The last thing I want to talk about in this course on building a Professional Services website is caching. The reason why I left caching to the very end is because that’s what you want to do when building your site.
Leave Caching Off Until Site Is Completed
You should never have any caching happening on your site while you’re working on it. Caching just doesn’t matter until you’re done working. As soon as you start caching and then go to make a change on your site, you’ll see why caching causes problems.
Prevents You From Seeing Changes
What happens is that you think you made a change to your site but when you check it on the page nothing will have happened. You will have forgotten about caching and then you’ll call me or post on the forum asking why your site changes aren’t happening.
Almost every single day I answer a question by saying you have caching enabled on your site and that’s why you can’t see the changes you’ve made. Sometimes you don’t even realize that the caching is there. The less expensive hosting companies are adding caching to sites automatically. They’re doing that because it makes their job easier.
But when you’re building your own site you don’t really care how easy the host’s job is, what you care about is how easy yours is. Just to make it clear, there should never be any caching going on your site during development. You’re only ever going to use caching when you’re one hundred percent done.
WP Super Cache Works Well On Simple Sites
Having said that, our website is one hundred percent done so now we are going to install caching. There are lots of different caching tools out there and on a simple site like this a simple caching plugin will work. This kind of caching would not work on my website, BYOBWebsite.
Not For eCommerce or Membership Sites
So if you’ve got an e-commerce website or a membership website then things may go wrong with WP Super Cache. But if you’ve got the kind of small business website that we finished building here today, WP Super cache is very simple to install and simple to configure.
Speeds Up Page Loading
It will do ninety percent of what you want done in terms of speeding up your pages.
Issues With Deleting the Plugin
If you’ve been around me a long time you are going to be surprised that I am recommending WP Super Cache. I’ve cussed at it so many times because WP Super Cache didn’t used to empty its stuff out when it was deactivated and deleted. You would think you had WP Super Cache uninstalled but you’d still be getting cached pages because it wouldn’t delete all of its cached files and all of its caching plugin files when it deleted itself. That’s a total pain.
It’s a little bit better about that nowadays although I still have seen that happen. But since you’re not installing it until you’re 100% done you don’t need to be quite as worried about what happens when you delete the plugin as you are when you’re working on your site and you’re frustrated.
Install WP Super Cache
Let’s come over to plugins and Add New. You can see it’s like the third featured plugin so you don’t even have to search for it, it’s right here. You just click install. Click activate.
Deactivate iThemes Security
And then we’re going to go to the plugin admin page. Oh, we’re locked down right now. We’ve made it impossible for it to do its work because of the because of the iThemes security we just installed. So the first thing we have to do is deactivate iThemes Security.
Go back to installed plugins. iThemes security can also prevent plugins from installing correctly. So we’ll come over here and just deactivate it for the moment.
WP Super Cache Settings
And now we’ll go to the WP super cache settings. It says WP Cache constant was added to the wp-config so that stuff is taken care of.
We’re going to go ahead and turn caching on and update the status. There’s a warning that pops up “Your server is configured to show files and directories which may expose sensitive data. That’s okay, we’re going to fix it. It says, “If you have you just installed the WP Super Cache for first time you can dismiss this message”. We’re going to dismiss it, this is the first time for this site.
Go to advanced. Caching is on. Use PHP to serve cache files is on.
If you check this “don’t cache pages for known users” that means don’t cache pages when somebody is logged in. You’ll see changes to your site because you’re not seeing the cached page but your visitors won’t so that’s the danger of checking this.
On the other hand, if you don’t see cached pages you will see the immediate result of your work and then if you go back and empty cache then that will make it available to users after that.
Let’s check this one, “clear all cached files when a post or page is published or updated”. I like that one. Let’s hit update status now.
We aren’t going to talk about how to do a CDN here. Let’s go to the Contents tab. This is the contents of the cache page and right now nothing is cached.
Go to Preload. So if you’ve got lots of posts and pages, then preloading can be useful but we’re not doing that so it doesn’t matter.
Go to Plugin. Let’s take a look at these. Actually all of these settings are fine. So these are plugins that have special settings if you’re using WP super cache.
The settings are pretty much done. Caching is on.
Reactivate iThemes Security
Let’s go back over to Install plugins. And now we can activate iThemes Security. These are our license products and it looks fine enough and ready to go. Let’s go to the site. And now it’s fast and zippy.
What Do I Think of Sucuri?
I have a question here about Sucuri. Robin, I love Sucuri. When somebody comes to me with hacked site I tell them the easiest and safest thing to do is go get Sucuri. And that’s because they guarantee absolutely everything and they automatically clean up problems so I love Sucuri.
So if you have had troubles with a hacked site Sucuri is the solution to it. Sucuri and this plugin work well together. I think Sucuri was created by iThemes or iThemes is a partner of Sucuri. But if you have brute force attacks Robin, absolutely, Sucuri will block those because of their firewall. You might just try this iThemes security first.
Why Having an SSL Certificate and HTTPS Is Very Beneficial
So Hanukah asks “Bluehost gave my new site https a three month trial without my consent, what will be the consequences of changing to http?”. Well, Hanukah I would just make sure you convert this three month free trial to always free. You may not realize this but actually Bluehost offers free https and so I would keep it as https.
