What changes in WordPress 5.5?

It has been a while since the current version of WordPress has been launched. But WordPress (and other Open Source software) is like the Sagrada Familia: never finished. The latest edition of our favorite software (5.5) is scheduled to be launched on August 11.

Automatic updates for everything

Well, almost everything. With the latest version of WordPress, the automatic updates set since version 3.7 are extended to plugins and themes. You must do side effects for the core of WordPress manually.

Full-site editing

One of the biggest of the biggest updates in sight is the ability to edit your entire site from one worksheet. This sheet would make direct archive, search page, blog posts and post types accessible. This video from The Gutenberg Times gives a rough idea of ​​how full-site editing works.

Possible workflow with the full-site editor

Direct access to the Block Directory

A plugin from the Block Directory is actually a block (one with special features, a bit like a Uno hit map). In WordPress 5.5, you can put a block from this library in your post with the same ease of adding a new block in older versions of WordPress.

Built-in sitemaps in XML

Early this year, a team assembled by Google and Yoast built an XML sitemap. This map includes a homepage, a page for blog and “regular” posts, categories and tags and users. Not everyone is happy with this. After all, it can slow down loading speed and an XML sitemap is already available as a plugin.

Online maps, gps navigation concept. Map pointer location on a computer laptop. 3d illustration

Global Styles refresh

At the moment, work is still underway on Global Styles, an extension that allows theme makers to set standards such as font and color via a JSON file. Website users can then edit the theme through an administrator status interface. The question is whether this is a good development: after all, it may happen that end users perish in the multitude of options (do you go for a line height of 10.1 or 10.2 millimeters with font x?) That sets this in motion.

From beam to block

In addition to making the internet more accessible to the world, WordPress has another mission: to make a block of all toolbars. The full transformation is planned to be over after the launch of 5.6, so block fans are not quite satisfied with 5.5.

Corona plugin shows location distribution

Since the world has been gripped by the corona virus, the WordPress community is doing its best to alleviate the various measures by building different implementations for WordPress.

We wrote earlier about the launch of icons by Font Awesome. There is also a WordPress plugin called Corona Virus Data from the Chinese architect Duke Yin that shows where the virus is spreading. Data from infections, deaths and recoveries from COVID-19 are visualized on the world map, in a graph or table. It is also possible to display one continent in a WordPress message by using shortcodes. For those who do not want to reveal anything about themselves at any cost, the plugin is less suitable: the user’s IP address is stored.

Screenshot Corona plugin for WordPress

Screenshot corona plugin

 

 

Unfortunately, the application is not usable for those interested in corona data from Russia, because the API is blocked by the Russian government. Fortunately, such obstacles are not the case in the Netherlands and at Sowmedia we remain fully operational, corona or not.

Do you have any tips to deal with this situation? Leave it in the comments!

Font Awesome launches font for “corona awareness”

Font Awesome launches font for corona awareness


A few weeks ago, Font Awesome launched a series of icons to increase “corona awareness”. The “solid” or filled symbols are free to download. The regular, non-colored or two-tone colored icons must be paid for.

The aim of the series is to provide websites and apps with a means to raise awareness about the global pandemic. In the last updated version, 47 new symbols have been added that depict hygienic activities such as hand washing. Other icons indicate viruses and social distance storage. There are even a few pictures of toilet paper (because these are apparently necessary in this world where panic buying is a new concept).

“Based on recommendations from the World Health Organization, you will find symbols that communicate good hygiene and social distance keeping,” wrote Jory Raphael, head of icon design at Font Awesome. “We can’t be on the front lines and act like the brave medical professionals around the world do, so we hope these icons help communicate some of the most important things people can do to protect themselves and their communities.”

Corona icoon

The symbols were originally requested a few weeks ago at Font Awesome’s Github repository. The design team acted diligently to make them available. There are additional requests for liquid and solid soap.

Like all Font Awesome symbols, the series is available as part of a package or individually downloadable in SVG format. Below you can see the current available icons:

covid icons

Users of Font Awesome’s WordPress plugin should have unrestricted access to the string. The plugin uses the external Font Awesome CDN or kits from the latter. Users can also choose from various icon libraries (which also include the corona symbols). On our website you can also find information about other free plugins for WordPress.

Improve the loading time of your WordPress website with preloading

Improve the loading time of your WordPress website with preloading

Search engines attach more and more value to the speed with which visitors can go through your WordPress website. If you have a slow website, visitors will lose interest faster, and you will also be rated less highly in search engines. There are a lot of measures you can take to improve the speed of your WordPress website. Also consider faster WordPress hosting. But in this article we will discuss a very simple way to improve the loading speed of your WordPress website for visitors: page preloading.

