This includes your computer itself — you are much safer if you keep your computer’s operating system up to date. I know some of you are reluctant to update your OS because of certain software compatibility issues (*cough* Adobe CS6 *cough*), but you should really consider whether it’s worth running an old OS that is vulnerable to all kinds of viruses and malware.

Also, if you have a WordPress blog, you MUST regularly update it and all its plugins to the latest versions! It’s easy, just log in to the WP admin and click the updates link in the menu when it shows that updates are available. Just follow the directions there and after a few clicks it’s all done.

Continue reading

5 Common Admin Mistakes to Watch Out For

Homer at workWith the WideRange Galleries Admin software, I strive to provide robust yet intuitive tools to manage all of your galleries, photos, prints, and other website content. While some website companies opt to make their admin panels as easy as possible by dumbing down the available options, I prefer to offer more powerful tools even though I realize that in some cases it may increase the risk of confusion or misuse. In this article I will explain the most common pitfalls that clients sometimes make in the WideRange Admin.

1) Overuse of Embedded Formatting in Text

The WideRange Admin features advanced text field editors that make it easy to add links, insert images or videos, add lists, or apply special styling to text. It is this last feature that is often abused, particularly when it comes to changing text colors and alignment.

Keep in mind that these text editors are NOT what-you-see-is-what-you-get text editors! Your text will look different on your website than it looks in the admin. For example, in the admin text editors the text is always black on a white background, but your website might have light grey text on a black background. The default fonts and font sizes will also be different. Your website already applies default text styling and formatting, so there’s no need to apply it manually in the admin. There’s almost never a need to change your text colors or text alignments in the admin, except for occasional unique circumstances. The key is to only embed text colors or alignments sparingly, only when necessary for a specific unique purpose. If you find yourself regularly changing the text color or alignments of entire paragraphs, you’re probably doing it wrong and it would be better to contact me to change your default text styling for your website instead.

It is best practice to keep your text as clean and free of embedded formatting as possible. Overuse of embedded text styling or formatting inevitably leads to inconsistent looking pages, which in turn looks unprofessional. Also, when you have an overabundance of embedded text styling/formatting it makes it very difficult to modify later on, for example if you want to update your website design or fonts in the future. Because instead of just updating the default site-wide CSS text styling in one swoop, you then have to go in and change or remove all the individual bits of embedded styling throughout your data, which is a huge pain.

Remember, if you keep your text data as clean and raw as possible, your website will look more consistent and it will be much easier to update in the future.

Continue reading

Comments, Anyone?

Lately I’ve been implementing features into the WideRange v.5.0 software to enable some more blog-like functionalities within the galleries and other pages.

One such feature is the ability to easily add the Disqus commenting system to any gallery, product, or other page of the website! You can activate commenting on a page simply by toggling a button for that page in the admin. Here’s what it looks like on my site:

disqus-screenshot

For some live examples, I’ve activated commenting on my recent Trip Report galleries; here’s an example. These kinds of journal or article pages are well suited for encouraging comments, feedback, and discussion.

By enabling comments along with a combination of “journal menu” and “large photos” gallery formats, you can set up a layout similar to a blog – all within the WideRange Galleries software, and it’s so much simpler and easier to manage than WordPress.

All you need to do to activate commenting on your website is to sign up for a Disqus account and then enter your Disqus “shortname” into the WideRange admin settings. You can find detailed instructions in the WideRange admin at the Settings > Comment Settings page.

Another recent feature that can be used effectively to create blog-like articles is the new and improved text editor. The new editor allows you to easily insert images from the database (or upload new ones), all within the text flow, along with captions as well. If you haven’t tried this yet, be sure to play around with it; it’s a subtle but powerful feature if you take advantage of it.

While these features don’t constitute a fully functional blog, they do make it a lot easier to create and manage a simple “blog-like” presentation in your gallery website, without having to slog around in WordPress. Enjoy!

Quick Edit and Batch Edit

I’ve recently added a couple useful features to the WideRange Galleries 4.0 admin control panel to make it even more powerful and user friendly to manage your photos, prints, and products!

Edit in Place

The first is “quick edit” – also known as “edit in place” – which allows you to edit photo or product data directly from the data list. When you’re looking at a list of gallery photos or the list of products, instead of needing to go into a secondary editing page to modify a particular photo or product, you can simply just click on whatever data you want to change. That data will instantly switch into an input form where you can enter your new data and save it – all without leaving the page! This is a much faster and easier method of editing your data.

I’ve implemented the quick-edit feature for the photos and products – the two sections of the admin where you’re dealing with lots of data and where the quick-edit ability will prove most beneficial. The pages that are quick-edit enabled are labeled as such, and as you roll your mouse over the data you’ll see a blue rollover color that signifies the editable data. Just click on anything and edit it!

The second new feature is a photo batch-edit tool, where you can select however many photos you want and edit their location, keywords, and/or search tags all in one swoop! This could save a huge amount of time if you want to add certain keywords or search tags to an entire gallery of photos at once, without having to edit each photo individually.

Generic Payment Page

Generic Payment pageJust in case you weren’t aware, if you’re on version 4.0 of the admin you’ve got a generic payment page! The address is at https://www.YOURSITE.COM/payment/ So, for example, mine is at: https://www.mountainphotography.com/payment/

This comes in handy when you need to receive money from a customer for something that doesn’t have a set price on your website and thus can’t be put into the shopping cart. Most commonly this is useful for image licensing, which almost always involves a variety of pricing numbers depending on the client and the image usage. You can send the customer an invoice along with a link to your generic payment page, making it easier for everyone involved!

External Gallery Links

Did you know, the gallery URLs can accept external links? Here’s how this works:

When you add a gallery, you enter a URL code for the gallery – normally it’s just one or two words to describe the gallery in its page address. So for example a gallery URL of “aerial-photos” would correspond to a gallery page address of “http://www.yourWebsite.com/gallery/aerial-photos/”. With this standard usage of the URL codes, all the gallery pages will be contained within your website.

But what if you want to link a gallery thumbnail to a page outside of your website? In that case, just enter the full website address in the URL field, including the entire “http://www…” part of the address. The program automatically checks to see if a gallery’s URL code includes a full website address, and if so, it simply links to that page rather than creating the usual internal gallery link. So to continue the above example, instead of a simple URL code such as “aerial-photos“, if you enter the URL code as an entire website address like “http://www.someOtherWebsite.com/aerial-photography” then the gallery thumbnail for that gallery will simply link to that external website page. In other words, that gallery won’t display photos at all; it will simply exist as a placeholder to link to that external link.

A practical example of how I use this feature myself can be seen on my Trip Reports gallery page. That page is set up as a gallery with each entry existing as a sub-gallery. However, many of the sub-galleries there are actually empty of photos and simply link out to pages on my blog website – which is a different website than my gallery site (even though it looks similar). Thus, I’m able to maintain a gallery of all my trip reports, each of which might link to another internal gallery, or they might link to an external blog post.

Here are some other possible ways to utilize this feature:
• Maybe you have another relevant website, such as a stock archive on some other stock photography website. You could add an external gallery link to this within your main galleries list.
• You could include gallery links to blog posts, like my trip reports example above.
• You could create a gallery of favorite Links, an have all the formatting and thumbnail options that the gallery structure offers, rather than the simple format of the standard Links page.