And if they say you can’t keep this certificate for free you have to get a different one for free that’s fine. Take the other one. I think everybody should be running their sites on https and all of these big hosting companies offer free SSL.
They all offer free SSL. They may not offer it loudly but they do all offer it so I strongly encourage you to use to keep your site on SSL. One of the reasons for that is that if your site is using SSL then your web pages can be served over http2 which is a much much faster than http.
And in fact, a lot of people have remarked to me lately that my website is so much faster than it used to be. The reason is because it’s got an SSL certificate now and because the pages are being served over http2 rather than http which means that page loads much more quickly.
From an SEO standpoint you want the fastest website you possibly can which means you want an SSL certificate. And if you have the option, I know you have the option at Bluehost, you want to use PHP7 as well because PHP7 is also much faster than PHP5.
The default installation maybe PHP5 Or 5.6 or 5.4 something like that but you want to tell them that you want your site moved to 7. Because it’s makes your site much faster.
How To Create and Remember Difficult Passwords
Do I use a password generator and how do I remember a password if I don’t use familiar things? I use a variations on a nonsensical phrase. That the phrase in and of itself means nothing and has no personal tie to me whatsoever. Then to the nonsensical phrase I add numbers and/or special characters.
Although I don’t do this on everything. If it’s mission critical I use a password generator and I store those passwords and then I just bring up my password retrieval system if I need to remember a password. It’s definitely a pain.
I just search for strong password generator and use this one. I just tell it to generate a password, grab that and call it good.So that’s what I do when I’m generating a password.
What Size Site Should Use WP Engine?
How big do you need to be before you use WP Engine? It’s not really a question of size more a question of how much money you want to spend and how mission critical your system is.
If BYOBWebsite is not up and running all the time somebody who paid for access to it is not getting their access. So I consider having the website up and running all the time to be mission critical.
For years BYOBWebsite has relied heavily on plugins that do not have a great track record of being stable. This is especially true of WishList member. It got a lot better in the last couple years but for years if I upgraded WishList Member I could count on something not working properly. Those problems are all solved by WP Engine.
In the first place they have this one click backup, one click restore. It works almost always, not quite always. And if I’m concerned about the quality of a backup of an update what I do is push the site over to the staging server then update it on the staging server and double check it.
That’s what I would have ordinarily done today with WishList member even though I haven’t had problems with it now for a couple years. I’ll push my my live site to a staging server which is something that WP Engine has and do a backup there. Once I make sure it’s working properly then I can either push that back to my live site or I can just go through the upgrade process on the live site knowing that it worked fine on staging.
What’s the main reason I use WP Engine? Well, that was the main reason I switched to WP Engine but the main reason I use WP Engine now is because it’s so fast. I used to pay nearly four hundred dollars a month in hosting fees for BYOBWebsite now I pay one hundred dollars a month and it’s much much faster then when I was paying four hundred dollars a month.
The main reasons why I use WP Engine are that it’s just so much faster than the dedicated hosting that I was using. It pretty much always works and the ability to switch to a staging server and then back with a push of a button is is just incredibly useful to me, especially as a programmer. And the way caching works on WP Engine is that the staging is not cached and a live site is cached.
Caching is a little bit of a pain because you cannot turn caching off on the live site. I had a big row with that WP Engine the first part of the year when I was converting BYOBWebsite to a Thesis 2.2 website rather than the Thesis 1.85. I’d had it at 1.85 forever and it was a huge reprogramming task.
Dealing With Caching And Making Big Site Changes
There wasn’t any change in data but all of the underlying programming was different and I wanted them to turn off caching for a twenty four hour period and they wouldn’t do it. Potentially because they can’t do it, fair enough. Maybe they can’t do it.
But caching can be a real pain except that the staging server doesn’t cache. You end up doing all your work in the staging server and then transferring it from staging to live. Then you have to dump all the caches.
Should I Use WP Engine for a Membership Site?
The next question is “if you’re going to create a membership website should you start with WP Engine?”. Well, it kind of depends on your budget really. If you’re starting a site from scratch and you don’t have a bunch of income coming in then a shared hosting deal is a great way to start.
I would definitely start with with a shared BlueHost account and get it set up and get to the point where it’s making some money and getting traffic. Then as soon as you start getting a couple hundred hits a day on your website I would say that’s the time to switch from shared hosting to premium hosting.
Unless you are having problems with losses, essentially loss of service. If your membership site is complicated and when you update a plugin the site goes down and when the site goes down it goes down for a while because you’ve got to figure out how to fix it. If that’s ever a problem for you then it’s time to switch to WP Engine because it makes that problem go away.
If budget isn’t a problem, if a hundred dollars a month isn’t a problem then sure start with WP Engine. For some businesses a hundred bucks a month is nothing and certainly in this business it’s the best hundred dollars I spend every month. I wouldn’t ever consider not spending that hundred dollars and I wouldn’t even think about looking for a way to save money there.
I’m thinking about switching from Infusionsoft because it cost me two hundred seventy bucks a month to another service that will cost me one hundred bucks. I think the other service will end up doing the same thing that Infusionsoft does for me and it could be worth saving one hundred bucks a month on that. But I would never think about WP Engine that way because the proper functioning of my site is so critical to its success and they do such a good job.