What is preloading of WordPress pages and posts?

Preloading means that pages and posts from your WordPress website will be loaded “in the background” before your visitor clicks them. Suppose a visitor visits your homepage. In your menu and on the page itself there are various links to other pages and messages. While your visitor is orienting themselves, the links are already stored in the browser’s memory by a so-called “preloader”. For example, the next page loads faster when a visitor clicks on it.

Preloading WordPress plugin

Flying pages wordpress pluginYou can easily activate preloading of pages and posts on your WordPress website with the free WordPress plugin Flying Pages. The plugin can actually be used immediately without any configuration. The Flying Pages preloader is also intelligent; background preloading only starts when the current page is fully loaded. And if your visitor moves the mouse over a link, that link takes precedence in preloading. This way you get the most out of improving the loading time of your WordPress website.

Would you like to try out the plugin? Then install and activate it, but log out afterwards. As a logged-in administrator of your website, the preloader is disabled by default, so you will notice little difference.

3 WordPress plugins for crisis communication

3 WordPress plugins for crisis communication

In crisis situations, the right communication is of great importance to your organization. To be able to act quickly in the event of an emergency, crisis management with good preparation is half the battle. So make sure that your WordPress website is ready as a communication channel in case of a malfunction or crisis. Then you can inform your supporters quickly and efficiently in case of calamities and malfunction reports.

In this article, we cover the best three WordPress plugins for crisis communication. You can already install and configure these plugins on your WordPress website. This makes you well prepared when an unexpected event occurs.

Live blog for WordPress

Live blog for WordPressWith a live blog you have a very efficient way to keep your supporters informed about the latest state of affairs. A live blog can be useful for error messages, but also for constantly changing events. A live blog on your WordPress website is set up in no time with the LiveCom for WordPress plugin ($ 30).

Notification bar for WordPress

Notification bar for WordPressWith the Apex Notification Bar ($ 22) you can place a notification bar in your WordPress website in many ways. for example, you can quickly inform the visitors on your homepage or contact page about a telephone failure or the limited accessibility of your office. Even if your service is temporarily interrupted, you can prevent a lot of calls with the same question through such a notification bar.

Push notifications for WordPress

Push notifications for WordPressIf you have a lot of regular and returning visitors on your WordPress website, live push notifications on your website can offer a solution. By already activating the WordPress Push Notification ($ 49) on your website, website visitors are asked if they want to receive notifications from your website. This way, your visitors can register in advance, and in the event of an emergency or crisis, you can immediately send a notification to this group of visitors. They will see that notification when they have your website open in their browser.

Download

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WP Upgrader launches GDPR Consent Plugin for WordPress

WP Upgrader launches GDPR Consent Plugin for WordPress

With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) about to be enforced, many website owners are also challenged: How do you make sure your website is compliant with these new rules? We have already discussed how you can make your website GDPR-proof with diverse WordPress plugins. Still, we kept missing one crucial plugin.

In order to meet the new, ‘privacy by default’ rule, WordPress plugins are only allowed to gather user data after your visitors have given you permission to do so. In other words, your website has to be accessible without personal data being gathered by default. The easiest solution for this — a cookie wall for your entire site — will no longer be allowed. So, how do you activate these WordPress plugins after your visitors have given their explicit consent?

GDPR Consent Plugin (€ 39/year)

For WordPress websites in Europe, WP Upgrader introduces the GDPR Consent Plugin: a plugin for WordPress that allows you to ask your customers’ permission before other WordPress plugins (and scripts) start gathering personal data. This way, you stop your site from gathering personal information before visitors actually allow you to do this.

How does the GDPR Consent Plugin work?

Step 1:
After having purchased the GDPR Consent Plugin, you have to determine which sections of your WordPress website gather personal data. Think in terms of plugins, but perhaps it may also apply to several scripts in your footer and/or header. You can sort this out by making use of the free GDPR-checklist for your WordPress website.
Personal data that is gathered, can be categorize in separate permission groups, such as ‘Statistics’, ‘Adverts’, and ‘Functional’. Inform yourself of the types of permission groups below this article.

Step 2:
Place the [gdpr_consent_settings] shortcode on the page where your visitors are allowed to edit their privacy settings. Then, activate the ‘Consent Bar’.

Step 3:
From this point onward, visitors will be shown a slim bar at the bottom of their screen upon their first visit informing them of their rights. On the privacy settings page they can now indicate whether or not they want to allow additional data to be gathered. For instance, to receive customized advertisements. Only when they give permission, will these plugins be activated for this particular visitor.


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Tip

View the demo here: demo.wpupgrader.com

Does this make my WordPress website GDPR-proof?

