All posts by Sallie Goetsch

2017 Meetup Topics Poll

I need to know not just what you want to learn at this year’s meetups, but when, so I’ve listed a choice of topics for each open date in the calendar. The scheduling still depends on when a presenter is available, so there may be some reshuffling.

The proposed presentations are outlined in a little more detail on our site:

1/15/17: Is Your (Client’s) Website Ready for 2017?

Google is laying down the law again. Are you (and your clients) ready for 2017’s requirements regarding SSL (HTTPS), popups, and Google AMP? It’s really all about mobile-friendliness. This is a search ranking trend that’s been going on even since before “Mobile-geddon” in 2015.

Pizza Sponsor: Lisa LaMagna

Thanks to Lisa LaMagna for providing the pizza!

Site Demo: MK Design

Merel Kennedy demonstrated the use of the WP Image Zoooom PRO plugin on her MK Design portfolio site.

Site Demo: Private Lender Link

Rocky Butani demonstrated the FacetWP advanced filtering plugin on his Private Lender Link website.

Main Presentation: Is Your (Client’s) Website Ready for 2017?

This presentation covers three things you and your clients need to think about in 2017, in order of universality and importance.


Google is pushing us all toward the use of HTTPS (the secure version of HTTP) by shaming sites that are not secure. But Google isn’t the only one. You need HTTPS in order to use the new, faster, HTTP/2 protocol. WordPress will start making some features available only to sites that use HTTPS, and will only include hosting companies that offer free SSL certificates among their recommended hosts. PayPal now requires HTTPS for anyone using its IPN.

The three types of SSL certificates are DV (Domain Verification), OV (Organization Verification) and EV (Extended Verification). Most people only need DV certificates. (The free certificates offered by Cloudflare and Let’s Encrypt are DV certificates.) If you need to demonstrate that you are a legitimate business, you might need an OV certificate. If yours is a site that might be spoofed for a phishing attack (such as a financial institution or auction site), you’ll need to pay the extra money for the EV certificate.

The good news is that many hosts already make it easy to get a free SSL certificate, and even if yours doesn’t, you can get free HTTPS through Cloudflare. The presentation walks through setting up HTTPS on SiteGround, WP Engine, Pressable, and BlueHost, followed by the basics of setting up SSL with a free Cloudflare account.

After you set up HTTPS, remember to update your Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Otherwise you’ll be wondering what happened to all your traffic.


Mobile Search Penalty for “Intrusive Interstitials”

This only applies to mobile: we’re going to keep seeing obnoxious intersitials on our desktops/laptops.

Your email signup form and other offers for your own products are included.

The “interstitial” doesn’t have to be an actual popup: anything that covers the first screen visitors land on from a mobile search link counts.

Legally required popups (such as for age-restricted sites or the European Cookie Law) will not be penalized. Small ads, inline ads, and exit-intent popups are acceptable.

To avoid penalties, make sure that:

  1. Popups are desktop only by Default
  2. You Use Device Specific Display Rules
  3. Floating Bars are Mobile Optimized
  4. You Use Smart Display Rule Triggers


Google AMP and Mobile Performance

There seem to be as many drawbacks as advantages to Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). If you are a news organization syndicating articles, it might be a good idea. But it’s not the only way to ensure a good mobile user experience, and AMP pages don’t include your branding or calls to action.


October Slides: High-Performance WordPress Websites with Sonja London

Presentation Summary

Speed matters. No one wants to wait around for your site to load, especially on a phone. And WordPress isn’t known for being fast: one of the key selling points of WordPress managed hosting is the server-side caching.

Sonja London has been doing performance tuning since before WordPress was invented. She explains how to determine what’s slowing your site down and what to do about it. Don’t settle for the generic suggestions provided by Google PageSpeed Insights: following them may make no difference at all if your real problem lies somewhere else.

Presentation Slides

Sallie’s Notes

Remember to ask

  • How fast does it need to be?
  • Are you being paid to speed it up?

What Is Performance?

Performance is not speed, but speed is a component of performance. You want your page to load in under 2 seconds. Or at least most of your pages.

Throughput is the number of transactions per second that an application can handle. Throughput can assassinate speed.

Using tests as metrics vs. what the client experiences (what if they have an iPhone 3?)

Latency is (usually) defined the time between making a request and beginning to see a result. (Start of page load.) If a site is slow everywhere for everyone, it’s probably the site. But if the site is slow only for people in a certain area, it’s probably something to do with their connection. Latency is usually beyond your control as a developer.

A HILARIOUS slide of a test where the site is rated F but loads in 1.2 seconds.

What are you testing? Where does the test bot live? Some of the criteria used by GTmetrix et al. are not very logical. Sonja says that Google Pagespeed Insights may be a better tool for beginners

Use PingPlotter for measuring latency and also packet loss.

Deliver only what you need, where you need it, when you need it, from where it should be. And make your clients do it, too.


The most important things for your host: location, location, location (well, for their data centers, anyway)

Server configuration: memory, SSD, CPU speed/cores

Who is really hosting? Do they have their own data centers, or do they buy rack space from somewhere?

