The Blog

A Summer of Website Rescue – SOS

Summer 2021 seems to be where I discover websites (of course, built by others), where they are so crippled with numerous dangerous set up issues, or poor or no maintenance. One other these companies trades over £300k/month through their website, yet it is so dangerous...

Something to do while we are stuck indoors – Build your own church!

So, this idea has been three months in the making. I thought I'd make a model of our village church. From then it grew into something we were planning to print, and issue to the village for people to make their own church to support the roof repair fund. Well, now,...

If you don’t ask, you don’t get! New website for world class comic Tiff Stevenson

Watching Mock the Week, I really think Tiff is funny - So I googled to see what else she's in. Stumbled across her website, which didnt really work, so I emailed her to offer to fix it.  Well, 4 months later, and her new website is up and running. Enjoy!

Website Security ‘Must Haves’ for 2020

Forty years ago, we barely had computers. Twenty years ago we were worried about the millenium bug. Now with the breaking of the Twenties, the age of cyber attacks is well and truly upon us. With daily attacks breaching major websites, revealing customer details in...

Cotswold Childcare – One page website

Lesley from Puddleducks is branching out. With years of daycare expertise, there is now a big demand for ad hoc childcare services which she is satisfying. Take a look at http://cotswoldchildcare.co.uk to see if there is anything that can be done for...

PJG Garden Designs – A Labour of love

We've been running for a few months now. Peter came to me referred by Lyn at Martha's Attic. He had a very clunky old html website to sell his beautiful handmade wrought iron garden ornaments and furniture. Starting as a simple e-commerce site, it quickly became...

Wild Grace launches in Woodstock

Sinead took over Wild Grace in the early new year, and has hit the ground running. Her beautiful flowers, gifts, and cards are stunning. A stunning website was needed to complement these.  https://wildgraceflowers.co.uk

Video bringing property rentals to life

I was very lucky to be able to pitch to undertake video tours for a local home rental company. With some very clever tech, and just the right camera set up, these properties really do stand out from those with only images. Here's a sample.......

Hello to the Lofty Ladies of Bloxham

The lofty ladies had got stuck in a bit of a rut with trying to make their own website using one of the free builders. Then they found that they couldn't expand the website. So, in a couple of weeks, we moved the site to Wordpress, and created an online shop,...

Is Print Coming Back?

  More and more, clients are telling me that now that the internet is effectively 'full', they need a point of difference. That something seems to be physical print. Here are some sample print projects from the last year or so.    Call to get your business...
Summer 2021 seems to be where I discover websites (of course, built by others), where they are so crippled with numerous dangerous set up issues, or poor or no maintenance. One other these companies trades over £300k/month through their website, yet it is so dangerous to the business, and to visitors. I find it incredible that organisations put less into their core sales driver than they do into a new laser printer.

So, lets look at some of the issues to look out for, along with the risks. Just open up your website, and head to the dashboard once you’re logged in. There are a few things to look for, and they are often accompanied by little red icons with white numbers or symbols within. Click on an arrow!

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Comments full of Spam links

Allowing people to leave comments on your website may not immediately risk it’s integrity. However, many websites are set up to allow comments, perhaps frompeople who have had a comment published before. 

Turn off comments unless you really need them, and delete old comments. I bet if you look through, you’ll find they are allfull of dodgy links. Also, if you must allow, check the approval settings, and add automated filters or a Captcha  to flush out the rubbish. 

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Core software out of date

The most basic of protections is to keep your operating system up to date. It not only protects against many new threats, but will often add new features to the site to make it simpler or more versatile to operate. 

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Too many plugins, and left out of date

This site has 38 plugins, of which 8 are deactivated, and another 15 are not needed.

The danger with lots of plugins is many faceted.

1. Out of date plugins will add to hack risks

2. Too many plugins may well slow the site down

3. You may have critical site functions which require the lastest version. Beware of  plugins which are no longer supported, have few downloads, or poor reviews.

4. Plugins of this quantity are rarely all updatable in a timely manner, which can affect any of their operation.

5. You may be paying for licences which are not necessary, or using software which cannot be updated because it’s licence has lapsed.

So, here’s a list of the jobs required to safeguard the website in question. 

  1. Gain access to the existing site, and review critical risks
  2. Prepare a quote for the work, with contingencies – not all mass update processes work first time, and the order in which you do things may be different each time. 
  3. Gain access to the client’s host account to take a full backup copy of the existing website
  4. Review the current hosting, and recommend an alternative host which has suitable daily backups, malware scans, and is fast and large enough with good support for the business
  5. Review emails, and any other functions connected with the domain to ensure any changes take into account any impact on these. Eg emails, Adwords, Payment Gateways
  6. Work out and agree a critical timeline of actions for me, and the client to make sure the process is completed safely, and in good time.
  7. Purchase a domain name to use temporarily to conduct the repairs, and point this to the new hosting. Set up the host environment. 
  8. Load up the copy of the website, and adapt the database to reflect the temp domain. This may be hundreds of records within the site. Remove any plugins which are hardwired to the original domain, such as shopping gateways, security software. 
  9. Check the temp domain’s functionality, along with the client, and any of the team who regularly administer the website. 
  10. Take a backup of the temp site
  11. Prepare a plan to disable software not required, and delete. To update software remaining, and core system software. Do this in stages, with client checking at various stages, and backups taken at major steps (a host with one-click restore is a must in this situation)
  12. Record steps each time. If any part fails, restore the backup, and try again. Try disabling some plugins temporarily if they are causing problems. 
  13. Once happy, ask the client to review again, before arranging a mutual time for the live domain to be switched to the temp domain. Change the settings to revert the temp site data to the live site. 
  14. Test, backup, and hopefully relax. 
  15. Review after 2-3 days, 1 week, 1 month. 
  16. Cancel old hosting. 

Oh yes, and send an invoice!