The GDPR Consent Plugin is a tool to assist you in making your WordPress website GDPR-proof. This doesn’t mean that, by simply installing the plugin, your website will be automatically compliant.

Inform yourself on the impact of the GDPR on your WordPress website to get an impression of the additional aspects you have to take into account. Consider a solid privacy-statement on your website, ‘I agree’-tick boxes for contact forms, and a handling agreement with your hosting and administrative party. Also, take note that the GDPR will impact your entire organisation (for instance due to the right to have data erased from all records in your organization). Logically, such things are not solved by merely building a plugin into your website.

What kind of permission groups are there?

Common permission groups (‘Consents’) are groups such as ‘Functional’, ‘Statistics’, ‘Social media’, ‘Adverts’ and ‘Remarketing’. Certain organizations may set up specific labels for themselves. NPO.nl, for instance, makes a separate request for allowing ‘NPO Recommendations’.

You can define your own permission groups (‘Consents’) within the GDPR Consent Plugin. Some WordPress websites will use a Facebook pixel, remarketing plugins, etc., and then list them all under the ‘Adverts’ group. Others may prefer to split these into separate groups, like ‘Adverts’ and ‘Remarketing’.

Whatever your approach, it is important that you define your permission groups in such a way that visitors are not forced to activate plugins they do not necessarily need. Should a visitor agree to becoming part of statistics, for example, then this does not give you free range to automatically place cookies for social media sharing.

Celebrate consent!

Few visitors will explicitly give their consent to flooding them with ‘Adverts’ and ‘Remarketing’. This is why you will have to thoroughly explain what the added benefits are for doing just that. Terms like ‘Functional’, ‘Statistics’, ‘Social media’, ‘Adverts’, and ‘Remarketing’ are very technical in nature.

However, instead of having visitors mark the ‘Adverts’ and/or ‘Remarketing’ tick boxes, you can approach things from an entirely different perspective. Once you explain to them that you can optimally facilitate special offers, you may find the ones that do give permission, to be a smaller, but more committed target audience for your organization.

Top 5 mistakes in your navigation menu: This is how to prevent them!

Top 5 mistakes in your navigation menu: This is how to prevent them!

The menu structure of your WordPress website is very important for both visitors and search engines. With this article, you can improve the main navigation of your website in a few simple steps. We’re talking about the most important menu at the top of your WordPress website. Are you ready for the do’s and don’ts?

Five mistakes in the navigation of your WordPress website

Mistake #1: Generic names for menu items

When I talk to customers about a new menu navigation, I usually show their homepage and cover everything but their navigation menu with my hands. I read the menu out loud and ask them: what is this website offering and to whom? There’s usually a silence. After your logo, the navigation menu is the first thing a visitor reads on your website. An excellent opportunity to show important information here. That is why instead of ‘Our services’ or ‘What we do’ we use the terms ‘WordPress Development’ and ‘Hosting & Maintenance’. When choosing the right terms, think of what the customer is looking for, instead of what your organization wants to say. Also check out our tips at the bottom of this blog.

Mistake #2: Too many items in your navigation

Limit the number of items in your navigation. A maximum of 7 is a good guideline, but less is even better. Personally, we only have four. Other options:

  • Make a short menu of, for example, three items. The last item being a menu button called ‘More’, that contains a drop-down menu with all the other, less important options
  • Use a secondary menu next to the main menu
  • Or both, see screenshot:

Mistake #3: Menu with an odd style

A menu with an unusual style is very common. Think of these mistakes:

  • Bad contrast between the menu items and the background, for example menu items that are shown on a colorful picture that makes it unreadable.
  • Hamburger menu on a desktop. We usually advise against this, because it adds an additional click, before your visitor gets to the relevant information. Except for a landing page where you want to show as little distraction as possible, and you choose to focus on just one action.
  • Bad responsive menu, that doesn’t come out well on smaller screens like tablets and mobile phones. (Tip: look at your website on all devices with Browserstack)
  • Odd location, for example when your main menu is not situated horizontally at the top or vertically at the left-hand side of your page (but in another creative place, without this making any sense or being a deliberate choice).

Mistake #4: Wrong order

Items at the top or bottom of a list are the most effective. Navigation is no exception to this. In psychology there’s the term ‘serial position effect’, which describes the tendency of a person to most remember the first and last items on a list. So, place your most important menu items at the top and your least important ones in the middle.

Mistake #5: Complicated drop-down menus

You’ve probably seen this: drop-down menus containing more drop-down menus, that make it impossible for you to click on the item you want. Just don’t do it! Live on the edge and try not using a drop-down menu at all. Why? Because you’re causing a choice overload, by confronting your visitor with more choices after they’ve just made a choice in the main menu. And yes, we’ve got some learning to do ourselves in this area ????