That’s not necessarily bad, but you want to be sure that the actual servers are good.

Plugin performance: the simple thing is to test speed first, install, test after.

Use SEO Framework instead of Yoast. (I’ll have to look at it.)

If you have to use a page builder, read Pippin Williamson’s review.

The Database

There are multiple MySQL engines. Find out what your host uses. Some are better than others for transactions. You can have more than one kind of engine in a database (by table). If you write a plugin that creates a table, you can specify the engine. And most hosts let you choose between a couple of different ones within phpMyAdmin. Some hosts also let you choose in cPanel.

The most common are MyISAM and InnoDB. InnoDB is better for transactions and low-level locking.

If you need something temporary, you can just do it in memory.

Federated tables don’t exist in your system. They are somewhere else. This is a bit above my head, but it’s a way to share data.

Plugins and your Database

Watch out for WordFence: not only does it create too many tables, but it uses camel case for table names. Capitals are not allowed in databases on Windows. It throws errors with things like duplicated. Just keep all your table names lower case.

Some plugins have too much logging, and people forget to turn it off when they go to production. Always turn off logging if you want performance.

LOOK AT YOUR DATABASE. Find out what tables are in there. Beware of duplicates caused by migrations.

Know when to use an abstraction layer. (WP’s functions.) Most of the time you SHOULD use WP’s functions. Use dbDelta ( to create tables.

Use Query Monitor to keep track of your queries.

Plan for the future.

For really high-end sites, consider HyperDB, which distributes your database to help with heavy transaction processing. (Hmm…meetup about HyperDB? Meetup about the GPL?)

Maintain your database. Clear out things like autosaves and revisions, transients, users who are no longer active, etc.

Test your database performance periodically. Just because it was good two years ago, doesn’t mean it’s good now. If your page speed is good, the DB is probably okay, but look at queries, the size of the DB, etc.


What the cache does is store things as HTML instead of going to the database every time.

Opcode (like APC) is for PHP

Memcached is for SQL

CDNs serve your site from multiple data centers, close to the people visiting. (Which reminds me…) Depending on your problems, a traditional CDN may not help.

Turn on browser caching via .htaccess.


Compress All the Things. Bake it into your development process. PrePros GUI for automation (instead of Gulp, if you don’t like the command line)

Choose your image format based on the type of image it is. Consider SVG for your logo.

You can also enable GZIP compression via .htaccess. Vary accept encoding. (Google that. It’s for compatibility with CDNs.) You can use it for the basics (text, html, CSS, JS, etc.), or you can apply it to All the Things

Operating System & Web Server

Linux and Apache are the most common, but Nginx is becoming increasingly popular. Sometimes they get combined in a reverse proxy. Nginx is faster.


  •  and Uptime Robot are good tools to use. They can monitor from multiple locations at different times. Note that if you are on shared hosting and you monitor really often, the host might object.
  • GTmetrix, ySlow, Google PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom
  • Query Monitor and Debug Bar plugins for your dev server. (Take off production server)
  • PingPlotter
  • .htaccess Guide

Send your questions to

July 2016 Handout: Accessibility Resources

The good news about web accessibility is that there are a lot of resources out there for developers who want to build accessible websites. Here are a few of the ones I’ve bookmarked.

These are not the result of a comprehensive search, which I’m sure would turn up many more resources, but rather articles I have come across in my regular WordPress and web development reading.

WordPress Accessibility Handbook

Rian Rietveld’s State of Accessibility Presentation from WordCamp Europe

Elise Roy’s TED Talk: When We Design for Accessibility, We All Benefit

Web Accessibility Basics from Marco Zehe

Free Web Accessibility Course from Udacity Accessibility Support Forum

WordPress > Support > Accessibility

The A11y Project


Tota11y Accessibility Visualization Kit

WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool

Enter your URL to check the accessibility of your website.

Yoast’s Must-Read Accessibility Posts (A11y and SEO)

Carrie Dils: An Intro to Accessible WordPress Themes

7 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about Accessibility

Article on Medium by Jesse Hausler from Salesforce. Doesn’t want to do the content card thing.

Color Safe WCAG Palette Generator

Presentation by Michael Beil: How do I know if my web project is accessible?

More WordCamp Accessibility Videos

tuts+ Accessibility Learning Guide

How to Make Your Website More Accessible (WPMU DEV)

PageGauge: Quickly Assess Your Website’s Usability

How to Create More Accessible Content

WP Accessibility Plugin

San Francisco WordPress Meetup to Host Joost deValk on July 27th

Beyond SEO: Copywriting for Professionals with Yoast

Wednesday, Jul 27, 2016, 7:00 PM

717 California Street San Francisco, CA

94 WordPress Enthusiasts Attending

SEO has gone from a technical trade to being more marketing focused. Joost & Marieke will talk about how to gain great rankings & satisfied visitors by writing good content. Focusing on SEO copywriting has a major pitfall. We give examples and tips on how to write a post that is both readable as well as SEO-friendly.Presenter: Joost de Valk Joo…

Check out this Meetup →