News & Articles

My WordPress Site Has Disappeared!

secrecy-iconWhether it’s yours or a client’s, having a WordPress site go offline can raise your heart rate to epic levels. It’s not fun to have a call from a panicky client or lose all your hard work on your own site. Here are a few common reasons that WordPress sites go offline and how to recover quickly from them:

1. WordPress Doesn’t Have a Built-in Backup System

Most hosting providers don’t include site backups in their most popular hosting packages. You will need to investigate what is available to backup your site.  A Google search for WordPress backup plugins will result in a huge number of articles.  Choosing a reputable source like or one of the PC magazines will be helpful.  “WPBeginner” has a good article comparing backup plugins, 7 Best WordPress Backup Plugins Compared (Pros and Cons). Our favorites are BackupBuddy and Manage WP.

2. Servers Can Fail And They Do!

Even Google experiences outages.  When Gmail went down for just a few hours in January 2014 it caused panic around the globe.   When you choose a host for your website, inquire if they have backup servers and what their downtime policy is. For important websites, we recommend also scheduling regular off-site backups that you can use to quickly restore individual parts of your site. Oh, and periodically test your backups to be sure they work.

3. Admin Users

Clients are amazingly creative in discovering unexpected ways to mess up or crash their websites. Some clients know just enough WordPress to be dangerous! Restrict client access to only the necessary functions (like page editing) by creating separate users account for each person using the site. If you to disallow specific tools and plugins, try using a plugin like Capability Manager or Admin Menu Editor Pro.

4. Hackers

Hackers love to crash WordPress sites. Older versions of WordPress are especially vulnerable to malware attacks, which is why it’s important to keep core files and plugins up-to-date. An article in “PC World” from July 24, 2014 reported that 50,000 sites were hacked through a simple newsletter plugin vulnerability over a period of a couple of weeks. Popular WordPress plugins attract a lot of hacker attention, and have been the source of many of 2015’s most infamous security holes.

If your website starts to act wonky, free malware scanners are available to scan your site.  Our favorite is the industry leading Sucuri Security.

5. Operator Error

Yes, we have to admit that we, too, can make mistakes. Breaking the CSS file with “simple edits”, installing a new plugin that doesn’t play nice or having your connection stall in the middle of a WordPress update can all send you running for a recent backup of your site. So, make it a standard practice to backup your site before doing any work on it, especially messing with the CSS.

Aaaaand the moral of the story is…….

If you have a website,  back it up. Please.


It’s our 10th anniversary doing business!

On May 1, 2005, Sound Web Solutions went into business as a limited liability company.  It started as a family business designing websites for non-profits and small businesses.  Now, 10  years later, SWS is a growing company with an eight member web team designing websites for larger companies such as Enstar and native corporations such as the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association.  We are proud to have been chosen to design the campaign website for Governor Bill Walker.   Our services have expanded to include consulting, security and backup plans, maintenance plans, and search engine optimization packages.   We are looking forward to exciting growth in the next ten years!

5 Add-ons to power up your online store in WooCommerce

Power up your online store

WooCommerce eCommerce tools for WordPress online storesOne of the most popular WordPress shop tools, WooCommerce offers lots of great add-ons to its core online store functionality. These affordable extensions can build trust, streamline the purchasing process and automate marketing. If you use WooCommerce and your goal is to increase online sales (who doesn’t want this?), then these five tools can act as a fantastic starting point.

1. Product Reviews Pro

A good review has a powerful influence on a shopper’s decision to buy. This WooCommerce extension provides style review tools including the ability to ask questions of past buyers. Reviewers can add photos and videos of products, as well.


2. One Page Checkout

Make the purchasing process lightning quick with One Page Checkout. Build special pages in your WooCommerce shop with a specific selection of products and use this tool to enable buyers to choose products, checkout & pay all on the same page.

3. Recommendations

“WooCommerce Recommendations by Graphflow turbo-charges your WooCommerce store with the power of industry-leading recommendations technology.” Using behavior flow, this tool generates recommendations that are more relevant for your online store shoppers.

4. Wishlist

Help customers keep track of all of the cool products on your online store with this Wishlist add-on tool. It supports an unlimited number of Wishlists, which can be shared via social media or email.

5. Follow-up Emails

Combine the power of email marketing with your online store. Keep your customers involved with your brand post-purchase by building an automatic follow-up email process. Not quite a full blown CRM, this handy shop add-on makes it easy to manage your customer relationships.

“Spend your time and resources smarter, build email templates to send single emails to customers, and automate your email marketing to increase the value of your existing customer base and acquire new customers. An email marketing strategy will immediately impact your top-line revenue. When it comes to converting your efforts into sales, email still outperforms search 2 to 1, and social 8 to 1.” – WooCommerce Website


WordPress SEO: Urgent Security Vulnerability

Urgent Security Vulnerability

WordPress SEO

secrecy-iconAn urgent security warning has just been issued for Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin, which has a vulnerability that allows hackers to inject nasty stuff into your WordPress website’s database. If your site has SEO, then you’re probably using Yoast’s fantastic tool.  The good news is that a fix has already been issued  and all that needs to be done is for your plugin to be updated.

Here’s more information from the WordPress Vulnerability Database:

WordPress SEO by Yoast is a popular WordPress plugin (wordpress-seo) used to improve the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of WordPress sites. The latest version at the time of writing ( has been found to be affected by two authenticated (admin, editor or author user) Blind SQL Injection vulnerabilities. The plugin has more than one million downloads according to WordPress.

Read more details on the WordPress Vulnerability Database.

Does your website need a redesign?

Website Redesign Quiz

Thinking about a website redesign? Or is your site already doing an awesome job at bringing in business?

Try our 1-minute quiz and find out if you’re ahead of the pack or behind the times.