Five tips to improve your menu navigation

These where the things we often see go wrong in navigation menus of WordPress websites. But then what? How can you do it right? We give you five tips to improve the navigation of your WordPress website:

Tip #1: Take a visitor’s perspective

When naming your menu items, look at it from the visitor’s perspective and not your own (or that of your organization). When selling products, consider using the most important products or product categories as navigation. When providing services, try to name them. It can be helpful to use your target groups as navigation items. What will help your visitor to a better navigation?

Tip #2: Remember the search engines

When creating your main navigation, you also give an incredible amount of information to search engines about the structure of your website. This is why it can be a good idea to include your most important services and/or products in the navigation. Because with this, you’re saying: “Look, Google, this is what I have to offer”.

Tip #3: Remove the ‘Home’ button

The ‘Home’ button is not necessary in the main navigation. By far, the most internet users get that they can click on the company’s icon to go to the homepage. But keep your target group in mind: for an older target group we do recommend you leave the home buttons, because they are very used to them, and are very attached to the buttons they’re familiar with.

Tip #4: Put the call-to-action in your menu

In the end, your website is there to convince your visitors to do something. For example, to subscribe to something, order a product, request a quotation, to donate or to contact you. Put this action in your menu, because that is the way you want to lead your visitors. You’ll find good example, here below:

Tip #5: Make your menu visually attractive

When you sell various products on your website and you have a target group that is visually oriented, it can be very effective to include images of these products in your menu. Do you offer a service? Then icons are often very suitable. An example of Sony:

Bonus tip: Use WordPress to simply change your main navigation

Did you know you can easily change your main menu in WordPress? Check out our special WordPress Menu Manual!

Conclusion

There is usually lots of room for improvement in a main navigation. Do you have any good tips or ideas for this? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know in a comment below.

10 WordPress plugins to increase your conversion rate

10 WordPress plugins to increase your conversion rate

In this article, we’ll talk about WordPress plugins that can substantially improve the conversion rate of your website. Please note: it’s no use installing ALL plugins. Consider which WordPress plugins actually lead to the kind of conversion you want. In case you need help with this, then read our tips on how to determine your online strategy.

We’ve divided the WordPress plugins into four common calls to action (some plugins appear in more than one category):

WordPress plugins for newsletter subscriptions

Do you want visitors of your WordPress website to sign up for your newsletter? Then we’ve listed the best WordPress plugins for newsletter subscriptions for you.

1. Ninja Popups ($ 25)

Ninja Popups is still one of our favorite plugins when it comes to collecting e-mail addresses on your website. The plugin is flexible, you can choose from many different pop-ups and you can choose the exact moment to show the pop-up (for example when the visitor is on your website for more than 30 seconds, when he’s scrolling, or rather right when opening the page). Also, you can send the new e-mail subscriptions directly to your favorite e-mail marketing software (like MailChimp or CreateSend). Make sure the pop-up is not full screen, because Google doesn’t like pushy pop-ups.

2. Elegant Bloom Email Optin ($ 89 per year)

Elegant Themes gives you one year access to a lot of plugins and themes for $ 89 per year, among which there’s Bloom Email Optin. You can choose from many beautifully designed pop-ups, opt-in bars and banners to let visitors subscribe to the newsletter. The nice thing about Bloom Email Optin is that you can also place the call to action as a widget in the sidebar or footer. This is something Ninja Popups does not offer. Bloom Email Optin is in comparison a rather pricy alternative, but worthwhile, if you also want to make use of the beautiful themes and the Divi content builder that Elegant Themes offers.

3. ConvertPlug ($ 21)

With ConvertPlug, you can choose from many different pop-ups for very little money. Subscriptions to your newsletter can be linked directly to your favorite e-mail marketing software, and there are flexible options to set up the pop-ups. The design of some of these pop-ups is in detail not always that great, but if you have some knowledge of CSS, then ConvertPlug is a good and cheap solution.

4. Thrive Leads (one time $67)

Thrive Leads is our most favorite plugin, because it is the most extensive one, and offers all the features of the above-mentioned plugins. You can make all kinds of pop-ups, but also do A/B testing, create Content locks (content is made available after you’ve given your e-mail address), Multiple Choice forms, etc. A big advantage of this plugin is that you get free updates for life after one single purchase. When you are a WpUpgraders customer, you can try out this plugin for free for a year.

WordPress plugins for forms

Sometimes catching someone’s e-mail address is not enough; for example, when the purpose of your website is to collect warm leads that want to be called back. In that case, you want at least a name and phone number, and a contact form with a flexible configuration is what you’re looking for. We’ve listed the best forms plugins for WordPress for you.

1. Gravity Forms ($ 39 per year)

Gravity Forms is still our favorite forms plugin for WordPress. The plugin has been around for years, it has a good reputation and is very well maintained. This is important, because collecting customer data requires a well-secured plugin. Granted; when it comes to design, there are other forms plugins for WordPress that look much more modern, but if your theme includes support for Gravity Forms – or if you’re pretty good with CSS – then this is still the plugin you want. Gravity Forms saves the subscriptions for you in WordPress, but you can also have them forwarded to e-mail addresses, external CRMs or marketing software.

2. Formidable Pro ($ 49 per year)

Formidable Pro is somewhat more complicated than Gravity Forms, but it also allows you to make simple applications. You can make forms entries publicly searchable, which allows you to, for example, create a review system on your website. In case you will be needing this kind of system on your website in the future, then Formidable Pro is a nice two-birds-with-one-stone plugin that’s worth buying.

3. Contact Form 7 (free)

The most well-known and widely used WordPress plugin for contact forms is still Contact Form 7. This plugin is completely free and has all the basic requirements; you can create forms, and visitors can fill them out. However, the entries are not saved on the website (so, if you don’t receive them by e-mail then they’re lost) and there’s no link to third parties included in the standard package. On the other hand, there are hundreds of add-ons for Contact Form 7 that offer such extensions. But if you think you’ll be needing those, we’d rather recommend one of the above-mentioned plugins; they have proven to be very reliable – with OR without add-ons.

WordPress plugins for direct contact

When we say direct contact, we mean the possibility to contact you with just one click. Contact forms (or newsletter subscriptions) are not included in this category, because the visitor has to do more than just clicking once. Depending on the branch you’re in, offering direct contact on your WordPress website can be very attracting (or even necessary). Think of websites for car dealers, but also web stores, real estate agents, etc. There are several plugins that create the possibility to make direct contact on your website.

1. LiveChat (free trial, then from $ 16 per month)

With LiveChat visitors can start a chat session on your website with just one click. With the LiveChat app on your phone, you can also respond while travelling. Are you not available? Then the chat will not be visible on your website. The WordPress plugin LiveChat is integrated into your WordPress website with just a few clicks. Plus, you can try out the service for free the first 30 days.

2. YITH Live Chat (free)

The YITH Live Chat plugin requires a little more configuration than the previous one, but a limited version is available for free. You do have to integrate the plugin using Firebase, a Google service for mobile applications. This service has a limited free version, but you have to pay once you start using it more frequently. If you like playing with settings options, you should definitely try YITH Live Chat.

3. Really Simple Click To Call Bar (free)

Did you know you can link buttons on your WordPress website to a phone number? When you click it, your device will directly call the phone number. For laptops and desktops this is, of course, of very little use, but for mobile visitors it can be very useful to be able to call you with just one click. The plugin Really Simple Click To Call Bar does exactly what its name implies; for mobile users, it adds a bar at the bottom of the website with a clear button: ‘Call us’. When you tap it, you immediately make the call.

WordPress plugins for social media conversion

Social media can be used in different ways to increase the conversion rate of your WordPress website. This works on two levels; first of all, you can convince the visitors of your WordPress website to follow you on social media (e.g. ‘Follow us on Facebook’. Secondly, you can use your WordPress website to feed your social media channels with new content, so you keep attracting your visitors to your website. Note: always keep step 1 in mind: does the integration of social media serve your strategy and objective?

1. Ninja Popups ($ 25)

Ninja Popups is not only good for e-mail marketing, but you can also use it to gather followers on social media. For example, you can show pop-ups on specific pages where you invite visitors to follow you on Facebook. It helps when you briefly explain to them the advantages of following you. For example, being informed on interesting offers or relevant messages.

2. ConvertPlug ($ 21)

ConvertPlug also offers social media integration beside e-mail marketing. The nice thing about ConvertPlug, is that you can also use pop-ups to tell your visitor about certain messages you’ve shared on social media. So, the plugin can be used to get more followers, but also to increase your range among your followers!

3. Jetpack Publicize (free)

Jetpack Publicize makes it easy to automatically share recently placed messages on your WordPress website with your social media channels. This is very practical when you want to efficiently increase your range of your WordPress website. There are very many WordPress plugins like Publicize, but we still find Publicize the easiest to work with. Publicize is part of Jetpack; a free plugin package that allows you to activate or deactivate different functionalities (so, you can install the package, but only use Publicize).