Maximize your website with analytics

4 Basic Steps to Better Website Performance - A beginner's guide to understanding website analytics and key performance indicators (KPIs).

We’re getting married!

Wedding BellsI’m excited to announce a new partnership with Out of a Jam Solutions (OOAJ), with whom SWS has had a long term (business) relationship that has been so successful that we’ve decided to tie the knot. Serving Palmer, Wasilla, Anchorage and beyond, OOAJ has provided down-to-earth service in Apple IT, technology consulting and web design since 1999.

Brady bunch style, this marriage expands our core team to eight awesome people. Together, we are able to offer our clients (you) a greater level of service, including:

You may have already noticed a few changes, such as our new main office address in Palmer. For accounting and inquiries, this is the place to call. If you have an opinion on anything, good or bad, let us know!

Thanks for reading,



Wagilé Lecture: Mobile Web Design & Agile

AIGA AlaskaThis past weekend I attended an informative and fun AIGA lecture/workshop that shared big agency approaches to mobile web design (aka responsive design), mobile app design, user experience and bringing it all together with super iterative Agile project management techniques. Presenter Aaron Shurts, President of AIGA Seattle and  Associate Creative Director at Deloitte Digital, talked about his experience in developing mobile apps for clients Nike, Alaska Airlines and ShowTime. Here are some of my top takeaways:

Agile Project Management

Agile Project Management Flow ChartCreate a better user experience, and thus a better product, by developing chunks of your project in short intervals called sprints. The development team breaks down project requirements into user stories and the client’s representative (the product owner) prioritizes them. Based on priority, user stories developed in iterations of just a week or two, which includes user experience, user interface and programming, sometimes in the form of rapid prototypes or sometimes as fully functional elements, always within context of how they will be used.

For more info, check out Agile Project Management for Dummies. 

Agile PM: Style Tiles

Instead of developing the graphic design of an entire project before sharing with the client for approval,  style tiles show the key graphic elements that serve as the basic ingredients for developing individual chunks of a project using Agile project management. Colors, fonts, symbols, button functionality, etc, can be included here. Clients can then approve styles and overall feelings, instead of pixel-exact large scale designs.

Mobile Web Design

Rapid Prototyping (image courtesy of responsive web design (i.e. sites that have code and graphics designed to adapt to different devices) has quickly become the standard for mobile web design, developers have had to rethink their web building techniques. They now need to design website features with fluidity and touch screen interactivity in mind, led by questions like “How will this look at 320, 768, 1024 pixels?” and “How far apart should link areas be for iPad, iPhone, Android, etc.?”. By using digital tools like FieldTest or back-of-the-napkin rapid prototyping, designers create interactive mini mockups that walk the user through the layout and functionality of a feature, providing valuable feedback in the early stages of development and, thus, preventing a lot of potential backtracking later on.


And that’s just a quick summary of my favorite thoughts from Aaron’s awesome lecture. Thanks AIGA Alaska for bringing him to Alaska!

Power Up Your Website With SEO

SEO for AlaskaI hope this lovely fall season finds you well. As we are all buttoning up our coats and preparing to spend a LOT more time inside, we wanted to share some useful information on how to get more from your website with SEO.


What is SEO? 

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the process of improving a website’s visibility in search engines results, i.e. showing up on the first page of Google. This can be done either by modifying your website and other online profiles (organic SEO) or by purchasing advertising (paid SEO). It’s easy to see in Google where paid and organic search results appear (see graphic).



What can SEO do for my Business?

SEO has the power to increase your business volume. The higher you show up in search results, the more likely you will be landing new clients.


How SEO can improve the return from a website?

SEO can enhance the ROI (Return on Investment) by driving more clients towards your website.

For example, If you are in Anchorage and want to find a Sushi Restaurant.  You might search in Google for “Best Sushi in Anchorage”. “Best Sushi in Anchorage” is your “keyword phrase”, and the results that come up on the FIRST PAGE of the search results that Google considers to be the ones most likely to satisfy your specific needs.

Now, if you are the owner of a Japanese restaurant in Anchorage and want to keep business steady, having your website appear at the top of search results is key. A well-optimized website will be fundamental in this.

If you are not using SEO correctly, then it’s likely that potential clients won’t find you, possibly ever.  So it’s vitally important for your website that you are high on the first page of the search results, or those competitors who are there will get lots of what could have been your business.


How do I improve SEO for my site?

Writing keyword rich content is fundamental to SEO, but there are also many other ways to optimize your site: strategic backlinking, increasing keyword density, clarifying your website’s structure, modifying URLs, etc. You can learn more with this SEO Starter Guide by Google.

Link to SEO Starter Guide by Google:

SWS also offers SEO Plans  that will take care of all of the complicated stuff and give your website a boost!


Design your own web site, in Homer, Alaska!

A web design workshop WordPress Web Design class in lovely Homer, Alaska!coming to a town near you… Homer!

Join us this coming weekend in lovely Homer, Alaska, for a DIY workshop on building and maintaining your own website with WordPress. Geared towards artists, non-profits, small business owners and those who maintain other people’s websites, this class will lay a solid foundation of technical and experiential knowledge. We’ll show you how to:

  • Define your website goals
  • Determine the best layout and content flow for your purpose
  • Get an online home for your website (hosting & domain)
  • Install WordPress
  • Set up your own theme
  • Customize your design
  • Add awesome functionality (online forms, videos, FaceBook,
  • Add content (and keep it beautiful!)
  • Create and manage menus
  • And much more!


For a full outline of the two day course, or to sign up, visit our partner website, Out of a Jam Solutions or call (907) 841-7368 to speak with Michael.

WordPress Website Workshop

September 14th and 15th
Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies,
708 Smokey Bay Way,
Homer, Alaska

Sign up to our class info list