6 Plugins to Make Your WordPress Website GDPR-Proof

6 Plugins to Make Your WordPress Website GDPR-Proof

As the new privacy law — the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — is about to come into effect, all sorts of plugins are marketed to help you get GDPR compliant. In this article we cover six practical WordPress plugins that enable you to make your WordPress website GDPR-proof!

GDPR Consent Plugin (€ 39 per year)

For WordPress websites in Europe, Sowmedia launches the GDPR Consent Plugin: a plugin for WordPress with which you first ask permission from your visitors, before your other WordPress plugins (and scripts) start collecting personal data. This way you prevent your website from already collecting personal data before your visitor has given permission for this. The GDPR Consent Plugin lets you define exactly which consents you want to request of your visitors, allowing you to present a clear overview of unique required and optional consents for your visitors to interact with. This GDPR Consent Plugin is the most complete WordPress cookie & consent plugin of all.

Delete Me (free)

The GDPR issues the ‘right to be forgotten’. This basically means that you have to be able to erase someone’s  personal data within a reasonable timespan upon their request. You could, of course, do this manually, but the WordPress plugin Delete Me offers your visitors to it themselves — that is, when it comes to data gathered by your website. Users can remove all their own posts and links, including their reactions to articles.

This plugin particularly comes in handy when you have a subscriber website or an active user group that regularly responds to your articles. Be aware, though, that this plugin will not remove data stored separately by additional plugins you may have added to your WordPress website.

Wider Gravity Forms Stop Entries (free)

The Gravity Forms plugin is our number one favorite plugin to build advanced forms for WordPress websites. Its form entries are stored in your WordPress site, but can also be mailed or forwarded to third parties, such as email marketing software. In case your entries are directly forwarded to another system, you may not need to additionally store these entries in your WordPress site.

The GDPR requires you to refrain from needlessly storing user data. This is why the Wider Gravity Forms Stop Entries is so convenient. This plugin removes entries immediately in your WordPress database, so form entries will only be stored in your external systems (or your mailbox). The only drawback is that you don’t have a backup of these entries any more in case you discover the link to your external system to be unresponsive, for instance. Alternatives to tackle this are the plugins below.

Gravity Forms Encrypted Fields ($ 27)

Do you store Gravity Forms entries within your website? Then you can protect these by encrypting them. The WordPress plugin Gravity Forms Encrypted Fields ($ 27) does this for you. User data is encrypted by this plugin within the database. Next, you can configure which persons are allowed to view specifically allotted entries. This may be required, particularly when you are gathering high risk personal data (like Social Security Numbers or medical information) that is not meant to be seen by all WordPress editors and administrators.

WP GDPR Compliance (free)

The GDPR demands ‘explicit consent’ of your visitors to allow you to process their data. Whether you want your visitors to subscribe to a newsletter, fill in a contact form, or react to a message, permission is required. Such explicit consent can be realized by virtue of providing a tick box for example. However, should a tick box be marked by default, then you are overriding the ‘privacy by default’ principle.

Forcing explicit consent in your WordPress website is largely done manually. Again, make sure that tick boxes aimed at having users agree with your terms, are not ticked by default. Fortunately, WP GDPR Compliance imbeds such tick boxes for you and supports plugins like Contact Form 7, WooCommerce and WordPress Comments. The author of this plugin has announced future support for other plugins as well.

Policy Genius (free)

An important part of GDPR compliance is making your privacy policy transparent. It is common practice to facilitate a link to a privacy policy in the footer of a website. Drawing up such protocols can be quite an endeavor. However, once you have constructed one that is explaining your policy in a clear and complete manner, you can then refer to it from any part of your website (for instance, places where you ask your visitors’ explicit consent).

The free WordPress plugin ‘Policy Genius’ helps you draw up a privacy policy in a few easy steps. This is no guarantee, however, that your policy then meets all requirements. It would be best to consult a lawyer to be safe.

The Impact of the New Privacy Law (GDPR) on Your WordPress Website

The Impact of the New Privacy Law (GDPR) on Your WordPress Website

As from the 25th of May, 2018, the new privacy law (GDPR) comes into force. From then onward, all of Europe will have to abide by the same privacy regulations. The Dutch Wbp will be suspended and replaced by new regulations for processing and editing personal data. These new rules apply to your WordPress website too should you have a contact form, make use of Google Analytics, or have a webshop. In this article we explain how the new privacy law operates and what applies to your WordPress website and, therefore, deserves your attention.

This is no juridical article and no rights can be derived from its content.

Moving from a user agreement to a handling agreement

The former privacy law already required a secure processing of personal data, which was to be defined in a user agreement. The new law requires every European organization to be able to account for a secure handling of all personal data, which is to be recorded in a handling agreement. This means that you, first of all, need to know exactly what kind of personal data your organization gathers.

Secondly, you need to be able to guarantee that personal data you share with third parties, is also protected; such as personal data you share with your accountant, with your CRM or within your email marketing software. This applies to software of non-European origin as well (e.g. software supplied by American companies). You are obligated to make agreements with all your suppliers. Practically, this means the GDPR has an impact on privacy policies of organizations worldwide.

You also need to make agreements with third parties that have access to your WordPress website; like your hosting party, editors, administrators and parties that can access personal data via a plugin.

What is personal data?

What is considered to be personal data? And, when is this data deemed privacy-sensitive? Basically, all data that can identify a person as an individual. For instance, when someone fills in a contact form on your WordPress website. Data like,

  • name
  • postal address
  • email address
  • location data (e.g. GPS coordinates)
  • IP-addresses

Keep in mind that company information (e.g. the name of an organization, email address, postal address, etc.) is not considered personal data.

When is personal data regarded as extremely privacy-sensitive?

On top of ‘standard’ personal data, there is an additional category: ‘privacy-sensitive’ personal data. Should you handle data within your organization that is categorized as such, then there are additional requirements. These requirements also apply to your WordPress website, when you gather data that involves,

  • Social Security Number
  • Race
  • Medical information
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religious / political preference

What rights do consumers have?

As mentioned before, the goal of the new privacy law (GDPR) is to protect the rights of the end user (consumer). This includes visitors of your WordPress website. But what exactly are their rights, and what can they demand from you as an organization?

Inform, permit and refuse

People have the right to be informed before their data is being gathered, edited and processed by your WordPress website. Users must give their explicit consent to this, too. This means providing a cookie announcement in the footer of your website, giving the option to sign up for a new letter via a tick box (that is not checked by default!). Ultimately, users must be given the option to withdraw their permission at any time, for instance by unregistering or reviewing the cookie settings again.

Easy access

Individuals you have gathered personal data from on your WordPress website, are allowed to request this data from you. Organizations have to deliver this data within a month and are, in principle, not entitled to charge any costs. In addition, there is the data portability right: personal data must be able to be inspected in a reasonable manner. Excel sheets or CSV files are relatively easy to open, but a direct database dump is not.

Edit, limit and remove

Consumers are entitled to ask you to rectify faulty information, as well as request to refrain from further editing of personal data (apart from storing it). Also, every person has ‘the right to be forgotten’. Put differently, upon request you will have to be able to remove people’s data completely.

The GDPR and marketing automation

Quite possibly, you make use of marketing automation in your WordPress website. This may consist of email marketing software reminding you to respond to a comment, or to send a follow up mail once the first email has been viewed. Or perhaps adverts that are shown based on customer behavior.

People have the right to demand from you that your software cannot make automated decisions based on their data and/or behavior, unless you have explicitly have asked their permission. Therefore, in case you use marketing automation, make sure you explicitly ask your visitors permission, as well as inform them that automated decisions are made based on their personal data.

How serious is all this GDPR stuff?

The penalties that can be imposed by this law are considerable. That is, fines can run up to € 20 million or up to 4% of the annual revenue. The provided ‘grace period’ that lasts until May 2018, foretells that the GDPR will be seriously upheld. Moreover, the GDPR is applies to every organization within Europe; not only the bigger ones or the multinationals.

Make sure your WordPress website is GDPR compliant

There are many aspects to take into account in order to make sure your WordPress website complies with the new GDPR regulations. Make sure you do a Checklist: Is Your WordPress website GDPR Compliant?

Checklist: Is Your WordPress Website GDPR Compliant?

Checklist: Is Your WordPress Website GDPR Compliant?

By May 25, 2018, every European organization has to comply with a new privacy law to be allowed to process and handle personal data. This applies to the personal data you gather via your WordPress website as well. We already posted an article on the impact the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has on your WordPress website. In this article, we provide you with a clear-cut checklist to help you determine whether your WordPress website meets the GDPR requirements.

This is no juridical article and no rights can be derived from its content.

1. Inventory and document

To start off, describe the target group(s) that visit your website. Then make up a spreadsheet in which you document the kind of personal data your WordPress website collects for each group (inform yourself here on what the GDPR marks as personal data). As you specify per target group, you’ll reduce the risk of missing something. Complete this inventory by checking the following list:

a. Hosting & Administration

External service providers have access to your website as well. Check how they handle your data and if you have made the right agreements with them.

  • Hosting Party
    • Theoretically, your hosting party has access to all data on your website. For this reason, you will have to make a processing agreement with your WordPress hosting party.
  • Managed hosting, external developers and administrators
    • Which administrators have access to your WordPress website? Should you contract certain bureaus (or freelancers) to work on your WordPress website, then you will have to set up processing agreements with them as well.
  • Backup Locations
    • Where and how does your hosting party make backups?

b. Plugins

Log in as administrator on your WordPress website and answer the following questions to complete the list above. In WordPress, go to ‘Plugins’, then locate what data is being collected by each plugin and determine whether this data is being stored or not:

  • Contact forms (e.g. Gravity Forms)
    • What information do you require from your users? And where is it being stored?
  • Usernet plugins (e.g. Ultimate Member, BuddyPress, etc.)
    • What profile information is stored for each user? And, what else can possibly be deduced about your users through membership? Think in terms of political activity, religious preference, financial status, or sexual orientation.
  • E-commerce (bijv. WooCommerce)
    • E-commerce will contain basic personal data, such as names, addresses , and banking details. However, it also reveals the kind of products people order. Do you, for instance, sell magazines with a political affiliation?
  • Email marketing widgets (e.g. sign up via MailChimp or CreateSend)
    • Which information do you require? What will you do once you obtain it from your users, and to which service do you forward it?
  • Links with external services, like accounting packages
    • g. a link between WooCommerce and Exact Online
  • WordPress reaction plugins
    • g. Akismet, which filters spam based on data gathered from your users’ reactions, email addresses and IP-addresses. Or, Disqus, which stores such information as well.
  • Safety
    • Safety plugins, like Wordfence, process IP-addresses and user locations for instance.
  • Backup plugins
    • Complete copies of your site are privacy sensitive should they end up in the wrong hands. Where are backups stored and how are they secured?
  • Statistics
    • Like Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager: are you aware of which parts of your users’ data is being stored.
  • Logging
    • For instance, activity monitors that register user activity.

c. Services outside the EU

Check whether you make use of services outside the EU. For instance, American service providers, for instance, that may process data from your website. Verify if they are GDPR compliant.

d. Duration

Check how long personal data is stored and ascertain yourself that this is done no longer than necessary. The following step will help you consider whether this time span is justifiable.

e. Other

Which users have access to your website, and are their pass words up to par? Are you using marketing automation or A/B-testing? If so, have the subjects been informed?

2. Justify

You have to be able to justify reasons for all personal data you are storing on your WordPress website. Make sure your data gathering stays within the boundaries of the law. If you intend to store data on your WordPress website, then this is only allowed when meeting one of the following criteria:

  • Because it is by consent, backed up by an agreement
    Like paid subscriptions on your WordPess website for which you need users’ banking details.
  • Because you are obliged to record this by law
    Like customer data in your WooCommerce shop that you also need for your administration according as the Tax Administration demands.
  • Because you have been given explicit consent to do so
  • By virtue of a cookie announcement on your WordPress website or a registration form by which one subscribes to your newsletter. Make sure that,\
    • consent is freely given (users are not to be misled or forced)
    • consent is explicit (that means no tick box checked by default!)
    • consent needs to be given per component (e.g. someone registers for an event, and also subscribes for a newsletter)
    • users have to be able to withdraw their permission.
  • Because the gathering of this data is justifiable
    Like tracing the location of a logged in user as an additional safety check to determine if the user is logging in from a likely location on the planet. Of course, determining what is justifiable data gathering is somewhat of a grey area. All the more reason to explain in detail why you consider it justifiable. And, when in doubt, you may want to consult a lawyer.

Go through the inventory list (step 1) and check each item for its justification.

3. Confine

Remove personal data that you cannot legitimately gather and store in your WordPress website.

Deactivate plugins that can’t do so either, or search for alternative plugins that do comply.

4. Draw up Procedures

Record different protocols for situations that may occur in the future. Make sure it is crystal clear which information is to be found where, so you won’t have to figure that out later on. In any case, record the following procedures:

  • Personal requests
    Individuals may demand access to their personal data stored by your WordPress website, but may also want to edit or delete their data.
  • Safety
    Record how you will guarantee data to remain confidential, now and in the future. Think about a consistent update policy for your WordPress website, plugins and theme, but also a safe back up storage and a complex password policy for every new user that is added.
  • Data breaches
    In case of data breaches, you are required by law to inform the Personal Data Protection Authority within 72 hours. Therefore, make sure you have a phased plan ready, as speed is crucial in such cases.

5. Inform and ask for permission

Inform visitors of your WordPress website in a clear and transparent manner. This can be realized by clearly referring to a privacy statement, for instance in the footer of your website and in the cookie statement. Also, ask visitors of your WordPress website explicitly for permission of data handling activities as documented in your privacy statement. Make sure that you get their permission as described in step 2c.